Mob rule. The J6 Hearing
The original schedule for the J6 Hearings was 7 days of televised hearings followed by a public release of their report in September. With the ‘surprise witness,’ White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, testifying live on June 28, an additional day of hearings was added.
Day 7 would be occupied by ‘urgings,’ what the President entertained, urged, ordered, decided, leading up to January 6.
Day 8, currently scheduled for Thursday, July 21, would be devoted to a time-line presentation documenting what the President did not urge, direct, decide on January 6.
‘Urgings,’ day 7, to be followed by ‘resistances,’ day 8.
The two-week hiatus between Day 6, June 28 and Day 7, was required as well by the precipitate of former White House Counsel to the President Pat Cipollone’s testimony, parts of which were played during today’s hearing.
Consider a moment of gratitude for Ms. Hutchinson triggering Cipollone’s testimony. During Day 6, Hutchinson recounted several times on January 5 and 6 when Cipollone lamented Trump’s urging the White House/Pence assault.
Cipollone gave over 7 hours testimony to the J6 legal team on July 8, which meant four days hastily incorporating his testimony into the public presentation. Consider this Herculean task. Committee member, Rep. Zoe Lofgren described the effort, “We are sort of building the plane as we are flying it.” (1)
During his recorded testimony, Cipollone seemed irked, annoyed by the J6 counsel questioning. His answers were forced, resembling verbal forays from the fox hole of attorney-client privilege. Cipollone did not mention Trump by name. During one sequence, Cipollone appeared to go “off script,” pronouncing, “I will tell you this… Vice President Pence is a true patriot …and deserves the Medal of Freedom…” a paean to the former Vice President for doing his job.
The addition of Cipollone’s testimony led the Day 7 interrogators — Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Jamie Raskin — to ‘whip’ the public attention between recorded video clips from Cipollone, to Sidney Powell, to Mike Flynn, to ‘here a staffer, there a staffer,’ to Roger Stone, to an unnamed Twitter employee …
The effect was breath-taking.
The substance was multi-faceted: lots of voices, lots of urgings.
The addition of Sidney Powell — in particular, the presence of Sidney Powell — curdled this observer’s blood. Swilling a can of Dr. Pepper, a disdainful Powell helped remind the audience how close America came to an authoritarian coup on December 18.
To hell with executive privilege, we’re talking betrayal of the President here.
When asked if she witnessed anyone attempting to influence Trump to stop the “stop the steal” nonsense, Powell referred to the White House “stop the steal” challengers thusly: ‘if I were sitting in the big chair, I would have fired the bunch of them and called security to escort them out of the White House.’
A non-answer in one sense; a voluble threat in another sense.
The first half of Day 7’s hearing focused on a sequence of events leading up to and ending with a Presidential tweet. Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney used the pre-recorded testimony to keep audience attention on a White House ‘night of terror,’ December 18, culminating in three words tweeted by the Mobster-in-Chief in the early hours of December 19:
“Will be wild.”
On December 14, Trump was desperate in a 25th amendment way.
December 14 marked the deadline for the states’ electoral college votes to be returned to the US Senate for certification and declaration of transfer of power.
Trump had lost to Biden. Trump had lost to Biden by a sizable margin.
On December 16 Trump received a draft of an ‘Executive order’ (2) authorizing the Department of Homeland Security to seize voting machines in multiple states. The draft did not come from the White House legal team but a from a ‘campaign legal team’ including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, a legal “advisor,” who with Giuliani had been assembling false occurrences of “voter fraud,” in an effort to upturn electoral results in “swing states.” On the evening of December 18, Mike Flynn, military advisor, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and former Overstock.com CEO, Patrick Byrne, were called to the White House to discuss the executive order draft, to discuss implementation and to couch the order in pseudo-legal terms that would satisfy a what would be a wary country.
