Jan. 6 Committee Has Succeeded Despite Low Expectations

This article is part of The D.C. Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up HereGet stories such as this delivered to your email inbox

The marriage of a shotgun couple can prove difficult.

Their very nature is to be efficient and rooted in speed. It is not often elegant. Nobody wants an Altar designed by Wegmans or made by Kroger employees. Arranged marriages defined more territorial and familial borders in the Old World that anyone will freely admit and today’s political matchmaking is just as opportunistic. That doesn’t mean such partnerships are sustainable.

You can ask the Republican Establishment just how Donald Trump’s marriage is doing. True, Republicans won 2016 with tax cuts and a majority of the Supreme Court. Ex-Presidents are rarely the focal point of congressional attention once they have left office. Washington is more interested in those with actual power, while parties prefer to see the future and look for their next leader.

Congress will be back next week to hear more about the insurrection that was launched by the pro-Trump mob Jan. 6, 2021. The GOP wants to determine how long it can continue to consider Trump its leader and best friend. As is the case for all races, divorcing can be a costly affair. DoesFor those who can admit their error, it is uncomfortable to remain.

Trump still remains the patriarch in this FrankenBrady Bunch GOP. However, Trump’s ground has changed significantly over the last month. Trump is not the 2024 frontrunner that he was once. He will dominate the field—until he doesn’t—but that day seems far more plausible.

Inside Washington, there’s a not-so-quiet hum that maybe those claims of Trump being the most powerful Republican in the country are no longer true. Perhaps Trump’s hold over the GOP is an old, arthritic one. And that his time at the head of the pack may be coming to an end—here’s where the plot twists—thanks to another unexpected shotgun marriage, this one between two principled Republicans and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Jan. 6th attack triggered a series of legislative investigations that sought to determine the cause and stop similar attacks from occurring again. The hopes of an investigation like the 9/11 Commission fell apart quickly and Congress settled for a committee of select members. Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader of the House took the calculated risk and revealed a Republican list that contained unabashed Trump apologists. Pelosi, as per the rules, rejected all panelists and McCarthy responded to her by pulling the whole slate.

The unexpected guests to the altar are Reps. Liz Cheney & Adam Kinzinger. These two conservative true-dyeds found Jan. 6’s attacks unacceptable and offered to be part of the investigation panel. The two true-dyed conservatives have presented the most disturbing testimony to witnesses at blockbuster hearings and have not shown any signs they allow fear of their own political futures or other factors to stop them from uncovering the truth. They both seem to view the task as an honorable trade. It is possible that they will be guiding their exiles from politics for at most a few months in return for Trump’s fate.

On the day of the hearings, polling has shown mixed results. Some Republicans will be paying attention, but Democrats are more attentive, which has led to a greater gap between these two groups. The audience is mostly folks who approve of Biden’s performance as President and identify as Democrats at that. And the hearings are swaying few Republican minds about Trump’s culpability, according to some surveys.

However—and it’s a big one—almost 4-in-5 Americans now believe Trump tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. While he might not have been directly involved in the Jan. 6 events, Trump did attempt to influence the election result. Interestingly, almost half of Republicans are in agreement with this assessment.

A third of Americans (33%) believe Trump should be tried for rioting. Even among Trump’s biggest stans, it’s tough to rationally nominate someone widely seen as meriting prosecution as a presidential nominee. Trump’s antics, as they’ve been documented by the Jan. 6 team, have become simply too much to ignore for these Republicans, many of whom were among those who held their noses and backed Trump in 2016 because at least he wasn’t Hillary Clinton.

But before NeverTrumpers think the fever is finally breaking, it’s necessary to remember that the laws of politics and even gravity don’t apply to Trump. Even though he was caught bragging on camera about his sexual assault, Trump still managed to win a large number of white women’s votes in 2016. Scandals dogged him but didn’t drag him, no criticism dented his gold-plated bumpers, an ever-changing campaign hierarchy never cost him. His nuptials to the GOP are a success story.

Trump was never mistaken for a great character. Even Mike Pence—his snap spouse of 2016—knew he had made an error in joining the ticket well before the one Election Day that went Trump’s way. When the Jan. 6 crowd went chasing Pence around Capitol Hill to escort him to a hangman’s noose, it was as clear as ever that he had accepted a toxic proposal. Pence like so many others is looking at the polling field and the 2024 field and plotting his revenge.

The Jan. 6-committee has therefore already won in this respect. They won’t admit it; it would be bad politics. But they’ve won if the goal was to find information that disqualifies Trump from running. It’s even possible to think about it. It’s tough to imagine the many, many skeptics of the committee’s work ever picturing such an outcome. We are here. The committee is still working but even what it has produced so far may be damning enough to stop Trump from ever again slashing open the MAGA movement’s artery of grievance and violence.

What’s pretty clear at this point is that few establishment-minded Republicans still fear Trump, even if he remains the most powerful member of the party. In that sense, Trump’s shotgun marriage to the party may have run its course. The shadow campaign to be the party’s next spouse is already underway. Washington might also have watched the Jan. 6th-themed wedding of the principled Republicans with Pelosi succeed. Sometimes you have to support those wild kids and their unrestrained love.

Washington: Make sense of the important things Register for D.C. Brief Newsletter.

Here are more must-read stories from TIME

Send an email to Philip Elliott at


Related Articles

Back to top button