Memories of an insurrection: A reporter’s perspective

I have a lot of guilt about Jan. 6. I was assigned to cover the certification of the election that day and I expected it to be rowdy—D.C. is a protest town, after all. What ultimately unfolded that afternoon was the stuff my nightmares had been made of for weeks. A sickly anxiety bubbled up in me for the first time in earnest last September during a White House press conference, former President Donald Trump said openly that he wouldn’t commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

I wasn’t naïve. I covered his presidency from its inception. I knew who he was, I knew what he was capable of. I had listened to him baselessly cast doubt over mail-in ballots for months before the attack on the Capitol. I remembered his self-proclaimed jest about abolishing presidential term limits during an interview with Chuck Todd.

And I knew how devout his voters were—some of them had spit on me in 2016 for the sin of doing my job in their presence when I covered one of his rallies. I spent many weekends and late nights privately discussing how dangerous I believed the cult around him had become since the early days of his campaign.

So, as we careened toward January 2021, I quietly and often wondered if America was approaching a dangerous cliff. To my ear, Trump wasn’t just bloviating after his defeat. He was forecasting with his ‘Stop the Steal’ blathering. He was angry. And few things are scarier to me than a bitter man with great power and a historically absent sense of humor. Trump is not a man who takes losing well because his giant ego simply cannot allow it.

But I didn’t want to sound alarmist. I didn’t want to give him more power than he already had. He was, after all, a Mango Mussolini. His presidency and his powers were waning, so of course, I told myself, he would go down whining all the way.

But his cries of fraud came faster and clearer. I started questioning if it were truly possible for the U.S. to fall over some ragged edge into an autocracy. I feared the cowardly obedience of sycophants and the corrupt acquiescence of officials who would torch democracy, flawed though it may be, on little more than empty promises from a longtime charlatan.

By early November, I was spent emotionally and physically. I gave myself some cold comfort when writing a piece the month before about the so-called guardrails built into the Constitution. I trusted the voices I interviewed on and off the record, but the nagging gnawing worry was still there.

I would go to sleep most nights having dreams where Trump’s voice reverberated in my head, though his words were incomprehensible.

I’m getting paranoid, I’m overdoing it, I thought. I needed a break. I was working full time and had been caring for my dying mother. So, I cashed in some vacation hours for the days around the election.

That way, I told myself, when the day finally rolled around, I would go out, cast my vote, take my mom to vote, and go home. I wouldn’t be knee-deep in the shit. I would instead listen from a distance. I would bake bread. I would knead dough until my knuckles hurt. I had done my duty for four years, I told myself. I was sitting out election night. I did not feel bad about that.

It was “self-care” and for just a while, I felt light.

Then the votes were counted and eventually, Biden was declared the rightful winner. There was exhalation.

I returned to work. The heaviness returned with me.

After election night, after tabulations, more and more I imagined Trump prowling the Oval Office, pacing or cursing his cronies as they gathered about him to offer their reassurances or schemes. Or both.

Then it was Jan. 6. There had been promises of wild protests to come. My anxiety was ratcheted up.

I stayed up late the night before the assault. I checked and rechecked my camera a hundred times if I did it once, before finally crawling into bed. It was charged. My backup batteries were ready. I packed my bag neatly with a first aid kit stowed inside, as well as a small tube of pepper spray.

The first aid kit now came with me everywhere after spending a summer covering mass protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd. The pepper spray was a new addition.

During the Floyd demonstrations, I rarely if ever felt unsafe. I never hid my press badge. The only harm to befall me during those many weeks was when police pepper-sprayed me and others as I reported on those exercising their right to assemble.

But on the eve of Jan. 6, I worried about pro-Trump street brawlers. They had been in Washington in December and a month before that, I recorded a caravan of his devotees speeding down the highway in considerable number. Two days before the certification, I noticed such an inordinate number of cars in my Northern Virginia neighborhood with out-of-state plates—Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida—that I started to tally them up on scrap paper between red lights each time I saw them in.

What is going on? I would say aloud to no one in particular.

My trust was low, my cynicism high.

I dressed on the morning of Jan. 6 in jeans and a black hoodie and a leather jacket and shoved my press badge down my shirt. I wanted to blend in the best I could. I felt the hard plastic stick to my chest. Unlike the Floyd demonstrations, I didn’t want anyone to know off the rip that I was press.

I traded out my surgical mask for one that looked like the U.S. flag. I got one for Jack Rodgers, my friend and fellow reporter who would cover the day with me. I shoved $20 in my shoe in case of an emergency. I wrote my mother’s name and cell phone number on my forearm in marker. I shoved my camera into my jacket and hid the strap under the bulk.

While it was barely light out, I drove to Maryland to pick up Jack and we hauled it into D.C., talking about how long the day would be.

I asked Jack to remember that day recently and he described the morning perfectly in an email to me: “cold, windy, overcast,” he wrote.  It was “a day that settled into a generally uneasy haze,” he recalled.

We knew many Republican legislators would object to the counting of electoral votes and we expected, after grabbing some photos and interviews outside of the Capitol that morning, to spend the day in the press gallery in the House of Representatives, writing until our fingers cramped.

When we finally got into the district and approached a parking garage near the Capitol—street closures were in effect—we saw Trump’s supporters everywhere, walking, driving, emerging from train stations.

Jack recalled recently to me the rows of boarded-up shop windows. 

“We saw cars and trucks around us, some painted with anti-Biden language in washable dye on their doors. But what most of the vehicles had in common were that they were from out of state—Georgia, Texas, North Carolina,” he said. 

Pulling into a garage, we queued behind a line of trucks adorned with Trump paraphernalia. Supporters were streaming in and out of the garage on foot.

“I saw cars were following one another down a spiraling, underground garage. The thought of navigating a winding, underground space if something were to go wrong didn’t sit well with me, as we slowly approached the initial ramp into the unknown,” Jack wrote to me this week. 

We didn’t want to get stuck underground, but options were few. As our turn with the parking attendant was coming up and we considered the subterranean option, we noticed a lone empty spot near the ground level exit right next to the attendant’s station.

We joked to each other: How much does that spot cost?

We greased the attendant with $20.

We parked in it and popped out into the street with crowds already building and flowing in a chaotic mass toward the Ellipse. It was a sea of black, blue, and red with giant pops of yellow from Gadsden flags fluttering high on makeshift flagpoles. I noticed men wearing shirts honoring the confederacy or heralding Trump’s 2020, 2024, and 2028 presidencies. Three Percenter insignia and ubiquitous symbols of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were never far from view. There was a lot of camouflage. 

If I stared too long at anyone, trying to assess how to approach for an interview, my gaze was often met with a furrowed brow or hard eyes. I looked through my viewfinder at one point, scanning throngs walking toward the Ellipse. I focused my lens on a group of men who then stared in my direction. They signaled to each other and then to me before walking my way. I moved quickly into the crowd to lose them.

“We took refuge near a federal building,” Jack remembered. “We were conscious about being near a law enforcement officer or some federal structure. We wanted to feel like we were protected.”

I reemerged in the middle of a street and this time, bumped into an elderly woman with a dark cowboy hat. She was with her husband and as waves of people passed by, she asked me to take their picture. Smiling with noses tinged red from the cold, they were euphoric. Their mood was so light and so in contrast with the more foreboding characters around them, that once the ice was broken with a photo, I started interviewing.

They were there to support their president. He asked them to be there, she said.

She was beaming.

I asked if I could take a picture of my own and without hesitation, they huddled together and let me snap their photo. That was the last and probably most normal thing I remember seeing that day: an older couple lovingly holding each other and smiling for a camera.

We walked further into the crowd. There were whiffs of beer, cigarette smoke, and occasionally, the faint aroma of marijuana. There were loud whoops and yells of excitement. There was music somewhere. There was a muffled voice yelling angrily through a speakerphone in the distance. There were chirps from police cars somewhere, trying to direct traffic.

The crowd was overwhelmingly white and male. Some men wore flak jackets. I saw a few men with helmets on. I remember a man with kneepads. Another with elbow guards and gloves and rope dangling from his waist. It took a split second to reconcile in my brain that they were wearing the gear for their protection. The rope didn’t register at all. I looked in the crowd for police and saw very few.

During the Floyd protests, I couldn’t swing my arm without hitting an officer.

“I remember the busyness of it all, the throngs of eventual rioters seeming to swirl into the street in a searching, grasping manner. The underlying feeling of trepidation and uncertainty as the nation lurched through a state of purgatory in anticipation of President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The fear of being seriously harmed for doing my job,” Jack said.

It was around this time I felt a shift in the air. It’s hard to describe and harder yet to believe when it is described, but when you have spent many months covering protests or otherwise large events, you attune yourself to energetic shifts in a space. Sometimes there’s an electricity in the air. Sometimes there’s that ‘pregnant pause.’ Sometimes there’s a sudden hush that falls.

In these moments, I’ve learned to start looking around.  

I saw shoulders hunched high at the neck. I saw mouths pulled tautly and eyes darting around. I watched hand gestures flail wildly and observed fists clenching and opening. I could hear people cursing. There was a bad feeling and Trump had not even spoken yet. It was almost as if a message had swept through the crowd for them to tighten up and forgo the revelries.

That euphoria I saw on the older woman’s face was nowhere in the faces around me now.

We kept walking for a short moment and as we did, I locked eyes with a man passing by with straggly blonde hair and a white puffer coat hanging wide open.

He had a face mask covering his mouth though not his nose. And on the mask was a giant red, unmistakable swastika. He rushed right past me, and then another man blew by, this one with Nazi ephemera sewn to a bag he had draped over his arm. His forearm was exposed, and I noticed an SS tattoo.

I stopped in my tracks, and I turned to Jack.

I had been pushing myself so hard to get to this moment, to see the end of this presidency, to close this chapter. But every instinct in my body was now screaming at me to self-preserve at all costs. 

Who would care for my mother if I get hurt today? played on a loop in my head.

“I have a bad feeling,” I said. “I think we should get a few more photos and get the hell out of here.”

I pulled out my camera to assess what I had shot so far. The battery light blinked twice and the camera died. I cursed it, grabbed a fresh battery pack, and slid that into place. The camera turned on. I started to flip through the images. I cursed again. The photos were too dark. It had been overcast and I didn’t have a flash. I checked the shutter speed—it was set too fast. How did that happen? I had been so careful.

In the middle of telling Jack the bad news about our photos, my camera died again. I was livid now.  I fetched yet another battery. I slid that one into place. Now the camera wouldn’t come on at all. It didn’t make any sense.

We were making a slight spectacle of ourselves standing there. There was still time until certification and I live just over the Potomac, so I suggested going back to my house where I could get new batteries and upload whatever salvageable photos I had before returning to the Capitol.

On the walk to the garage, there were fewer people on the street. They had mostly congregated by the Ellipse and were preparing to listen to Trump’s remarks—remarks that would eventually earn him an incitement to insurrection charge in his second impeachment. Remarks that nearly got some of my friends killed. Remarks that led to the deaths of police officers and to hundreds of injuries. Remarks that inspired Ashli Babbitt to breach a federal building thinking she was invincible. Remarks that led her to disregard multiple verbal warnings as she tried to breach a congressional chamber. Remarks that left her bleeding on the floor, sucking for air as her life needlessly drained from her body and her compatriots mostly stood around, watching her die.

