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Juan Williams: Republicans prefer Trump’s fantasies over truth and facts

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the leader of House Democrats, recently named Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), formerly the third-ranking Republican in the House, to a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

It was an extraordinary step to build bipartisan trust for an investigation into the most serious attempt to overthrow the U.S. government since the Civil War.

Forget it, Speaker Pelosi.

{mosads}It is not going to make a difference. Republicans now define loyalty by one measure — the willingness to jump headfirst into former President Trump’s delusional claims of massive voter fraud to explain why he lost the 2020 election.

Pelosi felt the need for bipartisanship because House Republicans initially looked inclined to boycott the probe by not naming any Republicans to the committee. In the Senate, Republicans blocked an independent investigation.

Cheney is a hard-line conservative. Her Republican credentials are unassailable. But she voted to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the attack on the government.

So, while Pelosi picked Cheney as an honest broker, some Republicans scorn Cheney as disloyal to Trump.

The dark reality is that no matter how fair the final report of the select committee, it will be ignored by most Republicans.

Similarly, it won’t matter to many Republicans in Congress if federal and state investigations in New York find Trump’s company guilty of engaging in a criminal enterprise full of tax fraud.

Republicans in Congress are even willing to close their eyes to a disease taking the lives of their constituents.

They refuse to rebut mindless, conspiracy talk about vaccines even as Republican-majority states that voted for Trump are disproportionately hit by a new variant of the virus.

To be a Republican in good standing these days requires buying into conspiracies, expressing racist grievances and repeating the “Big Lie.”

A Monmouth University poll released last month found that 63 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters say Trump lost the election because of fraud.

Last week, Pelosi called out House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for allowing his party to reach such a low:

“McCarthy looks the other way and welcomes Members who spread dangerous conspiracy theories and consort with insurrections, far right extremists and white supremacists,” a statement from Pelosi’s press office said, “but he punishes and threatens those in his Conference who dare to stand up for our democracy.”

Pelosi is not the only one calling out top Republicans for their failure to lead.

“Republican leaders have played footsie with dark forces on the far right,” The Washington Post wrote in an editorial last week, “under the mistaken impression that they could benefit from the enthusiasm of racists, conspiracy theorists and other extremists while maintaining control of the party. … Those forces have instead reshaped the party — not just on matters of policy … but also on the most basic question of whether Americans can trust their democratic institutions.”

William Barr, Trump’s own attorney general, is also calling out Republicans in Congress.

The conspiracy theory about election fraud from Trump is “bullshit,” Barr said.

“If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it,” Barr told journalist Jonathan Karl in an interview for the forthcoming book “Betrayal.” “It was all bullshit.”

Barr noted that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked him to say Biden won. McConnell refused to say it for fear of losing Trump’s political support in Senate elections in Georgia.

But B.S. is now required from Republicans running for Congress.

A third of “the nearly 700 Republicans who have filed initial paperwork … to run next year for the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives” are embracing Trump’s “Big Lie,” Amy Gardner reported in The Washington Post last week.

Gardner noted that 136 of the Republicans running for seats in the next Congress are “sitting members of Congress who voted against” certifying President Biden’s electoral college victory on Jan. 6.

The terrible consequence of this downward spiral was evident last week when The New York Times reported on social media postings suggesting that Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), a leader of the “Stop the Steal” movement, was set to appear at a fundraiser with a white supremacist leader, Nick Fuentes.

(McCarthy, the GOP House leader, told The Washington Post that Gosar had told him the ad for the fundraiser was “not real.”)

Gosar “in a recent fund-raising solicitation spread the conspiracy theory that the F.B.I. may have been behind the Jan. 6 attack,” Catie Edmondson reported for the Times.

{mossecondads}Meanwhile, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who did not challenge the certification of Biden’s win, is facing a primary opponent who attacks him for not being loyal to Trump. The challenge is being supported by the state Republican party chairman.

“It’s more unheard of than it is rare” for an incumbent senator to see his primary opponent endorsed by the state chairman of his party, Lankford told the Tulsa World.

But American politics is in the “unheard-of” zone.

“Eighteen more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done — that’s what we want,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) recently told a conservative crowd, proudly advertising a strategy to stop government from working.

Thankfully, most voters live outside the Trump-right-wing-media election conspiracy echo chamber.

But what’s next? Blood has already been spilled this year on the grounds of the Capitol.

Leaders, left and right, need to join Pelosi now in facing down Trump’s lies — before the delusions spark more violence and more voter suppression in the 2022 midterms.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags 2020 presidential election Capitol insurrection Capitol riot Chip Roy Conspiracy theories Donald Trump James Lankford January 6 Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Paul Gosar Republican Party William Barr

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