Insurgency hearings question Trump’s detachment from reality | News, Sports, Jobs

WASHINGTON — In a bizarre twist to Monday’s House Select Committee hearing into the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol, a lead witness, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien, dodged a subpoena because his wife had just given birth. Duty therefore demanded the presence of Stepien by her side for the delivery of their new child.

The development took the committee by surprise, as Stepien had to answer questions about what aides and campaign officials told Trump on election night and after about the election result.

But the committee’s vice chair, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, quickly oversaw the collection of videos in which Stepien provided the same testimony, and it was released during the hearing.

The televised select committee hearings were a blow to Trump’s credibility in various claims he made about voter fraud and the attack on the Capitol. The first day of hearings presented evidence of his involvement in the attack.

The second day of hearings revealed through additional videos more testimony from campaign aides that raised serious questions about Trump’s motives and mental stability. Several key figures, including Stepien and Attorney General William Barr, ostensibly advised Trump that the stories he would spend months telling the American public were baseless.

Stepien warned him against declaring victory on election night, because there was no reason to say so. Instead, Trump preferred the advice of his attorney Rudolph Giuliani, who several witnesses said was drunk that night, and declared himself the winner.

In the weeks after the election, as Trump and his cohort launched legal challenges of voter fraud, Barr told the president that his allegations were “bullshit.” White House lawyer Eric Herschmann testified that he reprimanded John Eastman – the lawyer who devised the Trumpworld strategy of urging Vice President Mike Pence to thwart College ballot certification election on January 6 – and urged him to hire a good criminal defense lawyer.

What emerges from this testimony is a defeated president unable to handle the truth. Whether he was tricked and tricked by his own wishful thinking or lying to further his own fraud remains to be seen. Some observers suggest that Trump has become detached from reality. Stepien talked about being on “Normal team” a faction within the White House that acknowledged the reality, while another faction, including Giuliani, encouraged Trump to push what would become the big lie of the 2020 election.

One of the interesting features of the select committee hearings so far is the amount of damning testimony against Trump from Republicans — and those who worked closely with the ex-president, no less. This should give thought to sensible members of the Republican Party, which is still very much in Trump’s grip. At the very least, they must consider whether he should remain in a position of such influence in their party.

The Select Committee cannot prosecute crimes. That power rests with the Justice Department, which charged hundreds of participants in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including some with the felony offense of seditious conspiracy. It’s unclear at this point whether Trump will ever be indicted by the Justice Department, although some observers see the possibility.

Whatever fate Trump has in store, his chances of winning back the presidency are seriously compromised by the hearings now taking place in Washington. If the GOP is foolish enough to rename him in 2024, it will give the Democratic nominee the biggest advantage of all: not being Donald Trump.

* Jules Witcover is a syndicated columnist. He can be contacted at

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Post expires at 7:23pm on Wednesday June 29th, 2022