Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP
In a fiery op-ed for The Atlantic published Saturday, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said that the QAnon conspiracy theory is “destroying” the GOP and urged his fellow Republicans to reject it.
Sasse’s op-ed comes less than two weeks after a violent mob of President Trump’s supporters breached the U.S. Capitol, leaving five people, including a Capitol Hill Police officer, dead. The rioters stormed the Capitol with the intention of stopping Congress’s count of the Electoral College vote that broke for President-elect Joe Biden, claiming that the election was fraudulent.
Many of the members photographed during the riots could be seen with references to “Q” or “QAnon” on their clothing, including a man wearing a horned helmet and face paint colloquially known as the “QAnon Shaman.”
Believers of the theory allege without evidence that Trump is working to “expose the U.S. government’s capture by a global network of cannibalistic pedophiles.” Several newly elected lawmakers, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), have been associated with the theory, though she later walked back her support due to “misinformation.”
In Sasse’s editorial, titled “QAnon is Destroying the GOP From Within” the lawmaker states that the riots that took place at the Capitol were not a result of a “few bad apples” but rather a “seed” that Republicans allowed to grow in the party over time, including these theories.
Sasse mentioned that officer Eugene Goodman, who was seen on video leading a mob away from the Senate chamber during the riots, was being chased by a man wearing a shirt with the QAnon theory logo. The FBI has said that the man, identified as Douglas Jensen, “wanted to have his T-shirt seen on video so that ‘Q’ could ‘get the credit.’”
“It is the blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago and has been nourished by treachery, poor political judgment, and cowardice,” Sasse wrote.
Sasse said that when Trump leaves office, the GOP has a choice to uphold the Constitution or “become a party of conspiracy theories.”
“When Trump leaves office, my party faces a choice: We can dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution and perpetuating our best American institutions and traditions, or we can be a party of conspiracy theories, cable-news fantasies, and the ruin that comes with them,” he said.
“We can be the party of Eisenhower, or the party of the conspiracist Alex Jones,” Sasse continued, referring to Jones, who is a conspiracy theorist.
Sasse also accused some of his Republican colleagues of “winking” at conspiracy theorists while continuing to “preach” the Constitution.
“Until last week, many party leaders and consultants thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon. They can’t,” Sasse wrote. “The GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them. Now is the time to decide what this party is about.”
Sasse also criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for not disavowing Greene’s campaign and called the first-year lawmaker “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”
“During her campaign, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had a choice: disavow her campaign and potentially lose a Republican seat, or welcome her into his caucus and try to keep a lid on her ludicrous ideas. McCarthy failed the leadership test and sat on the sidelines,” Sasse opined.
Greene stated this month that she plans to bring articles of impeachment against Biden the day after his inauguration.
Sasse acknowledged her plan, writing, “She’ll keep making fools out of herself, her constituents, and the Republican Party,” he said.
The Nebraska lawmaker concluded, stating that in order to play a “constructive part” in America’s future, the GOP must “repudiate the nonsense that has set our party on fire” and “rebuild itself” by offering a “genuine answer to the frustrations of the past decade.”
“In a standoff between the Constitution and madness, both men picked a side,” Sasse said. “It’s the GOP’s turn to do the same.”
The op-ed comes as the Senate will take up the impeachment trial of Trump this session.
The House this week impeached the president for a second time during his presidency, charging him with inciting the violent mob that attacked the Capitol. Ten Republicans along with House Democrats voted to impeach the president.
Before the mob stormed the building on Jan. 6, Trump gave remarks on the National Mall, telling supporters that he would never concede and encouraging the crowd to march to the Capitol and demand that Congress halt the certification of Biden’s Electoral College win.
Sasse has been vocal about what happened at the Capitol, releasing a statement this week urging Americans to consider the seriousness of the events.
In addition, he called efforts by his Republican colleagues, including Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), to object to the election results “really dumbass.”