Squeezed by investigations, Trump escalates violent rhetoric

Under increasing pressure from state and federal investigators, former President Trump escalated his violent rhetoric this week, heightening tensions as prosecutors weigh whether to bring criminal charges and sparking sharp criticism from Democrats, who are warning of another Jan. 6.

In several social media posts over the past two days, Trump appeared to threaten Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) with a baseball bat and warned any indictments brought against him may lead to "potential death & destruction" around the country.

The messages were remarkably direct, even for a figure with a long history of promoting violence, and they've led to new warnings from Trump's critics that the former president is aggravating partisan hostilities and inflaming national unrest. 

"It's dangerous, and it's obviously a sign that the pressure of the moment is getting to him," said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who headed the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. 

"I'm hopeful that they won't take him literally,” Thompson added, referring to Trump’s supporters. “You know, a lot of these people who came to Washington on Jan. 6 came at his invitation, and over time, he weaponized them to attacking the Capitol. And this is that same kind of weaponization — taken to another level."

The concerns arrive just before Trump is scheduled to stage his first 2024 campaign rally on Saturday in Waco, Texas, exactly 30 years after a deadly standoff between federal law enforcement and the Branch Davidians, an apocalyptic cult led by David Koresh, took place just outside the city. The siege ended with a massive fire that engulfed the sect’s compound, left scores of adherents dead and has since become a rallying cry of those who view the government as an abusive force treading on individual liberties. 

Some lawmakers see a connection between Trump’s increasingly violent rhetoric and his choice of Waco to kick-start his campaign. 

"That comment, and being [at] the site of fanatic activity long ago in Texas, is really a dangerous combination,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) said Friday in the Capitol. “We saw the harm that it can cause right here in this building. And as usual, it's only about Donald Trump; it's not about the safety and security of families in Texas and around the country.”

On Friday, Trump allies also sought to draw attention to the plight of those arrested and charged for violent assaults on Jan. 6, visiting them in a local D.C. jail and claiming their constitutional rights are being violated.

Trump is facing a series of criminal investigations into his conduct, including his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and the discovery of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his resort-residence in South Florida. 

But the Manhattan case is the longest-running, based on a hush money payment to an adult film actress just before the 2016 election, and Bragg has given recent signals that an indictment against Trump might be imminent. 

Trump has acknowledged that he reimbursed Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, for the $130,000 Cohen initially paid to Stormy Daniels in return for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump a decade earlier — an affair Trump denies. But his defense team has said the payment was made to preserve his marriage, not for purposes related to his political campaign. 

Turning to social media late Thursday, Trump escalated already heated attacks toward Bragg, in one case sharing a pair of side-by-side photos: one of the prosecutor, the other with the former president holding a baseball bat. 

Hours later — just after 1 a.m. on Friday — Trump posted another message to his Truth Social account, warning of a violent backlash if Bragg brings charges. 

“What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?” Trump wrote.

“Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely [sic] hates the USA!”

The message drew immediate denunciations from Trump’s critics, most of them Democrats, who voiced concerns that it would serve as a call to violence for some members of Trump’s conservative base, thousands of whom had stormed the Capitol two years ago at his behest. 

“Trump has succeeded in turning Lincoln’s GOP into a messianic and dangerous cult of personality,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who led Trump’s second impeachment after the Jan. 6 attack. “[He] knows how to activate the most violent and unstable elements of his following. And this kind of rhetoric, this serves as incitement to the most rabid and unhinged parts of his base.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Friday Trump’s “rhetoric is reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible.”

“It’s dangerous, and if he keeps it up, he’s going to get someone killed,” Jeffries said.

Other Trump critics have gone a step further, suggesting that his comments may have, themselves, violated the law. 

“Threatening a prosecutor is a crime in NY. In fact MULTIPLE crimes,” Norm Eisen, counsel for Democrats in Trump’s first impeachment and an author on both, wrote on Twitter.

Eisen pointed to several statutes in particular, including harassment, menacing and stalking. 

“And that’s just for starters,” he said.  

Across the aisle, Republicans were much less willing to take on the former president, who leads the nascent GOP field vying for the White House in 2024. 

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) deflected questions about Trump’s “death and destruction” remarks, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a close Trump ally, told an NBC reporter that he couldn’t read the comments without his glasses. 

Some others took steps to condemn any talk of violence, though without criticizing Trump directly.

“I don't condone political violence,” said House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.). “I haven't seen those statements,” he continued, “but in general, I've been very outspoken because it relates just to political violence in general.”

Rebecca Beitsch and Mychael Schnell contributed.

Democrats race to Bragg’s defense: Congress ‘should stay the hell out of it’

House Democrats are racing to the defense of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) amid his criminal probe of former President Trump, saying the Republicans seeking to halt Bragg’s hush money investigation are encroaching on matters of independent law enforcement and should simply butt out.

“Let's wait to see if there are going to be charges. Let's see what the charges are. Let's see what the evidence is,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (Calif.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “And we should let law enforcement do their jobs without political interference."

Trump stirred a hornet’s nest over the weekend when he predicted he would be indicted this week for his role in a 2016 payment to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The prediction proved false — the grand jury in the case is expected to meet again next week — but the very idea drew howls from Trump’s GOP allies on Capitol Hill, where the chairmen of three powerful House committees demanded that Bragg testify before Congress.

“Your actions will erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the course of the 2024 presidential election,” Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), James Comer (R-Ky.) and Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) wrote to Bragg on Monday. Jordan chairs the Judiciary Committee; Comer leads the Oversight panel, and Steil heads the Administration Committee.

