Yes, conservatives almost universally condemned the January 6th riots, despite lies to the contrary

Democrats, the mainstream media, and even some Republicans remain obsessed with the January 6 riots, even as their fevered fantasies of a coordinated, armed insurrection have been revealed as completely false.  They’re now resorting to doctoring text messages and lying about it to keep the story alive, desperate to go after Trump one more time and distract from Biden’s disastrous first year.

Earlier this week, supposedly Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney released “bombshell” messages from the afternoon of January 6.  These were texts sent during the riots at the Capitol Building that the mainstream media claims illustrate conservatives have been lying about the awful event all long.  The messages in question are from Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Brian Kilmeade, and former President Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr. to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.  Somehow, we’re supposed to believe it’s surprising that they all expressed concern about the unfolding riots and the impact on President Trump’s legacy.  “He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP,” Donald Trump, Jr. texted Meadows. “The Capitol Police tweet is not enough.”  “I’m pushing it hard. I agree,” Mr. Meadows responded.  “We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” the president’s son responded.  Mr. Hannity wrote, “Can he make a statement. Ask people to leave the Capitol.” Ms. Ingraham, “Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” and Mr. Kilmeade texted: “Please, get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.”

The mainstream media insists these messages were in “stark contrast” to what they were saying publicly.  The Daily Beast writes, “The messages were in stark contrast to what the Fox personalities were saying on air: Ingraham, Hannity, and Kilmeade all suggested in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot that left-wing activists were responsible for the violence or that America deserved it for subjecting then-President Donald Trump to the Russia investigation.”  As proof, they cite Ms. Ingraham, “We knew this would happen when you had a huge group of people descending on Capitol Hill, when you have members of the Trump support organizations and antifa threatening to show up at the same time.  We’ll learn more to the extent that that happened. I’m getting a sense that there’s clearly a big split in the MAGA groups that have come to peacefully protest with whoever is behind this intrusion in the Capitol, which by any account is unacceptable.”  Of course, they fail to mention that all of them condemned the rioters and said they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The quote they chose from Ms. Ingraham even includes the word “unacceptable.” 

This condemnation was shared among almost every prominent conservative in the country.  Two days later, I wrote, “I’ll be honest:  I find myself rather conflicted about the rioting that erupted at the Capitol Building this past Wednesday.  I believe political violence of any kind, or violence of any kind for that matter, is unacceptable and should be condemned.  In that sense, I condemn the events and want to see the perpetrators prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”  I continued, however, expressing a view that is equally shared by most conservatives.  “At the same time, I cannot bring myself to be as outraged as my liberal friends after witnessing the events of this past summer and the past four years in general.  A part of me keeps thinking:  Where have you been?  Did you just arrive on Tuesday from another dimension?”  This remains one of the many cruxes of conservative concern:  Progressives outright encouraged months of rioting in the lead up to the election, even raising money to bail out the rioters. 

Instead of calling for peace, then Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris offered fair warning that there would, in fact, be more. “Everyone beware. They’re not gonna stop before election day in November, and they’re not gonna stop after election day…They’re not gonna let up, and they should not.”  Earlier, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi openly wondered why there weren’t “uprisings all over the country.”  The media itself was so pathetically absurd in their coverage that there were reporters standing in front of burning buildings claiming the protests were mostly peaceful, pay no attention to the peaceful conflagration right over my shoulder.  Time Magazine even reported on shadowy groups that planned to take to the streets on election night if Trump was winning.  They were revved up and ready to go.  Now, however, we’re supposed to believe that these same people have any credibility whatsoever on the issue of political violence.  The truth is:  They have absolutely none, and the fault for that lies exclusively with them.

This is doubly true when you consider that partisan hack and Congressional Representative, Adam Schiff has actually displayed doctored text messages as part of the January 6th Committee hearings, showing content in public that was markedly different from what was actually exchanged at the time.  The text in question was between fellow Congressman, Jim Jordan, and Mark Meadows.  Congressman Schiff claimed the text read, “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”  He explained that “You can see why this is so critical to ask Mr. Meadows about. About a lawmaker suggesting that the former vice president simply throw out votes that he unilaterally deems unconstitutional in order to overturn a presidential election and subvert the will of the American people.”  This, however, was patently false.  The actual message was written by a Washington lawyer and former Department of Defense Inspector General, Joseph Schmitz.  It included a four page attachment that outlined Mr. Schmitz’s legal rationale for believing that Vice President Pence had the authority to object to certification of electoral votes on a state by state basis.

