The red-white-and-blue face paint, the bare chest, the horned, fur-lined headdress got him dubbed the “QAnon Shaman.” All of that regalia was gone last week as Jacob Anthony Chansley, one of the most distinctive participants in the storming of the U.S. Capitol, pleaded guilty in federal court.
The U.S. Justice Department has secured more than 50 guilty pleas so far, as prosecutors work their way through the roughly 600 people charged over their part in the Jan. 6 riot. The attack contributed to five deaths and left more than 130 police officers injured.
The steady, diligent meting out of accountability is an apt response to the criminality that engulfed our nation’s capital eight months ago.
Yet, almost as shocking as that day’s events are the confounding calls for consequences for those who stood on the right side of history or would help uncover the truth.
In all instances, justice must prevail.
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, has drawn several primary challengers over her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the mob that assaulted the Capitol. Last week, Trump endorsed one of her opponents, calling the congresswoman “incompetent” and labeling her a Republican in name only.
Herrera Beutler, who is running for her seventh term next year, was one of only 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. “I am not choosing a side, I’m choosing truth,” she said at the time. “It’s the only way to defeat fear.”
Her courageous stance for principle over party showed her constituents that she is as independent as she is conservative, and the kind of voice that should be encouraged, not stifled.
That applies as well to her fellow Washington U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside. He also stood up for the rule of law and voted to impeach. Failing to hold the president accountable would have been “a vote to validate the unacceptable violence we witnessed,” he said in January.
Both voted to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate what happened on Jan. 6, an effort that was scuttled over political wrangling between Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
McCarthy, who initially said Trump bore responsibility for the attack, was quickly cowed by the sway the former president still holds over many GOP voters and has become an unquestioning defender. Not only is he unwilling to follow the example of Herrera Beutler and Newhouse in seeking the truth, but he is also obstructing the investigation.
He recently threatened telecommunications and social media companies that comply with a request to save records relevant to the attack, saying that Republicans “will not forget” their actions. This is unethical and may even be illegal.
McCarthy also forgets that not all Republicans — neither voters nor elected officials — are willing to pull down a fur-lined headdress over their eyes and pretend Jan. 6 didn’t happen.
Republicans such as Herrera Beutler and Newhouse can see clearly and must lead the way.