In the months since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, videos and investigations have underscored how violent it was.
The attack broke windows and damaged offices in the Capitol building. Lawmakers and their staffs, fearing for their lives, tried to hide. The rioters beat and maced police officers, with prosecutors counting about 1,000 physical assaults. About 150 officers suffered injuries, and many are still coping with psychological trauma.
“I felt like I was fighting for my life,” one Capitol Police officer told The Times. “I can tell you, legitimately, I did not think I was going to make it home.”
Yet even as the details of the attack have become clearer, the condemnation of it has become less widespread. Instead, a growing number of Republicans and their media allies have downplayed the riot. Some have begun to treat it as a heroic act.
Tomorrow, the valorization of Jan. 6 will come to Capitol Hill, when supporters of Donald Trump plan to hold a rally, called “Justice for J6,” to protest what they call the unfair treatment of people arrested in connection with the attack. The rally is likely to be large enough that the police have reinstalled fencing around the Capitol to protect it, and officials have warned lawmakers and their aides to avoid the area on Saturday.
We’re devoting a section of today’s newsletter — below — to a list of high-profile defenses and celebrations of the Jan. 6 attack.
Trump has played a central role in changing the Republican narrative about that day. He has falsely claimed that the rioters presented “zero threat” and were “hugging and kissing the police and the guards.” He released a statement yesterday saying, “Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election.”
As New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait has written, Trump “has slowly turned January 6 from a black mark that threatened to expunge him from Republican politics, to a regrettable episode that his allies preferred to leave behind, to a glorious uprising behind which he could rally his adherents.”
There are still some Republicans who describe the riot as a violent attack on democracy. (One of them, Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, said yesterday he would not run for re-election.) But they often do so subtly, knowing that a full denunciation risks isolation from the party, as has happened to Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Many congressional Republicans have tried to distance themselves from tomorrow’s rally without condemning it.
One of the strongest condemnations — but still an indirect one — has come from former President George W. Bush. In a speech this past weekend, he seemed to compare the Jan. 6 rioters to the Sept. 11 terrorists. “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” Bush said. “But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.”
The main message from elected Republicans and high-profile conservative commentators is very different, and it seems to be influencing voters. During the week after the attack, 80 percent of Republicans said they opposed it, according to a Washington Post poll. By the summer, many attitudes had changed. More than half of Trump voters described the events of Jan. 6 as “patriotism” and “defending freedom,” according to a CBS News/YouGov poll in July.
And a CNN poll this month found that 78 percent of Republicans believed that the election was stolen from Trump — which was the original false rationale for the Jan. 6 rally that turned into the attack.
Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina cast those arrested after the riot as “political prisoners” and suggested he wanted to “try and bust them out.”
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin described the attackers as “people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement.”
Senate Republicans blocked Congress from creating an independent commission to investigate the attack. Senator Mitch McConnell called it a partisan effort “to debate things that occurred in the past.”
Tucker Carlson of Fox News described the death of Ashli Babbitt — whom a police officer fatally shot as she tried to force her way through a barricade protecting members of Congress — as an execution, and asked whether federal officials are “now allowed to kill unarmed women who protest the regime.”
J.D. Vance, a best-selling author and Republican Senate candidate in Ohio, said that there were “some bad apples” but that “most of the people there were actually super peaceful.”
Julie Kelly of the journal American Greatness suggested Michael Fanone — a Washington police officer who suffered a heart attack and a brain injury during the attack — was lying about it, and called him a “crisis actor.”
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said on the House floor, “The people who breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 are being abused.”
Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona accused law enforcement of “harassing peaceful patriots” and “law-abiding U.S. citizens.”
Representative Jody Hice of Georgia said, “It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.”
Four Republican House members staged actions at the Justice Department and a D.C. jail demanding information about the treatment of Jan. 6 defendants. One of them, Gosar, said the defendants were being “persecuted.”
Laura Ingraham claimed on Fox News that many other protests last year “were far worse than this.”
Joe Kent — a Washington State Republican running with Trump’s endorsement against one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over Jan. 6 — plans to attend tomorrow’s rally, The Times reports.
Related: “The rally is the latest effort in the right’s ongoing attempt to rewrite the history” of Jan. 6, The Times’s Alan Feuer writes. “Here is what the facts say.”
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A guide to the Emmys
After last year’s mostly virtual show, the Emmys will hold an in-person ceremony on Sunday in Los Angeles.
Who’s hosting? Cedric the Entertainer, the stand-up comic and star of CBS’s “The Neighborhood.” He hopes to make the awards show more accessible: “I want to bring a familiarity that comes with my brand of stand-up. I’m somebody you know. I’m your cousin or your uncle, and we’re here to celebrate each other,” he told The Times.
Who’s nominated? Streaming services, mostly. HBO (including HBO Max, its streaming platform) received 130 nominations, followed by Netflix, with 129. Disney+ is third, picking up 71 nominations in its second year of existence. NBC was in a distant fourth place with 46.
And which shows? Netflix’s “The Crown” and the Disney+ Star Wars action drama “The Mandalorian” are the most nominated shows, with 24 each. The Disney+ Marvel series “WandaVision” has 23. — Claire Moses, a Morning writer