Rashid: Why Wouldn’t You Want a January 6 Investigation?

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb on an inauguration platform on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

By Qasim Rashid
May 25, 2021

Why would you vote against an investigation into the January 6 insurrection? Qasim has some thoughts.

When terrorists attacked the US Capitol on January 6, Republican Congressman Rob Wittman issued a statement. He said “what happened Wednesday in our nation’s capital is a blemish on this nation and I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the acts of violence and destruction that occurred at the Capitol building.”

Last week, when asked to act on that condemnation, Rob Wittman voted nay on a commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Why? Why wouldn’t you want an investigation? This was a deadly insurrection in which 140 police officers were injured and several died. At this point, it’s considered as the worst attack on Washington D.C. since the War of 1812. A horrific attack about which even then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted, “there’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

So why wouldn’t you want an investigation into that event?

Sadly, this would not be the first time Representative Wittman sided with an anti-Democracy, anti-Constitution stance. Recall that the day of the insurrection, Rob Wittman still voted against certifying the election, along with Virginia’s three other Republican House representatives. They did this even though the Trump Department of Justice, over 60 federal judges, and every election committee confirmed it was the most secure and accurate election in US history. Representative Wittman claims he took an oath to our Constitution, but it is clear his oath only applies to his political party.

The Man Who Votes No

The point is that this is who Rob Wittman has always been—a man who protects the powerful, ignores terrorism by white supremacists, and votes to marginalize people of color. In 2016, Wittman filed a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that his chances at re-election were hurt by including “too many minorities” in his district. Fortunately the Supreme Court rejected his bigoted claim by unanimously ruling against him 9-0. In 2020, Wittman voted nay on a zero cost resolution condemning anti-Asian racism—despite the spiking levels of anti-Asian hate incidents. 

Just last week, Wittman again voted nay on a resolution condemning the Atlanta mass shooting and anti-Asian racism. This happened despite the fact Asian Americans have suffered 6600 hate incidents since March of 2020. Last year, I asked Wittman in person whether he would stand with me to condemn Donald Trump’s antisemitism and pro Nazi remarks. Wittman flat out said he would not do so.

Indeed, you’ll find no public record of him condemning that grotesque antisemitism—even as antisemitic hate crimes rise. And now, when the FBI warns us that white supremacists ignited the January 6 insurrection, Rob Wittman decides to protect terrorists—even at the risk of our own democracy—by denying an investigation.

As the old saying goes, a failed insurrection becomes a training exercise, yet Wittman insists on standing on the wrong side of history. But perhaps Wittman is desperately trying to hide what the public already knows? In a January 6 editorial, the Richmond Times Dispatch wrote, “Several elected officials in Virginia are part of the problem. Three members of Virginia’s congressional delegation — U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman, R-1st, Ben Cline, R-6th, and Morgan Griffith, R-9th — helped incite Wednesday’s rebellion…” 

This is Greater Than Politics

In short, Wittman sued to remove Black and brown people from his district, voted to overturn a fair election, repeatedly voted no on resolutions condemning anti-Asian hate, refused to condemn any of Donald Trump’s anti-Semitic and Nazi propaganda, and refuses to support an investigation into the Jan. 6 rebellion.

Note that none of the above were party line votes. All had dozens, even hundreds of Republicans join Democrats in a bipartisan fight to put country over politics. Indeed, this is greater than politics. All Americans, conservative and liberal, should stand united against these threats to our democracy. But Wittman refuses to do so. Which returns us to the opening question. Why? 

Well, the editorial board of the Virginia Pilot answered it best when they warned us who Rob Wittman really is. They called him a person who has:

“…revealed himself as a craven partisan with little interest in protecting American democracy. Instead of standing up for democracy and the Constitution, Wittman has turned his back on both. He’s turned his back on you. His actions are an unforgivable affront to his constituents, this Commonwealth and the rule of law that we had assumed Wittman held sacred.”

Note the above warning was issued on December 14, 2020, from people who’ve known Wittman his whole career. And every day since, Rob Wittman has proven them right. It was never American democracy he cared about. He tells us clearly who he is and who he serves, and it is not the American people or the US Constitution. And this week, by voting no on an investigation that could prevent a future insurrection, he proved once again that his actions are unforgivable, an affront to his constituents, and that he has no place in public office.

Qasim Rashid is a human rights lawyer, author, and Truman National Security Project Fellow. Follow him on Twitter @QasimRashid.

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