Perhaps with the unrelenting volume from one screaming news cycle after the next, you failed to note this week that after an extensive, exhaustive, meticulously deliberate investigation, the Jan. 6 committee's public hearings into last year's Capitol riot have crept within ... a month.
I know, what's the hurry, right?
The Washington Post has already won a Pulitzer for its comprehensive riot coverage, the forces behind it, the systemic failures that preceded it, the persistent threat from elements of moral rot at its core, the caustic social aftermath, and the implications for an embattled democracy. But the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol is still agonizing over the question of whether it wants to talk with Rudy Giuliani, last of the red-hot Trump psycho litigants.
It doesn't, in this view, nor should it have any interest in chatting with the former president, at least if its stated mission remains getting to the truth of the matter, or any matter. Having Donald Trump check in from Mar-a-Lago for an extended Zoom round of "Liar Liar" has zero utility.
Fortunately, we're told that the committee has so much testimony from nearly 1,000 witnesses and more than 100,000 documents that it doesn't regard Trump's testimony to be terribly necessary. An Associated Press summation of the investigation's status on Monday included the following:
"The panel, comprised of seven Democrats and two Republicans, has said that the evidence it has compiled is enough to link Trump to a federal crime."
Seriously, this is where we are 16 months after the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries?
This is like being told that after a yearslong investigation, authorities now believe they can link Chernobyl to some type of explosion, perhaps nuclear.
In all fairness, I suppose, there's been a lot to look into and perhaps history will ultimately laud the Jan. 6 committee for its diligence in deconstructing a matter as explosive as an insurrection against the government, but the wait for these hearings — coming to a TV near you beginning June 9 — is worse than the wait for the return of "Ted Lasso."
Some will be in prime time, the committee has promised, so watch for where you can get coverage of the red carpet for those. I can't wait to see what Rudy's date — perhaps the assistant who claimed to have won the Miss Deplorable title three times, according to The Atlantic — is wearing.
The Committee is reportedly still wrestling litigants for John Eastman, the Trump operative who wrote the Insurrection for Dummies memo describing his fever dream that then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election by rejecting the electors from seven states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin, New Mexico and good old Pennsylvania. [Star Tribune opinion editor's note: On Thursday came news that the committee has subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, after they refused to cooperate with the panel's inquiry.]
Politico reports that Eastman is still shielding 20,000 pages of records the committee has requested, but 3,000 of particular interest will apparently suffice in advance of the hearings. The committee has already won a Supreme Court case against Trump for access to thousands of pages of his White House records, a potential mother lode of incriminating evidence.
Already logged into the record as well is testimony from the Trumps Who Occasionally Truth — Don Jr. and Ivanka. It was Don Jr., you'll remember, who went to texting as violence engulfed the Capitol, "He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand." Junior was trying to get White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to coax Trump to call off the rioters. Whom better to text during a riot over alleged election fraud than a man who was once registered to vote in three states?
The committee is already in possession of a small mountain of Meadows' texts, which is part of the reason committee member Jamie Raskin has predicted the hearings will "blow the roof off" the House.
Whether the roof flies all the way to Florida and flattens Trump like the Wicked Witch of West Palm (witch hunt!) remains a dubious outcome, as you know, because no one in American history has survived more smoking guns and bombshells and flying roofs than its 45th president.
But at the minimum, the hearings must present to the country a perfectly digestible narrative of what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, why those things happened, and what actions are mandatory so that they never happen again. These hearings were supposed to happen this winter, then this spring, and now we're talking about June 9, what most people would consider summer, although I'm sure you could get an argument about that, too.
If Republicans take over the House in November, the committee will trapdoor out of existence in no time. So yeah, that's the hurry. The longer this committee's work takes, the more it flirts with irrelevance.
Gene Collier is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.