Bragg responded to the Republicans on Thursday, writing that Trump had created a “false expectation” in predicting his arrest this week. He declined the GOP entreaties to provide information, and Democrats are backing him, accusing Republicans of strong-arming judiciary officials and defending Trump over the rule of law.

"I was astonished, actually, when I saw the letter from the three committee chairs to Mr. Bragg, essentially calling on him to violate grand jury secrecy laws in New York, which of course is a felony,” Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters on Thursday. “He rightly declined to do that.” 

Yet Republicans are not the only figures criticizing Bragg this week. Some liberals are voicing concerns that the Manhattan district attorney is moving too quickly in the hush money case, fearing his indictment might arrive before federal and state prosecutors investigating several other episodes — including Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election — bring potentially more serious charges. 

Those liberal voices say an early indictment in Manhattan could benefit Trump politically, by rallying support from Republican voters who might be shifting away from the former president, but remain sympathetic to his warnings of a national "deep state" conspiracy targeting conservatives by all levels of government. They’re suggesting Bragg should back off to let the other investigations proceed first. 

“A charge like this — a porn star payoff seven years ago, somehow tied to the election but not really — it doesn’t seem like the right way to go,” Van Jones, a liberal commentator for CNN, said this week. “History is not going to judge Donald Trump based on Stormy Daniels. They’re going to judge him based on the election, going to judge him based on the coup attempt.”

Democrats on Capitol Hill have other ideas, however, and many wasted no time blasting the calls for Bragg to delay. 

"I always scratch my head when I hear that — as if we have the ability to politically choreograph the sequencing of criminal justice. I mean, give me a break,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said. 

“The process and the law should just play out, and we should stay the hell out of it.” 

A vast majority of Democrats appear to agree. While many acknowledged there might be a political advantage if the Justice Department brought the first charges surrounding the Jan. 6 attack — or Georgia prosecutors were the first to indict Trump for interfering in the 2020 election — they emphasized that those are independent investigations being conducted by separate agencies, and any coordination between them would taint all of the probes.  

“From a political standpoint, it may have an impact on how this is all interpreted and received, and how certain people are able to spin it,” Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) said, referring to the possibility that Bragg may be the first prosecutor to bring charges. “But the central question is the independence of these prosecutors, and their ability to do their jobs. And they have to do their jobs regardless of the political fallout." 

Bragg’s office has sent recent signals that it may soon indict Trump in the scandal that involved Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, paying Daniels $130,000 in return for her silence surrounding an alleged affair with Trump a decade earlier. Trump, who denies the affair, later reimbursed Cohen, who was subsequently convicted of a series of felonies, spent time in prison, and is now the central witness against his former boss. 

But it’s still unknown whether or when the grand jury will see fit to indict Trump, what the charges would be or how challenging the path is to a potential conviction.

Legal observers suggest an indictment of Trump would likely focus on charges of falsifying business records, a misdemeanor. Pursuit of a felony would require showing the falsification was connected to another crime, but those options all carry their own pitfalls

As the debate has evolved, some powerful Democrats — including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who led Trump’s first impeachment — have accused the Justice Department of moving too slowly in its investigations. But others said the sheer scope of the Jan. 6 probe is enough to justify the marathon process.

“The good news is the Department of Justice doesn't care about my perception of their pace,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said, pointing to the independence of the agency.

“When you are conducting an investigation that involves the former president of the United States you want to be sure that you have crossed every T and dotted every I. I think it does feel like it's been a long time, but obviously, they're gonna do what is necessary to fully investigate,” he said.

The hush money case also had a head start compared to the other probes, with the conduct first coming to light in 2018 and under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney's office since May of 2021. Some Democrats said it’s been all but inevitable that the Stormy Daniels scandal would yield the first charges. 

"It's almost predictable that the tawdry and the slimy would get him first. And I hate to say it that way, but that's what I think of him,” Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) told The Hill.

“In many ways, you'd like to see some of the graver violations of law — that I think he's violated — those come first,” he added. “But it's Donald Trump. Of course the circus comes first.”

Mychael Schnell contributed.

Democrats fill out select committees on Intel, China, COVID-19 and weaponization

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday filled out the final spots for the party's committee roster in the new Congress, naming the members of the select committees on Intelligence, China, COVID-19 and the "weaponization" of government.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) secured the party's top spot on the House Intelligence — an expected ascension that came after Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blocked Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) from the panel.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, will take the top Democratic seat on the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, a panel created last month with broad bipartisan support.

Leading the Democrats on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic will be Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), a former emergency room physician who will likely face off against Republicans over both the origins of COVID-19 and the federal response to the pandemic.

And Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.) will serve as ranking member of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. Plaskett served as a manager in the second impeachment of former President Trump, following the Jan. 6, 2021, rampage at the Capitol, and will now have the responsibility of leading the Democrats' defense of the Biden administration — and federal institutions more broadly — in the face of Republican charges of a "deep state" conspiracy against conservatives.

In making the announcements, Jeffries vowed that Democrats will collaborate with select committee Republicans whenever the opportunity arises, but will fight back against political attacks when the situation demands.

"Under the leadership of our four Ranking Members, House Democrats will endeavor to work in a bipartisan fashion where possible and will also stand up to extremism from the other side of the aisle wherever and whenever necessary," he said. 

Jeffries's decision to seat Democrats on all the select committees — even the most polarizing panels — marked a departure from McCarthy's strategy in the last Congress, when Republicans boycotted the special committee created to investigate Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Many Republicans criticized that decision — including Trump — after the investigation went public with a long series of televised hearings, where the former president was without a line of defense.

Democrats have adopted a different approach, placing members on even the most controversial committees to ensure that Biden and his administration have voices in their corner to counter the Republican attacks.

