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OPINION

The truth will come out on the Jan. 6 insurrection

This week’s revelations are devastating to Donald Trump and his allies.

Former president Donald TrumpBrandon Bell/Getty

The truth is dripping out about the events of the Jan. 6 US Capitol insurrection — and for the former president, his son Don Jr., and his Fox News sycophants, the drops are as corrosive as acid.

On Monday, the House select committee on Jan. 6 revealed text messages to and from former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows on that tumultuous day — and oh, how those texts help untangle the truth.

One pivotal issue under investigation, of course, is what Donald Trump did while his supporters battled with police, assaulting them with fists, flagpoles, and bear mace.

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We know from various detailed reports that Trump spent much of his time that afternoon watching TV coverage of the violent attack. Since then, however, Trump and prominent right-wing propagandists have tried to downplay the violence, treating the attack as though it was a peaceful protest that perhaps got a little out of hand rather than a vicious, violent, police-injuring assault on our most sacred public building.

After Monday, that sorry attempt at revisionist history lies shattered on the ground. With the Capitol under violent attack from a rage-crazed Trump mob, Meadows received frantic messages from members of his own administration, as well as members of Congress, saying that Trump had to do something to stop the mayhem his followers were engaged in.

Even Donald Trump Jr., not necessarily the most perspicacious observer abroad in the land, realized this was a disaster and that Trump had to respond forcefully. According to texts read by committee vice chair Liz Cheney, Don Jr. repeatedly urged Meadows to get his father to act.

Meadows replied to Don Jr. that he agreed and was pushing Trump hard to do something.

However, despite the melee raging at the Capitol, hours passed before Trump did anything meaningful to help quell the violence. As we already knew, when House minority leader Kevin McCarthy called to demand that Trump do something, Trump replied: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

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The timing of McCarthy’s call to Trump, as others have noted, shows that Trump knew about the peril to those in the Capitol when, in mid-afternoon, he tweeted that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”

That tweet came at 2:24 p.m., not only after his call with McCarthy but also after Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama had told Trump via phone that the Secret Service had just removed the vice president from the Senate chamber. That evacuation happened at 2:14 p.m., 10 minutes before Trump’s tweet attack on Pence. By that time, the Trump mob, chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” had made it inside the building.

Trump issued two half-hearted, tail-covering tweets urging his mob to respect the Capitol police and be peaceful. But as we learned Monday, even Don Jr. judged that inadequate. As he told Meadows via text, “He’s got to condemn this s--- ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough.” The tweet Don Jr. referenced came at 2:38 p.m.

Meadows agreed, replying: “I’m pushing it hard. I agree.”

So, to recapitulate: Trump was aware of the violence and was being urged by Meadows, among others, to condemn it forcefully.

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Yet it wasn’t until 4:17 pm., several hours after McCarthy first urged Trump to take action and more than two hours after Trump’s conversation with Tuberville, that Trump finally tweeted a video urging his marauding mob to go home. Even then, he repeated the lie that the election had been stolen, sympathized with their anger, and told them, “We love you.”

Pleadings for action had also come from Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Brian Kilmeade, three of Fox News’s principal Trumpswabs. Those same Fox personalities have subsequently tried to downplay the storming of the Capitol or suggest it was a false-flag operation.

None of this is likely to get much coverage on Fox itself, particularly now that Chris Wallace is leaving. No surprise there. If hypocrisy or dishonesty mattered at Fox, Hannity, Ingraham, and Kilmeade wouldn’t still be on the cable network.

But given the yawning discrepancy between their urgings on that afternoon and the way they have subsequently tried to downplay or recast the Capitol storming, it should be obvious that Fox’s pro-Trump propagandists aren’t owning the liberals, but rather duping those dopey enough to trust them.

It should now also be obvious to any sentient observer why most of Trumpworld is stonewalling the Jan. 6 committee: The truth is lethal to the former president. That makes all the more dismaying the way most Republican members of Congress have prioritized protecting, or at least not provoking, Trump over defending our democracy, even now.

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Call it what it is:

Shameful.

Cowardly.

Pathetic.


Scot Lehigh is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at scot.lehigh@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeScotLehigh.