Jan. 6 probe releases transcripts for Ginni Thomas, Rudy Giuliani, Tony Ornato, other key witnesses

The Jan. 6 committee released another trove of transcripts on Friday.

The panel published interviews from 21 witnesses including Ginni Thomas, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory-touting spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; former Secret Service agent and White House aide Tony Ornato; Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani; and several other figures who factored prominently in key themes underpinning the investigation of former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Transcripts released on Friday are available below. Highlights and recaps from key transcripts will be updated in this post.

For access to all of the Jan. 6 committee transcripts published so far, check out the Daily Kos resource available here.

This story is developing. 


Tony Ornato

Tony Ornato was interviewed by the committee three times. The transcript released Friday is from his Nov. 29, 2022. He was also interviewed on Jan. 28, 2022 and March 29, 2022. He left the Secret Service to work in the White House and lead security training. He was one of several points of contact on Jan. 6 tasked with passing along communications about security-related issues.

Ornato became a key focus for the committee after former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Ornato was present during an explosive moment on Jan. 6 when former President Donald Trump was informed that his motorcade would not be taken to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse.

Under oath, Hutchinson said Ornato invited her into his office at the White House on Jan. 6 along with Bobby Engel, the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail. She told investigators that Ornato asked her if she had yet caught wind of Trump’s episode in the motorcade. Hutchinson said Ornato recounted how Trump “lunged” at Secret Service agent Bobby Engel as Engel sat in the driver’s seat of the president’s armored vehicle. 

  • Curiously, Ornato testified that he didn’t recall whether he had read memos from the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department or any news reports about the potential for violence on Jan. 6. However, the committee obtained an email that he forwarded to Bobby Engel on Jan. 4 about the looming threat. Though he told the committee he received “hundreds of emails” daily, the Jan. 4 email was one of the only ones the committee received from the Secret Service that Ornato forwarded to Engel.
  • Ornato received an email, subject line: “Enrique Tarrio post” on Dec. 12 from the Protective Intelligence Division. It had been sent as well to Secret Service agent and other officials, including Bobby Engel. Ornato testified he wasn’t familiar with Tarrio, the leader of the extremist Proud Boys, at the time. The email disclosed that Tarrio had taken a tour of the White House that morning and there was “no known media coverage” at that moment. 
    • “So, as | read it today, ‘there is no known media coverage,’ meaning that there could be possible media coverage of this gentleman having a tour at the White House. And, at the time, | probably -- | didn't -- | wasn't aware of all the groups and everything back then, as | am more familiar with them now. However, if it was relayed to me that that's who that particular person was, | would've made the chief of staff aware that this had taken place that day,” Ornato testified
    • When the committee pushed back, saying he had to be aware of who the Proud Boys were—they participated in a MAGA rally that was heavily reported in November and on the night of Dec. 12, held another rally in Washington—Ornato said: “I don't recall. There was so many groups. | mean, | could've known at the time. | just don't recall this specific group of knowing -- you know, | knew Code Pink, | knew -- there's different -- when | was actually working as a special agent in charge, there were different groups that | was always briefed on and had in my head. During this time, not being in that environment, | don't recall all the groups that | knew or didn't know.”
  • Ornato’s memory wasn’t jogged any further when asked whether he was aware that Bobby Engel had received an email on Dec. 12 questioning why the Secret Service hadn’t been alerted that the leader of the Proud Boys went on a White House tour. Ornato said he may have passed the information along to Mark Meadows, however he couldn’t recall specifically. 
    • “I don’t specifically [remember a conversation with Meadows]. There was so much in my role there that I would have to make him aware of. This was probably one of the many thing that I did bring to his attention because that was my normal course of business,” Ornato testified.

Committee: “— is your testimony that you just weren't aware of that and don't know whether you passed that along to Mr. Meadows?”

Ornato: “No, sir. Let me explain.... | completely grasp what you're saying on who he was and what he was doing. | would've passed that to Mr. Meadows based upon who [Tarrio] was. | would not have known who submitted him to come into the White House. | would not have known any of that, as that all gets disseminated through the service to run background checks. So they would've brought that to us, or to me, on that. | wouldn't have known that information. But | would've addressed this with Chief of Staff Meadows based upon not just the media attention but due to the gravity of who the person was, absolutely.”

Notably: Later in the interview, Ornato testifies that Meadows would have been briefed on “the potential for groups to clash, the pro and the anti groups on the Washington Monument” on Jan. 6.

“I would have tallked to Chief of Staff Meadows on that,” he said.

  • Ornato also had trouble recalling whether he was aware of Elmer Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers who was recently convicted of seditious conspiracy. On Dec. 17, he received a forwarded link to a story about Rhodes with the headline “Right-wing militant leader pledges violent support for Trump dictatorship."
    • “| don't remember that general subject coming to my attention. | just remember from reviewing the documents of the ones that -- dozens of groups on there, | believe the Oath Keepers is on there. But! don't remember it being pulled out as a specific topic of conversation,” Ornato testified.
  • It is notable in his exchanges with the committee that Ornato had left the Secret Service to take on the role at the White House but testified that he still had access to his Secret Service-issued cell phone.  He testified that he was taken of some of the listservs for internal emails however. He also testified that he didn’t know the meaning of “ALCON,” common shorthand for “ALL CONCERNED” that is used in bulletins among intelligence and military services
  • On Dec. 24, Ornato received a bulletin from the Protective Intelligence Division citing the open-source TheDonald.win message board. The bulletin highlighted warnings of people defying local gun laws when coming to D.C. on Jan. 6. The message highlighted stated: “'Armed and ready, Mr. President': Demonstrators urged to bring guns, prepare for violence at January 6th "Stop the Steal’ protest in D.C."
  • Ornato said he didn’t discuss TheDonald.win with Dan Scavino, the top Trump White House aide who often handled and monitored the former president’s social media. If Scavino would have seen the threatening messages, he would have gone straight to the Secret Service anyway, Ornato said, not him. When asked if he could recall a time Scavino did go to the Secret Service directly about similar material, he couldn’t recall. 
  • Ornato testified that he was not part of any conversation where messages on social media from around Dec. 26 about Proud Boys and Oath Keepers marching on Washington while armed, setting up chokepoints on bridges, or taking over the White House, were discussed. Since he wasn’t with the Secret Service officially, he testified that these details may not make it to him. But he had regular contact with Bobby Engel, the head of the president’s security detail. Ornato was not aware whether Engel had received these notifications. 

In a critical exchange, the committee noted to Ornato that it had uncovered an email that was forwarded to him on Dec. 28 listing all of the demonstrations happening in D.C. that day. The events were listed with a note stating: “There is no indication of civil disobedience.” Ornato affirmed that he received this email. This prompted investigators to sharply question him. 

Committee: So the emails that we showed you prior to this were new emails that we had not shown you before. Obviously, we had shown you this before in the prior interview, and it led to the question about your awareness and lack thereof about the thedonald.win.

Is there any explanation or can you reconcile for us how this is pushed up to you, but the other, frankly, more specific and detailed information about the potential for violence was not pushed up to you?

