Interactive Interview Ahead of the Jan. 6 Hearings: Democracy and a High-Stakes Tweet

It’s time for an update on Frontline Transparency Project source interviews.

In contrast to larger projects, which include several dozen source interviews from a given documentary posted at the same time as the documentary airs, today we enabled a single, key video source interview ahead of the January 6 hearings, which start tonight.

On January 5, 2020, lawyer and former judge Michael Luttig found himself advising then-Vice President Mike Pence, and struggling with Twitter. It’s a riveting story.

As with any of the more than 300 interviews in the Transparency Project library, you can point to a given sentence in the interview by selecting text and clicking to get the link.

Here are some highlights:

What I saw was a straight line from the Republican primaries to and through the Trump administration, straight through to Jan. 6 and continuing until this moment.

I believe that the Constitution provides the process and the mechanisms by which we can withstand any attack or assault on our country or our democracy from without.

But I believe that the Constitution never contemplated and therefore didn’t ever provide for process and mechanisms to withstand an attack on America and her democratic processes from within.

To fully appreciate the story of the tweet, which includes both a high-stakes moment and and older folks using technology, you have to read several paragraphs – here’s where it starts:

You know, my wife and kids had always said that there’s no way I could be on Twitter because it’s not possible for me to say less than 140 characters, you know? But there I was on the morning of Jan. 5, and I had to do this. So I did the best I could.

He also read a key part of his high-stakes tweet thread near the end of the interview – here’s where that starts:

The only responsibility and power of the vice president under the Constitution…

And here are a couple more highlights:

The institutions and instruments and instrumentalities of our democracy, it is necessary that we have them, but it’s not sufficient. Without leaders acting in good faith in the interest of the country as opposed to their partisan political interests, the country could not long exist. It’s literally that significant.

And what we saw play out on Jan. 6 was the assault or attack from within on our institutions of democracy and the American political process and the American political experiment, the attack and assault from within by our public officials who were acting themselves not in the interest of the country, but out of their own personal political interests. That is something that—that’s the war that—the one war that America can never win.

That’s why today, I believe that America, and for sure American democracy, is at risk, because those representatives whom the founders completely understood would tend to act in their own self-political interest rather than the interest of the country, the founders believed that the system would constrain them. Today proves that the founders, as wise as they were as to that, were mistaken.