Long before Babbitt’s death, when we were finally at my house, Trump’s rally and the morning’s speeches were unfolding rapidly. 

We listened to Rudy Giuliani call for “trial by combat” and we looked at each other. Few things could really shake us at that point in Trump’s presidency but this rhetoric was so baldly inflammatory in light of what we had seen that morning that a surge of goosebumps ran up my arms.

It didn’t feel safe to return. We worried about bomb threats. Our concern would prove perfectly reasonable in no time when pipe bombs were later discovered at the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee buildings.

Maybe once the crowd had dispersed from his speech at the Ellipse, we could head back for the count itself, we said. We didn’t realize people were already on their way to breach the Capitol at this time. 

Jack was assigned to cover Trump’s speech. He sat at my desk in my home office to write while I fleshed out paragraphs for the impending certification story.

Trump droned on for over an hour, spewing lie after lie about election fraud. We flipped between video feed from his speech and the House and Senate chambers where certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory would soon be underway.

The next sequence is a blur. Pence released a letter saying he would not object to the count, I hurriedly wrote two pieces at once. The proceedings were going and I next remember Rep. Jim McGovern standing at the dais and calling for order before abruptly recessing.

There was a commotion. The commotion was the mob. 

The next few hours we spent writing and watching in shock while updating our story every few minutes. We texted friends inside the Capitol. People texted us to ask if we were okay. Jack remembered in our recent conversation how we received emergency broadcast alerts on our phones detailing statewide curfews in Virginia in response to the insurrection. 

We were safe. But it was only chance, only dumb luck, that had brought us to this safe harbor. I apologized to Jack profusely, not knowing what had happened with the camera. I still don’t know. He was reassuring and grateful not to be hurt.

We ate pizza in my living room with our eyes glued to CSPAN and listened closely when Mitch McConnell, if but for that moment, finally divorced himself from Trump, saying there was no fraud, the election was not close and the electoral college margin was almost identical to what it was in 2016. 

For the rest of my life, I will be able to hear Jacob Chansley’s guttural scream during the breach of the Capitol when I call that day back in my head. I didn’t know who or what it was when I heard it the first time. His yell carried in the background noise of live footage that afternoon that was being broadcast by CSPAN. But it was so out of place, so raw. It is seared into my brain.

The next time I heard Chansley’s voice was when I reviewed footage from inside the Capitol by The New Yorker. It was unmistakable. He was unmistakable.

The rioters broke something sacred that day and I will forever associate Chansley’s moan as the signifier of that break.

Now, almost a year later, I find myself still struggling with guilt. I should have been in the Capitol. I should have had another battery. Why did this happen? I pride myself on being prepared and having contingencies for my contingencies. Yet everything fell apart that day.

“Neither you nor I will ever have a story about pushing furniture against the door of a Congressional office to prevent incensed Trump supporters from breaking through. We’ll never have to live with the sound of rioters trying to break onto the House floor, like Rep. Jason Crowe, Rep. Bennie Thompson or Rep. Peter Welch, to name only a few,” Jack said to me recently. “What I still reflect on is the guilt both of us felt. The regret for having not been with our colleagues and members of Congress as they endured one of the most terrifying and paralyzing moments in our nation’s history. The ostracizing feeling of having watched some of our friends endure potential violence from the security of home.”

I only managed to get one picture off my memory card that was even remotely usable. It was so dark I had to use Photoshop to brighten it and it was of such bad quality that my editor didn’t care to use it even when we ran the story that day:

Was down on the Hill this morning before the melee and noted the distress or danger position of the Trump banner flown. Apologies for quality, had issues with brightness due to very overcast morning and shoddy camera function. @CourthouseNews

— Brandi Buchman (@Brandi_Buchman) January 6, 2021

Now the first anniversary of the insurrection approaches. Talking about this piece, Jack said it was easier to look back now  and dismiss the feelings of guilt. 

“The individual responsibility of reporting what we saw and what we knew about the moment, weighed heavily on both of us after a month of traveling to the District and reporting on the racial justice movement in D.C.,” he said. 

Like me, he’s done some introspective searching. That guilt is an “ongoing project,” he said. 

“Like most truths, I think multifaceted reasons exist: I’m over-conflating responsibility to whatever I understand is my duty as a reporter, for example,” he said.

Sifting through the memories with me, some of the other details have grown fuzzy. It’s harder to recall what his family said when they texted him, frightened for his safety. It’s harder for him to remember what we discussed over a beer in that miserable afterglow of the attack. 

”But I’ll never forget the underpinning feeling of uncertainty of that day or the National Mall vibrating with angry, insidious activity,” he said.

Some things are quite different now. Some things are very much the same.

Now I cover the insurrection at the Capitol on a regular basis, but I do it for a new organization. Now when I go out into the field, I won’t write my mother’s name on my arm but instead I choose someone who is alive to bail me out or identify my body. I don’t get to write with Jack all the time anymore or decompress with him, one of the few people who experienced this time in history with me up close. 

Now, I get off at a decent hour. Now, I sleep a lot better. For now, my every waking moment is not consumed by a man hellbent on retaining power at all costs.

Amid all these many changes, however, there is a frightening consistency since Jan. 6: Many of the people who were willing to endanger our democracy a year ago are still very much in the ranks of our government today. 

BBC News admits error after tapping Epstein pal Alan Dershowitz to analyze Ghislaine Maxwell verdict

When Fox News demonstrates more journalistic scruples than the BBC, you know we’re in trouble. 

Famed constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz, who thinks the Constitution gives Donald Trump the power to do anything he wants so long as he’s earnestly attempting to steal elections, appeared on BBC News Wednesday after Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on five counts of sex trafficking. The problem? The network presented him as an impartial legal expert without acknowledging that he’s been implicated in some of the same crimes involving Maxwell and her erstwhile boyfriend, notorious convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. 

The Washington Post:

Shortly after Maxwell was convicted Wednesday of sex-trafficking charges for assisting Epstein in abusing young girls, BBC News brought on Dershowitz to analyze the guilty verdict of Epstein’s longtime paramour. But the network failed to mention that Dershowitz not only previously served as Epstein’s attorney but that he is accused of having sex with Virginia Roberts Giuffre when she was as young as 16. Dershowitz has denied the allegations.

Dershowitz used his time on the “BBC World News” to slam Giuffre for supposedly not being a credible witness in the Maxwell case — claims that went unchallenged by the show’s anchor. He also claimed the case from Giuffre against him and Britain’s Prince Andrew, who has also been accused of sexual assault and has denied the allegations, was somehow weakened after Maxwell’s guilty verdict.

Have a looksee.

BBC interview Alan Dershowitz over Ghislaine Maxwell - a new low BBC, a new low.

— Steve E Ennever (@MusicMiscreant) December 29, 2021

Whoo! Great job, BBC. What’s next? Inviting Jared Fogle to write a weight-loss column, or giving Bill Cosby a segment to discuss his favorite cocktail recipes? It’s probably too late to run Jeffrey Dahmer’s outré restaurant reviews. 

Fox News at least acknowledged Dershowitz's connections with Epstein. Unfathomable that the BBC thought this was a good idea.

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 30, 2021

Is it rude to suggest that maybe, just maybe, Dershowitz is being blackmailed? This self-proclaimed liberal has Human Centipeded himself to Donald Trump’s backside with such alacrity, it’s almost impossible to imagine he’s not being pressured somehow. But hey, maybe Epstein Island was just an elaborate Chuck E. Cheese with Friday night pizza parties, unlimited Skee-Ball, and an animatronic Jerry Sandusky Jug Band.

Of course Dershowitz also appeared on Fox News on Wednesday, because Fox never misses a chance to be ghastly. But as journalist and tweeter extraordinaire Aaron Rupar noted above, at least Fox acknowledged Dershowitz’s connections to Epstein and Maxwell.


— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 30, 2021

Meanwhile, some very smart people—all of whom would have been more credible on this issue than Dershowitz—were appalled by the BBC’s lapse in judgment.

I couldn’t believe it - totally inexcusable.

— Siobhan Benita (@SiobhanBenita) December 29, 2021

Know who else was appalled? The BBC.

Statement on interview with Alan Dershowitz

— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) December 30, 2021

For the nontweeters:

“Last night’s interview with Alan Dershowitz after the Ghislaine Maxwell verdict did not meet the BBC’s editorial standards, as Mr Dershowitz was not a suitable person to interview as an impartial analyst, and we did not make the relevant background clear to our audience. We will look into how this happened.”

Well, at least the network copped to it, even if the statement didn’t include an apology. I would expect a similar mea culpa from Fox News if they had editorial standards to violate. But as long as they rigorously maintain a maximum skirt length and occasionally change the batteries in Brian Kilmeade’s head, their broadcast license isn’t in any danger. Yet it remains a mystery why the very last person who should have been tapped to discuss this subject is the very guy the respected network chose to interview.

Do better, BBC. You don’t want to become the American media. That way lies madness.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say, “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT,” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

Kevin ‘Who the F— Do You Think You Are Talking To’ McCarthy may be next on Jan. 6 request list

When rioters were ransacking the Capitol and Rep. Kevin McCarthy was presumably somewhere hiding from the mob former President Donald Trump incited, he and Trump had a rather tense chat.

Full transparency on the content, timing, and length of that discussion is information that would be undeniably vital to the Jan. 6 committee’s probe of the assault.

In an interview Wednesday with ABC News, the chair of the committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said that while McCarthy has not yet received a formal request from the panel asking for his voluntary compliance—which is different than a subpoena—an informal invitation still stands.

“If he has information he wants to share with us, and is willing to voluntarily come in, I’m not taking the invitation off the table,” Thompson said. Thompson also emphasized: “If Leader McCarthy has nothing to hide, he can voluntarily come before the committee.”

If McCarthy won’t, then things could start to get a bit more official.

So far, the committee has issued formal requests for voluntary compliance to two lawmakers: Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Both have said they would not comply with the request. The next move goes to the committee.

Perry, investigators say, may have been involved directly with a scheme to install a Trump ally, Jeffrey Clark, at the Department of Justice. As for Jordan, it was his contact with Trump and, potentially, members of Trump’s inner circle on Jan. 6 that piqued the committee’s interest.

A representative for McCarthy’s office did not return a request for comment Thursday.

Back in April, however, the Republican congressman told Fox News: “I was the first person to contact [Trump] when the riots were going on. He didn’t see it. What he ended the call with saying was telling me he’ll put something out to make sure to stop this.”

Guardedly, McCarthy also said at the time: "My conversations with the president are my conversations with the president."

McCarthy’s claim that Trump “didn’t see” the riot is not yet supported by any public evidence. 

In any event, one of those conversations with Trump was a key feature cited in Trump’s second impeachment this January.

Sometime in the middle of the afternoon of Jan. 6—the exact timing is not entirely clear— according to a public statement made by fellow Republican Rep. Jamie Beutler-Herrera, McCarthy called Trump to report on the violence playing out at the Capitol.

