On a day that saw most Republican members of Congress scurry from view and former President Trump cancel a planned speech, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) went on national television twice Thursday to express grave concern about the direction of his party — and warn that more political violence is possible.
Standing just outside the U.S. Capitol one year to the day after the insurrection that sought to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election, Hogan on “CBS Mornings” denounced those who have spread falsehoods about the outcome. He did not mention the former president by name.
“We can either embrace the truth of what happened with the election and what happened on Jan. 6, or we can be destroyed by lies,” he said.
Polls, including several commissioned to coincide with the anniversary of the attack, continue to show that large numbers of Republicans believe baseless allegations of election fraud.
“It’s amazing to me that [so] many people have been misled,” Hogan said, “but it’s been an incredible misinformation/disinformation campaign.”
As Hogan spoke, the network ran footage from last year’s deadly rampage.
“To think that these were patriotic tourists that were coming to look at statues, when 130-some Capitol Police were assaulted, where we had five people die, where they breaking through the windows of the Capitol, it just doesn’t make sense,” Hogan said.
Asked if he intends to run for president in 2024, the term-limited Hogan said he was too focused on the threat posed by COVID-19 and his last year in office to think about politics. But he suggested that reality-based Republicans have a crucial role to play if the nation is to pull back the abyss.
“More leaders like me have to stand up and tell the truth, particularly Republican leaders. Everybody knows what happened here,” he said. “We’ve got to get my party back on track and get people to come up with a positive, hopeful vision for America rather than focusing on conspiracy theories about what happened in 2020.”
Hogan delivered a similar message on CNN late Thursday afternoon.
“I thought that by now perhaps the fever would break [in the GOP] and more people would start standing up and telling the truth,” he told CNN host Jake Tapper. “…There’s certainly a shortage of courage in my party.”
Hogan’s decision to go on national television and call out key leaders of his own party represented a stark contrast with how other Republican leaders marked Jan. 6.
While most Democratic members of Congress offered speeches and took part in commemorative events, Republicans were largely out of sight. Only two Republicans — Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney — attended a moment of silence on the U.S. House floor in honor of the Capitol Police officers who died a a year ago.
Spotlight on Rep. Harris
Maryland Matters was unable to determine how Rep. Andrew P. Harris, the lone Republican member of Maryland’s congressional delegation, spent the day Thursday. A Harris spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment, and the congressman did not put out any statements about the anniversary on his congressional website or on Twitter or Facebook.
A Trump loyalist who has clashed with Hogan over Maryland’s COVID-19 response, Harris was one of 147 GOP lawmakers to vote against the certification of President Biden’s victory a year ago.
Some groups have called out Harris this week for his behavior last Jan. 6 and in its immediate aftermath.
A study released this week by a nonpartisan political watchdog group called Accountable.Us tracks corporations’ political contributions to members of what the report calls “The Sedition Caucus” in the House GOP — and Harris is one of them.
The report focuses on 30 corporations and business trade organizations that have made at least $3.3 million in campaign contributions in the past year to the Republicans who voted against certifying Biden’s election last Jan. 6 — including many corporations whose leaders criticized the insurrectionists immediately following the Capitol riots.
One of the corporations featured in the report, which is called “Bad Company,” is Lockheed Martin, the Bethesda-based defense contractor. The report found that Lockheed Martin has so far given over $184,500 to members of Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election after claiming it paused political contributions in light of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
“Major corporations, like Lockheed Martin, were quick to condemn the insurrection and tout their support for democracy — and almost as quickly, many ditched those purported values by cutting big checks to the very politicians that helped instigate the failed coup attempt,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “The increasing volume of corporate donations to lawmakers who tried to overthrow the will of the people makes clear that these companies were never committed to standing up for democracy in the first place. Even as democracy continues to be in the crosshairs of powerful purveyors of the Big Lie, these CEOs would rather amass political influence than stand up for their customers, shareholders, and employees.”
A Lockheed Martin spokesperson did not immediately offer a response.
Accountable.Us’ database shows that Harris received $14,000 in the past year from the corporations and business entities whose political contributions the watchdog tracked: $1,000 from Lockheed Martin, $1,000 from Raytheon Technologies, $5,000 from the Associated Builders and Contractors political action committee, $2,000 from UPS, $2,500 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation Inc. PAC, and $2,500 from Altria Group.
Meanwhile, a liberal coalition called Our Maryland said this week that it was launching a petition drive urging Hogan and Maryland Republican Chair Dirk Haire to disavow three prominent Republicans who are closely associated with the “Big Lie” and Trump: Harris; David Bossie, the Republican National Committeeman for Maryland who was Trump’s deputy campaign manager in 2016; and state Del. Daniel L. Cox (R-Frederick), a candidate for governor who tweeted last Jan. 6 that then-Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor” and has been endorsed by Trump in this year’s GOP primary.
“Our message is simple,” said Our Maryland President Larry Ottinger. “Those who support the Big Lie and actively undermine our democracy should not have a home in Maryland politics regardless of party or ideology. Period.”
In an interview, Haire said he wasn’t aware of the petition campaign.
“I haven’t seen it, so I can’t really comment,” he said.
Hogan, on CNN, said that while he understood the desire of fellow Republicans to take back control of Congress, “I don’t think we ought to get there by resorting to conspiracy theories.”
Hogan still offers red meat
Shortly after Hogan’s CBS News appearance, An America United, one of his political action committees, send out a fundraising appeal warning that urban crime “may start spilling into” suburban and rural communities.
“Washington politicians continue to squabble amongst themselves while our cities are burning and our police forces are depleting,” the governor wrote. “An America United is targeting Americans and future leaders in vulnerable areas to call out those who have failed and to promote common sense pro-police and pro-safety policies.”
“If we do nothing, these crime waves may start spilling into all communities, big and small, because there are no repercussions for criminal actions.”
He invited potential donors to join his “Safe Cities and Towns Leadership Team.”
“I know we can get the job done for America because we are proving it in Maryland with conservative leadership and values,” the appeal continued.
Hogan did not identify the U.S. cities that are “burning.”