Lawmakers conclude Jan. 6 remembrance with somber prayer vigil on Capitol steps

A brief prayer vigil on Capitol Hill on Thursday capped a day of events in Congress marking the anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot.

Democratic lawmakers from both chambers gathered on the Capitol steps as the Rev. Michael Curry gave the invocation prayer, followed by the U.S. Marine Band performing “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi briefly addressed the crowd before a moment of silence. “We prayerfully mark one year since the insurrection and patriotically honor the heroes who defended the Capitol and our democracy that day,” she said.

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The U.S. Marine Band ended the seven-minute vigil with “God Bless America.”

Thursday’s events at the Capitol, organized by Democrats, consisted of lawmaker testimonials of the Jan. 6 riot and a panel discussion with historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham to “establish and preserve the narrative” of the attack on Congress. Earlier in the day, President Joe Biden gave a forceful speech, calling the lies of the “defeated former president” an attack on America’s soul.

Kinzinger says he has no regrets when asked about becoming GOP ‘pariah’

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said Thursday he has no regrets about how he has approached the aftermath of Jan. 6.

“How does it feel to be a pariah within your own party?” Fox News host Neil Cavuto asked Kinzinger.

“You know, I don’t like the feeling,” Kinzinger responded. “But I would not change a thing that I’ve done particularly in the last year.”

“Because I know — I’ve got a son being born imminently, that’s why I’m in Illinois — I know that he’ll be proud of me someday, and I know he’ll be able to look and say I stood up in a tough time. And if it’s just me and Liz doing it, it’s just me and Liz. That’s fine. I wish it was more people, though,” he said, referring to Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

Kinzinger and Cheney are the only Republicans serving on the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. Both have been critical of former President Donald Trump’s role in the riot and of Republicans who have downplayed the events that unfolded on Jan. 6. Trump celebrated news earlier this year that Kinzinger will retire from his House seat at the end of his term.

House lawmakers share personal stories from Jan. 6, commend Capitol Police

House lawmakers Thursday shared their experiences and reflected on the ramifications of the Jan. 6 riot, with many praising the actions of the U.S. Capitol Police. About two dozen House Democrats recalled jarring moments from last year’s attack, from being told to put on gas masks to frantically locking doors as a pro-Trump mob stormed the halls of Congress.

“A year later it is difficult to comprehend the gravity of this attack on our democracy,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. “But I will never forget that amid this interaction, the Capitol Police told us to hit the floor, grab the gas masks under our seats. I had no idea there were gas masks under our seats.”

The parents of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died just hours after the riot, were in attendance for Thursday’s testimonials.

Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., recalled how Jan. 6 was the first day she had ever been in the House gallery. “I never thought the most dangerous place I could be was the United States Capitol, but on January 6, the Capitol became a conflict setting,” she said. “Although we eventually secured the building, the conflict is not over. January 6 was not the end. It was the beginning.”

Mikie Sherrill praises Liz Cheney for rare ‘moral courage’ in condemning Jan. 6 and Trump

In sharing her memories of Jan. 6 with fellow lawmakers Thursday, Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., recalled the acts of physical bravery she witnessed when she was a U.S. Navy pilot. She then spoke about moral courage, which she said she hasn’t often seen in her career as a politician.

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“It’s appropriate to point out one person who I think has shown a great deal of moral courage, someone who stood up for her country at great personal cost, and that is Liz Cheney,” Sherrill said of the Wyoming congresswoman who is one of two Republicans serving on the House committee investigating the Capitol attack.

Cheney, who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 riot, is facing a primary challenge backed by Trump.

GOP Rep. who voted to impeach Trump shares video of House evacuation

Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., posted to Twitter a video he shot from the House gallery as the chamber was being evacuated during the Capitol riot.

“A year ago at this minute,” Meijer tweeted. “I will never cease to be angry at this desecration.”

Meijer was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the riot. The former president has endorsed a primary challenger to the Michigan Republican in hopes of ousting him from office later this fall.

“Sad f—ing history,” he says in the clip.

Bill Clinton warns efforts to undermine democracy have ‘only grown stronger’ since Jan. 6

Former President Bill Clinton said in a statement Thursday that “far too many elected officials and public figures continue to spread the lie that the 2020 election was stolen” to sow distrust in the electoral system and make it harder to cast a ballot. 

