On Jan. 6, a mob of insurrectionists encouraged by then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol and disrupted congressional proceedings meant to certify that Joe Biden had defeated Trump and won the White House. It is a day that will live in infamy despite congressional Republicans’ efforts.
Four people in the crowd died that day, a police officer collapsed and died afterward, two other officers died by suicide in the days that followed and 140 officers in all were injured. The death toll could have been higher if not for the actions of Capitol Police. Despite intense coverage, there remain questions about whether Trump acted to stop authorities from quelling a riot. Now it is clear that nearly all Senate Republicans don’t want to know. On Friday, 44 of 50 voted (or weren’t even there to vote) to block a measure endorsed in the House (by Democrats but only 35 of 219 Republicans) to have an independent bipartisan investigation of the events of Jan. 6.
As a policy decision, this is appalling. The truth needs to come out, and a probe undertaken by both Republicans and Democrats of good faith would have been immensely valuable. But the decision is also deeply disturbing for what it says about the GOP. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who ripped Trump for inciting the insurrection, depicted the creation of a Jan. 6 commission as a partisan stunt meant to hurt GOP candidates in 2022 elections. But it was McConnell who played the role of the partisan when he should have taken the long view. All Americans need to know what happened on Jan. 6 so history never repeats itself.