Sen. Mitt Romney once again referred to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building as an “insurrection against the Constitution” after Republicans came to an agreement with Democrats over the formation of a special committee to look into the origins of the incident.
The Utah Republican, who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump after blaming him for inciting the riot, repeated his erroneous claim during an interview with HuffPost on Thursday as other GOP lawmakers pushed back against the insurrection allegation.
“I was there,” Romney said. “What happened was a violent effort to interfere with and prevent the constitutional order of installing a new president.
“As such, it was an insurrection against the Constitution that resulted in severe property damage, severe injuries and death,” he added.
Five people died during or after the riot. Three of those deaths have yet to be directly attributed to the day’s violence; a fourth — the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick — came well after the incident and has since been determined through post-mortem medical exam that he died of natural causes. Many major media outlets had erroneously reported that the officer was killed after a blow to the head by a protester wielding a fire extinguisher.
The fifth person was an unarmed Trump supporter and Air Force veteran, Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by someone believed to be a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to climb through a smashed door window near the House chamber the day of the riot.
Romney was one of seven GOP senators who voted with Democrats to impeach Trump for an unprecedented second time. State Republicans would subsequently vote to censure most of them, including Romney, who was heavily booed at his state’s GOP convention earlier this month, where he defiantly defended his vote.
“Now you know me as a person who says what he thinks, and I don’t hide the fact that I wasn’t a fan of our last president’s character issues,” Romney told the convention as boos roared from the crowd.
Other Republicans have pushed back hard on the suggestion by Romney and many Democrats that what took place on Jan. 6 was an “insurrection.”
“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures,” freshman Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.), said during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing last week. “You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from Jan. 6, you’d think it was a normal tourist visit.”
Nevertheless, House Republicans reached a deal with majority Democrats to form what is supposed to be a bipartisan independent commission to look into the origins of the January riot similar to one formed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and outside Washington, D.C.
In a joint announcement, House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) and Ranking Member John Ratko (R-N.Y.) announced the deal Friday.
“Inaction — or just moving on — is simply not an option. The creation of this commission is our way of taking responsibility for protecting the U.S. Capitol,” Thompson said. “After all, the Capitol is not just a historic landmark, it is where our constituents come to see their democracy in action. As such, we owe it to the Capitol police and all who enter our citadel of democracy to investigate the attack.”
Ratko was among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the riot.
As to its origins, one observer trained in propaganda, political warfare, psychological warfare, and subversion who witnessed events before, during, and after the riot believes it was a planned operation.
Writing in The Federalist in late February, J. Michael Waller, a senior analyst for strategy at the Center for Security Policy, said he saw people he described as “provocateurs” in operation before the riot began.
“The deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol bore the markings of an organized operation planned well in advance of the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress,” he wrote, adding that he identified “plainclothes militants,” “agents-provocateurs,” “fake Trump protesters” and a “disciplined, uniformed column of attackers” in operation that day.
“All of these cells or groups stood out from the very large crowd by their behavior and overall demeanor. However, they did not all appear at the same time,” he wrote. “Not until the very end did it appear there was a prearranged plan to storm the Capitol building, and to manipulate the unsuspecting crowd as cover and as a follow-on force.”
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