Ornato: I don't know, ma'am.

  • In a particularly jarring exchange, Ornato tells the committee he also has no memory of a 12-minute long phone call with Bobby Engel on the morning of Jan. 6. He couldn’t recall if Engel had discussed armed rallygoers, potential security threats, or if there were sufficient magnetometers during the call though the magnetometer issue was something Ornato admitted was a discussion on Jan. 5 with Engel and other Secret Service officials. Phone records show the 12-minute call was the longest call logged in Ornato’s White House-issued phone that day. The call was initiated by Engel only 10 minutes after records show Engel had been copied on a message about plate carriers, pepper spray, CB walkie-talkies and people in the front row of the rally carrying plexiglass riot shields.

Committee: “That's the predicate for the question. It's just kind of hard to believe that you don't recall anything about a conversation when that was what was going on around the Ellipse and the White House that morning.

Ornato: Sir, | don't recall that conversation taking place.

  • Ornato said he could not recall having a conversation with Bobby Engel on Jan. 6 about expectations for Trump’s movements after his speech and whether he would go to the Capitol. This conflicts with the testimony the committee said it received from Engel. Engel said Ornato was in the office. He also came up short when asked if he remembered any conversation about Trump being moved to the Capitol with security.
    • Ornato: “From my prior interview with you, | believe it was Cassidy Hutchinson and | had texted, and Cassidy had mentioned that before he got on stage he mentioned to the Chief of Staff that he wanted to go to the Capitol. And my response was -- there was no plan for it, so my response was it wasn't happening, it's not safe to do so because there's no security assets in place, and that he would -- to go ahead and pass it to Bob Engel because it's --  I said I believe Bobby -- and she said, Engel or Peede? And | said Engel, because that's Bob Engel's call as the special agent in charge. And I'm not at the venue, as we've said, so it's between Robert Engel and it's between Chief of Staff Meadows, but it's his call on security.”
  • Ornato testified that he passed a note to Meadows about two Capitol police who were injured and left unconscious after bulletins about it had already started to circulate He wouldn’t have raised alerts about potential weapons or issues with magnetometers, he said, because that wasn’t an issue Meadows wouldn’t typically deal with for events. But police fighting to defend the Capitol, he felt, was significant enough. When he passed the note to Meadows, Meadows was in the White House dining room with Trump. He couldn’t recall whether the TV was on. He had “tunnel vision” on Meadows, he said.
  • Ornato said anyone who assaulted police should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The committee notably asked him if he felt that way about those officers who had testified to the committee and were vocal about Jan. 6, like former Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone or the late U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Sicknick died on Jan. 7 after fending off the mob the day before. He suffered multiple strokes and the coroner’s office described his death as “natural causes.” The committee also asked whether he would have any words for Sicknick’s mother.
    • “Sir, | haven't spoken with them. |don't know them. |'m very sorry for the loss, like I'm sure the country is,… And | don't believe there should be a loss of life ever, especially in an attack, especially on law enforcement. So, you know, | would mourn with the country in that loss.”
    • When asked whether he would have conveyed any of those feelings in real time during the attack after learning of the severity of the assault on police, Ornato said he didn't realize how bad it was at the time.
  • Ornato confirmed reporting that now-Vice President Kamala Harris was in fact at the DNC headquarters in Washington when a pipe bomb was discovered there. Another was placed at the RNC headquarters. Both were placed on the night of Jan. 5. In that vein, it remains altogether unclear why Harris was even allowed into the DNC building on Jan. 6.

Ginni Thomas

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the right-wing activist wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, appeared before the committee on September 29, 2022. She did not testify under oath. For more than 100 pages, her testimony overwhelming takes the position that her outreach to White House officials like Mark Meadows was wholesome and the byproduct of her concerns over fraud in the 2020 election. To that end, however, she was unable to provide the committee with any specific instances of fraud that alarmed her. 

“I can't say that I was familiar at that time with any specific evidence. | was just hearing it from news reports and friends on the ground, grassroots activists who were inside of various polling places that found things suspicious. So I don't know. I was not an expert of the fraud and irregularities that were starting to be talked about,” she testified. 

  • Thomas said at the top of her interview with the committee that she still had concerns about fraud in the 2020 election today. When pressed by Rep. Jamie Raskin on what those concerns might be, and especially in light of the more than 60 federal and state courts rejecting allegations of election fraud, she was cagey before her lawyer promptly stepped in to refocus questions. 
    • “Right. There seems to be a lot of people still moving around, identifying ways that there were -- we'll see. We'll see what happens. | don't know specific instances. But certainly, | think we all know that there are people questioning what happened in 2020, and it takes time to develop an understanding of the facts,” Thomas said. 
  • Thomas said too that most of her views on election fraud were based on things she had heard, not evidence she reviewed herself. Among all the literature she has consumed about the outcome of the election, she testified that she had not read the report, “Lost, Not Stolen” penned by a litany of prominent conservative professors, lawmakers, lawyers, and others.
  • Thomas threaded the needle carefully when discussing her text messages to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff. Text messages obtained by the committee showed Thomas sending Meadows a flurry of missives in the days and weeks after the election and the insurrection at the Capitol. She pushed conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines and, as she labeled it in her interview with the committee, she “emoted” regularly when chatting with Meadows about the desperate need to keep Republicans, and Trump, in power. In a Jan. 10 text, Thomas told Meadows she was “disgusted” with then-Vice President Mike Pence.
    • “Right, I appreciate your question. I believe looking back, that I was frustrated that I thought VIce President Pence might concede earlier than what President Trump was inclined to do. And I wanted to hear Vice President Pence talk more about the fraud and irregularities in certain states that I thought was still lingering,” she said. “And so, I was frustrated with the vice president for not sounding the same, in the same thematic way.” 
    • When it came to Jan. 6, however, she said, she wasn’t “focused on the Vice President’s role on Jan. 6” but only hoped there would be a “robust discussion” of state fraud that had surfaced. Pence “probably” did all he could that day she said.
  • Thomas also said that her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, was unaware she was exchanging messages with Meadows. He didn't learn about it, she claimed, until March when it was reported in the press. Curiously, Thomas also claimed her husband wasn’t interested in politics and knew little of her political activism. But during her testimony, she appeared to contradict herself saying that she did have at least one conversation with him about the 2020 election. 

Committee: And then you responded [to Mark Meadows] just a few minutes later, ‘Thank you. Needed that, this plus a conversation with my best friend just now. I will try to keep holding on.’” 

And you sent that message at a little before 11 p.m. on the 24th. 

Do you recall who you were referring to when you said you had just had a conversation with your best friend?

Thomas: It looks like my husband. 

Committee: Do you remember what you talked to Justice Thomas about that made you feel better and allowed you to, ‘keep holding on’?

Thomas: I wish I could remember, but I have no memory of the specifics. My husband often administers spousal support to the wife that’s upset. So I assume that’s what it was. I don’t have a specific memory of it. 

Committee: What makes you think now, as you read, that you’re referring to your husband when you say, ‘my best friend’? 

