Then Versus Now: Some Texas Republicans Have Changed Their Tune About Jan. 6

Views about the Jan. 6 Capitol siege have apparently changed quite a bit.
Views about the Jan. 6 Capitol siege have apparently changed quite a bit. Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash
For weeks after the 2020 presidential election, Texas Republicans worked to sustain the lie that the vote had been “rigged” against former President Donald Trump. Then the insurrection happened.

On July 21, many Americans tuned in to the latest congressional hearing on the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol. They learned that Trump remained in the White House dining room for the majority of the riot, choosing not to act to quell the violence. 

Before the siege, most Texas Republicans stuck to the party lie, er — line — of widespread voter fraud. Directly after the Capitol building was infiltrated and desecrated by a pro-Trump mob, though, some changed their tune, at least for a minute or two.

Here's what five of the state’s GOP politicians said about Jan. 6 at the time, compared with now.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas’ junior senator once led the charge to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Days before the insurrection, he told supporters that he would join them in defending liberty, proclaiming: “We will not go quietly into the night!”
But the day after the Jan. 6 riot, Cruz had apparently changed his mind. He classified the Capitol attack as a “despicable act of terrorism.”

He flip-flopped again earlier this year, now designating most of the mob as “peaceful protesters.”

Cruz has also attempted to downplay the Jan. 6 committee’s hearings, going so far as to call them “theater.”

U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne

North Texas Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne tweeted as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. “Every American has a right to peaceful protest, but violence is unacceptable,” she wrote.
Directly after, Van Duyne joined 16 of her Texas GOP colleagues in voting against the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral win.

This summer, as the public hearings into the Capitol attack unfolded, the congresswoman claimed that constituents are tired of hearing about Jan. 6. Speaking with the far-right Newsmax, she echoed Cruz’s “theater” rhetoric and argued that everyday Americans are facing more pressing concerns.

“[Washington Democrats] are completely ignoring the issues that are happening to every other American across the country,” Van Duyne said.

U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson

Amarillo Congressman Ronny Jackson is a major promulgator of the election-fraud narrative.

On Jan. 6, 2021, the far-right militia group Oath Keepers talked of providing him protection as the violence erupted. But later that day, Jackson issued a scathing statement, saying that those who were involved in the siege should “be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Now, though, Jackson insists that there’s nothing to see here.

“The WITCH HUNT committee of unselects is FAILING,” he wrote in a recent tweet. “Americans can see through their lies, and NOBODY believes them. It’s all a SHAM meant to DISTRACT. The committee should be dissolved IMMEDIATELY!”
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert
East Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert rivals Cruz when it comes to sucking up to Trump. These days, he’s fashioned himself a champion for the jailed insurrectionists, even assigning them the lofty moniker: “political prisoners.”

On Jan. 6 itself, though, he petitioned his fellow Trump supporters to put down their pitchforks.

“Please people; no violence,” he wrote in a tweet. “That only hurts our cause.”
U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls

Richmond Republican Congressman Troy Nehls is an ardent Trump supporter who tweeted the day before the insurrection that he intended “to fight” for his president.

Still, after rioters broke into the Capitol building, Nehls took to Twitter to decry the breach as a “disgrace.”

“We’re better than this. Violence is NEVER the answer. Law and order!” he wrote at the time.
Speaking of “order,” Nehls has again changed tack. He’s now encouraging folks to preorder his book, in which he claims to have “chronicled the truth” about media falsehoods surrounding the election and Jan. 6.
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Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter