Liz Cheney’s Revenge on Donald Trump—and Her Own Party

So now we can answer the question: How does democracy die? It dies not in darkness, as the Washington Post’s Trump-era slogan would have it, but in the White House itself, in the private dining room off the Oval Office, with the sound of Fox News blaring in the background.

That private dining room was Donald Trump’s de-facto headquarters for much of his Presidency. 

It was where he watched television and where he tweeted about what he watched on television—two of the activities that, perhaps more than any other, defined his tenure. It was also where Trump, on January 6, 2021, remained holed up for a hundred and eighty-seven minutes, as his followers stormed the U.S.

Capitol until he finally, reluctantly, released a video urging them to go home and telling them he loved them.

On Thursday night, the House select committee charged with investigating January 6th concluded a two-month run of blockbuster hearings with a searing, minute-by-minute account of what Trump did—and didn’t do—in the dining room that awful afternoon.

The words “dereliction of duty” came up a lot, as did phrases like “stain on our history” and “betrayed his oath of office.” It all added up to a portrait of something the United States has not seen in its more than two hundred and forty years: 

a President who abdicated his role as Commander-in-Chief, having unleashed a violent mob of his own making and then chosen to sit by and do nothing as his nation’s Capitol was besieged and overwhelmed by that mob. 

 “President Trump did not fail to act,” Representative Adam Kinzinger, the renegade, anti-Trump Republican from Illinois, who presented much of the evidence on Thursday, said. “He chose not to act.”

The hearing, like the seven that preceded it, was, in all honesty, a bit of a mishmash. There were damning new revelations, greatest-hits reprises, earnest and preachy lectures about the fate of the Republic.