The weaponization committee, which was created along strict party lines, is expected to be the most polarizing, with GOP leaders tapping Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a pugnacious Trump ally, as the chairman. Jordan has accused the federal government, particularly the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, of an inherent bias against conservatives — a charge that both the agencies and congressional Democrats refute.

“This committee is nothing more than a deranged ploy by the MAGA extremists who have hijacked the Republican Party and now want to use taxpayer money to push their far-right conspiracy nonsense," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said during the vote to form the panel.

Plaskett was one of several Democrats who fell off of the powerful Ways and Means Committee this year as part of the reshuffling that saw Democrats lose seats as they fell into the minority.  

Aside from Plaskett, the Democrats on the panel will be Reps. Stephen Lynch (Mass.), Linda Sánchez (Calif.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Gerry Connolly (Va.), John Garamendi (Calif.), Colin Allred (Texas), Sylvia Garcia (Texas) and Dan Goldman, a New York freshman.

The COVID-19 panel, led by GOP Rep. Brad Wenstrup (Ohio), is also expected to be an arena of partisan combat.

Since the pandemic hit three years ago, Republicans have bashed public health officials — particularly Anthony Fauci, the former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — for recommending masks, commercial shutdowns and other precautionary measures to fight the virus. They've also accused Fauci and other health officials of disguising the origin of the coronavirus and the government's gain-of-function research in China — highly partisan topics that are sure to surface quickly when the panel begins its work.

Providing the defense, Ruiz will be joined by Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Kweisi Mfume (Md.), Deborah Ross (N.C.) and Robert Garcia, a freshman from California.

The China committee is expected to be more cordial, as both parties are voicing concerns that Beijing's growing global presence poses a direct threat to America's national security and economic well-being. The panel was created with broad bipartisan support, and is chaired by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), a member of the Intelligence Committee who has worked well with Democrats. He and Krishnamoorthi have already co-sponsored legislation to ban Tim-Tok across the country.

The other Democrats on the China panel will be Reps. Kathy Castor (Fla.), André Carson (Ind), Seth Moulton (Mass.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Andy Kim (N.J.), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.), Haley Stevens (Mich.), Jake Auchincloss (Mass.), Ritchie Torres (N.Y.) and Shontel Brown (Ohio).

In choosing a top Democrat for the Intelligence Committee, Jeffries faced a bounty of options: Virtually every Democrat on the panel, including Carson and Krishnamoorthi, was interested in replacing Schiff. Himes, however, was the expected pick of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), had she remained in power, and Jeffries didn't stray from that plan.

Joining Himes on Intel will be Democratic Reps. Carson, Joaquin Castro (Texas), Krishnamoorthi, Jason Crow (Colo.), Ami Bera (Calif.), Plaskett, Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Jimmy Gomez (Calif.), Chrissy Houlahan (Pa.) and Abigail Spanberger (Va.).

The panel is led by Chairman Michael Turner (R-Ohio).

Updated at 7:54 p.m.

House Intel members look for ‘reset’ after partisan era of Schiff, Nunes

The House Intelligence Committee will get a facelift this Congress following the booting of its former chairman and the retirement of a prior ranking member — a drastic makeover that’s prompting internal hopes that the panel can move beyond the partisan battles that have practically defined it in recent years.

The committee launched the last Congress with Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) at the helm, two national — and highly polarizing — figures whose epic battles, waged predominantly over issues related to former President Trump, came to symbolize the panel’s shift from a rare bastion of bipartisan cooperation to an arena of partisan warfare. 

This year, there may be a turnaround.

Nunes retired from Congress last January to lead the Trump Media & Technology Group, the former president’s social media company. And this week, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blocked Schiff from sitting on the panel, accusing the former chairman of lying to the public about Trump’s ties to Russia. 

Schiff’s eviction drew howls from Democrats, who denied the charges and rushed to his defense. But amid the protests, even some Democrats acknowledged that both Schiff and Nunes had become so radioactive in the eyes of the opposing party that it became a drag on the work of the committee. 

With that in mind, committee members of both parties are hoping the roster reshuffling will turn a page on that combative era and return the panel to its historic image as a largely collaborative body. 

"We're hoping it'll be a reset, and we can get past all the infighting … and just focus on national security,” said a source familiar with the committee dynamics.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who was first seated on the panel in the last Congress, echoed that message, saying the new chairman, Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), is making improved relations a priority as he takes the gavel.

"That's the goal,” Gallagher said. “I think we've got really good, thoughtful members. We've got the right leadership in Turner. And we're trying to get back to that more bipartisan approach.” 

In denying committee seats to Schiff, along with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), McCarthy claimed their exit would help move the panel in a less partisan direction — something the two Democrats and their allies deny.

“I think what McCarthy is doing is actually quite the opposite,” Schiff said.

“He's politicizing the committee. No Speaker has ever sought to interfere with who the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee should be. Certainly, [Former] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi had many differences with Devin Nunes, but she has a reverence for the work of the committee and Kevin McCarthy evidently doesn't.”

Members of both parties pointed to Nunes’s departure, at the start of last year, as the beginning of improved relations on the panel. 

“We entered a new chapter after Nunes left. It really changed with Turner, a ton. And so I suppose maybe from their side they think that something is going to change on our side without Schiff and Swalwell. Perhaps? But I really thought everything changed for the better once Nunes was gone. We were very collegial,” said one Democratic source familiar with the panel’s innerworkings.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), an eight-year veteran of the Intel Committee, cautioned against pinning the panel’s problems on any one person.

“I don't want to say, ‘Yeah, the committee is going to work beautifully now because those two are gone,’” he said of Schiff and Swalwell, “because that would be unfair, and it wouldn't be accurate. So I don't want to indicate that the committee didn't work, or was more political, only because of them.”

