Opinion: The Jan. 6 hearings are sorting real heroes from the fakes

Last week was Heroes Week for the House committee investigating Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his election defeat and cling to power. So Mike Pence wasn't there.

Real heroes were.

Some analysts have called Pence a hero, and Democrats on the committee repeatedly praise the former vice president for refusing Trump's demands that Pence, in presiding on Jan. 6, 2021, over Congress' certification of the presidential election result, work to reverse Joe Biden's victory.

Yet Pence was simply doing his job, as the Constitution provides.

Pence won't qualify for the honorific until he raises his right hand and tells the whole truth to the committee, and the American public, about Trump's coup plotting.

It's not enough that Pence has sanctioned the committee's questioning of his former chief of staff, Marc Short, and chief counsel, Greg Jacob, helpful as it's been to further documenting that top Trump officials repeatedly told him he'd lost.

Pence is hiding behind his aides to shield what's left of his presidential hopes. He made it plain this week how far he is from real heroics.

In an interview Monday with Fox News, he spoke of Jan. 6, 2021, as if it were a one-off, without all the months before and since in which Trump undermined Americans' faith in elections. Democrats seek to exploit that "tragic day," Pence said, to "distract attention from their failed agenda."

He will "always be proud," Pence added, to have served with Trump.

One can wonder just how proud Pence was of Trump on the day after the former vice president's Fox News interview. On Tuesday, real heroes - including an elderly volunteer poll worker in Atlanta and Georgia's top election administrator - went before the Jan. 6 committee and described the abuse, threats and torment they'd suffered thanks to the former president's pressure and incitement, simply for doing their jobs in support of democracy.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his chief elections officer, Gabriel Sterling, both Republicans, testified to enduring Trump's phone harangues, false fraud claims, private threats, public attacks and, in turn, his followers' abuse. Raffensperger's wife received "sexualized attacks" online. There was a break-in at the home of his son's widow and two children. Sterling recounted his public warning to Trump and Congress a month before the insurrection: Somebody is going to get killed.

And yet both Republicans, unlike Pence, showed up before the committee. On Thursday came three more, Trump appointees all - former acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen; his former deputy, Richard Donoghue, and a third top Justice Department official, Steven Engel - to tell how Trump tried to use the nation's top law enforcement department to help overturn the election.

As Raffensperger said, "I think sometimes moments require you to stand up and just take the shots."

Perhaps the week's most compelling witnesses, however, were two Black women justifiably introduced as "unsung heroes" by the committee chairman - Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss, a former election worker for Fulton County, Georgia, and her mother Ruby Freeman, a volunteer poll worker.

They told of the vile, racist attacks they've suffered since Trump, after the election, circulated a video purporting to show them stuffing fake pro-Biden ballots into voting machines. Strangers entered the home of Moss' grandmother, Freeman's mother, saying they were there to make "a citizen's arrest" of Moss and Freeman.

Moss quit her beloved job. Freeman left her home for two months, on the FBI's advice. Both women are now afraid to go out, or even to identify themselves in some situations.

Which suggests that other question:

Mike Pence, are you still proud of Trump now?

The Los Angeles Times