“In so doing, they’ve managed to convince millions of Americans to embrace falsehoods and even consider violence a legitimate tactic for achieving political goals,” Clinton said. 

The former president warned that the organized effort to undermine the U.S. democracy “has only grown stronger over the last year.” 

“If we are going to save our democracy, we all have a responsibility to act now — to stop violence and start seeing one another as equally deserving of full citizenship, life, liberty, opportunity, and a voice and a vote that can be cast and counted. If we shoulder our responsibility, our best days still lie ahead.” 

‘Cancer on our democracy’: Sen. Cory Booker rails against voting restrictions

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, casting the Jan. 6 riot as part of the fight to preserve American democracy.

“We make a big mistake if on this day we just talk about what happened here,” Booker said in a speech that at times appeared to bring him close to tears. 

He slammed the voting restrictions that have been enacted in states across the country and the threats election workers have faced.

“Why aren’t we talking about the fact that in states right now, laws are being passed specifically designed to disenfranchise people?” he said. “Are we satisfied with a democracy where in some communities, the Black communities will have to wait eight times longer to vote? Is that what we mean when we say equal justice under the law?” 

He continued: “You think this was about a day? I tell you it’s about the cancer on our democracy that has been here from its start.”

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GOP senators who voted against certifying 2020 election say they have no regrets

Republican senators who objected to the results of the 2020 election on Jan. 6, even after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, said this week they don’t regret casting those votes.

“No, no,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., said. “Because, you know, I was concerned about voter integrity. I think all of us need to be concerned about that. And then whether there was any problems with that, I just wanted people to look into it.”

Eight Senate Republicans, and 139 House Republicans, voted against fully certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory on Jan. 6. Those who spoke with NBC News defended their official objections, which took place the same day as the deadly riot at the Capitol.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who leads the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, said he “objected for the right reasons.” He did not elaborate.

Pelosi adds ‘Hamilton’ song to Jan. 6 proceedings

As part of the official events surrounding the anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced a videotaped performance of a song from the 2015 hit musical “Hamilton,” which celebrates the colonial insurrection against British authorities that lead to American independence. 

Following a brief introduction by the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the current cast of the musical —each having recorded themselves separately — performed the song “Dear Theodosia,” where the characters express their hopes and dreams for their young children and new nation.

“If we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you,” Pelosi said, quoting a line from the song.

Pelosi used the song to kick off a moderated discussion with historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham aimed at providing historical context for last year’s attack.

“Somehow the arts have a way of saying things in a way that connects that we cannot do any other way,” Pelosi said. “And that’s why I thought it was really important for us to have the arts lead us in this discussion.”

Donald Trump Jr., the son of the former president, was predictably not amused by the performance. “So now it’s literally theater,” he said on Twitter.

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How Senate Democrats’ voting legislation handles election subversion

The Freedom to Vote Act — a bill crafted by a group of Democratic senators — includes several provisions to protect election administrators and the voters themselves.

The bill would make it a federal crime to intentionally harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce election officials, poll workers and election volunteers for doing their jobs. Local election officials cannot be suspended, removed, or relieved of duties for anything other than “negligence, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office,” the bill states, and any local official improperly removed can sue in federal court to challenge their removal.

The bill also gives voters the opportunity to sue in federal court if they believe their vote or the right of that vote to be fairly counted has been infringed upon. 

“This would allow voters to sue in the event of an unreasonable failure to certify election results or other efforts to set aside a valid election outcome,” according to the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan policy group that supports the bill’s passage.

The Jan. 6 committee investigation, by the numbers

Twelve months to the day after rioters overtook the U.S. Capitol, here’s a recap of where things stand with the Jan. 6 committee and security around the complex. 

So far, the House Committee investigating the attack has interviewed more than 350 witnesses, issued over 50 subpoenas for information, received more than 35,000 pages of records and 250 substantive tips, and spent almost $420,000 on the probe, according to House records. 

The panel also advanced criminal referrals for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon and former senior Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, although the latter wasn’t approved by the full House.

Meanwhile, the Capitol Police chief told senators Wednesday that the department had addressed most of the more than 100 recommendations issued by the department’s inspector general for improving building security. The force has struggled with attrition, however, and seeks to hire hundreds more officers, he said.

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