Exclusive: All 50 Senate Republicans weigh in on Jan. 6 hearings – only 8 are watching
Sen. Josh Hawley (MSNBC screenshot)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pundits and political reporters continue to compare the Jan. 6 select committee hearings to the Watergate hearings. There’s a fatal flaw with the analogy though. Back in the Nixon years, Senate Republicans showed up, pored over evidence, asked hard questions, listened to witnesses, and eventually applied the internal GOP pressure that forced Nixon to resign.
Today’s Republican senators aren’t even willing to show up.

Over the past month, beginning a couple of days ahead of the first public Jan. 6 hearing, I interviewed all 50 GOP members of the U.S. Senate. Only eight Republican senators report actively tuning in to some or all of the proceedings. Another 10 GOP senators told me they’re reading press clippings or plan to read the special committee’s report once they conclude their investigation. The other 32 Republican senators have actively tuned out the committee.

While some say they already heard House members present evidence in a formal impeachment trial after the attack on the Capitol, most dismiss the committee – including all the new evidence and witness testimony being released weekly by the committee – out of hand.

READ: Hillary Clinton uses Trump’s tweets against him in ‘drily humorous’ lawsuit motion

“It has nothing to do with reality,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) told Raw Story while walking through the Capitol. “I think it’s completely partisan.”

Even Republican senators who are tuning in to watch the Jan. 6 committee see it as a partisan affair, but they still see the benefit in gleaning new information from it. Not so for many of the Republicans boycotting this investigation into an attack on the office they hold.

“No. I have zero interest in what I think is an extended Democrat campaign commercial,” Sen. Josh Hawley (MO) – who infamously raised a supportive clenched fist to the soon-to-be insurrectionists on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021 – told Raw Story as he rode an elevator up to the Senate floor. “So boring.”

Still, other Republicans are vowing to erase the select committee’s findings – a substantive part of the historical record of the worst attack on American democracy since the British stormed the Capitol during the War of 1812 – if they capture control of one or both chambers of Congress this November.

READ: Officer Dunn explains it’s hard to sit through the Jan. 6 committee but he deserves the truth

“I think it’s an illegitimate committee. It’s a partisan witch-hunt and has no validity at all,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Raw Story as he headed to a Senate vote at the Capitol. “Hopefully in November it will all be completely erased and expunged from the history of Congress.”

But the Republicans who are tuning in are finding it eye-opening.

“I watched the first night. I thought it was well put together,” former Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the recent former chair of the House Judiciary Committee who is now a Disney lobbyist, told Raw Story this summer. “Obviously it’s one side, but I think there’s a lot of facts coming out. Let the facts come out. Let’s sort things out after they finish.”

Democrats on the select committee have said from the beginning that their intended audience is the American public. Still, they would have expected their Senate colleagues to be more curious – studious even – than they are. While committee member Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) says only a few Republican senators are being honest, she also says their absence doesn’t impact their work.

“They can avert their eyes, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is real and happened,” Murphy told Raw Story after presenting evidence in Tuesday’s select committee hearing. “And it’s actually a bit of a dereliction of their constitutional duties to defend our democracy.”

That new evidence was damning to many. It included new testimony from Trump’s former White House Counsel Pat Cippillone who testified under oath that the former president was fully aware that overturning the election results would have constituted a crime. The committee also showed how the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers militia, and white nationalists rallied behind Trump on social media in the lead-up to his “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6.

“Powerful testimony. Very compelling. I think the evidence is becoming more and more clear that Trump was the facilitator of the Jan. 6 insurrection and should be charged with seditious conspiracy,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) told Raw Story after leaving the committee’s seventh hearing on Tuesday.

To many observers, the special committee has now connected the dots – including testimony from a Twitter employee who testified, “the former president was for seemingly the first time speaking directly to extremist groups” – and the buck stops at Trump’s former desk in the Oval Office.

“When he exhausted every attempt he had made to overturn the election, he went to the public, to his supporters, and he called them to Washington. He encouraged them to go to the Capitol. He knew. He told them what to do. It should be no surprise,” Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) told Raw Story as she was leaving Tuesday’s hearing. “I just hope people are watching and listening to this, because there’s nothing partisan about this. The committee’s doing a really good job presenting the facts in a way that’s digestible and without any political bent.”

Many on Capitol Hill are worried the 2021 attack will be replicated in the future, and they accuse Senate Republicans of propping up Trump, instead of calling him out.

