The Jan. 6 panel focused on Trump’s “dereliction of duty” during its public hearing on Thursday.
But one political pundit said the panel had been most successful in highlighting Trump’s methods of manipulation.
“Trump is a master gas lighter,” said Matthew Schmidt.
Donald Trump’s actions and inactions surrounding January 6, 2021 took center stage during Thursday’s congressional hearing. But it was the former president’s manipulative methods that stole the panel’s six-week show, a political pundit told Insider this week.
The House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol has held eight public hearings since June 10, culminating in a prime-time hearing on Thursday evening — the last before the panel recessed for an August recess.
Over the past month and a half, lawmakers have presented extensive evidence suggesting former President Donald Trump’s “dereliction of duty” that day and presented explosive testimony highlighting the former president’s erratic behavior as he mobs of rioters descended on the US Capitol in January. 6, 2021.
But the main point the panel has managed to prove so far has little to do with Trump’s actions — and everything to do with Trump’s mindset, according to associate professor Matthew Schmidt. national security and political science at the University of New Haven.
“My big takeaway is that Donald Trump is able to do what he does because he’s a gas lighter,” Schmidt told Insider. “Trump is a master gas lighter.”
Gaslighting – a form of psychological manipulation – involves casting doubt on someone’s perception of reality by distorting facts and truths. The abuser often uses lies, denials, and fabricated memories to exert power and control over a victim. The term has grown into colloquial usage in recent years.
Thursday’s panel hearing focused on the many steps Trump failed to take amid the Jan. 6 chaos — he refused to call back his supporters for hours, ignored strategic advice from his many advisers and declined to say the 2020 election was over.
But there’s a subtle, but significant, difference between acting immorally and not acting at all, Schmidt said, and Trump’s acts of omission during and after the Capitol riot are his own form of illumination. on gas.
“[The January 6 panel] showed that he acted in the wrong way, but most people need evidence that the person acted in the wrong way,” Schmidt said. “Action by omission is always less powerful, and Trump is a master of action by omission.”
Schmidt also pointed to Trump’s tweets during and after the siege as further evidence of his careful calculations. More than an hour after the first group of rioters ran over police officers outside the Capitol, Trump tweeted about the attack.
“Please support our Capitol Police and law enforcement. They are truly on our country’s side,” he wrote.
“Stay calm !”
A former White House aide said Thursday that Trump initially did not want to include mention of “peace” in his response to the crowd. But even his ultimate inclusion of “stay peaceful” calls into question the real message Trump was aiming to send, the political expert suggested.
“‘Stay peaceful’ is gaslighting,” Schmidt said. “It could mean ‘stop attacking,’ because attacking is the opposite of peace; or it could mean ‘invading the Capitol, but stay peaceful while you do it. “”
The politics professor also posited that Trump’s tweets leading up to the riot, in which he urged his supporters to come to DC to protest the election results, as well as his “Stop the Steal” rally speech that preceded attack, were examples of dog whistling – another form of gaslighting.
The term has taken on new meaning in the political sphere, representing a coded message that can only be understood by a certain group of people.
“I think many of the instances were unambiguous calls for violence, but they were unambiguous dog whistles,” Schmidt said of Trump’s pre-riot communications with his supporters. “You can always pretend you didn’t know the dogs would hear it, or that you meant ‘dinner time’ and not ‘eat the vice president’.”
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