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Opinion | The Jan. 6 narrative fell apart on Monday

After months of proclaiming that Jan. 6 was no big deal, text messages revealed Monday that several prominent Republicans were terrified.

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP PHOTO/JOSE LUIS MAGANA)

It was an attempted coup.  That’s what happened at our U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Officials at the very top of our government concocted a plan to overturn the results of a free and fair election. They put that plan, at least partially, in a PowerPoint presentation. And then they set about executing it. 

They had the military on standby. (Yeah, that really happened.) They harped for weeks on the “rigged” elections, which dozens of audits and investigations have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt were anything but. And they staged rallies with a clear plan to apply pressure on our congresspeople to not certify votes and ignore the will of the American people. 

All of it simply because they didn’t like the results of the election.

Their guy – their weird, orange-tinged, deranged cult leader – lost. And they were either too delusional or too weak to keep him and his closest advisors from carrying out what was, by literal definition, a coup. 

Oh, yes, it was a poor coup attempt. One that was half-planned and clumsily executed – primarily because you had some of the dumbest people in America trying to pull it off. 

But dumb coup attempts are still coup attempts. And there is now zero question that this occurred, despite months of lies and gaslighting from Republicans who were directly involved. 

All of the subterfuge ended on Monday, when Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had his text messages read for all the country to hear. And the MAGA wing of the Republican Party – which, for all intents and purposes, is the main wing of the Republican Party at this point – was laid absolutely bare. 

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Those texts reveal a party leadership that was torn between not wanting to offend Trump but desperately wanting him to stop the insurrection that was playing out on American TVs. His own son was begging Meadows to get Trump to do something. (Which I assume means Trump Jr. doesn’t have his father’s phone number. And that actually makes perfect sense.) 

Those text messages, read out by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot/coup, undercut pretty much every two-bit explanation that the GOP and their PR team over at Fox News have tried over the last several months. And they reveal a group of people who were shocked, angry and scared on Jan. 6, but who have since resorted to outright lies to diminish and discount what we all saw happen that day. 

In the interest of country? Hardly. 

No, they’ve done so entirely in the interest of party and personal gain. 

And the gullible conservative masses, desperate to believe what they really, really want to believe, have lapped it up. Especially here in this state, where Trumpism still runs wild and a significant portion of the electorate still believes that the 2020 election was rigged. And where several of our elected leaders were active participants in the coup. 

Never mind, of course, that we all watched that day as people carrying Trump flags and wearing MAGA hats stormed the Capitol. They killed people, including police officers on their way in. They had plans to do God-knows-what to elected members of Congress, as evidenced by some of the insurrectionists carrying zip-tie handcuffs. 

They erected a gallows outside – we’ve all seen the pictures. They wanted to hang the vice president who refused to follow along with their coup plan. We know this because as they entered the Capitol, they chanted “Hang Mike Pence!”

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Outside, they beat cops with flag poles, sprayed them with chemical sprays, stomped them as they lay on the ground. Hundreds of weapons were recovered. An Alabama man brought a cache of firearms, and he brought napalm. An unidentified man planted pipe bombs around the area. 

They smeared human feces on the walls. 

For months now, we’ve all heard from the right that these things were no big deal, that no one was really afraid on that day, that Trump did nothing wrong, that this was all being overblown by the Democrats. 

But on Monday, as Rep. Liz Cheney – one of a few Republicans who have taken a stand on this matter – read aloud the text exchanges between Meadows and lawmakers and Fox News hosts, it became crystal clear just how big of a lie that was. 

Fox’s Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade all texted Meadows that day, begging him to get Trump to stop the insurrection. To condemn the actions. To say something. 

“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” Ingraham wrote to Meadows that day. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”

A few weeks later, Ingraham was on her nightly show ridiculing Capitol Police officers and saying – and I’m not making this up – that they “have no one to blame but themselves” for what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

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These people – the Laura Ingrahams and Sean Hannitys – they’re a disgrace. Right along with the rest of the MAGA crowd who were either in the Capitol that day, or who have excused away the actions of their ignorant brethren. 

At the end of the day, what actually took place on Jan. 6 was a failed coup. It was disjointed and dysfunctional, like most of the rest of Trump tenure, but it was still an effort – albeit an poorly organized one – to use force to impede a free and fair election and instead insert a failed candidate back into office. 

Simply because many of the active participants in the coup weren’t aware that’s what they were doing doesn’t change the overall mission. Trump knew. Meadows knew. Many other lawmakers, including some from this state, knew. 

They sold a big lie. They pushed it and pushed it. They tried to pressure people into violating the constitution. They used threats of violence and a violent crowd. And they had every intention of undermining a U.S. election. 

That’s the truth and you damn well know it. 

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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