Republicans don’t dare criticize Trump over Jan. 6. Their silence fuels his bid for the White House

Aug 2, 2023, 9:06 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Senate Leader Mitch McConnell rose to announce his vote to acquit Donald Trump of impeachment charges in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, the Republican assured the public the former president would have his day in court.

“He didn’t get away with anything yet — yet,” McConnell vowed.

“We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”

But as Trump prepares to appear Thursday on federal charges that he orchestrated an unprecedented effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, the Republican Party’s 2024 frontrunner for the White House faces no such dire warnings or recriminations from fellow Republicans.

It’s a piercing silence that commands attention as Trump towers over the field of Republican contenders for the presidency. Gone are those who once stood up to Trump. Instead, the party Trump leads has essentially given up on criticizing his actions, countering his impulses or putting a check on his accumulating power.

Scholars of authoritarian history warn it is a classic example of an eroding democracy.

“He’ll do it again,” said a new ad from the Republican Accountability Project, an advocacy group. “Unless he faces consequences.”

The Justice Department indictment of Trump outlines with new detail the extent to which the defeated president resorted to a far-flung scheme to overturn Biden’s election, culminating with the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, a domestic attack unlike any other in U.S. history.

Most members of Congress have personal experiences with the events of Jan. 6 — some barricading the doors to the House chamber or fleeing for their safety as the mob of thousands of Trump supporters laid siege.

At the time, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy called it his “saddest day” in Congress, and he said Trump “bears responsibility” for what happened.

After the 45-page indictment was delivered late Tuesday, McCarthy, now the House speaker, had a different reaction. He called it “DOJ’s attempt to distract from the news and attack the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, President Trump.”

The shift among Republicans in Congress was quick for some, unequivocal for others and now, as Trump seeks a return to the White House, all but complete.

Republicans who once challenged Trump, like former Rep. Liz Cheney, have been booted from office by voters, or forced into earlier retirement. Those who remain, including Sen. Mitt Romney, are routinely bullied and badgered by Trump, in humiliating public displays.

Of those 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the insurrection at the Capitol, few remain, along with a handful of senators who voted to convict.

Instead, the Republicans in Congress are turning their attention to investigating Biden and his son, Hunter, over the family finances. They are also working to gut the Justice Department and revise the narrative of what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, as they seek to expunge Trump’s impeachment record.

A top Trump ally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is also close to McCarthy, said she would work to defund special counsel Jack Smith’s office during the fall budget battles. She also wants to impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Republicans portray the charges against Trump as a “weaponization” of the federal government against their party leader — an extension of the Justice Department’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s first House impeachment over pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden — rather than the result of the department’s yearlong investigation into the former president’s role in Jan. 6.

Greene said she won’t stand by as the the government “politically persecutes” Trump.

McCarthy is considering an impeachment inquiry into Biden as Republicans work to counterprogram the mounting legal challenges against Trump with the emerging House probe of Biden family finances. Some Republicans are revising the narrative over Jan. 6, suggesting those involved were simply “tourists.”

Five people died during the Jan. 6 attack and its aftermath, including Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by police as she tried to enter a room off the House chamber. More than 1,000 people have been charged by the Justice Department, some facing serious sentences, including extremist group members convicted of sedition.

In the indictment, prosecutors showed how Trump’s effort started in the weeks after the November 2020 election. They said he enlisted officials from seven states he lost to submit false election certificates to Congress saying he had, in fact, won their states.

Trump summoned thousands of supporters to Washington on Jan. 6, certain, he said, they would be “angry,” according to the indictment. His attempt to stop Biden’s victory continued even in the hours after his supporters ransacked the Capitol.

Special counsel Smith wrote that Trump “targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting, and certifying the results of the presidential election.”

It is “foundational to the United States’ democratic process, and until 2021, had operated in a peaceful and orderly manner for more than 130 years.”

It’s the third indictment of the former president, all historic, as no other former president has faced criminal charges. Trump was earlier charged by Smith with hoarding classified documents and refusing to return them. And he faces New York charges over hush money payments made to a porn actor during the 2016 campaign.

At a rally last weekend, Trump argued he was exercising his right to free speech as he challenged the 2020 election results, an argument Republicans in Congress echo as they complain they are being silenced and censored.

In the indictment, the prosecution said Trump had a right to challenge the results. But it said Trump repeated his knowingly false claims to give them legitimacy and “create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

At the time, McConnell put it similarly.

“The issue is not only the President’s intemperate language on January 6,” McConnell said ahead of the Senate vote to acquit Trump of the impeachment charge of insurrection.

“It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe; the increasingly wild myths — myths— about a reverse landslide election that was somehow being stolen in some secret coup.”

McConnell said, “The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things.”

This week, McConnell was silent.

United States News

Associated Press

Colorado authorities search for suspect in shooting that left 1 dead, 2 critically injured

ALAMOSA, Colorado (AP) — Authorities searched door to door and using aircraft on Sunday for the suspect in a triple shooting that left one person dead at a hotel in a small southern Colorado city. Suspect Henry Corral, 44, should be considered armed and dangerous, Alamosa Police said in a social media post. Officers found […]

2 minutes ago

Associated Press

Shooting at a party in Alabama’s capital leaves 13 injured, officials say

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A shooting at a crowded party in Alabama’s capital left 13 people injured — nine of whom were shot, officials said Sunday. Four other people were injured in the subsequent chaos. Mayor Steven L. Reed said in a statement that police and medics responded to reports of gunshot victims at 1:46 […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Millions in the US prepare for more sweltering heat as floodwaters inundate parts of the Midwest

Millions of Americans prepared to sweat through yet another scorching day, with the potential for rolling storms later Sunday to bring relief from the sweltering heat for at least some. Floodwaters inundated parts of the Midwest, including a town in Iowa whose own water-level gauge was submerged. From the mid-Atlantic to Maine, across much of […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Suspect seen fleeing Ohio shooting that wounded 10 sought, police say

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Authorities are seeking a suspect seen fleeing an early morning shooting in Ohio’s capital that sent 10 people to hospitals, one in critical condition. Columbus police said officers dispatched to the Short North Arts District north of the downtown area just before 2:30 a.m. Sunday found six people with gunshot wounds. […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Philadelphia police officer shot by fleeing suspect is in critical condition

A Philadelphia police officer was shot in the neck and was in critical condition Saturday night, officials said. The 31-year-old officer was in critical condition and undergoing surgery at Temple University Hospital, Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel said during a news conference outside the hospital. The officer, a veteran of more than six years on the […]

15 hours ago

Associated Press

A fourth victim has died a day after a shooting at an Arkansas grocery store, police say

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Police say a fourth victim has died a day after a shooting at an Arkansas grocery store. The person died Saturday evening, Arkansas state police said in a statement. A total of 14 people were wounded in Friday’s shooting, according to police: “11 civilians, two law enforcement officers and the […]

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

Republicans don’t dare criticize Trump over Jan. 6. Their silence fuels his bid for the White House