Questions The January 6th Committee Has Left Unanswered

[ Posted Tuesday, September 27th, 2022 – 15:01 UTC ]

Right before I sat down to write this, the January 6th House Select Committee announced it was postponing tomorrow's publicly-televised hearing, due to Hurricane Ian being scheduled to hit Florida. Nevertheless, I was going to write about the committee today anyway, so these comments will eventually be valid, whenever they do reschedule their hearing. And although it might be seen as an extension of what I say here, I cannot fault the committee for taking into account a natural disaster and being respectful of the people of Florida who will be in danger. Postponing was the right decision, in other words, as far as I am concerned.

Overall, two big things have struck me about the committee's public presentations: how tightly organized they are, providing "good television" (which is not just rare but unheard-of for congressional committees); and how disorganized the scheduling has always been. Most of the hearings have not been announced with much lead time (one was thrown together in a single day), and confusion reigns over what each hearing will consist of.

Perhaps this is all meant to tease the public -- "Tune in, or you might miss a big surprise!" That could be. Or perhaps it is just the committee's internal wrangling -- they reportedly have a hard problem reaching consensus on this stuff, so you get conflicting reports ahead of time as to what to expect next. That could be, too.

At this point, there are many unanswered questions -- not just about January 6th, but about what we can expect from the committee for the rest of the year. For starters: will this be the last public hearing or not? Some say it will be, others seem to indicate there will be more. If they don't explicitly say that it's the final hearing, we'll all be left on tenterhooks once again.

The subject matter for the hearing is (once again) a rather closely-held secret. Previously, committee members had indicated they had enough subjects for multiple public hearings after the August break, including: examining the police/military response that day (and all the things which went wrong with it), doing a deeper dive into who financed all the January 6th events (providing bus travel, hotels, etc.), doing a deeper dive into any connections between anyone in the White House and the rioters, as well as new information that had come to light as a result of the previous series of hearings. Those were the big four rumors, at any rate, but there were also others. Also left unsaid is whether the committee will indeed meet with or get sworn testimony from people like Ginni Thomas and Mike Pence. Or Donald Trump, for that matter. It all seems to be up in the air. Nobody's sure if the next hearing will even have any witnesses, for that matter.

The endgame for the committee is uncertain as well. The original plan was to provide an interim report before the midterms, and then a final report before the end of the year (when most people expect the committee to disband, if the Republicans regain control of the House). But it's already almost October. September went by with no public hearings at all, but perhaps they were working diligently to get a report out in time for it to have a political impact. One would like to hope so, at any rate. There just aren't that many weeks on the calendar left before the election.

There is also the question of whether the committee will make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, but I've always seen this as a red herring of sorts. A "criminal referral" certainly sounds imposing, but from a congressional committee it carries no legal weight at all. It would be a mere suggestion that investigations be opened. A rather formal suggestion, but a suggestion nonetheless. And the Justice Department is already investigating January 6th from multiple angles, so it's not like they're over there sitting on their hands waiting to be told what to do by the committee or anything. But the subject of criminal referrals seems to be catnip to the political chattering class, for some inexplicable reason. The real issue is when the committee will be sharing all the voluminous information they've collected (testimony, evidence, etc.) with the Justice Department, which would assumably help with some of the investigations which have already begun.

The other ostensible task the committee has is to recommend legislation to Congress to fix some of the problems and loopholes they have uncovered. But a bill was just passed by the House to reform the Electoral Count Act, which is the source of many of the problems. Further legislative fixes might be recommended, and the Senate seems poised to pass a different version of the bill, so there will assumably be time after the midterms to reconcile all of this and produce a final piece of legislation. This will be the most important part of whatever interim or final report the committee produces -- how to fix things so this can never again be allowed to happen. It is the real work of the committee, in fact, over and above educating the public about what actually took place on January 6th.

At some point (Friday? Next week?) we'll get at least one more public hearing. If it truly is going to be the final one, then I would expect something more than just: "Hey, here's a bunch of disjointed new facts we uncovered over the summer." I would expect it to be a summation. A wrap-up of the entire case. An overview of the entirety of the committee's findings. A season finale, to put it in crass television terms. Whether that's what we're going to get is uncertain, at this point. Because while the televised hearings have so far been top-notch ("must-see TV!"), the committee's off-screen performance has been more than a little confusing.


