On Jan. 6, 147 House and Senate Republicans voted to overturn the presidential election.
That was hours after then-President Donald Trump incited a mob of supporters to storm the Capitol and search for lawmakers to kill to stop them from certifying President Joe Biden’s win. They did this because they believed Trump’s lies about widespread election fraud that Republicans in Congress were parroting, too.
It’s a lot to unpack. It was easily one of the darkest days in modern U.S. history.
But now, two weeks later, with Biden sworn in and Trump gone, some of those same Republicans are celebrating Biden’s inauguration and American democracy, brushing aside the fact that they were very recently a serious threat to either one prevailing.
“Congratulations to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) tweeted Wednesday, weeks after voting to overturn the election and after lying on television that Trump won the election. “Now we must get to work to solve the challenges facing our country. We are all Americans, and together we will succeed, as we have for more than 230 years.”
Sen. John Kennedy (La.), Rep. Michael Burgess (Texas), Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) were among the GOP lawmakers echoing messages of unity and celebrating the peaceful transfer of power from Trump to Biden, despite the fact that it was not peaceful and they were part of the reason why. Five people died during the insurrection, and these lawmakers still voted to invalidate the election results based on the same lies fueling the people who attacked the Capitol.
There are other Republicans who may not have voted to overturn the election but who had been actively trying to invalidate the election results. They too are now celebrating Biden’s inauguration as if they did no such thing.
“Congratulations to President Biden on his inauguration, and to Vice President Harris,” House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said in a statement, which doesn’t mention the last-ditch lawsuit he joined in December to try to overturn the election results without any evidence of fraud. “President Biden’s message of unity is crucial as we must work together, finding common ground where we can to help all Americans succeed.”
The lawsuit Brady joined was one of more than 60 election lawsuits that Trump and his allies filed ― and lost, based on lack of merit ― in their efforts to discredit Biden’s win.
Some GOP lawmakers who voted to toss out the election also took part in Biden’s inauguration. Cruz, McCarthy, Scalise and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who raised a fist in solidarity with the Capitol insurrectionists right before they stormed the building, were among those onstage with Biden as he was sworn in.
“I thought it would be a good show of unity,” Scalise said in a Tuesday interview with The Advocate, a Louisiana-based publication, of his decision to bring former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile as his guest. “It’s important we all focus on trying to bring the country back together. We all need to play a role in trying to achieve that.”
It was just two weeks earlier that Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, was still spreading lies about widespread voter fraud and saying he had to “stand up for the rule of law” by voting to reject the presidential election results.
“The Constitution requires that states carry out elections according to the rules established by state legislatures. In a number of states, that did not happen,” he falsely claimed in a statement. “We cannot turn a blind eye to states selectively choosing which election laws to follow.”
The theme here is clear: Now that Biden is in the White House, Republicans in Congress are hoping you’ll forget that they attacked the foundations of American democracy ― an entirely self-serving political exercise that left five people dead.
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