Thomas: Because that’s what I call him and he is my best friend. Mark is getting pretty close though.

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani served as Trump’s personal attorney and spearheaded the fake elector bid central to the former president’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He was first retained by Trump as his personal lawyer in 2018.

Giuliani appeared under subpoena for his deposition on May 20, 2022. He frequently invoked attorney-client privilege when facing questions from investigators. Giuliani said he had expected from long before the election that it would be rigged against Trump, echoing much of the same propaganda he peddled religiously in public view in 2020. What first triggered him, he said, was a public remark from Hillary Clinton in August of that year. She anticipated that Republicans would make an issue of absentee and mail-in voting and urged now-President Joe Biden not to concede until every ballot was accounted for.

  • Giuliani: “And | was very suspicious of Hillary's comment that you shouldn't concede no matter what the vote is. That triggered in my mind, given my evaluation of her character, which is a person who is unscrupulous, that she was telling Biden, we got a plan to get you through, so don't worry even if you're five or six points behind, or more.”
  • The former president’s personal attorney also expressed strong opinions about Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager. When Stepien testified before the committee he told them he was part of “Team Normal,” or among the few people on the campaign or in the White House who knew and understood that Trump had lost the election and had informed Trump of this fact to no avail. Then there was “Team Giuliani,” which included Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and others on the so-called “Kraken” beat. Giuliani, who already has a history of unloading on Stepien publicly, told the committee he was shocked Trump ever selected him. Giuliani appeared to corroborate Stepien’s testimony that he avoided Giuliani and wanted to stay away from the craziness he brought to the table. Giuliani said when Stepien dealt with him directly, he “seemed to be somewhat frightened” of him. 
  • Giuliani’s grasp of the Constitution or how electoral laws actually function remained tenuous in his interview as he spoke at length about the unfair judges or hearings he felt Trump received when litigating the election outcome. He misspoke often, confusing or misstating the role of the House of Representatives with state electors and vice versa.
  • According to testimony from Christina Bobb, another Trump campaign attorney, Senator Lindsey Graham once urged Giuliani to show him proof, any proof, even a small amount of concrete proof that voter fraud was widespread. “Just show me five dead voters,” Graham said, and he would “champion that.” When Giuliani testified before the select committee, he said that information was “impossible to verify” because they couldn’t obtain the voter list.
  • Giuliani also insisted that his remark on the stage at the Ellipse on Jan. 6  about having ‘trial by combat’ wasn’t meant to provoke violence. (“Let's have trial by combat! I'm willing to stake my reputation. The President is willing to stake his reputation!”)
    • ”I wanted the two machines, a legitimate machine, and the Dominion machine, put up against each other and both count the votes, and if their machine works properly, I'll apologize, but if it doesn't, they'll go to jail. And that -- and that thing was taken out of context like | was trying to provoke violence. And, as the judge noted, no one even got upset about it when I said it. They probably didn't even understand what | was talking about.”
  • The former New York City mayor was also admittedly nervous when broaching questions from investigators about discussions he, Sidney Powell, Patrick Byrne, Michael Flynn, Trump, and others had about potentially seizing voting machines through executive order in mid-December 2020. Telling the committee he didn’t want to violate attorney-client privilege over the “very sensitive” matter, he still managed to badmouth Powell.
    • “I’ve had a very bad experience with Sidney, because she started out as part of our team and she would make allegations, then she wouldn't give us the basis for it. Then our team would have to go out and try to defend it as best we could. And then it would turn out to be exaggerated, not necessarily false but unsupported,” he said.
    • At the meeting at the White House on Dec. 18, Powell provided Giuliani with 12 affidavits that she said proved international interference in the voting machines and would justify getting the military involved. Giuliani testified that he didn’t agree with that conclusion and that the affidavits were the product of “one source” that Powell had “found a way of repeating 12 different times through other people.”
      • “And I said, I know, Mr. President, you are reluctant to use the military, but this -- I mean, this doesn't even come close. Plus, I think some of these affidavits could be seen as, you know, false affidavits because they're tricky… So I told the President that he could not -- he couldn't possibly sign these. And I said, this would be, number one, this may be the only thing that I know of that you ever did that could merit impeachment. You've been innocent up until now, why don't you stay that way? And he said, well, if you tell me that, no,I don't want to do it.’”
  • The meeting at the White House that night erupted into a fierce argument. Giuliani said Mark Meadows and Michael Flynn started in on each other causing things to “become really nasty” but he couldn’t recall specifically what they fought over. 
    • “I remember Mark saying, ‘That’s really unfair, General, I supported you when only 12 people were supporting you and I believed you, I still believe in you, but it’s really unfair you’re saying that. would have to guess at what it was. So don't -- you know, it was -- sort of the argument was -- |'m going to categorically describe it as you guys are not tough enough. Or maybe I'd put it another way, you're a bunch of pussies. Excuse the expression, but that's -- I'm almost certain the word was used.”

Politico, Portman continue to pretend that the GOP has any interest in responsible governing

In a case of unintentional damning by faint praise, Politico spills a bunch of pixels saying good-bye to the “GOP dealmakers” who are leaving the Senate in 2022, six Republican “negotiators known for working across the aisle,” who take the opportunity to pat themselves on the back for doing the least possible things to keep the government from collapsing.

“Some think ‘you have to be more partisan to win elections,’ Portman said in an interview. ‘I think it’s just the opposite.”

That’s how the story opens. Retiring Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, presenting himself as some kind of iconoclastic force for good in the GOP instead of the guy who went along meekly while Mitch McConnell took a sledge hammer to the institution of the Senate and stole the Supreme Court. Who spent four years with Donald Trump as his standard bearer, supporting Trump’s agenda 90% of the time and voting—twice—to acquit him. Even after Jan. 6. Trump’s attempted coup was “inexcusable,” Portman said. Then he conjured up a loophole to give himself an out when it came time to really condemn Trump. It was “unconstitutional” to impeach a former president, he said.

Never mind that it is not.

Anyway, Portman assures us we don’t need to worry about the fact that he and his five colleagues who have also done the bare minimum to keep government open and doing stuff are departing. The new GOP Senate won’t be “quite the change” people are concerned about he says, because “others will step up” to be the compromisers. It’s going to be so completely normal, he implies. Republicans will be responsible, he suggests.

Just like him. Because he was a beacon of responsible bipartisan behavior this session. “Portman said that not running for reelection made it easier to work on the infrastructure bill in Washington, without having to worry about fundraising or traveling home to campaign. Not to mention the typical constituent and party pressures that bear down on lawmakers with upcoming elections.”

Not having to run for reelection didn’t make him suddenly have principles, however. He still helped his party tie the filibuster record they set in the previous session of Congress. Portman didn’t say “boo” when his fellow Republicans—all but Lisa Murkowski—blocked the Senate from even considering voting rights, for example. He voted with them.

Even now, when he’s never running for office again, Portman won’t break with his party. Given the opportunity to condemn Trump, to put down the marker that he would work to oppose another Trump run for the White House, Portman demurred, saying he believes Trump won’t run again. “Many Americans who … are supportive of [Trump] from a policy point of view are ready to see someone else run for president,” Portman said. He added that it seemed like “a lot of Republican voters are ready to move on to a new candidate, whether it’s DeSantis or someone else.”

