The Problem with the January 6th Committee

Eric Medlin
4 min readSep 29, 2021

We already know what’s going to happen.

Nancy Pelosi naming the members of the January 6th committee. Source: CBS News

The congressional investigation into the Capitol riot on January 6th is intensifying. Last week, Congress announced that former Trump advisor Steve Bannon and former chief of staff Mark Meadows had been subpoenaed. The committee is reviewing thousands of pieces of evidence and collecting testimony from dozens of witnesses. One indication of the seriousness of the hearings has been the hyperbole used by Republicans to oppose it. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened any company that went along with the committee’s subpoenas, remarking that “a Republican majority will not forget” which companies hand over records. Meanwhile, nearly every Republican refused to serve on the committee or seriously engage with its goals.

The idea of a televised congressional investigation into the attempted Trump coup should be transfixing America like earlier significant hearings. It should be appointment viewing like the 2017 James Comey testimony (which had nearly twenty million viewers) or the 2018 Brett Kavanaugh hearings. However, these hearings have been received much differently than those earlier blockbusters. The greater public has basically ignored the proceedings, less from a lack of revulsion about the January 6th riot than from the predetermined nature of the committee’s outcome.

The January 6th committee is performing the admirable task of investigating the awful events that transpired that day. It is interviewing many of the people responsible for the carnage, some of whom have avoided official scrutiny over the past five years. Connecting the dots and interviewing those responsible could help the public learn more about Republican activity leading up to that noxious event. It may also help fuel other investigations, potentially from law enforcement. If Congress does not find a crime in the events that day, it can always refer an individual for prosecution if they are caught lying under oath.

But throughout the proceedings there is one nagging question: what exactly will be done? What is the goal of Democrats besides laying out facts and presenting a coherent narrative? On that end, the committee is likely to fail. There is no evidence that Democrats have the political will necessary to pursue members of Congress for transgressions…

Eric Medlin

I’m a writer interested in the intersections of history, ideas, and politics. I publish every week.