WASHINGTON — It was all a lie, the tales of stuffed ballot drop boxes, rigged voting machines, and constitutional “flexibility” that will have allowed Vice President Mike Pence to nullify the 2020 election results and send them back to Republican state legislatures.
The primary three hearings of the House Jan. 6 committee have deeply undercut, if not demolished, the postelection myths repeated incessantly by former President Donald J. Trump and his supporters and embraced and amplified by Republicans in Congress.
A parade of Republican witnesses — his attorney general, William P. Barr, his daughter Ivanka Trump, and his own campaign lawyers — knew he had lost the election and told him so. Mr. Trump was informed that the demands he was making of Mr. Pence to dam his defeat unilaterally were illegal. Even probably the most energetic coup plotter, the conservative lawyer John C. Eastman, conceded before Jan. 6 that his scheme was illegal and unconstitutional, then sought a presidential pardon after it led to mob violence.
Yet probably the most striking revelation to date could also be how deeply Mr. Trump’s disregard for the reality and the rule of law have penetrated into the Republican Party, taking root within the fertile soil of a right-wing electorate stewing in conspiracy theories and well tended by their media of selection. The Republican response to the hearings — a mixture of indifference, diversion and doubling down — reflects how central the lie of a stolen election has turn into to the party’s identity.
In Washington, Republicans in Congress have neither broken with Mr. Trump nor expended much energy attempting to rebut the investigation’s findings. And from Nevada’s secretary of state race to Michigan’s contest for governor, Republican candidates have embraced the fictional conspiracy of their 2022 campaigns.
“I even have been fighting for secure, honest and transparent elections since before Jan. 6, and that fight continues,” said Michigan State Representative Steve Carra, whose re-election run has been blessed by Mr. Trump and who said Friday he has watched some but not much of the hearings. “Absentee ballots sent out unsolicited, signature verification relaxed, drop boxes far and wide, especially in Democratic area — all of it deserves further scrutiny.”
Like mint within the garden, the seeds that the Trump team planted between Election Day 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021, are actually growing uncontrolled, aided by the previous president’s allies.
Jarome Bell, a number one candidate to challenge Representative Elaine Luria, Democrat of Virginia, has been traveling her Republican-leaning district showing voters a movie by the right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza that pushes the bogus fraud claims. The hearings, he said on Friday, have had “no impact on me. ‘2000 Mules’ has a much bigger impact on what truly happened.” He added, “the 1/6 commission is the cover-up.”
Jon Rocha, a candidate for state representative in Michigan who has Mr. Trump’s backing, also cited the film and bragged that he had watched not one of the hearings, “not even a 30-second clip.”
One reason the falsehoods have flourished is the failure of Republicans who don’t imagine them to ward off. Before the Jan. 6 hearings began, Republican leaders promised a sturdy “rapid response” effort to counter the narratives that will emerge.
The Themes of the Jan. 6 House Committee Hearings
But there was no such pushback from the Republican National Committee or every other organization to revelations that Mr. Trump continued to pressure Mr. Pence to overturn the election results, even after having been told doing so was illegal.
No Republican leader offered a response to the testimony of retired federal appeals court Judge J. Michael Luttig, a revered conservative, who said on Thursday that Mr. Trump gave Mr. Pence an order whose execution would have prompted “the primary constitutional crisis because the founding of the Republic.”
None bothered to counter the panel’s finding, revealed on Monday, that Mr. Trump and his campaign raised lots of of hundreds of thousands of dollars from supporters based on the false pretense of massive election fraud, using money collected for an election defense fund that didn’t exist.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate minority leader, has chosen not to interact on the difficulty in any respect. And to the extent that they try to counterprogram the hearings, House Republicans have been prodding voters to look elsewhere — to rising gas prices, inflation and migrants on the southern border.
Only Mr. Trump seems particularly irritated by the exercise, appalled by the testimony of his daughter, who shared details of his abusive phone call with Mr. Pence on the morning of Jan. 6 and said she trusted Mr. Barr’s judgment when he said that the 2020 election was not stolen.
“It’s a one-way street, it’s a rigged deal, it’s a disgrace,” a thoroughly unrepentant Mr. Trump said on Friday at a speech in Nashville through which he called Jan. 6 “an easy protest that got out of hand” as he continued spinning out false claims and grand conspiracy theories of election fraud.
