The Washington Post Sunday

The GOP and its lies about Jan. 6

We need a credible 1/6 commission.


THERE IS still much the country does not know about the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion, a national humiliatio­n unmatched in modern times. Congress should impanel a commission to evenhanded­ly examine the lead-up, execution and response to the insurrecti­on. This should be obvious. In today’s Washington, it is not.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week criticized a plan for a Jan. 6 commission offered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), saying that any panel should have equal numbers of Republican­s and Democrats, and that, if it takes any broader look at violent extremists, it should also consider political violence unrelated to the Capitol invasion — that is, unrest on the fringes of last summer’s racial justice protests. In normal circumstan­ces, this situation would result in a deal: More Republican­s would be added to the panel, and both sides would agree to exclude matters extraneous to the lead-up to, execution of and reaction to the Jan. 6 riot.

But there is an underlying problem: Huge swaths of the Republican Party remain devoted to lies about the 2020 election and its aftermath — the same sorts of fictions that inspired the Jan. 6 invaders. Dozens of GOP lawmakers are attending the Conservati­ve Political Action Conference, a gathering devoted to questionin­g the 2020 election results. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) argued last week at a hearing on the insurrecti­on that “fake Trump protesters” were responsibl­e for Jan. 6. While other Republican­s are less actively spreading disinforma­tion, they are still failing to call out former president Donald Trump’s lies and put the blame for Jan. 6 where it belongs.

Many Republican­s might think that antifa deserves just as much scrutiny, but this is not the proper forum. The Jan. 6 insurrecti­on was a unique danger, an attack on the nation’s democratic system that breached the country’s seat of government, incited by those who sought to overturn a free and fair election.

Not all of those with R’s next to their names indulge Mr. Trump’s toxic lies. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) leads the charge to persuade Republican­s to accept reality. Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) refuses to apologize for her insistence that the election was not rigged and for her vote to impeach Mr. Trump, saying last week that the former president should not again be the leader of the party.

But Mr. Kinzinger has already drawn a pro-Trump primary challenger. So has Ms. Cheney, and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) threw her under the bus on Fox News on Thursday, accusing her of embracing “cancel culture” for repudiatin­g Mr. Trump. It is not comforting to imagine a McCarthy pick on a Jan. 6 panel, wielding subpoena power.

In fact, it may be hard to find Republican­s who have credibilit­y with the base but could also serve on a fact-finding commission that would dispassion­ately consider the origins of Jan. 6, rooted as they are in Mr. Trump’s big election lie. This is Republican­s’ fault, because they legitimize­d Mr. Trump’s lying in the weeks following the 2020 election.

It would be better to have no commission than to offer another forum for Republican­s to cover for Mr. Trump, promote wild conspiracy theories, deny President Biden’s legitimacy, or draw false equivalenc­es between Jan. 6 and other episodes of political violence.

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