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We're finally learning the truth about how craven the GOP's Jan. 6 lies really are

Why would Trump allies need pardons if they truly believed the election had been stolen?
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The second public Jan. 6 hearing commences Monday, and we should expect more of the searing indictment of former President Donald Trump and his efforts to overturn the results of a free and fair presidential election that we saw during the first hearing last Thursday.

If Trump allies truly believed the election had been stolen, why would they need pardons?

The American people were shown evidence of Trump’s lies to the American public, his illegitimate efforts to use the Justice Department to further his false claims, and his fomenting of the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol. Perhaps most unsettling was his embrace of the demonstrators chant to “Hang Mike Pence.” (Trump reportedly told his aides, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea,” that Pence “deserves it.”)

But what was perhaps most striking about the hearing on Thursday night was the complicity of Trump’s allies, both inside the White House and on Capitol Hill. They cynically enabled his assault on American democracy, even though it now seems apparent that they didn’t believe a word of it.

The House Jan. 6 committee is holding its third public hearing on Thursday, June 16 at 1 p.m. ET. Get expert analysis in real-time on our liveblog at: msnbc.com/jan6hearings.

Indeed, one of the more startling revelations from Thursday night came from Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who said that multiple members of Congress, including Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., sought presidential pardons for their efforts to overturn the election results.

If Trump allies truly believed the election had been stolen, why would they need pardons? They were simply pushing good faith arguments about election fraud, right? The fact that they sought Trump’s assistance in potentially avoiding prosecution is compelling evidence that they knew the claims they were making then — and are still making now — were not true.

In a statement the day of the hearing, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to say that Trump was responsible for the events of Jan. 6, instead stating that “everybody” is responsible. But McCarthy is on tape, telling colleagues that Trump “bears responsibility for his words and actions. No ifs, ands or buts.” The top-ranking House Republican has also called Trump’s actions “unacceptable” and that “nobody can defend that, and nobody should defend it.”

I would imagine that the latter attitude is shared by many of his staffers, who were shown on tape Thursday night fleeing their offices in terror on Jan. 6 as the Trump-inspired mob entered the building. Still, McCarthy continues to defend the president, and in the process, cravenly and cynically lie to Republican voters.

If one did a private survey of House Republicans, I would expect that the vast majority would acknowledge Trump’s primary culpability for the violence that took place that day. Most would likely acknowledge that his claims of a stolen election are, to quote former Attorney General Bill Barr, “bulls---.”

The overwhelming majority of congressional Republicans and those seeking to become congressional Republicans have chosen to peddle the former president’s lies to their supporters. They’d rather be members of Congress than patriots.

But the truth, it seems, is no impediment to their ambitions. The few Republicans who are willing to publicly recognize the central role Trump played in the insurrection have been ostracized from the party, or are choosing not to seek re-election. The second Republican on the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, has taken the latter course. Cheney is fighting to keep her job against a pro-Trump Republican primary opponent, which looks increasingly like a long-shot.

The overwhelming majority of congressional Republicans and those seeking to become congressional Republicans have chosen to peddle the former president’s lies to their supporters. They’d rather be members of Congress than patriots.

They have plenty of company among Trump’s inner circle.

On Thursday, we heard over and over from those close to Trump that they knew in early November that he’d lost the 2020 presidential election. Alex Cannon, a campaign lawyer, says he gave the same information to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who replied via text, “There’s no there there.” A key Trump aide, Jason Miller, recounted Trump being told, in the Oval Office, by a campaign data expert that he was going to lose. The president’s daughter and former White House aide Ivanka Trump told the committee she believed Barr when he said that Trump had lost.

But that didn’t stop them from parroting Trump’s lies and enabling his election mania. Barr spent months before the campaign raising false claims about potential voter fraud and allowing partisan Justice Department investigations to take place in the run-up to Election Day. Ivanka Trump has largely tried to wash her hands of the Jan.6 attack, but she was there on the White House Ellipse with her father when he urged the protesters who had gathered to march down to the Capitol and “demand that Congress do the right thing.”

Meadows continued to push the Big Lie about 2020, even bringing election deniers like Sydney Powell, Rudy Guiliani, and Mike “The Pillow Guy” Lindell into the White House to tell Trump the lies he was so desperate to hear.

Cheney most accurately described the immoral choice that basically her entire party of fellow Republicans had made: “There will come a day when president Trump is gone,” she said. “But your dishonor will remain.” With the Jan. 6 committee resuming hearings Monday, we should expect to see more clearly how deep that dishonor runs.