There were different kinds of villains on display as well. The most obvious were the members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers who threw themselves into the riot. Via video clips and testimony (including the in-person appearance by a documentary filmmaker who was embedded with the Proud Boys before and during the attack), the committee walked viewers through how and why these extremists came to Washington with an elaborate plan to wreak havoc and stop the certification of the election, through violence if necessary. These guys — some of whom are facing charges of seditious conspiracy — are scary as hell, and it was smart of the committee to focus on them starting out. It kept the narrative cleaner.
On the other end of the bad-actor spectrum was a clip of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, smugly telling the committee that he had dismissed repeated threats by the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, to resign over concerns about the increasingly sketchy push to keep Mr. Trump in power. “My interest at that time was on trying to get as many pardons done,” Mr. Kushner said. “And I know that, you know, he was always, him and the team were always saying, ‘Oh we’re going to resign, we’re not going to be here if this happens, if that happens.’ So I kind of took it up to just be whining, to be honest with you.”
Whining. What a perfectly Jared-esque way to characterize worrying about the Constitution.
And then there was the clip of Steve Bannon, the right-wing Machiavelli and former Trump adviser, gloating on the Jan. 5 episode of his podcast,“War Room”: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
The Jan. 6 committee has been charged with telling a story for the ages — one that they know much of the country will simply tune out. Indeed, even as the hearing was getting rolling, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson was boasting of his network’s decision not to seriously cover the event: “We’re not playing along,” he said, noting that “this is the only hour on an American news channel that will not be carrying their propaganda live.”
No matter: These public servants understand the seriousness of their duty, and they are doing their damnedest to help the rest of us grasp what is at stake as well.
“The sacred obligation to defend this peaceful transfer of power has been honored by every American president — except one,” Ms. Cheney noted. “As Americans, we all have a duty to ensure that what happened on Jan. 6 never happens again.”