It is surprisingly easy for Donald J. Trump sycophants and right-wing prime time media pundits to dismiss the public hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol as “partisan political theater.”
Forget about the fact that this so-called “political theater” exists only because of their misplaced devotion to an amoral, unconscionable person and their hunger for power.
Because the GOP and conservatives such as “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani have not reigned in their rogue leader, Trump has continued his treacherous journey which brought no accountability for his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020; the nationalistic, upside-down-Bible lack of leadership during the summer protests after the murder of George Floyd; the birth of the “big lie” about a “stolen election” and “massive voter fraud” in the fall of 2020; and the insidious sedition-fueled plot to interrupt the flow of power from one elected president to the next that peaked on Jan. 6.
Within all that debris are the apparently expendable people who still suffer the consequences of the actions of a demoralizing leader. The name Ruby Freeman, for example, entered public consciousness by way of a Dec. 3, 2020 video release by the Trump campaign that was part of the attempt to bully Georgia elections ofﬁcials into fraudulently flipping the state’s election from winner and President Joseph R. Biden to Trump.
This video showed Freeman and her daughter Wandrea Shaye Moss, both veteran Georgia elections workers, counting ballots in Atlanta’s State Farm Arena on election night.
Giuliani and right-wing media outlet OAN made the public assertion that in the video, Ruby and Shaye were exchanging devices to throw off the ballot count. Giuliani would be heard Tuesday on video during the Select Committee hearing falsely stating that Ruby and her daughter were “obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they are vials of heroin or cocaine. Their places of work, their homes, should have been searched for evidence of ballots, for evidence of USB ports, for evidence of voter fraud,” he said.
Trump subsequently made the same claims against the mother and daughter, publicly calling Ruby Freeman “a professional.”
The sacredness of exercising the right to vote was not lost on “Lady Ruby,” as she affectionately was known, nor her daughter, who told the committee, America, and the world Tuesday that it was Freeman’s own mother who had taught them how precious the right to vote is for Blacks in this country, which is why the duo was working together in the State Farm Arena on election night.
When Giuliani, Trump, OAN and other right-wing extremist organizations decided to sidestep the truth of the outcome of the 2020 election and push the “big lie” Trump-won narrative, what they deliberately accomplished was the denigration of two Black women doing their civic duty.
For a mother like Freeman to be accused of aiding in the criminality of election fraud, when she was merely handing her daughter a piece of “ginger mint,” is incredulous.
Yet two Black women were accused of helping to “steal an election,” called “scammers,” “hustlers,” and basically drug trafﬁckers, for no reason other than to inflate an imposturous act of sedition, and no one blinked an eye.
No apologies. Not even when evidence in a lawsuit against OAN proved that the accusations were indeed false. Upon reaching a settlement in May, the rightwing network did not apologize for their rhetoric, nor for fanning the flames that ﬁred up Trump loyalists to stalk, intimidate, threaten and harass Freeman and Moss.
“A legal matter with this network and the two election workers,” OAN said in a statement last month, “has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties through a fair and reasonable settlement.”
On Tuesday, Ruby Freeman sat behind Shaye, wiping tears from her eyes, as her daughter detailed what her world has been like since Giuliani, the Trump campaign, and the former president trashed her name and her reputation. The threats. The racist messages. The unwarranted harassment.
“This turned my life upside down,” Moss emotionally relayed to the committee. “I no longer give out my business card. I don’t want anyone knowing my name. I don’t go to the grocery store at all. I haven’t been anywhere at all. I just don’t do nothing anymore. I don’t want to go anywhere. I second guess everything that I do. It’s affected my life in a, in a major way. In every way. All because of lies.”
Moss tried to contain her emotions as she described a frightening phone call from her grandmother, after a crowd of angry Trump people had discovered the elder’s contact information and arrived at her door.
“They just started pushing their way through, claiming that they were coming in to make a citizen’s arrest,” Moss said, breaking down. The intruders said “They needed to ﬁnd me and my mom. They knew we were there. And she was just, like, screaming and didn’t know what to do. And I wasn’t there. So, you know, I just felt so helpless and so horrible for her. And she was just screaming. I told her to close the door. Don’t open the door for anyone. And, you know, she’s a 70-something Iwon’t-say year-old woman. She wants to answer the door. She likes to get her steps in walking around the neighborhood. And I had to tell her, like, you can’t do that.”
Former president Donald Trump never apologized for the pain and anguish he caused Freeman, Moss, the grandmother and myriad others whose suffering the hearings are bringing into sharper focus. For him their lives are collateral damage in his quest for power.
He understood he lost the November 2020 election. But in this scheme to remain president of the United States, Trump was willing to feed “bullsh*t” to the public, as former Attorney General Bill Barr told the committee last week, and incite his rabid supporters to commit criminal acts of domestic terrorism on unsuspecting Americans.
Ruby Freeman summed it perfectly for the country and the world to hear: “There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you? The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American, not to target one. But he targeted me, Lady Rudy, a small business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen who (stood) up to help Fulton County run an election in the middle of the pandemic.”
The purpose of the House Select Committee public hearings is to spotlight for the American people the blueprint of the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt, the main players and co-conspirators.
Yet also being illuminated is the other side to this so-called “partisan theater.” The side where the innocent and vulnerable pay a heavy price to maintain the ideology of democracy in this country.