Perhaps the most explosive information that came out of yesterday’s 2.5+ hour televised hearing by the House select committee investigating the January 6th Capitol riot was the six-hour-long meeting on December 18, 2020, that began in the Oval Office with Republican President Trump and many of his aides and some allies which is being called a “crazy meeting.” It was three days after the state electors met to officially declared Biden had won the election. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared this to the Senate the next day. Moreover, when this chaotic meeting ended after midnight, President Trump then decided on his last and final strategy of overturning the elections results by tweeting at 1:15 AM on December 19, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild.” the committee claims that was a subtle message to militant, right-wing extremists to assault the Capitol that day following Trump’s rhetorical speech.
This Oval Office meeting on December 18, 2020, consisted of two factions: (1) lawyers Sydney Powell, Rudy Guiliani, and General Michael Flynn who were claiming the election was stolen, and (2) aides and lawyers who were claiming Trump lost the election and thus needed to concede defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.
Two lawyers joined the meeting a short time after it was convened: White House legal counsel Pat Cipollone and senior advisor to the president and lawyer Eric Herschmann. These two were among a group of mostly lawyers who were asking the other group for evidence that the election had been stolen, thus a fraudulent election.
In yesterday’s hearing, several video clips were shown of Pat Cipollone in previous depositions led by committee members or staff questioning him. He had agreed to do these depositions, yet refused to appear before the committee’s live hearings. In the depositions, in one instance Cipollone said, “We were pushing back and asking one simple question as a general matter: Where is the evidence?”
The Washington Post has reported this in an article today entitled, “Unhinged: The White House meeting that preceded Trump’s ‘will be wild’ tweet.” It refers to that December 18th meeting that began in the Oval Office with the president–the “crazy meeting.” It is called “crazy” and “unhinged” because there was a lot of shouting, profanity, and two people nearly came to blows.
This Post article relates that an unnamed person said of yesterday’s committee report of this Oval Office meeting, “The only thing that they didn’t quite capture was how loud and how profane it was. It was literally people just screaming and swearing and yelling at each other for hours.”
This Post article continues, “According to Cipollone, Powell and the others reacted with anger, suggesting that even asking the question was a sign that Trump’s White House team was insufficiently loyal to him. The committee emphasized the point by then showing a clip of Powell.
“’If it had been me sitting in his chair, I would have fired all of them that night and had them escorted out of the building,’ she testified.” So, Ms. Powell had no use for evidence. How, then, can this woman be a lawyer pray tell!
This fiasco–of calling for evidence and others objecting to that by arguing it indicates disloyalty to their cause, which is to keep President Trump in office–reminds me of the New Testament’s gospels relating the Sanhedrin’s condemnation of Jesus and its interactions with Governor Pontius Pilate about it.
Jewish religious Sanhedrin (“council”) members had Jesus arrested late at night during the Passover festival in Jerusalem. They interrogated him through the night, but could find no evidence in which Jesus had violated Torah. When the High Priest Caiaphas asked Jesus, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One,” referring to God, Jesus gave an answer that slightly varies between the synoptic gospels. He pretty much answered in the affirmative and made an addition as follows: “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26.64 NRSV). Jesus was referring to himself in Psalm 110.1 and Daniel 7.13-14.
The high priest then exclaimed, “‘He has blasphemed. Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death'” (Matt. 26.65-66). Notice that the high priest said they didn’t need witnesses. Oh, they don’t need that sort of evidence. They have decided Jesus is guilty, and that is enough!
The J6 House committee is providing many witnesses to show that President Trump planned and orchestrated the mob assault on the Capitol to try to stop the traditional Electoral College count of the state’s votes that showed Biden won the election. And I think the committee is doing a very good job of this.
Many Bible readers get it wrong about why the high priest claimed Jesus had committed blasphemy with his answer. They think he did so by claiming to be the promised Messiah of Israel. But that is not blasphemy. Throughout the history of Judaism, including centuries before the time of Jesus, there were many false pretenders among the Jews who rose up claiming to be the messiah. Rather, Caiaphas charged Jesus with blasphemy because Jesus claimed to be that person depicted in especially Psalm 110.1, if not also Daniel 7.13-14.
Regardless, we read in the Gospel of John, “Then they took Jesus from Caiphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. . . . So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man? They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you'” (John 18.28-30). This response to the governor reminds me of the Powell-Flynn argument of disloyalty to the president and their cause. They were saying that what they had determined–a stolen election–was true because they said it was. When you take that position, there is no need for witnesses, evidence, or further arguments. They were saying Jesus is criminal because they said he is. Well, no Roman governor worth his salt was going to accept that stupid argument.
According to the New Testament gospels, three times Pilate took Jesus into his headquarter chambers, interrogated Jesus himself, and came out each time saying the same thing to what had now apparently become by now an unruly Jewish mob, “I find no case against him” (John 18.19; 19.4, 8; cf. Luke 23.22).
The Gospel of Luke then relates, “Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him'” (Luke 23.20-21). Pilate, now fearing “a riot was starting” (Matt. 27.24), gave in to their demands and had Jesus crucified. Yet it was all based on no evidence for the condemnation of Jesus, just like Trump and some of his aides and allies have demanded about a stolen election without being able to show any evidence for it.