Trump Did This
The lies, pressure, bullying, and threats.
Yesterday’s hearing was more powerful than we expected, so this is a jam-packed Morning Shots, with insights from our all-star team: Tim Miller, Mona Charen, Sarah Longwell, Will Saletan, Bill Kristol, and Amanda Carpenter.
We were reminded of the surpassing importance of honor and decency; and that sometimes just doing your job is heroic.
There are smoking guns all around. Even before the Insurrection, there are tapes (actual f**king tapes!) of Trump’s role in a massive conspiracy to overthrow the election.
As Georgia Secy of State Brad Raffensperger’s testimony reminded us, Trump’s falsehoods about the election were not merely lies, but easily and repeatedly refuted lies.
Trump did this. All of it: the pressure, the bullying, the threats, and yesterday we got a glimpse of the human toll. This deeply malevolent and reckless man brought the full weight of the American presidency to bear on low-level officials to violate their oaths, and to smear innocent private citizens who were trying to do their duty.
Trump was directly involved in the fraudulent elector plot. Via the Wapo:
At one point in Tuesday’s hearing, the committee shared evidence that Trump was pretty directly involved in the fake-elector plan. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Trump, on a conference call, introduced his lawyer John Eastman to talk about having the fake electors in place as a contingency.
Ronjon is busted. (See Amanda Carpenter below.)
Sarah Longwell: The Human Cost
Yesterday’s hearings were a stark and infuriating reminder that Donald Trump’s lies have had a meaningful human cost—and not just on those who were at the capitol when it was attacked by his supporters.
Grandmothers, widows, election workers and their families, have been abused and harassed because of conspiracy theories perpetrated in service of Trump’s election lies. In a particularly enraging moment, election worker Shaye Moss talked about Rudy Giuliani’s insane claim that she and her mother were changing votes and exchanging USB drives. And explained that the video feverishly circulating in right-wing circles as evidence of vote-tampering was actually footage of her mother passing her a “ginger mint.”
Obviously Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and the rest of the Kracken lunatics are incapable of shame. As are some of the 147 Republicans who refused to certify the 2020 election. But I’ve got to believe that there are many Republicans who—despite claiming they’re not paying attention to the hearings—are watching the testimony of people like Moss, Brad Raffensperger, and Rusty Bowers with a gnawing sense of dread. Aware, perhaps with renewed clarity, that by carrying water for Trump’s lies, they had a meaningful hand in unleashing devastation on many people’s lives. Including Rusty Bowers daughter, who, we learned yesterday, was dying of a terminal illness while her family was attacked because Bowers refused to betray his oath.
I hope those realizations keep them up at night.
Mona Charen: Glimmers of Hope
The June 21 hearing was both a gut punch and a bit of a silver lining. One feels a profound sense of shame on behalf of this country for what the Raffenspergers, Bowers, Sterlings, and especially Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman were put through.
Did you notice the detail that Raffensperger’s widowed daughter–in-law suffered a home invasion by the barbarians Trump inspired? Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss were forced from their homes and had their lives threatened and upended by the malicious lies Trump and his allies told. The racist filth directed their way reflects the moral regress of the Trump era.
Where is the silver lining? Every single person on that panel, and many, many more did the right thing because they have their heads screwed on straight and because they have working moral compasses. Rusty Bowers, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, grew emotional about his oath and his duty. It’s clear that even if he voted for Trump (a mistake, in my judgment) at least he has his priorities right. He worships God, not Trump.
Can’t say that for about a third of this country.
Tim Miller: We Need More Shayes
There have been a lot of powerful moments during these hearings but the only person who has brought me to tears in my living room is Shaye Moss.
Shaye is exactly the type of citizen that the "national conservatives" claim they are fighting for. She's not part of the woke elite. She doesn't dislike America. Before she was unfairly cancelled from her job she was a public servant who believed in the promise of America and worked a normal job in service to this country with dignity. She did so in part because her grandmother had instilled in her American values and a belief that "voting matters."
If she were white and blonde and if it was some liberal professor unfairly targeting her, you could imagine Shaye as a hero of the Tucker Carlson program, given a platform by the Daily Wire.
But as we all know Shaye Moss was not valorized for her work-ethic or service to our country in these quarters. Instead it was conservative media that vilified her. Based on a lie. A lie perpetrated by the most powerful man in America who targeted her and demonized her. He called her a "hustler" evoking the vile racist stereotypes he so often traffics in. She was singled out for smears by the president's drunk lawyer, a man who used to claim the mantle of America's mayor. Not Shaye Moss's America.