Still, Stewart also said it was “fair” to say Nunes contributed to the panel’s combative environment —  a dynamic he blamed on the charged atmosphere of the Trump years, which also featured Schiff playing lead manager of Trump’s first impeachment. 

“Devin was associated with those very contentious times just like Adam Schiff was associated with those very contentious times. I don't think it was necessarily Devin, I think it was the two leaders who had to navigate through those tough times,” he said.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), another member, agreed that the impeachment era soured the committee’s dynamic, though he contributed the deterioration largely to the Republicans’ defense of Trump.

“Whatever my own view is, obviously, the committee became enormously polarized, which is pretty unusual. When we moved on [after] Ukraine, it already started to repair itself. You know, Devin Nunes moved on,” Himes said. “Mike Turner, in my opinion, has always been a fair actor.”

Turner declined to talk this week. 

The full roster of the committee remains unclear. While Republicans have named their members — including new additions that include Reps. Dan Crenshaw (Texas), Michael Waltz (Fla.) and French Hill (Ark.) — Democrats are waiting for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) to make his accompanying selections.

“A lot will depend on that,” said Gallagher. “But I hope that Leader Jeffries looks at who we've appointed … and responds in-kind with, not just bomb-throwers, but solutions-oriented types.” 

McCarthy’s refusal to seat Schiff has created a vacuum at the top of the Democrats’ roster — a void that virtually every committee Democrat is hoping to fill. 

Pelosi (D-Calif.), had she remained the leader of the party, was set to appoint Himes to the position, according to several Democrats familiar with her plans. But others are also expressing interest, including Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.).

Jeffries, however, has given no indication either who he’ll pick or when he’ll announce it. 

As the committee comes together, members say they’re not expecting to avoid partisan fights altogether. Gallagher pointed out that the panel will have to tackle a number of prickly topics this Congress — including the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — which are sure to lead to partisan clashes.

But those are issues-based differences, he emphasized, not collisions of personality. And Gallagher said he’s established a good rapport with some of the newer Democrats on the panel, including Reps. Jason Crow (Colo.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (Ill.), who has co-sponsored legislation with Gallagher to ban TikTok in the United States.

"Those younger members and I have a really good working relationship,” Gallagher said. “We just hope to build on that."

McCarthy formally blocks Schiff, Swalwell from Intel panel

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday formally rejected two Democrats — Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (Calif.) — from serving on the House Intelligence Committee, escalating the two-year tit-for-tat battle between the parties over who is qualified for certain positions on Capitol Hill. 

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) had written to McCarthy on Saturday asking that both Schiff and Swalwell be seated on the Intel panel, where membership assignments come solely at the discretion of the Speaker. 

But McCarthy said Schiff's and Swalwell's previous actions make them unfit to serve on a panel with jurisdiction over and access to sensitive issues of national security.

“In order to maintain a standard worthy of this committee’s responsibilities, I am hereby rejecting the appointments of Representative Adam Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee,” he wrote in a letter to Jeffries on Tuesday.

The move was no surprise. 

Republicans have been up in arms over the issue since 2021, when Democrats staged votes to remove GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) from their committees following revelations that they had promoted violence against some of their Democratic colleagues. The eviction votes came after McCarthy declined to punish either lawmaker internally within the GOP conference, which is typically where such disciplinary actions are meted out.

Still, McCarthy on Tuesday denied that his decision regarding Schiff and Swalwell was retribution for Greene and Gosar.

“This is not not anything political. This is not similar to what the Democrats did,” McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday evening just outside his office in the Capitol.

Schiff, the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, had led a series of investigations into former President Trump, serving as the lead impeachment manager of Trump’s first impeachment, which both heightened his national profile and made him radioactive among Trump’s supporters. 

McCarthy has accused him of lying to the public about Trump’s ties to Russia — a charge that Schiff has dismissed as political retribution. 

“His objection seems to be that I was the lead impeachment manager in Donald Trump’s first impeachment and that we held him accountable for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid from Ukraine in order to try to extort that country into helping his political campaign,” Schiff told reporters Tuesday night. 

Schiff also noted that McCarthy’s road to the Speakership was successful only after he secured the support of former critics, including Greene, charging that the process had left him beholden to those conservatives. 

“I think it’s just another body blow to the institution of Congress, that he’s behaving this way, but it shows just how weak he is as a Speaker that he has to give in to the most extreme elements of his conference, in this case the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Paul Gosars,” Schiff said.

The accusations surrounding Swalwell are of a different sort. The California Democrat was associated with a suspected Chinese spy who had fundraised for his 2014 campaign — a revelation that was not made public until 2020 — and McCarthy has said that a confidential FBI briefing on the episode has left him convinced that Swalwell is a national security risk. 

“When Eric Swalwell would be in the private sector and can’t get the security clearance there, we are not gonna provide him with the secrets to America,” McCarthy told reporters.

McCarthy has also vowed to block Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from sitting on the House Foreign Affairs Committee as a rebuke for previous comments she made that were critical of Israel and its supporters, some of which have sparked allegations of antisemitism. In 2019, the congresswoman — who is a Somali refugee — apologized after suggesting that wealthy Jews were buying congressional support for Israel.

Omar’s situation, however, is different from that of Schiff or Swalwell. While McCarthy has the unilateral authority to block appointments to the Intelligence Committee, the full House must ratify committee membership for the Foreign Affairs panel — meaning a majority of the chamber will have to vote to block the congresswoman from serving.

That effort is already proving to be an uphill battle. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) announced Tuesday that she will not support keeping Omar off the Foreign Affairs committee, and Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) has expressed a coolness to the idea.

