Donald Trump is not the only Republican politician facing potential accountability measures for making incendiary remarks to the crowd that stormed the Capitol on January 6. Two Democratic representatives, Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, have introduced a censure resolution aimed at their right-wing Alabama colleague Mo Brooks. The resolution says Brooks “encouraged and incited violence against his fellow Members of Congress, as part of an assault on the United States Capitol” in a speech to the mob on the Ellipse near the White House prior to Trump’s own ranting remarks.
Arguably, Brooks incited violence more clearly than Trump did, telling the crowd that “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” That wasn’t his only suggestion that “patriots” needed to save America by any means necessary, as The Intercept noted:
During his remarks, he asked the crowd to consider the American ancestors who sacrificed their blood and “sometimes their lives” to create the “greatest nation in world history.”
“So I have a question for you,” Brooks continued. “Are you willing to do the same?”
Brooks’s speech was a classic exposition of the authoritarian theory that voting majorities should not be allowed to challenge America’s “foundational principles,” interpreted as including moral absolutes, a “free enterprise economy,” and a right-wing slant on the Bill of Rights. He bellowed at the crowd to make their outrage clear to the “socialists and weak-kneed Republicans [on Capitol Hill] who shake in their boots and cower in their foxholes,” before leading a chant of “U.S.A! U.S.A!” It wasn’t very eloquent (Brooks was struggling with pages of text that the wind was sweeping away), but it did help prepare the crowd for similar fare from his co-conspirator the president.
Of course, he was just shouting out the lyrics of the same counter-revolutionary tune he’s been humming for a while. Brooks was the first member of Congress to pledge to turn the routine counting of Electoral College votes on January 6 into an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He was still defending his and the mob’s extremism the day after the vote he insisted on blew up into violence:
In other words, the rioters had no choice but to give lawmakers a taste of the fire to come.
Now, arguably everyone in Congress who cooperated with Brooks’s effort to overturn the election was complicit in the violence aimed at preventing Biden’s confirmation as president. That’s the logic of congresswoman Cori Bush’s call for an investigation into the events of that day to determine if some or all of the members who voted against the recognition of state-certified results ought to be expelled from Congress. But then again, those supporting the Electoral College vote objections were following the provisions of the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Mo Brooks created the pretext for a protest and then helped turn it violent. He richly earned censure.