Miami’s Rep. Salazar got it right: Jan. 6 witnesses must tell the truth. Then, she went partisan | Editorial

·4 min read
SAM NAVARRO/Special for the Miami Herald

Miami Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar told a TV interviewer over the weekend that anyone called to testify before the Jan. 6 congressional investigative panel should show up and tell the truth.

Bravo! But then, she mucked it up.

Given the GOP’s inability — or, let’s be real, lack of will — when it comes to seeking the facts about the attack on the Capitol, Salazar initially sounded positively reasonable, even statesmanlike.

She made the comments in a recorded interview with NBC 6’s Jackie Nespral that aired on Sunday. In it, the first-term Miami Republican responded to a question about the Jan. 6 riot and the five GOP House members facing subpoenas to testify by saying that, “No one is above the law, and everyone that needs to be called and questioned should go and say the truth,” as reported by the Miami Herald.

She said she initially supported the creation of a bipartisan independent commission to investigate, though she later voted against it in its final form when it passed in June 2021 along a mostly party-line vote. In the Sunday interview, Salazar said she believes the commission is “in the hands of the Democrats,” but that she does not “want to cover anyone, Republicans or Democrats.”

Needless clarification

Then on Monday, she clarified that comment to the Editorial Board, saying that: “Americans deserve to know exactly what happened before and on Jan. 6 and that is why I originally voted for a 10-member bipartisan commission, evenly comprised of five Republicans and five Democrats.

“However, the current special committee is nothing more than a partisan show that I have consistently opposed since its creation. That includes the recent one-sided requests for testimony motivated purely by politics.”

Ah, there it is again, that partisan vitriol. We knew it was too good to last. Why did she back away from her original, common-sense and refreshing support for the truth and, by extension, the health of our democracy? In other words, who smacked her hand?

After all, her initial comments were exactly the sort of truth-seeking without favor that we desperately need in an era when so many politicians — chief among them former President Donald Trump — have learned to repeat lies until they become firmly wedged in the consciousness of far too many Americans.

Politicians push lies

We’re not just talking about the Big Lie that Trump actually won in 2020 — for the thousandth time, he didn’t — but also concocted fears such Gov. Ron DeSantis’ assertion that Florida’s election integrity was so much in question that we need an entire “elections police force” to ferret out voter fraud. He successfully got taxpayers to pay for that cooked-up problem this year, despite saying in 2020 that Florida’s elections were so clean they should serve as a model for other states.

Salazar has played her own role in promoting misinformation. On Jan. 11, 2020, she made remarks on a radio show questioning the legitimacy of Pennsylvania’s vote for president: “How is it possible that in Pennsylvania there are 200,000 more votes on Election Day than there were [voters] in the electoral rolls? That’s not possible.” Those comments came after it was well established that lies about widespread fraud during the election fueled the rioters who disrupted Congress’ certification of election results.

Her actions then made her comments Sunday about the Jan. 6 panel all the more surprising. And we’re far from alone in our angst that the pursuit of truth has been lost amid partisan politics. The bitterness that divides us has become harder and harder to overcome, especially in an election year. Salazar is among those up for reelection in November.

“We need to know everything that happened that day: What Madam Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew. What the sergeant at arms knew. Why didn’t we have reinforcements 24 hours before Jan. 6? If they knew that there could be some type of commotion that day, why some of the measures that should have been taken were not taken. We need to know everything,” she said during the TV interview.

We agree. The citizens of this country need to know exactly what happened in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the symbolic heart of our democracy. That should be a given, something so obvious that it doesn’t need to be stated. But in the current political climate, it no longer is.

Salazar was right the first time. Understanding who is responsible for the homegrown attack on our democracy that occurred on Jan. 6 last year should not be a partisan issue. There’s no clarification needed on that point.

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