Watergate Memories and the January 6 Committee

3 mins read

As we barrel toward the last few hearings scheduled by the U.S. House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, I have been brought back to the summer of 1973 when I was a 26-year-old legislative assistant for an Illinois House Democrat. Four years out of college with a degree in political science, I was mesmerized by the Senate Watergate hearings. As a Capitol Hill staffer, I was eligible to wait in line for hours for an opportunity to stand for 30 minutes in the back of the room and listen to the live testimony. When I got my chance to experience the hearing firsthand, I remember thinking two things: first, Richard Nixon’s time in office was running out, and second, I was not afraid of the consequences of his leaving. I was not afraid because each senator on the dais acted reasonably and respectfully. Senators asked tough questions but they were generally thoughtful and intelligent. Watching the hearing, you could not distinguish the Democrats from the Republicans. 

Almost 50 years later, the current House Select Committee hearings have reassured me of current members’ sound judgment, thoughtfulness and determination to seek the truth. Being part of the Jan. 6 committee may be a political risk for some members but, impressively, the priority for all is to get to the truth and make recommendations to help ensure this kind of dangerous attack on democracy never happens again. These members are not afraid where the facts will lead them or us. They will not be intimidated.  

Recent testimony has been stunning. One wonders how top government officials, who swore to uphold the law, aided and abetted a corrupt president. A president whose actions put scores of innocent people, including his own vice president, at risk. Even now, former key officials and political advisors ignore lawful subpoenas, refusing to raise their hands and fill in some blanks. History has a way of putting things in perspective, but one thing is already crystal clear: history will remember the handful of people who opted to protect one very dangerous man and risk everything we hold dear. The investigating committee is doing its job. The people who witnessed what led to Jan. 6 need to do theirs.  

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1 Comment

  1. Their loyalty was to Trump, not the country or our Constitution. Remember, Trump demanded pledges of loyalty to him? This was a coup attempt. Watergate was about cheating to win. January 6 was about stealing our votes and ending our democracy

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