A public radio station host asked listeners to describe how they are coping with the onslaught of terrible news each day. Many callers described feeling: “depressed,”“fearful,” and “afraid of what will happen next.” 

Their calls echoed what we hear often from people who are already feeling pandemic-weary, and now are further worn down by the ongoing lies about election fraud, an attack on our Capitol, state-enacted policies that make it harder to vote and easier to marginalize others, and a Supreme Court that is issuing inconsistent rulings that seem to adhere to a pre-existing agenda.

But this American state of exhaustion is itself a threat to democracy. It risks enabling a retreat from action not as a respite, but permanently. Our democratic institutions require more vigilance than ever. 

We must all find the strength to determine where and how we will become involved over the coming months to speak out, write, donate, challenge, run for office, volunteer, sign our Democracy Commitment, and otherwise engage. We must work with leaders who have a vision for a country that can face its 21st century challenges looking forward, instead of with a backward, regressive lens. Rights must be enhanced, not lost.

LDAD will continue and accelerate its efforts to galvanize the legal profession to do more than it has done these past years. 

Recently, LDAD Board members Lauren Stiller Rikleen and James McHugh addressed the loss of trust in the Supreme Court in a Bloomberg Law article. LDAD counsel (and prolific opinion writer), Dennis Aftergut, recently wrote about new allegations from the January 6 Commission of witness intimidation and, along with Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, sounded the alarm on a case the Supreme Court agreed to hear that has the potential to upend the right to a free and fair election as we know it. 

Please stay active with us. Take breaks, of course, and ice cream is always good for the soul. But then return to doing the work that is needed so, when the history books are written about this traumatic time, you can take pride in knowing that you did your part to help save American democracy.

Heroes of our Democracy: Cassidy Hutchinson and retired Judge, J. Michael Luttig

As the January 6 Committee investigates the actions which led to the attack on the Capitol and the efforts to overthrow the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States, Democrats and Republicans on the Committee are working collaboratively. That point must be kept front and center: the fact that the two Republicans are under intense criticism from others in their party for seeking the truth must not be allowed to negate their credentials as members of that party.

It is also noteworthy that many of the most compelling witnesses have been Republicans. Among the Republican stalwarts testifying about the threats to our American Democracy have been the young Trump Administration staffer, Cassidy Hutchinson, and the retired 4th Circuit Judge, J. Michael Luttig

Judge Luttig was appointed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals by President George H.W. Bush and had reportedly been considered for the United States Supreme Court by President George W. Bush. He is a renowned legal scholar and a very conservative Justice. 

On January 4th, 2021, Judge Luttig was asked by Vice-President Pence’s outside counsel whether the President’s pressure on his Vice-President to reject certain state electors and accept an alternate slate was constitutional. The judge was emphatic that the Vice-President had no constitutional authority to do so, and then he tweeted his advice to the world.   

Later, in his testimony before the Committee, Judge Luttig stated: “A stake was driven through the heart of American democracy on January 6, 2021, and our democracy today is on a knife’s edge.” He then added ominously: “Over a year and a half later, in continued defiance of our democracy, both the former president and his political party allies still maintain that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him, despite all evidence -- all evidence now -- that that is simply false. All the while, this false and reckless insistence that the former president won the 2020 presidential election has laid waste to Americans’ confidence in their national elections.” 

Cassidy Hutchinson was a top assistant to President Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, a young and loyal Republican who had also worked for such conservative GOP leaders as Steve Scalise, Ted Cruz, and Mark Meadows.

In her testimony, she described her knowledge of the inner workings of the White House in the lead up to, during, and after the insurrection at the Capitol. Her testimony made clear that President Trump and Chief of Staff Meadows were aware in advance of the weapons being brought to the rally and the Capitol and the potential for violence on January 6. She testified that after his speech urging his followers to go the Capitol and “fight for Trump”, the President tried to go to the Capitol but was thwarted by the Secret Service who deemed it unsafe to do so. 

Threats to our Democracy: January 6 Co-Conspirators

The threats to democracy continue to exist due to the many individuals trying to hide from public oversight and scrutiny their own conduct and the Trump Administration’s involvement with the events of January 6 and the efforts to overthrow the election. Too many staunch Trump Administration officials and allies are asserting the 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination. The 30 individuals taking the 5th include lawyers, former government officials, and long-time Trump supporters such as: John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Jeffrey Clark, and Alex Jones. 

 Others, including former Chief of Staff Meadows and Trump strategist Steve Bannon, have invoked executive privilege, notwithstanding the weakness of the claim over the past months, even as former officials such as Steve Bannon continued to try to hide behind it. 

Still others, including Trump’s personal lawyers and his close Congressional allies, reportedly sought Presidential pardons from Trump for their conduct. 

According to witnesses who have appeared before the Committee, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone tried to prevent some of the worst illegalities of the Trump-induced chaos during this post-election, pre-inauguration period. Yet he has previously been unwilling to be deposed or to testify voluntarily under oath; however, an agreement may have been reached to testify in response to the Committee’s recent subpoena.

The public officials and all the lawyers involved have taken oaths to support and defend the US Constitution. The American people deserve to know the full truth about the efforts to overthrow a free and fair election.