We know you haven’t missed the news that a loose coalition of conspiracy theorists and Republican legislators did their best to undermine the election of Joe Biden on January 6. And they are by no means finished their work. A “Million Militia March” is planned on inauguration day, according to the Washington Post, “for the purpose of preventing any attempt by the treasonous domestic enemy Joe Biden, or any other member or members of the Communist Organized Crime Organization known as the Democratic Party from entering the White House belonging to We The People,” as a post on wimkin.com put it (now removed). NPR notes that posts on Parler have called for an armed march on January 19, and Gun and Game features a poster urging people to come to a rally on January 17 to “refuse to be silenced.”
What you might not know is exactly what role various Republican Congressmembers had in challenging the outcome of the election and setting the stage for–and in some cases participating in–the insurrection. We summarize our research below.
1. Members of Congress who worked to undermine the election: a full list
There is much to be learned about the siege of the Capitol January 6 and what the fallout will be. We do know that the following members of Congress took part in actions intended to undermine the democratic process. These efforts included:
◉A lawsuit by Rep. Mike Kelly (PA) and other Pennsylvania Republicans seeking to overturn the vote in his own state;
◉An amicus brief signed by 126 members of Congress supporting a suit by the Texas Attorney General attempting to invalidate votes in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin;
◉A lawsuit by Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX) and a group of Arizona Republicans arguing that Vice President Pence should be given “absolute discretion” over the counting of electoral votes on January 6 and specifically taking aim at the votes in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Nevada;
◉An attempt by members of Congress to invalidate Arizona’s electoral votes;
◉An attempt by members of Congress to invalidate Pennsylvania’s electoral votes;
◉Speeches given by members of Congress at the “Save America” rally immediately preceding the attempted insurrection;
Our list of which members of Congress took which action doesn’t include individual statements by members of Congress while Congress was in session, while they were campaigning, or at any other time, only what they supported and what they did. Given that these Congressmembers felt justified in challenging election results not just in their own states, but in other states as well, you shouldn’t let your state of residence keep you from letting them know how you feel about their efforts to rob Americans of their vote. S-HP
Here is a spreadsheet of who exactly did what when. And here is a list of multiple contact addresses and Twitter handles for most of these individuals. You can, of course, also use Congressmembers’ addresses available in the Congressional directory: Senators and Representatives. (Note: if you see errors in either the spreadsheet or the list, please post a comment on our Facebook page,)
2. The unusual suspects
If you think for a second that the rioters on January 6th were a small band of extremists wearing horns and furs, think again. In addition to the various Republican lawmakers who set the conditions for it, various legislators and officials (in addition to Trump) participated in or encouraged the riot on January 6. Among them was Rep Lauren Boebert (R-CO), an advocate of QAnon who is famous for insisting that she would bring her Glock to Congress. According to Raw Story, she tweeted the exact location of Speaker Pelosi after the Capitol Building was breached, apparently to assist rioters in finding her and her staff (the tweet has been removed). Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, tweeted her “love” for those at the MAGA rally, according to Yahoo News. The Rule of Law Defense Fund which sent out robo-calls mobilizing people to come to the Capitol is run by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, reports the Alabama Political Reporter.
More than a dozen state legislators also participated, according to NPR. Derrick Evans, a newly elected Republican state delegate from West Virginia, was among those who stormed the Capitol; the New York Times describes the video he posted. Evans now faces charges. Off-duty police and members of the military also were there, according to Politico, covertly flashing their badges. Politico quotes an unnamed Metro D.C. police officer as writing on Facebook, “If these people can storm the Capitol building with no regard to punishment, you have to wonder how much they abuse their powers when they put on their uniforms.” RLS
3. The revealing lack of security on January 6
We are by no means the first to compare the police presence at the Black Lives Matter protest in DC in the summer of 2020 to the paltry security response on January 6, 2121. The reasons, even beyond the white privilege of the rioters in the Capitol, illuminate how deeply embedded Trump followers are in the country’s power structures.
As News You May Have Missed noted in our January 3 issue, it was widely known that anti-democracy activists planned an action for January 6. The NY TImes maps their planning announcements and the Washington Post describes the openly posted information about plans for the January 6 insurrection, down to the zip ties. In another piece, the Post retroactively follows three participants including Ashli Babbitt, who was killed, tracing the posts and claims that persuaded them that the election had been stolen from them.
Nonetheless, as Al Jazeera points out, the Capitol police force declined to request help in advance and it took over an hour for reinforcements to arrive. The Post describes the lapses and explains that a quick-response force was ready to come in but did not, because the lack of agreement between the Capitol Police and the Department of Defense. Rachel Maddow, on MSNBC, describes vividly how the National Guard was held in abeyance when they were most needed. The Post provides a link to a Department of Defense timeline that shows what forces were not called in when. Note that the timeline refers to these events as the “First Amendment Protests.”
Al Jazeera cites an anonymous source who said, “Some Democratic members of Congress, worried about the prospects of violence, tried for more than a week to press agencies for information about what they knew about threats or countermeasures. But there was no sign anyone was gathering serious intelligence about possible disturbances or planning to counter them,” this source said. Representative Val Demings (FL), a former police chief told Al-Jazeera that there are “a lot of unanswered questions and I’m damn determined to get answers to those questions about what went wrong today.” RLS
4. Chickens roosting
Various participants in the January 6 riot are now having to calculate the costs of their actions. Richard Barnett, famous for posing in Speaker Pelosi’s office, has been arrested, according to NPR. Lonnie Coffman, from Alabama, has been charged with possessing a destructive device; the truck with 11 Molotov cocktails was registered to him. (NPR and the New York Times have lists of those facing federal charges.) A Savannah car salesman, Dominic Box, has lost his job over his actions, reports the Current, a coastal Georgia publication. The Current quotes a Democratic Party organizer as pointing out that “It’s upsetting that our congressmen voted …to disenfranchise millions in Georgia,” she said. “I think we get distracted by people on the bottom and miss people on top. I just keep coming back again and again, [Congressman] Buddy Carter is a million times more culpable here than Dominic Box.” RLS
5. The real election scandal
The belief–whether cynically held or deeply felt–that the election was somehow stolen from Donald Trump and therefore from those who voted for him propelled last week’s action, Just to put the claims of voter fraud in perspective, in Georgia, Kemp purged 90,000 voters from the rolls in 2018, according to the Atlantic; many of these voters were purged because they had not voted in a previous election. Another 53,000 voters were moved to the “pending” category because of typos in their registration. 80% of these voters were Black. For perspective, in Georgia, Biden received 11, 779 more votes than Trump, which of course is why Trump pressured the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” 11,780 votes, the CBC noted. News emerged last week that Trump made an earlier phone call to the lead investigator conducting the audit of Georgia’s votes, the CBC reported, saying that if the investigator “found” the votes, he would be “a national hero.” RLS.
It’s been a remarkable week for commentary. For analyses of last week’s events, start with Heather Cox Richardson’s nightly letters, beginning with January 7 and 8.
Historian Terry Bouton’s Twitter feed has a series of pictures and observations from the event, recording the spirit of the participants and noting the absence of federal law enforcement.
Melissa, a YA writer on Twitter, monitored the planning of the event and the event itself.
Americans of Conscience offers several ways you can advocate for democracy and provides a roundup of events.
Rebecca Solnit, writing in the Guardian, makes an argument for the riot as an intended coup.
JoAnne Silver Jones, author of Headstrong: Surviving a Traumatic Brain Injury, reminds us of what she learned as a child in the McCarthy era: there are not always two sides to every story.
The ever-perspicacious Paul Krugman argues that it is time to stand up against fascism.