It’s obvious that many Republicans—including Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz in the Senate, and dozens in the House, including minority leader Kevin McCarthy—actively inflamed Donald Trump’s white supremacist mob and encouraged their deadly assault on the Capitol. However, it now seems that some Republicans in Congress may have done more than knowingly fan the flames. In the days since the rotunda was cleared of debris and the halls were cleaned of the literal human excrement smeared there by Trump’s biggest fans, information has appeared that indicates some Republicans may have actively been involved in planning or carrying out the assault.
On Tuesday evening, Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill conducted a Facebook live session for her constituents during which explained her support resulting in calling on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. During that webcast, Sherrill made an astounding accusation. She claimed to have witnessed Republican members of Congress leading Trump supporters on, not a tour, but a "reconnaissance” of the Capitol. “We can’t have a democracy,” said Sherrill, “if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the elections results.”
As reported by USA Today’s northerjersey.com, Sherrill’s accusation was as astounding as it was direct.
“Not only do I intend to see that the president is removed and never runs for office again and doesn’t have access to classified material, I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5—a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy; I'm going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don't serve in Congress.”
Sherrill has not so far detailed what she means by this reconnaissance, or given names of Republicans who were involved. However, it’s become increasingly clear in the days since the insurrection that the situation at the Capitol was much more dire than was originally reported.
The accusations of involvement by Republican members of Congress aren’t just coming from Democrats, they’re coming from those who were involved in the assault.
As The Washington Post reports, Ali Alexander, the right-wing activist who formed the “Stop the Steal” movement, did so with the help of three Republican members of Congress: Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, and Paul Gosar. “We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” said Alexander. Biggs’ staff has denied any contact with Alexander—but the involvement of all three Republicans is certainly worthy of investigation.
Completely disowning Alexander’s claims could be difficult. He and Gosar appeared together at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Phoenix on December 19. At that same rally, Alexander played a recorded message from Biggs, who he described as a “friend.” In both the live and recorded messages, Gosar and Biggs singled out January 6 for action.
Gosar would go on to promote other “Stop the Steal” events more than a dozen times, as well as pumping out tweets and emails promoting the January 6 gathering in D.C. Typical of Gosar’s statements was an op-ed on the site Revolver, Gosar called simply counting the legal electoral vote a “Third World coup d’etat.” According to Gosar, Biden’s win involved “statistically impossible” spikes in the voting and “We will not tolerate this.” Far from distancing himself from Alexander’s group, Gosar claimed ownership. “As many of you know, I helped organize the very first ‘Stop the Steal’ rally,” he wrote. “… Patriotic warriors joined together to gather evidence and tell the Left we will not accept a coup and a usurper in the White House.”
All three Republicans continued to be involved in “Stop the Steal.” As The New York Times reports, In the hours immediately before the assault on the Capitol, Brooks addressed the “Stop the Steal” rally in D.C. “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” said Brooks. “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?”
Gosar, Biggs, and Brooks are far from the only Republicans connected to Alexander’s group, or the only ones who both inflamed Trump supporters through lies about the election and demands to attend the January 6 event.
On December 30, Alexander tweeted what would happen if Congress voted to approve the count of the Electoral College vote. “If they do this, everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building. 1776 is always an option.” The use of “1776” appeared in a number of statements from hard-line Trump representatives right up to the insurrection. Both Q-supporting Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert directly called the insurrection an “1776 moment.”
On Tuesday evening, The Washington Post reports that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she feared some of her Republican colleagues would not only open the doors to rioters, but direct them straight to her. “I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die,” she said. “I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive.” According to Ocasio-Cortez, she can’t go into specifics because of security concerns. But it’s clear there were very good reasons to be concerned. And it’s clear that multiple Republicans in both the House and Senate did more than enough to justify removing them from the halls of Congress. In fact, several of them may well deserve a new office—in very small room surrounded by bars.