Jan. 6 hearings demand we not look away

Former President Trump's efforts to stop the peaceful transition of power were a subversion of American democracy

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Columnists

June 10, 2022 - 10:32 AM

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn gets emotional when he listens to the testimony of a colleague describing the violence against law enforcement officers during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Viewers who tuned in Thursday to the first night of public hearings by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection were not given Washington political theater as usual. On the contrary, the broadcast portion of the largest-scale investigation in congressional history was a clean, concise production of real substance. And yet, for all the facts it marshaled, the riveting two-hour opener was still televised drama of the highest order — likely because the seditious, violent effort to overthrow the U.S. government in evidence was not mere fiction, or even spectacle. It was a damning true story, well told.

For nearly a year, the committee has operated behind closed doors gathering testimony and scouring video, phone records, emails and other documents to look at former President Donald Trump’s involvement in the attack on the Capitol, as part of his broader effort to stop the peaceful transition of power to Joe Biden. And on Thursday, the committee successfully organized the chaos of Jan. 6 into a narrative of concerted action to subvert American democracy — with Trump at the center of the conspiracy.

The committee hired James Goldston, former president of ABC News, to produce a prime-time show that expertly combined the opening statements of committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., with video clips from depositions, previously unseen footage of the attack, cogent timelines, witness testimony and more.

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