The congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection delivered a comprehensive and compelling case for the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump and his closest allies for their attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
But the committee zoomed in so tightly on the culpability of Trump and his inner circle that it largely cropped out the dozens of other state and federal Republican officials who supported or enabled the president’s multifaceted, months-long plot. The committee downplayed the involvement of the legion of local Republican officials who enlisted as fake electors and said almost nothing about the dozens of congressional Republicans who supported Trump’s efforts—even to the point, in one case, of urging him to declare “Marshall Law” to overturn the result.
With these choices, the committee likely increased the odds that Trump and his allies will face personal accountability—but diminished the prospect of a complete reckoning within the GOP.
That reality points to the larger question lingering over the committee’s final report: Would convicting Trump defang the threat to democracy that culminated on January 6, or does that require a much broader confrontation with all of the forces in extremist movements, and even the mainstream Republican coalition, that rallied behind Trump’s efforts?
“If we imagine” that preventing another assault on the democratic process “is only about preventing the misconduct of a single person,” Grant Tudor, a policy advocate at the nonpartisan group Protect Democracy, told me, “we are probably not setting up ourselves for success.”
Both the 154-page executive summary unveiled Monday and the 845-page final report released last night made clear that the committee is focused preponderantly on Trump. The summary in particular read more like a draft criminal indictment than a typical congressional report. It contained breathtaking detail on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election and concluded with an extensive legal analysis recommending that the Justice Department indict Trump on four separate offenses, including obstruction of a government proceeding and providing “aid and comfort” to an insurrection. [Continue reading…]