Republicans can afford to lose only four votes in the narrowly split House amid united Democratic opposition, which means the party can afford only two more defectors to still block Omar. That number could shrink to one if Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), who is recovering in Florida from a fall, misses the vote. The congressman on Monday said he will be “sidelined in Sarasota for several weeks.”

It is unclear when a vote to block Omar from the panel will come to the floor. The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee is slated to meet this week and finish committee assignments, and Omar is expected to return to the Foreign Affairs Committee. The full chamber would then be tasked with ratifying the rosters.

Asked on Tuesday how confident he is that there will be enough support to block Omar from the Foreign Affairs panel, McCarthy told reporters that “it would be odd to me that members would not support that based upon her comments against Israel.”

Pressed on those character allegations Tuesday, Omar told reporters that “all of those have been addressed three years ago.”

Schiff, Swalwell and Omar issued a joint defense minutes after McCarthy sent his letter, tying the GOP leader to the right flank of his party.

“It’s disappointing but not surprising that Kevin McCarthy has capitulated to the right wing of his caucus, undermining the integrity of the Congress, and harming our national security in the process,” the trio said. “He struck a corrupt bargain in his desperate, and nearly failed, attempt to win the Speakership, a bargain that required political vengeance against the three of us.”

Updated at 8:26 p.m.

Democrats itch for fight with GOP on expelling lawmakers from committees

House Democrats are itching for a fight with the new GOP majority over who should qualify for committee assignments, tapping Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (Calif.) to sit on the Intelligence Committee in the face of Republican vows to keep them off of the powerful panel.

A similar collision is likely to play out in a separate arena over Rep. Ilhan Omar, the third-term Minnesota lawmaker who is expected to be named by Democrats this week to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, despite GOP promises to boot her from the panel.

The Democrats’ moves — and the imminent clashes they’re certain to spark — indicate party leaders are confident the public battle over what constitutes disqualifying behavior will play to their political advantage, particularly after Republicans granted a pair of committee seats to Rep. George Santos, the embattled New York freshman who is under fire over lies about his background and questions about his finances.

In nominating Schiff and Swalwell to the Intelligence Committee, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) made sure to name-check Santos, emphasizing his new committee posts and hammering GOP leaders for elevating a “serial fraudster” to the panels.  

“The apparent double standard risks undermining the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that is so desperately needed in Congress,” Jeffries wrote in a Jan. 21 letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

The debate arrives as the controversy surrounding Santos has shifted from one focused on resume fabrications to more serious questions about his campaign finances — allegations that have led some Republicans to call for Santos to resign from Congress altogether. Dismissing those concerns, party leaders last week nominated Santos for two committee assignments, on the House Small Business panel and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

McCarthy himself has defended Santos, saying he was fairly elected by Long Island voters who now deserve his representation in Washington. He’s deferring questions of potential misconduct to the House Ethics Committee. 

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, unlike most other panels, has special rules empowering the Speaker to assign every member. The selections are to be made in consultation with the minority leader, but the final roster requires the endorsement of the Speaker alone, granting McCarthy the unilateral authority to block Jeffries’s recommendations.

Traditionally, that biennial process has been a routine rubber stamp, and the minority party’s picks have been seated without controversy. 

But those dynamics have shifted since 2021, when Democrats staged successful votes to strip two Republicans — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) — of their committee assignments. 

That feud was exacerbated when former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vetoed two of then-Minority Leader McCarthy’s picks for the select panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — a move that prompted McCarthy to boycott the probe altogether.

Since then, McCarthy has vowed to keep Schiff and Swalwell from returning to the Intelligence panel — a pledge he amplified on Capitol Hill this month, when he accused the pair of politicizing the committee. 

“I’m doing exactly what we’re supposed to do,” McCarthy said.

The accusations Republicans are leveling against Schiff and Swalwell are unique to each lawmaker. 

Schiff, as former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, had led the investigations into former President Trump’s ties to Russia, and he was the lead manager in Trump’s first impeachment, which centered around charges that Trump had leveraged U.S. military aid to pressure Ukrainian leaders to investigate his political rivals. Republicans have accused Schiff of lying to the public during the course of those probes. 

In Swalwell’s case, Republicans are pointing to his association with a suspected Chinese spy who had helped fundraise for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign — an episode first revealed publicly in 2020. After the FBI informed Swalwell of their concern, he cut ties with the Chinese national, who fled to Beijing. But that’s done nothing to temper the attacks from Republicans accusing Swalwell of being a national security risk.  

“If you got the briefing I got from the FBI, you wouldn’t have Swalwell on any committee,” McCarthy told reporters this month.

Fact-checkers have repeatedly found the GOP accusations to be false. And Democrats maintain that McCarthy’s threats are just another of the many concessions he had to make to the conservative detractors who fought to deny him the gavel earlier in the month. 

“This is Kevin McCarthy once again catering to the most right-wing elements of his conference and doing the will of the former president as well,” Schiff said Monday in an interview with MSNBC. “It’s just a further destruction of our norms and, I think, deterioration of our democracy.”

Jeffries, in his letter to McCarthy, sought to distinguish between each party’s standards when it comes to committee evictions, noting that both Greene and Gosar were removed by a vote of the full House after revelations that they had promoted violence against Democrats. Both votes, Jeffries emphasized, had some Republican support.  

“This action was taken by both Democrats and Republicans given the seriousness of the conduct involved, particularly in the aftermath of a violent insurrection and attack on the Capitol,” Jeffries wrote. “It does not serve as precedent or justification for the removal of Representatives Schiff and Swalwell, given that they have never exhibited violent thoughts or behavior.”

In nominating the California Democrats, Jeffries went out of his way to force McCarthy’s hand. 