[Correction: When first published, this article misspelled Ginni Thomas's first name (nickname) as "Ginny." It has been fixed, and we regret the error.]

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


16 Comments on “Questions The January 6th Committee Has Left Unanswered”

  1. [1] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    and how disorganized the scheduling has always been. Most of the hearings have not been announced with much lead time (one was thrown together in a single day), and confusion reigns over what each hearing will consist of.

    Because while the televised hearings have so far been top-notch ("must-see TV!"), the committee's off-screen performance has been more than a little confusing.

    Who even cares? Besides the same instant gratification pundits who's panties are bunched up because, for example, DoJ hasn't indicted Trump yet?

  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    It reminds me of the railcar of ink wasted on the yearlong Biden-Manchinema negotiations. I scrolled over all that stuff because as with J6C, DoJ, Mueller et al getting it right is ALL that matters.

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    The bottom line.

  4. [4] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Noone will care that [fill in the blank indictment] happened quickly if it fails.

    (mic drop)

  5. [5] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    WE AGREE that Vlad is the aggressor and that this war is stupid. Where we disagree is whether or not it was the West's fault. I don't think Joe and the West could have stopped this invasion but they sure didn't cause it, either.

    If you review Russian geopolitics, history and it's situation today I believe you'll cut Joe and the West some slack. Think this through with me, Sister:

    Geopolitics is the effect of a country's geography on it's politics and inevitably it's history. Russia is long and flat and has no natural defensible barriers to invasion on it's post-Soviet borders. Compare that to America, which has oceans on both sides and friendly countries both north and south.

    This vulnerability is why over the last eight centuries Russia has been invaded by Mongols (an especially memorable low light,) Turks, Swedes, the Polish-Lituanian Commonwealth, France and the Germans twice.

    History doesn't repeat but it does rhyme, which is why starting with Catherine the Great Russia has sought to establish compliant buffer states (think Warsaw Pact) around it to give it strategic depth. This is a big deal -– it certainly worked vis a vis-a-vis Napoleon and Hitler! For example if the 1941 Nazi invasion hadn't started in the middle of Poland (split by Germany and the Soviets in 1939) they would have made it to Moscow before winter, collapsing or displacing the Soviets to the Urals…and IMO London would still be radioactive and they'd still be speaking German in Paris.)

    THIS is why Putin declared the collapse of the USSR to be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.

    Russian economic prospects are grim: 40% of it's GDP comes from exporting fossil fuels. They probably reached peak production last year and the world's transition to Green energy means that agriculture will eventually become the dominant export of Russia. Which is fine for feeding the world but not the economic basis for projecting power.

    Likewise, Russian demographics are terrible. Their population is declining even faster than the rest of Europe so this simply
    was the last time Putin has enough military age people to wage war.

    The bottom line was Putin is old, has his billions and considering Russian economic and demographic trajectory this was his last chance to "make things right".

    This timing had nothing to do with Biden. Obama was a pussy (in 2014 and in general) while Trump acted like #PutinsBitch. So Putin was getting most of what he wanted out of those two clowns. Yep, twelve years straight of foreign policy incompetence! But old hand Joe wasn't going to wuss like Obama or bend over like Trump, so Putin rolled the dice.

    Trouble is that Warsaw Pact weapons showed up without Warsaw Pact military dominance! I, too, didn't think Ukraine would last but that's because I forgot that America has been training Ukrainian forces since this war started in 2014 and over these eight years Ukrainians have learned how to fight better than the Russians.

    For the record Ukraine held an Independence referendum when the USSR went belly up. Seven of eight voters showed up and they overall voted ten to one in favor of independence. Even majorities in Donbass and Crimea voted that way. Ukraine's corruption problem stems from being run by Russia-oriented thieves like Yanukovich, who was overthrown in the Maidan Revolution.