“Republican elected officials here in Washington are going from, kind of, silent acquiescence to full-throated support,” Rice said. “And that’s frightening.”

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The below transcripts are all or part of what all 50 Republican U.S. senators replied when asked if they planned to or are watching the Jan. 6 hearings. Raw Story questions are bolded when necessary. Interviews have been lightly edited for length and clarity.


Sen. John Barrasso (WY), chair of the Senate Republican Conference

June 7th (2 days before the first hearing)

“I think it's a politically driven effort on the part of Nancy Pelosi to embarrass the Republican Party. So no, I'm not going to be tuning in on Thursday night…I was here, and I saw it and know what I saw.”


Sen. Marsha Blackburn (TN)

June 8th (eve of first hearing)

“I don’t do hallway interviews.” (she responded to my question in a Capitol hallway)


Sen. Roy Blunt (MO), chair of the Republican Policy Committee & top Republican on the Rules and Administration Committee

June 15th

“I haven’t. The night of the first hearing I was getting an award in St, Louis, and I never really caught up on that. I’ve been glancing through the stories in the paper. I don’t think [the committee] is surprising anybody watching it, but I suspect a lot of Americans weren’t.”


Sen. John Boozman (AR)

June 8th

“No.

“I’ll be curious to see it. I’ll read people like you, and I’ll know all about it.”


Sen. Mike Braun (IN)

June 8th

“I’ll probably have to call my wife and tell her to DVR it for me. I think it’s a political stunt, but I’m going to watch it like I do everything. You’ve got to take in all the information, but in this case I think it was ill-founded from the get-go.”

June 15th

"Did your wife ever DVR that Jan. 6 hearing for you?" (We laugh)

“She did, and I didn’t spend much time on it.”

"That’s what I wanted to ask – with what you’ve been hearing in the news – did you just fast forward through the DVR?"

“I did, because I knew most of that stuff ahead of time.”

"But you still watched though."

“We did, and I did go through it.”

"But throughout everything – not really hearing anything new?"

“No. No. I think it's just a repackaging, similar to what they did in bringing out the impeachment part of it. Kind of, milk it for every bit you can get out of it.”

"But what about Bill Barr saying – him and everyone else – saying it was ‘bullshit’?"

“But we knew his opinion too before it came out, so anyway.”


Sen. Richard Burr (NC), former Senate Intelligence Committee chair

June 7th

“You just hired a TV guy to produce a congressional hearing? Give me a break.”


Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (WV)

June 7th

“I know the committee, I just didn't know that the hearing was Thursday. I hadn't planned on watching it, but not for any reason other than I just hadn't planned on it.”

"Do you still have questions from Jan. 6?"

“Of course: What? Who? How did it get to that point? What were they thinking? What were they? So yeah, I think there's lots of questions out there…I think whatever else we would learn, I don't see why we wouldn't want to know that.”


Sen. Bill Cassidy (LA)

June 8th

"Plan on tuning into the Jan. 6 hearings?"

“No.”

"Why not?"

“You know what my schedule looks like, man?

"Yeah."

“I mean, I’ve got to like schedule time to go to the bathroom. I wish I were able to watch, but I just don’t have time.”

"But do you care about the information they’re gathering?"

“Of course. Of course.”

"Oh, so that’s a different question."

“Yeah. Of course.”

"Because some of your colleagues say it's hyper-partisan from its conception, and they’ve tuned it out. You’re different."

“Facts are facts. You can interpret as to whether there’s partisanship in the presentation of the fact, but you can understand it’s a fact. I mean, I’m a doc. My whole life has been facts, facts, facts. But you understand, sometimes facts are subject to subjectivity, so that’s part of your processing.”

June 14th

“I saw the first night. Well done. People who have an open mind, who were willing to give the former president the benefit of the doubt, if they watch it, and they have an open mind, then they can perhaps form other opinions…obviously the Ivanka Trump [testimony] was pretty big, right? That’s one example.”

WATCH: Barr, Ivanka Trump say they knew there was no voter fraud in 2020 election youtu.be



Sen. Susan Collins (ME)

June 8th

“I’m going to be on a plane to Maine when it’s on.”

"But it’s not a top priority?"

“This is what drives me crazy about the press – I just told you that I’m going to be traveling to Maine and so you say ‘so it’s not a priority.’ Should I cancel my flight home?”

"You can watch live TV on devices on the plane. And I’m sorry, most of your Republican colleagues said it’s not a priority. Talk to them."


