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Opinion >  Column

Shawn Vestal: A case of truth and courage about January 6, for those with the eyes to see

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers speaks during a ceremony in February 2020. The Congresswoman is among Northwest incumbents who have raised much more money than political challengers so far during this election cycle.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers speaks during a ceremony in February 2020. The Congresswoman is among Northwest incumbents who have raised much more money than political challengers so far during this election cycle. (TYLER TJOMSLAND)

On the day that Cassidy Hutchinson offered damning testimony about President Trump’s scurrilous behavior on Jan. 6, Cathy McMorris Rodgers went on Fox to talk about President Biden’s “anti-American” energy policies.

Do you think she knows what “anti-American” means?

The best way for her to find out would have been to pay attention to the hearings of the committee, which have masterfully built the case exposing the campaign of a former president to overturn an election he lost.

She hasn’t done that, obviously. As with all things in the Trump era, McMorris Rodgers has adopted the three-monkeys strategy: Neither seeing, nor hearing, nor speaking any uncomfortable truths.

She is not alone, of course, in turning a blind eye toward the mountain of evidence, even as it grows more damning and revealing.

As the hearings played out – debunking the fraud narratives and illustrating the devastating effect these lies had – “election integrity” groups in Washington have been slinging innuendo about supposed chicanery in our elections, engaging in vigilante “canvassing” efforts to investigate, seeking ever more audits from county officials, and keeping aloft the idea, without evidence, that the system is corrupt and they are here to fix it.

The day after the Hutchinson testimony, a CD copy of “2000 Mules” – the much-derided and debunked documentary about the 2020 election – showed up in my mailbox, courtesy of “Spokane Citizens for Election Integrity.”

I’m not sure if this was a special gift for me (and others in the media whom I know received one), or more of a blanket community mailing.

But the idea that people who are supposedly interested in the security of our elections would offer up “2000 Mules” as “undeniable proof of election fraud in 2020” – at the moment that the election-fraud lie is being eviscerated in the House committee hearings – tells you all you need to know about the factual integrity of the movement.

The film, made by conservative conspiracy-monger Dinesh D’Souza, has been mercilessly and repeatedly fact-checked. The Associated Press concluded it was based on “faulty assumptions, anonymous accounts and improper assumptions about cell-phone location data.”

A point-by-point analysis by FactCheck.org concluded “the supposed evidence is speculative and does not provide the ‘definitive’ proof that Trump and the filmmakers claim.”

Reuters said it “examined the main claims presented in the film and did not find any concrete evidence definitively showing proof of fraud.”

The Washington Post’s Phillip Bump, in evaluating the “irredeemable flaws” of the film’s argument, said D’Souza “is elevating shaky, misrepresented, incomplete claims to bolster his rhetoric … an apt summary of the movie overall.”

And it’s not just media types scoffing. Bill Barr laughed at the film’s argument in his Jan. 6 testimony. Ann Coulter savaged the film in an essay titled “Dinesh’s Stupid Movie.”

Too crazy for Ann Coulter should be too crazy for anyone.

In the election-integrity game, though, it isn’t.

Which brings me back, in a roundabout way, to the question of what our congresswoman has seen of the Jan. 6 hearings and what she thinks of them. Because election-fraud lies are what led to that awful day and because the case being laid out in those hearings is everything the mule mockumentary is not: rigorous, factual, on-the-record, sober, persuasive.

All signs indicate that McMorris Rodgers isn’t bothering to notice.

And yet she assures us that Joe Biden is anti-American.

I asked her press office three times this week whether she’s been watching the hearings, and once particularly about Hutchinson’s testimony. I was referred to an interview she gave to the S-R’s Kip Hill two weeks ago.

Here’s what she said at the time, after claiming she’d watched “parts” of the hearings: “Unfortunately, this commission was not set up for success. … It’s politically driven. And I don’t believe that the way that it was structured, the members that were appointed to the Commission will be successful at really exploring the facts of what happened on Jan. 6, and what the truth is.

“We would all like to get the answers. But unfortunately, this commission was not set up to accomplish that goal.”

Would she really like to get the answers? Forgive me if I doubt it. She wants the answers like O.J. wants to find the true killer.

On the day McMorris Rodgers was calling Biden anti-American for the hundredth time, a real Republican patriot was talking about actual anti-Americanism.

Hutchinson said that when she saw Trump tweeting insults about Mike Pence even as he knew the crowd was calling for Pence’s hanging, “As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American.”

The congresswoman could have learned a thing or two, had she tuned in.

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