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OpinionColumnistsDan Janison

Bizarre history of Jan. 6 keeps unfolding

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S.

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty Images/Jon Cherry

The deadly Capitol siege came and went a year ago next Thursday, and we still don’t know whether anyone in the ranks of elected Republicans will ever pay a political price for abetting it or for feeding the "stop the steal" hoax that ignited it.

Such payback looks unlikely despite hundreds arrested and charged. Undeterred by the scandals of the final days of that GOP White House, House Republicans are hopeful of reclaiming a majority next November, possibly giving the Democratic-run Jan. 6 committee reason to finish its detailed inquiry sooner rather than later.

Fallout from this futile insurrection still trickles down. On Tuesday, a federal judge denied a motion by four of the so-called Proud Boys to dismiss criminal charges stemming from the assault on Congress as it properly certified the decisive election loss of Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

Even now, defining and interpreting the back stories of the event has its complications. There are still many ways to put in context what the public has seen in all those hours of ugly video that, if nothing else, helped identify rioters and their actions.

For starters, it could be seen as just one in a yearslong series of fiascoes. The bid to annul the election failed, taking its place on the shelf with the Trump circle's other ill-conceived gambits. The president of Ukraine never opened a desired witch hunt against U.S. Democrats, Greenland wasn’t purchased, China never bent on trade, the border wall wasn’t built.

Maybe Jan. 6 marked a watershed in the degradation of American institutions. Threats voiced against Vice President Mike Pence, coupled with pressure on state officials to tamper with results, clashed with any sense of due process and truth.

Aides and allies sent Trump urgent appeals that he go public and pacify his ginned-up supporters at the Capitol, recently released documents show. The disorder happened to come seven months after Black Lives Matter demonstrators jumping barricades forced Trump's brief retreat into a White House bunker.

Curiously, text messages and emails show that Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows vowed the day before the insurrection that the National Guard would be present to "protect pro Trump people." Maybe those security concerns were misdirected.

Maybe the lead-up to last Jan. 6 will go in history books as just an amped-up Trump rally, full of clowning and costumes, but one that turned dark and seditious because he had lost the election.

Maybe it will become a parable about reckless rhetoric.

Sadly, one loyalist put herself in a position to be killed. Ashli Babbitt, allied with those in the GOP imagining a "coup" by Democrats, died by police gunfire while climbing through a shattered doorway toward the House chamber.

Perhaps Babbitt would be alive if the outgoing president had conceded.

Expect no sudden candor or apologies from the former incumbent or his party. The event can't be called history yet. It's still generating real news, shaped by another national election year.

Columnist Dan Janison's opinions are his own.