On Jan. 6, 2021, tens of thousands of Americans traveled to Washington to support President Donald Trump as he made his case that the 2020 election was stolen.
I was planning to attend, but ultimately decided against going. I was still depressed about the election outcome. I couldn’t believe Joe Biden, of all people, was actually going to be our president.
Attending would have only further saddened me, because it would have reminded me of the other times I had traveled to D.C. to see Trump in person: once for his inauguration and once for a White House event. And now he wouldn’t be president anymore. Also, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of standing outdoors in cold winter weather for hours on end, and I could only imagine what pandemic protocols I’d have to endure throughout the day.
But I really wanted to go just to show my support, and I never dreamed there would be any sort of violence. After all, I had attended many Trump rallies over the years, and they were as peaceful and benign as state fairs.
The vast majority of Trump supporters on hand that day were civilized, law-abiding citizens. A few hundred, though — a tiny percentage of the whole — breached the Capitol building and created sickening optics that the world could not unsee. Some point to the selective video of police opening the doors and letting them in, but overlook other footage of people crashing through windows and barricades like a crazed mob.
In addition to strongly defending Trump in my book “Trumped-Up Charges!,” I have done so consistently in column after column over the years in my effort to change people’s minds about him, to get them to reconsider their original judgment, opening their minds to other points of view. So much of that was undone by the images of some of these invaders using flagpoles bearing Trump flags and Confederate flags to break into and vandalize that hallowed building.
We need to have a zero-tolerance mindset to ensure that our sacred halls of Congress — whether or not we voted for whatever party is in charge — are never invaded that way again. And it would have been great to have a congressional committee conduct a thorough investigation and issue a report. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Instead, a kangaroo committee handpicked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, composed of Democrats infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome and Republicans who’ve been Never Trumpers from Day 1, devoted 845 pages to reaching four hollow conclusions with no legal basis. Someone should tell their environmentalist base about all the trees they killed to produce an oversized report long on words and short on substance.
To suggest that this was a bipartisan committee is a mockery. It would be like claiming that a baseball committee is made up of half New York Yankees fans and half Boston Red Sox fans because there are an equal number of members from New York and from Boston — but without explaining that not only are all the New Yorkers Yankees fans, but the ones selected from Boston are Yankees fans, too!
The committee takes us down two long and unpleasant paths, reminding us of the ugly details surrounding the Capitol invasion, including the disturbing mindset of some who fancied themselves “soldiers” standing on alert to follow their “commander’s” orders to wage war, and also describing how just about every person close to Trump, including his top advisers and his own children, told him that his claims of widespread fraud were unfounded, but he refused to accept that conclusion.
The committee also describes how Trump appeared more concerned that Mike Pence let him down than with all the violence going on at the Capitol.
Americans can draw their own conclusions about how this affects their overall evaluation of Trump and whether they would vote for him again. But none of what Trump did or didn’t do amounts to a crime.
The committee recommended that Trump be charged with four criminal counts: 1) obstruction of an official proceeding; 2) conspiracy to defraud the United States; 3) conspiracy to make a false statement; and 4) incitement of an insurrection.
Trump told the Jan. 6 rally attendees to go to the Capitol and “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” The committee — much like its establishment media messenger boys — conveniently omitted that from the record.
Yes, Trump did indeed tell them to “fight like hell,” but immediately cited Rudy Giuliani — a diminutive septuagenarian — as a prime example of a “fighter.” Surely no one mistook Giuliani for a stormtrooper.
Unless Trump personally invaded the Capitol or unequivocally directed others to do so, he neither obstructed an official proceeding nor incited an insurrection.
Moreover, if Trump sincerely believed there was widespread fraud — no matter how implausible that theory turned out to be — he did not conspire to make a false statement or to defraud.
Kellyanne Conway, who knows Trump about as well as anyone and who repeatedly suggested that he concede with dignity, insists that in his heart, he really thought he won. He has a constitutional right to believe in those theories even when those around him try to convince him otherwise. That’s not a crime.
There are other absurdities in the committee’s so-called logic. The report indicates that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol and was denied for security reasons. Why would he want to go there if he knew there would be so much danger?
Also, Jan. 6 damaged Trump politically. Even though he remains very popular among many if not most Republicans, he is no longer the obvious 2024 presidential nominee. Surely he understood that an embarrassing debacle like the Capitol invasion would damage his legacy. So why on earth would anyone think he supported such a thing?
It’s also true that Trump didn’t want the crowd to leave even after the violence erupted, but that doesn’t mean he supported the violence. He did want it to be “wild” in the sense that it would be historic.
In 1995, Louis Farrakhan invited African-American men from throughout the country to attend a “Million Man March” in D.C. Ultimately, about half that number showed up. Similarly, Trump wanted an enormous wave of supporters — a sea of MAGA hats flooding the National Mall so that Congress members inside would take notice and reconsider their intent to certify the electors.
The committee knows that full well, but falsely conflates Trump’s intent to overwhelm Congress with hundreds of thousands of “peaceful and patriotic” protesters with the criminal actions of a tiny sliver of those on hand.
Finally, just because some people took it upon themselves to invade the Capitol building because of Trump’s highly charged rhetoric of “stolen election” and “widespread fraud” doesn’t make it Trump’s fault any more than it’s the fault of Martin Scorcese, Robert DeNiro and Jodie Foster that as a result of watching the film “Taxi Driver,” John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.