IT HAS been less than four months since a murderous mob ransacked the Capitol in an effort to overturn a free and fair election, goaded on by then-President Donald Trump. This horror should have forced a national reckoning. Instead, a depressing number of senior Republicans continue to defend Mr. Trump and play down the events of Jan. 6, even as the party blocks creation of a bipartisan commission to examine the event.

Case in point is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), himself a key witness to what occurred Jan. 6, and who now appears more interested in preserving his relationship with the former president than in acknowledging a national tragedy for what it was: mob violence encouraged by the one-time — and possibly future — leader of his party. Mr. McCarthy claimed on “Fox News Sunday” that Mr. Trump did not know about the riot before Mr. McCarthy called him, and that the then-president concluded the call saying that he would move to end the attack — a step Mr. Trump did not take until after the violence had peaked, and even then only halfheartedly.

“The statement contradicted McCarthy’s initial response to Trump’s role in the attack and a fellow GOP lawmaker’s recollection of what had been a tense call between McCarthy and Trump,” The Post’s Amy B Wang and Marianna Sotomayor noted. “In addition, one Trump adviser told The Washington Post that the then-president had been watching live television coverage of the riot, as multiple people were trying to reach Trump and his aides to beg for help.” According to one lawmaker’s account, Mr. Trump said to Mr. McCarthy, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” The minority leader on Sunday refused to answer directly a question about that reported exchange.

Mr. McCarthy’s squirming shows why the country needs a Jan. 6 commission fully empowered to subpoena witnesses and take testimony under oath. Such a panel could establish the definitive timeline of what the president knew — and when — by interviewing members of Congress, White House aides and others. It could examine any connections between Trump associates and the riot’s perpetrators, the Pentagon’s role, coordination among rioters during the ransacking and other questions.

Perhaps Mr. McCarthy and other Republicans fear exposing their party’s complicity. This may be why they have dragged their feet on establishing a Jan. 6 commission, insisting that any such panel also investigate far-left antifa violence unrelated to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Drawing this false equivalence would play down the significance of the Capitol’s desecration and the attempted negation of a democratic election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has backed down from her insistence that the Jan. 6 panel contain more Democrats than Republicans, agreeing to an equal split between parties. Republicans should drop their unreasonable demands about the commission’s scope — and stop trying to whitewash history on behalf of their disgraced former leader.

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