    Putin has already lost no matter what happens in Ukraine, to wit:

    **Corruption has hollowed out Russia's military capability and the whole world knows it.

    **Compare Ukraine’s indomitable will to resist and to completely liberate all – including Crimea and Donbass – Ukrainian territory to the woeful morale of the Russians. Trust me on this, I'm Ukrainian-American. I recall accompanying my grandfather Ivan Wasyl Diachun to Ukrainian Nationalists meeting in downtown Detroit in the late 60s. I couldn't understand a damned word (Ukrainian being
    exclusively spoken at these events) but there was no mistaking the sentiment in that auditorium.

    **NATO and the EU haven't been this united since the Cold War.

    **Finland and Sweden are joining NATO, adding 830 miles more of NATO on Mother Russia's border.

    **Even if all sanctions were lifted today their economy would still take years to recover.

    **The West gets to test out all kinds of latest generation military toys, killing the bad guys and getting payback for 22 years of "Vladimir Vladimirovich does not work and play well with others."

    **War sucks but better "we" fight them over there than over HERE, right, Conservatives? Al Queda and ISIS were not existential threats to America… but Putin is!

    **All we gotta do is keep supporting Ukraine and it's just a matter of time before somebody puts a bullet in Putin's brain (it's a Rooskie thang, as one former Russian Foreign Minister explains,

    Rather than bring the Boss bad news they'll bring a gun and escort Putin into retirement. Or else the grave.

    Or my preference: handing him over to the Hague in exchange for immediate sanctions relief – a win-win for everyone, especially the poor Russian people. An ideal way to start the healing process.


    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is a terrible idea because a bad peace (see Versailles, Treaty of) only postpones further conflict...

  6. [6] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Besides subscriptions to the NYT and WaPo and visits to The Guardian and Politico...

    Regarding the nuts and bolts of the war, I like this Aussie named Perun. He's mainly an economics/defense procurement guy but he has enough knowledge of military platforms and doctrine to make his 45 to 120 minute videos on Ukraine very enlightening.

    For the geopolitical, demographic and "big picture" view I like GeoPop, especially Peter Zeihan.

    And STG TVhas a 19 part lecture series (generally 20 minutes long) on Ukraine by Prof. Alexander Stubb, an academic bigshot and former Foreign Minister of Finland.

  7. [7] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I am a full-service Weigantian so here are some of your Ukraine posts,

    MtnCaddy and Friends,

    Lizsplaining 101 - the Russian War in Ukraine

    Okay, I’m going to explain why I think this war could have and certainly should have been avoided and who I think is to blame for inviting the start of it.

    But, first, to be clear and for the record, Putin and Russia are solely responsible for starting this ridiculously unnecessary and unjustified war against Ukraine, for the death of civilians and for committing obvious war crimes about which the ICC is investigating and rightly so. Such a declaration, here in Weigantia and among friends, should go without saying.

    Now, you will recall that when the Berlin wall fell and the disintegration of the USSR began, NATO, which was set up to counter the Soviet Union, began “assessing” that it would be a good idea to expand to ensure the continuing security of Europe.

    For one brief shining moment, the Yeltsin government in Moscow entertained the idea of Russia joining this strategic security arrangement, in some form or fashion. I even recall advocating for the same during the very early nineties when NATO began in earnest to consider expanding its security zone across Europe and, indeed, its sphere of influence. However, old ideas and patterns die hard sometimes and the Russians didn’t pursue joining NATO.

    As Russia embarked on its fledgling democracy, there were many Russians who felt a distinct sense of humiliation in the aftermath of the break-up of the Soviet Union. It was, after all, quite a shock to the system. And, in this environment when Russia was down and out and trying to emerge from a yolk of totalitarianism and economic hardship, NATO decides that this would be an opportune time to expand and, eventually, right up to Russia’s border.

    For thirty years, Russia has declared that Ukraine is a red line for them in terms of NATO expansion. Why would NATO wish to welcome Ukraine into the fold and have NATO forces just hundreds of miles from Moscow? Why, indeed. I would argue that Ukraine provides a security buffer for both Russia and NATO and space for continuing dialogue on the security concerns of both parties, especially given the nature of nuclear arms control negotiations that have been ongoing for decades, not to mention the general dynamics of the Cold War.

