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We all know denial doesn’t work. Many of us have seen this up close, with loved ones refusing to acknowledge alcoholism or a substance use disorder. Whether personal or political, crises and chronic issues have to be confronted to address them, make restitution and move on.
With our own eyes we saw an insurrection. Thousands stormed the Capitol to try to block Joe Biden’s legitimate ascension to the presidency.
The insurrectionists did not prevail because they were stopped by courageous police officers and troops who physically drove them out, and by elected officials who kept their oaths to the Constitution.
But there is much more to be known to hold those responsible accountable and prevent similar threats.
And, as U.S. Sen. Angus King observed, “when people start moving heaven and earth to block an investigation, that suggests there is something they don’t want found out.”
One question is, what was said when calls for help came from Capitol Hill to the White House?
In a statement that was entered into the record in the 2021 impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Republican Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had told her that when he spoke with Trump by phone during the attack, McCarthy “asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot.” According to Herrera Beutler, Trump told McCarthy, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” We need to hear directly from those involved.
Another question is what contacts were there between violent insurrectionists and the Trump administration and political operation? In March, several journalists for The New York Times reported that, “A member of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys was in communication with a person associated with the White House in the days just before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.” Here, too, there is more to be learned.
Still, most House Republicans voted against a bipartisan commission, although 35 supported it.
In the Senate, it’s not clear that even a handful of Republicans will back the House bill and it’s likely Republicans will filibuster the proposal.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says she wants a commission but thinks it has to issue its report by the end of the year. But Collins is misrepresenting the timeline in the bill. Moreover, her Republican colleague U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, who opposes a commission, says finishing a report that quickly is unrealistic, noting, “To set up an outside commission with the belief that you could finish this by December, you couldn’t even get staff at the security level they needed to start their investigation by December.”
Politics is clearly on the mind of Senate Republican Whip John Thune, who seems worried that findings from a commission would be politically damaging, suggesting he wants “to be moving forward and not looking backward.”
But political scandals, whether criminal or not, don’t just go away. Even if Republicans refuse to allow a bipartisan commission which can put together a full picture, evidence will continue to come out in dribs and drabs.
A video released just weeks ago shows the brutal assault on DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone. After seeing it, Fanone called excuses and lies about the insurrection “an assault on every officer that fought to defend the Capitol.”
Denying or brushing aside what happened around the Jan. 6 insurrection looks like a coverup and, as the saying goes, the coverup is often worse than the crime.
If Thune and others in his party don’t want to be associated with the events of Jan. 6 or look complicit with a coverup, their best bet is to stand up for transparency, honesty and accountability.
With nearly two-thirds of Americans supporting a commission — massive support in our polarized times — that’s how the country can move forward.