One year later the January 6 uprising which claimed at least five deaths and briefly threatened to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the most blatant coup attempt in American history, everyone involved in the conspiracy remains politically active. Many of them occupy positions of power in the very US Capitol that was attacked by Donald Trump’s henchmen.
Rather than holding accountable those who gave help and comfort to the insurrection, the Democrats who control the White House and both houses of Congress have diverted their scanty forces onto the bureaucratic route of least resistance. Their failure to respond plunges the country deeper into crisis.
Americans recognize the danger: A. CBS News / YouGov poll notes that 66 percent of respondents believe US democracy is under threat today, while 62 percent expect violence from the losing side in the next presidential election. Yet President Joe Biden and the Democratic leaders in Congress continue to avoid taking decisive action to counter threats that are becoming stronger and more prevalent every day.
Democrats with the power to call for accountability seem to be waiting for Republicans to come to their senses. But that won’t happen.
The former Lincoln Party has become the party of Trump, an authoritarian sect that seeks to dismantle democracy in order to reinstate the minority rule of a disgraced former president and his white nationalist henchmen. That’s a fact, and no matter how passionately the Democrats repeat the Wyoming spokesman, it won’t change Liz Cheney’s warning to her Republican compatriots: “Our party has to vote. We can either be loyal to Donald Trump or we can be constitutional, but we cannot be both. ”
The Republican Party voted. Cheney has been fired from her position as leader of the House Republican caucus and her home party has denied her.
The best hope for protecting democracy is an agenda of action to hold putschists and supporters accountable. This does not absolve Democrats from their responsibility to prevent measures to prevent election mandering, voter suppression, and any attempt by Republicans to rewrite electoral rules, intervene in electoral certification processes, or overturn results. But without allowing a clear focus on accountability, Democrats lead Republican insurgents to believe they can do anything to undermine democracy without suffering any consequences for their actions. What do we expect on January 6, 2025 if the misconduct of insurgent legislators goes unpunished on or before January 6, 2021?
The efforts of the House Committee which investigated the insurrection, however sluggish the investigation, can and should continue. However, it is unclear whether the Committee’s efforts will be more than just an information gathering exercise. Ultimately, we can hope that it will keep a permanent record of conspiracies and misconduct as of January 6th, and that the Department of Justice will take action based on those records. But you don’t have to wait months, maybe even years, for the recording to be complete.
There are immediate steps that Democrats can and should take.
US representative Cori Bush has the best idea. The Missouri Democrat who led accountability in the House of Representatives argued, “We should commemorate the 1st anniversary of January 6th by handing over my H.Res 25 to investigate and exclude the members of Congress who helped instigate the violent uprising in our Capitol.”
In January last year, in the immediate aftermath of the uprising, Bush backed legislation to hold accountable any House Republican who supported what she aptly described as the “white racist coup.” “The actions of the Republican legislators who have tried to overturn the valid results of the 2020 elections must not only be strongly condemned, but I believe that the members who have tried to incapacitate the voters and instigate this violence, must be removed from Congress. ” Bush said their dissolution.
Special, the legislation calls on “the Ethics Committee to investigate and submit a report as to whether any action taken by members of the 117 House of Representatives should face sanctions, including removal from the House of Representatives.”
Bush has secured himself 54 co-sponsors among the Democrats in the House of Representatives for their resolution, which can be passed by a simple majority of the House of Representatives.
The move proposed by Bush is not only allowed by the US Constitution. Constitutional advocates such as John Bonifaz of the Free Speech for People group argue that this is required in this document, which is published in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment:
No person may be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or President-elect or Vice-President, or hold any civil or military office under the United States or under any state that has previously taken an oath as a member of Congress or as an official of the United States to enforce the Constitution To support the United States, take part in insurrections or rebellions against it, or give aid or comfort to its enemies. However, Congress can remove such obstruction by a two-thirds majority of each house.
The wording of the amendment, along with the language Bush used to outline their need for accountability, is instructive. It covers two types of perpetrators: those who were actively involved in conspiracies with insurgents and those who gave help or comfort to the project.
In the first category are a number of members of the house identified by planner from January 6th “Stop the theft“Rally than having worked with them. Republican agents that the planners claim were in personal contact or through assigned staff include Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, Paul Gosar from Arizona, Lauren Boebert from Colorado, Mo Brooks from Alabama, Madison Cawthorn from North Carolina, Andy Biggs from Arizona and Louie Gohmert from Texas.
Working through the allegations against the most insurgent members of the House of Representatives is an important starting point in the pursuit of accountability. But it should not be the end of this quest. Members of the Ethics Committee in the House and Senate should also consider appropriate actions that may be taken in relation to the eight senators and 139 MPs who, after the rioters left the Capitol on Jan. 6, voted to support one or both of the election result objections that were being considered in the attack on Trump supporters. Did they not support and comfort the attempted coup by supporting the insurgent program? Shouldn’t they be held accountable?
In the Senate, Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown argued last year that two of his Republican colleagues, Josh Hawley from Missouri and Ted Cruz from Texan, “betrayed their oath of office and fostered a violent uprising against our democracy.” Demanding their resignation, he said, “If they don’t resign, the Senate must expel them.” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island said the Senate Ethics Committee “must consider the expulsion or censure and punishment of Senators Cruz, Hawley, and perhaps others.”
That was the necessary response in January 2021. It remains the necessary response in January 2022.