Several Democratic members of the House and former U.S. Capitol Police Officer Michael Fanone are calling on Republicans to condemn political violence on the eve of the second anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
Four members of the House who are also veterans gathered on Thursday with Courage for America, an organization pushing against the “extreme MAGA agenda,” and Common Defense, a veterans organization that advocates against hatred and violence and for an “equitable and representative democracy,” for a press conference pointing to the ongoing threat of political violence.
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) said those who stormed the Capitol two years ago are part of a small “fringe” group in the country but were inspired by some of the top officials in the government who did not accept the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“As elected officials, we are entrusted constantly, continuously, to tell the truth, to tell the truth to the American people,” she said.
Houlahan said she was one of those first elected to Congress in 2018 in response to “violent political rhetoric” from then-President Trump and his allies.
Trump has been criticized for his role during and leading up to the events of Jan. 6, during which he tweeted criticism of his vice president, Mike Pence, for not supporting his efforts to overturn the election results as his supporters yelled to hang Pence during the insurrection. Trump waited more than three hours after his speech at the Ellipse that preceded the riot ended before telling the rioters to go home.
The since-disbanded select House committee investigating Jan. 6 said last month the Department of Justice should consider at least four criminal charges against Trump: obstruction of an official proceeding; conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to make a false statement; and inciting, assisting or giving comfort to an insurrection.
Even before the Capitol riot, Trump was regularly criticized for appearing to call for violence against his political opponents.
Houlahan said everyone owes it to the American people to condemn political violence “in all forms.”
Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) said Trump and his “minions” stirred the people who eventually stormed the Capitol, causing an “unprecedented” attack on the country’s democracy. He said Trump bears the most responsibility for the events of the day, but it was building from years of division, disinformation and a “media apparatus” that amplified lies.
He said those who support democracy are using different strategies than those who have turned to violence, saying “we’re not like them.”
“We are building, we are protecting, we are delivering. If last November showed us anything, it’s that building and moving forward with a positive vision will take us out of this,” Crow said, referring to the November midterm elections in which many candidates who backed Trump’s false claims of voter fraud lost key races.
Fanone, who was injured while defending the Capitol during the insurrection and now works as a CNN contributor, said the insurrection was a “wakeup call” on the level of political violence in the country.
He said that on Wednesday he delivered a letter, signed by more than 1,000 veterans, active military members and family members, to the office of devoted Trump supporter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) asking that she and other Republicans condemn political violence “in all its forms.”
“We cannot afford to brush political violence under the rug or turn a blind eye when others encourage it,” Fanone said.
Some Republicans have condemned the violence of the day, but most have downplayed the involvement of Trump and his supporters.
Fanone has criticized House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) for not acknowledging the impact of the day and continuing to tie himself to Trump.
“Being courageous means speaking out so my four daughters can live in a country without fear of political violence from the MAGA movement that is putting their futures at risk,” he said Thursday.
Fanone said he is calling on House GOP leaders and whoever eventually becomes the next Speaker to denounce the political violence of Jan. 6 and in general.
“As you take on your new roles, I will be watching,” he said.