What the events of the week have shown is the need for much more investigation and examination of the events of January 6, the kind of who knew what and when that the attack on Capitol Hill, unprecedented in American history, deserves.
The trial, which appeared to be going at lightning speed in relation to most Senate business, was not just about whether Trump would be banned from running for office again. It was an opportunity, in front of a national audience, to present an account of what had happened, to ensure that the siege of the Capitol was not just another story among the many other extraordinary events of the last four years. The debates certainly generated interest, with around 10 to 12 million people watching. It’s not a gangbuster act, but it’s not a bust either.
The decision of House impeachment officials to focus much of their presentations on audio and video may not have swayed as many votes, but the sounds and sights will likely be among the memories. the most significant of the trial. A number of Capitol Hill reporters and employees are still a little in disbelief, if not traumatized, at what happened.
One of the more surreal scenes was watching senators look at security footage of themselves evacuating the chamber weeks earlier, with a mob of rioters just in the hallways. As one reporter covering the proceedings noted, the carefully presented case could be transcribed, quite easily, into a book. But the lack of witnesses throughout the proceedings felt like the removal of a third act, as so many questions remain unanswered about what happened.
McConnell’s statement, contradictory as it is, revealed a pervasive aspect of right-wing media: Whataboutism, or the tendency to change the subject once attention turns to Trump’s bad behavior. It was at the heart of the former president’s case, that his provocative pre-siege rhetoric was no different from what Democrats have said before.
McConnell rejected this. “It was different,” he says. “It was an increasingly intense crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an incumbent president who seemed determined to either reverse the voters’ decision or torch our institutions upon exiting.