Sen. John Cornyn (TX), former GOP whip

June 8th

“Am I going to watch the hearings? I probably will read the cliff notes. There’s so much going on around here…”


Sen. Tom Cotton (AR)

June 8th

“No comment.” (which is a comment)

June 14th

“No comment.” (again, saying, ‘No comment,’ is indeed a comment)


Sen. Kevin Cramer (ND)

June 8th

“Not really. I mean, gosh, there’s been enough investigations and enough people still, frankly, waiting to have their cases adjudicated that I don't really see how a House panel is going to come up with anything new.

“Not to mention this whole idea that this one-sided witch-hunt issues subpoenas and then holds…former executive officials in contempt, and then the DOJ actually entertains it? It’s just ludicrous to me. Considering that Barack Obama had an attorney general who was held in contempt of the House and just snubbed his nose at it.”


Sen. Mike Crapo (ID)

June 8th

“I’ll probably try to get clips of it or reviews of it…I obviously want to know what they say.”

June 15th

"Did you hear Bill Barr told Trump it was ‘bullshit’?"

“No. Literally, I’m not listening to Nancy’s show.”


Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)

July 12th

“I haven't watched any of this political circus and kangaroo court being put on by Democrats.”


Sen. Steve Daines (MT)

June 8th

“No. It’s a made-for-TV performance by the Democrats. ABC producer. That’s why.”


Sen. Joni Ernst (IA), Republican Conference vice chair

June 8th

“I will be reviewing them after…It does seem partisan.”

June 15th

“No (genuine, uproarious, and sustained laughter). Sorry. No.”


Sen. Deb Fischer (NE)

June 8th

“I’ll be flying back to the state, so no, I don’t have plans to watch it.”


Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), recent former chair of the Judiciary Committee

June 8th

“I’ve got better things to do.”

June 15th

“Just clips on TV. To me, the cake is baked on Jan. 6, politically.”

"What’s that cake look like?"

“Most people don’t like it. Think it was a bad day – include me in that. They’re not going to base their vote in 2022 on Jan. 6.”

"But what about them trying to highlight that these elements are still there?"

“I think they want to talk about something other than gas prices.”


Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA), current top Republican on the Judiciary Committee

June 7th

“Obviously, I care about what they found, but it doesn’t matter what they found because just the fact they’re having their hearing on primetime on television speaks that it’s a political operation, rather than a legitimate congressional investigation.”


Sen. Bill Hagerty (TN)

June 8th

“No.”


Sen. Josh Hawley (MO)

July 12th

“No. I have zero interest in what I think is an extended Democrat campaign commercial…so boring.”

Koozies sold by Josh Hawley’s campaign of him pumping up the crowd of soon-to-be insurrectionists on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021. Source: Hawley’s campaign storefront.


Sen. John Hoeven (ND)

June 15th

“I have not. I haven’t seen it.”


Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS)

June 8th

“I have no idea.”

June 15th

"Ooh, I like this. People are telling me my outfit is bright today. I’m, like: I gotta move over for the senator!"


(We laughed, Capitol Police were half amused, attendants chuckled, reporters smirked as we kept walking towards the ‘Senators Only’ elevator just off the Senate floor)

“I out-brighted you today. Major out-brighted you.”

You out-whatted me?

“Out-brighted,” we say in unison.

Indeed.

(We laughed.)

"I wanted to ask you, did you watch any of the Jan. 6 stuff?"

“I don’t do the hallway interviews.” (a ‘rule’ she had just broken moments earlier. Also, a rule the junior senator from Mississippi adopted after refusing to apologize for making a racist lynching ‘joke.’ Also, one she’s kept since being pressured to apologize for making said racist lynching ‘joke’)

No?

“No.”


Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK), recent former chair of the Armed Services Committee

June 8th

“Oh no. No. I’m not.”


Sen. Ron Johnson (WI), recent former chair of Senate Homeland Security Committee

June 15th

Have you caught any of the Jan. 6 hearings in the House?

“No.”

You watching the NBA Finals?

“No, not watching those either. I’ve got, like, a day job.”


Sen. John Kennedy (LA)

June 7th (2 days before the first Jan. 6 hearing)

“That's the House’s business.”

"Even though it was an attack on the U.S. Capitol?"

“That’s all I got for you.”

June 15th

“I have not watched.”


