Jan. 6 Committee Hearings Cannot Be Dismissed As Partisan Theater

  • BY DAN BLUE Special to The Pilot

I’ve heard my share of defiance and denial over the years. As an attorney and a legislator, I have developed a keen ear for distinguishing between the truth and “alternative facts.”

The facts of the Jan. 6 riot, in which six people died, and over 850 people have received criminal charges, are hard to process. The reality of it is sobering, but something that we as a country need to acknowledge.

Some staunch Republicans have dismissed the Jan. 6 Committee hearings as “fake news.” To do this is to discredit the courage of the Republican staffers and appointees whose loyalties have proven to be to their country first, not to Donald Trump.

These witnesses have no interest in dealing in political rhetoric or furthering a Democratic agenda. But those that have testified in the recent hearings deserve credit for standing on their morals as Americans first, and Republicans second.

Throughout these hearings, we saw how close the rioters came to successfully overthrowing the election and, shockingly, how close they came to taking Vice President Mike Pence to the gallows erected in front of Congress.

In a recent interview with WRAL, Sen. Phil Berger dismissed the accounts of the Jan. 6 insurrection as “fictional readings” and “exaggerations of what really happened.” This is a strong opinion, considering he also said that he hasn’t watched any of the Jan. 6 Committee hearings.

This indifference to a violent and unprecedented event is reckless.

We can disagree on the state’s tax structure, or whether we should be fully funding a sound basic education — that’s a matter of ideological difference. But for elected leaders to ignore facts that have a monumental impact on the health and well-being of our system of government is irresponsible and dangerous.

Sen. Berger likened the Jan. 6 insurrection to the protests following the 2000 election that resulted in George W. Bush being appointed president by the Supreme Court. To be clear, there was one violent protest in Florida — dubbed the Brooks Brothers riot — manned by Republican staffers and organized by Roger Stone.

In recent years, many have reveled in sowing chaos and rejecting reality. Those in the Republican establishment that quietly ignore real and present dangers to our country still share the blame of the wounds inflicted on America.

People deserve assurance that elected leaders are beholden to our Constitution ahead of political leaders or special interests. The Jan. 6 Committee hearings have shown me that some in the Republican Party still consider themselves Americans first. And these proceedings should strike fear in the heart of every American who has been paying attention.

Dan Blue, of Raleigh, is Senate Democratic Leader.