Conspiracy peddling candidates on the right have a difficult decision to make.
On Thursday night, as 20 million Americans tuned in to the first hearing of the January 6 Committee, the Big Lie became a punchline. Testimony revealed that Trump’s closest operatives, even his family, knew he lost the 2020 election, and told him so from the very beginning, long before he launched his public campaign to undo American democracy.
Everyone on the inside knew. Everyone on the inside knew from the very beginning.
This understanding will certainly be reinforced as the hearings continue, and this leaves a number of present candidates in a pretty bad spot. Doug Mastriano, running on the GOP conspiracy ticket for Governor in Pennsylvania, has a particularly difficult pivot to make, since he has been one of the loudest voices in the Big Lie machine.
Mastriano not only endorsed the Big Lie, and loudly, but he attended the attempted coup on January 6, even paying thousands of dollars to rent buses to bring Big Liars to DC to attack police and democracy. He even orchestrated a sham election audit, putting the personal information of over 9 million Pennsylvanians at risk to serve an agenda that everyone knew from the beginning was just a scam.
Mastriano’s opponent in November, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, isn’t mincing words about the threat of the Big Lie and its biggest fan.
Mastriano is not the only Pennsylvania Republican dealing with the fallout of the Big Lie’s very public implosion. GOP Congressman Scott Perry, who played an integral role in the pre-coup machinations at the Trump Justice Department, reportedly requested a pardon from Trump just after January 6. And since accepting a pardon is essentially an admission of guilt, we can imply that Perry knew he was pushing a lie from the start, just as all those other Trump insiders knew.
Perry has denied requesting a pardon, but he is presently avoiding a subpoena to testify and say so under oath, so the committee’s findings seem the more credible source in this case.
Republican legislators and candidates all over America are debating what to do next. While Fox News tried to counter-program the hearings, two other Rupert Murdoch owned entities (The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post) published withering anti-Trump editorials in response to the hearing, and there are many more hearings to come.
In Trump’s first impeachment trial, Rep. Adam Schiff warned Republicans that “your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel and for all of history.”
The Big Lie is the knot, and it’s getting tighter with every passing moment.