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Carroll County Times Opinion

Tom Zirpoli: Here’s what the Jan. 6 committee has uncovered | COMMENTARY

New revelations from the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol come so quickly that Americans are numb to their findings. In normal times, any of these would be a major scandal.

1. For the first time in American history, a president of the United States tried to overturn an election he lost in order to stay in power for a second term. Think about that.

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2. It appears that multiple members of Congress, as well as dozens of officials in Republican-controlled states, were willing to go along with his plan. Ultimately, 147 Republicans in Congress voted to reject the certification of Joe Biden’s election. In addition, many state-level Republicans sent fake electors to Washington to vote for Donald Trump, even though their states had voted for Joe Biden.

3. The president of the United States encouraged a mob of supporters to march to the Capitol to stop the certification of his opponent’s election. Evidence shows that he knew that at least some of his supporters were armed and that he encouraged them to pressure the vice president of the United States to overturn the election. “Hang Mike Pence” was a common cheer as they marched to the Capitol.

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4. After encouraging his supporters to march to the Capitol, they became violent and attacked the Capitol police, injuring more than 100 of them. (One officer suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after the riot.) When encouraged by family and aides to tell his supporters to stop and go home, Trump refused for more than three hours. When he finally did tell them to go home, he told them, “We love you,” and that they were “special.” When his plan failed, however, he turned on his supporters, telling them that they did not represent the country and that they would pay for their actions.

5. Vice President Mike Pence refused to get into a Secret Service vehicle during the Jan. 6 riot for fear of being taken from the Capitol and not being able to certify Biden’s election. Were the agents driving the vehicle working for Trump? They clearly were not working for Pence as he knew not to get into the vehicle.

Records from interviews show that Pence told his Secret Service agent, Tim, “I’m not getting in the car” after another agent tried to move Pence into one of their armored vehicles. “I trust you,” Pence told Tim, “but you’re not driving the car. If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off. I’m not getting in the car.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a member of the Jan. 6 committee, said Pence “knew exactly what this inside coup they had planned for was going to do.” After all, said Raskin, “This was not a coup directed at the president, it was a coup directed by the president against the vice president and against the Congress.”

6. The role of the Secret Service in the attempt to overthrow our presidential election may never be fully known since texts sent and received by agents that day have been suspiciously deleted. I’m sure Republicans will want to investigate these missing texts with the same urgency they showed in investigating Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

Missing texts were not limited to Secret Service agents. Text messages belonging to Chad Wolf, former acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Ken Cuccinelli, former acting deputy secretary of DHS, are also missing. What are all these folks hiding?

7. According to email records between Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Republican officials, it appears that she was involved in discussions about overturning Biden’s election. Records show that she tried to persuade Arizona Republican lawmakers to ignore the real electors representing Arizona voters and to pick their own electors who would cast their votes for Trump instead. Interestingly, Justice Thomas was the lone dissenter when the court voted 8-1 to give the Jan. 6 committee access to emails and other documents related to the events of Jan. 6. Was he trying to keep the committee from seeing his wife’s emails?

8.While many of the rioters have been charged for their actions at the Capitol, none of the planners and encouragers have, thus far. According to CNN, more than 840 people have been charged with crimes for their participation in the Jan. 6 riot. More than 350 of them have pleaded guilty or have been convicted. More than 220 of them have received prison time. The longest prison term so far was 87 months given to Guy Reffitt, a recruiter for the right-wing Texas Three Percenters, this past Monday after he was found guilty of five felonies.

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9. A CNN poll found that while 55% of Republicans now say that Trump acted “unethically or illegally” in trying to stay in office, only 36% percent of Republicans say that what happened on Jan. 6 was a “crisis” or “major problem.”

10. Trump gave a speech in Washington, D.C., last week claiming that under President Biden, “There is no longer respect for the law, and there certainly is no order.” As Charles Blow wrote in The New York Times, “Clearly, irony escapes the man.”

Tom Zirpoli is the Laurence J. Adams Distinguished Chair in Special Education Emeritus at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.


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