GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Apparently most of the men and women elected to send to Washington, D.C., to represent the interest of the Piedmont Triad have nothing to say on how and why they were driven from their chambers on Jan. 6, 2021, while violent protestors broke into the Capitol and even threatened some of their lives.

That could be the inference to take from a lack of response they offered when asked for their views about the first public hearings of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Those hearings begin tonight at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast live on WGHP and MyFOX8.com.

You likely recall how that day unfolded. Thousands attended a “Stop the Steal” political rally on the Ellipse outside the White House when fomenting speeches by former President Donald Trump and his supporters inspired thousands of them to march to the Capitol, break down barriers, assault law enforcement and find their way into the chambers of the House and Senate and some private offices.

Vice President Mike Pence was threatened with chants to “hang Mike Pence.” Even Pence’s staff had warned the Secret Service that this could happen.

These elected leaders were gathered to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to certify the verified Electoral College vote to install Joe Biden as president. And even though some of them voted against that certification, they were there for the formality.

But now, out of two U.S. senators and four congressmen and congresswomen who represent, at least in part, the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, only one appeared to be interested in what happened that day and who was responsible.

Questions? Answers?

On Sunday, WGHP reached out to the spokesperson for each person elected to represent the Triad in Washington, D.C.  That would be Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and Representatives Ted Budd (R-Advance) of the 13th District, Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) of the 5th District, Richard Hudson (R-Concord) of the 9th District and Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) of the 6th District.

We did not reach out to 2022 candidates for those offices, because they were not in a position to have been directly affected by what happened on Jan. 6 or to effect immediate response based on revelations of the committee.

The questions were relatively simple, but it was understood that responses could be more general. This is what they were asked:

  • What do you expect to hear from the committee at its opening presentation on Thursday?
  • Is there anyone who hasn’t testified before the committee who you think should be required to answer questions?
  • What steps would you like to see this committee – or Congress in general – take to help protect against another insurrection?

Each contact was asked to respond even if that would be “no comment” or “not going to respond.” There was a 72-hour window for response.

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) (Courtesy of US House of Representatives)
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) (Courtesy of US House of Representatives)

Only one of them responded: Manning.

Hudson’s office reached out about his legislation to harden school districts. Others issued statements throughout the week about the House’s vote to raise the age of acquiring an assault rifle or to decry the threat against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh or to harp on gas prices and inflation.

All of those were appropriate, but none of them addressed questions about Jan. 6 and what happened. Except for Manning.

What Manning said

“On my third day in Congress, as I was preparing to watch my first speeches on the House Floor, others were plotting an insurrection to overthrow the legitimate results of the 2020 election,” Manning said in a statement. “Fueled by the so-called ‘stop the steal’ lies being spread by former President Trump, insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, trapping members of Congress, including myself, inside the House chamber. The American people watched the horror of this attack play out on television while Capitol police risked their lives to lead people to safety. 

“The bipartisan January 6th Committee was formed to seek the truth of the events that led up to the insurrection and to determine what role leaders, from the White House to the halls of Congress, played in the attack. This week’s public hearing is a crucial opportunity for the American people to learn the results of that investigation, to get to the bottom of what really happened, and to determine who knew what and when. I will be watching, and I encourage all Americans to watch the hearings to learn the truth.” 

We do not know if Burr, Tillis, Budd, Foxx or Hudson will watch the hearings or read the testimony and facts that emerge from this broad investigation that has involved hundreds of thousands of records and thousands of interviews.

Politics intervened

The reason there was no response seems apparent: This became a matter of politics, which is known to separate responsible questions and appropriate answers because of ideology and not a need for truth.

In the days after the violent insurrection of Jan. 6 – of which Trump today said: “…January 6th was not simply a protest, it represented the greatest movement in the history of our Country to Make America Great Again.” – there were calls from the leadership of both parties to investigate how this insurrection could have happened and to find solutions. You may recall the recording of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) in which he said that “people need to be held accountable.”

But when the select committee was being formed, McCarthy nominated five Republicans that included Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana) and Rep Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a close confidant of President Trump who in fact has been called by the committee as a witness. Both had voted against certifying the election results. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) rejected Banks and Jordan while accepting the other three: Rep. Rodney Davis (Ill.), Rep. Kelly Armstrong (N. Dak.) and Rep. Troy Nehls (Texas). She said Jordan and Banks may compromise “the integrity of the investigation.”

McCarthy pulled all five. Pelosi appointed Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), both of whom had voted to impeach Trump for his lack of action on Jan. 6.  McCarthy has declared the committee has “no valid legislative purpose,” and Republicans broadly have downplayed its work.

You may recall that despite the insurrection and threats and violence, when members of Congress returned to chambers around midnight to perform their duties, 139 members of the House and 8 from the Senate voted to object to the certification of Biden’s victory in the Electoral College, even though there was no proof that Trump’s defeat was anything but legitimate.

Among those who voted against certification: Budd, Foxx (to Pennsylvania only) and Hudson. Burr, Tillis and Manning voted against the objections.