On Wednesday, No. 3 House Republican Elise Stefanik (NY), Donald Trump’s newest best friend, held a press conference in response to his plea last Sunday, to defend him from the January 6 House Committee. He called on allies like Stefanik to attack the committee hearings starting tonight. (Trump has dangled Stefanik’s name as possible vice-presidential nomination.)
The hearings will focus on Trump’s multi-prong conspiracy to end our 235-year tradition of transferring power lawfully. The conspiracy started months before the violent January 6 attack that resulted in the death or injuring of some 140 police officers.
Republicans are divided on how to treat the hearings. Many think it better to avoid giving them any attention, including negative attention.
Not Trump and Stefanik. She called the committee “illegitimate.” Never mind that federal judges in both trial and appeals courts, including at least one Trump appointee, have rejected those claims.
Trump allies will be running less a war-room than a “Fog of War” room. The likely strategy is to try to make a circus out of a serious investigation.
In other words, take advantage of the media’s need to “cover both sides” equally, regardless of whether both sides have evidence for their claims.
Fire into the media ecosphere sufficient “he-said” to dilute whatever “she said.” Create a counter-narrative that throws shade on the truth and confuses people. Especially those who can’t devote total attention to which side has facts and which side’s story rests on disinformation.
The both-siderism here will take many shapes: Count on tired Trump-meme retreads. Stefanik has already pulled “witch hunt” out of the bag.
Then there is the “whine” narrative: “That mean Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t accept poor old Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s proposed Republicans on the committee – like Ohio’s Representative Jim Jordan.” Let’s not forget that McCarthy was against Pelosi’s offer of a bipartisan committee both before and after he was for it.
It also turns out that Jim Jordan was a central player in the events the committee is probing. He has been subpoenaed as a witness, and his January 6 story has changed about his one – no, two – oops “Sorry, I can’t remember how many phone conversations I had with Trump before the Capitol siege – oops, and during it.”
Of course, those attacking the committee for partisanship have a major problem because the Committee has two Republicans.
So get ready to hear another Trump retread: Committee member Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and committee vice-chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) will be repeatedly tagged as “RINOs” – Republicans in Name Only.
It’s hard to erase Liz Cheney’s lengthy conservative Republican pedigree. Some of us are old enough to recall that her dad, Dick Cheney, was an iconic conservative force even before his eight years as President George W. Bush’s Vice President.
How quickly Trump forgets that Liz Cheney voted with his agenda 92.9% of the time, placing her voting record “ahead of former Rep. Mark Meadows, Trump’s ex-chief of staff, and fierce Trump allies Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mo Brooks of Alabama,” according to Forbes.
Also, the Trumpists’ bury the fact that Adam Kinzinger has drawn a 90% rating from the socially conservative Christian Coalition of America and 100% ratings from the Illinois Right to Life Action and the Family Planning Alliance. That’s not to mention 100% ratings from the fiscally conservative National Association of Manufacturers.
Faux believers in conservative Republicanism do not draw those marks.
Nor do they get 0% ratings from liberal organizations such as Common Cause, Earth Rights International, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
For Trump, there are two central issues with Cheney and Kinzinger. Most importantly, they believe in loyalty to the Constitution rather than to Trump. They align with the original Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, whose legacy is preserving a unified America.
Trump, by contrast, channels Jefferson Davis, Lincoln’s Confederate counterpart. According to the Washington Post, Trump tweeted as then-President on July 1, 2020, “that he would veto any bill attempting to rename military bases named for Gen. Robert E. Lee and other military leaders of the Confederacy.”
The second issue is that Cheney and Kinzinger insist on facts rather than the foundationless claim like “Trump won!” It will underlie his backers’ counter narratives.
All any person with an open mind need do is to compare the sworn testimony on which the Committee’s presentations will rest with the counterattacks. Is there evidence for them? If so, has it been given under oath and corroborated by other sworn witnesses, by documents, or by reliable video?
Alternatively, is it the same flipped-over and reheated hash?
The promulgators of both-siderism are counting on Americans taking recycled disinformation at face value and treating it as equivalent to testimony under oath and documents that don’t lie.
“You can fool a part of the people all the time,” are the actual words that the Abraham Lincoln Society says that Honest Abe spoke in 1858. “But you can’t fool all the people all the time.” The hearings this month may be America’s best chance to prove that, with the future of our republic on the line, Trump’s apologists cannot fool most of the people at this important time.