Dear Aunt [REDACTED],
Have you been watching the Jan. 6 Committee hearings? I know you still support Donald Trump, and I’m guessing that most Fox News viewers aren’t watching (in no small part because they’ve limited coverage of the hearings). Well, in case you didn’t catch it, you should know the following:
Remember that nice young lady I used to appear alongside on CNN before she became Trump’s press secretary? Her name is Kayleigh McEnany, and she testified that during the whole time the Capitol was being ransacked, Trump was just watching the riot on TV. It took him more than three hours before he decided to call off the mob by issuing a video tweet.
I know you are a fan of Sean Hannity (though let's be honest, Tucker’s your favorite). Well, we also learned that during the riot, he texted Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, urging him to have Trump put out a statement and “ask people to peacefully leave the Capitol.” Hours would pass before that happened. The president’s own son, Donald Trump, Jr., also text messaged Meadows, urging him to have his dad “condemn this shit. ASAP.”
Some Republicans have pretended that what happened that day looked like a tourist visit. Hannity and Don Jr. obviously didn’t think so. Neither did Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, who was filmed fleeing from the same mob that he had cheered on earlier.
We also got to see outtakes from a video that Trump recorded the day after the riot. In one version, Trump says: “This election is now over.” But then, he catches himself, and tells his staff, “I don’t want to say the election is over.” Even after the horrific riot, Trump still wasn’t willing to concede.
I’m old enough to remember when we mocked “Sore-Loserman” when Al Gore refused to do the same (prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling) in 2000. Although, unlike Trump, Gore eventually did concede the election and gave a poignant speech where he called George W. Bush the “President-elect,” adding “I call on all Americans—I particularly urge all who stood with us—to unite behind our next president.”
If Gore was worthy of our derision for refusing to concede for a little over a month in a razor-thin election, what does Trump deserve for losing in an electoral (and popular) vote landslide, and never at all conceding that Biden won?
This is not a partisan thing. As you’ve probably noticed, most of the damning evidence cited in this letter comes from Trump, Trump’s family, Trump administration staffers, and Trump voters.
Of course, the other people on the list are law enforcement officers.
I know you believe Blue Lives Matter. Well, on Thursday, we learned that after Trump tweeted “Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution”—a line that Trump’s deputy press secretary said was “him pouring gasoline on the fire”—the vice president’s Secret Service agents were so fearful that some of them started phoning their loved ones to say “goodbye.”
Let’s be honest. A lot more people could have died on Jan. 6. All sorts of law enforcement officers, ranging from Capitol Hill cops to Secret Service, were endangered that day. As you know, Dad was a correctional officer who also served in the National Guard during the Baltimore riots in 1968. If he were alive, I can only imagine what he would think of the videos showing rioters beating cops with flagpoles.
We also learned that after three hours passed and Trump finally recorded a video telling rioters to go home, Trump said to a staffer, “Mike Pence let me down.” That’s right, his takeaway wasn’t that it’s wrong to try to overturn an election, or that the violence that day was horrible. Instead, he focused on his own imagined victimhood. According to Trump, it was all Mike Pence’s fault for not going along with his plan to overturn the election.
If this seems like a lot of information, please keep in mind that almost everything up until this point was just from Thursday’s hearing.
During the six previous hearings, we also learned (from former Trump staffers who testified under oath) that Trump “was furious” about metal detectors deterring a crowd from gathering on The Ellipse. When he was told that some people in the crowd had weapons, he didn’t care because, as he said, “They’re not here to hurt me.”
Just imagine the selfishness and callous disregard for others’ lives. I know you wouldn’t put up with that in your family. I know these aren’t the values that you raised [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] with, when they were kids. So why should we put up with that in our president?
But maybe you think that Trump truly believes the election was stolen? If so, he’s delusional.
If you didn’t watch the hearings, you probably didn't hear Bill Barr's exasperated voice. During one of the early hearings, Barr said he told Trump that the idea that he actually won the 2020 election was “bullshit.” Keep in mind, Barr is Trump's former attorney general and loyal pitbull who recently said he would vote for Trump again if he runs.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka testified that she trusted and believed Barr’s assessment. Likewise, Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, testified that he “didn’t think what was happening [calling into question the 2020 election results] was necessarily honest or professional at that point in time.”
You might not believe this, but I’m just scratching the surface, Aunt [REDACTED]. Still, I think I’ve offered enough to demonstrate that Donald Trump knew he lost the 2020 election, and that he summoned and incited a mob whose intent was to disrupt the certification of the election (not to mention harming leaders like Mike Pence). I’ve also demonstrated that Trump spent hours refusing to call off this mob, despite being urged to do so by everyone from his favorite Fox News hosts to his own son.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Almost all of this testimony is coming from Republicans who worked for the Trump White House, in some fashion.
I hope you know that I remain a conservative. As you know, your nephew is a Bush-McCain-Romney-Rubio voter. But even more important than party loyalty, is the fact that you and I both belong to a family. That’s why I felt it would be OK for me to write you this sincere and intimate note. But please know that I am not trying to tell you you’re wrong or a bad person—or that I will quit caring for you if you and I disagree. But I do want to be clear about what I—as someone who has worked in politics and journalism for two decades, know to be true—based on the Jan. 6 Committee hearings: There is overwhelming evidence of a crime being committed against America.
I hope you will consider this information when it comes time to select a Republican nominee in 2024. I know if any member of our family acted this way, it would not be tolerated or excused. Politics is important, but surely Trump’s character should disqualify him from holding future office.