EDITORIAL: Kinzinger asks right questions about Jan. 6 attack

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Jul. 29—This is not the ideal way to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, an assault that temporarily disrupted, but failed to stop, the certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory.

The event was so serious — an attempt to block the lawful transition of power by way of a violent insurrection — that it demanded creation of a bipartisan panel to examine the event, the circumstances that led up to it, and the response when the rioting began. This is how Congress investigated why the nation was vulnerable to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But a clear majority of Republicans in the House and Senate, to their everlasting shame, did not want that to happen. The creation of a bipartisan panel received only 35 Republican votes in the House and then, upon passage, was blocked by the Republican minority in the Senate.

Republicans now complain that the investigation by a select House Committee is not bipartisan or fair. These protestations are nothing but hypocritical rants.

Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, the only Democrat in the Mississippi delegation, faces a formidable challenge in making sure the committee pursues only the facts. He cannot allow any Democrats on the committee to use the forum for grandstanding or relitigating the failed attempts to convict former President Trump after his two impeachments.

Yet no matter how fair or persuasive the committee's findings, they will be dismissed by a large swath of the Republican Party, which remains firmly in the grip of Trump. These are adherents of Trump's approach of placing political expediency above integrity, of adopting an alternative reality if the facts do not serve the narrative, and of utilizing fear of change, of others, of losing to keep supporters in line.

Still, for history, for the record, for accountability, and to discourage any future attempts to disrupt the electoral process, the special committee must do all it can to get to the truth.

In a guest essay in the New York Times, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — one of the few Republicans in Washington willing to get at the details surrounding the events of Jan 6 — outlined the primary questions that need to be answered. Kinzinger accepted Speaker Nancy Pelosi's invitation to serve on the committee.

"How did this happen? Why? Who spurred this effort? Was it organized? When did our government leaders know of the impending attacks and what were their responses? What level of preparation or warnings did our law enforcement have? Was there coordination between the rioters and any members of Congress, or with staff?" writes Kinzinger in the essay.

These are precisely the questions that need answering.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the other Republican appointed to the committee, drilled down deeper in her opening remarks. The committee, she said, needs to find out "what happened every minute of that day in the White House. Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack."

Again, spot on.

These two conservative Republicans are acting with great courage in recognizing that duty to the Constitution, to the rule of law, and to self-governance must stand above political considerations.

The hearings opened with the testimony of police officers who fought with Trump supporters in trying to defend the U.S. Capitol and protect lawmakers, staff and Vice President Mike Pence, who had gathered to officially record the electoral college vote.

It is sad and it is troubling how many Americans are willing to lie and deceive themselves about what happened that day and the days leading up to it, even to the point of dismissing the emotional testimony of the officers.

There was an election for president. The votes were counted and certified by state election officials. Biden secured a clear victory. Trump and his supporters turned to the courts more than 40 times to challenge the results. The courts upheld those results. The president sought to strongarm the top election official in Georgia, a Republican, to reverse the results. He failed.

Rather than follow his oath to uphold the Constitution, Trump kept pushing the Big Lie with baseless claims that Biden's victory was fraudulent. Trump's followers descended on Washington Jan. 6. He pointed them at the Capitol and the nation's long record of a peaceful transition of power ended.

It was profoundly un-American. So far, authorities have arrested nearly 600 alleged attackers.

Of course, the nation must learn all it can about how and why this happened.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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