As members of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol laid out its horrific findings on prime-time television Thursday night, many Republicans wanted to talk about literally anything else.
While police officers testified about risking their lives to protect members of Congress, many of those same lawmakers were tweeting disparaging or totally unrelated things to distract from the proceedings.
Ten minutes before the hearings began, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted about Democrats “ignoring America’s crime crisis” — apparently forgetting that hundreds of Jan. 6 rioters have been charged with crimes related to that day.
Along with that, McCarthy shared a crude two-hour video of graphic violence, spliced with text saying things like “The Democrat Party is for the breakdown of society.”
As the hearing was underway, the GOP leader retweeted a member complaining about Democrats not voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s fascinating to see Democrats pack into a full committee room even though many of them used proxy voting as an excuse not to show up to work for the past 2 years,” Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.) wrote at 8:20 p.m. EDT — as committee vice chair, Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), laid out how Donald Trump “oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.”
At 8:43 p.m., the official Twitter account of the Republican Party tweeted: “Joe Biden hasn’t had a press interview in 121 days.”
At 9:15, the No. 3 House Republican, Elise Stefanik of New York, appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program “to set the record straight on [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s partisan sham witch hunt.”
That came as the select committee swore in Officer Caroline Edwards, who went on to describe a “war scene” at the Capitol: “There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood,” said Edwards, who suffered a brain injury in the Jan. 6 riot.
Around the same time, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) wrote: “The partisan January 6 committee is nothing more than an illegitimate show trial.”
At 9:36 p.m., the Republicans of the House Judiciary Committee tweeted, “Still reading off teleprompter,” an apparent reference to committee chair Bennie Thompson (R-Miss.), who had been speaking at the time.
On the House floor Thursday, far-right Republicans said Democrats used the hearing to distract from real-world problems afflicting Americans.
“They don’t want you talking about the size of the pack of tortillas that I just bought last week before I came out ― they used to look like the regular corn tortillas, now they look like mini tortillas,” Biggs said. “Same price, the same packaging.”
They also suggested Pelosi (D-Calif.) deliberately left the Capitol vulnerable to attack on Jan. 6, 2021. And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) complained the Capitol rioters were being treated as “political prisoners of war” and repeated her insinuation that the entire attack was a setup by the FBI.
Separately, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) announced that if Republicans retake the House, they will launch an investigation into the Jan. 6 committee itself.
McCarthy, for his part, repeated his incredible claim that “everybody in the country” bore responsibility for what happened at the Capitol that day.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated Rep. Fred Keller’s home state.