Sen. James Lankford (OK), vice chair of the Select Ethics Committee

June 8th

“It’s a really hardcore partisan setup from the beginning.

“Obviously, I’ve got questions. Everybody has questions in every different area – there’s no way you can’t. I’m also a firm believer that facts and information do come out. It takes time. Over the years it will come out.”


Sen. Mike Lee (UT)

July 12th

“We’re late for a vote. Please reach out to….,” Lee’s ‘communications’ director – or blocker? – said as he tried to physically prevent me from speaking to his boss, the senator, as he tried to answer me.

"Did you say, ‘No,’ sir?"

“Unfortunately, we’re late for a vote,” the taxpayer-funded blocker continued.

"I know, but your boss can speak for himself and he was looking at me and saying…"

“Feel free to please reach out to Lee…”

Have you watched any of Jan. 6?

“Reach out to Lee…”

"Did you say, ‘No’?"

“A little bit,” the senator finally was able to muster over his own comms director.

"Thank you, sir."


Sen. Cynthis Lummis (WY)

June 8th

“No. It’s a complete one-sided choreographed charade.

“We already went through an impeachment trial. Sat through all of that – listened to all that evidence – so that’s enough for me.”


Sen. Roger Marshall (KS)

June 15th

“…the Bill Barr quote ‘total bullshit’ end quote,” the Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic asked Sen. Marshall after the first hearing.

“He’s saying that 100%?” Marshall replied as he made his way to an elevator off the Senate floor.

“Yeah. He said that it’s ‘total B.S.’ and that former President Trump was ‘divorced from reality…,’” Igor continued.

(I mostly stopped eavesdropping for a minute or so…)

“…a former attorney general is just a citizen of the United States,” Marshall said.

“Thank you, senator,” Igor said. “Appreciate it.”

I hopped on Marshall’s elevator.

“Have you caught any of the hearings, sir?” I ask. “I’m just wondering if you heard that before?”

“What?”

“Was that news to you – what Bill Barr said?”

“No. I’ve read something about it.”

"You’ve read something about it?"

“Yeah, yeah. Thanks.”

“But you’re not watching it at all?”

“No.”

“No. Preciate ya.”


Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY), minority leader

June 8th

Stared and said nothing, his usual.

June 14th press conference

“I don’t remember saying that I would be watching,” McConnell told the congressional press corps. “I’m focusing on what we’re doing here in the Senate…”

McConnell Asked His Impression Of January 6th Hearings youtu.be

June 22nd

Stared. A lip quivered, but he said nothing.


Sen. Jerry Moran (KS), top Republican on Veterans Committee (many Capitol Police officers are vets)

June 15th

“I’ll read the report at the end, but the theatrics between now and then don’t appeal to me.”


Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK)

June 8th

“I probably won’t watch it, because I just don’t watch any of that stuff. I read about it the next day...”

"Are there questions that you still have from Jan. 6 that you still want answered, personally – from being there?"

“I’m still seeing things coming out. We’re seeing things from individuals who are speaking up, so yeah, I’ll be interested.”

June 14th

“I have been trying to follow it, yeah.”


Sen. Rand Paul (KY)

June 8th

“I think it’s an illegitimate committee. It’s a partisan witch-hunt and has no validity at all. Hopefully in November it will all be completely erased and expunged from the history of Congress.”


Sen. Rob Portman (OH)

June 15th

“I watch a little bit. Mostly excerpts.

“There's been some new information provided, including some of the depositions. I think all the facts should come out. As you know, I've taken a position on this that we ought to know everything.

“We did a report over here that was totally bipartisan – with Sen. Peters, Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Blunt, and myself. We took the committees of Homeland Security and [Rules and] Administration, and we studied for six months what happened and why and did a report. So a lot of this information I do know from our own work, some of which they're building on.”

"And that was bipartisan, so it just has more heft here, right? It feels like this is landing like a feather – if at all – here in the Capitol."

“It was not viewed as a bipartisan process – and I also support an outside commission, because I was concerned about that. But I think Speaker Pelosi made a big mistake in not accepting the Republican selections from the leadership. It’s a lesson.”


Sen. Jim Risch (ID), recent former chair of Foreign Relations Committee

June 15th

“You’re kidding, right?”


Sen. Mitt Romney (UT)

June 15th

"What do you think of Bill Barr and all the other counsel telling Trump this is ‘bullshit’?"

“I think we’ve known from the beginning that President Trump had no evidence of a widespread defrauded election, that his effort is to smooth his bruised ego, and puts at risk the cause of democracy here and around the world.”

