The Jan. 6 Committee held its second of seven hearings Tuesday, continuing to present the results of their investigation into the former President Donald Trump’s voter fraud conspiracy claims and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
“These Jan. 6 Committee Hearings seem to be of little interest to the American public,” said U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Cañon City), who was in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 and attended the rally prior to the storming of the Capitol. “Frankly, when I went to the Jan. 6 rally, I met a million Americans who were concerned about their country and patriotic. Frankly, the things we saw out there at the early rally, which — we got there about 6 a.m. maybe, 6:15 a.m. and we stayed there until just after 1 p.m., before we moved, they seemed like two very different events. In fact, they were two different, scheduled events, but I’m happy to talk about it.”
Inside the Capitol, taking part in the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 to certify the results of the 2020 election, was U.S. Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO).
“This is an exercise in uncovering the truth, shedding light on the abuses and criminal activity and anti-democratic activity of the protesters and members of Congress and others who supported the insurrection and the violent mob that attacked and killed police officers and others,” Crow said of the hearings. “That’s what this is about. The truth does matter. Making sure we shed light on this matter. This is not just an exercise in history. We are facing that threat right now. The threat has not gone away. Election deniers, conspiracy theorists, those who are trying to take over clerk and recorder and secretaries of state around the country to basically turn those positions into political positions that will not respect the rule of law or the will of the voters, that stuff is happening now. I think it’s important that we get the word out to the American people and to everybody that what happened on Jan. 6 is a real threat and I think the committee will show that.”
The chairman of the Jan. 6 Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), noted Monday that the committee will not be making any criminal referrals. “The United States Congress and a Committee of Congress cannot indict people and send them to prison,” said Crow. “The Department of Justice is the only organization that can do that.”
Thus far, 865 people have been charged for their actions on Jan. 6, but some conservatives have claimed those charges are political persecution. “It’s an unacceptable breach of due process of law, their constitutional right to a speedy trial,” said congressional candidate Erik Aadland of Jan. 6 prisoners during the Teller County Big Tent Event last weekend. “The fact that they haven’t been able to post bond is unconscionable. These are political prisoners, and I’m going to do as much as I can to draw a light to this. It’s unconscionable that it’s happened here in this country.”
Those arrested during Jan. 6, including Teller County resident Robert Gieswein, who was captured on video and film wielding a baseball bat and mace, and Telluride resident Avery MacCracken, who was filmed assaulting police officers on Jan. 6, have become martyrs for certain members of the far-right who believe Trump’s claims that the 2020 elections as stolen.
Joe Oltmann, host of the Conservative Daily podcast and subject of a defamation suit from former Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer, has frequently featured Jan. 6 prisoners Jake Lang and Jake Angeli, the QAnon Shaman, on his podcast.
Aadland clarified that he meant “political prisoners” in the sense that they are being denied bond. “If you don’t have due process — regardless of your crime, I want it for everybody, regardless of what you did,” he said. “The bond, there should be a bond associated with the level of the crime you committed, so there were, at one point, over 600 people kept without due process. I think that’s been reduced. Depending on the severity of their crime they should have an appropriate level of bond, they should have representation, and they should have a swift and speedy trial. I don’t care if that is somebody in Jan. 6 or BLM and Antifa, but people who are committing crimes need to be given a fair trial, and swiftly, and that’s not happened in many cases.”
Aadland also feels the Jan. 6 Committee hearings aren’t as bipartisan as they seem. “If you want to do an honest hearing and restore trust in the American people, you should have fair Republican representation and both [Rep. Liz] Cheney [R-WY] and [Rep. Adam] Kinzinger [R-IL] are not reflective of the party, and most Republicans don’t trust them,” he said. “I don’t think it was a bipartisan committee that was really about seeking the truth. I think it was about serving a political agenda and creating ammunition for the midterms. I find that reprehensible. We want our elected officials to get down to the bottom of it and not make a political stunt.”
