‘Theater’: Senate Republicans Tune Out Jan. 6 Hearings About Capitol Riot

WASHINGTON ― The hearings in the House about Jan. 6, 2021, have made plenty of news so far, thanks to extraordinary testimony from a number of former Donald Trump administration officials and aides who debunked the ex-president’s lies about the 2020 election and shed more light on his state of mind during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

But Senate Republicans say they’re not paying attention to any of it, nor do they intend to.

“Why? Theater?” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who voted to convict Trump over his role in inciting the riot, told HuffPost when asked if he planned to tune in.

“I don’t have time,” added Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), explaining he was instead focused on passing an appropriations bill.

During Monday’s hearing before the bipartisan House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, investigators laid out proof that the former president’s staffers had told him that he had lost reelection but that he attempted to remain in power anyway.

“If he really believes this stuff, I thought he’d lost contact, or become detached from reality,” Barr told the Jan. 6 committee.

Last week, in a separate prime-time hearing, the committee aired an interview with Trump’s own daughter and special adviser, Ivanka Trump, who said she took Barr’s comments seriously. The House panel also shared testimony from inside the White House alleging that Trump welcomed his supporters’ chants calling for his Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged.

A video of Bill Stepien, Donald Trump's former campaign manager, speaking at the House select committee hearing on June 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
A video of Bill Stepien, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, speaking at the House select committee hearing on June 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

JABIN BOTSFORD via Getty Images

None of these developments seemed to move Republicans this week, however.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who previously criticized Trump over the riot, simply ignored questions about it. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) quipped that he would be sure to “catch the highlights on NFL Network.”

Asked specifically about Trump’s alleged comment about Pence, Romney said the former president had made many comments “so beyond the pale it’s hard to respond to each of them.”

Democrats, meanwhile, said they were impressed with how the Jan. 6 committee had centered its case on the testimony of former Trump administration officials.

“They are definitely building a case [to indict Trump],” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said. “As to whether it will justify prosecution for the Justice Department’s very high bar? I don’t know.”

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