The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The truth in 2022 is our strongest weapon against the lies that fed the insurrection

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in D.C. on Jan. 6. (Julio Cortez/AP)
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One year ago, on Jan. 1, 2021, I wrote: “Over a span of 14 days this month, our nation’s capital will bear witness to three events that will tell us much about the state of American democracy: a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, where electoral votes cast in December will be read and counted aloud; protests in downtown Washington scheduled for the same day; and the Jan. 20 inauguration of the president of the United States.

"How will our country look after all this is over?”

The insurrection was seen coming.

“Wednesday will be a day of acrimony, probably to [President Donald] Trump’s delight, because, at the very least, the disruption will cast a cloud over the incoming president, Joe Biden,” I wrote. “It could, however, be worse than that,” I predicted, adding, “Trump’s forces are coming.”

The New Year’s Day 2021 column closed with this observation:

“Imagine Congress assembling to count electoral college votes in the midst of Trump-encouraged chaos.” And with this warning: “Trump isn’t calling his followers to Washington for sport. Or to make lawmakers nervous. Or to dominate the news cycle. Trump wants to overturn the 2020 election and take the presidential oath on Jan. 20. This is our current state.”

Five days later, all hell broke loose at the seat of American democracy.

It didn’t take a soothsayer to forecast the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. It was a simple matter of telling the truth about what was being said and done at the time. About Trump’s incitement of supporters to mass in Washington to pressure Congress not to approve the election results. About Trump’s desperate scheming to find new ways to alter the outcome of the presidential election. About the betrayal of accepted standards of political morality by a cult of Republican lawmakers who willfully interrupted congressional certification with unfounded fraud claims.

And so, too, today it doesn’t require the wisdom of a prophet to foresee continued attempts by Trump and his Republican acolytes to subvert the House select committee on the Jan. 6 insurrection from successfully investigating that infamous day of violence and its causes.

Trump doesn’t want the story told about what he did and failed to do as his mob of supporters assembled and forced their way into the Capitol, leaving in their wake a trashed and desecrated building and battered bodies of Capitol Hill police. Trump wants to ward off disclosures about actions of his henchmen holed up in the Willard hotel and their schemes on behalf of his unconstitutional power grab, including efforts to block certification of the electoral college vote. Trump doesn’t want the covers lifted off possible connections between the insurrectionists and his congressional foot soldiers or White House operatives.

Trump is desperate to the point of asking the Supreme Court to halt the release of his White House records to the House select committee. He has gone so far as to cite an interview reported in a Post article as evidence of a congressional witch hunt being launched against him. Hey, aren’t we “fake news”?

Trump might also want select committee chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and ranking Republican Liz Cheney (Wyo.) gone as well. But they, like the truth, are not going away. Nor should they.

Trump tested our democracy in a way only America’s worst enemy could.

For that, there must be a public accounting, in all its ugly details. Our modern-day Pearl Harbor deserves the spotlight of truth.

One year ago, in the waning days of his presidency, Trump irrevocably befouled his term of service by not accepting the voters’ verdict. Instead, he then — as now — falsely portrayed the outcome as fraudulent.

The presidency should never again be dragged down to the depth of Trump’s despicable behavior.

The Thompson committee has no choice but to forge ahead. Anything less will allow Trump’s lie to continue its damaging spread at the expense of the awful truth about the attempted subversion of the Constitution on Jan. 6.

That cannot be allowed to happen. Nor can that damnable lie stand.

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