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This Week in Republican Insurrection Erasure

It will shock you how much it never happened.
May 18, 2021
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(Photo: Selcuk Acar/NurPhoto via Getty Images. Art: Hannah Yoest.)

In the week following Liz Cheney’s purge for the crime of speaking honestly about the former president’s unprecedented, if buffoonish, attempt to overthrow the election and stay in power against the will of the people, Republicans have taken out their neuralyzer and moved deliberately and unapologetically down the path of January 6 erasure.

  • A witness to the president’s support for a domestic terror assault on the Capitol refuses to testify.
  • A congressman tries to retcon his support for overturning the election on national TV.
  • A Republican campaign committee rewards the members who tried to “Stop The Steal.”
  • A senator who spearheaded the legislative coup is given massive platforms to promote his book about being silenced.

For the GOP, memory-holing the insurrection is the point.

It will shock you how much it never happened.

And then, on Tuesday morning, Kevin McCarthy made the GOP’s plan explicit by opposing a commission to study the events of January 6. Despite having supported 10 investigations into Benghazi, 6 of them in his own House of Representatives, McCarthy now claims that such a commission would be “duplicative” of investigations already taken place by the Justice Department.

McCarthy’s concern for double jeopardy might be influenced by the fact that his office is likely to be a source of witnesses. After all, the minority leader hired Brian Jack—one of the White House’s organizers of the “Stop The Steal” rally—as his top political aide. And McCarthy was recently pressed by Chris Wallace about whether he and Trump have been colluding to get their story straight concerning their mid-insurrection conversation during which the then president purportedly chastised his submissive for not sharing the mob’s vigor for a MAGA revolution.


But Kevin’s personal conflicts aside, his attempt to suffocate insurrection informants with a MyPillow is also the SOP for nearly everyone in the party.

Take the Republican Attorneys General Association. RAGA has been exposed as funding and executing various grassroots “Stop The Steal” efforts—including the January 6 rally that precipitated the insurrection. You would think that a committee made up of some of America’s top law enforcement officials would blanch at being party to an attempt to end the rule of law. But in fact, it’s just the opposite.

In April, RAGA’s board promoted Peter Bisbee—who oversaw a paid campaign to encourage grassroots supporters to “march on the Capitol to stop the steal”—to the group’s executive director. Yesterday, RAGA made South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson the committee’s new chairman. Wilson, who is the rare GOP official radical enough to earn the praise of Lin Wood, is currently facing a disciplinary complaint for supporting “false and frivolous lawsuits” attempting to overturn the elections.

RAGA in particular, and the GOP writ large are banking on the fact that they can just move on as if nothing ever happened for PR purposes, while at the same time using their power at the state level to change rules so that future election thefts are easier to execute.

Thus far, this plan is working.

Consider:

Jack and Bisbee got promotions while Liz Cheney got the chop.

Businesses that pledged not to support Republicans who supported overturning the election are backtracking and pitching in donations.

Donald Trump has been banished to his online Elba, which is a strategic win for Republicans who want to keep their base motivated without reminding normies how crazy they are.

And polls show that Republican voters are happy with this set-up.

So get this: If . . .

(1) 10 Senate Republicans—three more than voted for impeachment—don’t support the legislation calling for a 1/6 commission, and

(2) Republicans retake the House next year, then the next speaker of the House will be able to block any further inquiry into the former president’s role in a domestic terror attack to which he himself is a witness.

And there won’t be anything you can do about it.

Look right here.

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump, communications director for Jeb Bush 2016, and spokesman for the Republican National Committee.