Top Republicans are expressing unease after former President Donald Trump announced his plan to deliver a speech on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in which he will reiterate his baseless claims that Democrats engaged in a widespread campaign of voter fraud to steal the 2020 election.
Republican Senators Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Pat Toomey (Pa.), John Cornyn (Texas), Tim Scott (S.C.), and John Thune (S.D.) all either declined to comment on the upcoming speech or said it would be an unwelcome distraction from more important issues, Politico reported Tuesday.
"I don't think that's a good idea," said Moore Capito. "I think the country has moved on," said Cornyn. Toomey said the event isn't a "terribly good idea," but remarked, "What am I going to do about it?," per Politico.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a frequent critic of the former president, said Sunday on Face the Nation it was "very concerning" but "not surprising" that Trump would continue to repeat claims that "caused violence," Newsweek reported.
Alyssa Farah, who served as director of strategic communications for the Trump administration, told CNN that Jan. 6 would be "a wise day for [Trump] to stay silent."
These remarks are indicative of an ongoing tension within the GOP. Most Republican lawmakers are unwilling to openly defy Trump, who remains a powerful kingmaker and, should he run, the party's likely 2024 nominee. At the same time, many are also hesitant to offer their full-throated support to the former president's stolen election claims.
Trump announced the speech in a Dec. 21 statement posted on his official website, pledging to address the "rigged" election. He also criticized Republicans who refuse to pursue investigations based on his claims of voter fraud. "In many ways a RINO is worse than a Radical Left Democrat," he wrote.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are also scheduled to deliver remarks, doubtless of a very different tenor, on Jan. 6.