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For the Jan. 6 hearings, let’s salute the braveness of Congresswoman Liz Cheney • The Berkeley Weblog


U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, receiving the 2022 John F. Kennedy Profile in Braveness Award, (AP Picture/Josh Reynolds)

The televised hearings of the Home Choose Committee on the Jan. 6 rebellion, which start Thursday, mark an historic milestone within the battle between democracy and autocracy. The occasions that culminated within the assault on the Capitol represent the primary tried presidential coup in our nation’s 233-year historical past. The Choose Committee’s inquiry is crucial congressional investigation of presidential wrongdoing because the Senate investigation of the Watergate scandals within the Seventies.

To a big diploma, the success of these hearings will depend upon the Wyoming Republican congresswoman and vice-chair of the committee, Liz Cheney. Though I’ve disagreed with nearly each substantive place she has ever taken, I salute her braveness and her patriotism. And I want her success.

I vividly recall the televised hearings of the Senate Watergate committee, which started practically a half-century in the past, on Might 17, 1973. Greater than a 12 months later, on August 8, 1974 —figuring out that he can be impeached within the Home and convicted within the Senate — Nixon resigned.

I used to be simply ending legislation faculty when the Watergate hearings started. I used to be supposed to review for last exams however remained glued to my tv. I keep in mind all the solid of characters as if the hearings occurred yesterday, and I’m certain a lot of you do, too — individuals akin to North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin, a Democrat, who served because the committee’s co-chair; John Dean, the White Home counsel who informed the committee about Nixon’s tried coverup; and Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, who revealed that Nixon had taped all conversations within the White Home.

However to my younger eyes, the hero of the Watergate hearings was the committee’s Republican co-chair, Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, Jr.

Baker had deep ties to the Republican Occasion. His father was a Republican Congress­man and his father-in-law was Senate minor­ity chief for a decade. However these ties, Baker put his loyalty to the Structure and rule of legislation forward of his loyalty to his social gathering or the president. His steadiness and care, and the tenacity with which he questioned witnesses, helped America view the Watergate hearings as a seek for fact relatively than a partisan “witch hunt,” as Nixon described them.

It was Baker who famously requested Dean, “what did the president know and when did he realize it?” And it was Baker who led all the opposite Republicans on the committee to hitch with Democrats in voting to subpoena the White Home tapes — the primary time a congres­sional commit­tee had ever issued a subpoena to a Pres­id­ent, and solely the second time since 1807 that anybody had subpoenaed the chief exec­ut­ive.

Quick ahead 49 years. This week, Baker’s position can be performed by Cheney. Her Republican pedigree isn’t any much less spectacular than Baker’s was: She is the elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and Second Girl Lynne Cheney. She held a number of positions within the George W. Bush administration. She is a staunch conservative. And, earlier than Home Republicans ousted her, she chaired the Home Republican Convention, the third-highest place within the Home Republican management.

Cheney’s accountability this week can be just like Baker’s 49 years in the past — to be the regular voice of non-partisan widespread sense, serving to the nation view the hearings as a seek for fact relatively than a “witch hunt,” as Trump has characterised them.

In some ways, although, Cheney’s position can be far tougher than Baker’s. Forty-nine years in the past, American politics was a tame affair in comparison with the viciousness of right this moment’s political tradition. Republican senators didn’t threaten to remove Howard Baker’s seniority or his management place. The Tennessee Republican Occasion didn’t oust him. Nixon didn’t make threatening speeches about him. Baker acquired no demise threats, so far as anybody is aware of.

Will probably be vital for Cheney to indicate — as did Baker — extra loyalty to the Structure and the rule of legislation than to her social gathering or the previous president. However she additionally must deal with a nation extra bitterly divided over Trump’s huge lie than it ever was over Nixon and his coverup of the Watergate housebreaking. She must face a Republican Occasion that has largely caved in to Trump’s lie — enabling and inspiring it. Baker’s Republican Occasion by no means aligned itself with Nixon’s lies. In the meantime, Cheney’s profession has suffered and her life and the lives of her household have been threatened.

The legal acts for which Richard Nixon was accountable — whereas severe sufficient to undermine the integrity of the White Home and compromise our system of presidency — pale relative to Trump’s. Nixon tried to cowl up a third-rate housebreaking. Trump tried to overthrow our system of presidency. The January 6 rebellion was not an remoted occasion. It was a part of a concerted effort by Trump to make use of his lie that the 2020 election was stolen as a way to engineer a coup, whereas whipping up anger and mistrust amongst his supporters towards our system of presidency. But not a shred of proof has ever been introduced to assist Trump’s declare that voter fraud affected the result of the 2020 election.

Take into account (to take however one instance) Trump’ telephone name to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger by which he pressured Raffensperger to vary the presidential vote depend in Georgia with a view to give Trump extra votes than Biden: “All I need to do is that this,” Trump informed Raffensperger in a recorded telephone name. “I simply need to discover 11,780 votes, which is another than we have now as a result of we gained the state.” Trump threatened Raffensperger with legal legal responsibility if he didn’t achieve this. Trump’s actions seem to violate 18 U.S.C. § 371, conspiracy to defraud the USA, and 18 U.S.C. § 1512, obstruction of Congress.

The Justice Division is conducting a legal investigation into these actions. Lawyer Basic Merrick Garland has stated that the Justice Division will “observe the info and the legislation wherever they might lead.” As with Watergate, the info will nearly definitely result in the one that then occupied the Oval Workplace.

This week’s televised committee hearings are essential to educating the general public and setting the stage for the Justice Division’s prosecution. Federal district courtroom Decide David Carter in a civil case introduced in opposition to the Committee by John Eastman, Trump’s lawyer and adviser within the coup try, has set the framework for the hearings. Decide Carter discovered that it was “extra possible than not that President Trump corruptly tried to impede the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” and concluded that Trump and Eastman “launched a marketing campaign to overturn a democratic election, an motion unprecedented in American historical past […] The illegality of the plan was apparent.”

Those that declare {that a} president can’t be criminally accountable for acts dedicated whereas in workplace apparently neglect that Richard Nixon averted prosecution solely as a result of he was pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford. Those that argue that Trump shouldn’t be criminally liable as a result of no president in American historical past has been criminally liable, overlook the truth that no president in historical past has staged an tried coup to vary the result of an election. With out accountability for these acts, Trump’s criminality opens broad the door to future presidents and candidates disputing election outcomes and searching for to vary them — together with ensuing public mistrust, paranoia, and divisiveness.

Liz Cheney bears a burden far heavier than Howard Baker bore nearly a half-century in the past. Please watch this Thursday’s Jan. 6 Committee televised hearings. And please be a part of me in appreciating the general public service of Liz Cheney.

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