Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy, one of the nine members on the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, said that she was “proud” to serve on the panel — and called its work essential to “guard our democracy."
Murphy, the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress, said that her experience has showed her just “how fragile Democracy is” and how important it is to protect.
“I came from a country that was a aspiring democracy, and then it wasn’t,” she told Spectrum News in an interview. “And I worked at the Department of Defense on number of countries that were failed democracies. So I know how fragile democracy is.”
“I think it's important that elected officials and the American people do all that they can to guard our democracy,” she continued, adding that she sees the panel’s work “as an effort to guard our democracy to understand how close we came to losing it on Jan. 6, and how do we prevent that from ever happening again.”
Murphy spoke to Spectrum News following the panel’s first two hearings, during which they presented their findings directly to the American people for the first time.
The first hearing, which took place last week in prime-time, showed never-before-seen video and audio, both from the brutal attack and from hours of interviews and depositions conducted by the committee, in an attempt to show that the Jan. 6 attack was an an “attempted coup” which put “two and a half centuries of constitutional democracy at risk.”
The second, which took place on Monday, was focused largely on highlighting — and debunking — former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, while also alleging that the former president and his allies misled donors, raising millions of dollars with false claims of election fraud.
In her interview with Spectrum News, Murphy said that while the events of the Jan. 6 riot were “shocking,” perhaps the “most insidious things” were what transpired prior to the insurrection.
“The thing that stands out is that Jan. 6 was preceded by a lot of different attempts to overturn a free and fair election by people who knew that they had lost,” she said. “If you can't ensure free and fair election, peaceful transfer of power and the rule of law, then a democracy is in real trouble.”
Members of the panel have said in recent days that the committee has uncovered enough evidence for the Department of Justice to consider a criminal indictment against former President Trump, though they are reportedly split over whether or not to make a criminal referral to the department.
Murphy said that’s up to the Justice Department — and the American people — to decide.
“My job on the committee is to lay out all of the facts and to provide legislative recommendations,” she said. “And then I'll let the American people judge for themselves whether or not Donald Trump was of fit moral character and fit for the office that he held.”
“The Department of Justice will make their decisions as to whether or not they need to launch criminal investigations,” she said, noting that “they have prosecuted hundreds of people who were involved in Jan. 6, and have put them through the judicial system.”
“I'm happy to leave them to do their job and I'm going to focus on mine,” she added.
Murphy said that it’s her hope that people watch the hearings “not as Democrats or Republicans or Independents, but rather as Americans to hear the facts about how a elected politician wanted to retain power, wanted to ignore the will of the people, and then knowingly, knowing that he had last sought different avenues to remain in office.”
“I think we have to understand this story so that we guard against it in the future,” she continued. “And it doesn't matter what party that elected person is in, but nobody gets the right to determine how long they stay in a democracy. The only people who get to determine how long the president stays in office is the American people in can in compliance with the way the Constitution is set up."