Under Intelligence Committee rules, rank-and-file members are limited to four cycles — a cap Swalwell has hit — meaning that Jeffries could have simply replaced Swalwell with a less controversial Democrat. Instead, he waived the term limit in order to force McCarthy to take the aggressive step of intervening to block Swalwell from the panel. Schiff, as ranking member, is exempt from the cap. 

It’s unclear when McCarthy will announce the expected decision to block the pair. The Speaker was in Florida on Monday for an annual gathering of GOP leaders. A spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. 

Separately, the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee is scheduled to meet this week to finalize the party’s committee rosters, including the expected move to put Omar, one of three Muslim lawmakers in Congress, on the Foreign Affairs panel, according to several sources familiar with the Democrats’ plans. 

The Minnesota Democrat, a Somali refugee, has been highly critical of the Israeli government and its supporters, particularly on issues related to human rights in Palestine, leading to charges of antisemitism. In one 2019 episode, Omar was forced to apologize after suggesting wealthy Jews are buying congressional support for Israel.

Unlike the Intelligence panel, the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee are chosen by each party and ratified by the full House, meaning McCarthy cannot unilaterally block Omar from taking her seat. Instead, GOP leaders are expected to remove her from the panel on the House floor, as was the case with Greene and Gosar.

Jeffries submits Schiff, Swalwell for Intel panel, forcing fight with McCarthy

The head of House Democrats has submitted Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) to sit on the powerful Intelligence Committee, setting up a battle with Republican leaders who are vowing to keep them off the panel.

Separately, Democrats this week are also expected to seat Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, according to a source familiar with the Democrats’ plans, which will likely prompt GOP leaders to hold a floor vote to remove her. 

In a letter sent Saturday to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Schiff, the top Democrat on the Intelligence panel, and Swalwell are both “eminently qualified” to continue their service on the committee. Jeffries requested that McCarthy seat them there.

“Together, these Members have over two decades of distinguished leadership providing oversight of our nation’s Intelligence Community, in addition to their prosecutorial work in law enforcement prior to serving in Congress,” Jeffries wrote.

The developments were first reported Monday by Punchbowl News.

Unlike most committees, however, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has special rules empowering the Speaker to assign the panel’s members, in consultation with the minority leader. That means McCarthy can also decline to seat members without relying on a full House vote.

Historically, that process has proceeded without controversy and the minority party’s recommendations have been seated. But Republicans have been up in arms since 2021, when Democrats staged successful votes to remove two Republicans — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) — from their committee assignments. And McCarthy has vowed since then to keep Schiff and Swalwell from returning to the Intelligence panel — a pledge he amplified on Capitol Hill last week

“What I am doing with the Intel Committee [is] bringing it back to the jurisdiction it’s supposed to do. Forward-looking to keep this country safe, keep the politics out of it,” McCarthy told reporters in the Capitol. 

“So yes, I’m doing exactly what we’re supposed to do,” he added.

Schiff, as former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, had led the investigations into former President Trump’s ties to Russia, and Republicans have accused him of lying to the public during the course of those probes.

In Swalwell’s case, Republicans have highlighted his ties to a suspected Chinese spy who had helped fundraise for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign, which were first revealed in 2020. After the FBI informed Swalwell of their concern, he cut ties with the Chinese national and has said McCarthy’s decision to remove him from the Intelligence Committee is “purely vengeance.” 

Schiff also served as a lead House manager for Trump's first impeachment trial, while Swalwell served as a manager for the second.

Fact-checkers have repeatedly found the GOP accusations to be false. And Democrats maintain that McCarthy’s threats are merely another promise to the conservative detractors who fought to deny him the Speaker's gavel earlier in the month. 

Jeffries, in his letter, sought to carve out a distinction between the scenarios, noting that both Greene and Gosar were removed after revelations that they had promoted violent actions against Democrats, and both votes received some Republican support.  

“This action was taken by both Democrats and Republicans given the seriousness of the conduct involved, particularly in the aftermath of a violent insurrection and attack on the Capitol,” Jeffries wrote. “It does not serve as precedent or justification for the removal of Representatives Schiff and Swalwell, given that they have never exhibited violent thoughts or behavior.”

He also pointed out that McCarthy and the Republicans recently gave two committee posts to Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), who is under fire for a series of résumé fabrications and questionable campaign finance activities. Jeffries called him a “serial fraudster.”

“The apparent double standard risks undermining the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that is so desperately needed in Congress,” Jeffries wrote. 

Under Intelligence Committee rules, rank-and-file members are limited to four cycles — a cap Swalwell has hit — meaning that Jeffries waived that limit in order to force McCarthy to make good on his promise not to seat him. Schiff, as ranking member, is exempt from the cap. 

Separately, the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee is scheduled to meet this week to finalize the party’s committee rosters, including the expected move to put Omar, one of three Muslim lawmakers in Congress, on the Foreign Affairs panel. 

The Minnesota Democrat, a Somali refugee, has been highly critical of the Israeli government and its supporters, particularly on issues related to Palestinian rights, leading to charges of antisemitism. In one 2019 episode, Omar was forced to apologize after suggesting wealthy Jews are buying congressional support for Israel. 

Unlike the Intelligence panel, McCarthy cannot block members of the Foreign Affairs Committee unilaterally. GOP leaders are expected to stage a vote to remove her from the panel, as was the case for Greene and Gosar.

McCarthy amplifies vow to keep Schiff, Swalwell off Intel Committee

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday amplified his pledge to keep a pair of high-profile Democrats — Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (Calif.) — from joining the powerful House Intelligence Committee in the new Congress. 

Both Schiff and Swalwell played an outsized role in the impeachments of former President Trump, becoming toxic figures among Republicans in the process.

