Senate Republicans still haunted by January 6th riot – but more than half refusing to watch tonight's hearing
“That's the House’s business,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) told Raw Story at the Capitol.
“Even though it was an attack on the U.S. Capitol?” I asked the attorney and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“That’s all I got for you,” Kennedy says as he turned.
More so, many Republican senators say don’t care what the House select committee finds, which was evident while asking 40 of the Senate’s 50 Republicans what they think of the special committee.
“I was here, and I saw it and know what I saw,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told Raw Story.
During the Watergate hearings, Republican senators were as inquisitive, transfixed, appalled, and eventually as angered as the American people became as the facts unfolded. Not so today.
“It has nothing to do with reality,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) told Raw Story of the select committee. “I think it’s completely partisan.”
Granted, there are Republicans on the committee. Two of them, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who a slew of Senate Republicans only recently served alongside in the House, including Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND).
“They don’t count. I mean, they were appointed by the Speaker because they hate Trump,” Cramer told Raw Story. “So whether they’re Republicans or – I mean, I like both of them personally – their only criteria for being on that committee is that they hate Donald Trump.”
Mitch McConnell cleared his throat before I asked about his Thursday evening plans, which was more emotion than the deep stare I shared with former Vice President Mike Pence’s brother when I asked.
The collective narrative from the right is that the prime time slot and made-for-TV production is reason enough to dismiss the investigation.
“It's theater,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) – who used to chair the Intelligence Committee – told me. “You just hired a TV guy to produce a congressional hearing? Give me a break.”
The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed – but only after disagreeing.
“Obviously, I care about what they found,” Grassley said, “but it doesn’t matter what they found because just the fact they’re having their hearing on primetime on television speaks that it’s a political operation, rather than a legitimate congressional investigation.”
Democrats laughed off this new collective GOP charge.
“I wasn't aware that senators started to boycott appearances on TV,” Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD) told Raw Story on his way to a House vote.
A handful of Senate Republicans who won’t be watching the proceedings and don’t trust its underpinnings said they’re open to hearing new information from the committee.
“Obviously I’ve got questions. Everybody has questions in every different area – there’s no way you can’t,” Sen. James Lanford (R-OK) told Raw Story while exiting the Capitol. “This doesn’t appear to be fact-finding. This appears to be something very different.”
Lankford contends he’s in no rush because over time a fuller picture will be painted, which he admits the special committee will contribute to – just not complete.
“They’ll bring some things out,” Lankford said. “The facts and info will come out. There's just too many people involved.”
The Senate moderates also don't plan to be watching, but they have questions -- and staffs.
“I probably won’t watch it, because I just don’t watch any of that stuff. I just read about it the next day,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) told Raw Story. “So yeah – I’ll be interested.”
Others don’t like the bitterness and bickering that’s marked the special committee, but they still have questions they’d like answered about Jan. 6.
“Of course. What? Who? How did it get to that point? What were they thinking? What were they?” Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) told Raw Story while walking in the Capitol. “So yeah, I think there are lots of questions out there – and what were the involvements of everybody?”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is receiving an award tonight, and senators say they’ve already got plans -- most of which involve flying home. And at least one GOP senator who actually wants to see the evidence – or lack thereof – himself knows there’s an app for that.
“I’ll probably have to call my wife and tell her to DVR it for me,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) told Raw Story after voting on the Senate floor. “I think it’s a political stunt, but I’m going to watch it like I do everything. You’ve got to take in all the information, but in this case, I think it was ill-founded from the get-go.”
As for the special committee’s audience? Its chair says their audience isn’t the staid Senate anyway, they have one audience tonight.
“The American public,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told Raw Story on the Capitol steps. “We plan to tell the truth as we have discovered it and share that truth with the public. And obviously, at the end of the day, it's the public's decision as to who's truthful and who's not.”
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