McCarthy was also calling to ask Trump for help—namely demanding that the president release a public statement immediately to quell the riot.

McCarthy said he asked Trump to “publicly and forcefully” call off his supporters, but his request fell on deaf ears.

Despite the sea of Trump flags fluttering in the wind just outside, the spray of “Trump for 2020” T-shirts, banners, hats, bumper stickers, posters, signs, and other ephemera in bright blue, red, or white display, Trump insisted it wasn’t his supporters mobbing the building and viciously beating police amid calls for the head of his second-in-command, then-Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump told McCarthy it was “antifa.”

McCarthy, according to Beutler-Herrera’s official statement, then went on to reject the president’s assertion, urging Trump to accept that, no, it was his supporters scaling the walls.

“Well, Kevin,” Trump said. “I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

That reportedly set off a powder keg. McCarthy, the House GOP leader, exploded at Trump, the president of the United States.

“Who the fuck do you think you are talking to?” McCarthy said.

Several Republican members confirmed the conversation to reporters at various outlets in February. McCarthy has also publicly discussed the exchange.

Though McCarthy has long taken a position against the current investigation of the attack, a week after the assault from the House floor, he laid the blame squarely on Trump.

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump."

McCarthy called the attack “criminal” and “undemocratic,” and openly proclaimed that the suggestion it was “antifa” at the gates on Jan. 6 was false.

Despite this, he would not vote to impeach Trump for his conduct. That would be too divisive, he argued.

Public hearings hosted by the House select committee on the issue will begin in the new year. Lawmakers will hear testimony and parse evidence openly about the Trump administration’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. They will likely also call on state and local election officials to testify about the president’s pressure campaign to overturn electoral results.

There will be assessments on the state of national security and intelligence gathering failures in the runup to the assault. Thompson has also stressed that the role of extremist organizations like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers will come into focus.

The committee will use the information it gleans to inform a variety of legislative decisions, including those they make about possible amendments or revisions to the Electoral Count Act of 1887. The committee also has not ruled out the possibility of issuing criminal referrals, if necessary.

Only 24 hours ago, Trump filed a motion with the Supreme Court resisting the idea of the committee weighing criminal referrals. He’s currently in a tug of war with Thompson over a trove of presidential records that investigators requested from the National Archives back in August. Trump tried to shield the records, citing executive privilege, but President Joe Biden overrode him, saying that the documents were more vital to the public interest than Trump’s.

A lower court and an appeals court have ruled against Trump, and now it will be the Supreme Court that decides whether it will even hear Trump’s appeal. The Jan. 6 committee recently narrowed its request on some of the records, underlining that it only needs documents that are relevant to its probe.

The investigation was never designed to be a catch-all of Trump’s entire presidential archive, and the decision to narrow the request was strategic as it might very well chip away at Trump’s claims of abuse of the executive branch by members of Congress. 

Thompson told ABC News on Wednesday that the committee’s focus would not be deterred as the anniversary of the attack looms. 

“What we will do in our hearings is put the pieces of the puzzle together so the average man and woman on the street will understand how close we came to losing our democracy,” he said. 

McConnell breaks out the pompoms as Jan. 6 Committee takes aim at Trump and his cronies

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, deemed by some to be a master tactician, has missed every chance he had this year to help secure the downfall of Donald Trump and his increasingly ascendant wing of the party. Until now.

After failing to lead his caucus in January to a Trump conviction and then in May killing off a carefully negotiated independent commission on Jan. 6, McConnell is clearly relishing the fruits of the House select committee cobbled together by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in spite of his dismal efforts.

“Interesting” has become McConnell’s word of choice for the Jan. 6 committee whenever he is asked about its work and latest revelations. It was a word he repeatedly deployed the week of Dec. 13 as he ginned up interest in the committee’s eventual findings.

On Tuesday, Dec. 14, McConnell was asked whether he was one of the GOP lawmakers who had personally texted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows as the Jan. 6 assault unfolded. He wasn’t, McConnell told Capitol Hill reporters, adding, “It will be interesting to reveal all the participants who were involved.”

But that was just the beginning of McConnell’s week-long campaign plugging the committee’s probe.

“I read the reports every day,” McConnell offered a couple of days later at a different press conference. “And it’ll be interesting to see what they conclude.”

But the capper to McConnell’s sales pitch came later that evening in an interview with Julia Benbrook of Spectrum News. Asked to comment further about his curiosity in “all the participants,” McConnell responded, “The fact-finding is interesting. We’re all going to be watching it. It was a horrendous event, and I think what they are seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.”

So not just interesting, but an actual necessity in terms of public knowledge.

But why the sudden burst of cheerleading from a man who once panned an independent commission on the Capitol siege as a useless exercise unlikely to unearth any “new facts”? Quite simply, the Jan. 6 probe is giving McConnell a do-over on what he was incapable of accomplishing himself—neutralizing the Trump wing of the party. He had chances in 2021, and he either didn’t take them or fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line, particularly in the case of impeachment.  

The prospect that the House probe might implicate and ensnare Trump and pro-Trump members of his own party is both enticing and existential for McConnell. Just imagine what a criminal prosecution of Trump could do for McConnell, not to mention someone like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas being found complicit in the crime. That’s an entirely possible scenario, especially with a new book out from Trump aide Peter Nevarro claiming that Cruz played a key role in an election-stealing scheme Nevarro concocted with Trump henchman Steve Bannon.

“We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., [Rep. Paul] Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them,” Navarro told The Daily Beast of the GOP lawmakers’ initial blockade of certification. Gosar, of Arizona, lodged the first objection to certifying his state’s vote, and Cruz officially signed off on it, sending the two chambers of Congress into recess to weigh the objection in their respective chambers. That was before Trumpers breached the police barricades and stormed the Capitol, brutalizing and killing people along the way. 

What has become perfectly clear throughout 2021 is that McConnell entirely misjudged the hold Trump had on the party’s base, even going so far as to call him “a fading brand” at one point.  

But by the end of the year, McConnell had lost so much control that he was reduced to endorsing candidates like alleged wife beater and former football star Herschel Walker for a Georgia Senate seat that offers the GOP one of its best pick up chances in 2022. In other words, Trump is now towering over the supposedly masterful McConnell, who is bending like a wet reed to Trump’s every wish.

The Jan. 6 panel is now giving McConnell a glimmer of hope. And after fumbling away all his opportunities to dispense with Trump earlier this year, the least he can do is stoke a little interest and intrigue in what promises to be a fascinating year of revelations.  

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The ‘could be better, could be worse’ COVID wave is here

Helen Branswell/STAT:

10 lessons I’ve learned from the Covid–19 pandemic

The guiding principle of outbreak response is hope for the best but prepare for the worst. It has felt too often in this pandemic that people are forgetting about the second part of that maxim. We’re seeing it even now with responses to the surging wave of Omicron cases.

It is true that public health authorities can get hammered if they sound the alarm for something that turns out not to merit it. The World Health Organization was pilloried by the European Parliament after the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic ultimately proved not to be particularly deadly.

But with fast-developing disease outbreaks, if you wait until you’re sure that something is going to be a disaster before seizing every opportunity to alter its trajectory, you’ve made the outbreak much, much worse.

U.S. Covid hospitalizations and ICU admissions: #Omicron versus prior Covid waves. Current hospital and ICU census are substantially lower than reported cases versus prior waves. A portion of current admissions still reflect delta infection. Data 7 day averages.

— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) December 28, 2021

... in non-ICU hospitalizations, since ICU stays typically come later. And in fact we do see a new signal: our non-ICU ("floor") admits have risen from 10-12 last week to 18 today, a subtle but I think meaningful rise.(12/16)

— Bob Wachter (@Bob_Wachter) December 28, 2021

Duaa Eldeib/ProPublica:

They Were the Pandemic’s Perfect Victims

The pandemic killed so many dialysis patients that their total number shrunk for the first time in nearly half a century. Few people took notice

Then COVID-19 struck. Nearly 18,000 more dialysis patients died in 2020 than would have been expected based on previous years. That staggering toll represents an increase of nearly 20% from 2019, when more than 96,000 patients on dialysis died, according to federal data released this month.

The loss led to an unprecedented outcome: The nation’s dialysis population shrank, the first decline since the U.S. began keeping detailed numbers nearly a half century ago.

They were COVID-19’s perfect victims.

London and New York City: New Covid cases and New Covid Hospitalizations - #Omicron versus prior waves. On a relative basis, Hospitalizations are well below what was seen in prior Covid waves.

— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) December 28, 2021

That’s great but we’re not done. And it is hitting the kids. 


Claims of vaccine hesitancy in African countries are at odds with the reality on the ground

Our work serves as a continuous reminder that local demand for vaccines is high and access is the biggest barrier to increasing full vaccination rates — less than 3% for Uganda and 9% for the entire continent of Africa.

Despite encouraging lab and animal studies on Omicron's potential reduced pathogenicity, there's still plenty to worry about, especially in the US —70 million people unvaccinated, including children —the immunocompromised (>3%), even w/ 3-doses —the unknowns re: #LongCovid

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) December 27, 2021

Amelia Nierenberg/NY Times:

Can Schools Handle Omicron?

The looming wave is shaking the rickety infrastructure that has kept schools running.

Across the nation’s 13,000 districts and 98,000 public schools this week, there are about 600 shuttered schools or districts, according to data from Burbio, a company that has tracked how schools have operated through the pandemic. There are fewer closures now than in November.

But the Omicron variant appears contagious enough to upend the shaky equilibrium that has allowed schools to stay open. Many are in dire need of substitute teachers and bus drivers, and can ill afford an outbreak that would send many staff members home.

Staff outbreaks are the key, from hospitals to airlines to schools.

I appreciate this because @MoNscience talks not just about the numbers, but about his case. "Mild to moderate" SUCKS. You do not want it.

— Bethany Brookshire (@BeeBrookshire) December 28, 2021

Hugo Lowell/Guardian:

Capitol panel to investigate Trump call to Willard hotel in hours before attack

The chairman said the select committee intended to scrutinize the phone call – revealed last month by the Guardian – should they prevail in their legal effort to obtain Trump White House records over the former president’s objections of executive privilege.

“That’s right,” Thompson said when asked by the Guardian whether the select committee would look into Trump’s phone call, and suggested House investigators had already started to consider ways to investigate Trump’s demand that Biden not be certified as president on 6 January.

It seems people are struggling to believe this @EricLevitz piece, based on @Wertwhile analysis, so let me add a few hard numbers to help clarify

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 27, 2021

Randall D. Eliason/WaPo:

Here’s why a criminal referral for Trump by the Jan. 6 committee is a bad idea

At other times, during the course of its legislative or oversight work, Congress uncovers facts suggesting past criminal conduct unrelated to Congress itself. Again, here a referral alerts the Justice Department to the conduct so it can consider whether investigation and prosecution are appropriate.

But the Justice Department does not need a referral from Congress to be aware of the potential crimes surrounding Jan. 6 — including those potentially committed by Trump himself.

The events leading up to the assault on the Capitol are widely known. They have been the subject of numerous media reports and books, not to mention a full impeachment proceeding. The riot is the subject of what is likely the largest and most complex federal criminal investigation in history, with hundreds of people already indicted. The Justice Department is deeply enmeshed in investigating the events of Jan. 6 and does not need a congressional heads-up.

A criminal referral would be worse than unnecessary — it would be counterproductive.

2/2 Many hope to ignore what is said on right-wing media in hopes of starving it of oxygen. But @GoAngelo of @mmfa warns that if another Jan 6th uprising organizes online, “there will be a whiplash effect. Everyone will say, ‘How did that happen?’ Well, it’s been happening.”

— Evan Osnos (@eosnos) December 27, 2021

Mark Joseph Stern/Slate:

The One Thing Biden Is Doing Exceptionally Well

He is getting judges confirmed at a record pace, and his selections have been incredible.

There are two defining features of Biden’s push to remake the federal judiciary: speed and diversity. Let’s start with speed. In his first year, just 19 of Trump’s judicial nominees had received Senate confirmation. For President Barack Obama, that number was 13; for Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, it was 28. Biden, by contrast, has seen 40 of his judges confirmed already—the most since President Ronald Reagan. Eleven of Biden’s judges sit on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals, where most federal cases are resolved. (For comparison, Obama placed just three judges on the Court of Appeals in his first year.)

Now turn to the other extraordinary aspect of Biden’s judicial nominees: their unprecedented demographic and professional diversity. In a comprehensive report, Alliance for Justice has highlighted the many firsts among this crop of judges: the first openly lesbian judge on the Court of Appeals (Beth Robinson); the first Korean American to sit on the Court of Appeals (Lucy Koh); the first Muslim federal judge (Zahid Quraishi); the first Black judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Tiffany Cunningham); the first woman of color to serve on the U.S. District Court in Maryland (Lydia Griggsby); the first Native American federal judge in Washington state (Lauren J. King)—the list goes on. According to Alliance for Justice, nearly 75 percent of Biden’s judicial nominees are women, and nearly 65 percent are people of color. For comparison, only 24 percent of Trump’s judicial nominees were women, and just 16 percent were people of color.

This is NEJM this week from the NBA showing mean clearance duration is 5.5 days in vaccinated and 7.5 days in unvaccinated individuals. That means the MAJORITY had not completed viral clearance by 5 days.

— Haitham Ahmed, MD, MPH (@haithamahmedmd) December 28, 2021

Fascism: House Republican extremists look to support candidates as devoted to Trump as they are

There's a lot to take in on this Washington Post story about House Republican extremists recruiting like-minded conspiracy freaks in order to move their party even farther to the right than it has already gone. On the surface, there's nothing too surprising here: House conspiracy theorists like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn are helping to boost the would-be careers of other conspiracy cranks in Republican primaries, so as to shove out more moderate Republicans who have beliefs like "presidents should not be allowed to commit crimes" or "overthrowing democracy rather than recognizing a valid election loss might, in the long term, not work out so well."

And the plan, to the extent that anything rattling around in Greene or Cawthorn's head could be called one, is also a tried-and-true one. The "MAGA" clown brigade wants to target insufficiently fascist-minded Republicans in hard-right districts, instead propping up like-minded conspiracy promoters and avid Dear Leader loyalists in places that will always vote Republican no matter who is thrown in front of voters. Greene is herself an example of that; there is absolutely nothing about her that would suggest she ought to be put in any position of power, her QAnon beliefs have been on the extreme end of batshit even compared to the normal batshittery promoted by Trump's own professional conspiracy inventors like Steve Bannon or Rudy Giuliani, her anti-democracy, pro-violence statements should have already gotten her driven out of Congress on grounds of bare decorum, and she is absolutely assured to keep her seat because Republican voters like angry, uninformed, and possibly violent conspiracy cranks.

The risk of such plans is that you can end up promoting cranks so dodgy that they end up doing something that even hard-hard-right voters can't quite stomach, resulting in a steep decline in Republican votes on election day as those voters stay home. Similarly, if your entire operation depends on promoting extremists with extremist views, the odds are high that a few of those newly chosen Republican candidates will end up having, ahem, past "hobbies" that get exposed to voters before election day and which may or may not constitute crimes.

The Republican MAGA brigade has been doing exactly zero vetting, basing support solely on candidate willingness to impeach Joe Biden, overturn the presidential election results, and/or appoint Donald Trump the God-King of the House. In fact, let's just pause right there, for a moment, to contemplate the thought of Marjorie Taylor Greene or Madison Fake Russian Wife Cawthorn and their combined staff attempting to "vet" would-be crackpot allies so as to weed out any that were too sketchy.

Yeah. Yeah, I'm sure it's a top-notch operation. And I'm sure it got even better when the staff sprung for a second Ouija board to go along with the first.

So that's the story. But there's a whole lot of other sketch in the Post's story even taking all that into account, and it's ... concerning? Off-putting? Odd? It's hard to pin down.

For example: "Trump critics warn that a stronger MAGA wing in Congress threatens democracy," says the Post. Really? Really, it's "Trump critics" who are saying that elevating candidates who publicly express demands that elections be overturned based on known-fraudulent propaganda poses a threat to democracy? As opposed to, say, Every Expert Ever? When a political party is making a pledge to overturn elections a core measure of candidate loyalty, do we really need to cite "critics" to assert that elections might be in danger? Huh.

Or this: "Candidates seeking [Trump's] approval meet with him at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., where he peppers them with questions that test their MAGA bona fides," says the Post.

Okay, but we know what that looks like. We don't need to guess; we saw it in every Cabinet meeting and on every campaign trail. Candidates meet Trump's "approval" by kissing his ass wholeheartedly and more imaginatively than the last guy to come along, and they lose his "approval" if they say even the slightest thing critical of him, personally. He doesn't give a rat's ass about any other policy or issue. It's just the ass-kissing. Painting those sessions as Trump "peppering" anyone with "tests" of their MAGA loyalty is very odd phrasing.

MAGA is, without question, devotion to Trump. Nothing else applies. There's no other "test." The party is divided into those willing even to end democratic government on Trump's behalf and those that might have second thoughts while doing it. The Post story makes that clear, not needing to cite any experts for their assertion that MAGA looks to "purge the GOP of those not deemed loyal to the former president and his false claims that the 2020 election was rigged."

Greene-supported candidate Rick Slabjaw—sorry, a generic conspiracy crank of certain complexion who goes by the name of "Joe Kent"—"wants to force Republicans into tough votes, starting with articles of impeachment against President Biden and a full congressional inquiry into the 2020 presidential election, which he says was stolen from Trump," reports the Post. And, glory be, the other competitors are also ex-military or ex-athlete types, "telegenic and mostly White male millennials," as the Greene-Cawthorn-Boebert-Jordan-Gaetz wing of the party pin their hopes on thickheaded Aryan faces with telegenic paranoias.

It's the subtext of the story that makes it so off-putting. This is a very, very gentle way for the Post to be alerting the public of plans to further purge Republicanism of anyone unwilling to topple democracy on a bumbling, lying narcissist's behalf. We are talking about the most openly fascist wing of the party, a group obsessed with retaliating against anyone who does not promote known-false hoaxes meant to undermine public faith in our elections. We're talking about the wing of the party unwilling to condemn politically motivated violence, a wing that is continuously flirting with the edges of endorsing such acts themselves.

Here's one of the "MAGA" Republicans currently aiming for Congress: Noah Malgeri.

Republican US House candidate Noah Malgeri called for General Mark Milley to be executed live on C-SPAN.

— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) December 27, 2021

Malgeri has the support of the white nationalism-allied fascist group "Republicans for National Renewal," and the endorsement of neo-Nazi dabbling Rep. Paul Gosar, and has been palling around in Lauren Boebert circles. He's a conspiracy-adjacent, fascism-promoting self-described "nationalist." There's not anything subtle about it.

Can you even talk about House Republican efforts to further radicalize their own party without that subtext? The "candidates" we're talking about are ones who so ally themselves with (1) Trump and (2) nationalist "renewal" that they are publicly demanding we throw away whatever parts of democracy conflict with it.

Five years from now, could this whole article be rewritten under the title How Fascism Happened? Because a group of House Republicans who are fervent conspiracy mongers, who continually tease at the edges of promoting violence, who vow to remove the current president and rewrite history to proclaim that Actually, Dear Leader was victorious all along—that feels like a lot to take in, and considerably more dire than "House MAGA squad seeks to expand" lets on.

We're in the odd place where anyone who knows anything about history or government is shouting at us that this, exactly this, is how democracies fall, but the papers are still trying very, very hard to write the story within the bounds of a normal political tiff. "Trump critics" worry that a party's devotion to malevolent propaganda, a rejection of facts, an insistence on anti-intellectualism that paints even dying in a pandemic as preferable to going along with scheming scientists, and a singleminded devotion to a showboating lifelong buffoon are all core fascist tenets that Republicanism has rewritten itself to accommodate.

Maybe that's because anyone unwilling to accept the new premise that a narcissist who has blamed "fraud" or "cheating" for every loss in his sorry-ass life was "cheated" out of reelection has been declared a "Trump critic."

Republican extremists have been very successful in defining that boundary and getting political reporters to adhere to it. If you are willing to denounce objective facts and declare that reality is now whatever Donald Trump last said it was, you are "MAGA." Everyone else, every other person in America regardless of party, partisanship, or profession, is now only a Trump critic.

The religious right and its leaders are desperate for power, even at the cost of the innocent

When the history books reflect on Donald Trump’s presidency, the religious right’s unflinching support of him will surely get a lot of ink. Trump promised the religious right everything it wanted and then some—particularly conservative federal judges and Supreme Court justices who would roll back abortion and marriage equality.

It is obvious why the religious right supported Trump. One thing that has nagged at me for the better part of six years, though, is how they could justify doing so. How could rolling back abortion and marriage equality be so important that some of the same people who pilloried Bill Clinton over character issues were willing to make a Faustian deal with a guy who plastered a news anchor’s personal cell number on social media, mocked the disabled, condoned violence at his rallies and against the media, and reveled in degrading women?

Looking back at how the religious right has done business since it started rearing its ugly head in the late 1970s and early ‘80s seems to reveal at least part of the answer.

All too often, it seems that the nation’s self-declared moral guardians have been willing to forsake Jesus’ warning in Matthew 25 about caring for “the least of these.” They have been willing to throw the vulnerable under the bus for the sake of not only making America great again, but making America Christian again—or more accurately, making America Christianist again.

A stark example of this mentality comes from James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family. Long before he rose to prominence in the late 1980s and early ‘90s as one of the most vocal generals in the religious right army, Dobson was a prolific author. But at least two of his books say a lot about who he really is.

In 1983, he penned a book called Love Must Be Tough, in which he offered advice to individuals and couples in troubled marriages. One of those individuals was “Laura,” a mother of two in a horribly abusive marriage for the last 12 years. According to Dobson’s book, Laura’s husband was two-faced, or at least he was in 1983. While most people knew him as a prominent lawyer and church leader, he frequently went into fits of rage and beat Laura to a bloody pulp before blaming her for the abuse.

