The Republican Party has long fashioned itself as the party of law and order, the party that backs the blue, the party that never forgets.
But as is the case with pretty much every stance its members take, the GOP’s support for law enforcement only goes so far as it can serve its self interest. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Mitch McConnell made as much clear this week when they came out in opposition to a bipartisan commission into the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol, despite the physical and psychological toll it took on the U.S. Capitol Police.
As the House of Representatives prepared to vote on a resolution to create the commission on Wednesday, members of the Capitol Police issued a statement expressing their “profound disappointment” with McCarthy and McConnell’s opposition: “The brave men and women of the USCP were subjected to hours and hours of physical trauma which has led to months of mental anguish,” the statement reads. “If you look around the Capitol building, you still have doors that are broken, windows still smashed and in some cases missing. Officers are forced to go to work with the daily reminder of what happened that dreadful day.”
Despite appearing on official letterhead, the statement was not issued by the U.S. Capitol Police, as an organization, but rather by a group of members expressing themselves anonymously because, they write, USCP officers are “expected to remain neutral and do our jobs with honor and integrity.”
The office of Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), which distributed the statement, told fellow staff offices that “multiple” USCP members were behind the letter, according to Politico. CNN reported that it spoke to one of the officers responsible, and that the letter represents the views of around 40-50 officers. The USCP later stressed on Twitter that the statement is not official and that they do not take stances on legislation.
NEWS: MEMBERS of the U.S. Capitol Police have issued a statement to members of Congress expressing "profound disappointment" with McConnell and McCarthy's positions on the Jan. 6 commission, citing the "trauma" that officers endured that day. pic.twitter.com/CRweVhIAnD
— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) May 19, 2021
The message from the officers to members of Congress is clear:
“It is inconceivable that some of the Members we protect, would downplay the events of January 6th,” the letter continues. “Member safety was dependent upon the heroic actions of USCP. It is a privileged assumption for Members to have the point of view that ‘It wasn’t that bad.’ That privilege exists because the brave men and women of the USCP protected you, the Members.”
The resolution to form a commission passed hours after the Capitol Police members released their statement, but the vast majority of House Republicans sided with the party’s leadership in opposing it.
Five people died during the insurrection or later from injuries sustained on January 6th. The deaths include one Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, who was brutally beaten by rioters before dying the following day. Two additional officers died by suicide following the insurrection. The family of one of them, Howie Liebengood, released a statement supporting a commission on Wednesday. “Every officer that worked that day, as well as their families, should have a better understanding of what happened,” the statement reads.
ALERT: Family of fallen US Capitol Police officer Howie Liebengood issues statement supporting *approval* of January 6 Commission pic.twitter.com/coC2cVs8d5
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) May 19, 2021
Despite such calls for a transparent, thorough and bipartisan investigation, much of the Republican Party is now trying to convince the nation that what happened on January 6th was no big deal. Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.) got so carried away with the party’s campaign to rewrite history that he compared the insurrection to a “normal tourist visit.” (Never mind that multiple photos exist of a terror-stricken Clyde helping barricade the doors of the House chamber closed after rioters breached the building.)
The reason for all of this obfuscation is simple. The more we know about what happened on January 6th, the worse it’s going to look for all of the Republicans who perpetuated the Big Lie that inspired it, many of whom are up for reelection next year.
Trump doesn’t want a commission either, of course, as he made clear on his “communications” platform Tuesday night. “Republicans in the House and Senate should not approve the Democrat trap of the January 6 Commission,” the former president wrote. “It is just more partisan unfairness and unless the murders, riots, and fire bombings in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, and New York are also going to be studied, this discussion should be ended immediately. Republicans must get much tougher and much smarter, and stop being used by the Radical Left. Hopefully, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!”
They were indeed listening. McConnell came out in opposition of the commission the very next morning, calling the bipartisan proposal for a commission “slanted” and “unbalanced.” His opposition is significant, as the resolution will need the support of 10 Republicans to pass through the Senate as it did in the House. That is now unlikely.
“I think it’s Trump controlling the fact that he does not want a commission, he doesn’t want the truth to come out,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN of McConnell’s opposition. “This is a see no evil, hear no evil response. It’s a sad day for America.”