Tuesday’s public hearing investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection examined efforts to gather a mob on the mall prior to the deadly siege of the US Capitol – efforts that included a massive disinformation campaign that told Donald Trump’s followers that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from them.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who helped lead the seventh hearing, snapped into focus the dangers of the January 6 attack by referencing the violence of the 19th century.
“In 1837, a racist mob in Alton, Illinois, broke into the offices of an abolitionist newspaper and killed its editor, Elijah Lovejoy,” Raskin said.
He then described Abraham Lincoln’s reaction to the murder. Lincoln was a member of the Illinois state legislature at the time.
“If racist mobs are encouraged by politicians to rampage and terrorize, Lincoln said, they’ll violate the rights of other citizens and quickly destroy the bonds of social trust necessary for democracy to work,” Raskin said. “Mobs and demagogues will put us on a path to political tyranny.”
Even one-and-half years after the breach, some GOP leaders continue to spread the lie that the 2020 contest was stolen. Consider Michigan Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ryan Kelley, who just days before the seventh hearing mischaracterized the riot, which he was involved in, as a “First Amendment activity.”
“We were there protesting the government because we don’t like the results of the 2020 election,” Kelley said during a Republican candidates debate last Wednesday. “The 2020 election in the state of Michigan was fraudulent, and it was stolen from President Trump.”
The testimony of a former Oath Keeper also was illuminating.
Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, told the committee on Tuesday that the group is a dangerous militia fueled by violence.
“I spent a few years with the Oath Keepers, and I can tell you that they may not like to call themselves a militia, but they are,” he said.