Cowley: Jan 6 Insurrection Hearings Are Discouraging

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Emily Christensen

(Design by Emily Christensen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Elle Cowley, Opinion Writer, Audio Producer

 

Almost a year and a half has passed since the Jan. 6 attack on our country’s Capitol. Five months later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formed a committee to investigate the actions leading up to the riot. And now a year after the committee began its investigation, Congress is conducting their first round of hearings.

Since the investigation began, I’ve seen stories about bombshell revelations and serious consequences for those involved, but as the hearings commence, my pessimism grows. While it’s satisfying to see action being taken, part of me doubts that anything of substance will happen against those responsible for the riot — including former President Donald Trump.

Red Tape on the Hill

Red tape is a term used to describe extreme conformity to the rigid rules that hinder swift action. While the term is typically applied to corporations, it can be used to describe the government, a body notoriously slow when making decisions.

Red tape on the hill has hindered substantial prosecution against responsible parties for the insurrection. It took investigators a full year to gain permission to crack Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio’s phone. The fact that a possibly major piece of evidence in the Jan. 6 investigation sat in an evidence locker for so long irritates me to no end. Not only was this key piece of evidence kept locked away, but the delay in cracking Tarrio’s phone was speculated to be the result of pushback for the hearings. These delays have lasting impacts on the outcomes of the investigation.

Red tape not only affects the larger investigation but also hinders bringing those who stormed the Capitol to justice. It took a full year and a half to arrest more than 840 people involved in the events of Jan 6. Of those, 185 have been sentenced, with 80 serving jail time. Most have gotten away with fines, home detention and community service. But the number of those sentenced to prison is shockingly low, considering at least 2,000 people entered the Capitol building during the insurrection. While disheartening, the time it’s taken to sentence so few people doesn’t come as a surprise. Red tape on Capitol Hill has impeded and will continue to affect the Jan. 6 investigation, as it makes carrying out justice more difficult.

Republicans Protecting Ex-President Trump

As time goes on, one thing is painfully clear to me: Many Congressional Republicans still try to protect former President Donald Trump to cling to their own remaining political power. While Trump’s influence over the GOP as a whole has somewhat diminished following his exit from office, he continues to hold immense power over members of the party. For example, Republican House Rep. Tom Rice lost his bid for reelection to his Trump-endorsed opponent. He was one of 10 republicans who voted for the impeachment of Trump.

Even after his time in office, Trump’s campaign endorsements hold a lot of power, causing Republican politicians to remain loyal to him to garner GOP and Republican-voter support. And because of the loyalty many GOP members display towards Trump, substantial action against him for the insurrection will be next to impossible.

Hearings Do Not Equal Action

Historically, a congressional hearing does not always lead to immense change or progress. Most congressional hearings fail to produce any change in policy. Over the years, Congress questioned fossil fuel PR companies numerous times, yet still fail to produce serious regulations on the industry’s destructive environmental practices.

The same thing is happening with the tech industry. Congress held a hearing about data privacy back in October and months later proposed a bill that may not get passed even with bipartisan support.

The inaction I see time and time again following Congressional hearings discourages me from being optimistic about the Jan. 6 investigation’s hearings. I can see the same thing that happened with the tech and oil industries happening with the investigation after the hearings conclude. Another six months may pass before we see any proposed action.

With the U.S. government’s current state, it’s difficult to get anything done. Maybe I’m too pessimistic about the outcome of the Jan. 6 investigation. But based on what I’ve seen so far, I fear no significant change will result from this investigation because our leaders are incompetent. I would love to be proved wrong.

 

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@elle_cowley_