Today, the U.S. House select committee investigating the deadly pro-Trump assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th is holding its first hearings, taking witness testimony from U.S. Capitol Police officers who defended the building and helped lawmakers flee to secure areas as insurrectionists stormed through smashed windows and doors.
Outside the hearing, as Fox News reports, Republicans who tried desperately to stop this investigation from taking place at all offered their latest spin on the events of January 6th. We had to read this twice to make sure it wasn’t a parody:
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and other House GOP leaders blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Tuesday morning, accusing her of being ultimately responsible for security failures at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6…
“Dec. 14, the leadership knew there was a problem,” McCarthy said. “Even prior to that, an Inspector General report told us there was failed leadership at the top of the police for the training.” The minority leader noted that no hearing was held to address that report.
House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., echoed this, claiming that in December 2020 Pelosi “was made aware of potential security threats to the Capitol and she failed to act.”
The New York Daily News has the quote from Rep. Elise Stefanik today that has jaws agape from coast to coast:
“The truth (is) that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as Speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the No. 3 House Republican. [Pols emphasis]
On January 13th, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stated unequivocally that “the president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” The insurrectionists who smashed their way into the U.S. Capitol on January 6th were not random tourists, they were there with the expressed purpose of disrupting the certification of the 2020 presidential election in hope that might somehow help defeated Republican President Donald Trump cling to power.
You know that. We know that. Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik know it too.
So what’s going on here? It’s simple, really: the GOP is a party completely given over to post-truth reinvention of history, so turning the story of January 6th on its head to recast the victims as guilty for the attack is as natural for them as it is outrageous to everyone else. By giving voice to the utterly outlandish idea that Democrats somehow brought this violence on themselves, Republican leaders have given Republican voters desperate to reconcile these events with their own values will something–anything–to cling to. And that’s all it takes.
In the end, what “post-truth” Republicans say doesn’t have to make sense. If you’re outraged, you’re just not the target audience for it. Republicans who know what their leaders are saying is preposterous fiction, and they most certainly do exist, cannot say anything for fear of ending up the next Liz Cheney.
Whatever happens next, today marks another low moment: for Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik, for the GOP, and for American democracy as a whole. Unless American voters stop rewarding Republicans’ increasingly diabolical behavior in the era of Trump, we are all debased with them.