It’s been two years since Donald Trump and the Republican party launched their deadly Jan. 6 insurrection and multi-pronged plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Although the House Select Committee investigating the attempted coup plot conducted 10 revealing public hearings and issued an exhaustive 845-page final report, none of the architects of that attack have been held accountable for one of the most heinous crimes against U.S. democracy and the Constitution in our nation’s history.
It was a sad irony that on the two years to the day of Jan. 6 Capitol breach, Republicans who were about to take control of the House were attacking each other, forced to vote 15 times to elect Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, who himself was one of the 147 GOP members of Congress voting to overturn the 2020 election. Just days after the Jan. 6 anniversary, Brazil experienced a terrifying echo of the U.S. Capitol insurrection when supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who refused to accept his Oct. 2 election loss, stormed the nation’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace buildings.
Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Brett Edkins, managing director of policy and political affairs with Stand Up America, who assesses the lack of accountability for Trump and his Jan. 6 co-conspirators, the Republican control of the House, and the GOP’s ongoing threat to democracy.
BRETT EDKINS: In America, no one is above the law and right now it is incredibly important that the Department of Justice and our courts, our state courts and our state prosecutors as well, hold Trump and his co-conspirators accountable. It’s been two years and it’s been too long, after thousands of hours of investigation, more than a thousand interviews, over 140,000 collected documents including secret memos and messages sent by President Trump’s inner circle, as you mentioned, the Jan. 6 committee proved definitively that President Trump and his allies planned, promoted and paid for a criminal conspiracy to overturn the will of the voters in 2020.
The committee also proved that Donald Trump knew he lost the presidency and that his actions were illegal. The committee made a number of criminal referrals which are a necessary next step to hold President Trump and those responsible for the attack on our country accountable and show that no one is above the law in America.
And a number of referrals were also made to House committees. And those should be followed through on. Unfortunately now, with Republicans in control of Congress, it’s unlikely and that it’s very likely they will try to do everything in their power to evade accountability. But I think most Americans agree that in our country, no one is supposed to be above the law. So we’re looking forward to the next few steps from DOJ, from the special counsel.
As you might have heard, the grand jury down in Georgia finished their investigation. So there’s a number of legal things moving where we might see some hope to reaffirm that fundamental belief that no one is above the law in our country.
SCOTT HARRIS: You know, it’s been said many times that unless Trump and his co-conspirators face consequences for their failed coup attempt, the next attack on democracy is just around the corner. And I’d like to touch on what happened in Brazil recently, because I think it really fits into this idea that there are consequences for inaction.
But what are the consequences in your mind for this country if Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows and a whole bunch of congresspeople that were involved in this coup plot walk scot free? What are the consequences for our country?
BRETT EDKINS: Well, I think we’re starting to see some of the consequences now. The House majority has unfortunately been taken over by MAGA extremists who believe that they are impervious to believe that they are above the law. And their priority right now is getting back at anyone who tried to hold them accountable for Jan. 6 and rewarding their wealthy campaign donors.
As we saw last week, they can’t govern and the American people are the ones who are going to suffer. It’s going to be a very difficult two years in the new Congress. Right now, there over 70 percent of the U.S. House Republicans are election deniers. That’s 135 incumbents who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in 2020.
And they’re back or returning to the House. And at least 27 freshman Republican members who are election deniers as well. Every single member of the new House GOP leadership is an election denier, including Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who voted against certifying the 2020 election and repeatedly obstructed the investigation into Jan. 6.
The U.S. House GOP has unfortunately become the party of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, George Santos. This extreme, extreme, extreme wing of the right-wing. It should really come as no surprise that these political arsonists are already burning down the house. I think it’s just more and more important that groups like Stand Up America and its members stand up for democracy who are built to resist this MAGA House majority to protect our freedoms and our democracy.
From our earliest days of Stand Up America we have taken on MAGA extremism and won and we’re going to do it again.
SCOTT HARRIS: Brett, I did want to touch on what occurred in Brazil. It seems that many of those associated with Donald Trump, people like (former presidential adviser) Steve Bannon and (former communications adviser) Jason Miller. There are several others who’ve been in close contact with Jair Bolsonaro and his family members, both before Brazil’s election and after his loss.
BRETT EDKINS: The violent attacks in Brasilia by the pro-Bolsonaro rioters are a direct assault on democracy. It’s a reminder of the dangers that demagogues pose to democracy and worldwide‚ demagogues who sow distrust in fair and free elections even after they’ve left office and a new government has been sworn in. I think that, as you said, the echoes of Jan. 6th are very clear and the dangers in Brazil are particularly acute.
Democracy is only 38 years old in Brazil, a far less established democracy than ours. And American actors on the far right are giving Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters cover. Trump gave Bolsonaro his “complete and total endorsement for reelection.” He called him a great president who would never let his people down. Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo Bolsonaro, even visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago late last year, making the pilgrimage that Kevin McCarthy and others have made.
President Trump’s allies, including the Steve Bannon, cast doubt on the legitimacy of Brazil’s election results. Bannon promoted the #BrazilianSpring, which has since been adopted by the right-wing demonstrators in Brazil to spread false claims of electoral fraud. And Steve Bannon’s already called the rioters in Brasilia freedom fighters. Bannon and his fellow Trump adviser Jason Miller advised Bolsonaro after he lost re-election.
And unsurprisingly, Bolsonaro has never publicly conceded, though he allowed the transfer of power to proceed. That is all right out of the Trump playbook. And now, just like Donald Trump, Bolsonaro is holed up in Florida trying to evade accountability and his people.
Find more analysis and commentary on the threats to U.S. democracy by visiting Stand Up America at StandUpAmerica.com.
Listen to Scott Harris’ in-depth interview with Brett Edkins (27:40) and see more articles and opinion pieces in the Related Links section of this page.
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