Sometimes a denial can be just as damning as a straightforward admission. Other times, it can be even more so. Take, for instance, Georgia representative and Jewish space laser aficionado Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose response to a new bombshell Rolling Stone exposé about the Capitol Hill riots is more revealing than she perhaps intended.
Although rumors of congresspeople being involved in the planning of the infamous Washington D.C., rallies on January 6 have persisted since the beginning, the Rolling Stone report lays out the most comprehensive case so far of that alleged involvement. Of the eight current politicians named in the report, Greene is the only one whose communications director offered a comment to the magazine. Although many in the GOP have already had to distance themselves from the outlandish representative during her short tenure in Congress, the denials, pointed non-denials, and deflections in her response to the new report may be a preview of what the accused GOP collaborators’ broader defense strategy will look like.
The report is based on information gleaned from interviews with two planners of the pro-Trump rallies on 1/6, whom Rolling Stone granted anonymity. According to the magazine, this report offers the first real indication that the January 6 committee will be hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses.
Aside from Greene, the report also alleges that a number of other Republican representatives or their staffs may have had a hand in planning the rallies, including Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Mo Brooks, Madison Cawthorn, Louie Gohmert, and Paul Gosar, along with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. (Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson is also implicated in the report as being involved in coordinating between organizers of the protests and the White House.)
The most eyebrow-raising accusations in the report include Representative Gosar allegedly offering a blanket pardon for an unrelated investigation in exchange for planning the protests, and Meadows allegedly receiving minute-by-minute updates of the rallies going off the rails and doing nothing to stop them. Furthermore, the sources claim that “members of Congress” were in touch with multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events between the election and January 6. And lest anyone suggest that the planners are just making up all of these allegations to save their own skin, Rolling Stone claims to have separately obtained documentary evidence that its sources were in contact with Gosar and Boebert on January 6, although the report does not reveal the nature of that evidence, in order to preserve the planners’ anonymity.
All the above accused politicians refused to comment on the allegations, except for Greene, whose communications director, Nick Dyer, wrote the following over email:
“Congresswoman Greene and her staff were focused on the Congressional election objection on the House floor and had nothing to do with planning of any protest . . . She objected just like Democrats who have objected to Republican presidential victories over the years. Just like in 2017, when Jim McGovern, Jamie Raskin, Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Raul Grijalva, and Maxine Waters tried to prevent President Trump’s election win from being certified . . . No one cares about Jan. 6 when gas prices are skyrocketing, grocery store shelves are empty, unemployment is skyrocketing, businesses are going bankrupt, our border is being invaded, children are forced to wear masks, vaccine mandates are getting workers fired, and 13 members of our military are murdered by the Taliban and Americans are left stranded in Afghanistan.”
Let’s unpack that statement piece by piece. The first line denies only that Greene was involved with “planning” any protests. It does not deny that she was in touch at all with the organizers of either the 1/6 protests or any Stop the Steal protests preceding it, nor does it deny that she was briefed on plans about any of those proceedings; only that she personally did not plan any of them. This denial elides the inexcusable impropriety of being in touch with these organizers at all, especially considering the ultimate outcome.
Dyer’s next statement on Greene’s behalf is some bog-standard whataboutism, cribbed from Trump’s legal team back in February, invoking some House Democrats’ transparently aboveboard, unsuccessful attempt to convince any senators to challenge Trump’s Electoral College win back in 2017. This comparison seems to be of little to no relevance. If anything, the 2017 example shows how the electoral system is designed to withstand agitation from disgruntled politicians, whereas the 2021 version reveals that the system is not set up to withstand a substantial percentage of a party’s politicians becoming disgruntled after an election for no legitimate reason.
Finally, Dyer concludes by claiming that all of these accusations are irrelevant since the general public is clearly much more concerned with the chaos of President Biden’s term thus far than it is with who stormed which Capitol Building when and for what reasons. Get used to this argument; it’s going to be a constant presence in the future, not just for the January 6 commission but any investigation into Trump’s administration. Trump and his defenders have already adopted a “we must look forward, not backward” mentality, as though it is impossible to ever do two things at once, and accountability for traitorous offenses isn’t worth the effort.
If Greene’s response to Rolling Stone is any indication, a symphony of denial, whataboutism, and deflection is underway. Hopefully, an eventual grand jury will be able to hear the notes they’re not playing.