Thursday marked the somber first anniversary of the day that rabid fans of then-President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. seat of government, overrunning the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
President Joe Biden marked the occasion with a speech in the Capitol, where he blasted the “shadow of lies” that led to the insurrection attempt. The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, held a moment of silence. But not everyone appreciated the commemorations. Some prominent Republicans — including those who helped spread the conspiracy theories that fueled the attack — believe that Democrats should not politicize what, to these Republicans, was an apparently apolitical event.
Sen. Lindsey Graham’s tweet on Thursday was a far cry from his initial reaction to the riot. A year ago, the South Carolina Republican gave an emotional speech on the Senate floor hours after it had been cleared of rioters, situating efforts to contest the election in a historical context and declaring his opposition to Trump’s anti-democratic incitement: “All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough.”
(HuffPost declined to attempt to interpret the meaning of the Taliban portion of his tweet.)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released a statement Thursday acknowledging that “January 6th, 2021 was a dark day for Congress and our country” that was “antithetical to the rule of law.” But then McConnell heel turned, saying: “It has been stunning to see some Washington Democrats try to exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals that long predated this event,” referring to Senate Democrats’ push to modify the filibuster in order to pass voting and democracy reforms.
On Wednesday, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said, “I think it’s disappointing that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have chosen to politicize that day and further divide our country.” Meanwhile, when Daines was running for reelection in 2020, he sent out campaign materials stating that “Democrats are desperate to steal this election.” Shortly after the Capitol riot, Daines sheepishly acknowledged to a Montana radio station that campaign materials can be “too cavalier.”
In Florida on Thursday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “It’s interesting how everything in our society becomes very politicized and so today ... you’re going to see the D.C.-New York media, I mean this is their Christmas, January 6, OK?”
DeSantis still refuses to say if he thinks the 2020 election was rigged in Biden’s favor. Last May, he capitalized on the unfounded election conspiracy theories that helped lead to the Capitol riot — one might say, politicized them — when he signed a very restrictive voting bill.
Meanwhile, in Washington, McConnell, Graham and Daines will resume their solemn practice of not politicizing national crises. On Friday, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate policies; all three senators, along with a majority of congressional Republicans, are part of the lawsuit.