More than half of the planned public hearings of the committee of inquiry into the storming of the Capitol are already over. At least three more meetings have been announced, and the next one is scheduled for this Thursday. Then it’s about Donald Trump’s attempt to get the Justice Department to tip the 2020 election results in his favor.
Anyone who takes the trouble to follow the sessions, which are now broadcast live by Fox News, will not always learn something brand new. But the suspense that the nine committee members have built up in their four hearings so far is convincing.
Most of the sessions are sober and factual, but every now and then it gets emotional. For example, on Tuesday, when the black election worker Shaye Moss and her mother testified, who were attacked by Trump for no reason and then followed by his supporters.
The planned session on the “Proud Boys” and other far-right militias as well as the double session on the 187-minute attack on the Capitol will definitely get under your skin.
Surprisingly, however, these three days have now been postponed. Actually, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of the coming week were planned for this. But on Wednesday, committee chairman Bennie Thompson said that after this Thursday, the next meetings would not take place until July.
The official justification is that so much new evidence has surfaced that the schedule is being reconsidered. However, there is much to suggest that the eagerly awaited Supreme Court decision on abortion rights is also a reason for the postponement: public attention could then quickly drift away.
The verdict is expected by the end of June. However, it may not come until the beginning of July, when the judges extend their session in view of the 13 cases that are still open. As a precaution, another announcement day was added for this week: Judgments are now available on Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.
Anyway, Republicans claim the committee won’t be luring anyone in front of the TV a year and a half after January 6, 2021. Like Rick Scott, they shrug off the fact that at least 20 million Americans watched the prime-time opening session (14 million at the opening session on Trump’s first impeachment).
I met the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who was Governor of Florida for eight years before his election to the Senate, at a press breakfast of the “Christian Science Monitor” on Wednesday morning.
Scott described the hearings as “irrelevant”, the Democrats only wanted to win the next elections. But that won’t work because the Americans want to talk about “inflation, gasoline prices, the lack of baby milk powder, critical race theory and ‘defund the police'”, not about January 6th.
“No one has approached me about it in my state,” Scott said. President Joe Biden’s values are so bad that the Republicans would win back at least 54 seats in the midterms and thus a clear majority in the Senate. All you have to do is prove to the voters that their “faith, jobs and raising children” are important to them.
As much as one may find his statements wrong: Looking at the midterm elections in November – and at the price boards at the gas stations – there is much to suggest that Scott could be right.
However, dealing with the attack on the Capitol, which many classed as a “coup attempt”, is also a task of historical importance. Or, as committee chairman Thompson put it last week, the threat to American democracy is not over. Because Trump could achieve in 2024 what he failed to achieve in 2020.
So three questions are interesting:
It has proven often enough that it can override all the rules of the game. In the “Financial Times” Edward Luce provides arguments why Trump definitely needs to be brought to justice.
Nevertheless, a remake of 2020 is looming: Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden. At the moment one can only speculate about this, because none of the candidates let themselves be looked at too closely. And maybe because they don’t know for sure yet.
But in Washington, many assume that A: Trump will run and B: Biden will then feel obliged to want to defeat him again. However, many supporters of the 79-year-old Democrat see this as only a partially good idea. The debate as to when too old is too old is also gaining momentum in the liberal media, as the conservative Editorial Board of the “Wall Street Journal” just noted with relish.
However, the leadership issue for the Republicans is far from settled, even if the GOP has largely committed itself to Trumpism. Because whether it’s Ron DeSantis, Florida’s ambitious governor who is extremely popular in his state, or former Vice President Mike Pence, who distanced himself from Trump after January 6th: Possible alternative candidates are warming up.
Senator Scott, DeSantis’ predecessor, who says he speaks to Trump every two to three weeks, said on Wednesday that the voters would decide this question and that he had no preferences. When asked if he thinks Trump will run again, Scott said he doesn’t know: “But have you ever heard him say he won’t run again in 2024?” Referendum on Biden.”
We also asked the senator how he felt about the GOP party program that had just been passed in Texas. The state party stated, among other things, that Biden is an illegitimate president, homosexuality is an “abnormal way of life”, life begins at the time of conception (which would even ban the morning-after pill) and that Texas reserves the right to withdraw from the United renounce states.
Scott’s answer: Each national association has the right to write its own program. But the GOP is an “inclusive” party, and the language of Texas Republicans is not. Sometimes you have to look very closely to see whether extreme tendencies in the party are met with opposition.
Even when asked what he had to say about the controversial video of Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens, Scott simply said he hadn’t seen it but didn’t think the party should glorify violence. Ultimately, the voters would also decide about Greitens.
The election spot published on Monday shows Greitens, rifle in hand, alongside heavily armed special forces, storming a house in search of “RINOs”, “Republicans in name only”, i.e. people who only appear are conservative on paper.
“Join the MAGA team. Get a RINO hunting permit,” the former elite soldier explains in the video. Greitens resigned as governor of Missouri in 2018 to forestall impeachment proceedings that had been initiated over two criminal cases. Apparently he doesn’t want to end his political career – and his party isn’t forcing him to either.
Meanwhile, Congress is making progress on the planned tightening of gun laws. The 80-page bill drafted by senators from both parties, which would include expanded background checks on gun buyers under the age of 21, as well as billions for school safety and better psychiatric care in the country, cleared its first hurdle on Wednesday evening.
64 senators voted for it. Rick Scott was one of the 34 Republican senators who voted against. That was a preliminary vote, Scott explained, and he still had to look at the exact text of the law, which they had just received. Under no circumstances will he vote to restrict the Second Amendment, he said.
The fact that it has already been significantly relaxed speaks in favor of the law being passed. Biden’s campaign promise to ban the sale of assault rifles to private individuals is not included. Yet Democrats are already hailing the compromise as “the most important anti-gun violence bill in nearly 30 years” (Senator Chris Murphy, who is leading the negotiations on the Democratic side).
Republican negotiator Senator John Cornyn assured concerned party members that the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act places an emphasis on school safety and mental health services and contains “no new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners.” I can well understand why this is not satisfactory many weeks after the massacres in Buffalo (New York) and Uvalde (Texas).
Speaking of Uvalde: The investigations into the mass shooting at an elementary school almost a month ago are showing more and more clearly how massively the police failed here. You can read more about this here. On Wednesday evening, the elementary school security chief was suspended from his post.
Incidentally, there are also area code decisions in the city of Washington itself. Mayor Muriel Bowser most likely secured a third term in the primaries on Tuesday. She needn’t fear a Republican opponent in the November election: the capital is one of the most reliable liberal strongholds.
Bowser would then be the first mayor to do so since the legendary Mayor Marion Barry. She became known nationally at the height of the “Black Lives Matter” movement as an opponent of Trump and for her handling of the pandemic.
However, rampant gun violence is one of the problems with which it has had little success so far. At the “March for Our Lives”, the protest for stricter gun laws almost two weeks ago, the mayor was also sharply criticized on the open stage – directly after she had spoken herself.
Four years earlier, when survivors of the school massacre in Parkland, Florida, protested for the first time nationwide and also in Washington, she was celebrated for her clear announcements.
That brings me to the end of this newsletter. Thank you for your interest and I hope that you will be there again next week. Until then, all the best!