Commentary: Another January 6 Falsehood: $30 Million in Damages to the Capitol

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by Julie Kelly

 

The U.S. Capitol Police on Monday morning conducted what it called a “routine” training exercise on the grounds of the Capitol. The stagecraft, almost five months to the day from the January 6 protest, involved emergency vehicles and helicopters. The agency warned area residents not to be “alarmed,” which of course was the exact reaction USCP wanted.

Call it insurrection theater. The USCP has acted as the Democratic Party’s stormtroopers since January 6, attacking peaceful Americans during the protest, lying about the death of officer Brian Sicknick, and now making officers available for embarrassing cable news hits where they share their hurt feelings and the permanent trauma they’ve suffered since enduring the supposedly harrowing ordeal. The distressed officers, however, seem just fine with the fact that a still-unidentified colleague shot and killed an unarmed woman, Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt.

Capitol-employed apparatchiks have played a key role in shaping the narrative about what happened on January 6, all in service to their Democratic paymasters.

The seat of American democracy, we are told, was attacked by bloodthirsty Trump-supporting thugs; not only did lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence barely escape with their lives, the building suddenly transformed—in the eyes of congressional Democrats—from a house built by slaves representing America’s systemic racism to hallowed ground conceived by America’s founding fathers that was severely damaged and forever stained by alleged “insurrectionists.”

(Funny, it was only a short year ago in the aftermath of the George Floyd riots when Democratic lawmakers began removing statues in an effort to purge the building of its racist roots. “Their statues pay homage to hate, not heritage,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in July 2020.)

The four-hour disturbance, when a handful of people unquestionably acted badly and deserve to be punished accordingly, has been compared to the worst terror attacks in U.S. history, including 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. “The Capitol grounds, outside and inside, are essentially a crime scene,” acting U.S. Attorney for D.C. Michael Sherwin said during a January 12 press briefing. At the same presser, a top FBI official repeatedly referred to the “destruction” that occurred on January 6.

Videos of smashed windows and stolen podiums bolster the idea that the Capitol sustained major damage. At least three dozen people arrested so far in the sprawling, ongoing Justice Department investigation have been charged with destroying government property.

In charging documents, federal prosecutors repeatedly claim protestors ransacked the Capitol Building to the tune of at least seven-figures. “The Capitol suffered millions of dollars in damage including broken windows and doors, graffiti, and residue from pepper spray, tear gas, and fire extinguishers deployed by both crowd members who stormed the Capitol and by Capitol Police officers trying to restore order,” Joe Biden’s Justice Department alleges in its indictment against several members of the Oath Keepers.

No Oath Keeper has been charged with directly vandalizing the building, just “aiding and abetting” others who did. (Quite the prosecutorial stretch.) Nonetheless, each is accused of “forcibly enter[ing] the Capitol and thereby caus[ing] damage to the building in an amount more than $1,000.” That figure is important because it elevates the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

The architect of the Capitol, J. Brett Blanton, detailed the costly damage during his February testimony before a House committee. In typical bureaucratic braggadocio, Blanton congratulated himself for his heroic efforts against what he called a “roving mob” on January 6. “As an agency, we served as a shining light of hope that day and in the days following the insurrection. I remain proud of and encouraged by the professionalism displayed by the AOC team in the face of this dangerous and stressful event,” Blanton boasted on February 24. “The events of January 6 were stark reminders that institutional biases, priorities and actions taken out-of-sync with actionable data resulted in poor decisions.” (Huh?)

Blanton put the price tag of repairing the building at an eye-popping $30 million—and that would only be the starting costs to restore artwork and fix damaged items as well as maintain temporary fencing around the grounds. Congress appropriated the extra funds but Blanton warned more money would be needed for various programs and the “health and wellness of our incredible employees.”

Blanton’s repair estimate quickly became a new talking point against the “insurrectionists.” Lawmakers backing a 9/11-style commission into January 6 repeatedly cited the “millions in damage” claim as justification to form the inquisition.

But like so many other accepted truths related to the events in the capital on January 6, the “$30 million in damages” line is untrue.

During a plea hearing on June 2 for Paul Hodgkins, a Capitol defendant charged with various trespassing counts and obstruction of an official proceeding, a felony for which he pleaded guilty, the government said damages at the Capitol totaled around $1.5 million. Hodgkins agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution for his share of the damage even though he, like the Oath Keepers and many others, is not charged directly with causing any of it.

Much of what the public has been told to believe about January 6 slowly is being exposed as a series of falsehoods. It wasn’t an armed insurrection; five people did not die as a result of the protest; Brian Sicknick was not killed by Trump supporters; and it was not even close to being the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War,” as Joe Biden insists. The protest was not orchestrated or executed by white supremacists or “domestic violent extremists,” as the director of national intelligence warns.

Now another aspect of the official narrative has crumbled. The question remains: If January 6 was as bad as they say, why do they have to keep lying about what happened?

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Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. She is the co-host of ‘Happy Hour podcast with Julie and Liz.’ She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two daughters.
Photo “Capitol Protest” by Tyler Merbler. CC BY 2.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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