A trained psychologist like Dobson would know that there is only one acceptable response to Laura’s question: Tell her to get out, and get out now. For that matter, it shouldn’t take any training to know that marriage died long ago. But incredibly, Dobson told Laura that “divorce is not the answer to this problem.” Rather, he encouraged Laura to “change her husband’s behavior” by taking his most outrageous demands, wadding them up, and throwing them back at him.

Dobson did suggest that Laura move out until her husband “gives her reason to believe he is willing to change.” Only then, he noted, should the process of reconciliation begin. But one shouldn’t need a psychology degree to know that when abuse has gone on for this long, there’s no reconciling, especially when kids are in the situation.

In 2015, R.L. Stollar of Homeschoolers Anonymous, a community of people who share their experiences in the evangelical homeschooling world, discovered that the sage advice from Dobson remained unchanged in the 2007 edition of Love Must Be Tough. The book has gone through four editions, with the advice to Laura remaining the same in all of them; the most recent was in 2010.

Telling Laura to stay in an abusive marriage isn’t the worst thing that has come from Dobson’s pen. That came in 1978 from one of his many books on child-rearing, The Strong-Willed Child. Dobson starts that book by recalling how he took a belt to his 12-pound dachshund, Sigmund Freud, after “Siggie” refused to go to bed. This vile account has remained unchanged through five editions—most recently in 2017. As disturbing as this is on its own, it’s even worse when considering the mountain of evidence that cruelty to animals inevitably leads to cruelty to people.

Dobson still went on to become one of the most powerful voices in the religious right, with the ear of three presidents—including Trump. Watch him give his thoughts about Trump on CBN News.

But how was Dobson even allowed to get to that point? The only plausible conclusion one can draw is that the publishers, pastors, and Christian radio stations who supported Dobson and Focus on the Family were willing to overlook these outrageous statements due to his conservative views on child-rearing, reproductive roles and rights, and the family. A little violence against a senior dog didn’t matter so much when Dobson’s publisher and his audience liked the rest of the book.

This conclusion doesn’t sound so outlandish in light of the religious right still being in thrall to Trump, even in the face of his many depravities. Trump infamously declared in January 2016 that he wouldn’t lose any supporters even if he turned Fifth Avenue into a bloodbath. But in 2020, The New York Times’ religion reporter, Elizabeth Dias, revealed that Trump said something else in that speech.

“I will tell you, Christianity is under tremendous siege, whether we want to talk about it or we don’t want to talk about it,” Mr. Trump said.

Christians make up the overwhelming majority of the country, he said. And then he slowed slightly to stress each next word: “And yet we don’t exert the power that we should have.”

If he were elected president, he promised, that would change. He raised a finger.

“Christianity will have power,” he said. “If I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power, you don’t need anybody else. You’re going to have somebody representing you very, very well. Remember that.”

Trump gave that speech in a corner of northwestern Iowa that’s one of the most fundified regions of the country. This was the former bailiwick of one of the most odious members ever elected to the House, Steve King. According to Dias, this speech encapsulated why people in this region, and evangelicals as a whole, flocked to Trump. They knew full well he was a gangster, a boor, a bully. But at least he was “the bully who was on their side,” someone who would “restore them to power.”

Seen in this light, the religious right’s continued support for Trump despite his voluminous outrages, as well as its willingness to peddle a false narrative about him, makes more sense. For instance, after the Access Hollywood tapes came out, it seemed like religious right leaders were falling all over themselves to say that his profane words didn’t matter nearly as much as Trump’s promise to appoint line-drawing conservatives to the courts who would roll back abortion and marriage equality. Indeed, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council openly admitted he and other so-called moral guardians were giving Trump a “mulligan” for his past depravities. To service the massive debt he owed them for their support in 2016, Trump just had to give evangelicals what they wanted on policy. During Trump’s first impeachment, pro-Trump pastors actually claimed that those evil liberal Democrats were actually impeaching their values, under the influence of demons.

This nonsense hasn’t let up since Trump left office, even though it has been demonstrated beyond any doubt that Trump was not just lying about the 2020 election being stolen from him, but also incited a deadly insurrection in hopes of stealing another term. For the better part of a year, a number of so-called “prophets” have insisted to everyone who would listen that Trump is the legitimate president, and that God himself will right the terrible wrong done to him. One of them, Johnny Enlow, even declared with a straight face that those who don’t bow and pray to the orange god that he and his fellow moral guardians helped make do so at risk of their salvation.

Sadly, this approach is working among the religious right’s followers. In late September, a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that a whopping 61% of white evangelicals believed that Trump had a second term stolen from him. An equally staggering 68% of white evangelicals considered Trump a “true patriot.”

In what world is it possible for people holding themselves out as moral guardians to go all-in for a man whom they know is a thug and a reprobate? And in what world is it possible for a significant segment of a major party’s base to be in thrall with such a man even after it has been amply demonstrated that he is guilty of moral and political corruption at best, and treasonous acts at worst? In the world of the religious right.

With this knowledge in hand, a number of other low moments in the religious right’s worship of Trump suddenly make more sense. The one that sticks out the most came during the battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Almost from the moment Trump picked Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the religious right went all-in on the effort to get Kavanaugh that black robe. It’s no surprise: Kavanaugh was Reason 1-B for the religious right prostrating itself before Trump. (Neil Gorsuch was Reason 1-A, and Amy Coney Barrett was Reason 1-C.)

But just how determined the nation’s so-called moral guardians were to get another potential vote against Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges was revealed when Steve Strang, publisher of Charisma magazine, claimed that Christine Blasey Ford’s claims that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her were no big deal.

For some time, Strang has used his platform as the publisher of the largest Pentecostal/charismatic-oriented magazine in the world to carry water for the religious right, including the effort to bully the country into worshiping Trump. Strang has written two paeans to Trump, God and Donald Trump and Trump Aftershock, arguing that Trump’s upset victory was a miracle, and that he wasn’t just making America great again, but Christian again—which we’ve of course heard before.

Strang hit absolute bottom in late September, when he told Charisma’s Facebook followers that Kavanaugh should have been confirmed—even if Ford’s allegations of assault were in fact true. As he put it, even if one believed Ford, Kavanaugh was merely engaging in “the kind of nickel and dime stuff that high school kids do.” No, this isn’t snark. Watch him say it.

A social media field guide to lawmakers who pushed Trump’s lies before, on, and after Jan. 6

Earlier this year, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat and member of the Jan. 6 committee, compiled and released a report. Its contents feature the comprehensive statements of sitting U.S. lawmakers who nearly a year ago posted messages on social media endorsing former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

They are lawmakers who, as seen in this badland of their own admissions, sometimes reveled in Trump’s lies as rioters—many armed with makeshift weapons—scrambled up the marble facade of the Capitol. They are lawmakers who objected to the certification of votes after people were maimed and killed. They are lawmakers who, until today, have chosen to overwhelmingly stand behind these statements while continuing to prop up moldering delusions about a victory never won. 

As the anniversary of the insurrection looms, plans are underway for public hearings hosted by the Jan. 6 committee. Solemn events commemorating the sacrifices made by those who defended the Capitol will be held. The former president, who incited the insurrection and found himself impeached by Congress for that conduct, has plans to hold something he believes resembles a press conference. If the hundreds of rallies he led and thousands of statements he made over four years of his presidency are any indicator, his event at Mar-a-Lago on Jan. 6 will be nothing more than a dusting off of sad old songs. 

The following are excerpts from Lofgren’s nearly 2,000-page social media review. The following is not a comprehensive representation. To see everything, click this link. These statements do not deserve to be relegated to the shadowy corners of our nation’s collective memory. To forget them, to ignore them, is to treat democracy like it is guaranteed. If nothing else, Jan. 6 served as a reminder that it is not. 

Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from Alabama, posted messages on social media repeatedly before the insurrection casting doubt on the validity of mail-in ballots and suggesting, baselessly, that a “criminal element” was at hand courtesy of Democrats. He also shared disinformation from Breitbart. 

This December, ‘Stop the Steal’ movement founder Ali Alexander told investigators on the Jan. 6 committee that he exchanged a text message with Brooks in the run-up to the attack. Brooks initially denied communicating with Alexander. This week Brooks admitted to the text and as noted by the Alabama Political Reporter, he played it down. It was “so innocuous and forgettable that Congressman Brooks did not recall it,” a spokesperson for Brooks told APR. 

The text from Alexander to Brooks:

“Congressman, this is Ali Alexander. I am the founder of Stop the Steal, the protests happening in all 50 states,” Alexander wrote in the text, shared by Brooks. “We met years ago back in 2010, during the tea party when you were first elected. I texted the wrong number. I had intended to invite you to our giant Saturday prayer rally in DC, this past weekend. Also Gen. (Michael) Flynn should be giving you a ring. We stand ready to help. Jan 6th is a big moment in our republic.”

Alexander also said he spoke to Arizona Republican Paul Gosar. Gosar, was censured by the House in November for sharing a video depicting the murder of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joe Biden. Alexander also claimed to have spoken to Rep. Andy Biggs, another Arizona Republican. Gosar, Brooks, and Biggs are members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus. Lofgren’s social media report also archives multiple public remarks from Gosar and Biggs. 

Brooks on Nov 5: 

But in a bigger sense, part of the problem is the uncertainty interjected into the election process by this early mailing of ballots en masse… The only weakness in the Alabama system is that you don’t really know if a person is an American citizen who can lawfully vote, and that’s because the Democrats out of Washington, D.C. have made it extraordinarily difficult for election officials to determine if a person is a United States citizen when they register to vote… Well of course Democrats want that kind of process because it has more vulnerabilities to election fraud. And the Democrats are renown for engaging in election fraud, voter fraud, election theft, however you want to categorize it… You don’t see the Democrats doing anything at all that minimizes the risk of election fraud, of non-citizens voting. Everything that the Democrats seemingly push for, creates another weakness that the criminal element that wants to steal elections can exploit… I have concerns about all of them… I’ll tell you right now, I don’t have confidence, if Joe Biden is reportedly elected President of the United States, I do not have confidence that the person who would be sworn in, was sworn in because that person in fact got the lawful votes needed to win the electoral college… based on all of the things I know about election theft and voter fraud from the past, coupled with how much easier it is to steal an election or engage in voter fraud with this system that the Democrats have been so successful in implementing around the country that has weakened my and a lot of other[s’] faith in the system.”

As a U.S. House member, I’m going to be very hesitant to certify the results of this election if Joe Biden is declared the winner under these circumstances b/c I lack faith that this was an honest election. Listen to my interview on @WVNN where I explain why.

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) November 6, 2020

Ten days after President Joe Biden was declared winner of the 2020 election, Brooks pushed discredited theories of “uncounted ballots” in Georgia. Georgia was a key target of the Trump administration’s election subversion strategy, according to records and witness testimony obtained by the Jan. 6 Committee.

Jeffrey Clark Draft Letter by Daily Kos on Scribd. 

Jeffrey Clark, a former Department of Justice attorney, focused on Georgia as a part of his alleged attempt to oust former Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at Trump’s behest and install himself. Rosen ultimately refused to go along with a pressure campaign. 

