Despite a torrent of revisionist lies and obfuscations, the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 must be fully reckoned with.
The day’s terrorism — that’s what Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell called it — led to the deaths of five people and arrests of more than 400, a number that grows almost daily. About 140 police officers were assaulted defending America’s peaceful transition of power. The nation deserves a full and fair examination of what happened, who abetted it and how the plans hatched.
The plotters fell short of their goal of stopping Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the elected president. But the damage was real and far reaching.
Members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence fled for their lives. Insurrectionists rampaged through the Capitol carrying a Confederate flag that no Southern army ever marched into Washington, D.C. The seat of government was trashed and desecrated. The world saw sudden, glaring fragility in American democracy when President Donald Trump, in his presidency’s last throes, pointed his rallygoers to the Capitol and implored them to “fight like hell.”
On Wednesday, nine members of Washington state’s Congressional delegation stood with the majority in a 252-175 vote for a bipartisan federal investigation into this travesty. All seven of the state’s Democrats in Congress voted for the Jan. 6 commission. So did Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Battle Ground and Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside, in defiance of national GOP leadership and grassroots criticism within their districts.
Emulating the bipartisan investigation after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the proposed commission would independently use subpoenas and hearings to produce a credible account to beat back the tide of disinformation.
Republicans have split on this cause, some falsely claiming Democrats would dominate staff hiring and the commission’s actions. That Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, did not join the 35 House Republicans who voted for this investigation is truly disappointing.
Every Republican step in favor helps build bipartisan momentum as the Senate takes up the bill, possibly next week. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are threatening a filibuster to stop it.
In a statement, McMorris Rodgers blamed the proposal for not addressing unrelated protests in other cities. Bizarrely, this included a claim that “rioters looted and burned to the ground cities like Seattle and Portland.” The only Washington municipality that “burned to the ground” last summer was the town of Malden, which lost 80% of its buildings in a range fire in McMorris Rodgers’ own district (for which Trump refused to approve disaster relief).
This ridiculous exaggeration falls in step with ongoing Congressional Republican mistruths to blur the focus on Jan. 6. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., called the insurrection “peaceful protests” on Fox News Wednesday. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., said during a May 12 House hearing that the Jan. 6 news footage resembled “a normal tourist visit.”
These are tentacles of Trump’s blatant “Big Lie” about election illegitimacy that drew the mob to the Capitol. America needs champions for a clear historical record of how the deliberate undermining of faith in a secure election provoked violence and destabilized democracy.
On Jan. 6, McMorris Rodgers repudiated the insurrection as “madness” and voted to confirm Biden had won. Now she’s against this bipartisan investigation of how the assault came to be, as is McConnell. This stance can do deep harm to America’s future.
Absent a full reckoning with the “disinformation and rage” — McConnell’s words, again — that fomented the insurrection, the nation’s open political wound cannot heal. The full truth must come to light.