The US Congress does not get a definitive test against Trump: he will be able to present himself in 2024

In the fall of 2021, journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa published their book profilein which everything that happened during the last months of the presidency of donald trump. The book, the third part of the Trump trilogy written by Woodward – the other two parts, fear Y anger without help from Costa-, focused on the months before the 2020 presidential elections, with the outbreak of the pandemic, the mobilizations of the movement black lives matter and, of course, the electoral campaign itself.

However, the most relevant part of the investigation had to do with what happened afterwards, that is, with the transition of powers. The last pages of the book are a string of usual suspects -Bannon, Trump Jr., Giuliani, Meadows, Roger Stone…- always ready to feed the conspiracy dreams of the still president. all this, culminating in the famous rally on January 6, 2021 on the esplanade next to the Capitolafter which a large number of organized groups formed by the Proud Boys and other violent associations linked to the American far right decided to enter the seat of national sovereignty with sticks and guns, just when the vice president Mike Pence was counting the electoral votes and the appointment of Joe Biden as a new president-elect was imminent.

Just about everything we know about the January 6 coup attempt is in that book, and anyone who has followed the House of Representatives investigative committee process knows that it served as a more than helpful guide at the time. to name witnesses and direct questions. The issue, now that said commission has finished its work, is to determine what was expected of it and what results it has obtained. In other words, to what extent do we now know more about the involvement of Donald Trump and his administration in the storming of the Capitol than we did on July 1, 2021 when the committee began its activities?

Image of Trump in the Committee investigating the assault on the Capitol.

Image of Trump in the Committee investigating the assault on the Capitol.


unrewarded bravery

From the outset, the main task of the committee was to make public at the national level -several of its sessions were televised throughout the country- what only a group of readers knew about. In addition, their investigations have in turn led to parallel processes: Steve Bannon is under judicial investigation, as are the Proud Boysthe Oath Keepers and Trump himself may be when it becomes clear what degree of intervention was there on your part in the attempted vote rigging in Georgia.

Of all the testimonies, perhaps the most relevant was that of Cassidy Hutchinson, the young aide to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff during the events of January 6. Hutchinson, imitating Alexander Butterfield, the brave army officer and aide to Richard Nixon who revealed during the Watergate investigation all the details regarding the recording and location of microphones in the Democratic electoral campaign complex, rebelled against the pressure received and affirmed that Trump’s behavior had been erratic and violent throughout the day and that he had refused to send a message to the mob demanding his withdrawal of the Capitol.

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Is that enough to establish Trump’s guilt? It does not seem. Another thing would be a memorandum, a written order, a recording. The testimony of someone who says that another person has told him that Trump has decided … falls short. Probably, by now, any American not blinded by bigotry has a pretty good idea of ​​what happened on January 6, 2021… but it’s still missing that ultimate test that establishes that Donald Trump, in the first person, was behind that movement, supported it or was willing to condone it after the fact. In fact, one of the recurring complaints within these anti-establishment factions is that Trump could have pre-emptively pardoned the assailants and did not dare to do so.

It seems that there has been a lot of effort in the committee to affirm something for which there is not enough strong evidence. The fact that the two parties have not worked together has damaged the investigation and has led to a shame on american democracy. The committee has been too controlled by the Democratic majority, with the exception of the Republican Liz Cheneya staunch enemy of Trump and a probable rival in the party’s next primaries for 2024. The little interest that the Republicans have shown in knowing the reasons for the assault on their own congressmen clashes with the excessive zeal of the Democrats when it comes to linking Trump with all the different plots.

Liz Cheney during an election rally in Jackson, Wyoming.

Liz Cheney during an election rally in Jackson, Wyoming.


Recommendations that you will not follow

That effort does not translate into definitive evidence. The committee’s conclusions point, of course, to Trump, how could it be otherwise, but its specific implication is not clear. If Trump summoned the extreme right groups with the idea of ​​making them march on the Capitol, the fact is that it has not been possible to prove it. Should his coup rhetoric, his verbal excesses, his excessive pressure on Vice President Pence and his contempt for constitutional legality remain forever in his political debt? Undoubtedly. But a congressional committee is something else. He does not judge intentions, but facts.

And that is where it has fallen short. The conclusions are too stark for the grounds on which they are based. The committee recommends to the House of Representatives that Trump be banned from holding any public office, but the House, in a few days, will pass into Republican hands and the elected Republicans, many of them thanks to Trump, are not going to pay any attention to that recommendation. It must be remembered that, even with a Democratic majority, Congress ended up acquitting Trump in his second impeachment process. impeachment. To think that this is going to change now with practically the same information that was then science fiction.

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A) Yes, Trump will be able to run without problems in the 2024 elections if he so decides. At least it won’t be Congress stopping him. Another thing will be in what end the investigations by misappropriation of classified documents or the alleged attempt to manipulate the results of the vote in the state of Georgia. These are legal issues related to what happened on January 6, but in no case are they focused on the acts of that day. Trump will still have to jump several hurdles to reach the goal, but the one for Congress can consider it passed.

A badly damaged reputation

Does that mean that the opinion of the committee and the eight hundred pages full of transcripts are not going to affect the former president politically? That would be taking for granted theory that his voters would support him even if he started shooting in the middle of Fifth Avenue. Trump’s reputation has been seriously damaged for a long time and this has been demonstrated by the results of several of his candidates in the last legislative elections. There are around the billionaire too many shady characters with very dangerous friendships. Not even a month ago the former president himself was dining at his Mar-A-Lago residence with a Holocaust denier.

That is not going to help him in any way to win the independent vote, which was so propitious for him in 2016. And, as always, it will be the independent vote that will place him or not in the White House or, even, that will allow him to or not win the nomination. The Republican Party will have sighed with relief when it was confirmed that the committee did not have any solid evidence against its de facto leader. Now, all those indications that the investigation has been collecting, all those testimonies that accuse Trump of complacency at least, will end up being used by his rivals as soon as the primaries begin.

And the clues, the comments, the intuitive connections, which are not enough in a court or a legislative committee, are enough in the campaign, that is, at the polls. We will have to see who now dares to use them and delegitimize the only Republican administration in the White House in the last sixteen years.

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