Jan. 6 Hearings Make Great TV, But Will It Matter?
In the long-running talkfest known as the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, Attack on U.S. Capitol, we haven’t seen too many made-for-TV moments.
We don’t, for example, have video of Secret Service agents in then-Vice President Mike Pence’s detail making phone calls to their family members to say goodbye as they helped him escape barely ahead of the mob.
We don’t have video of then-President Donald Trump reportedly lunging for the steering wheel when his Secret Service detail refused his order to take him to the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack. That’s how Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows, described it, an account later disputed by two Secret Service agents.
But the committee on Thursday did show video of a lesser-known but amusingly significant figure in the chaos, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican with well-known political ambitions for the White House, and its value was more than comedic.
On Jan. 6, Hawley defied the wishes of then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to refrain from joining a Trump-instigated effort to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s election by rejecting electors chosen by voters.
Instead, he became the first senator to cast a “No” vote in that misbegotten effort, after famously pumping his fist defiantly in the air in front of the gathering crowd outside the Capitol, which included some eventual rioters.
The gesture made a nice gimmick for souvenir mugs, which his campaign has been selling, emblazoned with the fist-pump photo — at least until the photo’s copyright holder threatened to sue.
But now that photo must compete with a new visual: security camera footage of Hawley in a brisk, high-stepping sprint through the Capitol to escape the angry mob he had helped to fire up.
That visual gem was released to the world in Thursday’s prime-time hearing during a presentation by Rep. Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat, who noted that a Capitol Police officer had been frustrated that Hawley was doing his fist pump “in a safe space, protected by the officers and the barriers.”
But laughter broke out in the media room as she played the video of the running Hawley, first at regular speed, then in slow motion, almost floating like a gazelle, through the hallowed hallways.