Pulling back from the ‘appalling descent’: An interview with Jan. 6 investigator Jamie Raskin

Jan. 6, 2021, was madness. Without a proper account of that day, the stain of its violence and betrayal, already indelibly etched into the national history, could continue to spread, shading and infiltrating every institution low and high until finally, this ‘great experiment’ collapses in on itself in a heap of dingy authoritarianism. 

For the last several weeks, the Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol presented its findings on the insurrection incited by former President Donald Trump now more than a year ago.

He is the only American president ever impeached for this betrayal, making him uniquely offensive since his actions obliterated the core of what the Constitution demands of presidents above all else when they take the oath: its faithful preservation and defense.

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So much of what happened on the way to Jan. 6 unfolded in public. 

Trump said long before Election Day if he lost, it was because the election was rigged. Many of his personal attorneys and members of his administration spent weeks promoting or defending wild conspiracy theories of voter fraud at press conferences, on podcasts, on the radio, or on television. This continued unabated even after the nation’s Attorney General and heads of the nation’s intelligence networks confirmed to Trump in public—and in private, as the committee showed at length this summer—that his fraud claims lacked credibility entirely. 

It was an all-out assault of disinformation and propaganda aimed at convincing the American public he was not defeated after a single term in the White House where his tenure and popularity were regularly marred by the cruelty of his policies and the consequences of his own actions, like impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Trump’s speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 was a tirade but it was also an open invitation to his most devoted followers to help him retain power by force despite losing the 2020 election popularly and by way of the Electoral College. And when the debris, blood, sweat, urine, and feces were finally cleared away from the Capitol after the mob stormed it, Trump’s second impeachment followed.

The case was, as Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told Daily Kos during an interview this week, “made almost completely with facts from the public record, and the statements and actions Trump made.”

“It was overwhelming,” Raskin said. “Although the incitement was plain to see and the violence was bloody and fresh on people’s minds, what we did not have was the detailed account of the president’s step-by-step effort to orchestrate a political coup against the election and essentially set aside Joe Biden’s seven-million-vote victory.” 

Kevin Seefried of Delaware, pictured here, was found guilty of obstruction of Congress among several other charges in June. He used the Confederate flag to jab at U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman. Goodman was the officer responsible for luring rioters away from lawmakers by mere seconds and inches. Seefried is sentenced in September.

Now, that “detailed account” has been presented to millions of Americans.

An average of 13 million broadcast viewers watched per hearing day, according to Nielsen, hearing evidence at each juncture about how Trump: 1) worked to overturn the election results by promoting a lie; 2) attempted to install his allies at the Justice Department when legal avenues to assert his victory were defeated; 3) advanced a fake elector strategy to pressure the vice president to stop Congress from certifying the count; 4) invited a crowd he understood to be armed to march to the Capitol with him during the Joint Session of Congress; and 5) abandoned his sworn duty to protect the United States by sitting idly for nearly three hours while ignoring pleas for help as a mob erected a gallows, issued calls to hang the vice president and Speaker of the House, stormed the halls of Congress and attacked hundreds of outnumbered police officers with a barrage of lethal weapons. 

During its two primetime sessions alone, a cumulative 30 million (or more) broadcast viewers heard this evidence—and then some.

Raskin told Daily Kos in April he hoped the hearings would become a way of arming the American public with the tools of “intellectual self-defense against the authoritarian and fascistic policies that have been unleashed in this country.”

”These hearings have been so devastating for Trump and his followers because they have shown everyone exactly every effort he undertook to overturn the election and the Constitutional order. And almost all of it was based on evidence brought forth by Republican witnesses,” Raskin said by phone this week.

That is true, despite what disinformation may be flowing out from right-wing platforms. 

The testimony during the hearings overwhelmingly featured Republican lawyers, judges, political commentators, election attorneys, Trump-appointed U.S. Attorneys, a Republican city commissioner, and a Trump campaign manager, to name but a few. 

”I think [the hearings] have moved the whole spectrum of public opinion closer to the facts of what actually happened. These people who were already convinced of Donald Trump’s culpability now have a lot more evidence to corroborate their initial convictions,” Raskin reflected.

“Those who were on the fence have been moved to reject the ‘Big Lie’ and to doubt the continuing efforts to undermine the reality of Biden’s victory. Those who were in Trump’s camp as true believers have begun to melt away at the margins even though many of them are still holding firm. It does not look like a promising scenario for those who continue to want Donald Trump to be the central figure of American politics,” he said.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll released this week found that the hearings may not have shaken loose many of Trump’s most fundamental supporters, but the share of unaffiliated or independent voters in the U.S. that believe the former president is responsible for the insurrection has increased significantly. And almost more importantly, those independents who held “favorable views” of Trump have continued to dip, too. Many independents are indicating they will vote for a Democrat in November.

