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What happened to the GOP legislators who participated in Jan. 6?

One GOP state legislator who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 resigned after his arrest. He was, however, an exception to the larger partisan pattern.


The Donald Trump supporters who participated in Jan. 6 had a variety of different backgrounds, but there was one group that stood out: While no members of Congress attacked their own workplace, several elected state legislators were on hand for the insurrectionist violence.

One even faced real consequences. West Virginia's Derrick Evans live-streamed himself entering the U.S. Capitol while shouting, "We're in! We're in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!" Two days later, the Republican lawmaker was arrested, and he resigned from the state legislature soon after.

The West Virginian was, however, the exception, not the rule. Politico reported today on a project launched by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), which focuses on electing state legislators, and which set out to identify every Republican state lawmaker who traveled to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 at Trump's behest.

Ultimately, the DLCC found 21 Republican lawmakers whom the group described as "insurrectionists," and several hundred who promoted "Stop the Steal" rhetoric or signed letters or briefs calling to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

"We honestly thought that it was possible that some of these folks actually would at least face consequences or step down," Christina Polizzi, the DLCC's communications director, told Politico.

This was hardly an outlandish assumption. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Trump himself condemned those responsible for "the violence, lawlessness and mayhem." The then-president added those who participated in Jan. 6 "defiled the seat of American democracy." It stood to reason — at the time — that elected officials who played a role in the assault on our system of government would quickly become political pariahs.

We now know, of course, that this didn't happen. From the Politico report:

Rather than shaming Republican state lawmakers out of office, Democrats found that many of the names on the list avoided pushback from party leaders in their state, grew their political platform and online following, and in at least three cases are now running for statewide office under the banner of former President Donald Trump and his lies about election fraud.

"In terms of seeing any difference on the ground," Polizzi added, "the only thing that we can point to is awareness of who these legislators are, but I don't think that it has changed Republicans one iota."

It happened gradually, but Republicans who set out to rewrite the story of Jan. 6 have succeeded, at least with their target audience. At a GOP event last week in Virginia, in support of the state's 2021 ticket, attendees literally pledged allegiance to a flag that was part of the Jan. 6 attack — as if it were a sacred relic from an event worthy of great reverence.

It's the same thinking that leads Trump to celebrate those who committed acts of political violence. It's also the same thinking that leads GOP members of Congress to characterize Jan. 6 participants as innocent tourists who are being unfairly persecuted.

Jessica Post, who leads the DLCC, told Politico, "There's a reason why representative Derrick Evans thought he could live-stream this thing from the Capitol without any accountability. A lot of these folks felt covered. This is today's Republican Party."