    So, knowing and understanding the real and ultimately manageable security concerns of Russia in the midst of NATO expansion up to its border, the US and NATO open the door to the possibility of Ukraine membership, leaving NATO's muscular force structure and weaponry, thanks to the US, right at Russia’s doorstep, only a few hundred miles from the heart of Moscow. Ukraine, in a move that helped to seal its current fate, enshrined in its constitution an aspirational intent to become a NATO member and all that is entailed with entering into such a security arrangement.

    Despite clear and consistent messaging from the Kremlin - over the course of the last thirty years, no less - the West refused to take Russia's security concerns seriously and Putin moved to recapture Crimea. Studying the history of this parcel of land, by the way, is instructive but, I will leave that complicated story to others.

    Later, with Ukraine, the US and NATO still stubbornly clinging to the notion that their public stance remain open to Ukrainian membership (“sovereign nations have the right to choose their alliances”, never mind the fact that NATO also has the right to choose its members and there was no logical reason nor realistic chance that Ukraine would ever actually be admitted) Putin moves to control the separatist regions of the Donbas in eastern Ukraine, thus creating facts on the ground to counter the real and imagined NATO threat.

    Fast forward to February 2022 and the amassing of Russian troops along its western border with Ukraine and in Belarus. And, still, Ukraine and the US and NATO refuse to accept reality on the ground or even discuss the real and manageable security concerns of Russia that have led to this troop build-up.

    In fact, Biden, in a historically stubborn and obtuse move, publicly declares that the idea of Ukrainian membership in NATO is sacrosanct and, as such, is off the negotiating table to diffuse the potential crisis. Which, of course, is all about NATO expansion into Ukraine. Adding fuel to the flames would be an apt phrase to describe this wholly irresponsible behavior on the part of an American president, NATO and Ukraine, who should all know better.

    And, here we are.


    You know what Joshua, talk to me when Ukraine wins the war against Russia. Heh.

    This war should never have happened. If Ukraine hadn't listened to the bad advice it was getting from the US and NATO, it probably wouldn't have happened. Of course, Biden made sure we'd never find out if this stupid, unnecessary war could have been avoided!

    But, now that war has been raging for a few months, Ukraine is losing more territory than it would have had to had it negotiated with Russia - before or even shortly after the war started.

    Nothing you can say to me or imagine in your fantasy world can change the facts on the ground - before, since and after this war.



    Ukraine's insistence on its future membership in NATO - at the behest of the US, I hasten to add - made this stupid war unavoidable. I'm beginning to believe that the US never wanted to avoid this conflict with Russia - mostly because none of this makes any sense, otherwise.

    Do you really think that Ukraine will win this war and regain ALL of its territory, including Crimea? The only way that happens is if the US and its NATO allies engage in all out war with Russia. Then do you want to guess how THAT ends?

    If Ukraine had instead acted in its own best interests and negotiated to avoid war and softened its stance on NATO membership (as Zelensky has already done and then backtracked more than once since this thing began) it may well have ended up with most of its territory intact. Now, when all the parties are finally ready to end this war with a political settlement, Ukraine will surely not be so fortunate.

    I can't understand why you choose to ignore geopolitical reality and facts already on the ground vis-a-vis NATO enlargement and Russian concerns ... pre-24 February, let alone for the past thirty years. These things won't go away just because you refuse to see them.

    As for your silly Canadian scenario ... the US can go right ahead and conquer Canada and take beautiful British Columbia just as soon as Canada pulls out of NATO and declares its wish to be aligned with Russia in a defense alliance and even go so far as to put this wish in writing in our constitution. You see how non-serious your analogy is?

  8. [8] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    'Lizbeth I started researching and writing this in March, and it's been a labor of love -- travail d'amour in Quebecese -- and I hope to chew it over with you.


    I also hope you mailed the unmentionable. :D

  9. [9] 
    John M wrote:

    I think numbers 5 and 7 are both excellent summations and explanations. Kudos!!!

    As for what I think will be the eventual outcome Elizabeth, things have gone too far now for any backtracking. President Zelenskyy has attained hero cult status among Western elite leaders.

