DOVER, NH — In New Hampshire, the rift between Trump-era Americans has reopened with the Jan. 6 hearings.
There are those who eagerly tune in. And there are those that are defiantly tuned.
Jack Brownley, 84, an Air Force veteran at Dover, said that while he was “not a news watcher”, the hearings for him have become viewing appointments. “I look forward to them,” he said, adding that he has concluded that former President Donald J. Trump is “totally, completely” responsible for a coup attempt.
Rick Hyotte has not seen any of the hearings. And he doesn’t intend to.
“I’ve made up my mind – it’s just a show,” said Mr Hyotte, 50, as he smoked a cigar outside Castro’s Back Room in Manchester. He said he believed the former president was not to blame.
The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack will meet again Thursday for its third hearing, building on previous sessions that shed light on one of the darkest chapters in American history — a president who refused for two and a half centuries. constitutional democracy and who tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
In a swinging congress district in the Manchester area, interviews with voters over the past few days have shown that little has changed about the events of January 6. Response to the hearings in this part of New Hampshire has largely followed the same partisan lines that determine how much of the country responds to almost any issue.
Voters who supported President Biden in 2020 are watching the hearings closely, wondering if Trump will finally be relegated to a place of infamy after so many previous scandals. Voters who supported Mr Trump dismissed the hearings as a “sham,” a political exercise by enemies always bent on getting the former president and a distraction from more pressing issues such as high gas prices and baby food shortages. .
Several voters refused to be fully identified, explaining that they feared being the target of intimidation in the fraught political climate.
Liz C., 60, who works for a local government office in Exeter’s affluent liberal community, called the hearings “a waste of time and money.” She said it was clear to her that Mr Trump had done nothing wrong on January 6. “I think they should put it in bed,” she said. “Let’s focus on our current president and let’s clean up the mess. Biden ruined everything.”
Carolyn K., 53, a graphic designer from Exeter, said it was frightening that “people are really sticking to the storyline that the election was a scam.” When asked why she didn’t want to be fully identified, she said, “It’s a bit of a scary time right now.”
The themes of the House Committee hearings on January 6
Walter Holt, 79, a veteran of the Vietnam War and a retired shipyard worker, lives in a community for people 55 and older in Rochester. He says a neighbor in his community wears a Trump hat that “wants to rip off his head every time I see him.”
But Mr. Holt doesn’t talk politics with neighbors. He called Mr Trump “a pig” responsible for the loss of the country’s “moral compass.”
Stretching from Manchester to the southeastern part of the state on the border with Maine, New Hampshire’s First Congressional District has long been a contentious political area. The district voted for former President Barack Obama in 2012, for Mr. Trump in 2016, and for President Biden in 2020. It was flipped five times in seven congressional elections before Representative Chris Pappas, a Democrat, won for the first time in 2018.
Mr. Pappas faces a tough re-election this year in a political environment that has become difficult for Democrats. He said in an interview that while many voters have decided to ignore the January 6 hearings, the sessions are an important moment for the country.
“It’s important for the historical record, it’s important for the individuals who lost their lives that day, it’s important from the perspective of justice,” said Mr. daddy. “We must ensure that individuals who perpetrated a violent attack on the Capitol are held accountable.”
The field of Republicans vying for a September primary to pit against Mr. Pappas includes high-profile figures who have cast doubt on the 2020 election. A Republican nominee, state legislator Tim Baxter, has introduced a bill this year calling for a forensic audit of the state’s vote in 2020, although there are there is no evidence of widespread fraud. Another candidate, Karoline Leavitt, who was a Trump White House press officer, has said the 2020 election was “stolen from us.”
Mrs Leavitt wrote on Twitter this week that “the corrupt political establishment in DC is shamefully focused on Jan. 6,” as the nation faces more pressing crises.
Matt Mowers, another Trump administration veteran who defeated Mr. Pappas two years ago, is looking for a rematch. He has said that in 2020 some secretaries of state “violated their constitution” in establishing voting procedures.
House Democrats hope the Jan. 6 panel hearings will reach at least two groups of viewers: disheartened Democrats who could be encouraged to participate in November’s midterm elections by a stark reminder of the attempted insurgency, and independents or Republicans. who are open to reviewing their positions from Mr. Trump.
It’s uncertain how many independents or Republicans could do that.
In the days following the first hearing last week, a Morning Consult/Politico poll found that 40 percent of registered voters said they had watched part of the hearing live, but they were mostly Democrats. Only 27 percent of Republicans said they watched. In the same survey, the proportion of voters who blamed Trump for the attack fell from 63 percent in January 2021 to 57 percent.
“There are few convincing voters left on the issue,” the pollsters wrote, “and those who tune in to the latest news cycle don’t seem to be among them.”
According to Nielsen, at least 20 million people watched the prime-time opening hearing last week — more than the audience for this year’s Oscars, but less than that of the State of the Union address. The second hearing, held Monday morning, reached about 10 million television viewers.
Mark Ferdinando, 59, a Trump supporter who attended the opening hearing last week, was unimpressed. It was “a lot of people who wanted to hear themselves talk,” says Mr. Ferdinando, an insurance agent in Manchester. “I think everyone knows what happened. I think they should focus on more important things – the economy, gas prices, whatever happens abroad.”
Maureen Harms, 45, an accountant who also works in Manchester, had a very different takeaway. She was disturbed by the account of Caroline Edwards, the Capitol police officer who described being knocked unconscious by rioters during the attack and slipping in the blood of fellow officers.
“When I listened to her testimony that it was like war, I was shocked,” said Ms Harms.
Still, she is skeptical that poignant testimony will change the views of Trump supporters. “There is no amount of television or media that can convince them that they are wrong,” she said.
Many Trump supporters have echoed the talking points in the conservative news media seeking to absolve him of any responsibility before January 6. They echoed widely disputed claims that he urged supporters outside the White House that day to march “peacefully” to the White House. Capitol, and that he authorized National Guard troops to protect the Capitol, but was thwarted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Carlton Cooper, the chair of a regional Republican committee in Rochester, said he believed there was sufficient evidence of widespread fraud in 2020, including the claims of election stolen in the documentary “2000 Mules.”
“People know plainly that President Trump has won the election,” said Mr. Cooper, whose front yard is decorated with American flags and a sign that reads “Let’s Go Brandon,” a slogan popular with conservatives and code for a Biden insult.
He hasn’t seen any of the hearings.
Kathy Corson, a real estate agent who is the former top executive in Exeter, said it seemed no scandal could stop him during Mr Trump’s presidency. She is more optimistic than most that tying Mr Trump to an insurgency and a financial scheme that has misled his own supporters will permanently tarnish him.
“The truth is hard, isn’t it?” she said.