This week there were more January 6th Committee hearings on Tuesday and Thursday. For the most part, once again, I didn’t really learn things that I did not know. But there were particulars which were very interesting, and which put a human face on the January 6th issue.
On Tuesday the focus of the hearing was on the pressure campaign the Trump administration brought against state officials in swing states like Arizona and Georgia. What I found most interesting on Tuesday were the personal stories of the mother-and-daughter team of election workers in Georgia, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, the latter of whom had been a Fulton County Elections Department employee since 2017. She had recruited her mother in 2020 to help out.
For this, Donald Trump and his attorney, the former “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliano, accused the two by name of processing fake election ballots. In a phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Trump mentioned Moss’ mother, Ruby Freeman, 18 times. In addition, Guliani claimed, on the basis of a video, that Moss had handed her mother a thumb drive “like they were vials of heroin or cocaine.” In reality, her mother had handed Moss a ginger mint.
As a consequence both Moss and Freeman became the target of a racist campaign that culminated with Moss having to move from the house where she had lived for 21 years.
Now, ordinarily, making these kind of unfounded accusations could lead to a nice fat libel suit. Except, you cannot sue the President of the United States for libel. The reasons are complex, and I’ve written about this in the past.
Moss and Freeman are hardly the only election workers who were harassed. But they are two of the few that were publicly named and shamed. And what is their redress? Nothing. Nothing at all.
Thursday’s hearing was focused on the pressure that Trump exerted against Department of Justice officials, and how he almost appointed Jeffrey Clark to be the acting Attorney General for the only reason that he was willing to do what Trump wanted him to do. That was only thwarted when it became clear that such an appointment would trigger mass resignations from the Department of Justice.
But what I found most fascinating on Thursday was the specific testimony about the Republican Representatives in Congress who were seeking a pardon from the Trump administration after January 6th, and in some cases before January 6th.
Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla), Mo Brooks, (R-Ala), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz) and and Scott Perry (R-Pa) were specificaly named, while there was some second-hand testimony that Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) might also have sought a pardon. And they were looking for very broad pardons. In fact, one of the Reps had suggested that every Republican Rep who voted against the certification of Biden’s election should receive a pardon.
As Adam Kinzinger on the committee noted, you don’t seek a pardon unless you think you’ve done something criminal.
What is also fascinating is the extent to which the Trump administration is being indicted by the testimony of fellow Republicans. It challenges the the assertion that this is just a partisan exercise.