According to Cipollone, after arriving at the meeting, he quickly surmised that his presence as White House counsel to the President would not be heeded. After several minutes Cipollone and his deputy left the meeting. Recall that the primary task of the White House counsel is to advise the President when he or she violates the Constitution, thereby risking placing the government in a “constitutional crisis.”
What evolved from the meeting, Cheney summarized , was a plan to seize voting machines and decertify election results with Powell, appointed “election czar,” with broad authority to direct the effort.
This was part of the coup. The other part involved the Vice President.
A rally was discussed and scheduled for January 6, the day the Vice President would certify the Electoral College results. An earlier assembly permit filed by Women for Trump for January 22 and 23, the days after the Inauguration, was moved up to January 6. At 1:42am on the morning of December 19, Trump invited Twitter followers to come to the rally on the Ellipse, January 6.
“Be there. Will be wild,” the President tweeted.
Within hours following the President’s tweet, “Wildprotest.com” was launched, urging visitors to the site to ‘come to Washington, and come prepared to fight for our country.’ The Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two white militant groups, players in the Charlottesville, Virginia protest drama violence, relayed the message to their followers.
Everyone knew what “will be wild” meant.
On July 12, during a break in the J6 hearings, MSNBC legal contributor Joyce Vance coached viewers that ‘from a prosecutor’s view, the essence of proving a conspiracy is an agreement between parties to achieve certain (illegal) objectives.’ The fact that a grand jury had just returned a charge of seditious conspiracy against the Oath Keepers and their leader, Stewart Rhodes, did not make necessarily for a criminal case against former President Donald Trump.
Was there an agreement between parties?
Though not the mission of the J6 to ferret out criminal charges against a former President, the credibility of the J6 Committee’s work and the credulity of the American public would nonetheless be impacted by the appearance, conviction and presence of criminality.
Further affecting Vance’s and the public’s assurance that accountability would be rendered was the role of social media in the alleged conspiracy. Trump communicates through Twitter, hardly the go-to platform for conspiracy to commit sedition.
Or is it? Bespoke ‘intent.’ (3)
What exactly did Trump intend?
Cheney didn’t miss a beat in her drill down to ‘what happened,’ leading up to January 6. She mentioned the word, “intent,” several times during her questioning. Demonstrating proof of “intent” would help the audience find the sweet spot of equal protection and equal accountability, of accountability and justice. More than patience — the stuff of Vance’s cautioning — would be required of the audience. A solidarity in witnessing would be required, literally, a re-experiencing the terror of violent sedition.
To assist in this effort, the J6 Committee presented live testimony from two witnesses plucked from the mob culture whose threat “to set things right,” resulted in the January 6 Capitol assault.
Who better to revisit the terror of January 6 than two former participants in this culture?
The J6 Committee waded through the mountain of evidence and videos seeking actors who would speak out about their participation. The Committee recruited two voices, Stuart Ayres and Jason Van Tatenhove. Van Tatenhove, who did not attend the January 6 “Stop the Steal” Rally could convincingly speak to the on-going threat of terrorism to democracy.
The witness, who did attend and participate in the January 6 Attack, Stuart Ayres, was subpoenaed thanks to an iPhone video identifying him entering the Capitol. A “family man,” and eager to join in the ‘fight,’ Ayres played the role of the ‘guy next door,’ the contrite victim of indulging a social media fueled anger and ‘swept up,’ traveling by bus with other protestors to Washington DC.
Jason Van Tatenhove, a former member and spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, came across during the hearings as a remorseful miscreant. Van Tatenhove opened his testimony with a cri de coeur: he joined what he felt at the time was a noble effort to “stand-off” government ‘oppression.’ (4) learning ‘later’ that the Oath Keepers were a ‘para-military group’ led by a para-military ‘general,’ Stewart Rhodes.
‘They are just like us.’
Notable was what and whom these two represented. Both are white, young, disaffected. They do not come across as cartoon replicas of Tony Soprano. Both spoke with veiled emotion: think anger management group session.