McCarthy has vowed for months to remove them from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, known as HPSCI, in the wake of the Democrats’ move to strip two Republicans — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) — of their committee assignments in the last Congress.

On Thursday, McCarthy said he’s not backing down. 

“What I am doing with the Intel Committee [is] bringing it back to the jurisdiction it's supposed to do. Forward-looking to keep this country safe, keep the politics out of it,” McCarthy told reporters in the Capitol. 

“So yes, I'm doing exactly what we're supposed to do," he added.

The reasons Republicans are targeting Schiff and Swalwell are unique to each lawmaker. 

For Schiff, the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, McCarthy has focused on his role in the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, accusing Schiff of lying to the public about the depth of that affiliation. 

He’s also accused Schiff, who was the lead manager in Trump’s first impeachment, of exaggerating the central assertion of that case, which charged Trump with leveraging U.S. military aid to pressure Ukrainian leaders to investigate his political adversaries. 

“He put America — for four years — through an impeachment that he knew was a lie,” McCarthy said Thursday.  

In Swalwell’s case, Republicans have highlighted his ties to a suspected Chinese spy who had helped fundraise for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign — an episode that became public only in 2020, when Axios reported it.

“If you got the briefing I got from the FBI, you wouldn't have Swalwell on any committee,” McCarthy said.

Swalwell, who had cut ties with the Chinese national when informed of her identity by the FBI, said this week that McCarthy’s decision to remove him from HPSCI was “purely vengeance” for Swalwell’s role as a manager in Trump’s second impeachment, which followed the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

“I did what I hope every one of my colleagues would do, which was to help the FBI get this person out of the country,” Swalwell said Wednesday in an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes. “This is only about vengeance, and there's no substantive reason to remove us.”

Separately, McCarthy is also vowing to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of three Muslim lawmakers in Congress, from her spot on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Omar has been highly critical of the Israeli government and its supporters, particularly on issues related to Palestinian rights, leading to charges of antisemitism. In one 2019 episode, Omar was forced to apologize after suggesting wealthy Jews are buying congressional support for Israel. 

McCarthy did not mention Omar on Thursday, but told the GOP conference earlier in the week that he would follow through on his pledge to block all three Democrats — Omar, Schiff and Swalwell — from their top committees, according to lawmakers in the meeting. 

“Speaker McCarthy confirms that Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and Ilhan Omar are getting kicked off the Intel and Foreign Affairs Committees,” Rep. Troy Nehls, a Texas Republican, tweeted on Tuesday after the closed-door gathering

“Promises made. Promises kept!” he added.

The process for removing a lawmaker from a standing committee like Foreign Affairs is different than for kicking representatives off the HPSCI, which is a select committee.

McCarthy, as House Speaker, has the power to reject Schiff and Swalwell unilaterally. By contrast, Republicans would have to bring a resolution removing Omar to the House floor, as Democrats did with Greene and Gosar in 2021.

As the parties clash over the legitimacy of stripping committees from the three targeted Democrats, it’s unclear if McCarthy will even be confronted with that option in the case of Schiff and Swalwell. That’s because Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), the new Democratic leader, has not yet indicated whether he will seat those two on the Intelligence panel in the new Congress. 

HPSCI has term limits on its members, and Swalwell is at the end of the four-cycle cap, leading to questions of whether Jeffries would supply a waiver to try to keep him aboard. Schiff, as the top Democrat on the panel, is exempt from those limits. 

Jeffries has begun the process of naming Democrats to the various committees, including the Ethics panel, which revealed its roster on Tuesday. But he has not revealed the Democrats he’s putting forward for the Intelligence panel. 

Jeffries’s office did not respond on Thursday to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, other members of the Intelligence Committee are itching to get seated — and secure their security clearances — so they can get to work in the new Congress.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who is seeking to replace Schiff as Intel’s top Democrat if Schiff falls off the committee, said Thursday that members of the panel are eager to regain access to their classified briefings, not least because of the recent news that President Biden was found to be in private possession of confidential documents.  

“It's a sensitive moment not to have, you know — you can't get briefed on whatever the Biden classified documents are, [and] from a party standpoint, you don't have a very clear spokesman on the issue,” Himes said. “So I'm hoping it's soon."

Raskin wins top Democratic seat on powerful Oversight Committee

House Democrats voted Thursday to make Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.) the top Democrat on the powerful Oversight and Reform Committee in the next Congress, a pivotal role in the defense of President Biden as Republicans prepare to take control of the lower chamber next year. 

Raskin, a six-year House veteran, defeated Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) in the closed-door, secret-ballot vote on Capitol Hill, where the full caucus gathered to finalize their committee roster heading into the 118th Congress. 

A third member of the committee, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), had also been a part of the race to replace the current Oversight chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who lost an August primary to Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). Lynch dropped out of the contest after he placed third in last week’s vote of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, an influential panel that helps to guide the party’s committee assignments, leaving Raskin and Connolly to face off before the full caucus on Thursday.

Connolly was the more senior of the two on the Oversight panel — a relevant distinction in a party that’s traditionally favored seniority when choosing top committee spots. 

Yet the preference given to committee veterans has eroded gradually in recent years. And Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, has built a sturdy national profile in his short time on Capitol Hill, leading the House’s second impeachment of former President Trump after last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, and later joining the select committee investigating the riot.

Raskin had argued that his legal background made him the best candidate for the position. Connolly had countered that his long experience in the Oversight trenches made him the better fit.

The Oversight panel, with subpoena authority and a broad mandate to probe federal affairs, is among the most powerful panels in Congress. And with Republicans set to take control of the House next year, the position of ranking member will assume even greater importance. 

