We don’t need to investigate what happened when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. This is the message from the same Republicans “who held seven congressional investigations and 33 hearings about the 2012 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans,” writes Heather Cox Richardson, an American historian at Boston College.
This is a different position than Republicans had immediately after the Capitol attack. In February, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn tweeted, “The 1/6 attack on the Capitol was horrific & appalling. Those who planned & participated in the violence that day should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I agree w/Speaker Pelosi—a 91l-type investigation is called for to help prevent this from happening again.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy used the need for such an investigation when he voted against the former president’s impeachment for his role in the attack. McCarthy said, “No investigations have been completed. No hearings have been held.” Yet, with few exceptions, Republicans have done all they can to block an investigation.
To avoid an investigation into the Capitol attack, Republicans have tried to rewrite the events of the day. It wasn’t a riot, some say. Congressman Andrew Clyde of Georgia referred to the mob as a “normal tourist visit.” No violence occurred, according to some Republicans, including the former president.
But Thomas Edsall documented the injuries to the police that day in addition to the deaths. “One police officer lost an eye, another part of his finger. Another was shocked so many times with a Taser that he had a heart attack. They suffered cracked ribs, two smashed spinal disks, and multiple concussions.” A total of 146 Capitol and Metropolitan police members were injured.
It seems that Republicans are only concerned about supporting the police when people of color are involved.
If I were a Republican, I would also be embarrassed by the events of Jan. 6 and by the group that stormed the Capitol. According to reports from aides in the White House, even Trump was embarrassed by his own supporters’ appearance. He didn’t like how they looked, referring to their appearance as “low life.”
The Republicans can’t seem to get on the same page when it comes to explaining who the rioters were. But FBI Director Christopher Wray set the record straight. He reported that the crowd was made up of white supremacists, members of the Proud Boys, and Insurrectionists who were trying to stop Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden.
They were, indeed, Trump supporters.
We don’t need the FBI to tell us what was obvious. All one has to do is look at their Facebook pages and their tweets going back for years to see who they are. Also, over 400 have since been arrested and many have revealed their motives and who inspired them that day. Many are now facing jail time and believe that Trump let them down by not giving them pardons. But, of course, this is what Trump does. He uses people for his own purposes, then he drops them like a rock.
Republicans in Congress are trying to redirect our attention and leave those troubling images of Republicans viciously attacking the police behind them. This is why most Republicans in Congress don’t want to investigate what happened on Jan. 6. It would draw too much attention to their roles before and during the attack. It may even uncover evidence of interesting relationships between some of the rioters and members of Congress.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reflects the hypocrisy of his party. Immediately after that attack, McConnell said, “They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the speaker of the House. They built a gallow and chanted about murdering the vice president. They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth— because he was angry he’d lost an election. …There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible…”
Some Republicans now say the attack on the Capitol wasn’t that bad. Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado said, “This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. How many firearms were confiscated?” Actually, according to the Capitol police, they confiscated an assault rifle, stun guns, knives, brass knuckles, multiple cans of chemical spray, Molotov cocktails, and a couple of bombs.
As George Orwell warned in his novel “1984,” “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
Tom Zirpoli is program coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears on Wednesdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.