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Senior GOP senator on House Republicans downplaying Capitol attack: ‘I’m offended by that’

GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Friday that she is “offended” by some House Republicans who are whitewashing the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, pushing back on the revisionism by some in the party who have tried to shield the pro-Trump mob from blame over the deadly insurrection during the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Murkowski, the veteran Alaska Republican who faces reelection next year, made clear her distaste about recent comments from some fellow Republicans — including by one GOP congressman who compared the tragic day’s events to a “normal tourist visit.”

“I’m offended by that,” Murkowski told CNN. “This was not a peaceful protest. When somebody breaks and enters, and then just because you know they don’t completely trash your house once you’re inside does not mean that it has been peaceful. This was not a peaceful protest.”

Murkowski added: “We got to get beyond that rhetoric and acknowledge that what happened were acts of aggression and destruction towards an institution, and there were some people intent on (harming) the people that were part of that institution.”

Murkowski’s comments go much further than House Republican leaders and come as Congress is moving to create a bipartisan commission to provide a full recounting of the January 6 attack. Her support for such a proposal could be crucial in a 50-50 Senate that will require at least 60 votes to establish the new investigative body.

“I’m one that thinks that there should be an investigation regarding the events on the 6th,” Murkowski said, signaling an openness to backing the bipartisan proposal that the House will consider next week.

Proponents of the new commission hope that the investigative body could put to rest the efforts to cast January 6 in a different light — something that was evident this week in the House.

On the House floor on Friday, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert said, “There have been things worse than people without any firearms coming into a building.” At a congressional hearing earlier this week, several Republicans made controversial claims about the rioters, including Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, who said the Justice Department is now “harassing peaceful patriots across the country.”

Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina said, “I don’t know who did a poll to say that they were Trump supporters” in the Capitol that day. And Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia said, “It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.”

The most eye-popping comment came from Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde, who said: “Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”

Gosar, Hice and Norman all refused to explain their comments when approached by CNN. “No comment,” Norman said Friday, while Gosar refused to answer a question and jumped on a nearby elevator.

Clyde grew combative when asked to explain his remarks to reporters on Thursday.

“You didn’t take what I said in context at all,” Clyde said. “That’s just fake news.”

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California declined to weigh in on Clyde’s widely reported remarks on Thursday, telling CNN, “I don’t know, I didn’t see it” — a refrain echoed by the House GOP’s No. 2, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

And as he left the floor on Friday, Gohmert said in a brief hallway interview: “Any violence should not be downplayed. But people who are not engaged in violence should not be charged with crime.”

Asked if he thought Trump supporters were the ones in the Capitol on January 6, Gohmert responded with the elevator doors closing: “Did you advocate for the Democrats to be charged with obstructing session?”

With various congressional panels investigating aspects of the attack and the variety of theories that some lawmakers are now pushing, proponents say a bipartisan commission could give the definitive account in a substantive report that is due by year’s end.

Murkowski, who was one of seven GOP senators to support former President Donald Trump’s conviction on a charge of inciting the insurrection in his impeachment trial earlier this year, said in Alaska last week she was facing questions from constituents about January 6 and the aftermath.

Now, Murkowski says, there needs to be an independent review to focus “on the events themselves, that kind of encompass all of these different views” from law enforcement and other witnesses of what transpired that day.

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