"Are you worried there are elements in your party still looking to undermine elections that went along with this?"

“Yeah. There’s a global battle going on between autocracies and democracies – and weakening democracy at a time like this is dangerous for us and for the world.”


Sen. Mike Rounds (SD)

June 8th

“Normally I just read about it in the press.”


Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), vice chair of Senate Intelligence COmmittee

June 8th

“No. That’s why the justice system exists. They’re arresting people. They’re charging people. People will stand trial. If somebody committed a crime on that day – and a lot of people did – then they should respond to the law. That’s why we have a criminal justice system.”

June 15th

“Are they still going? I thought it was just that one day. Are there still more of them?

“I wasn’t going to watch it anyway, but, especially during the week, we’ve got stuff to do here. I can’t sit around in front of a TV and watch a bunch of circus clowns.”


Sen. Ben Sasse (NE)

June 7th

“It depends on whether or not their objective is actually to solve the problem of Jan. 6 or just to do more partisan hackery. Blowing up the electoral college is unconstitutionally stupid, and it looks like, yet again, Speaker Pelosi just wants to use this for political nonsense and not actually solving a problem.”


Sen. Rick Scott (FL), chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee

June 8th

“It has nothing to do with reality. I think it’s completely partisan.”


Sen. Tim Scott (SC)

June 23rd

“Not a one.”


Sen. Richard Shelby (AL)

June 14th

"You watch any of the NBA Finals last night?"

“I watched a few minutes of it, but I was catching the baseball.”

"Did you catch any of the Jan. 6 hearing"

“Hey, I was here, and that’s all pretend, you know?”


Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK)

June 15th

“No.”


Sen. John Thune (SD), Minority Whip

June 15th

“I haven’t seen it. I mean, things have been crazy around here.”

"But have you heard Bill Barr telling Trump it was ‘bullshit’? Ivanka and the family, what do you make of that"

“I just kind of let the hearings play out and see what kind of conclusions they draw and go from there.”

"But none of that was news to you?"

“I think we’ve kind of seen most of that stuff. Most of that stuff’s in Barr’s book. A lot of stuff’s been out there already, but they’re certainly using their forum.”


Sen. Thom Tillis (NC)

June 8th

“Oh definitely. Definitely.”

“You’re joking, aren’t you?” another reporter cut in, before cracking up along with the senator (I blushed. Well played, good sir).

“Didn’t they say something about they brought in an ABC producer? So maybe I’ll rely on my comms people to give me the highlights.”


Sen. Pat Toomey (PA)

July 12th

“I think they’ve been pretty powerful.”


Sen. Tommy Tuberville (AL)

June 13th

“No time.”


Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), deputy whip and former chair National Republican Senatorial Committee

June 23rd

“The news coverage I've watched.”

“What have you thought of the news coverage?"

“I’m headed to this classified briefing. I have seven minutes, so let’s have a conversation later on about this.”

Less than an hour later, he's on the first floor of the Capitol.

“So, Sen. Wicker you haven’t been watching it? Not even to see your old colleagues from the House?”

“I’m, actually, not doing interviews today,” the senior senator from Mississippi responded – abruptly ending our impromptu interview with his second lie within an hour – in a hallway filled with other senators gladly conducting interviews while also moving more quickly than Wicker to the same meeting.


Sen. Todd Young (IN), recent former chair National Republican Senatorial Committee
June 8th

“Yes, I do. I’m hopeful that they’re informative. I am highly skeptical that this is going to be particularly instructive because there is a political bent to it.

“That said, for the good of the American people, I hope there’s something edifying that comes out of it.”


Two honorable mentions from the House:

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), one of five Republicans Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tried to place on the Jan. 6 select committee

June 14th

“I’ve seen parts of it…”

"Do you have any questions left"

“The fundamental question is the one that Mr. [Jim] Banks (R-IN) raised about, you know, why the Capitol’s security posture wasn't there. And only the speaker can answer that.

“But you don't know what questions you would have if you never get to see what documents they have, to participate in the depositions, and then cross-examine witnesses.”


Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN)

June 8th

Said nothing. Put in an airpod.

The congressman’s younger brother is former Vice President Mike Pence who allegedly was targeted by the former president. Our interaction was notable to Mike Pence biographer Tom LoBianco (“Piety & Power”) who covered the former vice president for the Associated Press when he was governor of Indiana.