WASHINGTON (AP) — What insurrection?
Flouting all proof and their very own first-hand expertise, a small however rising variety of Republican lawmakers are propagating a false portrayal of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, overtly arguing that the rioters who used flagpoles as weapons, brutally beat cops and chanted that they wished to hold Vice President Mike Pence had been someway appearing peacefully of their violent bid to overturn Joe Biden’s election.
One Republican at a listening to Wednesday referred to as the rioters a “mob of misfits.” Another in contrast them to vacationers. And a 3rd prompt the sweeping federal investigation into the riot — which has yielded greater than 400 arrests and counting — quantities to a nationwide marketing campaign of harassment.
It’s a flip of occasions that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one other goal of the rioters, referred to as “appalling” and “sick,” and it raises the chance that the general public’s understanding of the worst home assault on Congress in 200 years — an assault that was captured extensively on video — may grow to be distorted by the identical sorts of disinformation that fueled former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election. It was the lie concerning the election that motivated the rioters within the first place.
“I don’t know of a normal day around here when people are threatening to hang the vice president of the United States or shoot the speaker, or injure so many police officers,” mentioned Pelosi, who has pushed for a bipartisan fee to analyze the riots.
The hearing Wednesday was presupposed to be the most recent dive by congressional investigators into the chaos of Jan. 6 — the missed warning indicators, confusion and delays that allowed the rioters to terrorize the Capitol for a whole afternoon. But a number of Republicans used their rounds of questioning to not pepper the witnesses with questions however to downplay the brutal assault on America’s seat of democracy.
“Let’s be honest with the American people — it was not an insurrection, and we cannot call it that and be truthful,” mentioned Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Republican from Georgia serving his first time period.
Clyde mentioned one video feed of the rioters seemed like they had been on a “normal tourist visit.” Those within the video, taken in Statuary Hall, had been capable of enter the constructing after rioters broke by glass, pummeled officers and busted by the doorways as lawmakers had been frantically evacuated. They had been headed to the House chamber the place they tried to beat down the doorways with lawmakers nonetheless inside.
Clyde wasn’t the one Republican making that argument. Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar portrayed a lady who was shot and killed by Capitol Police as she tried to interrupt by a door subsequent to the House chamber as a martyr. He mentioned Ashli Babbitt was “executed” and famous she was an Air Force veteran who was carrying an American flag. The Department of Justice determined after an investigation not to charge the police officer who shot her.
The Justice Department, Gosar mentioned, is “harassing peaceful patriots across the country” as federal prosecutors file prices in opposition to tons of of people that stormed the Capitol and took part within the riot. The huge investigation, one of many largest in American historical past, stays ongoing with federal brokers persevering with to serve search warrants and making an attempt to find dozens of different individuals nonetheless being looked for questioning.
Georgia Rep. Jody Hice additionally painted the rioters because the victims, noting that they had been 4 of the individuals who died, together with Babbitt. The different three suffered medical emergencies whereas a part of the gang laying siege to the Capitol. “It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others,” Hice mentioned.
A fifth individual, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed instantly after the rebel and died the subsequent day. Video exhibits two males spraying him and one other officer with a chemical, however the Washington health worker mentioned Sicknick suffered a stroke and died from natural causes. The males have been charged with assaulting the officers.
Two different officers took their very own lives within the days afterward, and dozens extra had been damage — together with one officer who had a coronary heart assault and others who suffered traumatic mind accidents and everlasting disabilities. The union that represents the Capitol Police mentioned a few of the officers might by no means return to work.
The try and defend the insurrectionists got here on the identical day that House Republicans voted to (*6*) from their management group for repeatedly rebuking Trump for his false claims that the election was stolen. Cheney voted with Democrats to question Trump for telling his supporters hours earlier than the Jan. 6 assault to “fight like hell” to overturn Biden’s win. Trump’s lies about widespread election fraud had been rebuked by quite a few courts, election officers throughout the nation and his personal legal professional basic.
Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who led the Democrats’ impeachment prosecution and sits on the Oversight Committee, mentioned after the listening to that he believes that Republicans had been “emboldened and emancipated” by Cheney’s ouster earlier within the day.
“They have declared themselves to be on the side of Donald Trump and the ‘big lie,’ and the ‘big lie’ now has spread outwards to include denial of what happened on Jan. 6,” Raskin mentioned.
Timothy Naftali, a professor of historical past and public service at New York University, says it’s “deeply cynical” to put aside the rebel as if it didn’t occur. He compares it to political elites in Southern states after the Civil War who failed to look at its causes, which he says prevented racial reconciliation and therapeutic and nonetheless impacts the nation to this present day.
“Political amnesia never helps,” Naftali mentioned. “It’s a source of poison.”
Given the in depth document of the assault, captured in video and images seen the world over, defending the insurrectionists required some artistic omissions. One level Clyde emphasised was that the rioters by no means made it to the House flooring — despite the fact that they tried, solely to be held again by cops with weapons drawn. Some lawmakers had been taking cowl within the gallery of the chamber as they tried to beat down the doorways.
“I can tell you the House floor was never breached and it was not an insurrection,” Clyde mentioned. “This is the truth.”
The mob did break into the Senate minutes after senators had evacuated, some carrying zip ties and tactical tools. They rifled by desks and hunted for lawmakers, yelling “where are they?” They walked into Pelosi’s workplace, stealing a laptop computer and calling out her title whereas a few of her employees huddled quietly beneath furnishings.
Other Republicans — some quietly, some publicly — have made clear they don’t agree with their colleagues.
“I was there,” mentioned Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who was caught in safety video being diverted away from the rioters by a police officer. “What happened was a violent effort to interfere with and prevent the constitutional order of installing a new president. And as such, it was an insurrection against the Constitution. It resulted in severe property damage, severe injuries and death.”
Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, one other Democratic member of the Oversight panel, says the Republican denials are wishful pondering that reverberates with their most partisan voters.
“These folks passionately want what they want to be true,” Quigley mentioned after the listening to. “So it’s no longer I’ll believe it when I see it. It’s I’ll see it when I believe it.”
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