If the Justice Department will not make it so that Trump is unable to hold office, at the least, this should be a small comfort: the hearings have manifested an even greater number of Americans who believe there is good reason to vote against a person, or persons, who would incite a deadly insurrection. 

Raskin would like to see the Justice Department take action publicly and more definitively before the midterms. He also knows that the timing of that announcement could draw ire, and that screeches of political impropiety are likely to come.  

“But the Constitution itself regards this matter with the utmost gravity,” Raskin said. “Section III of the 14th Amendment said that people who have sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and betray it by engaging in an insurrection shall never hold federal or state office again. That is a constitutional principle.”

He continued: “It’s obviously a legitimate thing for us to be talking about. But the Department of Justice and prosecutors at other levels have to make their decisions without regard to anyone’s political plans. If people had immunity from prosecution just because they were running for office, then anybody who was suspected of a crime, any crime at all, could simply announce for political office, and then they would have legal immunity. That can’t be right,” he said.”

The committee’s debut session was a year ago this month. Police who defended the Capitol testified for the first time publicly and put a personal face on the raw, frenzied violence that most Americans only witnessed from afar.  

As the months have marched on, the committee has unearthed hundreds of thousands of pages of records from the White House and elsewhere and has interviewed over 1,000 people who were directly or indirectly involved with Jan. 6. Those interviews continue. Raskin said this week the number of former Trump aides who have come forward recently are producing a “waterfall of truth.”

Attempts to stop the committee from airing its evidence have been unceasing, yet mostly unsuccessful. Those caught in the committee’s scrutiny have been unable to cast the panel as illegitimate when fighting subpoenas in court.

The committee’s work has been overwhelmingly bolstered through judicial opinions, providing an outcome that offers benefits twice over. When Judge David Carter ruled that Trump and John Eastman, the attorney who developed a six-point strategy to overturn the election, had likely engaged in a criminal conspiracy—and further that they “engaged in a coup in search of legal theory”—it set a strong precedent for Congress and upped the ante for investigations at the Justice Department. 

Carter Ruling by The Western Journal

In fact, this week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom revealed in court that the Department obtained a new search warrant to access records on John Eastman’s phone. This process has been unfolding for the last month. The home of Jeffrey Clark was also searched. Clark is the former DOJ attorney who Trump tried to install as attorney general after existing senior officials at the department refused his scheme to declare the election as false. And Clark’s underling, Ken Klukowski, is now cooperating with the DOJ’s probe into Jan. 6 in full, according to Klukowski’s lawyer, Ed Greim.  

Cassidy Hutchinson, who provided some of the most shocking public testimony this summer is cooperating with the department. During the hearings, she testified under oath that Trump knew the mob was armed—“I don’t fucking care that they have weapons, they’re not here to hurt me,’” she recalled him saying—and she disclosed that her boss, Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, sought pardons in the aftermath of the insurrection. She also disclosed information about a small battery of Republican lawmakers who sought pardons in the wake of Jan. 6.

She also divulged how the president wished to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6 after his speech, offering insight into his mindset that day. When this request was rejected, his outrage was so severe, Hutchinson said, that the former president lunged at the arm and neck of a Secret Service agent driving him.

Other witnesses have refused to cooperate under subpoena, courting contempt of Congress charges and indictments like Trump ally and strategist Steve Bannon and former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro. Bannon was found guilty on two counts and faces sentencing in October. Others, like Meadows or onetime adviser Dan Scavino, have cooperated to varying degrees and managed to evade prosecution. Other Trump-world officials have invoked their Fifth Amendment rights after being subpoenaed. Committee vice chair Liz Cheney said last month, more than 30 witnesses called before the committee invoked their right against self-incrimination. 

The most high profile of those figures are Eastman; Clark; longtime GOP operative Roger Stone; conspiracy theory hack and right-wing podcaster Alex Jones; and Michael Flynn, Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser.

In December 2020, Flynn publicly advocated for Trump to invoke martial law to rerun the 2020 election. He was also part of discussions with Trump and his attorneys where there was talk of the military seizing voting machines. He did not ultimately cooperate with the select committee, but in airing a five-minute clip of Flynn’s deposition, the committee allowed his silence to speak volumes.

When Cheney asked Flynn if he felt the violence on Jan. 6 was legally justified, he pleaded the Fifth. When she asked if he believed it was morally justified, he pleaded the Fifth. When she asked him if he believed in the peaceful transition of power in the United States, the retired three-star Army general pleaded the Fifth. 

A Capitol Police officer walks past a worker cleaning damage a day after a pro-Trump mob broke into the US Capitol.

