At least 20 million people watched the first prime-time hearing of the House Select Committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on The Capitol. That’s as many people who watch Sunday night football.
Politics is akin to a sport but what transpired on Jan. 6, 2021 was not a game. It was an assault on our democracy and the ring leaders, including President Donald Trump, should be held accountable.
At the third hearing held Thursday morning a California Latino Congressman figured prominently. U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar, a Democrat, represents the 31st district that includes the Inland Empire and parts of San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland. He is the only Latino on the committee.
Aguilar outlined how President Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election and how Trump endangered the vice president’s life. He highlighted how Trump tweeted at Pence that the vice president could send it back to the states and “we win.”
“How did we get to the point where President Trump’s most radical supporters led a violent attack on the Capitol and threatened to hang President Trump’s own vice president?” Aguilar asked.
A conservative law professor John Eastman convinced Trump that Pence could reject electors or simply declare Trump the winner. Former federal appeals court judge, Michael Luttig, testified the vice president had no authority to reject electors on Jan. 6. Luttig said if Pence had declared Trump president, it would have “plunged America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis.”
Aguilar called Eastman’s plan, which was touted by lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others, “a legally and morally bankrupt idea.”
Aguilar also questioned Pence’s former general counsel Greg Jacob on a phone call that Trump made to Pence the morning of Jan. 6 to pressure him to overturn the election. Aguilar also highlighted never before seen photos with Trump and his children, wife and former Trump chief of staff, Mark Meadows, that showed Trump in a phone conversation with Pence.
“The conversation was pretty heated,” Ivanka Trump said in video testimony.
In the hearing it was documented that Trump called Pence a wimp and the “p” word and that Trump thought Pence didn’t have the courage to make a hard decision to overturn the election, a move that was not legally possible despite knowingly false claims by his supporters.
Aguilar outlined how close Pence came to the rioters and that his life was in danger.
“Approximately 40 feet, that’s all there was, 40 feet between the vice president and the mob,” Aguilar said. “Make no mistake about the fact that the vice president’s life was in danger.”
Aguilar stated that an informant told the Justice Department that the Proud Boys would have killed Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, if given a chance. In spite of the danger, Aguilar explained that Pence refused to flee The Capitol.
Aguilar asked Jacob, “Did Donald Trump ever call to check on the vice president’s safety?”
Jacob answered, “He did not.”
Aguilar laid out the details and the danger of Jan. 6 with calm and precision. His leadership makes him a Latino leader to watch. Aguilar is a former mayor of Redlands, California, and a vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. He is one of the most powerful Latinos in Congress and his recognition is deservedly going to grow.
Aguilar also was at The Capitol the day of the violent riots.
“January 6th was one of the darkest days in our country’s history, and I’m honored to have been selected by Speaker Pelosi to serve on this committee. I was on the House floor that day when a violent mob, intent on preventing the certification of a free and fair election, broke into the Capitol. The attack on the Capitol and our democracy left five dead, more than 140 police officers injured, and Members and staff traumatized. We owe them—and we owe the American people— a fair, thorough and evidence-based investigation into what happened that day so that we can ensure it never happens again,” Aguilar said in a statement. “To be clear, the attack on January 6th was an attempt to prevent the peaceful transition of power that is the cornerstone of our democracy. While this attempt ultimately failed, we cannot and should not move on until we have completed a thorough investigation to understand what happened that day and in the days leading up to it.”
Now is not the time to let go of this grotesque attempt to topple the U.S. government on Jan. 6. The facts must be known and those responsible must face justice, especially Trump. Trump must not be allowed to seek elected office again and the revelations of the hearings must ensure that he will not threaten our democracy again.
The next two hearings will be Tuesday, June 21, at 10 a.m. PST and Thursday, June 23, at 12 p.m. PST.