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THE COMMISSION: On Wednesday night, the House voted to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6, 2021.
Despite opposition from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, 35 Republicans voted in favor of formally examining what occurred before, during, and after supporters of former President Trump stormed the Capitol during the certification of President Biden’s election victory.
The vote sets up a fight in the Senate where the Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell, has also come out against the commission. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has already started prepping to bring the commission legislation to the floor. This puts Republicans in a theoretically awkward position where they would need to filibuster a bipartisan plan to investigate a violent attack on the halls of Congress. However, so far, many Republicans have shown willingness to fight and question efforts to examine the attack.
Republican arguments against the commission and prior hearings have focused on the fact the FBI is investigating the attack and charging participants. Because of this, some in the GOP have argued argue further review is unnecessary. Some Republicans have also criticized Democrats for being overly partisan in their focus on January 6 and suggested any congressional examination of the attack should also encompass violence and vandalism that took place at protests staged by Black Lives Matter and other leftist groups in the past year.
A couple of Republicans — notably Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) — have gone further and suggested the Justice Department’s charges against hundreds of the rioters are a campaign to unfairly harass Trump supporters.
Several of the Republicans who have engaged in these efforts to minimize the seriousness of the January 6 attack while opposing further investigation have focused on the claim no weapons were seized from the rioters that day. However, the reality is more complicated and that claim doesn’t pass a basic fact check.
Some of Gosar’s comments in last week’s House Oversight Committee were emblematic of this approach. He suggested “zero firearms” has been taken from rioters. Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) made similar claims in a local radio interview with WDUN’s Martha Zoller on May 14, where he also defended his controversial comment from the hearing that many of the crowds were “orderly” and looked like a “normal tourist visit.” In that interview, Clyde acknowledged an “undisciplined mob” with “some rioters” on January 6, but he also pointed to a supposed lack of weapons to suggest the reaction to the attack has been overblown
“But let me be clear, all right, there was no insurrection,” Clyde said. “I mean, Martha, there were no firearms in the Capitol. At least not from the mob and those who were violent in the capitol … there were no firearms!”
This claim essentially ignores the fact that most people who stormed the Capitol that day were not detained by police. At last week’s House Oversight Committee hearing on the attack, Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said about 1,000 people broke inside the Capitol. A large crowd also breached the outer perimeter of the complex and gathered on the steps and walls outside. But Contee has previously said DC police only arrested at least 13 people that day. Other agencies including the Capitol Police were on scene, but by the day after the event, there were reportedly less than 100 arrests made. That means law enforcement had no way of knowing if the vast majority of Capitol rioters were armed.
Furthermore, as seen in numerous video footage from that day, there were unquestionably weapons involved in the attack. Many in the crowd carried blunt weapons including poles and axe handles. Some rioters also used irritant sprays against law enforcement. At a press conference that day, Contee said there were approximately “five weapons that have been recovered” after the attack. The DC MPD and the Capitol Police did not immediately respond to questions about the total number of arrests or whether any of the weapons confiscated that day were firearms.
Riot participants also allegedly stored weapons nearby. Federal prosecutors have said the Oath Keepers, a militia group that participated in the January 6 attack, had a weapons cache at a Comfort Inn in nearby Arlington, Virginia. According to prosecutors the group stockpiled those weapons for a "Quick Reaction Force" that could have deployed to the city.
Clyde and Gosar’s offices did not respond to questions about the various issues with their claims.
LAW & ORDER: The Associated Press released body camera footage on Wednesday that showed Louisiana state troopers tasering, punching, and dragging a Black man named Ronald Greene during a 2019 arrest. Greene, who died after the incident, led officers on a high speed chase prior to his arrest. In the 46 minute clip, which was obtained by the media organization after authorities withheld the footage for over a year, Greene can be seen apologizing to the officers as he was repeatedly jolted with a stun gun.
“I’m your brother! I’m scared! I’m scared!” he said.
Greene’s death is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation. His family is also filing a federal wrongful death suit. The Louisiana State Police declined to comment on the footage because its release was unauthorized. Greene’s mother, Mona Hardin, offered her own assessment of the video on Wednesday.
“They murdered him. It was set out, it was planned," Hardin said. “He didn't have a chance. Ronnie didn't have a chance. He wasn't going to live to tell about it."
UP NEXT: Rev. William Barber III, the civil rights activist and co-founder of the Poor People’s Campaign, is set to appear with members of Congress outside Capitol Hill at 12:30 to unveil a congressional resolution calling for a “Third Reconstruction.” According to the website for Repairers of the Breach, Barber’s nonprofit group, that resolution “demands that the U.S. fully address poverty and low wages from the bottom up.”
FUN FACT: Corey Kluber’s no hitter for the Yankees last night was the 12th in the storied history of the team, which is the greatest in all of sports. The Yankees’ second no hitter came in 1923 courtesy of Samuel Pond “Sad Sam” Jones.
Along with his achievements on the field, Jones had some absolutely incredible old school baseball nicknames. BaseballLibrary.com said he was also known as “Horsewhips Sam” due to his breaking curveballs. And according to the Society for American Baseball Research, the Associated Press reported that Jones earned the nickname “Sad Sam, the Cemetery Man” due to his “dour” demeanor on the mound. Baseball Library has a quote attributed to Jones with a colorful explanation for his downcast presence on the diamond.
"I would always wear my cap down real low over my eyes,” Jones said. “And the sportswriters were more used to fellows like Waite Hoyt, who'd always wear their caps way up so they wouldn't miss any pretty girls."
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