Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz portray Capitol riot as distraction to overturning 2020 election

Far-right members of Congress lead GOP response as leadership remains silent

John Bowden
Thursday 06 January 2022 23:10
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Former Trump aide says Trump "gleefully" watched footage of the Capitol riot on 6 January

Two far-right members of the House of Representatives held a press conference on Capitol Hill on the anniversary of the 6 January insurrection, defending President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election and blaming rioters from distracting the GOP from achieving that goal.

As much of the media was focused on events being held within the Capitol building itself, Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, two of the most ardent supporters of 2020 election conspiracies on Capitol Hill, claimed that there were legitimate reasons to suspect fraud in the 2020 election while throwing the president’s own supporters who stormed Congress under the bus.

They also pushed baseless claims of federal government involvement in the riot itself, accusing US intelligence agencies of planting undercover agents with the intention of pushing Trump supporters to storm the building.

"I do not believe that there would have been the same level of criminal acuity on Jan 6th of last year but for the involvement of the federal government,” said Mr Gaetz.

He went on to say that he wanted investigations into “the extent to which the federal government may have been involved” in the riot.

Ms Greene added that she “absolutely” disagreed with Texas Sen Ted Cruz, who referred to the siege on the Capitol as a “terrorist” attack.

Both members would go on to cast the riot as an unnecessary distraction from their efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Their efforts to object to the 2020 election results in Congress would have carried more weight, they argued, had it not been for the attack. They did not address the opposition from Vice President Mike Pence to suggestions that he could interfere in the process and demand that states submit alternate slates of electors; Mr Pence made clear in the hours leading up to the attack that he did not believe he had the constitutional authority to do so.

The two have been some of former President Donald Trump’s most loyal adherents as the former president has sought to undermine confidence in US election systems and spread false claims to explain away his 2020 defeat in the campaign against now-President Joe Biden.

Right-wing supporters of the 6 January rioters are holding a handful of events around the country on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the Capitol riot, just as Democrats on Capitol Hill reserved the day for speeches and reflection on the attack.

A number of candlelight vigils were being held around the country by supporters of the former president in support of jailed Jan 6 defendants, including one event set to be held on Thursday evening outside of the DC jail.

Mr Trump himself cancelled plans to hold a press conference at his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, opting instead to address supporters at an upcoming rally in Arizona next weekend.

The former president’s previous plans had been widely panned by Republicans in the Senate, who unlike their colleagues in the House have shown resistance to outward shows of support for the jailed Americans who participated in the violent assault on the Capitol.

Mr Trump did issue several statements on Thursday criticising President Joe Biden for supposedly politicising the riot, which most, including a number of GOP senators and House members, have roundly agreed was inspired by Mr Trump’s false claims regarding the 2020 election, and the ex-president’s own rhetoric leading up to the attack.

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