The work of the Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is well underway. While it is unclear what—if anything—will come from these hearings, sad revelations continue to emerge.
The committee members have laid bare an episode that was wholly vile and disgraceful, but what I find so striking from the hearings are the harrowing stories of several Republican lawmakers who took principled stands to safeguard the legitimacy of our elections and protect the cornerstone of our republic. In doing so, they risked life, limb and their careers as they countered various purported machinations.
Throughout the extended hearings, the committee has leveled many accusations, including that former President Donald J. Trump and/or his supporters explored—and in some cases began to initiate—schemes that were intended to nullify President Joe Biden’s victory.
These ploys allegedly ranged from casting doubt on the election, asking state officials to work to overturn the results and requesting policymakers to undermine the Electoral College. Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has expressed concerns that these activities have exposed vulnerabilities in our republican form of government, and the “big lie” that the election was stolen led activists to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
“Violence erupted, police were overwhelmed, and for a short time, the protesters seized and defiled part of the Capitol building—a sacrosanct structure representing the promise and hope of America,” I wrote in early 2021. Despite the rioters’ egregious behavior and the events that led up to their siege, the January 6 committee has actually given me hope.
Just days ago, the committee members heard accounts from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R-Ga.), Arizona House of Representatives Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-25) and other Republicans. During a long line of questioning, both Raffensperger and Bowers revealed what sounded like a pressure campaign to persuade them to reverse the presidential election’s results.
In a recorded conversation, Trump explained to Raffensperger “I need 11,000 votes, give me a break” and made unsubstantiated claims of fraud. Despite this and the death threats against the Secretary of State’s office, Raffensperger refused to bow to the ex-president’s will and commit an illegal act, which would have been tantamount to subverting a legally run election. “The numbers don’t lie,” Raffensperger said. “At the end of the day, President Trump came up short.”
Similarly, Bowers testified about efforts to coax him into supporting a plan to put forward illegitimate pro-Trump electors, instead of the Biden electors, which would have influenced the outcome of the final Electoral College count. “I told [Rudy Giuliani and Trump] I did not want to be used as a pawn,” Bowers asserted. He explained that his faith and oath of office prevented him from acquiescing to what would have amounted to an illegal scheme. These were not the only Republican state officials who have revealed similar experiences. Lawmakers from Michigan and Pennsylvania also recounted efforts aimed to unfairly sway the election.
These don’t appear to be the limit of such attempts either. An aide to a U.S. senator “attempted to arrange a handoff of false, pro-Trump electors from the senator to Mike Pence just minutes before the then-vice president began to count electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021,” writes Politico. As we all know, Pence would have nothing to do with subverting the election even though he was facing intense pressure. Don’t forget that January 6 protesters chanted “hang Mike Pence.”
While Republicans who opposed efforts to illegitimate the election deserve immense credit, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Democratic officials—at the state and federal level—who stood with them, and thankfully they did. So long as principled individuals who respect the Constitution hold positions of power, America can reasonably hope for a bright future in which fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power continue to be defining characteristics of the United States.
Even so, there are some who still believe that the election was fraudulent, which flies in the face of all available data. Numerous audits and elections lawsuits have all failed to prove that the election was stolen from Trump. Even Dinesh D’Souza’s recent documentary 2000 Mules, which purports to show 2000 people dropping off multiple absentee ballots in drop boxes in five battleground states, falls well short of its billing as the smoking gun proving widespread fraud.
While there are ample problems with D’Souza’s film, the most glaring is that “In all five battleground states D'Souza considers, it is perfectly legal for third parties to drop off ballots for others,” writes former Trump supporter Ann Coulter.
Rather than continuing to proliferate conspiracy theories, Americans should move on and celebrate the individuals—Republican and Democrat—who upheld the rule of law.
Marc Hyden is a weekly columnist. You can follow him on Twitter at @marc_hyden.