A Year Later, Jan. 6 Becomes Just Another Wedge in a Divided Nation

Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, said that “Jan. 6 is going to be a disaster rather than an asset for Democrats” that will cost them seats in the November midterm elections. While he said those who broke into the Capitol should be brought to justice and the event investigated, he argued that Democrats were covering up their own complicity in not providing adequate security for the Capitol.

“The process of the select committee is only getting more corrupt and destructive,” Mr. Gingrich wrote in a newsletter this week. “Using an outrageous, painful and unacceptable event (which I fully condemn) to smear your opponents rather than find the truth will ultimately be repudiated by the American people.”

In fact, at the time of the attack, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, shared control of the Capitol with the Senate majority leader, who at the time was Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. Republicans have made no attempt to blame Mr. McConnell for the security breach or for failing to prepare for an attack.

As unlikely as it seemed 365 days ago, Mr. Trump emerged from the wreckage of Jan. 6 still the dominant force within the party. Those who speak against him are purged, and his endorsement is the most coveted asset in almost any Republican primary. One Republican senator privately explained his reluctance to break with Mr. Trump by noting that the former president polled better among Republicans in his state than he did. “You can’t minimize that in terms of the political reality,” the senator said.

Still, Mr. Trump is not all-powerful within the party. For months, he has railed against Mr. McConnell, demanding that Republican senators remove him as their leader. Republican senators have uniformly ignored Mr. Trump as if his rants were irrelevant.

And there are times when Mr. Trump appears not so much in command of his base as a captive of it. When he urged an Alabama audience in August to get vaccinated for the coronavirus — a vaccine he helped generate — the crowd booed him. Taking the point, he avoided bringing up the vaccine again for months.

When he said in Texas last month that he had received a booster, he was booed again. This time, he told supporters that although “you shouldn’t be forced to take it,” they were “playing into their hands,” meaning his opponents, by denigrating the vaccine. By Wednesday, he pivoted to a full-throated attack on vaccine mandates. “This is an outrage, and MAGA nation should rise up and oppose this egregious federal government overreach,” he said in a statement.