You might think that after violent insurrectionists egged on by Donald Trump stormed and commandeered the Capitol on Wednesday that Republicans might, finally, disavow the President’s wild fantasies about how he actually won the election in a “landslide.”
Well, you’d be wrong.
Here’s Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, speaking on the House floor, on Wednesday night:
“I don’t know if the reports are true, but the ‘Washington Times’ has just reported some pretty compelling evidence from a facial recognition company showing that some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters, they were masquerading as Trump supporters and in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group ANTIFA.”
And this from Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks on Thursday morning: “Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics.”
Uh, what? The Washington Times report is an incredibly thinly sourced piece of “journalism” that rests its entire headline on a retired military officer telling the paper about a facial recognition firm that claimed it saw Antifa activists in the crowd. And the facial recognition company the Times cited said Thursday morning that it had no idea where the paper had gotten its information. What was Brooks’ “evidence?” “A Congressman warned me on MONDAY of a growing ANTIFA threat,” he tweeted. Well, I’m convinced!
PolitiFact, a non-partisan fact-checking operation, addressed the Antifa claims in a post Wednesday, writing:
“There’s no evidence that the Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol were actually or mostly ‘ANTIFA fascists in backwards MAGA hats,”’ as Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., tweeted.
“Similar claims appeared on Facebook and in pro-Trump media. But video and photographs from the scene show people wearing and waving Trump-branded paraphernalia and flags. Reporters covering the events have described the crowd as Trump supporters. The crowd also included supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, according to reporters present.”
But it was more even than the words by the likes of Gaetz and Brooks that provided clear-cut evidence that the Trump fever still hasn’t broken among Republicans – particularly in the House.
There were two actual votes on Wednesday night – one to object to the results in Arizona and the other to do the same in Pennsylvania. In the former vote, 121 Republicans – including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (California) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (Louisiana) – voted to object to the results. In the Pennsylvania vote, 138 House Republicans voted to object to the Electoral College results, again including McCarthy and Scalise.
What a remarkable testament to the ongoing triumph of Trumpism over truth within the Republican Party. Because the truth is that there is no evidence of election fraud in either state.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, has been blunt in his assessment of Trump’s repeated claims of wrongdoing in the election.
“In Arizona, we have some of the strongest election laws in the country, laws that prioritize accountability and clearly lay out procedures for conducting, canvassing, and even contesting the results of an election,” Ducey tweeted late last year in response to an attack by Trump. “We’ve got ID at the polls. We review EVERY signature (every single one) on early ballots — by hand — unlike other states that use computers. Prohibitions on ballot harvesting. Bipartisan poll observers. Clear deadlines, including no ballots allowed after Election Day.”
In Pennsylvania, Trump’s claims of fraud have been met with similar facts. As Trump-appointed judge Stephanos Bibas wrote in an opinion dismissing one of the many legal challenges the President brought in Pennsylvania: “Calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”
There’s simply no “there” there. Any reasonable – or even mildly curious – person could find that out with a few keystrokes and a Google search.
And yet a majority of the House Republican conference voted – not once but twice! – to invalidate votes, to, in essence, override the democratic process because they didn’t like the outcome.
While there’s a tendency to see what happened Wednesday as the end of something very malignant in our body politics, there’s scant evidence to believe that’s what happened on one of the darkest days in Washington in recent memory. Instead, the evidence points in another direction – the delusion holds, the fever still rages.