Jan. 6 hearing reminds Americans why they must not let GOP distractions prevail

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board (TNS)
Riot police clear the hallway inside the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Tuesday’s testimony before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot provided the American public with an astonishing reminder of the savagery unleashed by supporters of then-President Donald Trump against Capitol law enforcers. Republican leaders are trying hard to divert public attention from the brutal, racist violence inspired by Trump. That’s why recordings of officers’ testimony deserve to be played again and again so Americans never forget — particularly the account of a Black officer recalling the N-word taunts Trump’s mob directed at him.

This isn’t what the Republican Party stands for. But since only two Republicans were brave enough to serve on the House committee, the question must be asked: What exactly does the GOP stand for? When members of Congress such as Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., take a bold stand against Trump’s efforts to overturn the November presidential election, that’s something to be proud of. But when he and his colleagues hide under the coattails of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and feign outrage that the hearings aren’t focusing on security lapses, they deliberately seek to change the subject from the much more important questions: How was this attack planned, who masterminded it, and did anyone at the White House or in Congress provide assistance?

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Testimony from officers defending the Capitol, along with explicit videos, make clear that this mob came armed for battle with guns, Tasers, bear spray, zip ties and clubs. Someone even brought a sledgehammer. All this weaponry for a rally that Trump defended as a “lovefest.” The violence was unquestionably planned, and the inquiry must uncover how.

Substantial evidence points to pro-Trump white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys and Three Percenters as the masterminds. No wonder McCarthy and Davis want to change the subject. The last thing they wanted Americans to hear was the testimony of Officer Harry Dunn recalling how mob members called him a “f---ing [N-word],” or Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino A. Gonell saying, “All of them — all of them — were telling us: ‘Trump sent us.’”

No matter how much McCarthy protests, the investigation must probe whether members of Congress or someone in the White House colluded with the attackers.

“We must issue and enforce subpoenas promptly. We must get to objective truth. We must overcome the many efforts we are already seeing to cover up and obscure the facts,” said Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who joins Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger as the only two Republicans participating.

Davis and McCarthy ask whether security was inadequate on Jan. 6. Of course it was. Capitol police braced for a rally, not a medieval cage fight in which insurrectionists tried to impale them and gouge out their eyes. No reasonable police commander would have expected that level of viciousness from people calling themselves patriots. Their bid to destroy democracy failed. So must GOP efforts to bury the facts surrounding it.

— From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board (TNS).