More Brooks on Georgia:

#FakeNewsMedia claims no facts supporting @realDonaldTrump election challenges. Another one: Georgia “finds” 2,600 uncounted ballots in conservative county for 800 vote net Trump gain. USA elections need safeguards #Socialist #Democrats oppose.

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) November 17, 2020

IMHO, Joe Biden DID NOT win lawful vote majority in Georgia. Per its right & duty, Congress should reject any Georgia submission of 16 electoral college votes for Joe Biden. That is EXACTLY what I hope to help do. See below lawsuit for more! SORDID!

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) November 27, 2020

Brooks continued well into December, addressing Trump on Twitter and making claims of “illegal alien block votes” influencing the election.

My pleasure, Mr. President. Joe Biden must not be allowed to "win" election by "buying" illegal alien block votes via amnesty & citizenship promise to 11+ million illegal aliens. IMHO, if only lawful votes by eligible Americans counted, you won electoral college & reelection.

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) December 3, 2020

He also used a winky-face emoji to confirm reporting that he was voting to overturn the election results on Jan. 6:


— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) December 2, 2020

Before a segment where Brooks said the 2020 election was plagued by the “worst election theft in the history of the United States,” the host of Fox & Friends First opened the show saying Brooks had “earned him[self] a big thank you from President Trump.”

“THIS IS THE WORST ELECTION THEFT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.” - Alabama Congressman @RepMoBrooks says he’ll challenge the Electoral College vote when Congress convenes after the holidays to finalize the election results.

— Fox & Friends First (@FoxFriendsFirst) December 4, 2020

Joined by two dozen fellow Republicans, Brooks called on Attorney General William Barr to investigate in Georgia. He also objected to counts in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin, Texas, Arizona, Michigan, and elsewhere. He railed against Mitch McConnell when the former Senate majority leader warned Republicans not to object on Jan. 6.

Roughly two weeks before the Capitol attack, Brooks called on Americans to fight, saying: “The Socialist Democrats have successfully stolen votes from the American people in2020 and we need to fight and take it back.”

All throughout American history, time after time, American men and women have stood strong and fought for their country. That’s what we need to do now!

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) December 18, 2020

The “fight for America” was on on Jan. 6. And with bicameral support from Sen. Josh Hawley:

SENATOR JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO) JOINS 30+ CONGRESSMEN IN OBJECTING to electoral college vote submissions from states with such flawed election systems as to render their election results untrustworthy. BAM! The fight for America’s Republic IS ON! WATCH JANUARY 6, STARTING 1PM ET.

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) December 30, 2020

On Jan. 2, Brooks said “morale is high” and it’s time to “fight” as he and more than 50 lawmakers including Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan prepared for a conference call with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and President Trump.

Our fight for honest & accurate elections gains momentum!@Jim_Jordan & I co-lead conference call w 50+ Congressmen who join & fight for America's Republic! Conf. call began 6PM ET. Now 715PM & continuing. President Trump & CoS Mark Meadows speaking. Morale is HIGH! FIGHT!

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) January 3, 2021

On Jan. 5 Brooks announces he will speak at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally at the Capitol. Trump invited him personally to speak about the so-called election fraud conspiracy:

BIG DAY: I speak at tomorrow’s #StoptheSteal rally @ 7:50 am CT. @realDonaldTrump asked me personally to speak & tell the American people about the election system weaknesses that the Socialist Democrats exploited to steal this election. Watch:

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) January 6, 2021

On Jan. 6 at 12:01 p.m., Brooks streams his speech at the rally at the Ellipse. The riot would ensue in less than an hour. 

Is America the greatest nation in world history because we’re lucky? NO! I would submit that we are great because our ancestors sacrificed their blood, sweat, tears, and lives for America’s foundational principles.

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) January 6, 2021

At 1 PM, rioters began to breach the Capitol.  At 1:16 PM Brooks says the “battle is joined” as he, Gosar, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas objected to the electoral votes from Arizona

BREAKING FROM HOUSE FLOOR! Congressman Paul Gosar (R, AZ) & Sen. Ted Cruz (R, TX) join to object to the electoral college submission of Arizona. BATTLE IS JOINED! Now we will find who supports, and who fights, voter fraud & election theft! FIGHT FOR AMERICA’S REPUBLIC IS ON!

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) January 6, 2021

Brooks sent out seven tweets while the riot was unfolding just outside the chambers. He called Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado “passionate” and praised other lawmakers joining the objection. Then as he recorded Gosar’s objection, he acknowledges the breach saying doors are locked and noting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has left.

.@RepGosar OF ARIZONA = Objection sponsor. GOP #7. Details massive AZ election fraud compounded by AZ officials refusing to investigate fraud allegations, thus aiding voter fraud & election theft. DOORS LOCKED! CAPITOL COMPLEX BREACHED! CHAMBER DOORS LOCKED. SPEAKER LEAVES!

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) January 6, 2021

During the riot, Brooks spreads rumors before being forced to evacuate the chamber:

Tweets available in report; pg. 124.

After 5 PM, Brooks issues a statement condemning the violence and says he is a former target of “Socialist Democrat gunfire.” Later that night he would continue to stoke disinformation while demanding an investigation into the storming of the capitol. 


— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) January 6, 2021

Evidence mounts that fascist ANTIFA infiltrated Trump rally & stormed Capitol. I don’t know the true facts yet, and neither does 99.99% of public. I suggest no rush to judgment until an investigation reveals whatever the truth may be. Then Prosecute!

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) January 7, 2021

For weeks after the attack, Brooks was on the defensive, attacking the media for reporting his own words and actions back to him. 

.@RepCohen & other Socialists should prove their wild, off-the-wall, panicky statements . . . Or apologize. Proof is simple. What do Capitol security cameras show? Where is news media? If a Republican had said the same about a Democrat....

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) January 19, 2021

Reps. Jerry Carl and Barry Moore, also of Alabama, were equally vocal from November through Jan. 6.

Found on pg. 161 of Lofgren’s social media report.

Moore, in a Breitbart interview on Jan. 5, laid the rhetoric on thick, saying: “We've got to fight for election integrity for the future of this country… A lot of people don't think we can win this fight but we have to fight."

Twitter suspended Moore’s personal Twitter account after the riot exploded and after he spread conspiracy about “racial justice” and antifa activists inciting the insurgence. 

Moore also made this tweet on Saturday night about the US Capitol Police officer who shot and killed a woman as she tried to get into a lobby off the House floor, where lawmakers were sheltering from the attack by Trump supporters.

— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) January 10, 2021

Rep. Andy Biggs, never a shrinking violet, pushed the election fraud agenda hard. He tweeted and then deleted a post from Charlie Kirk inviting people to protest in Arizona on Nov. 6 and to “hold the line.” He retweeted Donald Trump Jr.’s call for his father to “go to total war” on Nov. 5. He retweeted Dan Bongino’s plea on Nov. 7 for the “biggest political rally in modern American history” and then deleted that retweet nine weeks later on Jan. 9. On Nov. 7 he wrote an opinion column for titled “The Only Way Forward is to Fight”—the link to which is now unavailable on Biggs’ Facebook page. Biggs did not immediately return request for comment on Dec. 22.

A little over a month after Biden was declared the winner, Biggs used his social media platform to amplify voter fraud allegations. Two days before a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in Washington erupted in violence, Biggs tweeted:

The radical left and their allies in the mainstream media attempted to overthrow America’s duly elected president, @realDonaldTrump. Americans do not trust them, nor will we take orders from them when they command us to stop trying to ensure the integrity of our elections.

— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 11, 2020

Biggs also tweeted “Never surrender!” on Jan. 4 and in the same breath linked to a tweet from Dan Bongino reading: “CONCEDE NOTHING!” During the breach, Biggs posted clips of his remarks from the floor objecting to the count. On Jan. 8, he railed against anti-Trump Democrats and defended the former president, saying that an “impeachment plot” was brewing. By Jan. 11 after his political rival Joan Greene said on Facebook that he, Rep. Mo Brooks, and Paul Gosar plotted the insurrection, he threatened a defamation suit.

"Inflammatory and splenetic accusations against Congressman Biggs are by any metric wholly, objectively, and knowingly false. They are injurious to him and reflect an irresponsible heedlessness of the truth."

— Andy Biggs (@andybiggs4az) January 12, 2021

On Jan. 20, Biggs’ own brothers gave an interview laying blame on the lawmaker for the Capitol attack. Ali Alexander had a higher opinion of Biggs. He called him his “hero.”

Rep. Paul Gosar’s social media feeds were littered with conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. He was seen posing for photos with members of hate groups like the Proud Boys over six months before the Capitol assault, but his affinity for the group reportedly stretches back years. 

Here's Congressman Paul Gosar posing for a photo with what appears to be a member of the Proud Boys, a known hate group. As a bonus, the man on the far left of the photo is wearing a T-shirt for the Oath Keepers, an anti-government extremist organization.

— Nick Martin (@nickmartin) July 4, 2020

In November, Gosar joined rallies at state capitols. He championed “conquering the Hill” at a rally in December in Arizona.

NEW: Republican Rep. Paul Gosar at a rally promoting the January 6 event: "You get to go back home once we conquer the Hill. Donald Trump is returned to being president." (2 minute mark)

— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) January 12, 2021

On Nov. 6, Gosar asked to be first in line for scrutiny and later praised Ali Alexander. Alexander has since deleted the message retweeted by Gosar where Ali said: “Ali Alexander addresses nation ahead of nationwide State Capitol rallies happening NOON tomorrow.”

Put me down as No. 1. My name is Congressman Paul Gosar. I am a proud American and I love this country more than you hate it. See you in the gulag comrade. #AmericaFirst #MAGA2020 @ali @realDonaldTrump #stopthesteal #FU

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) November 7, 2020

Gosar attended various rallies demanding an audit and spent weeks promoting Trump’s claims to victory. Dozens of pages from Lofgren’s social media report are devoted just to Gosar’s missives alone. He lauded “teamwork” with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and on Dec. 6 dug himself deeper, demanding audits in Arizona. On Dec. 7 he wrote a letter to the state of Arizona, questioning if the U.S. was witnessing an “open coup” and tagged Trump and Giuliani, saying he was responsible for the first ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in the state. He called news of an audit “28 bitch slaps” for Arizona Gov. Doug Doucey as he demanded Doucey’s recall.

Are we witnessing a coup d’état? An Open Letter to Arizona by Congressman Gosar. @realDonaldTrump @RudyGiuliani

— Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) December 8, 2020

He was outraged at Doucey for refusing to “talk to Trump” on Dec. 9. 

The fact that @dougducey ignored the election issues and refused to talk to @realDonaldTrump is just one more reason to support the recall election. Sign the petition here: @RecallDougDucey

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) December 9, 2020

After the insurrection, on Jan. 11, Gosar deleted a Dec. 19 tweet where he bragged about making a ‘Stop the Steal’ stage his own. Before the insurrection, on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, he bragged about meeting with Trump in the Oval Office.

Just left the Oval with @realDonaldTrump and several other members of Congress. Stay tuned...

— Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) December 22, 2020

Great meeting today with @realDonaldTrump and @MarkMeadows and @RudyGiuliani my homies @andybiggs4az @RepMoBrooks @mattgaetz and others. President is resolute. We will not accept disenfranchisement of 80 million who cast a vote for @POTUS This sedition will be stopped.

