Opinion: GOP tries to deflect, but attack facts tell a different story

In the span of a few hours this week, we saw multiple threads come together about the Capitol attack, again painting a picture of how fake claims of election fraud led to mob violence.

Just as the feds unveiled criminal charges Tuesday against a retired NYPD officer for a brutal attack on police outside the Capitol, one GOP Senator claimed the January 6 Capitol attack was not spurred by supporters of the President.

At a hearing, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., suggested ‘provocateurs’ and ‘fake Trump protesters’ were to blame, arguing ‘happy’ Trump supporters would never have engaged in such violence.

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Charging documents tell a much different story.

“It was not Antifa”,” the feds quoted a Tennessee man who was charged on Tuesday. Jose Padilla was part of a group that used a large Trump 2020 sign - “KEEP AMERICA GREAT” - to attack police stationed outside the Capitol.

“They were Patriots who were trying to Restore the Republic after being attacked by the cops,” Padilla wrote on his Facebook page.

Padilla’s words echoed one of the Georgians charged in the attack.

“President Trump is calling us to FIGHT,” said Bruno Joseph Cua, an 18-year-old metro Atlanta man who faces a 12-count indictment.

Why were they at the Capitol ready to fight? Because they believed the election had been stolen from Donald Trump.

Back in Georgia during the Capitol attack hearing, ex-Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., announced he would not run for U.S. Senate in 2022; in a statement, Perdue expressed support for changes in state election laws so that “illegal votes” won’t be counted.

Democrats argue those types of statements by Perdue and other Republicans are part of the underlying reason for the attack — that false charges of election fraud in 2020 convinced people they needed to stop Congress from ratifying Donald Trump’s defeat.

On Tuesday in Michigan, authorities charged a man for making direct threats against two members of Congress. The man promised violence if the election results were not changed.

On the same day, charges were also announced against a 43-year-old Georgia man who left a threatening voice mail for a Michigan state judge, alleging that ‘activist judges’ were making court rulings that wrongly favored President-elect Joe Biden.

The misplaced anger-fueled constantly by then-President Trump and some GOP officials boiled over here in Washington on January 6.

Six weeks later, officials were still in shock.

“We properly planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence,” said former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund. “What we got was a military-style coordinated assault.”

Democrats pushed back on GOP suggestions that the attack was somehow not Trump-related.

“I want to make one thing clear: ‘Provocateurs’ did not storm the Capitol,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. “They were not fake Trump protesters.”

“That is disinformation,” Klobuchar added.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column will appear weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com