Editorials, Opinion

Jan. 6: One year later

Jan. 6 is no longer just a date.

It is a day that will haunt America’s history for the rest of time, the way Dec. 7 will always be the day that “will live in infamy.”

One year ago today, fanatical Trump supporters, riled into a frenzy after one of Trump’s “rallies,” stormed the U.S. Capitol with the intent to thwart the certification of the 2020 election. Many of us watched it happen in real time.

One year later, and we are still searching for answers and waiting for justice. Though, slowly, some information is coming to light, and some insurrectionists are facing charges.

Thanks to the work of the House of Representatives’ Jan. 6 committee, independent researchers and journalists, we have discovered the following about the lead-up to Jan. 6:

○ Special interest groups, including lawyers and the right-wing paramilitary group 1st Amendment Praetorian, as well as Trump advisors and allies were actively plotting to prevent certification of the 2020 election results. Among the evidence is a 38-page presentation detailing several strategies for overturning the election. It includes promoting false claims of foreign interference, seizing paper ballots, declaring a national emergency and instructing Mike Pence to reject electors from “contested” states and replace them with alternate electors. Some White House officials and members of Congress were briefed on the presentation. 

○ On Jan. 2, Trump, Rudy Giuliani and scholar John Eastman called 300 state legislators to convince them to decertify their state’s election results.

○ Trump’s campaign knew Dominion voting machines weren’t tampered with or rigged. On Nov. 13, the then-campaign deputy director of communications had campaign staffers fact check claims Giuliani and lawyer Sidney Powell were making about Dominion. The staffers debunked the allegations, but the press conferences and lawsuits continued.

○ Conservative podcasters, including Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, repeatedly promoted the claim the election was stolen after November 2020. Brookings Institution found, in the 20 most popular podcasts, claims of election fraud soared from 1%-13% of episodes before the election to 37%-63% after.

○ Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade and Hannity, as well as Donald Trump Jr., texted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during the riot, begging him to tell Trump to stop the insurrection.

○ Rep. Jim Jordon (R-Ohio) — originally selected by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on the Jan. 6 committee but rejected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi — sent a message to Meadows reading, in part: “On Jan. 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all — in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence,” though Jordan’s attorneys claim this was a forwarded message.

We only know this much because the Democrat-controlled House overrode Republicans who’d rather ignore the events of Jan. 6 or lionize its perpetrators. Two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — braved the ire of the party’s dictator and joined the committee, making it bipartisan. Their presence means the committee’s endeavors can’t be dismissed as a partisan hack job — not that some people haven’t tried.

Because one year to the very day they were forced to run for their lives, certain members of Congress continue to insist the Jan. 6 insurrection is nothing to worry about: A tour group that happened to be heavily armed, or some overzealous rally attendees who meant no harm, despite erecting a hangman’s gallows and chanting death threats.

If the majority of Republicans in Congress treat Jan. 6 — which would have been condemned as a coup attempt in any other country — so cavalierly a year later, what will our already tenuous democracy look like if the GOP takes power in the House or Senate in 2022?

“Is this how democracy dies? Is this how the great American experiment ends?”

We wrote those words Jan. 5, 2021, to publish Jan. 6, knowing that something would happen the next day. At worst, we thought Pence might refuse to certify the results, while protestors screamed in the streets. We had no idea how prophetic our words would prove to be.