All this to say that there is no such thing as a decent Republican and that Politico and the rest of the traditional media are never going to acknowledge that fact.

Conservatives’ latest McCarthy ask: A broad Biden admin investigation

House conservatives are upping their demands on Kevin McCarthy as he tries to lock down the speaker’s gavel.

Their new price: a select committee with a huge scope of targets.

While the Republican leader and soon-to-be committee chairs have already lined up a laundry list of investigations that will largely command the House GOP’s agenda next year, it’s not enough for some McCarthy critics. Some of those opposing and on the fence about the Californian’s speakership bid want him to start a new panel, one that could direct probes against the entities they’ve castigated for years, including the FBI, the Justice Department, the IRS and Anthony Fauci.

Further complicating McCarthy’s position is that other Republicans aren’t on board. Some of his allies are skeptical that such a select committee wouldn't severely overlap with the investigative plans that incoming chairs such as Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.) have already worked on for months.

But after largely percolating on the edges of the conference and conservative media, the calls are getting harder for the speaker hopeful to ignore. Several members who McCarthy needs to win over if he’s going to secure the gavel are openly using the creation of such a panel — to investigate what they call a “weaponized government” — as a bargaining chip as the California Republican tries to lock down their votes.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said that the group has had “good conversations” with incoming chairs but that he and other conservatives are pitching the select committee as a way to coordinate the conference’s investigative plans under one roof. They aren’t naming names on who they believe should lead the panel, though at least one skeptical McCarthy ally has argued that, if it has to happen, it should be Jordan.

“It needs to be targeted the right way,” Roy said about the party's investigations. “You don’t get many bites at the apple. You’ve got to get it done right.”

Conservatives say they want to model the panel off the 1970s Church Committee, which conducted a landmark investigation that uncovered significant surveillance abuses among the intelligence community and the IRS, leading to the formation of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But it’s a high bar that’s almost certain to fall short. While the Church Committee was a bipartisan operation, Democrats have frequently criticized the GOP’s targeting of the FBI, and their party is highly unlikely to help fuel probes they’ve already derided as political sideshows.

And Democrats are already gearing up to rebut GOP investigations next year. Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who will be on the frontlines as the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, summed up how he views his party’s responsibilities as it deals with Republican probes: “a truth squad in the sense that we will have to debunk conspiracy theories.”

And a former senior aide to the Democratic senator who chaired the Church Committee has also criticized Republicans for trying to make the Church comparison specifically, accusing them of wanting to invoke “Church’s legacy not to push for real solutions … but to obtain impunity for themselves and punish their enemies.”

But underscoring how much the “Church” rhetoric has injected itself into the party’s thinking, McCarthy, during a recent Fox News appearance, tipped his hand toward the idea, saying that “you’re almost going to have to have a Church-style investigation to reform the FBI.”

McCarthy, notably, didn’t specifically mention setting up a new committee, and those comments would also align with previously planned investigations. The ambiguous comments come as the Californian tries to lock down the votes to claim the speaker’s gavel in a thin majority and wants to avoid alienating any more members. A spokesperson for the GOP leader didn’t respond to multiple questions about whether McCarthy was endorsing starting a new panel, or just an investigation into the Justice Department and FBI, which is already in the works.

It’s hardly the first time he’s faced pressure from his right flank to acquiesce to going further on investigations.

House Republicans say they now expect to probe the treatment of individuals who were jailed for participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, where a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the building as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s win. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) previously pressed McCarthy on an investigation last month during a closed-door conference meeting.

Comer noted that there was an ongoing discussion about which panel “needs to take the lead on that,” adding that the Oversight Committee will have “a lot on the platter but we’ll do whatever we’re asked to do from leadership.”

McCarthy has also threatened to subpoena intelligence officials who signed a letter in 2020 warning that a New York Post story about Biden’s son Hunter might have its origins in a Russian disinformation operation. And conservatives also think they’ve moved McCarthy on impeaching Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. He hasn’t officially backed the step, but opened the door initially in April and then signaled an impeachment could be on the table, depending on the results of investigations, during a trip to the southern border in November.

Asked about the California Republican’s remarks, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) — whom McCarthy opponents have used as a figurehead for the opposition — noted that McCarthy’s latest border remarks came “after he knew that he was facing somebody who was going to possibly deny him being speaker.”

But conservatives’ vision for the new select committee could stretch far beyond just the FBI and Justice Department — two long-running targets of the party’s ire — by stepping into other jurisdictional lanes.

Roy pointed to three other entities that could fall under its purview, in addition to the FBI and Justice Department: Fauci and the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Education and the IRS and money that will let the agency hire new staff. Those are all areas that other committees have indicated they plan to investigate. And while Roy acknowledged that potential overlap, he added, “You still want your best prosecutors prosecuting the case.”

Conservative insist they don’t want to step on the toes of Jordan, above, and Comer — they just want a central, coordinated hub for investigations next year.

Conservative insist they don’t want to step on the toes of Comer and Jordan — they just want a central, coordinated hub for investigations next year. McCarthy has been meeting with incoming chairs, including Jordan and Comer, as they plan out their series of probes next year. But supporters of creating a new panel argue that it could help free up Oversight and Judiciary Committee members, in particular, who are going to be busy juggling multiple investigations.

But Comer himself, and others in the conference, aren’t fans of the attempt to wade into the committees’ turf.

“I feel like we’ve got enough committees already to do all of that. I’m pretty passionate about that. I feel like you’ve got a Judiciary and Intelligence Committee that are very capable of doing that,” Comer said. “I’m not a big select committee or special counsel kind of guy.”

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), who is close to both Jordan and Comer, said he believes the two GOP chairs “have the bandwidth” already to run the investigations. And if there’s going to be a select committee, he said, they should both sign off.

“If you’re going to form that kind of committee, I want Jim Jordan to be the chair. Turns out, he’s already the chair of the committee who can go after the weaponization of government,” Armstrong said.

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.), a Freedom Caucus member who is backing the push for a new panel and hasn’t yet signaled whether he’ll vote for McCarthy, said that the committee would “definitely have to be in coordination with Judiciary and Oversight” but that it would send a “strong signal” about GOP priorities.

“We only have so much time,” Clyde said. “It’s the one thing we can’t make more of.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Republicans rage over White House plans to slow investigations

House Republicans are fuming over a recent White House move that will slow roll their investigations, but leaders say it doesn’t change their game plan.

While the House GOP has spent weeks detailing its planned investigations into the Biden administration now that the party has a majority, the White House has stayed mostly silent on strategy. That changed Thursday morning, when White House Special Counsel Richard Sauber announced he plans to effectively reset the clock come Jan. 3 and ignore the long list of investigative requests already sent by Republican Reps. James Comer of Kentucky and Jim Jordan of Ohio — the incoming chairs for the Oversight and Judiciary Committees, respectively.

