This week, opponents of the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation into the attack at the U.S. Capitol will form a united front.
In itself, this is not news. This has been the standard for the past 11 months, where right-wing talking points continue unabated even as investigators rack up more and more evidence, according to a federal judge, that former President Donald Trump was very likely part of a criminal conspiracy to overthrow the 2020 election.
But there is a huge amount of misinformation swirling around the committee and the events of that day, most of it fueled by bad-faith actors within and far outside the halls of Congress. It is notable that most of the lies are, upon even the faintest scrutiny, easily revealed to be nothing more than circular self-serving pits of illogic.
Here’s a quick list of three big lies told about Jan. 6 and the investigation that you can refer back to when you hear them over the next month of public hearings hosted by the House select committee. For a more comprehensive report and a deep dive with lots of original records and reporting, check out the related story link below.
1. “There was widespread fraud in the 2020 election”
This is the lie that arguably started it all. In the 2020 presidential contest between Donald Trump and now-President Joe Biden, exhaustive auditing and reviews have concluded, repeatedly, that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and certainly not enough to alter the final outcome of the election in November 2020.
Trump’s appointee for attorney general at the Department of Justice, William Barr, announced this on Dec. 1, 2020, saying in an interview with the Associated Press that “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Other members of the Trump administration, including the nation’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, confirmed in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election that there was “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.”
Comprehensive research, as well as research into allegations of voter fraud spanning more than a decade, has revealed that the majority of widespread voter claims are false.
Claims of voter fraud underpinned the former president’s reelection campaign, as well as the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
By the time of Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump and his legal team lost more than 60 lawsuits littered with claims of election fraud and other so-called abuses. Judge after judge, including those appointed by Trump himself, rejected, tossed out, or altogether dismissed them. A vast number of election audits (more information about those here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) were conducted, and, again, no proof of fraud.
Fast fact: After settling a defamation suit brought by two Georgia election officials against right-wing cable news network OAN, the network had to run a 30-second ad in Georgia admitting that it had lied about voter fraud and more. That ad is here: “Georgia officials have concluded that there was no widespread voter fraud by election workers who counted ballots at the State Farm Arena in November 2020.”
2. “It wasn’t an insurrection”
Yes, it was, and it was armed. And “armed,” according to the Department of Justice, applies to lethal weapons beyond just firearms—though firearms were confiscated from those who stormed the Capitol.
Weapons turned up by authorities on Jan. 6 have included, to name just a few, knives, axes, chemical sprays and irritants, billy clubs, flagpoles (metal and wooden), Tasers, baseball bats, nightsticks, and other miscellaneous objects.
In the indictment for Guy Reffitt, the first Jan. 6 defendant to stand trial, prosecutors found the gun he carried onto Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 at his home. He was found guilty on multiple counts, including transporting a firearm.
Attempts to suggest that Jan. 6 was not an insurrection involve an Olympic-level abuse of semantics.
An insurrection is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.” If Merriam doesn’t cut it, try the West Law Encyclopedia of American Law, which defines it as a “rising or rebellion of citizens against their government, usually manifested by acts of violence.” Britannica defines it as “an organized and usually violent act of revolt or rebellion against an established government or governing authority of a nation-state or other political entity by a group of its citizens or subjects; also, any act of engaging in such a revolt.”
And in case further clarity is required, Britannica elaborates: “An insurrection may facilitate or bring about a revolution, which is a radical change in the form of government or political system of a state, and it may be initiated or provoked by an act of sedition, which is an incitement to revolt or rebellion.”
More than three hours of footage from just one part of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 show many a member of a violent mob hellbent on getting inside the U.S. Capitol, an effort that, intended or not, undergirded a push to stop or delay the certification of the Electoral College votes by Congress. More than 800 people have been charged by the Department of Justice with crimes of varying degrees related to those efforts. Those charges have included seditious conspiracy. Those charged with seditious conspiracy were not mere banner-carriers for Trump on Jan. 6, but members of two domestic extremist networks: the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
3. “The Jan. 6 committee isn’t a real committee and has no power”
This claim has been shouted in nearly every response to every lawsuit that has been filed by a target of the Jan. 6 committee. It has been repeated by the former president at length and it is echoed in Congress by the GOP leader of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, as well as his chief allies in the extreme right-wing House Freedom Caucus.
It has become the ubiquitous mantra of those who have sought to keep records and testimony secret. But time and again, courts have found that the committee is valid, was formed properly, and is imbued with the powers afforded to any special committee approved by a full vote of the House.
When McCarthy was served with a subpoena from the panel recently, he premised his refusal on the basis that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refused to appoint any members of the minority to the committee.
Not so. First, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, both Republicans, were already nominated by Pelosi. Five members were nominated by McCarthy. She refused two, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan. She refused to seat them because of their history of supporting election fraud claims that were long debunked. And if that wasn’t enough, Pelosi then offered McCarthy the chance to nominate Jordan and Banks’ replacements. McCarthy opted to stop negotations there instead.
And all of this happened long after a proposal to form a truly bipartisan commission—five Republicans and five Democrats, with equal subpoena and review power—had been shot down already by nearly every Republican in the Senate.
A federal judge in California presiding over a privilege fight involving Trump attorney John Eastman ruled that the committee does have proper standing and it does have a valid interest in conducting an investigation that will help them directly develop legislation to prevent a similar attack from unfolding again, among other things. Another ruling in a different fight, this one between the committee and the Republican National Committee, also found that the committee was valid.
And when Trump took his fight to keep presidential records hidden all the way to the Supreme Court, the justices ruled against him, 8-1. Underlying his argument in that case was the claim that the committee lacked valid legislative purpose.
The next hearing is scheduled for June 13 at 10 AM. Additional hearings are expected on June 15 at 10 a.m. and June 16 at 1 p.m. A time for the June 21 hearing has not yet been confirmed as of Thursday, June 9. A final presentation is anticipated on June 23 and that hearing will be in primetime at 8 PM.
Daily Kos will offer up-to-the-minute coverage of each hearing on its front page, as well as on Twitter. The hearings will be broadcast and carried live on most major networks except for Fox News. The select committee is also expected to stream the hearings on its website, here.
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