Pro-Trump Republicans have found a way to avoid talking about the January 6 insurrection
January 6, 2021 is, to borrow President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's words following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, a date that will live in infamy. But it's also a date that Republican supporters of former President Donald Trump would rather not talk about. And journalists Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, in an article published by the Daily Beast on April 28, observe that Republicans have found a convenient way to change the subject: pointing the finger at Rep. Maxine Waters of California.
GOP fake outrage has been plentiful in response to some comments that Waters made near the end of former Minneapolis police office Derek Chauvin's trial for the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. A jury found Chauvin guilty of three criminal charges — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — but before the jury reached its verdict, Waters attended a protest in Minneapolis and said that if Chauvin were acquitted, "We've got to get more active. We've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know that we mean business."
Many Republicans went ballistic, claiming that Waters was promoting violence. Some Democrats criticized Waters' rhetoric, saying that "confrontational" was not the best word to use in light of all the civil unrest that rocked U.S. cities following Floyd's murder. But they realized that Waters was calling for assertive but peaceful protests — not violence.
In contrast, January 6 was a violent insurrection in which the U.S. Capitol Building was attacked by a mob that was trying to prevent Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 election. That far-right mob was violently anti-democracy; Waters, in contrast, was calling for pro-democracy protests, which is something she has been doing for decades.
But as Suebsaeng and Rawnsley point out, countless Republicans have been using Waters' remarks to defend, downplay or excuse Trump's role in the January 6 insurrection — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Fox News' Tucker Carlson and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. On Twitter, Giuliani claimed that Waters was making a "deliberate call for violence and a direct threat to the jury, if she and the mob do not approve the verdict." This is the same Giuliani who demanded "trial by combat" during a January 6 speech.
If we take a knee, they’re mad. If we speak up like I do, they’re mad. If we protest like Martin Luther King Jr. ta… https://t.co/kFeBbqqWO9— Maxine Waters (@Maxine Waters) 1619312174
Following the verdict in Minneapolis, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by @JoyAnnReid on @MSNBC. I'm feeling… https://t.co/EJU4M6Kbe8— Maxine Waters (@Maxine Waters) 1618964171
McCarthy, Suebsaeng and Rawnsley note, has "tried to capitalize on Waters' comments."
"(McCarthy) recently introduced a censure resolution against the California Democrat, which the House swiftly voted down on partisan lines," the Beast reporters observe. "And in an interview with Punchbowl News this week, he warned that Democrats were going to have to run in new districts next year and 'explain why they're condoning the language of Maxine Waters.'"
In early April, Waters was among the House Democrats who signed onto an NAACP-filed lawsuit that names Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, as a plaintiff. In the lawsuit, Thompson argues that Trump violated Americans' civil rights by refusing to accept the 2020 election results and that Trump and Giuliani incited far-right groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keeps to attack the Capitol Building on January 6. Waters, in the lawsuit, notes that she had to barricade herself in her office during that attack.
The lawsuit reads, "Since the riot, Rep. Waters has had increased worries about her safety, and has felt compelled to increase the amount of security personnel with whom she travels to and from her home."
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