Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. World
  2. Americas
  3. North America
22 April 2022updated 27 Apr 2022 9:39am

Don’t be fooled: Republicans will call any Capitol riot investigation biased

Trying to hold a former president accountable will always be seen as partisan, but Donald Trump shouldn’t be ignored.

By Emily Tamkin

This week, ahead of the public hearings of the special panel of the House of Representatives that is charged with investigating the events of 6 January 2021, Jamie Raskin, a Democratic congressman on the committee, told reporters that the events did indeed constitute an attempted coup. To recap: on that day, a mob, summoned to Washington DC by the then-president Donald Trump, stormed the Capitol building to try to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election. 

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that, though lawmakers have sufficient evidence to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department, some are worried that this would lead the department’s own investigation efforts to be coloured as partisan. 

[See also: What is Trump’s endorsement worth?]

But there is no way that any action the Justice Department ends up taking, should it indeed decide to take action, will not be called partisan by the Republicans. The vast majority of the Republicans in the House of Representatives did not vote to impeach Trump after 6 January, and the majority of the Republicans in the Senate did not vote to convict him. American politics are such that trying to hold the former president accountable under the law will be considered partisan. That is sad. It is not, however, a reason to stop the former president being held accountable under the law.

Why? Because if you have found, as these lawmakers reportedly have, that the former president was engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the American people, then it is your job to do whatever you can to address that. Lawmakers who are not interested in that job, and who would rather be well liked by everyone, should perhaps consider getting out of politics, or at least out of Congress. 

[See also: Why is JD Vance so bad at politics?]

I understand that these legislators are afraid of appearing political. I understand that a judge in California found it “more likely than not” that Trump committed a crime, and that some might hope that that will be enough for the attorney general Merrick Garland. But by now we know two things: First, that any action will indeed be called political, and so that is not, in and of itself, an excuse for inaction. Second, that the cavalry is not coming. There will be no deus ex machina to save American democracy. That will only happen with a concerted effort from everyone in power to do quite literally anything in their power to hold Trump to account. That includes these lawmakers. 

Content from our partners
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs
Flooding is a major risk for our homes
Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU