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Big Lie echoes through arrests, hearings

Nearly 700 people have now been arrested. Some are starting to receive prison time, 10 so far. Yet the instigator of the crime has not been held accountable and the details of the plot are still unknown.

Those who invaded the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, some vandalizing public property and attacking police in the process, acted criminally. But this was no spontaneous action. They were fed the Big Lie that the presidential election had been stolen and that stopping the congressional process of counting the electoral votes, making Joe Biden's presidential election official, would be a patriotic act.

It remains deeply troubling that but for a noble few, Republicans in Congress have refused to hold responsible the man who fed that lie — and who continues to do so — former President Donald Trump.

Trump put retaining power above his oath "to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Biden was elected president in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Legal challenges to election results had been heard by the courts and rejected. Failing to succeed within the law and the Constitution, Trump sought to defy both.

He asked then Vice President Mike Pence to exceed his constitutional authority and somehow block the certification of the electoral votes.

"I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election," Trump told protestors on Jan. 6.

Then he worked them into a lather.

"You will have an illegitimate president. That's what you'll have. And we can't let that happen," Trump said in a speech full of lies about the election results.

"And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore," thundered Trump.

But what was the plan? What if Pence had tried to block the recording of the electoral votes? What was Trump's plot to retain power and defy the will of the American people? What were the discussions? How was the strategy laid out?

These are the answers House Democrats, joined by only a few Republicans, sought in voting to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the events leading up to and surrounding the Jan. 6 attack, only to be blocked by Republicans in the Senate who would rather bury their heads in the sand and embolden the ex-president.

Failing in that, the House formed a select committee to investigate. Typical of the Republican Party's response to this effort to uncover the facts, last weekend the Wyoming Republican Party leadership voted to no longer recognize Rep. Liz Cheney as a party member for daring to criticize Trump and serving on the select committee. In other words, punishing her for doing the right thing.

Don't Republicans recognize the dangerous game they are playing? Don't they know Democrats could play the same card if Trump's efforts to overturn an election are not fully investigated and rebuked? If such behavior becomes acceptable, who is to say a future Democratic presidential loser won't call the election of the Republican winner "stolen," concocting lies to back the claim and seeding them on social media? This is not hard, unfortunately.

What then becomes of U.S. democracy when the losing side considers the president illegitimate?

These are not simply faraway events. The Trump lie has substantial acceptance here, too. Seven state residents have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the attack on the Capitol Building, five of them from eastern Connecticut, including two Groton and two Canterbury residents.

The latest arrest came Nov. 10 when Jeremy K. Baouche, 24, an Electric Boat employee, was charged. The FBI reports that they tried to interview Baouche at EB on Jan. 20, but he declined to talk without an attorney, which is his right.

Baouche's arrest is particularly troublesome. According to arrest records, he had security clearance in his job at the defense contractor. When did the FBI or other federal agency inform EB officials that they had one of the company's employees under investigation in connection with the Capitol invasion? If EB was informed, how did it respond? And if they were not informed early in the investigation, then why not?

EB has taken the position it cannot comment because the matter is under investigation. Someone needs to provide answers.

Our democracy is sick. But with one of the major parties satisfied with feeding the sickness rather than diagnosing it, the prognosis for recovery is not good.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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