Nearly lost in the comparisons by Democrats and the White House between Jan. 6, 2021, and two of the deadliest days in U.S. history — Pearl Harbor and 9/11 — was a news conference on Thursday afternoon by Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
One person, Ashli Babbitt, was shot during the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and she was fatally shot by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd, who fired one round into the unarmed Air Force veteran and supporter of then-President Donald Trump. That was just one of the points the two lawmakers made as they rebutted the Democratic-led commemoration of a year since the Capitol siege.
''It's very important for the Republican voice to be heard today, because it's the Republican voice, the Republican voter, and the Trump supporter that has been smeared constantly over this past year,'' Greene told reporters at the Washington news conference.
Greene and other Republicans have denounced the interruption of the ''very important work'' of Congress during its Jan. 6 debate on certifying President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.
Gaetz laid out a detailed report by Revolver.News, published by former White House speechwriter Darren Beattie, has been hailed by Trump as an earnest attempt to get the real story of Jan. 6.
''We are here to expose the truth, to ask key questions about what happened on Jan. 6, who animated the violence, the extent to which the federal government may have been involved,'' Gaetz told reporters.
''We know this: Jan. 6 last year wasn't an insurrection. No one has been charged with insurrection. No one has been charged with treason. But it very well may have been a fedsurrection.''
Gaetz and Greene's news conference showed footage of the storming of the Capitol last Jan. 6, including Beattie's Revolver.news compilation that suggested there were numerous unindicted conspirators, led by Arizona Oath Keeper Ray Epps, a Marine Corps veteran and Trump supporter who started the ''we must go into the Capitol'' campaign Jan. 5 — a day before the Capitol riot.
''Imagine if we actually had the powers of the Jan. 6 [House] committee, the powers of the federal government, to understand why Ray Epps, the evening of the 5th, is out telling people dispassionately, professionally, with laser focus that the objective is to enter the United States Capitol building?'' Gaetz said, after showing a video of Epps whispering into the ear of an indicted suspect right before the final blockade was breached Jan. 6.
Revolver.News' video evidence shows this to have occurred before the conclusion of Trump's speech at a rally nearby — a speech Democrats assert incited supporters to breach the Capitol.
''Then, on the 6th, it's not the Proud Boys who engaged in the initial breach, it's Ray Epps at that precise moment.''
The news conference by Gaetz and Greene was among many strong reactions Thursday from Republicans. Many of them bristled at what they dubbed divisive, politicizing Jan. 6 rhetoric from Biden and his fellow Democrats.
Trump, who had canceled his own Jan. 6 news conference, wrote a lengthy statement from his Save America PAC, denouncing Biden's tone and his remarks as ''very hurtful.'' The former president continued to claim that Jan. 6 took place because many Americans were protesting election fraud in the presidential vote.
Trump blasted the Biden administration's first-year struggles, and he urged Republican voters to retake power in the upcoming midterm elections.
''He acts like he's aggrieved, but we're the ones who were aggrieved and America is suffering because of it with poisonous Borders, record Inflation, a humiliating surrender in Afghanistan, $5 a gallon gas and higher, empty stock shelves, and rampant crime,'' Trump said in his statement.
''America is a laughingstock of the world, and it's all because of the real insurrection, which took place Nov. 3, but this is an election year and MAGA Republicans should get elected and work with me to fix this horror that Joe Biden and the Democrats have brought us.''
Trump, blocked on Twitter and Facebook in the days after the Capitol siege, is launching the social media app Truth Social on Feb. 21 while weighing his options for a 2024 presidential bid.
Meanwhile, other top Republicans joined Trump in blasting Biden.
''What brazen politicization of January 6 by President Biden,'' tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
''Finally, President Biden and Vice President Harris's speeches today were an effort to resurrect a failed presidency more than marking the anniversary of a dark day in American history,'' Graham added, also denouncing the criminal violence of Jan. 6 protesters and so-called social justice protests that unfolded the summer before the 2020 presidential election campaign.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has notably broken from Trump on contesting the election results over unproven claims of voter fraud and the events of Jan. 6, adding condemnation of the violence at the Capitol.
''January 6th, 2021 was a dark day for Congress and our country,'' McConnell wrote in a lengthy statement. ''The United States Capitol, the seat of the first branch of our federal government, was stormed by criminals who brutalized police officers and used force to try to stop Congress from doing its job. This disgraceful scene was antithetical to the rule of law.''
But he echoed criticisms aimed at Democrats for ''exploiting'' Jan. 6 for partisan purposes.
''It has been stunning to see some Washington Democrats try to exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals that long predated this event,'' his statement added. ''It is especially jaw-dropping to hear some Senate Democrats invoke the mob's attempt to disrupt our country's norms, rules, and institutions as a justification to discard our norms, rules, and institutions themselves.''
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