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‘There is no doubt that the hearings will scandalize the nation,’ expert says

Northwestern faculty discuss the January 6 committee hearings

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The January 6 House committee will hold its first public hearings on Thursday, June 9 and Monday, June 13, with additional sessions to be announced.

The committee has interviewed more than 1,000 individuals to date to uncover the details and sources of the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election of President Joe Biden. Northwestern University political science and U.S. history experts lay out what the public can expect from the hearings and what is at stake. 

Political Science experts

“The hearings alone will not save Democracy,” said Alvin B. Tillery Jr., director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern.

Tillery is an associate professor of political science. His research and teaching interests are in the fields of American politics and political theory. His research focuses on American political development, racial and ethnic politics and media and politics. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Tillery
“The primetime hearing scheduled by the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is likely to break new ground in terms of what we know about the high-level planning and execution of the Republican Party’s attempt to steal the 2020 presidential election.

“Given what we know from press reports, it will likely cast light on the role that several high-ranking members of Congress played in the events and give us some insight into precisely what Donald Trump was doing in the White House as the insurrection unfolded. There is no doubt that the hearings will scandalize the nation. The problem is that the hearings on their own will not save our Democracy. Not only have the GOP embarked on a dangerous path of denying that the insurrection ever happened, but they are continuing to plot and organize to steal subsequent elections.

“I have been absolutely baffled by how the U.S. media and the Department of Justice have thus far failed to hold the people at the very top of the pyramid plotting this coup attempt accountable. While the hearings will make great political theater, they will be meaningless if the Republicans remain in a position to steal power.”

“It will provide a snapshot of whether the GOP candidates will continue to embrace or temper their political support of Trump,” said Jaime Dominguez, associate professor of instruction, political science.

Dominguez’s research focuses on American culture and politics, race, ethnic, Latino and Chicago politics, as well as the politics of immigration integration. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Dominguez
“The hearings are going to bring clarity and accountability to the political establishment that undergirded the insurrection. As we go into the midterms in the fall, the hearing will also tell us a lot about how the GOP will use it as leverage to galvanize the base. For Democrats, it will highlight their commitment to strengthening our democratic institutions and upholding the rule of law. Overall, it will provide a snapshot of whether GOP candidates will continue to either embrace or temper their political support for Trump.”

History experts

“It’s hard not to think of the Watergate hearings almost half a century ago,” said Kevin Boyle, the William Mason Smith Professor of American History.

Boyle’s focus areas include economic and labor history, African Diaspora and African American history and legal and criminal history. He is the author of “The Shattering: America in the 1960s” (W.W. Norton, 2021) and was a Pulitzer finalist for “The Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age.” He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Boyle
“As the January 6 hearings get underway, it’s hard not to think of the Watergate hearings almost half a century ago. But there are two critical differences. Congressional Republicans supported and vigorously participated in the Watergate hearings, though they were investigating a Republican president, whereas the two Republicans on the January 6 committee had to defy their party to join the panel. And the January 6 hearings will be exposing offenses far more dangerous than Watergate. Make no mistake: the Nixon administration committed serious crimes. But they were meant to undermine the president’s political opponents and not to fundamentally — perhaps fatally — undermine the most sacred of American democratic processes. In Watergate, American public life fell into darkness. On January 6, it came perilously close to collapsing altogether.” 

“Fact-finding must be an impetus to action,” said Michael Allen, associate professor of history.

Allen’s research interests focus on U.S. political and diplomatic history. He is the author of “Until the Last Man Comes Home: POWs, MIAs, and the Unending Vietnam War.” His current work-in-progress, “New Politics: The Imperial Presidency, The Pragmatic Left, and the Problem of Democratic Power, 1933-1981,” treats evolving left-liberal relations to presidential power in the postwar era. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Allen
“While it has exposed additional details concerning Donald Trump’s serial threats to democratic norms and institutions, the January 6 committee, like the Congress more generally, seems unprepared to act on this information. Knowing Republicans will refuse to join any sanctions against the former president, the committee seems to hope that the Biden Administration will prosecute the case it is building. As the months drag on, that hope also appears misplaced. Fact-finding must be an impetus to action. Without action, it is meaningless.”