With each day that has passed since the committee’s first-ever hearing last July, the truth continues to pour out. 

”The defense of the constitutional order and the rule of law should be something that unifies Americans across the political spectrum,” Raskin said. “Trump convinced millions of people that if your team does it, if they break the law or upend the Constitutional order, you embrace it or defend it regardless of how unlawful or criminal it is.”

“But that’s just an appalling descent for intellectual and ethical standards in American life,” Raskin said.

“When the people [who believed the Big Lie] called for ‘Justice for Trump’ they said ‘let the people decide.’ The people voted for Biden. But Trump tried to overthrow the election, so he was impeached for doing that. And we took it to trial, and at trial, they told us then, ‘don’t deal with this through impeachment, you could prosecute him if there was a crime.’ “

“Now the Department of Justice is investigating whether there is a crime, and these same people are saying, ‘you can’t prosecute him, it’s too political!’ No matter what is done, they essentially assert that Donald Trump is beyond the reach of the law and that is a profoundly anti-democratic attitude,” he said. 

One of the last battles to be waged between Trump and the truth about January 6 will very likely play out on the field of executive privilege disputes and crime-fraud exceptions where the Department of Justice, not the select committee, will lead the charge of a criminal investigation into the former president and his associates.

The Justice Department is moving at its own pace and operating mostly in stealth, but the dam seems to be breaking as more reporting now suggests the DOJ has its Jan. 6 prosecutors focused on two principal tracks: Trump’s possible orchestration of a seditious conspiracy and obstruction of a congressional proceeding and fraud.

The fraud track would stem from the fake-elector scheme and is believed to encompass the pressure campaign Trump and his allies put on officials at the DOJ to say the election was rigged and votes were fraudulently cast. 

The committee’s investigation, meanwhile, is still humming as members maneuver their way through new challenges—like what to do about a batch of deleted Secret Service text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 as well as deleted texts from the same period at the Department of Homeland Security. 

That department’s inspector general, Joseph Cuffari, the Washington Post was first to report on Friday, “scrapped” an effort to recover agency phones. In February, after learning that messages had been erased during a “planned” device reset, Cuffari reportedly decided to stop further review and collection of phones. He only this month notified the House and Senate Homeland Security committees of the “erased” texts. He was asked by the head of that committee, and various others 10 days after the insurrection to ensure all records and devices were preserved. 

Committee chairman Bennie Thompson, as well as Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who sits on a committee that oversees offices of the inspectors general, have called on Cuffari to recuse himself from the investigation. The director of the Secret Service, James Murray, announced late Friday he would waylay his planned July 31 retirement to “ensure our agency's continued cooperation, responsiveness, and full support with respect to ongoing congressional and other inquiries.” 

This is an unsettling series of developments, Raskin admits.

“This profound mystery of the Secret Service texts and what information is being masked by their disappearance is something we are all pursuing. We are invested in finding out the truth there,” he said.

The next hearing is expected in September and the committee plans to produce an interim report around the same time. A final report will follow, but meanwhile, over the next month, he said, “everyone has loose ends that they want to follow up on.”

During the course of its probe, every member of the committee has specialized in a different facet of the investigation.

Raskin’s focus was Trump’s mobilization of the mob as well as domestic violent extremist groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers. and Three Percenters. 

“There are still significant things that we are finding out that I want to pursue there,” Raskin said. “The same goes for the shakedown of the Justice Department, the attempt to coerce state election officials, and so forth. I would say each member has his or her continuing research agenda and then we have some things we consider major to the whole of the investigation we are pursuing.” 

It has been a long year already and it is not quite yet over. As for the man at the center of the probe, former President Trump, he has yet to stop his incessant spread of disinformation about the 2020 election and is poised to take another run for the White House. 

But Raskin is optimistic. 

“I’m most optimistic about the fact that the vast majority of the American people do not believe in coups, insurrections, and political violence to usurp the will of the people. There is still a profound allegiance to constitutional democracy in the country,” he said.

He is not cynical, but “sobered” around other facts.

What “sobers him,” he said, is that Republican Party, even now “remains under the spell and stranglehold of Donald Trump.” 

He continued: “They are using every anti-democratic device in the book to thwart majority rule; from voter suppression statutes to gerrymandering of our districts to the weaponization of the filibuster to the manipulation of the Electoral College.”

“We are in a race between the clear majority’s will and preference for democratic institutions and progress and the efforts to drag us back into some kind of anti-democratic past,” Raskin remarked. 

So, then, are the people now armed with the tools of “intellectual defense” they need to resist this and other aspiring tyrants to come? 

“I don't think people will fall for any more ‘Big Lies’ or disinformation for the most part,” he said.

