Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office for Government Ethics, issued a dire warning in the wake of Thursday night's first House select committee hearing on the January 6 Capitol riots.
Writing on Twitter, Shaub argued that "no reasonable person could dispute that this was an attack on the republic itself," and he warned that a lack of accountability for the attack's plotters -- including former President Donald Trump -- has given them time to "prepare themselves for a far more effective attack in 2024."
Shaub claimed that their plans are succeeding "beyond their wildest dreams."
"They’ve enacted laws politicizing the certification of results and suppressing votes," he writes. "They’ve recruited an army of 'poll watchers' to create chaos, intimidate voters, and and sow doubt. They’ve hardened their resolve to use state legislatures and the federal Congress to reject any unfavorable outcome of the election. Ideological hardliners have packed the Supreme Court with partisans who are sure to ratify any irrational claims packed in the language of law."
Shaub also slammed President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland for what he described as not taking the threat seriously and instead acting like a mere return to business as usual would suffice to keep it at bay.
And while he praised the House Select Committee for its work documenting Trump's alleged attempt to overthrow the republic to stay in power, he feared their work would be in vain.
"Will the committee’s presentation be enough to motivate action by the people?" he asked rhetorically. "I hope so. I don’t know if it will or not. But people need to wake up to the idea that, with rare exceptions like this committee, our government is failing and won’t save us. Democracy depends on us."
The House select committee aims to demonstrate that the violence was part of a broader -- and ongoing -- drive by Trump and his inner circle to illegitimately cling to or regain power, tearing up the Constitution and more than two centuries of peaceful transitions from one administration to the next.
Thursday's session and five subsequent hearings over the coming weeks will focus on Trump's role in the multi-pronged effort to return him to the Oval Office by disenfranchising millions of voters.
Trump has defiantly dismissed the probe as a baseless "witch hunt" -- but the public hearings were uppermost in his mind Thursday as he fired off a largely false tirade on his social media platform, defending the insurrection as "the greatest movement in the history of our Country to Make America Great Again."
The case the committee wants to make is that Trump laid the groundwork for the insurrection through months of lies about fraud in an election described by his own administration as the most secure ever.
His White House is accused of involvement in several potentially illegal schemes to aid the effort, including a plot to seize voting machines and another to appoint fake "alternative electors" from swing states who would ignore the will of their voters and hand victory to Trump.
With additional reporting by AFP