Colorado Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll places responsibility for Jan. 6 squarely on the shoulders of Trump and the Republican Party that enabled him. “The hearings by the Jan. 6th Committee have revealed Donald Trump’s clear intent to incite an insurrection at the Capitol and overthrow an election,” she said in a news release. “MAGA Republicans want to ignore the facts, but the truth is that the insurrection was a violent attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power and effectively damage the integrity of our democracy in the name of unconstitutionally installing Trump as president even after losing the election. The Republican Party’s silence in condemning this violence and attempt to overthrow the duly elected government makes them complicit and the far-right extremists involved, including Rep. Lauren Boebert, John Eastman, and U.S. Senate candidate Ron Hanks, need to be held accountable for their actions. Their unapologetic participation on Jan. 6th is a slap to the face of the American voters, law enforcement, and democracy itself. ”
Tuesday’s hearing focused on the false claims of election fraud made by Trump following the 2020 Presidential election. In addition to Hanks, Rep. Dave Williams (R-CO Springs), has been one of the more outspoken proponents of claims that the election was stolen — claims former Attorney General Bill Barr called “bullshit” and “idiotic,” during a recorded interview presented by the Jan. 6 Committee.
“My feelings haven’t changed,” said Williams. “I still think something really amiss happened in 2020. I do believe the election was stolen from [Trump], especially in some of the other states that have come up — whether it be Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan. I don’t trust Dominion Voting Systems, in particular because they won’t let us actually look into their systems. … Beyond Dominion, there’s still issues with voter rolls, with mail-in balloting, and ballot harvesting. You put all these things together and yea, they can add up to some fraud. For sure.”
Hanks says election integrity is a serious issue for many voters. “Bill Barr’s talking points are of no interest to me,” he said. “What I know, based off of my own experience, is different than what he is talking about, and whatever his motivations are, I can tell you mine are not partisan. Frankly, free and fair, and transparent elections ought to be the most bipartisan that we could possibly have. That it has not been is certainly suspicious to me. That the companies that we hired, both Republicans and Democrats, that they are hiding behind ‘proprietary’ claims is disturbing to me. That these machines are built in China using foreign workers and parts that are not secure — in any national security, supply chain sense of the word — is grossly disturbing, and frankly, I saw firsthand down there in Arizona that there were ballots that were copies of copies of copies. That is tremendously disturbing. If you watched 2,000 Mules, they made the point, you don’t have to have fraud everywhere, but you have strategic fraud in a few places.”
In addition to inspiring the Jan. 6 attacks, at least according to the Jan. 6 Committee, the widespread claims of voter fraud have led to threats of violence against county clerks and secretaries of state.
Williams says the violence isn’t related to the claims of election fraud. “I don’t think what we’re saying is bad speech, but if people disagree with our speech, the way to counter bad speech is with more speech,” he said. “That’s kind of the bedrock principle of our republic here. No one should be threatened. Clerks and recorders, secretaries of state, or any other elected official shouldn’t be threatened with violence, for sure, but we’re not going to stop talking about these issues just because there are bad actors out there who want to harm others. This is important stuff. I feel that the greater harm is not looking into this. If we don’t have free and fair and safe elections then we don’t have a country. If we are, in fact, a government by, for and of the people, then we better make damn sure the people are actually electing the leaders.”
Crow says that elected officials have a responsibility to be careful with incendiary rhetoric and sensational claims of widespread fraud. “One of the many lessons of the last couple years is that words matter,” he said. “When you’re an elected official and you have a megaphone — and that megaphone might be your Twitter account, Facebook account, or just a microphone that you’re speaking to a crowd — when you say things it carries outsized, affected impact. The words you use and the things you say matter a lot and they can mean life or death. They can mean whether people respect the democratic process or not. Certainly, there are a number of my colleagues whose rhetoric is not just irresponsible, it’s dangerous, it’s anti-democratic, and I don’t hesitate to call those folks out when I see it and when I hear it.”