- Former Vice President Dick Cheney visits the Capitol Thursday with his daughter Rep. Liz Cheney to mark the one-year anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack.
- Two Cheneys and an aide were the only people on the Republican side of the House chamber during the morning’s commemoration event.
- Some GOP senators issued written statements acknowledging the attack.
WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to the Capitol on Thursday, as Democrats in Congress marked the one-year anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
The former vice president told reporters that he was there to support his daughter, Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican who is the deputy chairman of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack. But he also wanted to come to Washington to celebrate the black day.
“This is an important historical event. You can’t guess how important it is,” said Dick Cheney, before entering the House’s chambers for a moment in silence.
There, it was abundantly clear how many Republicans shared the former VP’s view of the day’s importance: Save for two Cheneys and one aide, every seat on the Republican half of the vast chamber was vacant.
Over the past year, Liz Cheney’s willingness to condemn former President Donald Trump for her role in fueling the deadly rebellion, and refusal to downplay its importance, has made her a pariah within her party.
On Thursday, as Democrats held events around the Capitol throughout the day, Republicans were absent.
No Republican senators attended a separate memorial event held in the Senate, and Liz Cheney was the only elected member of the GOP to attend the morning session in the House.
Some Republican senators issued written statements acknowledging the tragedy of the day when thousands of Trump supporters breached the capitol in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the Senate from formally attesting President Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump.
“A year later, I have the sadness and anger to learn that it was Americans who violated the heart of our democracy, failed the certification of a legitimate election,” Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a statement.
“We ignore the lessons of January 6 at our own peril,” read a statement from Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. Democracy is fragile, it cannot survive without leaders of integrity and character.
Murkowski and Romney were among 7 Republican senators who voted to convict Trump last year after he was impeached for assault, and were the only ones to issue a public statement on Thursday.
The other five who pleaded guilty included Susan Collins of Maine, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Pat Tommy of Pennsylvania and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
Collins and Cassidy briefly addressed the anniversary of the attack this week in interviews with local media. mother-in-law Omaha World-Herald Dia A statement emphasized that the violent attempt to reverse the 2020 election had failed. Neither Burr nor Tommy publicly marked the anniversary.
Elsewhere, Republican leaders lambasted Democrats for the incidents, alleging that the party was using anniversaries as a “political weapon” with which to attack Republicans.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote in a letter to his caucus earlier in the week, “That day’s action was lawless and as wrong as it could be.” But he also claimed that Democrats were “using it as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country.”
For the elder Cheney, who served a decade in the House in the 1980s, most of the blame lies with GOP leaders.
“I am deeply disappointed that we do not have a better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution,” Dick Cheney said at the Capitol on Thursday.
While McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell serve as elected leaders of the Republican Party, it is Trump — who does not hold an official position — who wields the most power over the GOP caucus.
Over the past year, Trump and his close aides have worked to create a false, alternate version of what happened on January 6. In this version, the marchers who bloodied Capitol police officers and demanded that Vice President Mike Pence be hanged are patriots. And heroes, not rioters.
On Thursday, Trump echoed that view by issuing a series of statements reiterating his false claims about the 2020 election, which he lost to Biden by more than 6 million votes.