While testifying on Thursday night, documentary filmmaker Nick Quested stated that, as he followed the Proud Boys from point to point on Jan. 6, he watched the crowd turn from “protesters to rioters to insurgents.” It was a transformation that everyone who was sitting stunned in front of their televisions on Jan. 6 witnessed, and the clips of that day brought home those moments again.
But those who tuned in on Thursday night saw tantalizing hints of what’s to come, and a good signal that scenes of militant white supremacists smashing through the windows of the Capitol are not going to be the most shocking revelations. Not even close. The most shocking scenes, the things that are really going to radiate out and turn from ripples into waves, were only hinted at.
We saw what’s coming in a single slide of conversations between Fox News’ Sean Hannity and former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in which they openly weighed removing Trump under the 25th Amendment. We saw what’s coming in all the scenes—from a slouching William Barr, to Ivanka’s dead-eyed stare—where Trump ally after Trump ally admitted that they had always known there was nothing to the lies about a stolen election. And that Trump knew it, too.
We heard that tantalizing hint that there exists a list of Republicans who contacted Trump between Jan. 6 and the end of his time in the White House, seeking a pardon for their part in the conspiracy. We even heard it in the interviews that took place after the hearing, where Rep. Adam Schiff mentioned that, why yes, the committee did look into those “tours” that were being given in advance of Jan. 6, and that will be a topic for later hearings.
On Jan. 6, Quested saw the crowd around him cross the line from lawful protest to lawless rioting to seditious insurrectionists. But the truth is that many of those he had come there to film—the Proud Boys and Oathkeepers among them—started out that morning already standing on that final square. They came to Washington, D.C., not with the intention of attending a protest, but of participating in an insurrection they had been planning for weeks. That’s exactly the charge many of them are already facing.
What should be causing many Republicans to check the list of nations that make extradition to the U.S. especially difficult were all the scenes in Thursday’s hearing that were not explicitly about the action of the mob on Jan. 6. Because the members of the committee have made it clear that the rest of this process is not going to be about revealing more shocking footage of jackasses in faux military gear strolling through the Capitol building. That part of the show is over.
The rest of the hearing is going to be building the case, brick by brick, to show how Donald Trump committed the same crime to which some of the Proud Boys have already pleaded guilty. It’s going to show how Trump and his followers engaged in a seditious conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States, using a pretense of election fraud that he, and everyone around him, knew was absolutely false right from the beginning. It’s going to show how they set up the situation on Jan. 6 to maximize pressure on Mike Pence and any others who were wavering in their support for Trump. It’s going to show how they used the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and every other member of that screaming mob as a weapon—one pointed at the heart of the nation.
And the committee is going to detail everyone who was a member of that conspiracy. It is going to name names. It is going to be All. New. Information.
Oh, and Jim Jordan? If you pick Bhutan for your exile, you’re going to need a jacket.
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