It's an explosive start to a chapter that won’t even officially begin until next week. The relationship between House Republicans and the Biden White House seemed doomed to go sour from the start, but it’s an unmistakable signal that Biden’s administration won’t quietly go along with investigations — some of which it has openly deemed little more than political noise.

“At every turn the Biden White House seeks to obstruct congressional oversight and hide information from the American people,” Comer said in a statement.

House Republicans were quick to clarify that their investigative plans, which have been in the works for months and have included strategy meetings with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, are moving forward regardless of the White House’s position. Comer said in an interview that he had already planned to reissue all of his information requests quickly in the new Congress, including for interviews and documents related to Hunter Biden’s business deals, last year’s Afghanistan withdrawal and the administration’s handling of the pandemic. The White House’s newly articulated position would be little more than a short delay of that process, he noted.

A Jordan spokesperson similarly said Thursday that the White House’s letter wouldn’t change the lawmaker's timeline or strategy for issuing potential subpoenas next year.

And in a further twist of the knife, the Biden White House took unusual inspiration for its newly stated oversight posture: former President Donald Trump. In its letters to Comer and Jordan, the White House counsel’s office cited Trump administration legal opinions that Democrats once derided as extreme and undemocratic.

Former House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) termed the position “the latest in a series of abuses by the Trump administration to operate in a shroud of secrecy.” Even Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, at the time, criticized the Trump White House for construing congressional oversight so narrowly.

A GOP Oversight aide characterized the White House’s stance as an “attempt to delay” that “reveals they are acting in bad faith.” The aide added that “oversight and accountability are coming regardless.”

Meanwhile, Jordan has already sent a slew of letters to the administration outlining documents and interview requests he wants next year as Judiciary Committee chair, warning potential witnesses that while he'd prefer voluntary testimony, he’s willing to use a “compulsory process if necessary.”

The relationship between the Biden administration and a GOP-controlled House was never going to sail smoothly. A majority of Republicans backed attempts to challenge Biden’s 2020 win and have been signposting a sprawl of investigations on everything from the president's son to the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing border crisis. And the White House, meanwhile, has been staffing up for months to handle the investigative deluge over the next two years.

But the White House's latest opening salvo appears to have touched a nerve among congressional Republicans.

“The Biden White House is used to House Democrats and the media sweeping essential oversight under the rug. In 5 days, a new Republican majority will have the authority and obligation to get answers for the American people,” House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted Thursday.

Jordan, and Judiciary Committee staff, also spent Thursday teeing off on social media against the White House’s strategy and amplifying criticism from other corners of the party.

“The difference in how the ‘media’ covered oversight of Trump Administration and how it will cover oversight of the Biden Administration will be staggering. But it won’t stop us from doing our constitutional duty,” Jordan added in a tweet.

The White House's move is likely to spark accusations of hypocrisy from both sides. Democrats remained mostly silent on the announcement Thursday, after expressing indignation at the Trump administration's move years ago. And despite the current GOP fury, Jordan himself refused to comply with a subpoena issued by the Jan. 6 committee this term.

Additionally, White House aides, in response to GOP criticism that officials first aired their plans with the media and not with Republicans directly, were also quick to point out that Jordan and Comer went on Fox News earlier this year to announce a letter they sent as part of their coronavirus “origins” probe.

It might be the White House's most controversial move that will delay GOP investigations, but it's hardly the first.

Comer wants the Treasury Department to turn over so-called suspicious activity reports, known as SARs, related to Hunter Biden as part of the GOP investigation into his business deals. But the administration has batted down those requests while Republicans were in the minority, noting that their policy requires that a committee chair or a majority of the members on a panel OK a request for the reports, which are filed by financial institutions.

And Sauber, in his letter to Comer and Jordan, pointed to a similar distinction in Congress’ own rules, in addition to the Trump-era rationale, to make the case that the GOP requests so far don’t have teeth.

“Congress has not delegated such [oversight] authority to individual members of Congress who are not committee chairmen, and the House has not done so under its current Rules,” Sauber wrote.

But the 2017 stance sparked outrage from House Democrats, who were then in the minority.

“We cannot do our jobs if the Trump administration adopts this unprecedented new policy of refusing to provide any information to Congress unless a request is backed by the implicit threat of a subpoena,” Cummings said at the time.

The White House’s position, in theory, would disadvantage House Democrats in the new term as they fall back into the minority, unless they could get a GOP chair to bless their investigative requests. Democrats on the House Oversight and Judiciary panels are expected to spearhead the party’s day-to-day defense against the GOP investigations.

“The Democrats should be offended by that [letter], but considering they haven’t requested any information pertaining to oversight over the past two years, I don’t see them asking for anything over the next two years,” Comer said.

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report. 

Posted in Uncategorized

In dispatch from Loserdom, Trump threatens third-party run if he loses GOP nomination

As the Republican Party continues its post-midterm meltdown, Donald Trump is rising to the occasion.

Trump used his Truth Social platform Wednesday to remind the Republican Party that he plans to destroy it if it cuts him loose. He included no text, he simply blasted out an article from the pro-MAGA site American Greatness titled, "The Coming Split."

In it, the author, Dan Gelernter, explores what might happen if a majority of GOP voters still want Trump as their nominee but the "Republican Party" refuses.

Campaign Action

"I have no intention of supporting a Republican Party that manifestly contravenes the desires of its voters," Gelernter writes. "The RNC can pretend Trump isn’t loved by the base anymore, that he doesn’t have packed rallies everywhere he goes. But I’m not buying it: Talk to Republican voters anywhere outside the Beltway, and it is obvious that he is admired and even loved by those who consider themselves 'ordinary' Americans."

Though fewer Republicans and GOP leaners than ever say they want Trump to run in 2024, it’s also true there’s still plenty of appetite for Trumpism and his mystique, shall we say.  

Gelernter pledges to support Trump as third party candidate if he does not prevail in the Republican primary.

"Do I think Trump can win as a third-party candidate? No. Would I vote for him as a third-party candidate? Yes. Because I’m not interested in propping up this corrupt gravy-train any longer," he explains, singling out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as entirely out of step with the base.

Gelernter isn't wrong about McConnell, who has completely lost grip on the motivations and desires of the MAGA Republicans who have overrun his band of party elites.

But the bigger immediate problem for McConnell and his ilk is the fact that Trump will surely burn the entire party to the ground if he doesn't clinch the nomination.

He is most certainly hinting at a third-party run that would almost surely doom Republicans in a general election.

But let's imagine a slightly less dramatic scenario in which Trump loses but doesn't launch an independent candidacy. He will never be the guy who graciously steps aside, endorses the GOP frontrunner, and works to elect them, a la Hillary Clinton in 2008 or Bernie Sanders in 2020 (to say nothing of 2016). Even if Trump isn't running, he will launch a revenge tour with the sole mission of burying the GOP standard bearer, whoever they may be.

Trump brought millions more voters into the Republican fold, and the party is now dearly dependent on motivating the MAGA base it gained after alienating suburban voters who once buoyed Republican turnout. If Trump’s not the nominee, he will undoubtedly instruct those MAGA voters to abandon the Republican Party as a corrupt institution of traitors to his cause. 

