But making this the final hearing would be a big mistake. The committee should hold more hearings in October and November, including on primetime, before releasing the final report.
The country desperately needs to learn more about the effort to overturn the 2020 election, and that education needs to take place in a public forum. As the midterm elections approach, and even after they are done, it is essential that the committee keeps this investigation front and center.
At the heart of its findings have been the ways in which the Trump administration, as well as a number of Republican elected officials, partook in an intentional and well-orchestrated effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Some Republican members’ campaign to overturn the legitimate results of an election is not just one story among many — it is the story of our times. Historically speaking, it was unique, without precedent. These radical conservatives did almost everything possible, including stoking mob violence against Congress and the Vice President (a member of the same party), to keep the losing candidate in power.
In its work thus far, the bipartisan January 6 committee has done an admirable job bringing to the public shocking revelations about the insurrection and helped to put together different pieces of it into a coherent narrative.
This is no easy task in our age of fragmented media consumption and disinformation. Despite all we knew about former President Donald Trump’s efforts to stay in power, with the support of many top Republican officials, the committee showed that January 6 was far more shocking than we first understood.
The members of the committee have been deliberate in thinking about how to convey discoveries in ways that are digestible and compelling. Each hearing told a new part of the story and introduced the country to less-known figures from the administration who witnessed the instability that our democracy experienced in those months. Each hearing was not just important for revealing what happened, but also for foregrounding the risks to future elections unless there is reform and accountability.
By exposing the truth, the committee achieved what some of the most effective congressional investigations have been able to do in the past. When we think of why certain congressional committees, such as the Watergate committee in 1973, were so powerful, it is because they were able to force the public to grapple with evidence of wrongdoing at the highest levels of power.
But there are many other moments, such as the Watergate and January 6 committees, where the results have been powerful and benefited the health of the country. These hearings have helped the electorate better understand the inner workings of Washington, they have exposed wrongdoing and the abuse of power, they have made coherent fragments of stories and they have forced the public to reckon with issues that did not directly impact their pocketbooks.
Congress can’t let this happen. While the January 6 committee’s role is not to push voters into one partisan camp or the other, Thompson, Cheney and their colleagues have an obligation to do what they can to ensure that when voters cast their ballot this November, they know what they are voting for and what candidates have been willing to do in pursuit of power. When candidates run on election denialism, the public must understand clearly the very real consequences that come from this kind of rhetoric.
We are at a turning point with our democracy. While the campaign to overturn the election failed, the Republicans pursuing this strategy came extraordinarily close to victory — and they engaged in dangerous violence along the way.
This must be on every voter’s mind as they decide what kinds of people they want leading this nation in the future. And after the midterms are over, our elected officials must ensure that voters keep thinking about what happened as the nation begins to turn its attention to the next presidential election.