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Bennie Thompson’s Plan to Make Sure Voters Remember Jan. 6

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When Rep. Bennie Thompson goes home to Mississippi on weekends, he tries to get time in the woods for a hunt. A lot of his hunting partners and neighbors are conservatives, yet Thompson, the state's only Democrat in Washington, knows how to find common ground. More recently, he says, his 18-month stint as head of the Jan. 6 Committee has offered a point of connection. He often hears how much they appreciate the decorum he brought in his role running the committee’s highly watched hearings about Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. “The other thing I hear is, people say, ‘I really didn’t know how close we came to losing everything’,” says Thompson.

While the House January 6 Select Committee disbanded over a year ago, Thompson says his work around it is continuing into this year’s elections. He intends to Travel the country between now and Election Day campaigning for Joe Biden and reminding voters about the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and how his committee’s work revealed Trump’s pivotal role in bringing it about.

“Donald Trump is and will be, if he’s ever given the opportunity to be President again, a clear and present danger to this democracy as we know it,” Thompson says.

While many Democrats in Congress are urging voters to support Biden, Thompson intends to use his unique role leading the panel that investigated the Jan. 6 attack to reinforce what it helped uncover. As the Biden campaign lines up surrogates to fan out into the country and make television appearances, Thompson is one of the voices they plan to tap to highlight what another four years of Trump would mean

The committee’s five months of televised hearings in 2022 drew a far larger audience than congressional hearings normally do, raising Thompson’s national profile in the process. They laid out in sober detail how Trump continued to spread lies about voter fraud for weeks after the 2020 election, even as his own campaign officials repeatedly told him he had lost, and how his actions, including a tweet promising that Jan. 6 would be “wild,” motivated many of his supporters to converge on Washington. They also revealed how Trump waited for hours to call off his supporters after they had violently stormed the Capitol.

“The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump,” the panel wrote in its final report. “None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.” 

It’s a set of facts about Trump that the Biden campaign wants on the front of voters’ minds as the contest becomes a clear choice between Biden and the Republican frontrunner. 

Trump continues to downplay the events of Jan. 6. He has described it as a “beautiful day,” and has said he would pardon the rioters if granted a second term.

“An individual of that background potentially becoming President again sends chills up my spine,” Thompson says. “It says that my children and my grandchildren’s future is in jeopardy.”

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