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who is in line to lead the Oversight panel next year, is already promising a host of investigations into topics as varied — and controversial — as the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the origins of the coronavirus and the international business dealings of Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

--Updated at 12:42 p.m.

Zelensky helps Pelosi exit House in historic fashion

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is ending her long leadership tenure with a historic flourish, wrapping up two decades at the top of the party with a string of major victories — political, legislative and diplomatic — that are putting a remarkable cap on a landmark era.

This week alone, House Democrats have released the tax records of former President Trump following a years-long legal battle.

They wrapped up their marathon investigation into last year’s Capitol attack, complete with criminal referrals for Trump.

And they’re poised to pass a massive, $1.7 trillion federal spending bill packed full of Democratic priorities, including legislation designed to ensure the peaceful transfer of power between presidents — a push that came in direct response to the rampage of Jan. 6, 2021.

Those were just the expected developments. 

Congress on Wednesday also played host to a history-making address by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, after his surprise visit to Washington — a stunning demonstration designed to shore up U.S. support for Kyiv amid Russia’s long-running invasion.

Any one of those items, on its own, would have been a significant triumph in a brief lame-duck session following midterm elections that will put Republicans in charge of the lower chamber next year.

The combination is something else entirely, constituting an extraordinary — and highly consequential — string of wins for Pelosi and the Democrats just weeks before she steps out of power after 20 years and passes the torch to a younger generation of party leaders.

“The 117th Congress has been one of the most consequential in recent history,” she wrote to fellow Democrats this week, taking a victory lap. She added that the lame-duck agenda has them leaving on “a strong note.”

Zelensky’s visit, in particular, carried outsize significance. 

The Ukrainian president has, since the Russian invasion began in February, emerged as the global symbol of democratic defiance in the face of the violent authoritarianism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And having him on hand in the Capitol —  itself the target of an anti-democratic mob last year — gave a big boost to the warnings from Democrats that America’s election systems and other democratic institutions are under attack, not least from Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was “stolen.”

Pelosi, who had staged a surprise trip to Ukraine earlier in the year, found a special importance in Zelensky’s visit, noting that her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was a House member in 1941 when Winston Churchill addressed Congress to urge America’s support in the fight against the tyrannical forces of Nazi Germany. 

“Eighty-one years later this week, it is particularly poignant for me to be present when another heroic leader addresses the Congress in a time of war – and with Democracy itself on the line,” Pelosi said in announcing Zelensky’s visit this week. 

Zelensky’s presence also gave a boost to the Biden administration’s efforts to provide Ukraine with assistance — military, economic and humanitarian — in the face of opposition from conservatives on Capitol Hill who want to cut off the spigot of U.S. aid when Republicans take over the House next year. 

Hours before Zelensky’s speech, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a conservative firebrand, said U.S. taxpayers are being “raped” by lawmakers who provide billions of dollars in foreign aid.

“Of course the shadow president has to come to Congress and explain why he needs billions of American’s taxpayer dollars for the 51st state, Ukraine,” she tweeted, referring to Zelensky. “This is absurd. Put America First!!!”

Democrats, joined by many Republicans, have countered with promises to continue providing Kyiv with the support it needs to win the conflict. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday that it’s meaningless to praise the Ukrainians' courage without backing those words with funding. 

“Some of you asked me, ‘Well, how much would we do?’ And my response has been, ‘As much as we need to do.’ That's my limit,” Hoyer told reporters. “This is a fight for freedom — [a] fight for a world order of law and justice.” 

The issue of Ukraine aid could prove to be a headache for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who’s vying to become Speaker next year and needs the support of conservatives — including those opposed to more Kyiv funding — to achieve that goal. 

Despite the hurdles, Pelosi said she’s confident that Congress will come together to support Kyiv next year, even with a GOP-controlled House. 

“I think there's very strong bipartisan support respecting the courage of the people of Ukraine to fight for their democracy,” she told reporters earlier in the month. 

Pelosi, of course, had solidified her place in the country’s history books long before this Congress — when Democrats adopted massive bills to fund infrastructure, battle COVID-19 and tackle climate change — and the lame-duck session, when that list of policy wins is growing longer still. 

As a back-bencher in 1991, Pelosi had visited Tiananmen Square, launching her image as a pro-democracy activist, both in Congress and on the world stage. And her profile rose again in 2002, with her firm opposition to the Iraq War. 

Years later, in 2007, she became the first female Speaker in U.S. history, a feat she repeated again in 2019. She was Speaker during the Great Recession; ushered in the Dodd-Frank law designed to curb the worst abuses of Wall Street; and battled Trump head-on, launching two impeachments of the 45th president and creating the special committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

That panel reached the end of its investigation this week, issuing a summary of its findings on Monday that included recommendations that the Justice Department further investigate Trump for four separate federal crimes, including inciting an insurrection. The final report is expected to be released on Thursday. 

“Our Founders made clear that, in the United States of America, no one is above the law,” Pelosi said in response. “This bedrock principle remains unequivocally true, and justice must be done.”

Perhaps recognizing that her leadership days were numbered, Pelosi also went out of her way this year to boost her legacy by visiting some particularly volatile spots around the globe. That list included Ukraine, amid the war with Russia; Taiwan, in the face of retaliatory threats from China; and most recently Armenia, where she took clear sides in a long-standing conflict with Azerbaijan.

Yet in Pelosi’s own view, her legacy will be defined by a law she helped to enact long before Russia invaded Ukraine or Trump entered the political stage: The Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, is how she wants to be remembered.

“Nothing in any of the years that I was there compares to the Affordable Care Act, expanding health care to tens of millions more Americans,” she told reporters last week. “That for me was the highlight.”