“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.” Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga. (Newsweek, May 15)
On Jan. 6, insurrectionists attacked the U.S. Capitol. Windows and doors were smashed. Feces was spread on the walls. People urinated in the hallways. Police were attacked with bear spray, metal poles, and fire extinguishers, injuring 140. Rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence.” Five people died, including one woman trampled to death by the mob. And Republicans say this was a “normal tourist visit.”
The attack caused millions of dollars in damage and endangered the lives of everybody inside the building. Soon after the attack, almost everyone, including leading Republicans, acknowledged how serious it was.
On Jan. 13, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said, “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. Some say the riots were caused by antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that. And conservatives should be the first to say so.” (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 13)
On Jan. 19, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like…. There’s no question - none - that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” (Politico, Jan. 19)
What do they say now? On Jan. 21, McCarthy backtracked, saying, “I don’t believe he provoked it if you listen to what he said at the rally.”
On May 19, McConnell said, “After careful consideration, I’ve made the decision to oppose the House Democrats’ slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January 6.”
McConnell is referring to a commission to study what happened on Jan. 6 and what led to the attack. Unlike the seemingly endless hearings regarding the 2012 Benghazi tragedy, resulting in nothing, the proposed commission is not a “slanted and unbalanced proposal.” It’s modeled after the commission set up to investigate the 9/11 attacks.
The terms were negotiated by Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., and Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. The commission would have 10 members, five Republicans and five Democrats, and include no current elected officials. Staff would be appointed by both Republican and Democratic leaders. McCarthy asked for several concessions and got everything he wanted.
The Capitol police, who suffered so much during the insurrection, are in favor. On May 19, a letter signed by over 40 Capitol police officers was sent to House leaders. It begins, “We members of the United States Capitol Police write this letter to express our profound disappointment with the recent comments from both chambers’ minority leaders expressing no need for a January 6th commission.” It continues by describing the horror of that day and the lasting effects on the officers.
The letter concludes by saying, “…we are expected to…do our jobs with honor and integrity. It’s unfortunate that our ‘bosses’ (Congress) are not held to the same standard that we, the USCP are.” This letter expresses their extreme frustration with Republicans.
On May 19, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to establish the commission. The bipartisan vote was 252 in favor, including 35 Republicans, to 175 Republicans against.
Our Republican representative from Nevada CD 2, Mark Amodei, voted against the commission because he was “incredibly weary of Congress’s addiction to ‘special’ this and ‘special’ that.” Apparently he’s also weary of the truth. How pathetic.
Fortunately, some Republicans disagreed. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said a commission is necessary to find the truth about what happened. Jan. 6 “is going to haunt this institution for a long, long time…. (I) heard the shouts, saw the flash-bangs, smelled the gas on that sorry day.”
Rep. Katko said, “This is about facts - it’s not partisan politics … the American people and the Capitol Police deserve answers, and action as soon as possible to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.” (Reno Gazette-Journal, May 20)
Everyone should welcome the facts. Regrettably, Senate Republicans seem terrified of the truth. Why? Don’t they know the truth will set us free?
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.