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Opinion: Washington state’s Republicans share blame for Trump mob’s insurrection

A mob of Trump supporters forcing their way into the U.S. Capitol building. (Getty Images)

On Wednesday, a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, emboldened by fiery post-election rhetoric and near-constant claims of election fraud since November. So, who’s to blame? The list is a long one.

Washington lawmakers join calls to remove President Trump from office

To no one’s surprise, President Trump sits atop the list of people responsible for Wednesday’s mayhem. Months of endless lies regarding his electoral loss culminated in an unprecedented insurrection in our nation’s Capitol, and that will likely be his lasting legacy.

But he wasn’t alone in fomenting the discontent of the crowd that forced their way into the Capitol building, with plenty of blame to go around right here in Washington state.

That includes Washington’s 5th District Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers. In December, she signed her name onto a Texas lawsuit pushing for a patently undemocratic effort to invalidate a combined 62 electoral votes in key battleground states.

On Tuesday, McMorris Rodgers vowed to join her Republican colleagues in the House in objecting to the results of the 2020 election, dubiously claiming that her vote “was not one to overturn the election.”

Shortly after Trump’s mob of supporters staged their insurrection, McMorris Rodgers reversed course and decided not to object. By then, of course, it was less a profile in courage and more a textbook case of “too little, too late.”

McMorris Rodgers wasn’t the only Washington Republican in Congress who had signed onto that December lawsuit either — she was joined by 4th District Representative Dan Newhouse.

Newhouse’s mental gymnastics in supporting that attempt to subvert a democratic election were admittedly impressive, claiming at the time that he was actually trying “to defend our Constitution and instill confidence in our election system — not to overturn the election results.”

Naturally, nothing instills more confidence in our election system than throwing your support behind a lawsuit quite literally seeking to overturn a free and fair election. I’m sure Wednesday’s mob felt the same way.

Newhouse eventually vowed not to support further objections to the Electoral College count, but, again, by then the damage had already been done.

Rounding out Washington’s Republican Congressional delegation is 3rd District Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, who courageously stood by silently for months, while her colleagues set a series of events in motion that culminated in a siege of the Capitol building.

WA lawmakers describe Wednesday mayhem in the Capitol building

To wit, Herrera Beutler hadn’t said a single word regarding the election — either supporting Trump’s endless accusations of voter fraud or decrying that effort — since Joe Biden was declared President-elect in November.

In this case, her silence was as good as complicity. There have been precious few Republicans in Congress pleading with the president to end his futile and harmful election challenges in recent months. She could have joined and amplified those calls, but instead rested on the laurels of her own November reelection and let the situation escalate into the powder keg we witnessed this week.

Like McMorris Rodgers and Newhouse, she lamented about the attack on our democracy only in hindsight, conveniently omitting the fact that it was her own party’s call to arms that was largely to blame.

And let’s not forget failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp, who to this day, still hasn’t conceded an election he lost in a landslide. Culp’s campaign maintains its own challenges to Washington state’s election, falsely claiming that dead people and illegal immigrants numbering in the thousands were to blame for his electoral failures.

Just two days prior to Wednesday’s events, Culp labeled the 2020 election “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people, many in WA State,” in a vaguely threatening statement directed at Republicans not aligned with the president’s utterly unhinged alternate reality.

Meanwhile, a crowd of protesters forced their way onto the grounds of the Washington governor’s mansion Wednesday, many of whom were armed, enthusiastically chanting Culp’s name.

Ultimately, Culp’s post-election “strategy” can be described in any number of ways. But let’s call it what it is: a needlessly permanent refusal to concede, supplemented by conspiracy theories and legal action that any judge worth their salt would throw out of court without blinking, all while embracing violence and intimidation as a means to further his own selfish goals.

I wonder where he got that idea.

The failure of the Republican Party to usher along a peaceful transition of power isn’t difficult to trace right back to the president’s doorstep. And plenty of others are equally as responsible for scattering bread crumbs along the path that led to the doors of the Capitol building. But to see people elected (and some decidedly not elected) to represent the interests of Washington state acting as accomplices to that insurrection inspires shame on a scale that’s impossible to quantify.

Questions, comments, or feedback? Follow Nick Bowman on Twitter at @NickNorthwest to weigh in, or reach him by email at [email protected]

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