Watching the long procession of pious Republican witnesses during Monday’s January 6 Committee hearing, I was abruptly flung back to Marc Antony’s famous line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”
Bury him they did, shovelful by shovelful, throughout a day’s testimony that was not notably marred by the abrupt absence of former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien. Clips of Stepien’s prior testimony were probably enough to send Trump up the walls of Mar-a-Lago like a parakeet trying to find an open window. The absence of the warm body was not, in the end, damaging to the case.
Bill Stepien. Bill Barr. Jason Miller. Chris Stirewalt. Matt Morgan. Eric Herschmann. Richard Donoghue. Al Schmidt. Byung Pak. Alex Cannon. Like Brutus and Cassius, these men came on Monday with knives drawn to carve down Caesar on national television. They were there — mostly under subpoena — to call The Big Lie a lie in broad daylight, to establish Trump knew it was a lie all along, and to speak of how they saw it all go down over a long run of dark days. They were all vital witnesses.
And there’s the rub… as the Bard’s Hamlet would say. Here’s the kind way The Washington Post said it: “One of the takeaways from this hearing is how many Trump advisers and government officials knew his voter fraud claims were false. From his attorney general to his campaign chairman to top DOJ officials, witness after witness destroyed his claims as farcical, and even detached from reality. But a lot of these officials did not say this publicly during the days leading up to Jan. 6, when it arguably would have mattered.” (Emphasis added)