One way or the other, Trump is committed to making sure any party he isn't dominating is no party at all. Nothing will be left of the Republican Party if he can help it. So the GOP either gets Trump as a nominee, gets a third-party candidacy from him, or gets a scorched-earth campaign from Trump to raze the entire institution. How grand.

Related Articles:

White House to Jim Jordan, James Comer: Sorry, but you have to restart your oversight requests

The Biden White House launched its first major broadside in response to incoming House Republicans likely to spearhead aggressive oversight of the administration.

A top lawyer for the president pledged in letters to those members that the administration would operate in good faith with them. But he also said that oversight demands made by congressional Republicans during the last Congress would have to be started over.

In respective letters to Reps. James Comer (R-Ky) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), White House Special Counsel Richard Sauber said that the Biden administration had no immediate plans to respond to a slew of records requests that both men made the past several weeks. In those letters, obtained exclusively by POLITICO, Sauber described such requests as constitutionally illegitimate because both Jordan, who is expected to chair the House Judiciary Committee, and Comer, who is expected to head the Oversight Committee, made them before they had any authority to do so.

“Congress has not delegated such [oversight] authority to individual members of Congress who are not committee chairmen, and the House has not done so under its current Rules,” wrote Sauber, one of the White House’s top oversight lawyers.

Sauber did not rule out satisfying the requests once the next Congress is sworn in. But his letter nevertheless represents the first volley in what is likely to be a contentious and potentially litigious two years between House Republicans and the Biden White House. More narrowly, it is an apparent effort to shield the administration from a hail of potential subpoenas in early January by describing them as an abuse of the normal process of congressional oversight.

In a Nov. 18, 2022, letter to White House chief of staff Ron Klain, Jordan had warned that if his requests for documents from the administration remained outstanding at the beginning of the 118th Congress, “the Committee may be forced to resort to compulsory process to obtain the material we require.”

On Thursday, Comer sharply criticized the administration for its letter saying it would not immediately satisfy his records request.

“President Biden promised to have the most transparent administration in history but at every turn the Biden White House seeks to obstruct congressional oversight and hide information from the American people," the congressman said in a statement. "Just before dawn at 4:33 a.m., the White House informed us they will not provide the answers we have been seeking for the American people on important issues such as the border and fentanyl crises, the energy crisis, botched Afghanistan withdrawal, COVID origins, and the Biden family’s influence peddling. Why is the Biden Administration hiding this information? Republicans are undeterred by the Biden Administration’s obstruction and will continue pressing for the answers, transparency, and accountability that the American people deserve.”

White House officials, who briefed POLITICO, point to long-standing practice, going back to President Ronald Reagan’s administration, that ranking members in the minority do not jump-start the accommodations process on formal investigative requests. Sauber’s letter tells Jordan and Comer they should not expect records requests to be satisfied before they take their committee’s respective gavels.

Congressional oversight is a normal function of Congress. Yet with the razor-thin margin in the House and little expectation of major legislative breakthroughs with Democrats in control of the Senate and White House, investigations of the Biden administration are expected to be a top priority for Republicans.

Among the issues that Jordan and Comer have pledged to investigate are the federal government’s use of criminal and counterterrorism resources with respect to school board meetings, the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, and the business dealings of the president’s son Hunter Biden. They have pinpointed 42 administration officials who they want to testify before Congress.

Comer, in a Dec. 6 letter questioning the administration’s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, demanded that the White House provide responsive material “no later than December 20, 2022.” In joint Dec. 13 letters to several administration officials relating to the origins of Covid-19, Jordan and Comer demanded materials by no later than December 27, 2022.

Republicans on the House Judiciary criticized the White House on Thursday for not engaging directly with them on the matter of records requests.

"Does leaking a story and sending a letter at 4:34 a.m. sound like “good faith” to you, @JoeBiden?" the House Judiciary GOP twitter account posted. "No. It shows how scared you are of important congressional oversight, particularly one where your administration targeted parents protesting at local school board meetings."

The likely ascension of Jordan, one of the harder-lined conservatives in his party, to the chair of the Judiciary Committee could, in particular, set off major political fireworks. He’s viewed within the party as one of its most effective political bulldogs. But he has also taken stances to diminish the reach and scope of congressional oversight. Jordan has refused to comply with a congressional subpoena related to his conversations with the Trump White House around the Jan. 6 insurrection, and he spearheaded a 2019 letter to oversight Democrats lambasting “partisan” subpoenas issued as part of the first impeachment of President Donald Trump. His charge that Attorney General Merrick Garland called parents “terrorists” for attending school board meetings has been revealed as false.

The Biden White House had largely stayed quiet about House Republicans’ oversight efforts, save when pressed by them during congressional hearings. But that changed after the election. In a statement, a spokesperson for the White House counsel’s office, Ian Sams, likened the subpoena threats to “political stunts,” suggesting House Republicans “might be spending more time thinking about how to get booked on Hannity than on preparing to work together to help the American people.”

Sauber’s letter tries to forge a middle path, albeit one that restarts the clock on the era of GOP oversight.

“Should the Committee issue similar or other requests in the 118th Congress,” Sauber writes, “we will review and respond to them in good faith, consistent with the needs and obligations of both branches. We expect the new Congress will undertake its oversight responsibilities in the same spirit of good faith.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Senate GOP dealmakers depart just as Congress control splits

Rob Portman doesn’t want his fellow Republicans to take the wrong lesson from their lackluster showing in the midterms.

Some think “you have to be more partisan to win elections,” Portman said in an interview. “I think it’s just the opposite.”

The Ohio senator is one of six GOP negotiators known for working across the aisle who are leaving Congress. Portman himself was the lead Republican on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and others worked on the recently passed year-end government spending package, legislation to protect same-sex marriages, a long-stalled deal on gun safety and a bill to boost semiconductor manufacturing.

In addition to Portman, the retiring GOP senators include Alabama's Richard Shelby, who took government funding across the finish line; Roy Blunt of Missouri and Richard Burr of North Carolina, who both backed several of the major bipartisan bills this Congress; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who has long supported reforming background checks and was one of the original backers of the gun safety proposal; and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who just finished negotiating his final annual defense policy bill.

Their departures are coming at an inopportune time for Congress — with party control of the House and Senate split and both majorities razor-thin, legislating is expected to come to a near halt. But lawmakers will need bipartisan deal-makers to at least keep the government lights on and address inevitable crises. And the GOP is at a crossroads following its disappointing performance in the midterms, dealing with an already scandal-plagued presidential run from former President Donald Trump and House conservatives threatening to hijack the speaker’s race.

“I think right now that the Republican Party’s got to right itself,” Shelby said in a recent interview. “I think that by ’24, we’ll do that. There’s a lot of dissent.”

Yet even in a chamber that’s known for its egos, senators don’t think their departures mean it’s time to bury bipartisanship. Portman predicted that the retirements won’t be “quite the change” some are suggesting and said he believed that “others will step up” in the GOP to work across the aisle. Of the 10 senators who negotiated the infrastructure deal, he noted, he’s the only one retiring. Blunt echoed those sentiments.

