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Congressional Republicans, including Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, right.

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Conspiracy has replaced policy as the motivating force of the Republican Party and its media minions — but only the most flimsy and imaginary conspiracies qualify for partisan attention. Actual criminal conspiracies that threaten the nation merit no concern.

That's why congressional Republicans killed the independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection but now insinuate that the terrible events of that day were secretly instigated by the FBI. While there is no shred of evidence to support that fraudulent and insulting claim, the Party of Trump can say anything to its moronic cultists without fear of contradiction. They're faithful supporters of law enforcement, except when they're insulting law enforcement officers, accusing them of felonious schemes or perhaps trying to maim them.

Such fabrications ought to be familiar to anyone who has been paying attention over the past few years. Concocted to distract from real events and issues, they have become the standard Trumpist retort whenever a troubling question arises.

When the collusive relationship between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and the Kremlin became too obvious to ignore, the response from the suspected perpetrators (and traitors) in the White House was to scream "conspiracy." Somebody was conspiring to mount a "witch hunt" against Trump, whether it was the Deep State, the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, the fake news media, or all of them combined. Investigators and subpoenas uncovered the facts, which included Trump Tower meetings with Russian agents, interference by Russian intelligence assets to support Trump, and even a handoff of sensitive campaign materials to a Russian spy. Then came the cover-up, with Trump promising (and eventually delivering) pardons to Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, and other crooks who might incriminate him.

Dismissing all of that, Attorney General Bill Barr pretended to see a possible conspiracy against Trump — and even deputized a U.S. Attorney named John Durham to uncover it. By the time that probe came up empty, however, everyone had presumably moved on.

Now the Republicans want to avoid a thorough investigation of the January 6 insurrection — and the malign and traitorous actors behind it — at any cost. Any serious probe will not only incriminate Trump and certain figures around him but may well implicate members of the House Republican caucus who encouraged the violence. We already know at least a few of their names, including Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. All of them are frantically trying to conceal the horror of that day. Their actions scream consciousness of guilt.

Equally troubling for the Republican leaders is the prospect of testifying under oath about their own knowledge of what went down. They don't want to discuss the very strange failure by Trump to respond to pleas for help while the rioters hunted for members with intent to kill — as recounted by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. It's just too sickening, and so is their cowardice.

The Justice Department is prosecuting extremely violent conspiracies by members of the Trump-affiliated groups that attacked the Capitol, notably the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and the QAnon cult. When all of the connections between those scummy outfits and Trump's circle are finally revealed, McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pray that America will no longer be paying attention.

If the fascist faction in the House — and their spokesman Tucker Carlson, the Fox News fabulist — believe their own slanders of the FBI, they should be clamoring for an independent investigation. But they're manufacturing a lie — and they know it.

Fortunately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just announced the formation of a House select committee to mount a full investigation of the January 6 insurrection. That special committee will have subpoena authority and, hopefully, a Democratic chair who will pursue the facts without remorse or fear. Unlike the independent commission, which Republicans rejected despite concessions to all of their demands, this committee will face no deadlines, nor require bipartisan agreement on investigative decisions.

Yes, there was, and is, a conspiracy against democracy, whose ringleaders will be exposed — despite the Republican leadership's desperate attempts to shield them.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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