Trump ratchets up attacks amid questions about his presidential viability

Former President Trump has in recent days ratcheted up his attacks on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the Capitol, deriding it as a “theatrical production of partisan political fiction.”

While the former president has dismissed the hearings as a “witch hunt” like every other investigation into his campaign or presidency, Trump’s increased focus on the hearings underscores the potential threat the committee’s findings could pose to a re-election bid in 2024 — should he choose one.

“Ultimately these hearings can be viewed as the conundrum that the Republican Party faces with a third presidential campaign and prospective nomination of President Trump,” said Sam Nunberg, a former adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign.

“He certainly is going to be the favorite when he announces, and I think it’s when,” Nunberg continued. “But this has taken the veneer off, I think, of the inevitability.”

The House committee investigating the riots has spent its first three hearings using depositions, live testimony and video footage to build a narrative that Trump was told repeatedly there was no evidence of wide-spread fraud in the 2020 election, but that he made claims to the contrary for weeks anyway, culminating in the violence of Jan. 6.

An ABC News-Ipsos poll conducted last Friday and Saturday found that while just 34 percent of Americans are following the hearings closely, 60 percent believe the committee is conducting a fair investigation.

The poll also found 58 percent of respondents believe Trump bears a good or great amount of responsibility for the events of Jan. 6 and should be charged with a crime, though less than a quarter of Republicans feel that way.

While views on the committee largely fall along partisan lines, the poll indicates enough Americans are taking the proceedings seriously that it could be a real hurdle for Trump should he seek re-election, as many expect he will. 

And Trump seems to be responding accordingly.

The president put out a 12-page document after the committee’s first two hearings that repeated several claims about election fraud that were debunked during the hearings themselves.

He has posted multiple times on Truth Social, his fledgling social media network, to dismiss the committee as partisan and one-sided and complain that he is not able to present his own witnesses who subscribe to the idea that there was widespread fraud.

The former president last week chided House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for pulling all Republicans off the panel when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected two of his picks. As a result, the only two GOP members are Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), two fervent Trump critics.

And Trump on Friday unloaded on the committee at length, accusing the panel of “spinning a fake and phony narrative in a chilling attempt to weaponize the justice system against their political opponents” and attacking Cheney and Kinzinger individually.

“It’s obviously having an effect, because we’re hearing from him,” said Doug Heye, a former spokesperson…

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