Opinion: Still too much GOP silence about Jan. 6

There are two things that I will remember from covering the work of the Jan. 6 committee in Congress: the silence inside the hearing room — and the silence outside from many Republicans.

The committee hearings — especially the videos of police being repeatedly attacked by supporters of Donald Trump — were a searing reminder of the most violent episode ever seen on Capitol Hill.

“Jan. 6, 2021, was the first time one American president refused his constitutional duty to transfer power peacefully to the next,” said U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

Inside the hearing room, it wasn’t difficult to sense the gravity of the moment; this wasn’t some random political scandal.

It was a violent attack on the Capitol meant to keep one person in power.

“The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day,” said Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

While McConnell pointed the finger at Trump, most Republicans in Congress have long sidestepped that kind of direct accusation.

Instead, GOP lawmakers routinely ignored the Jan. 6 hearings, framing the probe as a political vendetta against the former president and his supporters, saying little about the attacks on police.

Usually, “Back the Blue” is more associated with the GOP. But not on Jan. 6.

One Georgia man beat a cop with a crutch. An ex-Marine from north Fulton County assaulted two officers. An Alpharetta man kicked police. An Athens man grappled with cops outside the Capitol. The arrests continue almost two years later.

Watching over each of the Jan. 6 committee sessions was a small group of police officers, several of whom were injured that day.

They didn’t have to say anything to have an impact. Their quiet presence delivered a message of resolve. And you could see it in their eyes.

Severely beaten by the mob, former officer Michael Fanone’s calls for justice have alienated many of his ex-colleagues, as he was recently heckled by police at a Jan. 6 ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda.

It hasn’t stopped him.

“Donald Trump needs to be in prison,” Fanone told reporters Monday.

Two years later, it’s even more obvious that Trump never had any evidence to support his false charges of 2020 election fraud in Georgia and other states.

But GOP lawmakers in Congress still find it hard to say that in public.

Remember — Jan. 6 wasn’t about Trump’s tax policies. It wasn’t some kind of ”normal tourist visit” in the words of U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens.

This was about an attack on the Congress spurred by Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.

Silence should never have been an option.

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