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) December 22, 2020

On Dec. 23 he promoted a bunk theory that Vice President Mike Pence could control the outcome of the election. 

Interesting read: “Pence can deny Electoral College certificates from states with widespread election fraud.”

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) December 23, 2020

The next day on Dec. 24, he announced a press conference with ‘Stop the Steal’ leaders. On Jan. 11 he deleted that tweet. Eight days before the Capitol breach, Gosar amplifies Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene:

We meet to defend the legitimately elected president @realDonaldTrump and deny the fraudulent usurper the spoils of a technology coup. Why use tanks or bullets when you have 3:00 am massive data dumps? Same result. #stopthesteal @ali

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) December 29, 2020

Gosar announces on Dec. 30 that he will attend the rally on Jan. 6 with Ali Alexander. In this message Gosar retweeted Trump, who wrote at the time, “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!”

I’ll be in DC with @ali and the rest of America. We will fight back against the leftists who’ve have engaged in sedition to run a Techology Coup. No tanks needed when you can drop hundreds of thousands of ballots or switch votes electronically. #StopTheSteaI

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) December 31, 2020

Four days before the attack, Gosar asked for “patriots” to “HOLD THE LINE.”

Patriots: The time is now. HOLD THE LINE. Join me in DC January 6th. #FIGHTFORTRUMP

— Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) January 3, 2021

Two days before the attack, with a glossy graphic, Gosar asked who would join him on Jan. 6:

Who is joining me?

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) January 4, 2021

The morning of Jan. 6, Gosar retweeted an interview where he discussed what he would do if he were Pence. Evidence obtained by the Jan. 6 Committee has illuminated the breadth and depth of the pressure campaign on Pence to go along with Trump’s attempts to overturn the election

Congressman @DrPaulGosar explains what he would do today if he were in @Mike_Pence’s position:

— Raheem J. Kassam (@RaheemKassam) January 6, 2021

Just before the riots erupted, Gosar tweets: “Don’t make me come over there” as he demands Biden’s concession and tags Alexander Ali.

Biden should concede. I want his concession on my desk tomorrow morning. Don’t make me come over there. #StopTheSteaI2021 @ali

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) January 6, 2021

As the riots were underway, there were two sides to Gosar: one on Twitter and the other on Parler, where he posted a photo of rioters scaling the Capitol and said, “Americans are upset.”

His main His alt

— Nick Martin (@nickmartin) January 7, 2021

During the attack, Gosar became defensive:

When you engage in election fraud and then refuse to allow an audit you @hiral4congress spray gasoline. This is on you. The people demand transparency.

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) January 6, 2021

Another Arizona Republican, Rep. Debbie Lesko, tweeted an interview where she would not say how she would vote on certification, even as the riot was underway. She later said she predicted “there would be a problem” but she did not foresee something happening at “the magnitude” it did on Jan. 6. She ended up voting against certification.

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, spent weeks posting messages on Twitter attacking Pelosi and suggesting that Democrats were engaged in voter fraud.

Before the attack, he asked people not to be quiet: 

.@GOPLeader Kevin McCarthy was laying the groundwork for the attack on the Capitol for months. 11/5/2020: “President Trump won this election, so everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes... join together and let’s stop this.”

— Jesse Lee (@JesseCharlesLee) January 12, 2021

He was largely quiet on Twitter on the day of the attack, tweeting archived footage from election objections filed by Democrats in 2005 at around noon. He posted another message after 10 PM on Jan. 6: His own speech from the floor condemning the violence of the day. 

Other lawmakers, like Rep. Lauren Boebert, promised to fight early on and invoked the ubiquitous “hold the line” rhetoric: 

We’re always the party expected to give up and accept however the left wants to treat us. President Trump changed that. We’re not going to roll over anymore. I hope the rest of my colleagues are ready for the fight ahead of us! FREEDOM!

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) November 7, 2020

This is going to be one of the biggest weeks in the history of our country. Stay strong. Hold the line. Let’s fight for fairness.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) November 9, 2020

Boebert’s rants continued unabated for weeks and weeks after the election. The Lofgren social media report provides pages upon pages of Boebert’s tweets alone. 

Just a daily reminder that there is currently no “President-Elect”, and our current President is Donald J. Trump.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) November 11, 2020

She was a blanketing the false message of widespread voter fraud regularly. 

I told @realDonaldTrump to keep fighting. We have so much evidence to prove that this election was not right. The American people are behind you 100%, President Trump! Thank you @MariaBartiromo for having me.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) December 4, 2020

And on Dec. 6, one month before the attack, Boebert wrote: “The fight for freedom never ended, some of us just got too comfortable being told how to live life. The determination of 1776 has been reignited.”

The fight for freedom never ended, some of us just got too comfortable being told how to live life. The determination of 1776 has been reignited.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) December 6, 2020

In a video posted to Facebook 48 hours later, Boebert said she met with Trump in the Oval. In the clip she said: “I want President Trump to fight until this election is actually over… I had the privilege of spending time with President Trump in the Oval Office a few days ago, and I encouraged him to use all of the legal means he had to make sure this was a fair election… I can assure you he’s definitely in this fight until the end… This election is not over.”

On Dec. 19, Boebert for the first time asks followers to mark their calendars for Jan. 6. She announced her intent to object to certification on Christmas eve. 

Save the Date: January 6, 2021

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) December 19, 2020

Two days after Christmas she asks who will stand with Trump in D.C.: 

Who is going to be in DC on January 6th to stand with President Donald Trump?

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) December 26, 2020

A day after that, Boebert says the people are needed to put pressure on state legislatures to rescind certification and calls for pressure on senators and congressman to object on Jan. 6:

We need THE PEOPLE to put pressure on AZ, GA, PA, NV, WI, MI state legislatures to rescind their certifications. Then we need THE PEOPLE to put pressure on their Senators and Congressmen to object on the 6th. WE THE PEOPLE!

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) December 27, 2020

The attack was now days away. Boebert lashed out at Democrats and urged against playing by the rules:

For years, we’ve allowed the Democrats to set the narrative and we’ve just responded to it and played within their rule book. If we’re going to take this country back, it’s time for that to end.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) December 29, 2020

Boebert was excited by the impending certification ceremony, saying the first six days of 2021 would be decisive. On Jan. 2 she would express gratitude to senators for announcing their plans to object. 

Sending love and declaring blessings to all on this first day of 2021. The first six days of this year will include a new Congress, the most decisive Senate special election in years & possibly the most important day in our nation’s history: 1/6/2021. Happy New Year!

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 1, 2021

The pressure on Pence was palpable:

VP Pence needs to be Thomas Jefferson in this moment. We have your back if you’ve got ours, @VP.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 3, 2021

On Jan. 5 Boebert tweeted: “Remember these next 48 hours. These are some of the most important days in American history.”

Remember these next 48 hours. These are some of the most important days in American history.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 5, 2021

On the day of the insurrection, Boebert wrote: “Today is 1776.”

Today is 1776.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 6, 2021

As Trump began his speech and the attack was less than an hour from unfolding, Boebert made urgent calls on Twitter and said she would “fight with everything” she had.

America is depending on all of us today. This is something I don’t take lightly. I will fight with everything I have to ensure the fairness of the election.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 6, 2021

Once the riot was underway, Boebert announced the lockdown and disclosed that Speaker Pelosi was removed from the chamber

We were locked in the House Chambers.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 6, 2021

The Speaker has been removed from the chambers.

— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 6, 2021

Two days after the insurrection, Boebert changed her profile picture to a portrait of Trump and posted a video on Twitter defending her vote to object. For a week after the attack, she appeared on social media chastising Democrats, accusing them of violence and playing coy around questions about her tweet saying Pelosi had been removed from the chamber on Jan. 6. Boebert condemned the violence after the attack but continued to amplify Trump’s election fraud conspiracy.

Other vocal Trump allies like Rep. Matt Gaetz—currently under investigation by the Justice Department—spent weeks before the election crying fraud without proof and on Nov. 5, Gaetz suggested the Justice Department could step in and evaluate votes in Pennsylvania. Similar pleas would be made by Gaetz for DOJ involvement for weeks after the election. Attorney General William Barr last December found no proof of election fraud. 

The DOJ isn’t as powerless as it currently looks. They should be in court NOW to put the legally non-compliant ongoing Philadelphia count into FEDERAL RECEIVERSHIP!

— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) November 5, 2020

He also posted and deleted tweets about alleged voter fraud in Pennsylvania and on Nov. 9 tweeted an article where Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said only legal votes would be cast. “Great hearing from you,” Gaetz wrote.

Great hearing from you.

— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) November 10, 2020

He said on Nov. 12 that he spoke to Trump about election fraud and that Trump was “ready for battle." He appeared on Steve Bannon’s show War Room a week after that. Bannon, investigators say, may have been integral to coordinating the attack, He was indicted on contempt of Congress charges this winter and awaits a summer trial. On Nov. 30, Gaetz appeared on Fox News, calling for people to “stand and fight”

On Dec. 21, just after 6 p.m. Gaetz called for a defense of the election.

Democracy is left undefended if we accept the result of a stolen election without fighting with every bit of vigor we can muster.

— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) December 21, 2020

A day later he retweeted a post from Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, which said several members of Congress had met with Trump.

On Jan. 4, Gaetz urged people to “fight like hell” for America “with all that we have.”

America needs us now more than ever. We'd better fight like hell for her with all that we have.

— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 4, 2021

America, he added, would not be left undefended on Jan. 6. 

Republicans will not leave democracy undefended on January 6th.

— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 4, 2021

Tens of thousands might be marching in the streets on Jan. 6, Gaetz said 24 hours before the siege. He also cast doubt on whether Pelosi would permit debate. She made no indication she would not.

“One question remaining is whether or not Nancy Pelosi will even allow the two hours of constitutionally-authorized debate on these questions. But when you’ve got tens of thousands of people potentially marching in the streets in Washington, D.C., tomorrow, I think it would be a very bad look for the People’s House not to entertain debate if we have a constitutionally acceptable objection signed by a House Member and a Senator,” Gaetz said.

Tomorrow, Republicans will defend democracy and object to states that didn't run clean elections.

— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 5, 2021

On the day of the attack, Gaetz tweeted lightly. Around noon, he suggested criticism of elections made them better. He tweeted again at 10 PM, sharing an article suggesting facial recognition was used to pick up extremists in the crowd. The Washington Times removed the article he posted below after the facial recognition company said the claims were false.

"Facial recognition firm claims Antifa infiltrated Trump protesters who stormed Capitol"

— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 7, 2021

In the weeks that followed and as a second impeachment brewed for Trump, Gaetz defended Trump unceasingly and said “the left” was engaged in rhetorical warfare. Gaetz bristled at the suggestion that Jan. 6 was an insurrection and when an independent government watchdog announced it was investigating improper attempts to overturn the election 20 days after the attack, Gaetz expressed outrage:

This is nothing more than an effort to purge any pro-Trump people left at the corrupt and highly political DOJ. (There aren’t many)

— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) January 26, 2021

Representatives like Bill Posey chalked up Jan. 6 to a disturbance by a small number of individuals. Rep. Greg Steube falsely stated that violence at the Capitol was started by “antifa” and “BLM” activists.