As a result of this deliberate attack from the Oval Office, Moss received the most despicable racist smears and threats. She feared for her safety. People went to her grandmother's house to try to complete a "citizen's arrest."
All of this harassment, her life upended, simply because she was caught doing her job by one "important" man who needed a scapegoat to soothe his wounded ego. A man happy to prey on an unimportant, regular person to maintain power for himself.
Just thinking about what he put her through is enough to make you wish someone could wipe that shit eating grin off his face to be honest. But alas we have to be better than that.
We will have to settle for honoring Shaye Moss, a great American who in front of the whole world put her own safety at risk, testifying to the truth, without malice towards the powerful people who did her wrong.
If only we had 300 million Shaye Mosses.
Amanda Carpenter: Ron Johnson and the Mysterious Package
Senator Ron Johnson doesn’t know a few things.
Like how a package of fake slates of electors for Michigan and Wisconsin showed up at his office on January 6th. Or why, at 12:37 p.m. that day, his Chief of Staff, who happens to be a former aide to Trump, texted a staffer to then-Vice President Mike Pence asking for advice on how Johnson should “hand” it to Pence.
Johnson says he never knew anything about any of that. Not until the House January 6th Committee, which he opposes, revealed the messages on Tuesday. All news to him! But he also says it’s all a mystery that absolutely no one needs to bother themselves solving. Huh.
CNN’s Manu Raju caught up with Johnson after the hearings, and Johnson told him it was a “staff-to-staff exchange and I was, basically unaware of it…we didn’t deliver it, and that’s the end of the story.”
When pressed, Johnson said, “I have no idea who delivered it,” that he “had no knowledge of this,” and he was only “aware we got something delivered that wanted to be delivered to the Vice President.” (Apparently, the package had a mind of its own?)
He thinks these are all good reasons that explain why there is “nothing to this.”
That seems a big problem, if not a considerable national security risk, no?
Remember, the creation of fake slates of electors from the seven swing states Trump lost was critical to Trump lawyer John Eastman’s plan to overthrow the election. His thinking was that if the seven states could transmit an alternate slate of electors, it could serve as a pretense to create “uncertainty” to put Pence in the position of declaring the presidency.
Johnson’s chief of staff told the Pence aide that Johnson needed to give Pence the fake slates of electors because the “archivist didn’t receive them.” At that point, Pence’s aide wrote back, “Do not give that to him.”
Even if Johnson didn’t know what was going on, Pence’s folks seemed to know they were about to be squeezed. How could that be?
Were any other members of Congress and staff members aware of mysterious packages of fake slates of electors floating around Capitol Hill?
The timing is especially curious.
The message from Johnson’s Chief of Staff to Pence’s aide was sent minutes before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveled in the joint session of Congress to certify Joe Biden’s win. That also happened right before Pence issued a public “Dear Colleague” letter stating he intended to certify the election. The pressure on Pence, at that moment, was mounting. And Pence’s staffer responded with urgency. The texts took place within a minute.
The Jan. 6th Committee has not decided whether it will ask to interview Johnson, but the relevant questions ask themselves.
Why did Johnson’s Chief of Staff believe Johnson would “hand” Pence fake electors? What did he think would happen if Johnson did so?
Who delivered the package to Johnson’s office?
What happened to the papers?
And, even if Johnson was this clueless, doesn’t he have some obligation to work with the Committee to clear up these questions? Despite Johnson’s efforts to shut them down, there’s definitely a story here that needs to be told. Johnson’s resistance answering them is going to be part of it.
Bill Kristol: Where Are The Conservatives?
I've been thinking about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. Really amazing. But one thought that occurred to me:
For decades, conservatives (including you and me!) have talked about the importance of responsible citizenship, political engagement at the local level, voluntarism, civil society, civic courage, etc.
Here are two remarkable examples. They've been praised by all of us Never Trumpers. They won't be praised by Trumpers. But what about all those intellectual conservatives who've kind of taken a pass on the Trump fight, but continue to be very concerned about all these questions of civil society.
Shouldn't some of them hail these examples? Are they doing so?
Will Saletan: “Plenary Power?”
A curious and damning phrase has surfaced in the Jan. 6 hearings. The phrase is “plenary authority.”
Last Thursday, we learned that John Eastman, the law professor who conspired with Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 election, used this phrase to describe the vice president’s power in counting electoral votes. And at a hearing on Tuesday, we learned that Eastman used the same phrase to describe the power of state officials to choose electors.
“Plenary authority” means unlimited power. It means that Eastman was telling Vice President Mike Pence and Republican state legislators they could do whatever they wanted. It means that all the talk we heard over the years from Eastman and other Trumpists about respecting the Constitution was a complete joke.
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