Many Republican leaders seem to think any all-encompassing investigation will be bad for the party. I disagree. Some prominent Republicans want to uncover the truth, as do police officers who heroically protected members of Congress and their staff on Jan. 6. Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after engaging with the Trump-inspired mob, supported Mr. Trump. Officer Michael Fanone, who was shocked multiple times with a stun gun and beaten and suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury, told me he is a Republican. Officer Harry Dunn said: “We were victims of an assault, of an attack, and we deserve justice and we deserve to know everybody who was involved, and we want them held accountable.” Many of our officers feel they are being left on the field, and they wonder, what happened to “Back the Blue.”
Mr. Trump’s lies are red meat to those in the conspiracy world who have already demonstrated what they are prepared to do. The danger also extends to states, as Mr. Trump tells people that election outcomes in Georgia and Arizona will be overturned, and he could be reinstated as president in August. How will QAnon followers or Oath Keepers respond when that does not happen?
Many Republicans rationalize ignoring his rhetoric: His speech on Saturday wasn’t even aired live on Fox or CNN, and he may end up being indicted in New York and occupied with legal and financial problems. So, this thinking goes, what’s the harm in humoring the guy a little longer?
The harm is that the lies have metastasized and could threaten public safety again. The U.S. Capitol Police report that threats against members of Congress have increased 107 percent this year. Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, has noted, “There’s no reason to believe that anybody organically is going to come to the truth.” Representative Liz Cheney, another Republican, said, “It’s an ongoing threat, so silence is not an option.”
Humoring the guy also emboldens Mr. Trump’s pardoned allies like Steve Bannon and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Republicans are now flocking to Mr. Bannon’s podcast to audition for Mr. Trump’s support, and Mr. Bannon says “a litmus test” will be whether they are willing to challenge the outcome of the 2020 election. Later this month, Mr. Flynn will appear at an Oklahoma campaign rally with Jackson Lahmeyer, a political novice who is challenging Senator James Lankford, the Republican incumbent. Mr. Lahmeyer claims the 2020 election was stolen and touts Mr. Flynn’s endorsement, saying we have to be willing to “Fight Like a Flynn.”
Republicans would be better advised to fight like Senator Margaret Chase Smith. During the Joseph McCarthy era in 1950, she advised fellow Republicans that the Democrats had already provided Republicans with sufficient campaign issues, and they need not resort to McCarthy’s demagogy.
The same is true today. Republicans need to have more faith in their policies and stop being afraid of a dangerous and diminished man who has divided the country and now divides our party. Reconsider the commission, let the investigation go ahead, and run and win in 2022 on the truth.
Barbara Comstock, a Virginia Republican and a lawyer, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2015 to 2019.