Americans will not forget the events that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The images of an angry mob streaming into the hallowed halls of “the People’s House,” smashing windows, forcing their entrance in some places and vandalizing the offices of our elected representatives reflect a dark day in our history.
That the momentum of the mob was incited by words from our own president was perhaps most troubling of all.
In the days and weeks ahead, there will be much to analyze, discuss and learn from. At the top of the list will be the security breach that allowed the scene to turn into chaos, resulting in the loss of five lives, including, tragically, a Capitol police officer, and endangering hundreds of others. Federal law enforcement officials must use the videos and images at their disposal to identify and hold accountable those in the thick of the fray.
As we reckon with the terrible attack on America by Americans who claim to be patriots, citizens must examine whether our federal elected officials contributed to the rhetoric claiming election fraud that fueled the siege.
Of those who represent the tri-state area, the most disturbing behavior came from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who was among the group of senators on the record as pushing for objections. (Two congressional members each from Wisconsin and Illinois voted against the will of American voters, but none of the four represent the tri-state area.)
Johnson repeatedly and loudly cited unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and wrongdoing. The mob storming the Capitol changed his votes. But if you thought it prompted a change of heart or of thinking, Johnson’s office issued a press release at about 10 p.m. Wednesday that, in its third sentence, condemned “the lawlessness” that had occurred at the Capitol — but then included the 571-word speech he had planned to give prior to the building being stormed, in which he repeated a slew of unsubstantiated claims of fraud and voting “irregularities.”
To be clear, there was no evidence of election fraud. There were only the claims of the president and those who believed him over the evidence. Voting machines, ballots and elections officials were all scrutinized in search of fraud. Here are the findings:
- There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes.
- Multiple federal judges — some appointed by the president — dismissed lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign stating that there was no proof to support the claims.
- Georgia officials did an audit of absentee ballots and found no fraud.
- Arizona officials audited ballots and found no changed vote tallies.
There was no fraud. And it was disheartening to see so many Republicans quick to believe the president’s tweets as he casted about, looking for any way to avoid defeat.
Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst largely were silent in the weeks since the election, doing nothing to calm concerns of citizens as the president claimed fraud.
By contrast, just hours after Rep. Ashley Hinson was sworn in as First Congressional District representative, she joined 11 other lawmakers in declaring that their oath to uphold the Constitution supersedes politics. “States select electors. Congress does not. We have sworn an oath to promote the Constitution above our policy goals. We must count the electoral votes submitted by the states.”
Then on Wednesday, Hinson found herself having to explain to her young sons the images of an angry mob storming the Capitol. A difficult first week, no doubt. But Hinson can be proud of the position she took and has represented Iowa well.
As America reflects on the events of the past week and the past month, let us remember how our elected officials reacted — those who helped bring the nation together and those who stoked division.
We look for those who perpetrated this act of domestic terrorism to be held to account. And we hope for healing so that all those who govern might seek to find common ground for the sake of all Americans.