Commentary

It’s essential to find the truth of Jan. 6 and let the people decide — Opinion

August 2, 2021 6:03 am

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Crowds arrive for the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation’s capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

This was the opening statement made by GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who, along with Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, agreed to serve on the House Special Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. These were the remarks as prepared by him, and distributed through his Washington, D.C., office.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you to my colleagues on this Select Committee. And thank you, especially, to our witnesses—for your service and your testimonies here today.

For all the overheated rhetoric surrounding this Committee, our mission is very simple: To find the truth and ensure accountability.

Like all Americans, I am frustrated that six months after a deadly riot breached the United States Capitol for several hours on live television … we still don’t know exactly what happened. Why? Because many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight. It’s toxic, and it’s a disservice to the officers and their families, to the staff and employees on the Capitol complex, and to the American people who deserve the truth.

And it’s why I agreed to serve on this committee. I want to know what happened that day, but more importantly, I want all Americans to be able to trust the work this committee does and get the facts out there, free of conspiracy.

This cannot continue to be a partisan fight. I am a Republican. I am a conservative. But, in order to heal from the damage caused that day, we need to call out the facts. It’s time to stop the outrage and conspiracies that fuel violence and division in our country, and most importantly, we need to reject those that promote it. As a country, it’s time to learn from our past mistakes, rebuild stronger so this never happens again, and move onward.

In serving on this committee, I am here to investigate Jan. 6–not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party, but because of it–not to win a political fight, but to learn the facts.

Here’s what we know: Congress was not prepared on Jan. 6. We weren’t prepared because we never imagined this could happen: An attack, by our own people, fostered and encouraged by those granted power through the very system they sought to overturn. That is a lesson, not a conspiracy theory or counter-narrative.

Some have concocted a counter-narrative to discredit this process on the grounds we didn’t launch a similar investigation into the urban riots and looting last summer.

Mr. Chairman, I was called on to serve during the summer riots as an Air National Guardsman. I condemned those riots and the destruction of property that resulted. But not once did I ever feel that the future of self-government was threatened like I did on Jan. 6.

There is a difference between breaking the law and rejecting the rule of law, between a crime — even grave crimes — and a coup.

As we begin our work today, I want to call the committee’s attention to the Oath of Office — an oath not to a party or an individual but to the Constitution that represents all Americans.

Everyone in elected office knows how hard it can be sometimes to keep the oath “to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” in the forefront of our minds, what with the political pressures and re-elections always around the corner.

But, Mr. Chairman, our witnesses today — like every law enforcement officer across the country — took the same oath we did. And on January 6, the temptation to compromise their oaths didn’t come in the form of a campaign check… or a threat from leadership… or an all-caps Tweet.

It came in the form of a violent mob.

While we on this dais were whisked away from the danger, heroes like those here stood their posts before it, and paid the price.

We are only here now because you were here then.

Therefore, it is altogether fitting that we begin our investigation of January’s lawless attack against the Constitution with the men who made sure that attack did not succeed—the men who helped ensure that democracy held.

This originally ran in Daily Montanan, which is part of States Newsroom. Follow Daily Montanan on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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