As It Happens·Q&A

Jan. 6 hearings a reminder of how 'extreme' majority of Republicans have become, party member says

While many Republicans have dismissed the Jan. 6 hearings, others like Gunner Ramer hope it’s a moment of reflection for the party. Ramer is the political director of the Republican Accountability Project, a Republican-backed group aimed at fighting disinformation and upholding democracy.

'We're not moving on from Jan. 6 until we figure out exactly what happened,' says Gunner Ramer

A large projection screen displayed video exhibits Thursday during the first public hearing of the U.S. House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The committee will reveal the findings of a year-long investigation into the attack. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

Story Transcript

Republican Gunner Ramer hopes the U.S. congressional committee hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol will hold the right people accountable. 

"Last night we were reminded about just how terrible that day was for our country," said Ramer, who is the political director of the Republican Accountability Project, a Republican-backed political action committee aimed at fighting disinformation within the party and upholding democracy.

Televised committee hearings began Thursday evening. The U.S. House panel will attempt to show how violence erupted that day and how former president Donald Trump, who failed to win a second term, tried to overturn U.S. President Joe Biden's election victory.

Thursday's hearing included never-before-seen footage of rioters beating police and breaching the Capitol building. The next hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 13.

Ramer spoke with As It Happens guest host Tom Harrington about the first day of the hearings. Here is part of their conversation. 

The panel shared previously unseen footage of the riot. We think we'd seen it all, but we obviously had not. How important was it to remind Americans who are watching of the scenes that took place that day? 

Incredibly important. You know, there are a lot of people that want to move on from Jan. 6, including Republican leadership. And last night, guess what? It was a reminder that we're not moving on from Jan. 6 until we figure out exactly what happened. What was Donald Trump doing in 187 minutes that no one knows about? Well, we're going to find out. 

What moments did it bring back for you? 

As someone that identifies as a registered Republican, identifies as someone that's conservative, I can't think of anything more damaging to the Constitution than trying to undermine a free and fair election. And last night, I was reminded about how I felt that day and how angry I felt with the Republicans who let this all happen. 

Bennie Thompson, left, the chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrections, is shown on April 6 with Liz Cheney, the lone Republican on the panel. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

The vice chair of the panel is Liz Cheney, a Republican congresswoman from Wyoming. How significant do you think her involvement is when it comes to presenting the committee as a bipartisan investigation? 

The thing with the impeachment proceedings regarding Donald Trump is that, you know, Republicans were able to say it's a partisan witch hunt or whatever. But Liz Cheney is leading this investigation. She is showing what it means to be a conservative Republican that cares more about the Constitution than appealing to Donald Trump. That is brave, that is courageous. That is something rarely seen in our politics. 

How closely do you think Republicans or even Republican voters are actually going to follow these hearings? 

I think it depends on what kind of Republican voter we're talking about. Are we talking about the sort of, you know, MAGA [who] thinks that Antifa is responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection? I mean, they were probably watching Tucker [Carlson] or Steve Bannon and never even saw what happened yesterday. 

I hope that all of these people – Donald Trump, the people around Donald Trump – are held accountable.- Gunner Ramer, political director of the Republican Accountability Project

But there are also the types of Republicans, maybe traditional Republicans that are turned off by, you know, a "stop the steal, Big Lie"-type of candidate. And, you know, maybe they caught it watching local news last night. And it reminds them just how extreme a majority of the Republican Party has become. And all the candidates running for office across the country – they may not have all gotten Trump's endorsement, but they have almost all endorsed Donald Trump and his America First MAGA agenda. 

Among the revelations last night, which was eye-catching, I thought, was the suggestion that a number of Republican congressmen including Scott Perry, who was named, sought presidential pardons for their roles after Jan. 6. What type of accountability do you want? 

I hope that all of these people are held accountable. And I also hope that the Republican leadership that have tried to whitewash everything that happened on Jan. 6 feel deep shame in how they have responded post-Jan.6. I mean, people like Kevin McCarthy were at Mar-a-Lago just two weeks or so after saying that the president bears some responsibility for Jan. 6 on the House floor. So I hope that all of these people — Donald Trump, the people around Donald Trump — are held accountable. 

The Q&A has been condensed for length and clarity. Written by Olsy Sorokina with files from CBC News. Interview with Gunner Ramer produced by Morgan Passi. 

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