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How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

Five people died on January 6, 2021 – including a police officer who was bludgeoned to death.

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
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January 6
Violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. An Arkansas truck driver who beat a police officer with a flagpole attached to an American flag during the U.S. Capitol riot was sentenced Monday, July 24, 2023, to more than four years in prison. Peter Francis Stager struck the Metropolitan Police Department officer with his flagpole at least three times as other rioters pulled the officer, head first, into the crowd outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The bruised officer was among more than 100 police officers injured during the riot. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

On Jan. 6, 2021, a riotous mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election – a fact confirmed on hundreds of hours of videotape. Three years later, Republican candidates for the U.S. senate are downplaying that terroristic assault and in some cases asserting it was a “false flag” operation staged by the FBI.

In the last year, hundreds of rioters have been indicted or convicted for participating in the attempted insurrection. Many of them are now serving jail time. On July 31, 2023, former President Donald Trump, who instigated the riot, was indicted on two charges for his role in trying to obstruct the vote count on Jan. 6, 2021. His trial is scheduled for March.

Sam Brown, a U.S. army veteran who is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Nevada, has consistently questioned the validity of the 2020 election and sought to diminish the importance of the insurrection.

“Overall, I’m afraid that a focus on January 6 has become political and divisive,” Brown told KSNV news in Las Vegas. “One of the hallmarks of my campaign is that I want America to heal. When we live reflecting on things that are extremely divisive, and we have antagonistic viewpoints on that, it doesn’t serve Americans’ interests well.”

If nominated, Brown will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen in the general election.

In the neighboring state of Arizona, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake has gone even further in downplaying Jan. 6. 

“All that January 6th was was a staged riot to cover up the fact that they certified a fraudulent election,” Lake said in an August 2023 appearance on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast. She went on to refer to the riot as the “fed-surrection.” 

That same month, Lake said the insurrectionists were “patriots who did nothing wrong.”

In 2022, on the eve of the one year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) referred to the riot as “a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol.”

But one day later, he was singing a different tune. In an appearance on the Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Cruz walked back and even apologized for how he characterized the rioters.

“The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb,” Cruz told Carlson.

Cruz voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election. He is currently running for a third term in the U.S. Senate. 

Spokespeople for Brown, Lake, and Cruz did not immediately respond to requests to comment for this story.


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