Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington as they try to storm the building on Jan. 6, 2021, while inside Congress prepared to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's election victory. Credit: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo

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Although many of us remain outraged by what happened on Jan. 6, our visceral memories of the violence at the U.S. Capitol – and the horror it engendered – have largely faded in the year that has passed. Forgetting the details of the day when our democratic system of certifying the election of a president was threatened is dangerous. This is especially true as some who were involved in efforts to at least question if not outright overturn the November 2020 election results now seek to downplay or even re-write what happened in Washington on and before Jan. 6.

Text messages that were revealed this week reminded us of the chaos, fear and, most important, the urgent pleas for the president to stop it. And, we are reminded of then-President Donald Trump’s colossal failure to quickly step in and, as only he could, try to put an end to the rampage that was occurring just a short time after he urged his supporters to go to the Capitol to “fight like hell” to reclaim an “election [that] was stolen from you, from me and from the country.”

That failure is a persistent reminder of why the work of the Jan. 6 commission is vital so the nation has a clearer picture of how Trump and his inner circle, along with some backers outside the White House, tried to retain their grip on power.

As part of the commission’s work, Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, read several text messages that were sent by lawmakers, Trump confidants and Fox News personalities on Jan. 6.

They paint a disturbing picture and remind us of the presidential inaction that America witnessed that day. They also highlight why the former president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, should be compelled to testify before the commission to help lawmakers understand what Trump did that day and why.

Meadows has so far refused subpoenas to appear before the committee and the House voted Tuesday, mostly along party lines, to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Meadows has provided some information to the committee, including the text messages that Cheney read on Monday.

“Hey, Mark, protestors are literally storming the Capitol,” said a text from an unnamed person. “Breaking windows on doors. Rushing in. Is Trump going to say something?”

“We are under siege up here at the Capitol,” said another.

“There’s an armed standoff at the House Chamber door.”

“We are all helpless.”

Watching video from the Capitol, as many of us did, multiple Fox News hosts knew the president needed to act immediately. So did one of Trump’s sons. They texted Meadows, pleading for action from Trump to quell the violence. These tweets, by the way, are in stark contrast to some of their later comments that the events at the Capitol were no big deal, or perpetrated by Antifa.

“Hey Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home … this is hurting all of us … he is destroying his legacy,” Fox TV host Laura Ingraham wrote.

“Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade wrote.

“Can he make a statement?… Ask people to leave the Capitol,” Fox talk show host Sean Hannity urged.

As the violence continued, Donald Trump Jr. texted Meadows: “He’s got to condemn this s*** Asap. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough.”

According to Cheney, Meadows responded: “I’m pushing it hard. I agree.”

Donald Trump Jr. texted several more times urging action from his father. “We need an Oval address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” one said.

An Oval Office address never happened that day. More than an hour after the Capitol was breached, President Trump tweeted that people should support law enforcement and stay peaceful. That was after he posted a tweet blasting Vice President Mike Pence, who was removed from the Senate floor as the violence in the Capitol spread, for planning to certify the results of the 2020 election, which Joe Biden won.

Trump did not more fully address the situation for more than three hours, time he spent happily watching the chaos, according to many, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch MConnell. Three hours after his speech ended and the crowd surrounded the Capitol, in a brief video address to his supporters, Trump told them to go home. But, first he told them he felt their pain and that the election was “stolen from us.” He also told them “we love you. You’re very special.” Weird word choices from a U.S. president to a mob of rioters.

As Cheney said on Monday: “January 6th was without precedent.”

“Our Constitution, the structure of our institutions and the rule of law – which are at the heart of what makes America great — are at stake,” said Cheney, who has faced withering criticism from many in her own party and lost her House Republican leadership role for continuing to tell the truth about what happened that day. “We cannot be satisfied with incomplete answers, or half-truths; and we cannot surrender to President Trump’s efforts to hide what happened. We will be persistent, professional and non-partisan. We must get to the objective truth and ensure that January 6th never happens again.”

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...