Social media posts about a “1776 moment” weren’t about violence, and the attack on the U.S. Capitol was infiltrated by the radical left, a Newton County congressman said in the hours after the insurrection ended.
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro, and five other Republican Georgia congressmen voted to reject Electoral College votes here that went for President-elect Joe Biden, a process interrupted by an attack on the Capitol Jan. 6.
Hice last week claimed the “peaceful protest was hijacked by bad actors — some reportedly masquerading as Trump supporters.”
In an interview Thursday, Jan. 7, on his way home, Hice said objecting to various states including Georgia on alleged election fraud “was 100% our focus” and that he hadn’t paid much attention to the protesters coming to Washington.
But hours before Congress convened for the every-four-years session, he tweeted, “What is done today will be remembered! This is our 1776 moment.”
Although a revolution began in 1776, Hice said that wasn’t his intention.
“I should have probably thought about that but it never occurred to me, a take-up-the-arms kind of thing,” he said. “That was never on my radar, never even remotely.
“I was just calling people to stand up as legislators with the tools we have to stand up for freedom and fair elections. I certainly don’t want to be accused of inciting people to take up arms.”
Hice said he understood the protest outside started as a crowd of people “really having a good time” Wednesday morning.
“They said you could feel the difference when certain individuals started showing up,” he said. “They said you could just feel a change in what was happening.”
But Hice admitted some of the people who breached the Capitol were supporters of the president. Social media postings by an Air Force veteran who died after being shot by Secret Service indicate her belief in QAnon conspiracy theory and her support of the outgoing president.
The family of a 55-year-old Alabama man who died of a heart attack released a statement acknowledging he “was an advocate of President Trump and attended the event on January 6, 2021, to show his support.”
Trump addressed the throng, urging the crowd to go to the Capitol at the end of a more than hour-long speech that included grievances about the election, Biden, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, the media and countless other topics.
“I think that is horrible,” Hice said. “What a sad, horrible way for the Trump administration to end. It’s horrible. They could not end in a worse manner than this.”
Also “horrible” to Hice were the results in the Georgia runoffs, where Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans, lost their seats to Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.
Hice blamed the “continuation of a horrible decision by our secretary of state” to send absentee ballot requests to Georgia voters based off what he said was a list with numerous errors. He said that allowed untold numbers of people to access “live” ballots illegally.
In his interview with The Tribune, Hice finally acknowledged how he could take office Jan. 3 in an election he’s claimed is illegitimate.
“I welcome an investigation, if anybody wants to do that,” he said. “If people want to have a signature verification audit and test the machine, that’s fine. But let’s do it statewide.”
In a letter to Hice, Loeffler and Rep. Barry Loudermilk, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger addressed many of the most disputed points of Georgia’s election procedures, including the signature verification.
Raffensperger said his office provided Georgia Bureau of Investigation training to each county so they could better conduct signature verification and introduced a photo identification requirement by creating an online request portal that requires the voter’s name, date of birth and state driver’s license number to match voter records in order to request an absentee ballot.
Hice said he hopes the Georgia General Assembly will end no-excuse absentee voting, the use of drop boxes and the mass mailing of absentee ballot requests, even by outside parties.