Trump demands Republicans keep spotlight on the insurrection. And they do.
GOP claims Democrats are obsessed with Jan 6th. But it's the GOP promoting the Big Lie, and thus the Capitol assault
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Republicans, fearful of what will come out of the House January 6th select committee which gets underway today, keep insinuating that Democrats are obsessed with it and that there already have been many investigations — when in fact there’s been no deep look at what precipitated the coordinated attack on the Capitol, including alleged ties to members of Congress and back to officials in the Trump administration.
Nonetheless it’s been Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s main go-to argument for why a bipartisan commission wasn’t necessary. And it’s been the same with the select committee investigation of January 6th, which came about only because Republicans stopped a bipartisan commission from happening.
Over the weekend Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania even accused Democrats of wanting to focus on January 6th because they get “political advantage” out of it. In a breathtaking statement on CNN he claimed that he supported a bipartisan commission — in fact, he never voted on it, as he wasn’t there for the vote which Republicans, his party, ultimately filibustered — and that when that didn’t happen, Democrats should have basically moved on.
He then said that Congress should be focused on the current president rather than the former president. This was pretty ridiculous for a few reasons. First off, the January 6th assault committee investigation isn’t focused on Donald Trump per se as much as on the origins of the attack on the Capitol led by his supporters and those who attended and organized the “Stop the Steal” rally, though it surely shines a light on Trump’s incitement and could bring more facts to bear regarding him and other political leaders.
Secondly, Congress can do many things at once — and can surely both focus on current legislation and, as Toomey put it, the actions of the current president, as well as investigate an insurrection. Third, everyone, no matter what party, should want to find out what happened, and it’s what well over 70% of Americans want. So Congress truly is doing the people’s business, as it is mandated to do.
One of the most important reasons to investigate is that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI believe there will be more domestic terrorist attacks, incited by Trump and his followers, particularly around the demented conspiracy that Trump will be reinstated in August. The new chief of the Capitol Police said he fears a “repeat” of January 6th because of this. Why wouldn’t the GOP want to prevent that from happening?
Fourth and most significant, it is Republicans who are actually keeping January 6th in the news, contrary to the GOP’s insinuations that Democrats are obsessed with it and looking for “political advantage.”
Of course, Democrats do get political advantage from pointing to domestic terrorism excused by the opposition party — something Democrats should be doing to protect the American people — but Republicans are handing it to them.
The GOP leadership could easily be taking up the issue along with Democratic leaders, just like Republican House members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinsinger, both on the select committee, are doing. But GOP leaders have chosen to embrace the twice-impeached disgraced president who defends the people who attacked the Capitol as “special” people who showed a lot of “love.”
Except for the select committee, Democrats actually haven’t been focused on January 6th, but rather have been focused — some would say obsessively — on a bipartisan infrastructure deal, which surely falls in line with what Toomey thinks Congress should be focused on it. Except for the news now and again about people who were charged in the Capitol assault and sentences handed down by judges, January 6th itself as a news story has largely faded into the background — and the select committee rightly will focus new attention on it.
It’s Republicans, however, who are keeping it alive as a political issue by continually promoting the Big Lie, which was the entire reason why this domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol — and the “Stop the Steal” really at which the attackers gathered just prior — happened.
Over the weekend, Trump spoke in Arizona, where the GOP has been engaged for months in a fraudulent recount, claiming the election was stolen, and Trump not only continued to promote the dangerous conspiracy; he demanded that all Republicans follow him or else GOP voters won’t go to the polls, and he’s sent threats to many of them. He’s basically handing the Democrats — and the GOP — the same environment that existed during the Georgia runoffs, which benefitted Democrats, who mobilized.
Though that was damaging to the GOP, the vast majority of Republicans in elected office right now are complying with him once again, embracing Trump’s twisted lie and attempting to use it it for electoral advantage. They’re running on it in statehouse races, governors’ races, House races and Senate races.
As long as the GOP uses the Big Lie as an organizing tool and a political issue, they are the ones promoting and exploiting January 6th, keeping it in the forefront of politics. Democrats must respond forcefully and realize that, for the GOP this is a political mistake, as the American people overwhelmingly support an investigation and do not in any way excuse what happened.
Rather than run from it — fearful of claims by Republicans like Toomey that they are exploiting January 6th — Democrats need to supercharge the message that the opposition party is embracing the Big Lie that incited the Capitol attack, and is excusing domestic terrorism.