Many Republicans Against McCarthy Sought to Overturn 2020 Election

Some of the same Republicans who were former President Donald J. Trump’s lieutenants in seeking to overturn the 2020 election led the charge against Representative Kevin McCarthy as speaker.

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Many Republicans Against McCarthy Sought to Overturn 2020 Election |

Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania speaking at a “Stop The Steal” rally in Harrisburg, Pa., in November 2020.

WASHINGTON — They helped lead the efforts to keep former President Donald J. Trump in power after he lost the 2020 election. They refused to certify that President Biden was the rightful winner. They spread lies that helped ignite a mob of Trump supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

On Friday, the two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, many of the same hard-right lawmakers who served as top lieutenants to Mr. Trump during the buildup to the assault spent the day blocking the bid of Representative Kevin McCarthy of California to be speaker and extracting major concessions from him.

While some had received subpoenas in the Jan. 6 investigations and were later referred to the House Ethics Committee, their power showed they were far from outcasts and had paid little price for their actions.

Among the ringleaders in both the effort to block Mr. McCarthy and the push to overturn the 2020 election were Representative Scott Perry, the leader of the far-right Freedom Caucus, and Representatives Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona. (On Friday, Mr. Gosar and Mr. Perry swung behind Mr. McCarthy after he caved to their demands to dilute the power of the post he is seeking and to give their faction more sway in the House.)

Other hard-right holdouts who for days have refused to vote for Mr. McCarthy were Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Andy Harris of Maryland. All three met with Mr. Trump or White House officials as they discussed how to fight the election results, according to evidence gathered by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

  • Timeline: On Jan. 6, 2021, 64 days after Election Day 2020, a mob of supporters of President Donald J. Trump raided the Capitol. Here is a close look at how the attack unfolded.
  • A Day of Rage: Using thousands of videos and police radio communications, a Times investigation reconstructed in detail what happened — and why.
  • Lost Lives: A bipartisan Senate report found that at least seven people died in connection with the attack.
  • Jan. 6 Attendees: To many of those who attended the Trump rally but never breached the Capitol, that date wasn’t a dark day for the nation. It was a new start.

(Mr. Harris flipped his vote to support Mr. McCarthy on Friday afternoon, but Ms. Boebert and Mr. Gaetz remained against him.)

Democrats made sure to single out the group.

“This January 6th anniversary should serve as a wake-up call to the G.O.P. to reject M.A.G.A. radicalism — which keeps leading to G.O.P. failures,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, wrote on Twitter. “But the pandemonium wrought by House Republicans this week is one more example of how M.A.G.A. radicalism is making it impossible for them to govern.”

No one in the hard-right group attended what was billed as a bipartisan ceremony on Capitol Hill to mark the anniversary. Only one Republican of any stripe turned up: Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, a former F.B.I. agent who is the co-chairman of the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus.

The ceremony opened with a moment of silence for House members on the steps of the Capitol to honor the Capitol Police officers who died in the year after the attack.

“We stand here with our democracy intact because of those officers,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the top Democrat in the House, as tears welled up in some House members’ eyes.

Witnesses who testified before the House investigative committee, including police officers who defended the Capitol, were honored at the White House, including Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, and Harry Dunn, Caroline Edwards, Aquilino Gonell, and Eugene Goodman of the U.S. Capitol Police.

Mr. Perry, who was one of the main architects behind a plan to install Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, as the acting attorney general after he appeared sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s false allegations of widespread voter fraud, said Friday that he fought Mr. McCarthy’s nomination for speaker until he could extract concessions from him to give the House Freedom Caucus and rank-and-file Republicans more influence over leadership.

“This place is broken,” Mr. Perry said. “We weren’t going to move from that position until the change is made.”

Mr. Biggs, who was still holding out against Mr. McCarthy on Friday afternoon, was involved in a range of organizational efforts in 2020, including meetings aimed at attracting protesters to Washington on Jan. 6, according to the House Jan. 6 committee.

Mr. Gosar, who voted against Mr. McCarthy on multiple ballots but changed his vote to support him on Friday, spread numerous lies about the 2020 election and spoke at “Stop the Steal” rallies arranged by Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer.

The House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack has referred Mr. Perry and Mr. Biggs to the Ethics Committee for refusing to comply with its subpoenas.

Not every Republican involved in blocking Mr. McCarthy’s ascension was among those who voted against certifying Mr. Biden’s victory.

Representative Chip Roy of Texas started out as an enthusiastic supporter of Mr. Trump’s claims of a stolen election but gradually grew alarmed about the push to invalidate the results and ultimately opposed Mr. Trump’s bid to get Congress to overturn them on Jan. 6, 2021.

Mr. Roy, an initial holdout against Mr. McCarthy, led negotiations to try to bring about a deal that would make Mr. McCarthy the speaker in exchange for changes to House rules.

“We believe that there ought to be fundamental changes about and limits on spending after the massive bloated omnibus spending bill in December,” Mr. Roy said, referring to the $1.7 trillion government funding package passed by Congress last month. “And so we’ve talked about those. We’ve put a lot of those things in place.”


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