Then and now: GOP lawmakers’ evolution on the Capitol riot

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Most each Republican lawmaker expressed outrage within the days after the revolt on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Some even blamed then-President Donald Trump.

But the bigger GOP narrative shifted within the weeks and months that adopted. Republican House chief Kevin McCarthy, who had stated within the hours after the assault that it had been “the saddest day I have ever had serving as a member of this institution,” went on to go to Trump at his Florida house solely weeks after the riot.

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Others went additional, with some Republican lawmakers defending the rioters or taking part in down the violence of the mob that beat law enforcement officials and smashed its means into the Capitol. The rioters, echoing Trump’s falsehoods about widespread fraud within the election, briefly stopped the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

A couple of Republicans have constantly criticized Trump, placing their very own political future in peril.

A have a look at feedback from key Republicans within the year-and-a half for the reason that assault because the House committee investigating the riot prepares to start public hearings Thursday night time.


On Jan. 13, 2021, simply earlier than the Democratic-led House voted to question Trump over the revolt, McCarthy stated that ” the president bears accountability for Wednesday’s assault on Congress by mob rioters.”

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McCarthy stated Trump ought to have instantly denounced the mob when he noticed the violence unfolding.

“These facts require immediate action by President Trump: accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest, and ensure President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term,” McCarthy stated. “And the president’s immediate action also deserves congressional action, which is why I think a fact finding commission and a censure resolution would be prudent.”

Just per week later, McCarthy instructed reporters, “I don’t believe he provoked it, if you listen to what he said at the rally,” referring to Trump’s speech to his supporters in entrance of the White House shortly earlier than the assault on the Capitol. Trump had stated to march peacefully to the Capitol, however he additionally instructed folks within the crowd to “fight like hell” or “you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

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McCarthy later voted towards forming a bipartisan fee to analyze the assault and has known as the Democratic-led Jan. 6 committee a partisan sham. He is now showing with Trump and praising the previous president at fundraisers.

Trump by no means accepted accountability for the revolt and has defended the rioters.



McConnell spoke of the “failed insurrection” the night time of the assault and stated Congress “will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs, or threats.”

He voted weeks later to acquit Trump for inciting the revolt. But he delivered a scorching rebuke of Trump after that vote, saying that “there is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”

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McConnell continued: “Their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.”

That identical month, McConnell stated he would “absolutely” vote for Trump if he have been the GOP nominee in 2024.



Pence was below extra strain than every other Republican on Jan. 6, 2021 as a result of Trump was calling on him to object to Biden’s certification although the vp had no authorized authority to take action in his ceremonial function presiding over the rely.

Pence refused Trump’s entreaties. As he hid within the Capitol through the revolt, rioters breaking in have been chanting “hang Mike Pence.”

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Bringing the Senate again to session within the hours after the revolt, Pence stated he condemned the violence “in the strongest possible terms.”

“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” Pence stated. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the People’s House.”

Two weeks later, Pence attended Biden’s inauguration. Trump refused to go.

Since then, Pence has repeatedly defended his determination to abide by his constitutional function. He has known as for the GOP to maneuver on from 2020 as he lays the groundwork for a possible presidential run that might put him in direct competitors along with his former boss.

He bolstered his stance in a speech this yr, saying that “President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election.”

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Still, he has walked a cautious line, praising the Trump-Pence administration’s coverage accomplishments as he courts assist from the celebration’s base.



Graham spoke emotionally and forcefully the night time of the revolt, suggesting that he would completely break ties with Trump after the 2 had solid an in depth relationship throughout Trump’s presidency.

“Trump and I have had a hell of a journey,” Graham stated on the Senate flooring within the hours after the assault. “I hate it being this way. Oh my God, I hate it. From my point of view, he has been a consequential president. But today, the first thing you will see, all I can say is, count me out. Enough is enough. I tried to be helpful.”

Graham voted to certify Biden’s victory and praised Pence for resisting the strain to object.

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In the months afterward, Graham softened his stance, and he and the previous president continued to speak.

“Can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no,” Graham instructed Fox News host Sean Hannity within the spring of 2021. “I’ve determined we can’t grow without him.”



Brooks is the uncommon House Republican to have stepped up his criticism of Trump for the reason that revolt.

The Alabama Republican was certainly one of Trump’s most forceful allies on Jan. 6, 2021, telling the gang on the rally close to the White House earlier than the riot, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”

Brooks was certainly one of a number of GOP lawmakers who tried to assist Trump overturn his election defeat. Brooks stated on the House flooring after the violence that in his judgment, “if only lawful votes cast by eligible American citizens are counted, Joe Biden lost and President Trump won the Electoral College.”

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In August, although, as he was working in a GOP main for the Senate, Brooks instructed a crowd that it was time to maneuver on from the 2020 election. Trump didn’t like that and withdrew his Senate endorsement.

Brooks claimed that Trump rescinded his assist after the 2 had a dialog by which he instructed Trump there was no authorized approach to rescind the outcomes or maintain a “do-over” of the 2020 election.

Brooks is now in a runoff for the GOP Senate nomination, having risen within the polls after Trump dropped him. And Brooks is asking the previous president to again him once more.



Cheney has been essentially the most distinguished and constant GOP critic of Trump — and she or he’s staked her political profession on it.

Per week after the assault, Cheney was certainly one of solely 10 House Republicans who voted to question Trump. In a press release, Cheney stated that “the president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”

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She stated Trump ought to have intervened, however didn’t. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Cheney stated. “I will vote to impeach the president.”

Cheney, who was then a member of House management, confronted instant backlash from her celebration for the impeachment vote and for her forceful remarks. But she has not wavered within the yr since, and accepted an invite from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to take a seat on the committee that’s investigating the revolt.

House Republicans booted Cheney from management and the celebration censured her and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the one different Republican on the Jan. 6 committee. And she faces a robust problem within the Wyoming main from a Trump-backed candidate.

“When I know something is wrong, I will say so,” Cheney stated in a marketing campaign video asserting that she had filed for reelection. “I won’t waver or back down.”


Associated Press author Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

For full protection of the Jan. 6 hearings, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege



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