Republican congressmembers reportedly helped plan Jan. 6. Will it matter?

An explosive new report claims Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn, and other GOP members of Congress helped organize the Capitol insurrection.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) (R-CO) speaks during a press conference at the U.S...
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It’s long been alleged that a cadre of the Republican Party’s more outwardly fascist ranks in Congress were somehow involved in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt on Capitol Hill, although the exact degree to which lawmakers like Reps. Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), and others helped foment the violence of that day has been somewhat unclear. Until now.

According to an explosive report from Rolling Stone this week, multiple people involved in the planning of what occurred on Jan. 6 met with at least six Republican members of Congress or their staffs “dozens” of times in the weeks leading up to the insurrection. Among those involved are obvious names like Reps. Madison Cawthorn (N.C.) and Mo Brooks (Ala.) — both of whom have already faced considerable heat for their previously known public role in inciting violence that day — as well as a batch of their slightly less headline-grabbing (but no less odious) colleagues, such as Arizona congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar.

“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” one of the organizers who spoke to Rolling Stone said. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”

“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” they added.

Among the more shocking revelations offered by Rolling Stone’s sources is the claim that Gosar, a white nationalist sympathizer whose own family cut a campaign ad urging Arizona voters to choose anyone else, had allegedly promised a “blanket pardon” to the organizers for an unrelated charge, as an incentive for them to continue planning for Jan. 6.

“Our impression was that it was a done deal,” the organizer told Rolling Stone, “that he’d spoken to the president [Trump] about it in the Oval … in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support.”

This is hardly the first time Gosar’s name has popped up as a potential co-conspirator who helped plan the attempted insurrection. In a since-deleted video posted by “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, Alexander claimed that he and Gosar, along with Brooks and Biggs, “schemed up [a way of] of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting” to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win. Brooks and Biggs have both denied the claim, while Gosar remained silent when Alexander’s video was made public.

This points to a larger problem with the sincerely alarming revelations published by Rolling Stone: Will they matter? While there are already calls to expel the alleged insurrectionist caucus from Congress entirely — notably, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) has accused them of having helped “plot a terrorist attack,” while former President Trump’s niece and frequent critic Mary Trump shared the relevant legal text to justify such an expulsion to her more than 1 million followers — it’s hard to see any serious consequences on the horizon for the representatives involved. Consider the onerous battle to strip Greene of her committee assignments after her long and very well-documented history of saying offensive things — and that was before the Jan. 6 commission ossified the partisan divide between Democrats who think launching an insurrection is bad, and Republicans (with pitifully few exceptions) who think it’s fine and we should all just move on.

Does it really seem likely that in this absolutely poisonous atmosphere of winner-take-all politics, the Democrats have the will — to say nothing of the political capital — to pursue serious consequences for any lawmakers who contributed to the insurrection? By that same token of skepticism, it’s hard to imagine the Justice Department taking action either, when it would risk blowing up, well, all of politics as we know it, really. Truly, imagine what the GOP response would be if Democrats and/or the Biden administration targeted sitting members of Congress as having abetted domestic terrorists. However rancorous and partisan things are now, they’d seem like a breeze compared to the bad faith explosion that would surely follow something like that.

This, ultimately, is the tragedy of what’s occurred here. If the allegations in Rolling Stone are true — and there’s no reason to think they’re not — then of course the lawmakers who helped set the stage for Jan. 6 should be removed from office and subject to prosecution! And yet, as things stand now, that seems increasingly unlikely without some sort of massive recalibration within both the MAGA-fied GOP, and the gun-shy Democratic Party. Which is to say: It’s shocking that multiple members of Congress seemingly helped plot an attack on the very institution from which they draw their power and authority. It should be equally shocking that they’ll almost certainly get away with it, too.