Democrats’ probe into the Jan. 6 incursion into the Capitol building a year and a half ago continues to broaden, while they desperately seek something to run on in 2022 as President Joseph Biden’s poll numbers fall. In the process they threaten political rights working people have fought for long and hard, and we have an important stake in safeguarding.
Lurid, but uncorroborated, hearsay testimony was given to a hastily convened meeting June 28 of the House select committee probing the incursion. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, alleged Donald Trump wanted to join the Jan. 6 march on the Capitol, which he didn’t do. The committee didn’t call a single eyewitness to any of these events to testify.
Officials from the U.S. Secret Service have announced that Tony Ornato and Bobby Engel, the two agents named by Hutchinson, are willing to testify before the panel and dispute her story, CNN reported June 29.
Despite weeks of testimony, the committee has yet to come up with any real evidence of a crime carried out by Trump that the Justice Department could charge him with. That hasn’t stopped Democrats from expanding the hearings, nor the liberal press running banner headlines on them. Nor has it prevented the Justice Department directing the FBI to ever-more raids on homes of ex-Trump officials.
Agents seized the phone of John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who helped in Trump’s efforts to have the result of the 2020 election decertified, based on the former president’s unsubstantiated claims the election was stolen from him. The search warrant used to seize the phone on June 27 “is overbroad and provides no probable cause link to any suspected criminal activity,” Eastman said.
FBI snoops also seized all electronic devices at the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, who had promoted Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud.
Former FBI bosses James Comey and Robert Mueller had led the drive against Trump for the Democrats, including “investigations” that ended in failed impeachment charges.
Acting as Washington’s political police, the FBI has been used for decades to spy on militant workers, the Socialist Workers Party, Black rights fighters and opponents of the U.S. rulers’ wars. The extent of their assaults was exposed during the SWP’s successful political campaign and 1973 lawsuit against the government. At the trial the FBI admitted to breaking into SWP offices more than 200 times, as well as using wire taps and hundreds of informers to spy on party members and their families.
The House select committee considers unimportant the rights that have been upended by their subpoenas and hearings. The August trial of five members of the Proud Boys for their “role” in Jan. 6 has been pushed back to December on the grounds that the House hearings may include information that would affect their cases.
Right to a speedy trial
The House panel refuses to release about 1,000 transcripts of interviews with the Proud Boys before September, leaving the five locked in jail. Attorneys for one of the defendants, Ethan Nordean, told the Washington Post that the panel was forcing Nordean to choose between a fair trial or the speedy one the Constitution entitles him to. He’s been in jail since April 2021.
Enrique Tarrio, the group’s former head, who wasn’t in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 but was charged and jailed anyway, says he doesn’t expect a fair trial in August or December.
The committee hired James Goldston, the former president of ABC News, to produce the hearings as if they were a must-watch docudrama. With seven Democrats and two Republicans on the panel all handpicked by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi based on their record of despising Trump, there’s not much they will debate.
“He would go down in the history books as having been impeached twice,” the Washington Post crowed June 17, “and accused of a crime or crimes by Congress.”
But there’s a world of difference between being accused and being convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. The hearings are an affront to anyone interested in defending the presumption of innocence, something working people have fought to win over centuries.
During the 18 months Democrats have controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress, the crisis facing working people has steadily grown worse with no end in sight as skyrocketing costs for food, housing and gas push families to the brink and conditions on the job become increasingly dire.
Recent polls show that six out of 10 Americans disapprove of President Joseph Biden. “I don’t know how much worse it can get,” Milan Ramsey told The Associated Press. A high school counselor and a Democrat in Santa Monica, California, said she and her husband moved into her parents’ house with their infant son to make ends meet.
The party, deeply divided, is pinning its hopes for the 2022 mid-term elections and the 2024 presidential vote on the House committee hearings vilifying Trump after allegations he led a “coup.” Their evidence? “Trump Sought to Join Jan. 6 Mob, Enraged He Lunged for Limo Wheel to Go to Capitol,” screamed a headline across all four columns of the online front page of the June 28 New York Times, after former White House aide Hutchinson testified.
Democrats tried to impeach Trump in 2021. That failed — just as their first attempt to impeach him in 2019 did. Now they’ve cooked up this panel hoping they can initiate legal proceedings that will end with the former president barred from running again for office.
Television viewership of the House committee hearings dropped sharply after the first day. A poll cited by CNN found that few have changed their minds during the hearings, with 46% of adults saying Trump committed a crime and 47% saying he did not.
No matter what your view, trial-by- TV-show is a blow to political rights. Today the working class, more than ever, has a stake in defending constitutional rights, protections and the political space we need as we organize and fight. It’s only by acting together with fellow workers that we will be able to defend ourselves from the sharpening attacks by the bosses and their government.