Joe Biden and Bennie Thompson may be laid up with Covid, but the January 6 committee, to borrow a phrase from Donald Trump, was ready to fight like hell on Thursday. “Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, the dam has begun to break,” declared Representative Liz Cheney at the outset. “He chose not to act,” added Representative Adam Kinzinger, slamming “Trump’s dishonor and dereliction of duty.”

Speaking of slamming, it was the footage of Trump smacking the lectern on January 7, as he stumbled through a video intended to display his displeasure with the...

Joe Biden and Bennie Thompson may be laid up with Covid, but the January 6 committee, to borrow a phrase from Donald Trump, was ready to fight like hell on Thursday. “Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, the dam has begun to break,” declared Representative Liz Cheney at the outset. “He chose not to act,” added Representative Adam Kinzinger, slamming “Trump’s dishonor and dereliction of duty.”

Speaking of slamming, it was the footage of Trump smacking the lectern on January 7, as he stumbled through a video intended to display his displeasure with the violence that he fomented, that displayed the real Trump. Vexed, exasperated, distressed. “Yesterday’s a hard word for me,” he announced. “I don’t want to say the election is over.”

For him, it isn’t. Robin Vos, the speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, revealed that Trump recently called him, demanding that he help overturn the results of the 2020 election. So much for law and order.

The hearing did not deliver the kind of bombshells that Cassidy Hutchinson offered a few weeks ago. Instead, like a prospector panning for gold, it supplied some nuggets. The White House was aware that the protesters were wielding weapons: “I think that was enough grounds for us to be alarmed,” said one national security official. For hours, Trump knew that the Capitol was under attack and made sure to stay in his dining room so that aides couldn’t get to him. Instead, he wanted to up the pressure on Vice President Mike Pence. A motorcade was on standby for 45 minutes to take him to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse. Meanwhile, Trump was immured in his dining room, calling various senators to try and delay the certification vote in between throwing ketchup at the wall. Probably the most gut-wrenching part was the revelation that Secret Service officials guarding Pence feared for their lives, calling their families to explain they might not make it out of the Capitol.

The most trenchant witness was Sarah Matthews who said that Trump had ensured that “fuel [was] being poured on the fire.” National Security Council deputy Matthew Pottinger said, “I simply didn’t want to be associated with the events that were unfolding at the Capitol.” Matthews again: “It was essentially him giving the green light to these people. I’ve seen the impact his words have on his supporters.” It was striking that the women were often more direct and blunt in their assessments of Trump and his nefarious schemes than the men, with Pottinger in particular coming across as something of a windbag, particularly in his colloquies with Kinzinger.

The final word went to Steve Bannon who predicted a “firestorm” when speaking to a group of his companions. “The audio demonstrates that Trump’s plan to declare victory,” said Cheney, was “premeditated.” He reckoned that his supporters would buy it and, indeed, he closed the sale. His conviction that he could successfully steal the election by declaring that it was being stolen from him almost came true. Cheney put it best, noting that he is “preying on the patriotism” of his myrmidons. The persistence, tenacity and vigor with which the otherwise indolent Trump pursued his caper has an awe-inspiring quality to it. He makes Captain Ahab look like a slacker by comparison. He was in deadly earnest about retaining power, no matter the cost.

Writing in the latest Spectator, Freddy Gray surmises that Trump can storm back in 2024. I wonder. As the evidence of his culpability in sponsoring a violent attack on the Capitol mounts, Trump’s comeback trail has become steeper. His rivals are preparing to run, as the January 6 committee does their work for them by dismantling Trump. Add in a possible indictment in Georgia and his future starts to look even more iffy. If the dam truly is starting to burst, then the deluge may come in September when the committee resumes its work. And Trump knows it.