Thursday 29 July 2021
When protestors invaded the US Capitol on 6 January the country was shocked. Why do some of its politicians not seem to want to get to the truth about that day?
Nimo, narrating: Hi, I’m Nimo and this is Sensemaker.
One story every day to make sense of the world.
Today, why some politicians in the United States don’t seem to want to find out the truth about one of the most shocking days in their history.
Breaking news tonight: the deadly siege on congress as an angry pro-trump mob storms the US capitol we’ve seen shocking images of chaos riotersNBC
In the last few minutes they have broken through that police line I am watching as we speak throngs of protesters climbing the steps on the western side of the CapitolCNN
That was 6 January this year.
You can probably remember what was going on. Politicians in the US Congress were getting together to certify Joe Biden’s electoral votes. It was the last step in making him president.
Less than a mile away, thousands of Donald Trump’s supporters began to gather at a rally.
Now it is up to congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy and after this we’re going to walk down and i’ll be there with you. You’ll never take back our country with weakness you have to show strength and you have to be strongABC News
And, at first glance, it looked like any other Trump rally.
A loud cheering crowd. Lots of Make America Great Again paraphernalia. And Donald Trump spreading false claims about a rigged election.
Things quickly took a turn and, before anyone knew it, a tide of angry protesters forced their way into the Capitol. In the end 5 people died and 590 people have been charged.
Now, seven months later, government officials are setting up a committee to try to figure out exactly how these people managed to break into one of the most secure buildings in America.
You’d think everyone would want to know the truth, right? It turns out not everyone’s so keen.
Now this kind of committee usually requires members from both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to sit on the panel. And because the Democrats won the election last year, they get to lead the committee.
But last week, something happened. The five Republicans who were appointed to sit alongside seven Democrats were pulled by their party.
The decision didn’t come as a surprise – over the last few months the Republicans have done everything to slow down the process of getting this committee up and running.
From downplaying the gravity of what happened on 6 January:
There was no insurrection, and to call it an insurrection in my opinion is a boldfaced lie. You know if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from 6 January, you would think it was a normal tourist visit.CNN
To attacking their own Representatives who’ve joined the new inquiry:
Reporter: Some Republicans have said the GOP should play ball on this committee.
Kevin McCarthy: Really? Who was that? Adam and Liz? Aren’t they kind of Pelosi Republicans?MSNBC
And in June, just a month ago, Republican leaders said they opposed the creation of the committee altogether.
So, why don’t they want to investigate what happened on 6 January?
We cannot leave the violence of 6 January and its causes uninvestigated. The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and prep of 6 Jan.PBS
That’s Liz Cheney: daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and a staunchly conservative member of congress.
And she’s been given a seat on the committee investigating the 6 January insurrection.And much to the dismay of some of her colleagues… she accepted.
Having Republican’s on the committee has been really important to the Democrats so that the findings of their investigation would be considered impartial and not fueled by party politics. So this is a win, right? Well, not in the eyes of the Republican Party.
They don’t really want any of their people on the committee, but they particularly don’t want Liz Cheney on it. You see, Liz Cheney has been a thorn in the side of the Republican leadership for a while now.
She became the face of the anti-Trump wing of her party.
This is not about partisanship. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracyC-Span
And has been unwavering in her belief that the actions of Donald Trump and his acolytes led to the storming of the Capitol. So for Republican leaders, Liz Cheney accepting this role is seen as yet another betrayal. And Kevin McCarthy, the senior Republican I mentioned earlier, well he’s been a particularly vocal adversary.
I was shocked she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi. It would seem she is maybe closer to her than us. I don’t know.CNBC
But his real target isn’t Liz Cheney. It’s the entire committee.
Pelosi has created a sham process.C-Span
The truth is however, in the weeks following the attack on the Capitol, an investigation had broad support across both parties and among the public. Even from Kevin McCarthy.
So what’s changed?
In the end – like so many things in American politics in the past few years – this is all about Donald Trump. Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans are making a political calculation.
Donald Trump might’ve left the White House but he still has a place in the hearts of a lot of Republican voters. He hasn’t said whether or not he’ll run for President in 2024. And until he makes his mind up, Republican politicians are terrified of getting on the wrong side of him. Which is what they’d do if they took part in an investigation with their political opponents into what happened on 6 January.
So, what happens now?
Well, it looks like there’ll be two separate investigations – each one led by a separate political party. Which means whatever they find won’t be trusted by half the country.
6 January has been described as the greatest assault since the Civil War on the Capitol – but the chance of there being any kind of national consensus on what actually happened on that day is looking pretty unlikely.
This story was written by Nimo Omer and produced by Imy Harper.
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