- - Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Jan. 6 committee is not really a committee of Congress like normal people understand the term, nor is it an arm of the judiciary, nor is it restrained by things like rules of evidence, restrictions against hearsay or requirements to share information with opposing counsel.

There is no opposing counsel. There are no judge, no jury, no rules and no cross-examination of witnesses. Nothing but a propaganda machine, replete with soundbites and visuals and slick production values. The committee even hired a television producer to improve the look.

The Jan. 6 reality-television show has nothing to do with assessing guilt and assigning punishment. That is, as it has been for some time, happening over at the D.C. courthouse, where it is grinding patiently through the actual administration of justice in this matter.

About 315 defendants have now been tried or reached plea deals. Most of the sentences have matched the relatively modest severity of the crimes, as defendants have been given time served or probation. The median sentence is about 45 days in jail or home detention. The most aggressive of the sentence is 60 months, or about what a repeat burglar would get in most places.

The Jan. 6 committee television show also has nothing to do with congressional oversight. Not one member of the committee has introduced legislation relating to any particular gap in federal statutes exposed by the events of Jan. 6. To the best of our knowledge, no one has even mentioned such a thing.

Moreover, the committee is not even in any sense a congressional committee, as the minority members were chosen by the House speaker rather than the minority party. That fact, which has become obscured over time, is enough to disqualify the committee as a legitimate function of Congress.

The committee is really a star chamber, a secret court designed to deal with political opponents. The Jan. 6 committee has kept almost all of its actual processes and results cloaked. It has interviewed more than a thousand people. It has thousands of hours of recorded interviews and has received hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. Almost none of that vast storehouse of information has been shared with the public.

Rather, the committee, under the direct supervision of Democratic leadership, has carefully shared only the most carefully selected and edited moments from these interviews. If the Republicans win back the majority in the House in November, one of their first acts when they take over in January should be to make all of the recorded interviews and all of the documents — all of it — available to the public for a thorough, balanced and full examination.

What we are watching is, of course, a cynical and political attempt by the Democrats — and what remains of the legacy Republicans — to disqualify former President Donald Trump from running for office again. But it is larger and more ominous than that — it is an attempt by Democrats and legacy Republicans to stop important political and demographic changes they don’t like.

Their particular target is the ongoing realignment of the two parties.

Democrats are shedding working-class voters of all colors and rapidly becoming the party of college graduates who are motivated by issues such as abortion and climate change. At the same time, Republicans are building a multiracial working-class coalition focused on economic and cultural nationalism, border security and a strong but limited government.

Mr. Trump has accelerated all of that, which is why defeating him is not sufficient for the Democrats, who have only recently figured out that the current trajectory is not particularly good for them. They must disqualify the very idea of Mr. Trump and drive his adherents out of the public square.

Unfortunately for them, the Jan. 6th committee — poorly constructed and obviously political — has become an embarrassment. Voters on all sides see the committee for the show trial that it is. Most clearly understand that the geriatric and teetering Democrats only care about clinging to power — whatever the means.

• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House. 

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