“Everybody is more easily replaced than either they think they are or people who have reported on them for a long time think they are,” the Missouri Republican said. “So I suspect the gap will not be as big as it currently seems.”

The 118th Congress won’t get any easier as Washington prepares for divided government. While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed at a recent news conference that the next two years will “be a lot more productive than people think,” a far smaller percentage of the House GOP backed the Senate’s bipartisan deals compared with the upper chamber’s Republicans. There was one notable exception in the recently cleared same-sex marriage bill, which 39 House GOP members voted to approve.

Schumer has yet to specify what bipartisan legislation he plans to pursue next term, but when asked about retiring GOP senators, he cited the latest spending package as a sign of optimism for next year. Other Democrats, however, suggested cross-aisle relationships might not be so easy to replicate.

“I worry about it,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said. “When you have a history of working across the aisle, when you lose them it’s tough.”

And it’s not just about losing a handful of Republicans who helped Democrats get to the requisite 60 votes in the Senate. Many of the bipartisan successes of this Congress, including the recently passed updates to the 1887 Electoral Count Act, were the product of “gangs” of Democratic and GOP senators, who forged deals that they then sold to their respective caucuses with the blessing of Senate leaders. While Portman, Blunt and others are leaving, most of the senators who worked in those groups will be back in the next Congress.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), who led the Democratic side of talks on the infrastructure bill and was a lead negotiator for the gun safety and same-sex marriage bills, said in a December interview with POLITICO that she’s optimistic about the incoming class of senators. Sinema has already met with Sen.-elect Katie Britt (R-Ala.), who will replace Shelby, her former boss.

“I worry about it,” Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said of departing GOP senators. “When you have a history of working across the aisle, when you lose them it’s tough.”

“Am I sad Rob Portman is retiring? Yeah, because he’s a very good friend … and I’m incredibly sad that Roy Blunt is retiring,” she said. “But I know that folks who are coming in their place are folks who are willing to work.”

Whether the first-term senators will actually resemble their predecessors remains to be seen. For example, Sen.-elect Ted Budd of North Carolina, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who voted against certifying the 2020 election, will replace Burr, who voted to convict Trump in the second impeachment trial. During his campaign, Budd vowed to “think independently.”

On most bipartisan votes this term, more GOP senators than the necessary 10 would join all Democrats in clearing legislation. Nineteen Republicans backed the infrastructure bill, 18 supported the December spending package, 15 voted for the gun safety bill and 17 supported the semiconductor manufacturing bill. Yet a smaller group offered its support early on to legislative frameworks, a critical step to demonstrate that bipartisan proposals like the gun safety package could get the votes to pass.

And there were still some bills in which every single vote counted, particularly in the longest-running 50-50 Senate in history. Portman, Burr and Blunt were among the 12 Republicans who voted for the same-sex marriage legislation that the Ohio senator also helped sponsor, giving it just a two-vote cushion to break the legislative filibuster. And in a possible foreshadowing of next year’s fight, three of the 11 senators who backed a temporary deal to allow Democrats to raise the debt limit in October 2021 are retiring.

“The members who are leaving are among the least angry. And many, in many cases, may be the most likely to reach out and figure out how to get something done,” Blunt observed.

However, the fact that the senators were leaving might be part of the reason they could successfully negotiate and support those deals. Portman said that not running for reelection made it easier to work on the infrastructure bill in Washington, without having to worry about fundraising or traveling home to campaign. Not to mention the typical constituent and party pressures that bear down on lawmakers with upcoming elections.

The next two years will, in part, be defined by the 2024 presidential election and whether the GOP decides to truly move on from Trump. Burr, Toomey and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who will leave the Senate in January to become president of the University of Florida, all voted to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial. Other senators have been more willing to criticize the former president than some of their House counterparts, but few in the GOP are taking concrete steps to actively prevent him from winning the nomination. Some privately hope his nascent campaign will implode on its own.

Portman reiterated his prediction that Trump wouldn’t follow through on a 2024 run and would end up serving as more of an outside influence on the direction of the GOP. And Shelby suggested a ticket with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin “would have a strong appeal to a lot of people, independents and a lot of frustrated Republicans.”

“Many Americans who … are supportive of [Trump] from a policy point of view are ready to see someone else run for president,” Portman said, adding that polling data suggests “a lot of Republican voters are ready to move on to a new candidate, whether it’s DeSantis or someone else.”

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

Posted in Uncategorized

Rep. Raskin announces cancer diagnosis

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) on Wednesday revealed he has been diagnosed with "a serious but curable form of cancer."

Raskin said in a statement he was diagnosed with a common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects white blood cells in the body's immune system.

The 60-year-old lawmaker said he was beginning chemo-immunotherapy at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

"I expect to be able to work through this period but have been cautioned by my doctors to reduce unnecessary exposure to avoid COVID-19, the flu and other viruses," he said.

Raskin said he was specifically diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, which usually develops in the lymph nodes deep inside the body. While fast-growing and aggressive, the cancer is treatable.

The lawmaker has held several prominent roles in Congress in recent years, including serving on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and serving as an impeachment manager during President Trump's second impeachment in 2021.

On Wednesday, Raskin said he plans to "get through this" and "keep making progress every day in Congress for American democracy."

“My love and solidarity go out to other families managing cancer or any other health condition in this holiday season—and all the doctors, nurses and medical personnel who provide us comfort and hope," he added.

Jamie Raskin announces cancer diagnosis

Rep. Jamie Raskin announced on Wednesday that he’d been diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, “a serious but curable form of cancer.”

“With the benefit of early detection and fine doctors, the help of my extraordinary staff, the love of Sarah and our daughters and sons-in-law (actual and to-be) and family and friends, and the support of my beloved constituents and my colleagues in the House, I plan to get through this and, in the meantime, to keep making progress every day in Congress for American democracy,” the Maryland Democrat said in a statement.

The congressman said he was diagnosed after “several days of tests” and would “embark on a course of chemo-immunotherapy on an outpatient basis” at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. He added that the prognosis for most in his situation was “excellent” after four months of treatment.

“I expect to be able to work through this period but have been cautioned by my doctors to reduce unnecessary exposure to avoid COVID-19, the flu and other viruses,” Raskin said. “In addition to destroying cancer cells, chemotherapy impairs natural antibodies and undermines the body’s immune system. I am advised that it also causes hair loss and weight gain (although I am still holding out hope for the kind that causes hair gain and weight loss).”

Raskin, who was sworn in to his third term in Congress in 2021, has cemented himself as an influential House Democrat and seen his national profile rise after taking on the role of a manager in President Donald Trump’s second impeachment, and after becoming a Jan. 6 select committee member. Just last week, he landed the top Democratic job on the influential House Oversight Committee, where he’ll serve as a ranking member in the new Congress.

Posted in Uncategorized

GOP betrays the country by endorsing a failed coup, yet wants to lecture Biden on national security?

