On the Capitol riot, EXCLUSIVE ON THIS SITE, by Quin Hillyer

One year ago tomorrow, an official Washington Examiner editorial proclaimed the riot at the U.S. Capitol “a seditious insurrection,” and conservatives ranging from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to famed former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy also rightly recognized it as an “insurrection.”


Yet now, in the face of such a serious event, far too many Republicans have spent a year belittling the Capitol incursion’s importance. Meanwhile, too many Democrats have used it to express political bloodlust against former president Donald Trump rather than act soberly in hopes of warding off repeat performances.


As many Republicans recognized immediately but now deny, the incursion was a far more serious assault on our republic than most other riots, even violent ones for which too many Democrats disgustingly make excuses. FBI Director Christopher Wray described the attack on the Capitol as “domestic terrorism,” which reflects the legal definition thereof as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government… in furtherance of political or social objectives.”


More than 40 people have been charged, and five so far pleaded guilty, to broad “conspiracy” charges related to an organized effort. Some 275 have been charged with corruptly impeding the counting of Electoral College votes. And, with regard to the approximately 140 law officers physically attacked that day, 225 defendants have been charged for the assaults, with about 75 charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon.

As President Donald Trump repeatedly denounced Vice President Mike Pence for lacking “courage,” dozens or more of the rioters chanted for Pence’s execution. Rioters came within a single minute of reaching Pence and his family before they were evacuated to a safe room elsewhere.


The explicit goal of the conspirators, of most of their followers, and of Trump intimates and congressional allies (who may not have wanted the riot but who sought the same vote-blocking outcome), was to stop the official counting of electoral votes confirming Democrat Joe Biden as president-elect. All the states had duly certified their votes, but well over 100 Republican members of Congress had agreed to reject those certifications, in a horridly bastardized “interpretation” of the Electoral Count Act. The Act actually mandates the acceptance of all electors certified by each state’s governor without any competing certifications, giving Congress no discretion under the circumstances which applied on January 6.


All of this was in furtherance of the brazen, dastardly lie promoted by Trump to the effect that the election had been “stolen” from him. Trump’s own Justice Department appointees, along with more than 60 courts, determined that the election wasn’t stolen. Not a single legitimate, rational collection of evidence comes close to showing enough voting discrepancies existed in enough states to overturn Biden’s victory.


The violent incursion into the Capitol therefore was a ham-handed but deliberate attempt, supported at least emotionally (according to voluminous accounts) by Trump himself, to alter the results of an election certified by every state governor, Republican and Democrat alike. It was an attack, partly armed and very dangerous, on our republic. It is right, indeed the duty, of Congress to determine who was involved, how it happened, why it was so successful in breaching the Capitol (and delaying the civically sacred proceedings for hours), and why the Trump White House was so slow in quashing it.


Republican House leadership shows no interest in ascertaining these things. Much less do those leaders dare punish their own members such as Mo Brooks of Alabama who, while wearing a bullet-proof vest, recklessly urged the rally crowd to march on the Capitol and, “today,” to “start taking names and kicking a**” while being willing to “sacrifice their blood… and sometimes their lives.” Instead, GOP leaders tried to appoint two of the most avid House ringleaders of the “stop the count” movement to the committee investigating all this.


The point of the investigation, though, should be at least as much about correcting systemic flaws as about apportioning blame. The goal should be to make sure such a thing can never happen again.


House Democrats, alas, seem utterly uninterested in a full accounting or of forward-looking, prophylactic measures. Instead, they seem determined only to nail Trump and Republicans. A key test of the legitimacy of the probe will be if it fully discusses the mistakes made by Democrats too. The day before the riot, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser actively discouraged deployment of extra federal law enforcement. Likewise, Capitol Police reports said Speaker Nancy Pelosi or her designees rejected their pre-requests for National Guard presence to ward off potential trouble.


Even if Pelosi and Bowser were merely foolish rather than deliberately derelict – the latter of which, by most indicators, was Trump’s posture for three hours after the incursion began – Congress should insist on identifying their mistaken judgment as well, along with the flawed process that let them ignore obvious warnings (including my own) that violence was possible.


Yes, this is vitally important. Unless everybody treats this insurrection with utmost seriousness, and unless everybody also exposes and denounces the malignant machinations and lies that illegitimately raised doubts about the election results, tens of millions of Americans will begin thinking it’s acceptable to reject the peaceful transfer of power. Two thirds of Republicans already think the riot was not an attack on the government, and 71% still deny that the election results were legitimate.


This precedent is deadly for democracy. Especially deadly is the Republican leadership’s deliberate attempts to belittle the incursion’s seriousness, and to cover up the actions of Trump and his advisers who, in various ways, precipitated it.


This has nothing to do with whether other violent riots, such as those led by antifa and Black Lives Matter, should be denounced, stopped, and punished. Of course they should. Those riots, though, did not aim, however bunglingly, to overturn the duly certified election of the President of the United States.


The Capitol incursion was an attack against all of us. A year later, it still requires a commensurate response.


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