As Democrats have tried to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Republicans have been filled with excuses about why it shouldn’t happen. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Senate Republicans the truth in a private meeting in May: A full investigation could hurt Republican electoral prospects. After all, it was a violent insurrection incited by a Republican president and carried out by his supporters, aimed at blocking the certification of a presidential election. That’s a bad look heading into the next elections.
In public, though, Republican lawmakers have had a series of shifting and often contradictory excuses. Because all that matters to them is preventing investigations, delegitimizing the ones they can’t block, and winning in 2022.
According to Sen. Bill Hagerty, shortly before McConnell’s closed-door statement that this was about politics, the effort to set up an independent bipartisan commission to investigate was “clearly just a partisan attempt to open up an area where they think it will be helpful to the Democrats in the next cycle of the elections.” He was close to the truth, but flipped it from the reality that Republicans were afraid for electoral reasons to the claim that Democrats were pushing it for electoral reasons. And that’s when he was talking about an independent commission on which Republicans would have had an equal number of seats and veto power on subpoenas.
But a Washington Post roundup of Republican excuses for opposing a January 6 investigation shows how much further the dishonesty goes.
On May 23, Sen. Roy Blunt said it was just too soon to create a commission to investigate. On June 8, McConnell suggested that it was actually too late, saying “Had we chosen to establish a commission, we’d be haggling over appointments for the next few weeks. If you look at the history of these independent commissions, they take forever to make recommendations.”
In May, less than five months after the attack, McConnell was concerned that Democrats just weren’t going to let go of it. Why were they talking about old stuff, he wanted to know. “I think, at the heart of this recommendation by the Democrats, is that they would like to continue to debate things that occurred in the past. They’d like to continue to litigate the former president into the future.”
Within two months of McConnell saying the matter should simply be let drop because it was in the past, two police officers who had responded at the Capitol on January 6 died by suicide. At the first hearing of the select committee to investigate the attack, officers who were there testified about their ongoing injuries and trauma, and that of their colleagues. This is not in the past, no matter how much Republicans might wish they could leave it there for their own electoral convenience.
The excuses don’t stop there. There are already too many investigations, say leaders of the party of Benghazi and its endless investigations. There are no new facts to uncover, they insist, hoping we’ll overlook that any new facts uncovered might look very very bad for them. The only important thing related to the Capitol is improving its security, Blunt said—except it took months to come to an agreement on how to boost funding for the Capitol Police, with Republicans opposing an initial House Democratic plan to do so.
Even Republicans who, like McConnell, have said Donald Trump committed a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and was “morally responsible” for the attack don’t want a full investigation that would show just how responsible Trump was. Or how responsible some congressional Republicans may be. Or simply how much the current Republican Party is relying on the support of people who are fully bought into Trump’s lies and willing to commit violence to promote them. Their party’s leader did this, and now congressional Republicans want to cover it up.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.