By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – The fact-checking website Politifact.com has named denial of what happened on January 6 the “Lie of the Year.”

The editors say they made this selection because of Republican efforts to downplay the seriousness of the attack on the U.S. Capitol that injured 140 police officers and killed several people. And one top House leader from Massachusetts says they made the right call.

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“The way [Republicans] want to dismiss this, the way they say it doesn’t matter – it does!” says Congressman Jim McGovern, of Worcester (D-Second District), who was inside the House chamber when the rioters were clawing at the doors.

And McGovern sees the attempted air-brushing of January 6 as not just a lie about the past but also groundwork for the future.

“I think their denial, their complicity makes it all the more likely that we will see another such attack,” says McGovern. “Coups often don’t succeed the first time, but sometimes they succeed the second or third time. I want to make sure this never happens again.”

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The House committee investigating the riot has already produced evidence of planning and potential White House complicity that is hard to shrug off. And tellingly, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who once dismissed the need for a select committee probe, said yesterday, “It will be interesting to reveal all the participants who were involved.”

McGovern sees those comments by McConnell as a sign he’s bracing for evidence to come out that will make denialism even harder. “I think Mitch McConnell knows that more and more is gonna be made public and it’s not gonna be pretty, especially for those who continue to deny or try to downplay the events of January 6th.”

Republican stonewalling may be a lie, but it’s also a bet on short voter attention spans. So we asked McGovern – what’s your level of confidence that the public won’t just shrug this off in time? His response: “That’s why the Select Committee on January 6th is so important.”

McGovern noted the committee has a text from at least one sitting member of the House apologizing to the White House for not “succeeding” in stopping the certification of Joe Biden’s election. There is real pressure being put on key figures in the planning and execution of the riot to talk. McGovern thinks the televised hearings they’re planning for next year will expose the full details of what happened and have a real impact on next year’s congressional elections.

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We’ll soon see if he’s right.

Jon Keller