Even though a record number of Americans are watching U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson lead the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, his Mississippi congressional colleagues do not appear to be interested in his efforts.
None of Mississippi’s other five members of Congress — Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Reps. Trent Kelly, Michael Guest and Steven Palazzo — responded to questions from Mississippi Today asking for their thoughts on the often bombshell testimony that has come out of the Jan. 6 committee hearings.
The bipartisan committee was formed to investigate the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol by President Trump’s supporters to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Thompson, Mississippi’s sole Democrat in Washington, was tapped by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to chair the special committee.
The testimony is slated to continue tonight in primetime. One of the focuses of tonight’s hearing will be the 187 minutes that expired between when Trump urged his supporters during a Jan. 6 speech in Washington to march to the Capitol “to fight like hell” and when he finally asked his supporters who were ransacking the Capitol to go home. The hearings also come as it was announced that there will be a criminal investigation into missing U.S. Secret Service texts related to Jan. 6.
While the congressional delegation did not respond to questions from Mississippi Today, Rep. Trent Kelly of the 1st Congressional District recently said of the hearings on the SuperTalk radio network: “Very little. I try not to. It infuriates me to watch. It is a joke. It is a stage show. It is almost like a TV trial show. They are showing one side of the evidence…
“This is just a witch hunt,” Kelly continued. “They are just trying to make sure President Trump doesn’t run again in 2024. This whole Jan. 6 thing is a sham as far as I am concerned. We have already had the investigation. It was bad that day.”
Though their staffs wouldn’t acknowledge Mississippi Today’s questions, both Sens. Wicker and Hyde-Smith brushed off questions about the Jan. 6 committee when asked by congressional reporter Matt Laslo reporting for Raw Story in Washington in recent weeks.
Wicker, when asked if he was watching the hearings, told Laslo: “I’m headed to this classified briefing. I have seven minutes, so let’s have a conversation later on about this.”
When Laslo caught up with Wicker less than an hour later, Wicker responded: “I’m actually not doing interviews today.”
When Laslo asked Hyde-Smith if she was watching the committee hearings, she repeated a typical refrain of hers at the Capitol: “I don’t do the hallway interviews.” Since she was elected in 2018 and again in 2020, Hyde-Smith has rarely participated in interviews of any nature.
All five members of Mississippi’s U.S. congressional delegation other than Thompson are Republicans. Wicker was the only member of the state’s Republican congressional delegation not to cast votes on Jan. 6 challenging the election outcome. And all other than Guest opposed a plan to establish a bipartisan commission led by non-politicians to investigate the events of Jan. 6 and of efforts by Trump and his supporters to throw out votes and overturn the election.
When Senate Republicans, including Mississippi’s Wicker and Hyde-Smith, blocked efforts to establish a Jan. 6 commission, House Democrats formed the special committee comprised of House members. Thompson, the state’s only African American member of the Mississippi delegation, heads the special committee as chair. The vice chair of the committee is Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming.
Thompson is expected to miss tonight’s hearing because he recently was diagnosed with COVID-19.
None of Mississippi’s five Republican members responded to questions about recent bipartisan efforts to put safeguards in place to make it more difficult for those attempting to throw out election results.