The rationale itself was rooted in Founder Alexander Hamilton’s thinking.  Mr. Schmitz wrote, “in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence,” and then continued, “‘No legislative act,’ wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78, ‘contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.’ The court in Hubbard v. Lowe reinforced this truth: ‘That an unconstitutional statute is not a law at all is a proposition no longer open to discussion.’ 226 F. 135, 137 (SDNY 1915), appeal dismissed, 242 U.S. 654 (1916).”  “Following this rationale, an unconstitutionally appointed elector, like an unconstitutionally enacted statute, is no elector at all,” Mr. Schmitz concluded.  One might take issue with his legal reasoning and come to a different conclusion, but remember that Democrats themselves embraced this very thinking not too long ago.  After George W. Bush defeated John Kerry in 2004, CNN reported that “Democrats challenge Ohio electoral votes.”  “Alleging widespread ‘irregularities’ on Election Day, a group of Democrats in Congress objected Thursday to the counting of Ohio’s 20 electoral votes, delaying the official certification of the 2004 presidential election results.”  Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee at the time reported “numerous, serious, election irregularities.”  Tubbs Jones, the co-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, told reporters, “How can we possibly tell millions of Americans who registered to vote, who came to the polls in record numbers, particularly our young people…to simply get over it and move on?”

In other words, the legal reasoning Trump and his team embraced has been commonplace for decades, and of course it is:  The Senate votes to certify the electoral college results on a state by state basis.  This has been established since 1948.  “Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors. The Senate and House of Representatives shall meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives at the hour of 1 o’clock in the afternoon on that day, and the President of the Senate shall be their presiding officer.”  The act continues, “Upon such reading of any such certificate or paper, the President of the Senate shall call for objections, if any. Every objection shall be made in writing, and shall state clearly and concisely, and without argument, the ground thereof, and shall be signed by at least one Senator and one Member of the House of Representatives before the same shall be received. When all objections so made to any vote or paper from a State shall have been received and read, the Senate shall thereupon withdraw, and such objections shall be submitted to the Senate for its decision.”  There is even a specific clause about rejecting votes, “the two Houses concurrently may reject the vote or votes when they agree that such vote or votes have not been so regularly given by electors whose appointment has been so certified.”  Translation:  President Trump was well within his rights to use this process to block electors from states he believed were decided unlawfully, as Democrats have done before him.  In fact, there is an argument to be made that a President is compelled to exercise these rights on behalf of their supporters. The controversy, such as it is, is entirely manufactured for political purposes, but shouldn’t be surprising at this point.

To be fair, there is some truth to the notion that many conservatives were eager to embrace the idea that Antifa was involved in the riots and had a large role in instigating the events.  The details that have emerged over the past 11 months indicate this belief was false and many like Ms. Ingraham have since corrected the record.  At the same time, the mainstream media was busy promoting their own false stories of a highly coordinated and planned attack, referred to either as a “coup” or an “armed insurrection” in the immediate aftermath and they have yet to correct the record.   In fact, they still keep using these loaded terms to describe what was effectively a riot. The Washington Post wrote about “chatters in far-right forums explicitly discussing how to storm the building, handcuff lawmakers with zip ties.”  The New York Times and Politico also framed the assault as a well-planned conspiracy, complete with restraints for lawmakers.

This would have been explosive, if true.  The Justice Department, however, almost immediately said it wasn’t. By January 21, they were reporting that “Eric Munchel, a pro-Trump rioter who stormed the Capitol building while holding plastic handcuffs, took the restraints from a table inside the Capitol building, prosecutors said in a court filing.” Interestingly, Munchel entered the Capitol with his mother, because I guess that’s what armed, radical revolutionaries do these days.  According “to the new filing, Munchel and his mother took the handcuffs from within the Capitol building – apparently to ensure the Capitol Police couldn’t use them on the insurrectionists – rather than bring them in when they initially breached the building.”  There were other reports that Republican Representatives in the House and possibly the Senate had helped plan the attack, providing guided tours to the insurrectionists in advance.  All of this turned out to be completely false.  To my knowledge, no one entered the Capitol with a firearm, making claims of an “armed insurrection” ridiculous on their face, and no one to date has been charged with anything resembling a conspiracy to overthrow the United States government.

