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Almost no Republican lawmakers were on Capitol Hill on the anniversary of the January 6 attack

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Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill on November 3, 2021.Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
  • Almost no Republican lawmakers were on Capitol Hill on the anniversary of the January 6 attack.

  • Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and her father Dick Cheney were the only two Republicans who attended a moment of silence in the House.

  • GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene used the day to spin conspiracy theories and rewrite history.

On the anniversary of the deadly January 6 insurrection, Republicans were scarce on Capitol Hill.

Democrats organized and attended the day's events, which included President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' speeches at the Capitol, a conversation about January 6, 2021, with historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham, testimonials from House Democrats, and a prayer vigil on the Capitol steps.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, were the only two Republicans seen by reporters on the House floor for a moment of silence commemorating the Capitol siege led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Both the House and Senate were in session today for events commemorating January 6, 2021, though no votes were scheduled.

Democratic lawmakers told Insider they were appreciative of the Cheneys attending the Capitol riot commemoration and disturbed by Republicans' absence.

"I just went to thank Liz Cheney who was in the chamber," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat and chair of House progressive caucus, said after she exited the House chamber. "I said one of the hardest things has been not only what happened on the day but the fact that there has been no recognition, and worse than that, people who have just completely undermined that it even happened. That they're not here today. That there's no presence marking the duty that we all have to the same Constitution."

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a veteran Texas Democrat, told Insider that she was "delighted" Dick Cheney had attended Pelosi's remarks and moment of silence.

"I think we have some of the same views about the love of this country," she said.

But Rep. Andy Kim, who was famously photographed picking up debris left by the rioters in the Capitol rotunda last year, told Insider he wasn't thinking about who attended the events on Thursday and was instead focused on law enforcement and Hill staffers who were impacted.

"I really don't think about them today," Kim said of his GOP colleagues. "The reason I came here was to pay tribute and express my gratitude to the Capitol police and the staff. And that's how I wanted to spend my January 6. A lot of my Democratic colleagues aren't here, either."

When reporters asked Liz Cheney what she thought about the fact that so few Republicans showed up for the anniversary, she responded, "I think it's a reflection where our party is," adding that it was "very concerning."

The only other House Republican lawmakers Insider spotted on the Hill on Thursday were Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida, who held a press conference to promote false and unsubstantiated claims about the federal government's involvement in the riot.

They attacked Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, for calling the Capitol riot a "violent terrorist attack" and said it was a mistake for former President Donald Trump to cancel his scheduled Thursday press conference.

Reps. Cheney and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois are the only two Republicans serving on the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot, which led to the deaths of at least seven people. Both lawmakers have fielded sharp criticism from their pro-Trump colleagues, and Cheney was removed from her House GOP leadership position after giving a defiant speech in May saying she would not "sit back and watch in silence" while Trump peddled lies about the 2020 election.

GOP senators were a no-show

Many Senate Republicans spent the day in Georgia at the funeral of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, who died last month at 76. Their offices released statements from the lawmakers largely condemning the riot and praising the Capitol police and other law enforcement who responded to the attack.

Some Republican lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, took the opportunity to accuse Democrats of trying to "exploit this anniversary" for political gain, specifically in their push to reform the filibuster.

"It is especially jaw-dropping to hear some Senate Democrats invoke the mob's attempt to disrupt our country's norms, rules and institutions as a justification to discard our norms, rules and institutions themselves," McConnell said in a statement. "Senators should not be trying to exploit this anniversary to damage the Senate in a different way from within."

McConnell attended Isakson's funeral services on Thursday and was not at the Capitol.

Some Republicans slammed President Joe Biden's speech at the Capitol commemorating the anniversary, accusing him of politicizing the event. They said Biden did so by specifically blaming Trump for inciting the violence by, among other things, urging thousands of his supporters to "fight like hell" to stop Congress from certifying Biden's 2020 election victory.

"What brazen politicization of January 6 by President Biden," tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who did not publicly recognize Biden's victory until after the siege. "I wonder if the Taliban who now rule Afghanistan with al-Qaeda elements present, contrary to President Biden's beliefs, are allowing this speech to be carried?"

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the day Democrats' and the media's "Christmas."

"This is their Christmas: January 6," he said at a press conference on Thursday in response to a question from an Insider reporter. "They are going to take this and milk this for anything they can to be able to smear anyone who ever supported Donald Trump."

But a few Republican lawmakers issued harsh condemnations of their own party on Thursday. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the insurrection, called out Trump in a statement and blamed him for the violence.

"Today marks one year since the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a mob incited by our former president," she said. "Those of us who were there to fulfill our constitutional responsibilities can never erase what we saw and heard."

Trump has endorsed a Republican challenger to Murkowski.

Far-right lawmakers rewrite history

Gaetz and Greene used the anniversary of the deadly attack to spin conspiracy theories and attack GOP colleagues who acknowledged the extent of the violence that unfolded on January 6. The far-right lawmakers appeared on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's podcast on Thursday, where Gaetz defended the rioters as "patriotic Americans" and falsely claimed they had "no intent of breaking the law or doing violence."

The two lawmakers also peddled the bogus claim that some of the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol were "trapped" into doing so by government actors and left-wing activists. There is no evidence to support this theory.

At a news conference shortly after their podcast appearance, Gaetz and Greene also taunted Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who on Wednesday described the riot as a "violent terrorist attack."

"I think Senator Cruz is smart enough to know, since he's an attorney, that no one's been charged with terrorism, just like no one has been charged with insurrection," Greene said.

Gaetz tacked on: "The establishment will never love you, Ted. You know, you can bend over and bend a knee for them, but they're just not going to love you."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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