Several months after the Jan. 6 incident at the Capitol – called an “insurrection” by some – Congress still hasn’t figured out how to cope with the fact that protesters overwhelmed police and entered the Capitol without permission. What should be done with the fence? Can the Capitol Police be structured better to prevent future attacks? Can more money be had to make the Capitol a harder target? Why did it take several hours for the National Guard to respond? So many questions, so few answers delivered.
While the hearing on May 12 ostensibly was held to address these questions, it quickly devolved into partisan attacks that simply drove the wedge deeper. No matter what anyone may have originally hoped to gain from this hearing, little came of it but partisan strife.
Many of the Republicans at the hearing tried to present a less frenzied view of the Capitol riot, blaming the Democrats for inflating the incident for use against Donald Trump and those who support him. “Outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding citizens, especially Trump voters,” declared Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). “The FBI is fishing through homes of veterans and citizens with no criminal records and restricting the liberties of individuals that have never been accused of a crime.”
The Justice Department under President Biden has charged at least 400 people in connection to the riot, with recent court filings implying somewhere around 500 indictments could be expected. The FBI’s website features hundreds of photos of rioters on its “most wanted” page. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) played video footage of violence outside the Portland federal courthouse during the riots last summer, and Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) said that there were some rioters, but that calling the event an insurrection was a “bold-faced lie.” Liberty Nation’s own Pennel Bird explained, out of the original 310 arrests, only five listed possession of a firearm. That’s not brandishing or shooting, mind you, just possessing. As LN Editor in Chief Leesa K. Donner asked, “Where, oh, where have all the rebels gone?”
But the left has long desired to get its revenge on Trump for defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016 – and what better way to do that than vilify his supporters as terrorists, dehumanize them, and then, as Joe Schaeffer described, casually strip away their fundamental freedoms?
Speaking of vilifying and dehumanizing, that did seem to be the focus for Democrats. “This was a violent white supremacist mob who assaulted the nation’s Capitol,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). “It was a deadly and dangerous insurrection that was incited by Donald Trump.”
Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller had the misfortune of playing the whipping boy for his refusal to come right out and say that Donald Trump incited a riot with the intent those people would break in and put a stop to the confirmation of Joe Biden.
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) accused Miller of reversing his testimony. Miller called the idea ridiculous – to which Lynch angrily responded, “You’re ridiculous.”
“Thank you for your thoughts,” Miller replied.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) accused Miller of freezing up upon hearing the request for National Guard assistance, adding “you were AWOL Mr. Secretary!” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) accused him of being more concerned with his own reputation than “the sanctity of this Capitol and the sanctity of democracy.” Khanna and Miller then took turns trying to talk over each other as the representative asked him questions but refused to hear his answers.
“Have you no sense of accountability, no sense of shame?” Khanna asked. “Secretary Miller, I want to ask you today: Will you at least apologize to the American public for what happened on your watch?”
Miller began his answer by praising the troops, but Khanna immediately interrupted him by saying, “Your pugnacious style is not going to override the democratic process. Learn to respect it.”
The legacy media – well-established names like CNN and Associated Press – immediately waded into the murky waters of editorializing the Democrats’ party line on the issue, with their bias made clear in their opening paragraphs.
CNN launched a “Fact-check” for the “Falsehoods repeated during House hearing on Jan. 6 riot.” Naturally, there weren’t any Democrat statements ranked – just the “lies” of Republicans. The outlet telegraphed this from the very beginning, however. The opening line refers to the GOP side of the story as “false claims about the insurrection,” and accuses them of “sugarcoating” Trump’s actions.
Associated Press led its initial coverage of the hearing by saying, “Republicans sought to rewrite history of the Jan. 6 insurrection during a rancorous congressional hearing Wednesday, painting the Trump supporters who attacked the building as mostly peaceful patriots and downplaying repeatedly the violence of the day.” What a strikingly familiar statement – wasn’t there something about mostly peaceful protests last year?
CBS accused Republicans of downplaying the events of the day, then mentioned that the attack resulted in five deaths – not explaining who those five were. No Capitol Police officers or congressional staff were killed in the “violent attack,” though one did later die of a stroke and two others chose to take their own lives.
For the record, the five were:
- 42-year-old Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died after suffering strokes – most likely caused by the stress of the fight. A federal investigation was launched into his death.
- 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran shot and killed by Capitol Police. No investigation was launched in her name, and the officer who shot her – the only person who fired a gun during the entire incident – was not charged.
- 55-year-old Kevin Greeson had a heart attack while talking to his wife on the phone on the west side of the Capitol.
- Rosanne Boyland, 34, was originally thought to have been trampled to death – but more recent information suggests she died of an amphetamine overdose.
- 50-year-old Benjamin Philips died of a stroke.
So what good came of the hearing Wednesday? Many questions remain unanswered, and the answers that were given weren’t well received. All that really appears to have been accomplished is widening the ideological abyss between the warring Swamp factions, driving any hopes of bipartisan cooperation in Congress farther from the realm of possibility.
Read more from James Fite.