The lawmaker reflected: “People who have been disabused of all these notions aren’t going back. But there is an important question being tested here: whether the new propaganda systems that have grown up in the internet age can actually operate like an intellectual straight-jacket? Will millions of people really be locked into a system of lies? That’s a question that is closely connected to the future of our democracy. Democracy needs a ground to stand on, and that foundation has got to be the truth.”

Cases containing electoral votes are opened during a joint session of Congress after the session resumed following protests at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, early on January 7, 2021.

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For DOJ to complete investigation into Jan. 6, it needs to destroy Trump’s privilege claims

As Kerry Eleveld reported last Friday, Steve Bannon has been found guilty on two charges of contempt of Congress and can now expect to spend some time in federal prison for his refusal to cooperate with the House select committee on Jan. 6. However, Bannon is far from the only member of Donald Trump’s White House team who has failed to show up before the committee or provide requested documents. Most of those who have so far refused are likely to avoid paying any price for hiding information behind claims of “executive privilege.”

The Department of Justice may not be all that anxious to take up these contempt cases in the name of a House committee, but that doesn’t mean the department doesn’t want those Trump officials to testify. Those same figures are critical to the Department of Justice’s own investigation into the conspiracy behind events on Jan. 6, 2021. 

To clear the way for testimony from everyone up to and including Trump, the Department of Justice first has to clear the privilege issue off the board. Trump has made extensive use of the privilege card ever since entering the White House, and that certainly didn’t stop when he left. So far, the Justice Department has been careful to navigate around privilege issues in its interviews with former members of Team Trump, but for the investigation to get serious, that has to end.

As CNN reports, the Department of Justice is “confronting the privilege issue with care.” Attorney General Merrick Garland made a very welcome statement last week in which he finally made it clear that no one, including Trump, was clear of potential charges related to the attempted coup. But so far the department doesn’t seem to have pressed witnesses to provide what they consider to be privileged information, which in this case appears to be any direct communication with Trump. 

This is not how executive privilege is supposed to work. In past cases, claims of privilege have required just that: a claim from the White House asserting privilege over specific written or spoken communications. But throughout his time in Washington, Trump made extensive and expansive claims of privilege, not only refusing to cooperate in matters related to his two impeachments, but instructing officials to refuse to release even routine information. In almost all cases, White House officials refused to say that Trump was officially asserting privilege, and Trump refused to comment. There was just a broad claim of undefined privilege, which in some cases was extended to junior officials who never came close to talking with Trump. 

Such blanket claims of privilege leave the Department of Justice facing a dilemma when it comes to investigating the events of Jan. 6 and the other ways in which Trump attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

There’s no doubt now that the Department of Justice is deep into an investigation of actions by many members of the White House, including former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, attorney John Eastman, and attorney Rudy Giuliani. In recent days, a federal grand jury has heard testimony from false electors who were encouraged to take part in Trump’s scheme, as well as Marc Short and Greg Jacob who were, respectively, chief of staff and lead counsel to Mike Pence. 

Trump’s efforts to extend privilege to new levels have already met with some defeats in court, most notably when he was forced to hand over a large tranche of documents that he had sought to protect at Mar-a-Lago and was required to release other documents held by the National Archives. But the broader case of exactly how much right Trump has to protect his conversations after he has left office remains unsettled law. 

There are good reasons to believe that the answer to how much privilege Trump now enjoys is none, and that practically every conversation that Trump had regarding Jan. 6, even those with his personal attorneys, would fail any reasonable test of privilege because these statements were directly related to a conspiracy to commit a serious crime. That would be completely in line with how courts ruled during Ken Starr’s prolonged investigation into the Clinton White House. 

But if the Department of Justice plans to cut through Trump’s privilege claims, it had better get cracking. A Department of Justice inquiry into a member of Clinton’s Cabinet took two years to obtain a final ruling. 

Jan. 6 committee conducting interviews with Trump Cabinet officials

In the wake of the insurrection, there was a reported flurry of conversation among members of former President Donald Trump’s Cabinet about whether he should be removed from office by way of the 25th Amendment. Now the Jan. 6 committee is conducting interviews with some of those officials as investigators pursue more information about what unfolded around Trump after the attack.

According to reporting first from ABC, the committee has now interviewed former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and plans to interview former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before the week is out.

Mick Mulvaney, who parlayed his job as Trump’s acting chief of staff to become the special envoy for Ireland, is also reportedly meeting with the panel on Thursday. 

Exactly six days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the House of Representatives passed a resolution 223-205 urging then-Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

At the time, Pence said he did not believe this course of action was “in the best interest of our nation or consistent with the Constitution,” and he dubbed the resolution a “political game.” He also issued his refusal to invoke the 25th Amendment before the House had even completed its vote. 

