The public hearing on the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol contained many startling revelations and flashy quotes, including former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr calling former President Donald Trump’s voter fraud claims “bullshit.” But the moment that stood out most to me was when Rep Liz Cheney, a Republican, warned her party: “There will be a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

It highlighted how Republicans have repeatedly resisted holding the former president accountable for his actions – despite his two impeachments. Republicans didn’t do anything about Richard Nixon until they feared the wrath of voters, and today’s GOP is even less likely to turn on Trump, writes the University of Virginia’s Ken Hughes – who has studied the history of Watergate and is one of three scholars we asked to watch the hearings and share their reactions.

If the public does compel Republicans to change their tune, it might be due in part to what Wayne State philosopher Mark Satta called the House committee’s ability to “show and not tell” – not only what happened on Jan. 6 but in the weeks of election lies that led up to it.

Political scientist Claire Leavitt of Grinnell College also praised the substance of the hearing, noting how the committee relied on Bill Barr, Trump’s own attorney general, to debunk the former president’s “Big Lie.” For Leavitt, the hearings were “history being written in real time.”

Also today:

Joel Barnes

Research Associate, Australian Centre for Public History

A video image shows the U.S. Capitol grounds being breached as the House Jan. 6 committee holds its first public hearing. Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP

Jan. 6 hearing gives primetime exposure to violent footage and dramatic evidence – the question is, to what end?

Mark Satta, Wayne State University; Claire Leavitt, Grinnell College; Ken Hughes, University of Virginia

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol held its first hearing to present what it has learned during its almost year-long probe. Three scholars analyze the event.

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