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Opinion: Republicans did the nation a favor with Jan. 6 panel boycott

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Instead of finger-pointing and sharp partisan attacks, the special Congressional hearings into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol have been calm, direct, and measured, revealing how Donald Trump endangered the peaceful transition of power in America when he refused to accept his 2020 election loss.

There is one person you should thank for this nonpartisan clarity: House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

McCarthy's decision to boycott the proceedings — after Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked some of his choices for the committee — has allowed the Jan. 6 panel to methodically show how Donald Trump's never-ending false charges of election fraud led to violence at the Capitol.

With his allies sidelined, Trump has started to publicly complain about McCarthy's decision — the surest sign of what's happening in the investigation.

Locked out of the hearings, Trump backers have been reduced to lobbing verbal grenades from afar — the January "Smear" committee as U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, calls it — but it's had little impact.

Meanwhile, the witnesses — many of them Republican aides and elected officials who stood their ground against Trump — have calmly laid bare how Trump pressed outright lies and conspiracy theories about fraud.

"The numbers don't lie," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger testified. "President Biden carried Georgia by approximately 12,000 votes."

If House Republicans had put their members on the Jan. 6 panel, Raffensperger might have found himself under attack this week — just as he was right after the 2020 election, when top Georgia Republicans in Congress called for him to resign, and badgered him to find fraud where there was none.

"We know that Donald Trump tried to bully Georgia officials to go along with his conspiracy," said U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta.

Georgia has been at the center of this investigation, just as Trump has kept Georgia at the center of his non-stop false claims of election fraud.

But the recent Georgia primaries show state Republicans seem to have tired of that Trump canard, as this week two of his picks for Congress were easily defeated in runoffs. That added to his roster of Georgia losses in GOP primary races for Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General.

"Is it fair to say you wanted President Trump to win the 2020 election?" Raffensperger was asked as he began his testimony.

"Yes, it is," Georgia's Secretary of State firmly replied.

But Raffensperger made clear that doing his job — and following the Constitution — was more important than faking a Trump victory.

The Republican boycott of the Jan. 6 committee has made that message even clearer.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com

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