But when his allies in Republican leadership aren’t countering the message that the attack was fueled by lies, neither are they acknowledging that the election was not stolen.
And 50 years to the day after henchmen of Richard M. Nixon broke into Democratic headquarters within the Watergate Hotel, the hearings sparked by the 2 scandals are highlighting just how dramatically the Republican Party has modified. Then, key Republican leaders reacted to increasingly damning revelations about their president by siding with the Democrats and forcing Mr. Nixon from power. Today, Republican leaders are either silent or contemptuous of the committee uncovering a gradual stream of misdeeds by Mr. Trump.
Representatives Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, and Adam B. Schiff “won’t stop lying about their political opponents,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, wrote on Twitter, referring to the Democratic chairman from Mississippi, Republican vice chairwoman from Wyoming and Democratic member from California.
Representative Peter Meijer of Michigan, one in every of 10 Republicans who voted to question Mr. Trump for inciting Jan. 6, said the hearings have to date been “a reminder of how deeply divided, even from an information consumption standpoint, we’re.”
Lots of his constituents haven’t even seen the videotaped testimony laying out the case against Mr. Trump — only footage of police removing barricades to let rioters into the Capitol on Jan 6. Some blame nonexistent F.B.I. provocateurs for the violence, in keeping with a debunked conspiracy theory embraced by the Fox News host Tucker Carlson and others on the fitting.
Mr. Meijer said he has heard much more from constituents on the fitting lamenting the “Jan. 6 political prisoners” than those in the middle demanding accountability for the attack.
Most voters, though, aren’t being attentive, said Representative David Valadao of California, one other Republican to vote for impeachment.
“Talking to voters at home immediately — I mean, the fuel prices, food prices, baby formula, you name it,” Mr. Valadao said. “There’s just so many things that folks are focused on immediately that they’re just not taking note of the Jan. 6 stuff as much as I do know a variety of folks would want them to.”
Asked if the hearings might do Republicans a favor by making it easier to search out an alternate presidential nominee in 2024 than Mr. Trump, he responded: “I don’t know if enough individuals are being attentive where it’ll have that big of an impact.”
But in a Republican primary season fueled by pro-Trump fervor, many candidates have emerged as their party’s nominees for top offices largely because they campaigned on the falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen by President Biden.
The Republican nominees for governor in Pennsylvania, secretary of state in Nevada, Senate in Nevada, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and attorney general in Texas all tried to overturn the 2020 election or embraced false claims of voter fraud.
Mayra Flores, a Texas Republican who won a House seat in a special election on Tuesday, has declined to say whether Mr. Biden won in 2020, telling The San Antonio Express-News: “I’m speaking just generally. There’s voter fraud.”
And there’s more to come back. State Representative Ron Hanks, vying to challenge Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, in Colorado’s Republican primary June 28, marched to the Capitol on Jan. 6 and launched his campaign with an ad showing him shooting a fake Dominion voting machine, a tool central to a sprawling conspiracy theory about votes purportedly stolen by foreign powers from Mr. Trump.
On Monday, the committee showed a videotaped deposition through which Mr. Barr at one point could barely suppress his laughter on the absurdity of such stories and testified that Mr. Trump would have needed to be “detached from reality” if he believed them.
In Michigan, a wild contest to decide on the Republican to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is narrowly led by Ryan Kelley, an actual estate broker who was arrested this month and charged with participating within the Jan. 6 riot. Mr. Rocha, the state house candidate in Western Michigan, said voters were much more concerned about gas prices and empty store shelves than the Jan. 6 hearings, then offered that voters actually are still very offended about “election integrity.”
“They did it in 2020. Now they’re finding latest avenues to remove Republicans from the ballot this yr,” he said.
In Arizona, the leading Republican candidate for governor, Kari Lake, has made her “stolen election” claims central to her campaign. Mark Finchem, a candidate for secretary of state, was on the front steps of the Capitol on Jan. 6. And Blake Masters, who hopes to challenge Senator Mark Kelly, the incumbent Democrat, suggested baselessly that “one-third of the people outside of the Capitol complex on Jan. 6 were actual F.B.I. agents.”
Annie Karni contributed reporting.