It’s the latest twist in a drama ranging from Washington to a mock election audit in Arizona, and state legislatures passing bills making voting more difficult.
Republicans around the world are making the same choice, and almost all side with former President Donald Trump, his bogus allegations of voter fraud and his out-of-control assault on American democracy.
Only a few brave resisters withstand the tide – and risk sacrificing their careers to defend their conscience and American democratic values.
The split will play out again on House soil as the crucial vote takes place.
On the other side of the truth / Trump divide is Rep. Liz Cheney, former Speaker of the Republican House Conference. The Wyoming lawmaker has contradicted the lies of the former president and lost his leadership position to Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, whose ambition leaves him less scruples about the truth. Cheney has company with a handful of Republicans in the House and Senate who voted to impeach and convict Trump after telling his supporters to “fight like hell” to stop certification of his electoral defeat.
The House bill to establish the commission is still likely to pass, given the Democratic majority, and could garner GOP votes as it is the product of a painfully struck bipartisan deal on membership. of the group and a mandate.
But the familiar choice between truth and lie, the Constitution and Trump, will only pass through the Senate, across the citadel of American democracy that was sullied by Trump supporters on January 6.
McCarthy’s decision prompted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, to say he had pressed “pause” on whether to support the commission, a day after it emerged that ‘There might be sufficient support from the GOP to enact the bill. His move set up a cliffhanger search by Democrats for the 10 Republican voters they need to make the commission a reality.
In a hidden waving hand seeking to impose his will on his party even though he is not in power, Trump issued a statement Tuesday evening telling Republicans not to fall into a Democratic “trap”.
“Hopefully Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!” Trump wrote.
It’s not just in Washington that the big big lie question is dividing Republicans. State GOP lawmakers are responding by using Trump’s lies about voter fraud to pass several laws that make voting more difficult, some of which give state officials more power to interfere in local constituencies.
The most egregious example of Republicans seizing on Trump’s authoritarian attempt to undermine American democracy is in Arizona, where GOP state senators launched a fake audit of Maricopa County’s results.
The recount was plagued by far-fetched claims that massive amounts of votes were flown in from South Korea – or even a bizarre conspiracy theory that chickens ate part of the ballots and were then cremated. Trump added his own patently bogus claims to the mix.
But some Arizona Republicans are loyal to their own conscience and to the political freedoms that have underpinned the American way of life for generations.
“I think there is a lot of fear that if you stand out from this you will lose your career as a Republican politician,” Stephen Richer, a Republican who serves as Maricopa County recorder, said on Tuesday during the ” New Day âfrom CNN.
“I’ve definitely decided that it’s not as important to me as telling the truth.”
An account of history
Bipartite, parliamentary or presidential commissions have traditionally been created to investigate some of the most traumatic and significant events in American history. President Lyndon Johnson tasked the Warren Commission with investigating the assassination of his predecessor John Kennedy. The 9/11 Commission was created by Congress to investigate the Al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington in 2001.
Not only do these panels play a valuable role in establishing the facts of an incident, they also elevate investigations above day-to-day partisan politics and can produce reports that contribute to national unity. Such probes often identify weaknesses in US defenses that enemies may have exploited – for example, in air security and poor cooperation between intelligence agencies in 2001.
The commissions also provide a national accounts moment of history and an agreed version of the facts and help debunk conspiracy theories – one of the reasons Republicans whitewashing Trump’s assault on America’s democratic system itself can oppose such a panel now.
The top House Republican said in a statement Tuesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, had politicized the commission and that it was redundant since justice was dealing with the perpetrators of the insurgency. He complained that it would not examine the full scope of political violence, including a shootout in a Congressional baseball practice in 2017.
“I recognize that there are divergent views on this issue, which is an integral part of the legislative process and not something that I take personally,” Katko said in a statement Tuesday. “However, as the Republican leader of the Homeland Security Committee, I feel deeply obligated to get the answers that the US Capitol Police and Americans deserve and (to) ensure that an attack on the heart of our democracy will never happen again. “
But despite Katko’s pledge, Republican House leaders began to pressure their members to oppose the committee’s bill on Tuesday afternoon, led by Republican Steve Scalise of Louisiana – the House Republican whip, seriously injured in the congressional baseball shooting. The shooter, who identified himself as a supporter of Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and his 2016 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, was shot dead in the assault. The incident, however, differed from the events of January 6, as it was in no way instigated by Sanders or the Democrats.
Democrats accuse Republicans of ‘cowardice’
The measure the House will consider on Wednesday does not mention Trump by name. But it states that the investigation will seek “the facts and causes relating to the national terrorist attack of January 6, 2021 on the United States Capitol complex and relating to the interference in the peaceful transfer of power.”
Given such a mandate, it is likely that Trump will face criticism given his documented spread of lies about his electoral defeat, his refusal to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power, and his fiery rhetoric at a rally just before. the invasion of the Capitol.
Since McCarthy has placed Trump supporters at the center of his midterm election campaign, his political choice on the commission is hardly surprising. The parliamentary minority leader could also be personally exposed in an investigation likely to examine his own role on January 6, when he had a heated phone conversation with Trump as the riot unfolded.
Testimony would force McCarthy to face a familiar choice between telling the truth – under oath this time – and a version of events preferable to the de facto leader of the Republican Party: Trump.
McCarthy did not respond on Tuesday when a CNN reporter asked if he would testify before a commission on the Jan.6 attack.
A battle in the Senate
Several Senate Republicans have said they will vote for the bill, but it is far from clear that there will be enough votes for its passage.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney, one of the Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial after stepping down, said such a commission with a limited mandate “made sense.” .
âI think the area of ââinvestigation that is the most critical concerns the attack on Capitol Hill,â Romney said when asked about the McCarthy push.
McConnell, who harshly criticized Trump’s behavior on Jan.6 but did not vote to condemn it, on Tuesday did not rule out the possibility that his caucus might support the panel.
“I think I am sure I qualify our conference as willing to listen to arguments on whether or not such a commission is necessary,” he said. But the Kentuckian also questioned whether the staffing for the investigation was bipartisan and said it should not interfere with criminal investigations.
Democrats are already looking to raise the price Republicans could pay with the public for derailing the commission. Pelosi accused House Republicans of “cowardice.” And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, twisted the knife on Tuesday:
“Can Republicans let their constituents know they’re on the side of the truth or do they want to cover up insurgencies and Donald Trump?”
CNN’s Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.