Crime was the top campaign issue for Republicans in the midterm elections. So it may seem logical that, having won narrow control of the House, the incoming Republican majority plans to focus on crime. Curiously, however, the focus of their efforts is on protecting criminals and justifying their offenses.
Deep in the middle of a column by New York Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse comes the news that Republican conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene is already setting the party’s pro-crime agenda. “In a closed-door meeting of Republicans on Monday,” reports Hulse, “right-wing lawmakers including Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia extracted a promise that their leaders would investigate Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Justice Department for their treatment of defendants jailed in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.”
January 6 is one of the most divisive issues within the Republican Party. The anti-anti-Trump right, which has largely ignored or justified Trump’s sundry crimes and abuses, makes an exception for January 6. But the pro-Trump right has energetically promoted an alt-narrative of the event. Or, rather, alt-narratives: It was not an insurrection at all but a boisterous rally; it was an insurrection, but the violence was instigated by antifa, or the FBI; the insurrectionists were glorious martyrs.
The upshot of all these theories is that the insurrectionists are martyrs. The party’s right wing has lamented their treatment by the Justice Department, which is allegedly ignoring the real criminals (Democrats, Black people, etc.) to persecute patriotic Trump supporters who simply had legitimate questions about how Joe Biden could have possibly received more than Donald Trump’s 74 million votes.
The House has no power to drop charges against the insurrectionists. It does, however, have the ability to inscribe into party doctrine the Trumpist interpretation of January 6. And that narrative — that maybe some bad things happened that day but the Biden Justice Department is the true villain — is one that will invite more political violence from the right.