Cal Thomas: It was simply bad political theater

From the commentary: President Joe Biden should consider a Donald Trump pardon in exchange for a Trump promise never again to seek the presidency, or any other public office.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Select Committee holds final meeting to release report on Jan. 6, 2021 assault on Capitol in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Members of the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol sit beneath an image showing former President Donald Trump speaking on the telephone in the Oval Office during the final meeting of the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2022.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo<br/><br/><br/>
We are part of The Trust Project.

In a theatrical performance the worst thing that can happen is to have a predictable outcome. That is precisely what occurred with the Jan. 6 Committee, which has referred former President Donald Trump to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution on four counts — "influencing or impeding an official proceeding of the U.S. government", "conspiring to defraud the U.S", "unlawfully, knowingly or willingly making false statements to the federal government", and "assisting or engaging in insurrection against the United States" in relation to the Jan. 6. 2021 Capitol riot.

Cal Thomas commentary
Cal Thomas Commentary
Tribune graphic
Summary: I once heard the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham say America was not at a crossroads, but had traveled down the wrong road and needed to come back to the crossroads and take the right road. What if we can no longer agree on the right road and where the wrong road is leading us?
Summary: Donald Trump would do well to withdraw from the field and allow younger and less controversial candidates to replace him. His record of policy successes while president are undeniable (except for those in denial), but his narcissistic personality contributed to his loss. It is also contributing to the work of the January 6 committee. If that committee wishes to "bring us together," it will forgo recommendations of criminal prosecution and let voters decide, as they should and ultimately will, the future of Donald Trump.
Summary: When rhetoric gets heated, perhaps the best way to be heard is to speak in a tone Scripture attributes to God — "a still, small voice." As noted by the writer of Proverbs: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
Summary: Many viewers might want to know why Congress can't seem to fix any of the country's real problems. That perennial question is why increasing numbers of Americans have grown sour about Washington. They see members of Congress more interested in re-election, in their careers and in perks than in the people they are supposed to represent.

As a Wall Street Journal editorial noted, the recommendations - indeed the 18-month-long exercise — "has all the legal force of an interoffice memo." The recommendations seem redundant and premature given the appointment of special counsel Jack Smith to investigate the Capitol riot and Trump's role in it.

One can oppose Donald Trump's run for president in 2024, while still questioning the way the House committee conducted itself. First, it was made up entirely of anti-Trump Democrats and two anti-Trump Republicans. The outcome was never in doubt. Second, the entire proceeding was well crafted with the assistance of former ABC News president James Goldston. Members read their statements from a teleprompter. Third, there was no cross-examination of the many witnesses. Fourth, not a single member of the panel or a witness spoke in defense of Trump.

While new information was revealed, if the panel had any interest in earning credibility with Trump supporters it failed.

The argument among Trump supporters has been that while the former president may have serious flaws, he did many good things. These included keeping inflation low, adding, 458 miles of new construction to our existing border wall, negotiating the Abraham Accords, and low gas prices. They reason that the good he did outweighed his caustic personality and erratic behavior.


Such rationalization recalls a line about Italian dictator Benito Mussolini that despite his fascism he made the trains run on time. It wasn't true, but you get the idea. Some people are willing to accommodate just about anything if it serves their political and personal interests.

There are many potential Republican presidential candidates who share the same positions as Donald Trump, but they are not burdened with the former president's heavy baggage. Republicans no longer need him and neither does the country.

Attorney General Merrick Garland will now have his own burden to carry should he proceed with indictments against Trump. Such a move would further divide the nation, if that's possible. It might also invite revenge by some Republicans against Democrats.

More Commentary:
From the commentary: (Mike) Pompeo is critical of what he calls "the (Henry) Kissinger model" of engagement with China.
From the commentary: The (Trump) wall is largely ineffective as policy. ... It’s a silent scream of fear and loathing directed at the people on the other side.
From the commentary: (Kamala Harris) has the brains and the chops to be a real asset to the ticket and the party.

It is problematic Trump could be convicted of any crimes, unless a trial is held in overwhelmingly Democratic Washington, D.C. The argument that "no one is above the law" is disproven almost daily in courtrooms, in politics and at our southern border.

The voters should be the "jury" on this issue. Defeating Trump in the primaries would provide political justice and save the nation from additional damage. The lesson of President Gerald Ford, who pardoned Richard Nixon, would serve the country well. Ford said: "The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States."

I can't imagine President Biden pardoning Trump, but if like Gerald Ford he put the nation's future ahead of any personal feelings or political gain, it is something he should consider, perhaps in exchange for a promise from Trump never again to seek the presidency, or any other public office.


This Cal Thomas commentary is his opinion. He can be reached at

Commentary logo
Commentary logo
Tribune graphic

What To Read Next
From the commentary: Americans have so far resisted getting cheated out of the benefits they and their employers have paid for with real money.
I’ve written many stories over my journalism career about farm injuries and the importance of having first-aid kits in farm shops and tractors, and I plan to start practicing what I’m preaching.
From the commentary: The 2024 campaign is already very different from 2016, and it’s likely to become even more so.
From the commentary: The real problem is that too many Americans have come to rely on the government for what it was never created to do and less on themselves.