It has not yet been a year and a half since one of the most embarrassing episodes, as well as tragic, in the history of the United States: the assault on the Capitol by a mob of supporters of the then president, Donald Trump, to prevent the certification of the result of the polls that made Joe Biden his successor.
On the afternoon of January 6, 2021, the oldest and most stable democracy on the planet seemed like a scarecrow, something unbecoming of the first world power, with thousands of protesters violently seizing the seat of popular sovereignty and threatening its will.
The Democrats in Congress and a couple of unruly Republicans in the face of the 'trumpism' that is subjugating the Republican party will try this Thursday to refresh the memory of voters and cement the importance and seriousness of what happened: the efforts of Trump and his allies during weeks for overturning the results of the polls based on a non-existent massive fraud, culminate them with an attack on the Capitol by a mass inflamed by the rhetoric of the Republican leader.
The appointment is the beginning of the public appearances within the committee of the House of Representatives that has investigated the matter. It will, however, be more like a television show than a legislative procedure. It will present the findings of the committee after months of investigations and the appearances of witnesses will be mixed with audiovisual, sound and documentary material of those events.
The start time is at 8:00 p.m. (2:00 a.m. on Friday in Spain), during prime time on television, and it will be broadcast live on the major news channels -such as CNN or MSNBC-, with the exception of of Fox News, the closest to Trump.
The objective is "to show everything that happened that put our democracy at risk and propose reforms to protect the country from now on," said Democratic deputy Adam Schiff on the eve of the start of the hearings.
"It will change history," said Adam Kinzinger, one of the only two Republicans participating in the committee, along with Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the highest-ranking deputies in the Republicans until she decided to face to Trump for his contestation of the electoral result and his role in the assault on Capitol Hill. Cheney and Kinzinger are now GOP heretics; In the first hours after that embarrassing episode, many party members were critical of Trump. Almost everyone sooner or later backed down when it became clear that the New York billionaire remained by far the most popular figure among the conservative electorate. Now, denying the legitimacy of Biden's electoral victory is a necessary condition among Republicans to have Trump's support, which in turn is key to having political viability in the conservative electorate in much of the country.
Beyond the work of Cheney and Kinzinger, Republicans are preparing to offer an alternative story to the one offered by the appearance in Congress: the central idea is that it is a partisan tactic to attack Trump, along the lines of the two 'impeachment' or political trials suffered by the former president during his term; and that it is a strategy of distraction from the issues that really matter to Americans, such as inflation, crime or immigration. As far as the violent assault on the Capitol is concerned, they will try to draw it as an anecdotal episode carried out by spontaneous people in which the real problem was the bad response of the Capitol police force, whose ultimate responsibility is Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat who chairs the House of Representatives.
Parallel to the commission, the Republicans have organized a battery of interventions by their representatives in the news networks to promote this vision.
Thursday's session will feature two in-person witness appearances: Caroline Edwards, a Capitol police officer who was injured in the riots, and Nick Quested, a filmmaker who documented the movements of the Proud Boys, one of the far-right groups which sparked the protests. The next appearance will be next Monday morning, with others to follow later in the summer.
The impact of the appearances on public opinion, the amount of attention they may garner and the effect they may have on this fall's legislative elections is uncertain. But it appears that, in the absence of explosive revelations, the average American is much more concerned about what it costs to fill the tank of the car.