Even before the dust has settled from the events of January 6, while bullet holes and smashed windows and doors are visible throughout the US Capitol, the American political establishment is working to cover up the political responsibility for the fascist attempted coup against Congress.
This was not an isolated or accidental event in which right-wing protesters acted spontaneously. The attack on Congress was a conspiracy directed from the top. It was prepared many weeks in advance by high-level officials from within the state apparatus, the police and the military.
The Socialist Equality Party demands a criminal investigation into the Trump administration and all those who aided and abetted this fascist putsch. The conspirators are still at large, planning their next steps. Trump remains president until January 20, and the danger has not passed!
During the Watergate crisis, Senate hearings, widely publicized and avidly followed on television, were the vehicle for bringing out the truth of President Richard Nixon’s conspiracy against democracy and led ultimately to his forced removal from office. Watergate began with the break-in by a gang of former intelligence agents, ordered by Nixon to burglarize the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
If a “third-rate burglary,” as Nixon termed it, and its cover-up merited months of televised hearings exposing presidential criminality, how much more necessary is it to carry out an open, public, televised, live-streamed investigation into all aspects of the events of January 6, 2021, the first-ever attempt by a president to overthrow the American government and establish a dictatorship.
It is obvious and undeniable that Trump played the role of prime instigator of the violent assault, convening a rally of thousands of supporters outside the White House and directing them to march on the Capitol. “It will be WILD,” Trump tweeted beforehand, later calling the fascist mob “special people.”
Trump’s direct accomplices include Missouri Senator Joshua Hawley and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Behind them are the senators who joined Hawley and Cruz in objecting to the confirmation of Biden’s electoral victory and the more than 100 Republicans who did the same in the House of Representatives.
At least six Republican state legislators took part in the right-wing demonstrations and riots. West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans posted a video of himself entering the building but later deleted it.
Plans for an insurrection were no secret. The January 6 date for the joint session is fixed by law, and plans for a physical assault on that day were widely circulated on right-wing social media sites. The rally at the White House and the march down Constitution Avenue were carefully timed so that the fascist thugs would arrive during the first hour of the joint session of Congress to conduct the ceremonial counting of electoral votes. The attackers walked through police “barriers” without the slightest resistance, stormed into the Capitol, and forced an end to the proceedings.
Events could well have taken a much bloodier turn; some of the invaders were armed, and some of those arrested were found in possession of plastic ties for handcuffing potential kidnap victims or hostages among the senators and congressmen.
Details of how close the House and Senate came to disaster were revealed by Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan, a vocal opponent of Trump, who told a press conference Thursday that he had spoken to the Senate and House leadership when they were huddled together in a basement of the Capitol building:
“I was actually on the phone with [Democratic House] Leader [Steny] Hoyer, who was pleading with us to send the [National] Guard. He was yelling across the room to Schumer, and they were back and forth saying we do have the authorization and I’m saying, ‘I’m telling you we do not have the authorization.’”
Hogan explained to Hoyer and Schumer that the Pentagon had denied Hogan’s request to deploy his state National Guard to Washington D.C. The head of the Maryland guard “kept running it up the flagpole, and we don’t have authorization,” Hogan told the congressional leaders.
Some two hours later, Hogan said he received a call “out of the blue, not from the secretary of defense, not through what would be normal channels,” but from Ryan McCarthy, the Secretary of the Army, who granted the deployment request. Separate reports indicated that the military only agreed to deploy the guard after speaking to Vice President Mike Pence, not to Trump, the ostensible commander-in-chief.
Top Republicans echoed the lies from Trump of massive vote fraud and ballot stuffing, which were developed as the political cover for the raid on the Capitol. The staged objections to Electoral College votes from battleground states were designed to provide legitimacy to violently suppress the congressional certification of the election result.
In addition to the direct collaborators with the coup attempt, the top leaders of the congressional Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, played a critical role in enabling Trump’s unprecedented refusal to concede the outcome of the election, which was clear within a few days after the November 3 vote, after ballot counting was completed. They vouched for the legitimacy of his claims of election fraud.
Other questions are raised about the extent of support for the coup within sections of the military, intelligence and state apparatus.
First, the Capitol police clearly allowed the fascist mobs to invade the grounds, posed for friendly photographs with the insurrectionists, and removed barriers to facilitate the fascists’ entry.
Second, as indicated by Governor Hogan’s statements, the Pentagon initially declined a request to send National Guard troops to the Capitol. (In the District of Columbia, which is federal and not state territory, these troops are directed by the Secretary of the Army). Only after former CIA agent and Pentagon official Elissa Slotkin, now a Democratic congresswoman, contacted General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by cellphone, did the Pentagon shift into action and deploy 1,100 soldiers.
Third, those who stormed the Capitol included elements drawn from the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers, and supporters of the fascistic QAnon conspiracy theory. These groups—whom Trump ordered to “stand back and stand by” before the election—have direct representatives in Congress, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, the newly elected congresswoman from Georgia, a QAnon supporter, and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a “gun rights” activist who sought to carry firearms in the Capitol.
In her press conference Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for “accountability” for the Republicans in Congress who promoted the conspiracy theories that inspired the attack, declaring that they had “abdicated their oath of office” and were “enabling the president.” The reality is that charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government could and should be brought against a majority of the Republican members of Congress. They should be investigated, charged and expelled.
Both Pelosi and Biden, at separate news conferences Thursday, sought to divert attention from the broader political significance of the attempted coup, attributing it solely to Trump’s personal role in inciting the violence. Both Democratic leaders described Trump as a tool of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as though the threat to American democracy came from Moscow rather than from homegrown fascists.
This is a crude effort to divert popular anger towards an external enemy, although Russia has nothing to do with the events of January 6. It continues the orientation of the Democratic Party since Trump first took office, which has been to divert all opposition in a right-wing direction based on foreign policy differences, particularly in relation to Syria and Russia.
Working people should demand full, public congressional hearings conducted on national television to expose every aspect of Trump’s coup attempt. These should begin immediately and should include interrogation of the soon-to-be ex-president and all his top aides, as well as leading Republican instigators of the coup in Congress.
But the Democratic Party, both in Congress and in the incoming Biden administration, is adamantly opposed to any serious and detailed investigation of the events of January 6, one that would alert the American people to the mounting dangers of fascist conspiracies in the United States.
These conspiracies are ongoing. They are aimed at the forcible suppression of opposition by the working class to social inequality and the ruling class’s homicidal “herd immunity” policy. The defense of democratic rights in the United States demands the mobilization of the working class, politically organized and armed with a socialist perspective.