On January 5, 2021, the country was divided. There was Trump and many of his supporters claiming election fraud, namely, that the election was stolen from him. Then there was the rest of the country, which accepted the results. There was no court or any recount that supported Trump’s claims. A year has passed since then and nothing has changed. The Big Lie of election fraud is still being made. There have been more recounts and court proceedings which upheld the election results.
In one respect, the country is in worse shape than it was on January 5, 2021. There was the attack on the Capitol on January 6, with the goal of stopping the certification of Joseph Biden by any means. Although they were not successful, it does not diminish the significance of the date. A year has passed and the dispute of what happened is one more issue to divide us. I have a colleague who is a Trumpian. He belittled what happened on January 6. I asked him if he looked at any of the extensive videotapes of the attack. He said no. He could not explain how he can make a conclusion without looking at the videotape evidence.
A common refrain from those who want to minimize the attack was the small number of deaths. That is an incorrect standard. It does not consider the physical injuries and emotional injuries suffered by those in the Capitol. Many of those who were hiding from the mob suffered PTSD. Also, it is important to look what the mob wanted to do. Does anybody really believe if the attackers had gotten to Mike Pence, they would have not caused him bodily harm, if not death? They did not scream “Hang Mike Pence” and put up a noose outside because they wanted to go to get a photo op with him. The same would apply to other members in Congress who were going to support the certification. The members were scared for their lives. If not for many heroic acts by law enforcement, it is reasonable to conclude that many elected officials would have been seriously injured and killed.
In law, one exception to the hearsay rule is an excited utterance. It is defined as “A statement relating to a startling event or condition, made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement that it caused” [Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Section 803 (2)]. There are many statements that were made at the time of the attack which proved that Republicans understood the gravity of what occurred and who was at fault. Some have been made public, such as Mark Meadows’ emails and minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s comments. Others will come out as part of the January 6 committee’s hearings and/or report. Unfortunately, many Republicans who criticized Trump and those who attacked the Capitol have done a 180 because of the fear of Trump and his base.
When it came to December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001, the country was united in the response, even years later. It is unfortunate that on the anniversary of January 6 that for one day there was little show of unity. There is plenty of blame to go around.
President Biden gave a great speech on January 6, 2022, calling out the former president for his conduct which led to the attack and his continued lie of election fraud. Nevertheless, this speech should have been made on another day. It would have been better to have had a more conciliatory tone which gave more credit to the heroes of that day, especially Vice President Pence. Imagine if Pence had succumbed to the extreme pressure that he was put under not to certify the election. It would have caused a constitutional crisis and may have led to a civil war. Pence did what was good for the country and not for himself. If the president wanted to mention the claim of election fraud, he could have focused on the Republican state officials who were subjected to physical threats and the knowledge that it could be career-ending if they did not help Trump to illegally be declared the winner. Yet they decided to defend the integrity of the process and did not succumb to the pressure.
Another disappointment was that only one Republican member of Congress, Liz Cheney, along with her father former VP Dick Cheney, came to the pro forma session of Congress to reflect on what happened on that day, including having a moment of silence.
At least some members, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Ted Cruz, sent out statements reminding us about the horror of that date.
There were two other Republicans, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who marked the anniversary by making the unsubstantiated claim that the FBI was involved in fomenting the attack. It would be as if Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib on September 11 claimed that CIA operatives were responsible for the attack. Even they would not stoop to such a low level.
Let’s hope that on the second anniversary of January 6 there will be more unity in commemorating the event. One cause for optimism is the January 6 committee. It appears that they are doing a thorough job, despite obstacles put in their way, in investigating the attack including events leading up to it. There will be public hearings and reports. I know that one-third of the public, who are diehard Trumpians, are not going to budge no matter what evidence is presented. However, there is a sizable group who may not have made up their mind and would be willing to listen to the evidence. If two-thirds of the country is on the same page, then there will be a greater chance that the elected officials will follow their lead.