Instead, only half of the 50 rioters convicted so far have even been sentenced to jail time. “It doesn’t look great that we’re taking a bunch of people who stormed the United States Capitol and letting them go home. Not a lot of people are spending a lot of time in jail,” claimed a Justice Department prosecutor who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity. “But jail isn’t always the best outcome. A lot of them are getting significant terms of supervised release and probation, so they’ve got to keep their nose clean.” Moreover, there are Democrat appointed judges that are pushing back on harsh sentencing.  Chief Judge Beryl Howell, appointed by former President Barack Obama, has repeatedly rebuffed prosecutors demanding jail time.  Recently, she claimed the Justice Department was “almost schizophrenic” for, in CNN’s words, “stressing the dire consequences of the insurrection while letting rioters plead to a petty offense,” meaning they are not backing up their rhetoric with actual charges. Of the 700 people formally charged so far, even CNN concedes half are simply misdemeanors and the felony charges are for those  “assaulted police, breached the Senate floor, destroyed property or conspired with far-right extremist groups.”  The two conspiracy cases involve the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, and CNN sadly admits “they also tend to be the most complicated to bring,” which can be seen as code for we don’t really have anything resembling actual evidence for a truly coordinated insurrection.

Putting this another way, if these groups actually plotted and planned to take over the US government, does anyone truly believe that paper trail would be hard to find?  Has the paper trail ever been hard to find in any major, planned terrorist attack?

Perhaps needless to say, none of this has prevented Democrat politicians and the mainstream media from repeatedly characterizing an admittedly awful riot as some kind of masterclass in treason.  CNN’s resident propagandist, Stephen Collinson, leads the charge claiming there has been “a steady accumulation of shocking evidence of Trump’s coup attempt,” claiming there were “fresh details of the elaborate behind-the-scenes plot to subvert the certification of President Joe Biden’s election.”  This “elaborate” plot was actually a PowerPoint Presentation sent to Trump friendly lawmakers on January 4 and 5, “a Jan 5 2021 email regarding a 38 page Power Point briefing titled ‘Election Fraud, Foreign Interference, & Options for 6 JAN’ that was to be provided ‘on the hill.’”  The PowerPoint does not call for violence of any kind.  Rather, it lays out the legal options available to prevent the certification of results.  CNN characterizes Mark Meadow’s role in simply possessing the document as ominous, writing “The fact that Meadows received and was in possession of the PowerPoint with this title is noteworthy, regardless of the document’s contents and what he did with it.”

This is preposterous, an actual assault on democracy that progressives claim to be so worried about:  Elections are governed by laws and legal precedent.  Candidates are entitled by the Constitution itself to pursue every possible legal avenue to assert their rights, characterizing legal processes that both parties have agreed to as plotting an insurrection is as anti-democracy as you can possibly get.  It’s like claiming defendants in crimes can’t plead not-guilty if the judge says so.  Of course, this remains the sole purpose of the exercise.  The media and politicians pumping out these lies know full well that conservatives roundly condemned the riots, that Democrats themselves have used these same legal avenues, and that there is a difference between a riot and a planned insurrection.  They are pretending otherwise purely out of politics.  The goal, as it ever was, is get Trump and tarnish his supporters.  It’s never worked in the past and isn’t likely to work now, but they’ll keep on trying.  That we know for sure.

Please note:  None of the above means President Trump is above or beyond criticism for his actions on January 6 or those leading up to them.  Obviously, when a disgusting riot breaks out and the Capitol is breached, there is plenty of room for criticism and debate, including why the security at the building was so poor such a thing could happen in the first place.  It’s perfectly reasonable to believe that Trump should’ve come out stronger, faster, or should not have pushed things so far in advance.  There is a radical difference between that and claiming he tried to overthrow the government, however.  Nor does it help that they are lying about what Trump did as well. Liz Cheney claimed he waited 187 minutes to act. The actual timeline is 25 minutes. The Capitol building was breached at either 2:13 or 2:15 PM. Trump urged everyone to support the Capitol Police and stay peaceful at 2:38 PM. He followed up similarly at 3:08 PM and then released a video at 4:17 PM urging everyone to go home. At the risk of repeating myself, everyone knows this, they are just lying about it for obvious reasons.

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