That “game” Pence worried about, however, was reportedly one that some members of Trump’s inner circle had already considered playing. 

In ABC reporter Jonathan Karl’s book, Betrayal, he described a conversation between then-Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and then-Secretary of State Pompeo. Pompeo, Karl reported, sought out “legal analysis” on how the 25th Amendment could be applied and how fast it might work. 

Washington, D.C., was heavily reeling from the Capitol assault. Yet during an appearance on MSNBC last November, Karl said the 25th Amendment talks were quickly nipped in the bud once officials learned the process could be a lengthy one and potentially complicated by the fact that members of Trump’s Cabinet had resigned after Jan. 6, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 

It was reported Thursday that both DeVos and Chao are figures of interest to Jan. 6 investigators, too, and that they may also be asked to cooperate. 

DeVos stepped down 24 hours after the attack and told USA Today this June that she was part of conversations where the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment with other members of Trump’s Cabinet was discussed. 

In a portion of his testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, former White House attorney Pat Cipollone told investigators that former Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia wanted members of the Cabinet to meet 24 hours after the insurrection. Scalia said he asked for the meeting because he felt “trying to work within the administration to steady the ship” would be better than watching more resignations roll in. 

Pompeo has historically denied that he was part of any conversation after Jan. 6 where invoking the 25th Amendment came up.  

DeVos’ recent interview undercuts that claim. 

“I spoke with the vice president and just let him know I was there to do whatever he wanted and needed me to do or help with, and he made it very clear that he was not going to go in that direction or that path,” DeVos said of Pence on June 9. “I spoke with colleagues. I wanted to get a better understanding of the law itself and see if it was applicable in this case. There were more than a few people who had those conversations internally.”

DeVos said when she realized invoking the 25th Amendment against Trump was not a viable path forward, she tendered her resignation. She has not outwardly blamed Trump for Jan. 6, but she told USA Today she “didn’t see the president step in and do what he could have done to turn it back or slow it down or really address the situation.” 

Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified to the Jan. 6 committee that discussions of removing Trump with the 25th Amendment were flowing after the mob laid siege to the Capitol. Trump had spent three hours watching the mob attack without strongly condemning the violence or taking concerted action to stop it. When he finally delivered a speech in the Rose Garden that afternoon, and only after multiple people had died and much blood had been shed, he proclaimed “we love you” to his supporters before asking them to go home. 

The next day, officials at the White House pushed to have Trump deliver a speech. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the committee under oath that the plan for the Jan. 7 speech mostly went into effect because people inside the White House were terrified of two things: the mounting criticism that Trump didn’t do enough and that the 25th Amendment would be invoked.

“The secondary reason to that [speech] was that, ‘think about what might happen in the final 15 days of your presidency if we don’t do this, there’s already talks about invoking the 25th Amendment, you need this as cover,’” Hutchinson said. 

According to CNN, the committee is also seeking testimony from John Ratcliffe, a former Republican congressman from Texas who vehemently defended Trump during Trump’s first impeachment inquiry for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power as well as during special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference of the 2016 election.

Ratcliffe, despite a woeful lack of experience, ended up confirmed by the GOP-majority Senate to serve as Director of National Intelligence. His appointment was a rollercoaster. Trump first nominated him to serve in the role in August 2019, but Ratcliffe didn’t have support in the Senate. He also didn’t have widespread support in the intelligence community. A review of his record by investigative reporters at ABC revealed that Ratcliffe had exaggerated claims of his involvement in anti-terrorism efforts as well as illegal immigration crackdowns.

Chad Wolf, once the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, and his former deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, are in reported talks to meet with investigators, as well. 

Both Wolf and Cuccinneli were asked to cooperate with the probe voluntarily last October.

Wolf was once much adored by Trump. He began to lead the Department of Homeland Security after then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in April 2019. Despite Nielsen’s overt willingness to enforce any number of Trump’s cruel immigration policies during her tenure, she wasn’t enough of a toady for the 45th president, and he slammed her in the press as an ineffectual before she resigned. When she finally stepped down, Kevin McAleenan, then the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, filled her slot. McAleenan resigned in November 2019. 

Those transitions were riddled with problems, however.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would later reveal, after its own independent assessment of DHS, that both Nielsen and McAleenan altered or amended internal policies on lines of succession at the department. DHS pushed back on the report when it went public but Wolf ultimately stayed in place with Trump’s full support. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee as well as the Jan. 6 committee, said the succession rules were altered in haste so Trump’s “ideologues” could bypass typical Senate confirmation procedure. 

Thompson had good reason to feel this way. In a February 2019 interview with CBS’ Face the Nation, Trump acknowledged that he enjoyed lording over acting officials versus those who had to go through more rigorous congressional approval.