Ayres, ‘swept up’ by the social media-emboldened mob and what seemed like Trump talking over his shoulder, is a newbie-follower, a late-night convert to the internet militant culture.
Van Tatenhove, a former member of a ‘white militia,’ one who left after suffering a moment of enlightenment (5).
One who did not attend the January 6 Insurrection.
Both came forward, presumably never to return to the terrorist clans — Ayres faces criminal charges for illegal entry and destruction of government property; Van Tatenhove faces an uncertain future, jobless and without a viable career path.
These two were not present to sanitize what they did, nor lend credibility to their human deviancy. What both demonstrated for the audience was the persistence of terror groups in America and Trump’s concerted intent (6) to tap into and manipulate these groups in reinstalling himself to power.
Ayres shared that he did not leave the Capitol until so instructed by the President at 4:17pm.
No ‘agreement to conspire’ necessary:’ Trump and allies had been ‘grooming’ these groups for insurrection.
A militant Ponzi Scheme
What America witnessed moreover was a militant Ponzi scheme at work. (7) Promising to “Take back America,” the insurrectionist militant groups all conform to a pyramid like structure. Trump added to his Ellipse speech an explicit overture for strong-arming RINOs and other ‘weak individuals’ to ‘do the right thing.’
To be accepted, to demonstrate fealty to a leader or elite, participants are asked to perform tasks that involve risk. The greater the risk, the more outrageous the ‘ask,’ the more genuine the loyalty.
Transaction is ‘front of mind.’
Words like ‘wuss,’ ‘wimpy’ and ‘pussy’ summon.
Bespoke mob intent.
‘Present today is another survivor of the January 6 Attack on the Capitol, one whom you may know from previous hearings, Sgt. Aquillino Gonell of the Capitol Police. Sgt. Gonell learned on June 28 from his doctor that as a result of damage to his right shoulder and left foot, incurred during the January 6 Attack, Sgt. Gonell will not be able to perform the duties of a policeman.’
-Rep. Jamie Raskin, Closing Remarks, Day 7
Today, Ayres is out of a job. Yesterday, Ayres sold his house. Today, Van Tatenhove faces exposure for his betrayal to the terrorist cell. Today, Gonell cannot pursue his dream.
During the filing out of the Committee room after Thompson gaveled the hearing to a close, the camera caught an awkward moment as Ayres, Van Tatenhove and Gonell passed each other on the way to the exit door. (8)
As one witnessed during Day 7 Hearings, the three “survived the attack” on the Capitol: one (Ayres) with a felony sentence; one (Van Tatenhove) with a horrible premonition; one (Gonell) with a broken and scarred body and recurring nightmares.
It's not as if they came from different ‘sides of a law-abiding society.’
In this moment all three represent America —chastened, disheartened, broken.
1-Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren, MSNBC, July 11
2-It is currently unclear who authored the Executive Order directing the DHS to seize voting machines in “swing states.” Though Powell’s name was mentioned several times by J6 and though she probably had a hand in drafting it, the campaign legal team, not the White House legal staff were responsible and presumably were following a request from the President without the knowledge of the White House legal staff and Cipollone.’
3- “Bespoke: made for a specific customer or use,” Google.
In the ‘digital-newsetertainment’ domain, “bespoke intent,” or “customized intent” is a pseudo-legal tactic for eluding accountability. See also note 6.
5-Van Tatenhove recalled for the Committee a conversation between Oath Keepers in a Eureka, Montana grocery store. The members were discussing how the Holocaust was a hoax. Van Tatenhove returned home to tell his wife and family that he was going to quit his job as spokesperson for the Oath Keepers.
6-”Trump’s concerted intent;” the dual nature of Trump’s bespoke intent, sow mistrust in government institutions and reward political violence.
8-In a poignant display, captured on camera, Ayres approached members of the Capitol Police prior to the hearing to thank them and offer his apologies.