    It ends only one way: A Russian withdrawal from all or most of Ukraine and Ukrainian membership in NATO and possibly the European Union as well. Either thru a negotiated settlement or Russian conventional military defeat on the battlefield. Nothing less will now be acceptable to most Ukrainians given the trauma of war and continued Western pledges of support.

    No, this war should never have been fought in the first place, and will do great damage before it is over. But the fault for that has to be laid squarely at Putin's doorstep. He is the one who upset the ambiguous stalemate that could have lasted another decade or more regarding Ukraine's status. Just like the second Bush chose the 2nd Iraq war and blamed it on 9/11.

    It the defeat is bad enough and mismanaged enough, the Russian Federation could collapse the same way the Soviet Union did. Not likely, but not now totally impossible either.

  10. [10] 
    John M wrote:

    Also I don't think Russia could ever conquer Ukraine now. I was just trying to emphasize that it was extremely important for geopolitical reasons that it never even be allowed the possibility to do so once Ukraine was an independent nation again. It is far better for the USA for Ukraine and Russia to be two separate nations, rather than united under Russian control. Never let any potential rivals gang up on you, as there is always strength in numbers. For the same reason, it would be very bad for any Russian, Chinese, Iranian alliance to form.

  11. [11] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    John M, thanks for the compliment. I rarely get enough feedback to assuage my ego -- I figure it's like me NOT commenting on so much of CW's columns because as I read them I'm usually thinking Yep, I agree with that... yes, of course thats true...

    FYI [7] are a collection
    of Elizabeth Miller's thoughts on this subject that I reprinted for her to facilitate discussion.


    Naw, Russia cannot defeat Ukraine militarily. The Ukrainians fight better, have vastly better morale and are now using more and more technologically superior Western military platforms. It's only a matter of time before the pre-2014 borders are reestablished.

    Russia invaded with roughly 200,000 soldiers and the equipment losses mean that even if Vlad scrapes up 300,000 or 3 million souls they won't have the equipment to do anything but become Cannon fodder. Putin's best troops lacked the Infantry short Needed to protect Russian Armor from Ukrainian Anti-tank weapons.
    Call it a case of All metal, not enough manpower.(54:50)

    In contrast, Ukraine WAS in the opposite situation-- All manpower, not enough metal. (1:05:23)

    Ukraine will have 750,000 men and women under arms later this year. The newbies obviously won't be experienced but they will go into battle with superior equipment. Don't forget that we've had boots on the ground training Ukrainians since the war started 8 years ago.

  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    ... best troops lacked the Infantry SUPPORT needed to protect Russian Armor from Ukrainian Anti-tank weapons.

  13. [13] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    ...and mismanaged enough, the Russian Federation could collapse the same way the Soviet Union did. Not likely, but not now totally impossible either.

    Peter Zeihan to the rescue! This came out three weeks into the war, when we didn't know what we know now. (12:21)

    Need a little more cheering up? This is from last week. (8:36)

    This guy is great for the layman -- plain language and doesn't use to many words.

  14. [14] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:



    Russia was already fucked before the war and now, even more so.

    Kinda of like how China is (also) doomed. (9:43)

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Caddy and John,

    Just read your non-brief comments here. I am dead tired at the moment and, looking at my work schedule for the rest of the week, it may be the end of the week before I can properly respond.

    May I say that this is the kind of discussion that will make this place the wonderful place it should be - thanks for that you guys!!!


    I'll get that package posted to you later in the week, I promise!

  16. [16] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Elizabeth I'm glad you caught the above and I appreciate you acknowledging the both of us. Believe me when I say Oh, you think those non-brief comments were, well, lengthy? You won't believe the time that I put into it to cut out the wordiness. Gives me a greater appreciation for what CW has to go through to create his columns.

    Dunno what your Sunday will look like but one of these days I'd like to trade our respective favorite songs back and forth from TWO of our fave artists -- from our respective countries. I'm sure Prism would be one and you could pick somebody like Neil Diamond. My first choice will be Paul Simon along with a Murican artist to be named later. It's just a thought, but hanging with y'all in Weigantia really helped me get through Covid-mandated isolation. Plus I got turned on to stuff I never heard before.

    So hang in there and we'll chat.

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