"I like acting because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility," @realDonaldTrump told @margbrennan, asked about the several acting secretaries in his cabinet https://t.co/sdD5GWRNvo pic.twitter.com/87DX97JMe2

— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) February 3, 2019

Mulvaney, who meets with the committee Thursday, should cooperate without much trouble, if history is any indicator. Though he was a fierce defender of Trump’s during his tenure with the administration, after Jan. 6, Mulvaney became a more vocal critic. 

“You don't get to where you got to yesterday with something that's normal. That's not normal for any citizen, let alone a president of the United States,” Mulvaney said on Jan. 7 when facing questions about whether Trump should be removed through the 25th Amendment.

Since then, Mulvaney has thrown his support behind those Trump officials who have come forward to testify, including Hutchinson. 

The Jan. 6 committee is expected to continue its probe in the weeks ahead, and chairman Thompson has said that additional hearings will be held in September.  

Trump White House lawyer Pat Cipollone to meet with Jan. 6 probe

Fresh off a subpoena requesting his cooperation, former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone is slated to testify before the Jan. 6 committee for a private, transcribed, and videotaped interview.

A committee aide did not immediately respond to a Daily Kos request for comment. The New York Times was the first to report the development Wednesday, citing a person briefed on the matter. 

Cipollone’s full compliance could be illuminating for the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. According to sworn testimony already delivered by former members of the Department of Justice under Trump, as well as Trump White House officials, Cipollone was often a firsthand witness to make-or-break moments in Trump’s attempted coup. 

RELATED STORY: Pat Cipollone’s chance to serve the country—not Trump—is now, Jan. 6 probe demands in subpoena

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Cipollone was privy to multiple conversations about the bunk elector scheme championed by Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, witnesses have said, and Cipollone was also present when Trump raised the question of seizing voting machines.

The former president’s counsel attended a meeting recently detailed at length—and under oath—by the nation’s former acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and Rosen’s deputy, Richard Donoghue.

Rosen and Donoghue testified that it was Cipollone who stood tall against Trump in the Oval Office during a meeting where Trump nearly fired Rosen and replaced him with yes-man Jeffrey Clark, a mid-level environmental lawyer at the Department of Justice who strongly supported Trump’s baseless election fraud claims.

Like Cipollone, Clark was subpoenaed by the committee. But Clark refused to answer any questions and instead pleaded the Fifth Amendment repeatedly during a private meeting with committee counsel.  

When Rosen and Donoghue testified, they described how the draft letter written by Clark rattled off a long series of bogus claims about election fraud in Georgia and urged that “alternate” electors be seated.

Rosen’s predecessor, Attorney General Bill Barr, had already declared publicly and in private meetings with Trump, that there was no evidence of fraud widespread enough that it would alter the outcome of the election. But Clark, Rosen and Donoghue said, pushed ahead anyway. 

When Cipollone saw the draft letter, Donoghue told the committee he remembered the counsel’s reaction vividly. 

If the DOJ cosigned it, Cipollone allegedly said, it would be a “murder-suicide pact.”

The draft letter never went out because Donoghue, Rosen, and others at the Department of Justice threatened to resign en masse if Trump insisted on replacing Rosen with Clark. 

According to sworn testimony already provided by former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, Cipollone was also part of key conversations with Mark Meadows, then Trump’s chief of staff. 

Hutchinson said Cipollone pleaded with Meadows to act as the mob grew larger, gallows were erected on the Capitol lawn and chants of ‘Hang Mike Pence’ reverberated on Capitol grounds. 

Hutchinson recalled Cipollone telling Meadows how desperate the situation had become on Jan. 6 and urged Meadows to understand that the mob was quite literally calling to kill then-Vice President Mike Pence.

“You heard him, Pat,” Hutchinson recalled Meadows saying. “He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”

According to Hutchinson's recounting of the day, Cipollone was flabbergasted.

“This is f-ing crazy. We need to be doing something more,” Cipollone allegedly said. 

Cipollone has been a stalwart ally to Trump, representing the 45th president for both of his impeachments and in various other legal matters. When Trump was impeached for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power in 2019, Cipollone offered a vehement and sharp defense of Trump, taking up the “witch hunt” mantle at length and slamming the inquiry as meritless and part of a campaign by Democrats and those on the left to punish Trump for political differences. 

When Trump was impeached the first time, Cipollone notably called for cameras to be barred from proceedings, arguing it would create a circus-like atmosphere. The cameras would stay. 

Trump was ultimately quite pleased with Cipollone’s performance during the first impeachment, calling him a “Great White House counsel.” 

