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Timothy L. O'Brien

Trump’s Attempted Coup Failed, But at What Cost?

America’s democratic institutions survived only because of the enormous personal sacrifice of many public servants.

Looming over the hearings.

Looming over the hearings.

Photographer: DREW ANGERER/AFP

Defenders of former President Donald Trump’s attempted coup have deployed many smokescreens to distract the public and help him avoid accountability. The 2020 presidential election really was rigged, they say. Vote-counting was flawed, and most likely fraudulent. Trump’s repeated efforts to strongarm individuals and institutions to do his bidding were just responses to corruption. And so on.

Witnesses to Trump’s corruption, by contrast, have a far simpler job: They only have to recite the facts. But as the fourth day of testimony overseen by the bipartisan congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol made clear, doing so can come with enormous personal sacrifice.