Republican Response to the January 6 Capitol Attack Divides Party

Lines are being drawn inside the Republican Party once again, this time over responses to the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the Capitol. 

The extremist wing of the party is splitting away from those who want to distance themselves from portraying the rioters as “sightseers.” 

Some Republicans have rebuked efforts by former president Donald Trump and Fox News host Tucker Carlson to whitewash the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It underscores a significant split in the party over attempts to downplay the events of the day.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy handed over more than 40,000 hours of security footage from the Capitol to Fox News’ Carlson. 

Carlson has been airing selectively edited portions of that footage. He has been falsely claiming that the rioters were “sightseers” and “not insurrectionists”. 

At least 1,000 people have been arrested for their role in the January 6 attack. Five people died as a result of it. Around 518 people have pleaded guilty to federal crimes to date and 53 have been found guilty at trial.

The Republican leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell was quick to distance himself from Carlson’s portrayal

“It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks,” he said.

Republican North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis said: “I think it’s bullshit.” He recounted being there and said maybe a few people got caught up in the riot, but that actual tourists would have properly entered the grounds, not stormed it. 

Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said attempts to downplay the attack were “dangerous.” 

Trump is loving the coverage. Trump, who is under investigation for his role in the January 6 attack, praised Carlson on Tuesday. “GREAT JOB BY TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT,” he wrote on his own platform Truth Social. 

“The Unselect Committee of political Hacks & Thugs has been totally discredited. They knowingly refused to show the Videos that mattered. They should be tried for Fraud and Treason, and those imprisoned and being persecuted should be exonerated and released, NOW!”

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