This latest decision to comply with the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena will put Trump’s relationship with Cipollone to the test and the extent of Cipollone’s cooperation will naturally hinge on what he actually discloses. 

When Trump attorney John Eastman tried to fend off the committee’s subpoena for his records, Eastman cited attorney-client privilege but was unable to overcome the crime-fraud exception to this assertion. The crime-fraud exception essentially says that confidentiality is not blanketed and if a client sought advice from an attorney that would help that client pull off or commission a crime, then work product or correspondence can be disclosed. 

A Washington Post profile of Cipollone from Jan. 2020 notes the counsel’s propensity to keep himself out of the national spotlight.

His profile was so low in Washington, D.C., in fact, that when Cipollone first took to the Senate floor during Trump’s impeachment, it was his first time ever appearing on C-SPAN.

Memorably, even while presiding over the inquiry, Chief Justice John Roberts introduced Cipollone and mispronounced his last name. 

TODAY: Cipollone's first time on C-SPAN. Sekulow's 44th time on C-SPAN (first in 1990 ... 1991 below) pic.twitter.com/XbWVBCJ5ek

— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) January 21, 2020

 Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal attorneys, told Yahoo! News in January 2020 that Cipollone was a “serious tactician” and described him as an “aggressive advocate” for the 45th president though “measured.”

In that same 2020 article, an unnamed Trump White House official said Trump saw Cipollone as “beyond loyal.” 

Cipollone will appear before the committee for his private session this Friday.

The committee’s next public hearing is July 12 at 10 AM ET and there will be at least one more hearing to follow. The committee is expected to focus on the extremist elements involved in the insurrection as well as unpack exactly what was going on during the 187 minutes of silence from the White House as the Capitol was under attack. 

Retiring Sen. Toomey: Trump ‘disqualified himself’ and GOP will have ‘stronger candidate’ in 2024

Why is it that, with a few notable exceptions, prominent Republicans almost always wait until they’re on their way out the door to slag off Donald Trump? They’re like B-movie ninjas who attack an enemy one at a time. Or, perhaps more accurately, they’re like doctors who watch the mole on your back gradually morph into a Rorschach blot over the course of six years before telling you, on the eve of their retirement, that you should probably think about getting that looked at.

Sen. Pat Toomey is one of these folks. While he voted to convict Donald Trump following his second impeachment (though not after the first)—and never really warmed up to the ocher arschloch during his reign of whatever-that-was—Toomey had already announced his retirement when he voted to dump Trump into the dustbin of history. So while his impeachment vote was more courageous than his compatriots’ votes to acquit, it wasn’t like he was risking his political future or anything.

That said, he's making his position perfectly clear before he rides off into the sunset to work at some noxious conservative think tank that will craft an elegant intellectual rationalization—based on time-honored Jeffersonian principles—for pushing Medicare recipients out to sea on ice floes.

But to his credit, he thinks Trump is garbage. Just listen to his very measured and dispassionate case, which he relayed toward the end of a recent Bloomberg TV interview:

Sen. Pat Toomey (R) Pennsylvania: “He disqualified himself from serving in public office by virtue of his post-election behavior.” He also thinks the Republican Party will have a stronger candidate than Donald Trump in the next presidential election https://t.co/qlvvI3zrft pic.twitter.com/qp32wpfbiz

— Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) June 30, 2022

TOOMEY: “I think he disqualified himself from serving in public office by virtue of his post-election behavior, especially leading right up to Jan. 6. I think the revelations from this committee make his path to even the Republican nomination much more tenuous. Never say never, and he decides whether to throw his hat in the ring, but I think we’ll have a stronger candidate.”

Okay, it’s nice of him to state the obvious and everything, but how about showing some urgency? How about dropping napalm like GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are doing? Maybe he could out his fellow Republican senators who agree with him but are too craven to admit it lest Trump’s preternaturally wee Chucky Doll hands “Truth” out some scarcely comprehensible, ungrammatical, ALL-CAPS DIATRIBES to his flying monkeys in the heartland. It’s not like the future of our democracy is at stake or anything! Hello! McFly! 

Donald Trump is not more powerful than every single member of the GOP combined. They didn’t need the revelations from the House Jan. 6 committee to sink him. They could have done that literally dozens of times over the past year and a half by closing ranks with whatever pro-democracy forces managed to crawl out of the smoldering wreckage of Jan. 6.

But, well, a mealy closing statement about the GOP having “better candidates” than Trump is something, isn’t it? It’s not much, but it’s something

Of course the party has better candidates. No one on the face of God’s green globule could be a worse candidate. But what exactly are you going to do about it once you’re out of Congress, Toomey? Fire off a handful of press releases and call it a day?

