Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) speaks in his office

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) speaks in his office on June 23, 2022.

(Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

On Jan. 6 Anniversary, Khanna Says 'Insurrectionists Do Not Belong in Office'

"And they do not belong on the ballot going forward," said the California Democrat. "Elected officials who directly aided and abetted the deadly assault on our nation's democracy on Jan. 6 must be held accountable."

Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna argued on Friday, the second anniversary of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, that Republican lawmakers who supported former President Donald Trump's effort to overturn his 2020 election loss should be barred from holding office now and in the future.

"Insurrectionists do not belong in office," Khanna (Calif.) tweeted. "And they do not belong on the ballot going forward. Elected officials who directly aided and abetted the deadly assault on our nation's democracy on Jan. 6 must be held accountable."

Millions of Republican voters remain convinced that President Joe Biden's victory was illegitimate because Trump and his allies baselessly attacked the integrity of mail-in ballots before, during, and after the 2020 election.

Trump's "big lie" that the election was stolen from him eventually culminated in a violent coup attempt two years ago, wherein a right-wing mob stormed the Capitol in a bid to prevent Congress from certifying Biden's win. At least seven people died as a result.

Hours after Trump and his supporters failed to overthrow the government, 147 congressional Republicans voted to reverse Biden's decisive win, prompting then-Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) to label them "co-conspirators in sedition."

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) quickly called for the expulsion of Republican lawmakers accused of helping to plot the deadly insurrection, to no avail.

Instead, Trump is largely seen as the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee; more than 210 GOP candidates who spread doubt about Biden's victory won congressional seats and races for governor, secretary of state, and attorney general in the 2022 midterms; and disinformation about Democratic voter fraud persists despite being thoroughly disproven.

"Two years have passed, yet the top lawmakers in the U.S. government who were most directly involved in the insurrection—including Trump and his co-conspirators in Congress—have not been held accountable."

"Two years have passed, yet the top lawmakers in the U.S. government who were most directly involved in the insurrection—including Trump and his co-conspirators in Congress—have not been held accountable," former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote Friday.

"To the contrary, Trump is so far unopposed in seeking the Republican nomination for president, and his co-conspirators are wielding enormous influence over the selection of the next speaker of the House," he added. "This is not the way to mark the second anniversary of the day American democracy almost died."

The new House GOP majority has so far failed to elect a speaker. Trump ally and previous House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has been repeatedly thwarted by MAGA extremists to his right, including House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), whom Politico described Friday as "true believers in Trump's efforts" to subvert the popular will and retain power.

McCarthy, Perry, and fellow GOP Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio) were recently referred to the House Committee on Ethics for defying a subpoena from the select committee investigating the January 6 attack. But none is likely to face scrutiny because no matter which far-right leader House Republicans eventually pick, the party is poised to gut the U.S. Office of Congressional Ethics before it can investigate them.

"If Republicans can finally agree on a speaker, the same GOP leaders who spread former President Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election—and who have consistently downplayed the grave threat to the nation posed by the January 6, 2021 insurrection carried out in his name—will take the reins of power in the House," Michael Fanone, a former Washington, D.C. police officer who was injured defending the Capitol two years ago, wrote Thursday for CNN, where he is now a law enforcement analyst.

"The incoming GOP House leadership must find the backbone to condemn political violence and hateful rhetoric incited by members of their own party," Fanone wrote. "And that starts with finally denouncing Trump, who remains to this day the Republican Party's de facto leader. The incoming speaker and the House leadership must demand that members of their party never again amplify language or take actions that put the lives of their constituents, their peers, or law enforcement at risk."

He continued:

There has been no shortage of such reprehensible behavior in recent months, starting with McCarthy himself. As GOP leader, McCarthy once vehemently condemned then-President Trump for his role in ginning up the rioters who stormed the Capitol—and then swallowed those words of condemnation several days later. He traveled to Mar-a-Lago—presumably with one eye on the speaker's gavel he had coveted for so long—pandering both to the defeated president and election deniers in his own caucus.
Since then, influential GOP House members have called the January 6 assault a "normal tourist visit." Some have called for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's [D-Calif.] execution for treason and shared antisemitic messages on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
And that's just to name a few examples. Without long overdue intervention by Republican top brass, the frightening trend towards violent rhetoric seems certain to continue.

Exacerbating the failure of the GOP's leaders to denounce political violence, corporate America has also refused to follow through on its pledge to cut off campaign contributions to election-denying Republicans.

As Politico, citing its analysis of campaign finance filings, reported Friday: "Political action committees affiliated with more than 70 major corporations said they would pause or reconsider donations to those who objected to certifying the results of the 2020 election after the attack on the U.S. Capitol two years ago. Then they gave more than $10 million to members of Congress who did just that."

The outlet added: "Accountable.US conducted a similar analysis of Fortune 100 companies, which constitute the upper echelon of American businesses. The organization found that out of the 50 companies that pledged to pause or reconsider political donations after the January 6 attack—either specifically to those who voted against certification, or political contributions entirely—34 went on to give at least $5.6 million to members who voted against certification over the last two years."

"So many corporations sought recognition for halting political spending after January 6, then quietly reopened the money spigot to election deniers when they thought no one was paying attention," Jeremy Funk, media relations director for Accountable.US, told the outlet. "Companies that claimed to be allies for democracy then rewarded millions to lawmakers that tried to finish what the insurrectionists started have shown they were never serious."

More than 950 people who participated in the January 6 riot have been arrested so far. That includes nearly 300 individuals who have been charged with assaulting or obstructing law enforcement as well as two leaders of the far-right Oath Keepers militia who were recently convicted of seditious conspiracy.

However, federal lawmakers and prosecutors have failed to hold Trump and the far-right members of Congress who continue to spread the "big lie" accountable for the damage they have done to U.S. democracy.

In addition, the refusal of conservative Democratic lawmakers to jettison the anti-democratic 60-vote filibuster rule caused the party to fail in 2021 and 2022 to use its unified control of Congress to pass federal legislation protecting voting rights from the GOP's state-by-state assault on the franchise.

One year ago to the day, progressives warned that "we still haven't enacted meaningful reforms to prevent another January 6."

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