What riot was Rep. Andrew Clyde watching on Jan. 6? In a recent hearing, the Georgia Republican dismissed the mob assault on the nation’s Capitol as resembling “a normal tourist visit.” Clyde is one of many Republicans who are trying to rewrite the facts of this appalling attack on democracy. In the interest of correcting a record the GOP appears determined to warp, let us review recent history:
Joe Biden won the presidential election of Nov. 3 by more than 7 million ballots over incumbent President Donald Trump. Republican election officials around the nation confirmed the legitimacy of Biden’s win and dozens of courts threw out the Trump campaign’s fevered but unsubstantiated claims of fraud. None of this is in dispute.
Trump, being Trump, kept making his wild vote-fraud claims anyway. Despite the damage he was doing, he found allies among congressional Republicans, who opposed what would normally be the routine certification of the states’ results. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley was instrumental in this mischief, becoming the first senator to jump on the bandwagon to oppose certification, thus forcing a contentious floor debate and vote.
On the day of the vote — Jan. 6 — Trump regaled a throng of supporters with lie upon lie, repeatedly claiming he’d been robbed of an election and imploring his mob to “fight like hell” and “show strength” — and specifically encouraging them to march to the nearby Capitol.
The mob did that and more. They overwhelmed and assaulted Capitol security, scaled walls, broke windows, broke furniture and searched the halls inside for hiding lawmakers. In the end, five people were dead and more than 100 police officers were injured. The damage to the Capitol was estimated at $30 million.
This what Rep. Clyde said was akin to a tourist visit. These are the un-American goons who numerous Republican members of Congress have called “patriots.”
What is wrong with these people? Not the insurrectionists — their pathologies are obvious — but the Republican politicians who are now busily whitewashing one of the most egregious attacks on democracy from within that America has ever seen. Toward that end, they have long stymied attempts to create an independent commission to review the attack by initially insisting it also encompass last year’s “Black Lives Matter” protests — as if mostly peaceful protests against police violence are comparable to a thoroughly violent attack on the nation’s Capitol in an attempt to overturn a valid election.
A bipartisan agreement to create a review commission was finally announced last week, and without the “Black Lives Matter” red herring attached to it. Good. But the fact that this obvious step took this long is another indication that Republicans won’t willingly acknowledge the seriousness of this dark moment in the nation’s history, and their own indefensible role in it. The rest of America must.