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House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack holds hearing
President Donald Trump is seen on the screen as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing on Capitol Hill on Oct. 13 in Washington, D.C. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images, file

In the Jan. 6 whodunit, committee finds the ‘one man’ responsible

Eighteen months later, the Jan. 6 committee has identified the culprit of this whodunit: It was the then-president, in the White House, with his lies.


The investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol may not have been a traditional whodunit, but the House select committee tasked with learning the truth has nevertheless identified the culprit: It was the then-president, in the White House, with his lies.

Having solved the case, the bipartisan panel released an 845-page report last night that made clear to everyone — the public, history, federal prosecutors who appear to be working possible criminal indictments — exactly who bears responsibility for one of the most serious instances of political violence in American history:

“In the Committee’s hearings, we presented evidence of what ultimately became a multi-part plan to overturn the 2020 Presidential election. That evidence has led to an overriding and straight forward conclusion: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.”

For those who followed the committee’s televised hearings closely, the broad takeaways of the final report will seem familiar. Trump embraced what’s come to be known as the “big lie,” setting in motion a series of indefensible steps that culminated in an insurrectionist attack on our seat of government.

But that doesn’t mean the document is redundant or unnecessary. On the contrary, the report’s authors have added previously undisclosed details as part of a comprehensive review.

Just as notably, the committee has completed a powerful and important story. While many government reports are dry and technical, intended to be read by experts and policy wonks who appreciate insider jargon, the Jan. 6 committee’s findings read like a novel that everyone can understand.

The antagonist of the story was not pleased.

The former president published yet another missive last night, condemning the panel as “highly partisan.” The Republican added that investigators didn’t examine his bonkers conspiracy theories and “purposely” failed to mention his “recommendation for troops to be used” ahead of the attack committed by the rioters he deployed.

As it turns out, the idea that Trump wanted to deploy thousands of troops to protect the Capitol — by some measures, the heart of his defense — received real scrutiny from the Jan. 6 committee. Investigators simply couldn’t find any evidence to support the claim.

In fact, five far-right House Republicans, eager to defend Trump, prepared an “alternative” Jan. 6 report, and they didn’t even consider the claim worth mentioning in their tiresome and underwhelming findings.

But I was especially struck by the former president’s insistence that the select committee was “highly partisan.” Reality tells a different story. The panel was created by members of both parties. It featured lawmakers from both parties. It heard testimony from a great many witnesses, most of whom were Republicans who worked, to one degree or another, for Trump himself.

“In all, the Committee displayed the testimony of more than four dozen Republicans — by far the majority of witnesses in our hearings — including two of President Trump’s former Attorneys General, his former White House Counsel, numerous members of his White House staff, and the highest-ranking members of his 2020 election campaign, including his campaign manager and his campaign general counsel,” the panel explained this week.

It’s not surprising that the villain of this story doesn’t want people to believe the committee’s findings, but Trump’s whining falls short — because the findings are true.