Trump's triumphs extend to GOP rewriting history of Nov. 3 and Jan. 6: The Note

An array of Republicans cast doubt on what they saw at the Capitol months ago.

May 13, 2021, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney might be the most visible manifestation of the Republican Party's embrace of former President Donald Trump's lies about the election.

PHOTO: Rep. Liz Cheney speaks to the media at the US Capitol in Washington, on May 12, 2021.
Rep. Liz Cheney speaks to the media at the US Capitol in Washington, on May 12, 2021.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

But his bigger triumph could be in rewriting the ugly history of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. On the very day Cheney was removed from leadership, a staggering array of Republicans cast doubt on what members of Congress themselves witnessed at the Capitol just four months ago.

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., said he never saw proof that rioters were actually Trump supporters. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., took the opposite approach, arguing that "it was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others" -- and saying a Capitol Police officer died that day of natural causes.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., hit a similar theme in calling the Capitol Police shooting of Ashli Babbitt as she tried to breach the House chamber an "execution," as ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Beatrice Peterson report.

Cue Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., who trumpeted the fact that "the House floor was never breached," and said it looked from video of that day that protesters behaved in an "orderly fashion."

"You would actually think it was a normal tourist visit," Clyde said.

Also Wednesday, former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller told lawmakers he "reassessed" his previous judgment -- walking back a statement where he said "it's pretty much definitive" that the attempted insurrection wouldn't have happened without Trump's speech to protesters earlier on Jan. 6.

All of this comes is on top of what's become a mainstream -- though no less false Republican view -- that the election was "rigged" or otherwise stolen.

PHOTO: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters outside the White House after a meeting with President Joe Biden, May 12, 2021.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters outside the White House after a meeting with President Joe Biden, May 12, 2021.
Evan Vucci/AP

Preposterously, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said -- shortly after Cheney was ousted from leadership: "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. That's all over with."

Cheney has said she would make it her mission not to let her party or the country forget Jan. 6. But many of her colleagues are well along in crafting their own Trumpian and patently false narratives of both the election and the subsequent attack on democracy.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Some Democrats have signaled a willingness to forgo party ideals in favor of making deals with Republicans to get legislation passed.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott that he is backing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Its scope is far more limited than the sweeping changes proposed in H.R. 1, the For The People Act, which faces staunch Republican opposition. It's a break with party leadership that has pushed H.R. 1 and its reforms, which would be a major overhaul of the system.

"(The John Lewis Voting Rights Act) could be done bipartisan to start getting confidence back in our system," said Manchin.

PHOTO: ABC News' Rachel Scott talks with Sen. Joe Manchin in Washington, May 12, 2021.
ABC News' Rachel Scott talks with Sen. Joe Manchin in Washington, May 12, 2021.
ABC News

Over the weekend, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn backed away from including "qualified immunity," or lowering the standards necessary to prosecute individual officers in civil court, in police reform legislation. The topic has been a sticking point in negotiations on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and most Democrats have framed the inclusion of qualified immunity in reform as nonnegotiable.

"If we don't get qualified immunity now, then we will come back and try to get it later," said Clyburn on CNN. "But I don't want to see us throw out a good bill because we can't get a perfect bill."

While the likelihood of Democrats completely abandoning bold ideas on hot-button issues like voting rights and police reform is unlikely, the wavering of both Manchin and Clyburn could indicate acceptance of what is attainable for Democrats while they boast slim majorities in both chambers of Congress.

The TIP with Meg Cunningham

After a contentious primary season and a nominating convention full of confusion, Virginia Republican State Sen. Amanda Chase is not backing down from her assertion that the process was rigged. Chase was one of four front-runners for the Virginia GOP's gubernatorial nomination, but fell short after a drive-through convention over the weekend.

"While we came up short in yesterday's rigged convention that allowed only 53k registered voters to choose our next Governor out of 1.9 million Virginians who voted for President Trump; God is still in control," she wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday. "While I will have more to say in the days ahead I'm spending the rest of the week at the beach with my hubby for a trip we planned months ago."

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Amanda Chase, places a yard sign during a drive through GOP Convention vote in Chesterfield, Va., May 8, 2021.
Republican gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Amanda Chase, places a yard sign during a drive through GOP Convention vote in Chesterfield, Va., May 8, 2021.
Steve Helber/AP

The Virginia GOP spent months quarreling over the format they'd use to determine their nominee, but ultimately settled on the drive-through convention, a process which former GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman asserts was used to oust him from his spot in Congress.

She'd previously suggested that the election was stolen by the state party when early returns were coming in, threatening to run as an independent if the results did not end in her favor, and raised questions about the counting process in a video posted to her Facebook page. For someone who dubbed herself "Trump in heels," once even saying that the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters were "justified" in their actions, she seems to be following the former president's lead when it comes to accepting the election results.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning's episode features ABC News Congressional correspondent Rachel Scott, who brings us up to speed on the state of the GOP after the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney from leadership. ABC News' Anne Flaherty tells us what we need to know about the Pfizer vaccine and teenagers. And ABC News' Matt Gutman joins us from Israel as attacks on Palestinians grow in frequency and severity. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Christine Wormuth appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee at 9:30 a.m. for a hearing on her nomination be Army secretary.
  • Tae Johnson, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, appears before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Department of Homeland Security Committee for a hearing at 10 a.m.
  • President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris receive the president's daily brief at 10:45 a.m. in the Oval Office.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas appears before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at 10:15 a.m. for a hearing on the department's actions to address unaccompanied minors at the southern border.
  • Biden will give a speech on the Colonial Pipeline incident at 11:50 a.m., then the president and vice president will meet the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Transportation and a handful of senators about the best ways to invest in American infrastructure at 1:30 p.m.in the Oval Office.
  • The White House COVID Response Team has a briefing at 4 p.m.
  • First lady Jill Biden and actor and philanthropist Jennifer Garner travel to West Virginia to tour Arnoldsburg Elementary School at 12:45 p.m. They visit a vaccination center at Capital High School in Charleston at 3 p.m. They also greet members of the West Virginia National Guard and their families at Yeager Airport at 5 p.m.
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