I watched the hearings from start to finish. They were gripping. The first fact that was established was that the people closest to Trump told him that he had lost the election. His Attorney General William Barr told Trump in no uncertain terms that his claims that the election was stolen were “bullshit.” The outcome was not affected by election fraud, Barr said. Barr said his refusal to accept the result was hurting the country. Ivanka testified that she believed Bill Barr.

But unlike every other American president, Trump refused to admit he lost. He listened to Rudy Guiliani, Sidney Powell, and Michael Flynn, who encouraged his fantasy that he could overturn the election. His advisors tried to separate him from the loonies, but they were unsuccessful.

He and his lawyers filed 60+ lawsuits alleging fraud, but all of them failed because of lack of evidence.

Trump encouraged his zealous MAGA followers to believe that the election was rigged and stolen. His extremist followers—the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers—were eager to help. On December 19, after meeting with Guiliani, Powell, and Flynn, he tweeted to his followers to come to DC on January 6, the day the election results were to be certified. He predicted “it will be wild.” On January 5, Steve Bannon said that on the following day, “All hell will break loose.”

The Proud Boys and the Oath keepers were there, as were thousands of other MAGA zealots. Trump encouraged his followers to March on the Capitol. He said that everything hinges on Mike Pence “doing the right thing,” I.e. refusing to accept the results from states where the votes were close.

When the mob attacked the Capitol, they chanted “Hang Mike Pence.” They sought Nancy Pelosi. No one knows what they would have done had they broken into the chambers while members of Congress were present.

The committee showed video of the insurrection that had not been seen before. It was a violent and wild scene, with men beating police officers repeatedly, using clubs and even flag poles as weapons. It was a scene of carnage. The video was powerful and shocking. As the video ended, Trump’s voice was superimposed, saying something like “There was a lot of love that day.” But the scene of his MAGA buddies pummeling and brutalizing cops was not loving.

Through the hours in which the mob stormed the Capitol, Trump refused to call for help. He did not call out the National Guard or the Secretary of Defense or Homeland Security. Mike Pence, from his secret location, called desperately for help. So did other Republican members of Congress. But it was hours before reinforcements arrived.

Just for the hell of it, when the hearing was over, I turned on FOX News. It was sickening. Laura Ingraham ridiculed Liz Cheney and said she was interminable and boring. No mention of the evidence of Trump’s lies and inaction. Most outrageous was Ingraham’s spin: Our democracy was never at risk. The Democrats and traitor Cheney exaggerated, she lied. No, democracy was never at risk. So what if hundreds and thousands of violent insurrectionists tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power, a tradition that began with George Washington. So what if the Trump mob beat up the law officers. So what if one of the police died of a stroke and four committed suicide.

What if the cops had not held the mob out as long as they did? What if they had seized Pence, Pelosi, Schiff, Raskin and others they hated?

No threat to our democracy? How could Laura Ingraham lie so egregiously with a straight face?

Trump issued a statement about the blood assault on the seat of the US government:

“January 6th was not simply a protest, it represented the greatest movement in the history of our Country to Make America Great Again,” he wrote in a statement.

Dana Milbank wrote this after watching the hearings last night:

Liz Cheney was addressing her fellow Republicans. But more than that, she was speaking to posterity.
“I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible,” she said at Thursday night’s opening hearing of the Jan. 6 House select committee. “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

The Wyoming congresswoman, daughter of the former vice president, and vice chair of the committee, outlined for the country, and for history, two contrasting stories about the bloody insurrection.

One was a tale of honor and duty. Officials in the Justice Department and White House, to a greater extent than was previously known, confronted Trump about his election lies and repeatedly threatened to resign if he followed through with his darkest impulses.

The other was a tale of brutality and deceit by Trump and a small band of loyalists. They knew he had lost, and yet, as Cheney put it, “Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated, seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.”

In perhaps the most chilling moment of the hearing, Cheney spoke of former White House officials’ testimony about Trump’s bloodthirstiness toward his own vice president. “Aware of the rioters’ chants to hang Mike Pence, the president responded with this sentiment, quote, ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea.’ Mike Pence, quote, ‘deserves it.’ ”

I never thought I would say this but it’s true: Mike Pence saved our democracy by refusing to follow Trump’s demand to hand him the election that he lost. Pence followed the Constitution and foiled the coup.

And after watching the hearings, I sent $100 to Liz Cheney’s re-election campaign.