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene got an early start, appearing in a video on Oct. 27 endorsing political violence. 

“The only way you get your freedoms back is … with the price of blood,” she said. 

SCOOP: In a pre-election video just uncovered by Mother Jones, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene is seen endorsing political violence. “The only way you get your freedoms back is it’s earned with the price of blood," she says. More here:

— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) January 29, 2021

Hurling insults at “weak-kneed” and “spineless” Republicans who wouldn’t join the chorus of election fraud claims, Greene caped for Trump incessantly. She called for people to attend a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in Georgia on Nov. 7 and later deleted that tweet only to replace it with more posts of her appearance at that rally. On Nov. 10 she called for the Georgia governor to step in.

Tell @GaSecofState to complete the steps necessary to STOP THE BIDEN STEAL! 1. Verify no double voting with absentee ballots 2. Purge ineligible votes from felons and others 3. Most importantly, Georgia MUST have a RECOUNT BY HAND due to irregularities cc: @CollinsforGA

— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) November 10, 2020

She called for “fighters” who wouldn’t give up before the “war is over” in November. She offered gun giveaways, urged noncompliance with mask mandates, and kept on tweeting at Georgia officials about bogus fraud claims. On Dec. 14, she vowed to ‘Stop the Steal’ on Jan. 6.

In June, I issued a warning to Antifa terrorists: Stay the HELL out of NW Georgia Now I’m giving away my famous AR-15. If Joe Biden steals this election, he’ll try to ban it. Get yourself a gun before it’s too late! ENTER NOW:

— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) November 15, 2020

On Dec. 19:

I’m planning a little something on January 6th as well, @realDonaldTrump.

— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) December 19, 2020

Greene also retweeted the following message from Kylie Kremer, a chief organizer for Women for America First. Kremer is reportedly now cooperating with the Jan. 6 committee after receiving a subpoena this fall. Kremer wrote: “The calvary is coming, Mr. President! JANUARY 6th | Washington, DC”

The calvary is coming, Mr. President! JANUARY 6th | Washington, DC 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸#MarchForTrump #StopTheSteal

— Kylie Jane Kremer (@KylieJaneKremer) December 19, 2020

More “hold the line” rhetoric:

VOTE RED on Jan. 5 HOLD THE LINE on Jan. 6#FightForTrump

— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) December 20, 2020

And in a video shared from her Twitter page the next day, Rep. Greene said: “Just finished with our meetings here at the White House this afternoon. We had a great planning session for our January 6th objection. We aren’t going to let this election be stolen by Joe Biden and the Democrats. President Trump won by a landslide… Stay tuned.” 

Greene also said online that she spoke to Trump by phone on Dec. 22. She said they spoke again on Jan. 2.

.@realdonaldtrump deserves his day in court, AND we are definitely going to give him his day in Congress. We have a rapidly growing group of House Members and Senators. Jan 6 challenge is on. 🇺🇸 Call your Rep: 202-225-3121 Call your Senators: 202-224-3121#FightForTrump!

— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) December 21, 2020

She also used Jan. 6 as a chance to fundraise, saying she would need a massive grassroots army behind her to “stop the steal.”

Congress will hear THE PEOPLE loud & clear on January 6th. I need a massive grassroots army behind me to STOP THE STEAL. Join the #FightForTrump!

— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) December 30, 2020

Like Boebert, Greene too called it a “1776 moment” in an interview with Newsmax on Jan. 5. She said in a post later that same day that she held planning meetings with Republicans to discuss their objections. 

'THIS IS OUR 1776 MOMENT': @mtgreenee tells @ShaunKraisman "I was happy to go up there with @realDonaldTrump and encourage our voters to get out to vote."

— Newsmax (@newsmax) January 5, 2021

During the riot, Greene called for people to "be smart.” She spent the morning tweeting out claims of election fraud in Georgia and called on Pence to “be bold and courageous.” Just after 9 PM on Jan. 6 she tweeted the later-debunked story about facial recognition picking up on antifa extremists. “We’ve seen what they’ve done all year long,” she said.

A message from the Capitol. Be safe. Be smart. Stay peaceful. Obey the laws. This is not a time for violence. This is a time to support President Trump and support election integrity. God bless!

— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) January 6, 2021

In the aftermath, Greene condemned the violence on Jan. 6 but was aggressively promoting Trump’s claims nonetheless. She appeared on the House floor six days after the assault sporting a mask with the phrase molon labe. As pointed out by Rep. Lofgren’s report: “Molon Labe is a classical Greek phrase meaning “come and take [them],” attributed to King Leonidas of Sparta as a defiant response to the demand that his soldiers lay down their weapons. Gun-rights advocates have adopted the phrase as a challenge to perceived attempts by the government to confiscate arms.”

I don't think the Fake News Media likes my mask

— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) January 13, 2021

The lawmakers highlighted in this lengthy guide are far from the only individuals who posted messages promoting Trump’s claims of election fraud. But the lawmakers mentioned up to this point consumed some 880 pages of the nearly 2,000-page social media report. Rep. Billy Long, a Missouri Republican, alone, consumed dozens of pages showing how regularly he promoted disinformation and then later, insisted there was no insurrection. Dozens of pages also feature Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York. Stefanik later assumed a House leadership role when Leader McCarthy ousted Rep. Liz Cheney. Cheney was booted from the role when she refused to go along with her party’s overarching insistence that Trump won the election. 

Neophyte lawmakers like Rep. Madison Cawthorn also eagerly promoted the ‘Stop the Steal’ agenda. 

The fate of a nation comes down to the events of tomorrow. This New Republican Party will not back down. I look forward to seeing millions of patriotic Americans stand for their country.

— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) January 5, 2021

Other more tenured lawmakers, like Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio—who received a notice from the Jan. 6 Committee on Dec. 22 asking for his voluntary compliance with the probe—appeared to make promotion of election fraud lies a cornerstone of their job. During the riots he tweeted his objections routinely.

Then there are legislators like Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who also received a request from the committee to remit documents and sit for deposition. He refused. Many questions remain. So many lawmakers, like Rep. Pete Sessions, appeared to openly support Trump’s subversion efforts. Sessions tweeted a photo of himself with supporters of the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement on Jan. 2, for instance.

In this sweeping assessment of social media activity, there are many commonalities. Perhaps the most common was a desire by so many Republicans in the House for a thorough review of issues they deemed of national importance. Their nearly wholesale refusal of the Jan. 6 probe, however, has spoken volumes in the year since the Capitol attack.

A lonely Republican: Tom Rice says he regrets voting against Biden certification

South Carolina Republican Rep. Tom Rice said publicly Thursday that he now regrets voting against certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory this January, an important admission from a member of a party that has largely pledged unshakeable alliances with former President Donald Trump.

Rice made the admission to reporters at Politico. To be clear, the Republican legislator still maintains that he has reservations about the 2020 election outcome. He holds those reservations despite the fact that dozens upon dozens of courts found fraud claims to be baseless and despite the fact that Trump’s own former attorney general William Barr found no evidence of widespread fraud.

Trump’s remarks on the morning of Jan. 6 led to an insurrection at the Capitol. Multiple people died and hundreds of police officers were injured. Millions upon millions of dollars in damage were exacted.

On Wednesday, Rice said plainly that he “should have voted to certify because President Trump was responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol.”

Rice holds the odd distinction of being one of only 10 Republicans that voted in favor of impeaching Trump for incitement of insurrection. But he is the only Republican who did that and also voted against certifying Biden’s victory.

“In the wee hours of that disgraceful night, while waiting for the Capitol of our great country to be secured, I knew I should vote to certify. But because I had made a public announcement of my intent to object, I did not want to go back on my word. So yeah, I regret my vote to object,” Rice said on Dec. 22

Around this time last year, Rice signed his name alongside a bevy of House Republicans who filed an amicus brief, or a supporting statement, in effect, to the Supreme Court expressing reservations about the integrity of the 2020 election. 

I joined @RepMikeJohnson and several other House members in filing an amicus brief to the Supreme Court expressing my concerns with election integrity.

— Congressman Tom Rice (@RepTomRice) December 11, 2020

By Jan. 4, Rice posted to Twitter and Facebook again. This time, though the apprehension was still there, there was a lingering doubt expressed as well. 

 “The vote to certify electoral votes is momentous, perhaps the most so of my entire tenure. I do not plan to commit to a position until the evidence is weighed and the debate concluded. I take my job seriously, and will consider it carefully,” he said. 

But in that same message two days before the insurrection, Rice went on to tout claims of election improprieties in multiple states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

Friends, I have heard from many of you across the political spectrum regarding the upcoming vote to certify the vote of the electoral college in the presidential election. (1/8)

— Congressman Tom Rice (@RepTomRice) January 4, 2021

During the siege, Rice posted a video from the House floor, noting that “’protesters’” were trying to break in as the chaplain prayed. The footage was shot moments before the legislators were evacuated.

The riot raged into the late afternoon but by 3:30 PM, Rice was safely at home while D.C., he said, was in “chaos.” Rice called on Trump to act. 

To all my friends back home, I am fine. Capitol Police evacuated us from the Capitol Building. DC is in chaos. This will accomplish nothing. Where is the President!? He must ask people to disperse and restore calm now.

— Congressman Tom Rice (@RepTomRice) January 6, 2021

On Jan. 13, Rice voted to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection. 

I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable.

— Congressman Tom Rice (@RepTomRice) January 13, 2021

“I’ve excused his [Trump’s] foibles because I love his policy. But this last week, in my mind, is inexcusable. The fact that he gathered up the crowd and fired them up, and whether his speech or manner to incitement I don’t know, I’m not a criminal lawyer. But I know this, I know that once the people were inside the Capitol ransacking the place and trying to make their way to the Senate floor and House floor and Vice President Pence was in there in the Senate chamber, President Trump was tweeting that Vice President Pence didn’t have the courage to do what was right, and just further angering the crowd… The President offered only very tepid requests for restraint…” Rice said on Jan. 14 after impeaching Trump. “I think it was a complete failure of leadership… I wish that they hadn’t brought the impeachment vote, I want calm now.…but I’m not gonna hide behind procedure here. If my vote is yes or no on whether he should be President, I think the actions of last week disqualify him.”

Two weeks later on Jan. 31, Rice shared his Republican bonafides on Facebook. According to a post just after 6 AM that day, Rice emphasized how he stood with the Republicans of South Carolina and helped raise some $2 million for the national party. He added:

“I personally witnessed the insurrection in the Capitol on Jan. 6. I saw the rioters who were demanding to hang Vice President Pence. I heard the gunshots and smelled the tear gas. I was on Capitol Hill when the Capitol Police were overrun and Officer [Brian] Sicknick gave his life at the hands of the mob, to honor the oath he took to defend the Constitution,” Rice wrote. “I saw as we all did, the President’s lack of leadership in not stopping the mob, his callous actions saying Mike Pence had no courage and his comments in the middle of the riot that ‘These are the things that happen when victory is viciously stripped from these great patriots… remember this day forever.”