The January 6th Committee: What has been discovered and what is to come


Photo used with permission from Google Commons

The January 6 committee’s investigation has continued, with public, primetime hearings to come in June.

In a hectic, constantly changing news environment, it can be easy to let some stories drift to the back of one’s mind.. This mental cataloging should be avoided with one of the most important stories of our time; one that is still being broken.  The January 6th committee has not yet completed or released their investigation into one of the darkest days in American history. Despite the lack of an official report, what they have discovered makes clear that American democracy was far closer to collapsing at the hands of former President Trump and his allies than previously known. There have been several discoveries by the committee that illustrate just how perilous of a state American democracy was in. These discoveries demonstrate the extent to which the Trump White House was organizing an effort to obstruct the electoral college counting process, in a last-ditch effort to retain power.

The judicial system

A federal judge found there was likely criminal conduct committed by Trump. This judge’s opinion was in context with a case about John Eastman, an ally of the president claiming attorney client privilege to shield communications between himself and the president from public view. Judge David Carter wrote, “Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.

Carter went on to write, “If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution. . If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself.

As Richard Nixon resigned and was pardoned before a hearing, this opinion is the first instance in which a federal judge determined a president committed a crime while in office. Eastman’s central argument was that the Electoral Count Act of 1887 was unconstitutional, giving former Vice president Mike Pence the ability to ignore it. To that point, Carter said, “Disagreeing with the law entitled President Trump to seek a remedy in court, not to disrupt a constitutionally-mandated process. And President Trump knew how to pursue election claims in court — after filing and losing more than sixty suits, this plan was a last-ditch attempt to secure the Presidency by any means.

As judges cannot enforce their own rulings, the eventual burden of prosecuting a case against the Trump White House or Trump himself falls to the Department of Justice, led by Merrrick Garland. Some have been frustrated at the seemingly slow pace of Garland’s DOJ, as in the event Republicans recapture the House, the January 6th committee would likely be disbanded. 

Law enforcement testimony

Some of the most emotionally charged testimony  was that of  law enforcement officers WHO were overrun by a violent mob during Jan. 6.  The Metropolitan Police’s Micheal Fanone described his experience heading to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to assist the Capitol Police. According to NPR, he said the scene he found as he worked his way to the Capitol’s West Front, where thousands of rioters were violently clashing with police, was “nothing short of brutal.”

Fanone went on to derrigate those in Congres s”downplaying or outright denying what happened” that day, saying, “I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful!” Fanone shouted as he pounded the witness table. “Nothing, truly nothing has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day. And in doing so betray their oath of office.” 

Daniel Hodges, another member charged with protecting the Capitol that day, repeatedly called the members of the mob attack on the Capitol “terrorists” and later, when pressed on why he used that term, cited the section of U.S. Code defining domestic terrorism. He said that to his “perpetual confusion, I saw the ‘thin blue line’ flag, the symbol of support for law enforcement, more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our commands and continued to assault us.”

The Fox-Trump connection 

Fox News has long existed as a news outlet with a conservative bent, according to media bias examiners. However, their hosts appeared to exercise strategic influence with the former president, as subpoenas have released the texts of Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham to former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The link between Fox News and the Trump White House is even more tight than previously known, as these revealed texts demonstrated the direct access Fox hosts had to the Trump White House.

“The implications of a Fox News-Trump White House alignment are scary,” said Angelo Carusone, president and CEO of Media Matters for America, a media watchdog. He elaborated, saying, “Because you cannot have any kind of functional authoritarian or anti-democratic environment unless you have some really powerful propaganda tools. And once you have this kind of synchronization, then basically what you have is a pretty important ingredient in order to drive a whole range of policies,” Carusone said.

Ingraham appeared to acknowledge Trump had swayed over insurrectionists, conflicting her on-air claim Trump supporters were not responsible for the attack. “Hey Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Ingraham wrote.

Furthermore, when Meadows was telling Hannity what to message, and which states to encourage voting, Hannity responded “yes sir.”


The committee has subpoenaed many allies of the former president, and recently subpoenaed, among other House members, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy. According to ABC, “Committee members argued that McCarthy, Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Mo Brooks of Alabama all had information that could help the committee’s investigation into the Capitol attack and efforts by former President Donald Trump to overturn the results of the last election.” 

However, in continuing with the trend established by Trump’s first impeachment, potential witnesses have ignored subpoenas, most prominently former presidential advisor Steve Bannon. He has been held in contempt of Congress, but this repeated process for all important witnesses will waste valuable time, potentially preventing the committee from finishing its work before the midterm elections. 

Televised hearings

Despite the significant details already released by the committee or leaked to the media, there is more information to come in the early summer. During June there will be televised, primetime hearings, suggesting the release of evidence exceeding anything previously exposed by the committee. 

What is this investigation building toward? The most significant action would be a criminal referral to the justice department, which would indicate the committee has concluded criminal action was committed. However, the committee’s power is limited beyond this referral and potentially influencing public opinion. 

A potential criminal referral would likely lead to the prosecution of a former president for attempting to overthrow an election (the kind of sentence Americans typically associate with developing countries). There are not many chances to ensure the results of elections are upheld, before the next coup succeeds. This committee has the opportunity to highlight, and the justice department to prosecute, those who view democracy simply as an inconvenient way to gain power.