WASHINGTON — As the bipartisan House Jan. 6 committee prepares to detail how Donald Trump tried to subvert democracy to stay in power, the former president and his allies are preparing an alternate reality for his supporters to inhabit.
In this universe, the members of Trump’s mob who assaulted police officers and broke into the Capitol, and are now being prosecuted for it, are in fact “political prisoners.” The Jan. 6 committee — which includes two Republican members, one of whom is the vice president — is a sham. And Trump himself did nothing wrong.
“The January 6 hearings will be overwhelming for Donald Trump,” said former Representative David Jolly, who served in Congress as a Republican from Florida. “Without counter-programming, every Republican should ask themselves if they can still defend the former president amid new revelations of his guilt. GOP counterprogramming is simply elementary school deviation policy.
“Any time you see a Republican ‘counter-platform’ in the hearings, you’ll see a Republican participating in the Trump cover-up,” said Amanda Carpenter, former senior aide to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. “There will be bombshells, and every Republican who opposed the creation of the committee is a Republican who worked to keep this information from becoming public.”
Trump and his supporters – whose lies that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him have stoked the anger of his millions of followers, anger that boiled over in the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 – nevertheless continue to spread these same lies as they mix in news about committee hearings and Justice Department investigations.
Matt Schlapp, who leads the Trump-aligned Conservative Political Action Conference and who personally helped spread Trump’s campaign lies in Nevada in the weeks following the 2020 election, wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday: “The 1/6 Masquerade is more like a DNC convention. than a congressional hearing.
That post linked to a Newsmax interview in which Schlapp defends two former top Trump aides who are being sued for obstruction of Congress for defying subpoenas. “They were charged because of their policy,” he said.
Representative Jim Jordan — a Republican from Ohio whose nomination to the committee was opposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi because of his role in spreading Trump’s post-election lies — published an op-ed on Tuesday on The Federalist, a pro-Trump website, in which he claimed the real purpose of the hearings was to demonize conservatives.
“Democrats want to use the violence of January 6 to stigmatize conservative voices and delegitimize conservative ideals,” Jordan said. wrote.
And at a House GOP leadership press conference on Wednesday, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana complained that Pelosi had not scheduled a prime-time hearing to address the issue of migrants crossing the Mexican border. . “Nancy Pelosi continues to politicize January 6,” he said.
Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, a former Scalise colleague, said the strategy was unsurprising. “That’s exactly what they’re doing. Counterattack, distract, confuse, confuse, lie,” said Walsh, who until 2020 identified as Republican. “That’s what they always do. And it works.”
The Jan. 6 committee is planning a series of six public hearings, beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday, to expose Trump’s actions and statements that led to the violent attack on the Capitol, a last-ditch attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the legitimacy of Joe Biden. electoral victory. All three major broadcast networks broadcast the audience live, as do CNN and MSNBC on cable.
Fox News, whose evening hosts acted as informal advisers to the White House during Trump’s presidency, does not wear it. At 8 p.m., famed Tucker Carlson — who months ago produced a “documentary” claiming Jan. 6 was a false flag operation — is set to host his show as usual. Audiences are relegated to Fox Business.
“Fox is a pure outlet for propaganda,” said Norman Ornstein, a political scientist at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute. “Clearly the last thing Republicans want is their core audience to be exposed to a powerful reality that they’ve worked very hard to erase.”
He added, however, that since so many die-hard Republicans have become true Trump supporters, the only significant audience for the committee is swing voters and low-propensity Democratic voters.
“The public is made up of voters and confident suburban Democrats who need to be motivated to realize that we face and continue to face an unprecedented existential threat,” Ornstein said.
Trump, despite losing the election by 7 million votes nationally and 306-232 in the Electoral College, became the first US president in more than two centuries to refuse to hand over power peacefully. His instigation of the January 6 assault on the Capitol killed five people, including a police officer; it also injured 140 other police officers and led to four police suicides.
Nonetheless, Trump remains the dominant figure in the Republican Party and has indicated he could run for president again in 2024.