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The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

On the Jan. 6 anniversary, Republican candidates embrace the ‘Big Lie’

The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

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Good morning. Today marks one year since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Four people in the crowd died, 150 officers were injured, and in the weeks after the riot, five police officers who served at the Capitol died. 

Two programming notes: The Post is inserting copies of our investigative series “The Attack: Before, During and After” into 2,700 copies of the print newspaper that are delivered daily to offices on Capitol Hill. 

The 28-page special section provides readers with the complete three-part series detailing the forces that led to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and the growing distrust in America’s elections that has spread in its aftermath. Readers can access “The Attack” on The Post’s website and across Post platforms: wapo.st/theattack

And Jackie will interview Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) at 2 p.m. to discuss the latest on the Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation. You can register to watch here. Thanks for waking up with us. 

The campaign

On the anniversary of Jan. 6, Republican candidates are embracing the ‘Big Lie’

(Not a) turning point: If there's one thing that's become clear in the year since the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, it's that the most violent assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812 was not the turning point away from former president Donald Trump that some Republicans expected. Instead, more and more GOPers have embraced his false claims of election fraud and whitewashed the violence that wracked the Capitol that day. 

A year later, “at least 163 Republicans who have embraced Trump’s false claims are running for statewide positions that would give them authority over the administration of elections,” according to a tally conducted by our colleagues Ashley Parker, Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey

  • “The list includes 69 candidates for governor in 30 states, as well as 55 candidates for the U.S. Senate, 13 candidates for state attorney general and 18 candidates for secretary of state in places where that person is the state’s top election official.”

As one Democratic operative framed it in an email over the weekend, the MAGA disinformation system that has convinced voters “that Democrats are the ones attacking democracy — that they stole the 2020 election, cannot possibly win an election fairly, and are rigging the rules,” is working extraordinarily well. 

Despite numerous investigations that have found no evidence to support Trump's attacks, 62 percent of Republicans say there is solid evidence of widespread fraud and 58 percent believe President Biden was not legitimately elected, per a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released last week. 

“Republicans have a set of not just Republican officials, but a whole ecosystem of networks to make sure that everyone passionately believes that they are being threatened.” the Democratic operative added. 

No end in sight

And election officials continue to face an onslaught of investigations to counter baseless allegations of ballot fraud, our Amy, Josh and Emma Brown reported last month — a process that has been “exhausting and troubling, officials said, as they launch preparations for the 2022 midterm elections — and is further eroding faith in the nation’s voting systems.” 

Top Democrats now routinely warn that democracy is under assault in ways that would've been unthinkable a few years ago.

“Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss,” former president Jimmy Carter wrote in a New York Times op-ed published yesterday afternoon. “Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy.”

But some progressives see a disparity in the importance the two parties are placing on the issue of protecting our democracy. 

While Trump has made preparing for “another attempt to corrupt or subvert an election” his top priority, defeating such efforts is “very clearly not the number one priority for President Biden and the Democratic Party,” Ian Bassin, a former associate counsel in the Obama White House who's now a co-founder and the executive director of Protect Democracy, told The Early.

“We thought on Jan. 20 of 2021 that we'd successfully removed the cancer from our democracy, but what we've discovered this past year is that it's metastasized and spread,” Bassin added.

Voting rights

Senate Democrats are stalled in their efforts to roll back new restrictions on voting rights in a slew of states, plans that are likely to benefit Republican candidates and officeholders.

There is some limited movement in Washington to reform the Electoral Count Act (ECA), the 1887 law governing  the presidential certification process. Ahead of today's anniversary, several Senate Republicans told our colleagues Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim they're “open to overhauling the presidential vote certification procedure in Congress that was targeted by Trump and allies as they sought to overturn his 2020 election loss.” Updating the ECA is also under discussion by the House select committee investigating Jan. 6.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters yesterday changes to the law were “worth discussing,” while a handful of other GOP senators expressed interest in “clarifying ambiguous provisions in the statute and potentially raising the threshold for a challenge to a state’s electoral results,” per Mike and Seung Min. 

“This week’s expressions of support, modest as they are, amount to the most significant Republican backing for modifications to the nation’s democratic infrastructure in response to the stresses of the 2020 election,” Mike and Seung Min report. 

But Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have rebuffed talk of updating the ECA while they're mounting a push to pass two broader voting rights and campaign-finance bills. 

Biden, meanwhile, is expected to “squarely” blame Trump this morning for the Capitol riot and call out the former president for “continuing to propagate falsehoods and unrest over the past year,” our colleague Annie Linskey reports. 

“Biden has criticized Trump by name on only a few occasions during his first year in office, and aides have made it clear he is reluctant to stir partisan fires or elevate Trump’s falsehoods. But some Democrats argue that Biden urgently needs to take on Trump more directly as the leader of a movement that is challenging America’s democracy,” Annie writes. 

“And so at this moment we must decide what kind of nation we are going to be,” Biden is expected to say. “Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm? Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people? Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shadow of lies? We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation.”

On the Hill

Sen. Chuck Schumer reiterates opposition to ECA reform instead of voting rights legislation

Still not on board: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reiterated his opposition to updating the Electoral Count Act on Wednesday evening in an appearance on “The Rachel Maddow Show." Republicans' willingness to consider such changes is “a way to try and get the two senators that we have who are not on board” with changing the filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation — Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — to back a bill that won't head off new voting restrictions in the states.

“I'm opposed to it," Schumer said. "I'm opposed to allowing it to be the subject of this conversation.”

The Data

A drop in Facebook enforcement, visualized: “Facebook groups swelled with at least 650,000 posts attacking the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory between Election Day and the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, with many calling for executions or other political violence,” an investigation by ProPublica and The Post has found.

  • “The barrage — averaging at least 10,000 posts a day, a scale not reported previously — turned the groups into incubators for the baseless claims supporters of President Donald Trump voiced as they stormed the Capitol, demanding he get a second term.”
  • “On Dec. 2, 2020, Facebook executives disbanded the Civic Integrity team, [the unit charged with protecting elections on the platform,] and scattered its members to other parts of Facebook’s overall integrity team, reducing their influence. That resulted in the demise of the Group Task Force. The company also rolled back several emergency measures that had been put in place leading up to Election Day to control misbehavior in Facebook groups.
  • “The ProPublica-Post investigation reveals the result: During the lull in enforcement, hundreds of thousands of posts questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s victory, spread lies about voter fraud and at times called for violence.”

The Media

What we’re reading: 

Jan. 6 coverage: 

Viral

“True to this, not new to this” 💅

Thanks for reading. You can also follow us on Twitter: @jaxalemany and @theodoricmeyer.

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