Count me as a Democrat disappointed by the way my party has responded to Donald Trump—with narratives that often prove untrue. Two impeachments by House members failed because they were undertaken on a partisan basis.
The House Jan. 6 hearings offered an opportunity to examine Mr. Trump’s activities carefully. But it didn’t happen. Thursday’s opening statements by Chairman
and Republican Rep.
were more like prosecutors’ closing arguments than introductions to a fact-finding inquiry. Ms. Cheney read aloud a statement by Mr. Trump that was supposed to implicate him in inciting his followers—but she left out that he told his followers: “Go home.”
The committee members included harsh Trump critics like Rep.
rejected Republican members nominated by Minority Leader
and allowed only Mr. Trump’s outspoken Republican opponents—Ms. Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger—to serve on the committee. As a result, chances for a bipartisan outcome were lost and any minority report will be undertaken outside the committee. There will be no consensus on any findings, only further polarization.
The country is desperate for pragmatic problem solving and at least an attempt by leaders to collaborate across partisan and ideological lines. This applies not only to Jan. 6 but to the economy, national security, immigration, homelessness and crime. That isn’t what we are getting.
Republicans, too, are guilty of pursuing one-party approaches and reflexively opposing anything put forward by the Democratic administration or congressional leaders—including firearms-control legislation. Both parties seem to be directed by their fringe elements. The test of these approaches will come in November midterm elections.
The Jan. 6 hearings will have a long run. There remains time for testimony and exhibits that address unanswered questions: Why didn’t clear advance warnings of trouble result in enhanced security in and around the Capitol? Why was there such a long delay before reinforcements arrived? Did Mr. Trump’s encouragement of the demonstrators extend to planning and direction of their Capitol invasion?
Americans, including me, want a full accounting of everything surrounding the Jan. 6 chaos. It wasn’t a Fort Sumter-like insurrection, but it was an unprecedented and uncalled-for planned disruption of a vital constitutional process—the validation of electoral votes—and an offense against the rule of law. The hearings shouldn’t be a nonstop prosecution but a traditional, serious inquiry into everything and everyone involved in Jan. 6. The country needs the latter. So do both political parties.
Mr. Van Dyk was active in Democratic national policy and politics for 40 years. He is author of “Heroes, Hacks and Fools.”
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