About half of Republican voters describe the 6 January uprising at the US Capitol — following widespread allegations of rigging in the vote-counting process — as a “legitimate protest,” according to a new survey published 16 June (as per American time zones), a finding that comes as a handful of GOP lawmakers continue to try and cast the riot in a more positive light.
The Monmouth University poll — conducted between 9 and 14 June in a survey of 810 adults — found 47% of Republican voters say “legitimate protest” is an “appropriate term for the US Capitol incident” on 6 January while 39% of independents and just 13% of Democrats say the same.
But a majority of Republican voters (62%) describe 6 January also as a “riot”, implying that a large number of GOP voters have a nuanced understanding of the attack.
Nearly nine in 10 Democrats (87%) and seven in 10 independents (67%) also describe 6 January as a “riot,” the only definition that drew across-the-board bipartisan support.
Most Democrat voters (85%) and nearly half of independents (48%) call the Capitol attack an “insurrection,” a definition just one-third of Republican voters (33%) agree with.
About three in four Americans overall (72%) define the events dated 6 January as a “riot” while 56% of the public describe it as an “insurrection” and 33% as a “legitimate protest.”
The poll comes as some Republican lawmakers continue to downplay the Capitol attack. Last month, Senator Ron Johnson (Republican from Wisconsin) again described the riot as a largely “peaceful protest.” “Even calling it an insurrection, it wasn’t,” Johnson told Fox News. More than 140 officers were injured on the day of the attack, and police seized guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition, bombs and other weapons such as stun guns and “stinger whips.” Hours after the attack on January 6, former President Donald Trump famously told his supporters at the Capitol, “We love you, you’re very special” in a video message as he instructed them to “go home.”
This week, Representative Paul Gosar (Republican from Arizona), who previously described the rioters as “peaceful patriots,” claimed Ashli Babbitt was “executed” by Capitol police as she tried to breach a window in the Capitol. In an interview with CNN Thursday, Gosar’s brothers apologized for their sibling’s “despicable” behaviour.
Gosar is one of 21 House Republicans to vote against a bill to award congressional gold medals to the Capitol Police and the DC Metropolitan Police Department for their actions on 6 January.
On Tuesday, during testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee, FBI Director Christopher Wray referred to the 6 January riot as an act of “domestic terrorism” that has “no place in our democracy.”
50%: That’s the percentage of Americans who want an independent commission to investigate the January 6 attack, according to the Monmouth poll. Last month, 35 Senate Republicans blocked the passage of legislation that would have created an independent commission.