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but historically those who’ve sanctioned and supported domestic rebellion against the United States government have not been allowed a public platform in government to continue spreading their policy views to a wider audience. Jefferson Davis was indicted for treason following the Civil War with Congress even going so far as to impanel a jury for his prosecution, and he remained under indictment until President Andrew Johnson issued a general amnesty in 1868. Afterwards he remained popular in the defeated South, contributing to the deliberate falsification of the war’s origins that eventually became enshrined by the heirs of the Confederacy as the “Lost Cause.” But his participation in the legitimate U.S. machinery of government was understood to be forfeit. 

And those who don’t actively incite insurrection but otherwise betray their country aren’t afforded any deference in matters of national security either. Aldrich Ames, the former CIA case officer who chose to work for the Soviet Union, disclosing the names of both U.S. officers and Russian sources and thus directly causing their deaths at the hands of the KGB, is not, as far as I am aware, regularly consulted on foreign policy matters by the State Department. John Anthony Walker Jr., who sold inside information about our country’s nuclear submarine capabilities to the Soviets, was not thereafter permitted to critique our nation’s naval tactics at meetings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Yet somehow the incoming Republican Congress—the majority of whom on Jan. 6, 2021, voted to illegally disenfranchise the majority of the American electorate; several of whom have voiced or lent their support to groups planning armed rebellion against our democratic government; and still more who have made common cause with those who violently attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6—seem to believe it still has some legitimate standing to criticize the current administration on matters of national security. For example, the newly elected Republican House majority has vowed to conduct investigative hearings about the process by which President Joe Biden ended our two-decade involvement in Afghanistan. Some of the very same voices involved in supporting and spreading Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that resulted in the Jan. 6 insurrection seem to believe that their criticism of President Biden’s manner of withdrawal of troops from the Afghanistan theater merits serious consideration by the American public. All of those harboring this astonishing misconception are, unsurprisingly, members of the Republican Party.

But they are grievously mistaken. By willfully aiding and abetting an attempted coup aimed at usurping a legitimately elected U.S. president—and thus attempting to overthrow a legitimately elected U.S. government—current Republicans have quite simply forfeited any standing they once may have had to criticize that president on any matter affecting this nation’s security. Not only have they forfeited that right, but any attempt by them to assert it—in staged, circus-like “hearings” or otherwise—should be met with the complete scorn it deserves.

What Republicans seem unable to collectively grasp, even at this point, is the sheer enormity of the treachery that their party committed on Jan. 6, 2021. Not only did the vast majority of them stand silently by while their party’s leader plotted and incited a violent uprising specifically engineered to thwart the peaceful transfer of power, but many of them were also directly involved in the plot itself. As the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks final report indicates, Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry, for example, was instrumental in Trump’s attempt to subvert any action by the Department of Justice to forestall the planned coup through the appointment of a sympathetic seditious-minded lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, to the post of attorney general.

Perry, who purportedly sought a pardon from Trump after committing this act of treachery, appears to have been well aware that was he was doing was illegal. For someone with Perry’s military background, however, it was even worse than that. There is fundamentally little difference between an attempt to erase a legitimate, democratic U.S. election and participating in an armed assault against one’s country. To put it in terms that Perry—formerly a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard—might understand? He could scarcely have acted with greater disdain for his country had he crossed the DMZ into North Korea at the 38th parallel and trained his weapon on American troops. 

And that’s the problem here: the lack of any acknowledgement—or even cognition—of just how profoundly and depravedly un-American Republicans’ actions on Jan. 6 actually were. A majority of the GOP caucus, 147 House Republicans in all (most of whom are still sitting members of Congress), stood up right after having been assaulted by a violent mob of thousands that their own leader had spurred on against them and voted to disenfranchise over 80 million American voters. Those 80 million Americans justifiably expected their supposedly “sacred” votes would be legitimately counted. Republicans unilaterally declared that no, they should not be counted, for no legitimate reason other than their desire to keep Donald Trump in power.

My parents were among the votes that these Republicans sought to disenfranchise. My father is a former Marine. The idea that a cadre of wingtip-clad fops in suits would try to erase the votes he served this country to protect is literally so appalling that it’s beyond his comprehension. It would be beyond comprehension for the same soldiers who fought and died against impossible defenses just to secure and retain a narrow strip of beach in Normandy, France. Those soldiers died to preserve the very institutions of our democracy that were so blithely and carelessly disregarded by Republicans, and so casually desecrated on Jan. 6.

No, this was no ordinary betrayal, no ordinary expression of disapproval. It was a wholehearted, concerted, and collective effort by Republicans to attack this country’s foundation, one that brooks no excuses or justifications. It is a stain on the Republican Party that will last for generations. Maybe they didn’t all realize it at the time, but that’s exactly what it was, and it should continue to haunt every single one of those Republicans who has since tried to evade it, justify it, or otherwise explain it away.

This may be hard for some Republicans to face. It was only a few short decades ago that Republicans painted themselves as the party of national security while simultaneously painting Democrats as “soft” on defense. Those were times when the media worked hand in hand with Republican administrations to instill the myth of Republican supremacy in all matters properly allotted to the provenance of the so-called "daddy" party. They were times when people like former George W. Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, surfing the serendipity of the horrific 9/11 attacks, could darkly warn liberals and others that they ought to "watch what they say," lest they run afoul of Republicans' innate, heartfelt patriotism.

But that time is past. It went away for good when Republicans hitched their star to Donald Trump.  The real moment of cognitive dissonance came in 2017, when Republicans found themselves faced with a stark choice. They could accept the fact that the man they'd just made their president had solicited and accepted the assistance of Vladimir Putin to get himself elected, or they could compartmentalize, rationalize, and deny that fact into oblivion, in effect accepting such treachery as their "new normal." In reality, they didn't make this decision wholly by themselves; they clicked on their soothing Fox News for comfort and reassurance. But winking at the perfidies of Donald Trump was one thing; it was enlisting in full-throated support of an insurrection against American democracy, parroting the Big Lie, and continuing to foster the corrosive poison of election denial that served to really seal the deal. 

For that reason, Republicans have disqualified themselves from “investigating,” “critiquing,” or “criticizing” this president on any matter regarding national security. How can a political party that has sought to destroy democracy be heard to criticize the very measures intended to preserve it? Republicans don’t like how the administration handled the Afghanistan withdrawal? Think they can criticize it? They just no longer have that right, or the moral authority to do so.

Sorry, Republicans, but you threw out your right to criticize this president on such matters when you tried to overthrow the U.S. government. Your protestations, your criticisms, your “investigations” fundamentally do not matter, because coming from you, they are less than worthless. As a thought experiment, just imagine if a Democratic president, supported by a Democratic Congress, had attempted to subvert an election in this way, by voting to disenfranchise a clear majority of Americans after a violent, failed coup. Would Republicans give them the time of day and allow them to air a collection of vindictive conspiracy-mongering allegations against a legitimately elected president, or about national security and military matters? 

No, they’d be laughed out of the hearing room. As any Republicans—who have the temerity and sheer gall to criticize this administration on any matters involving the security of the American people—rightly should be.