We are at a crossroads. One fork of the road leads to Putin-style fascism, the other to a healthier and happier democracy that can continue to thrive on a planet that will at most be half Mad Max hellscape if we manage to reverse course in time.

The Republicans who know better—and I’d like to think there are a lot more than just Cheney, Toomey, and Kinzinger who do—need to do their sworn duty to our Constitution, or it will eventually be worth less than Donald Trump thinks it is.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

Pat Cipollone’s chance to serve the country—not Trump—is now, Jan. 6 probe demands in subpoena

Pat Cipollone had what one former member of the Justice Department described last week to the Jan. 6 committee as “an impossible job” serving the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. 

But Cipollone was “consistent” and “did that job well,” Richard Donoghue, once the second-in-command to former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, testified.

Cipollone “always sided with the department” and did so even as Trump pushed to overturn the results of the 2020 election by attempting to install crony Jeffrey Clark into the attorney general role.

This was a necessary step in a greater plan to have Clark send a letter to swing states falsely informing them their election results were fraudulent and directing them to appoint Trump’s fake electors.

Cipollone, however, appeared to know a bad deal when he saw it three days before the insurrection during a meeting at the White House with Rosen, Donoghue, Office of Legal Counsel head Richard Engel, Clark, and Trump. 

Cipollone rejected Clark’s letter and the plan underpinning it as a “murder-suicide pact,” Donoghue told the committee publicly last week. 

When the mob finally ensued on Jan. 6, according to testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, the one-time aide to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, it was Cipollone who pleaded with a despondent Meadows as a gallows was being erected on the Capitol lawn. 

“They are literally calling for the vice president to be f-ing hung,” Hutchinson recalled Cipollone telling the president’s chief of staff.

Meadows replied, saying of then-Vice President Mike Pence, “You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”

Cipollone, Hutchinson said under oath, was, in this terrifying moment, at a loss. 

“This is f-ing crazy, we need to be doing something more,” Hutchinson recalled Cipollone saying. 

Now, the Jan. 6 committee wants Cipollone to do something more, and it has issued a subpoena for his deposition by July 6.

Cipollone Subpoena From Jan 6 Cmte by Daily Kos on Scribd

Cipollone’s testimony would be significant for the investigation into the Capitol attack and Trump’s bid to overturn the election results. It would perhaps be some of the most significant testimony to emerge because it would likely expose the former president’s overt role in the insurrection even more directly. 

He sat previously for the committee in April, but he was not under oath and the meeting was not transcribed. He appeared with Patrick Philbin, another Trump White House attorney who once joined him to defend Trump against impeachment.

The subpoena now forces Cipollone to decide what he will say under oath and what he will leave under possible attorney-client privilege or executive privilege with the former president. 

Cipollone, according to Hutchinson, was one of the few voices of reason surrounding Trump on Jan. 6, even explicitly warning him and others in the president’s orbit that if he went to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse, “we’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable.” 

He was at meetings where the question of seizing voting machines was raised, and he was there when not just Donoghue, Engel, and Rosen’s resignations were threatened if Trump insisted on installing Clark, but when Bill Barr, Rosen’s predecessor, offered to quit because he would not declare there was election fraud where none existed. 

Cipollone threatened to resign in the runup to Jan. 6 often, according to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser.

Kushner testified before the probe in recorded deposition and told committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney he chalked up Cipollone’s threats to resign as mere “whining.”

Cheney has publicly called on Cipollone to testify before the committee multiple times and has framed the request in a way that would possibly curry public trust around him.

“Our evidence shows that Mr. Cipollone and his office tried to do what was right,” Cheney remarked during a recent hearing.

But according to the letter notifying him of the subpoena, Cipollone has declined to cooperate since April. And this subpoena is among the last-resort options barring something more extreme down the road, like holding him in contempt.

If he were to sit now, it would be under closely negotiated terms with counsel present. 

In a statement Wednesday, Thompson and Cheney noted, however: ”Any concerns Mr. Cipollone has about the institutional prerogatives of the office he previously held are clearly outweighed by the need for his testimony."  

The Republican Party long ago missed its chance to distance itself from Trump. Now it’s far too late

With her jaw-dropping testimony before the House select committee on Jan. 6, former assistant to the White House chief of staff Cassidy Hutchinson has given Republicans an opportunity: Get out the 17.5-foot poles and push Donald Trump as far away as they can while there is still a chance. Hutchinson’s testimony, showing that the man who is petty, spiteful, mean, and cruel on stage, turns out to be even more petty, spiteful, mean, and cruel in private, is to Republicans what Jan. 6 was to Trump’s seditious conspiracy: a last chance.

On the day after Jan. 6, Republican “leaders” like Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell were adamant in renouncing both the assault on the Capitol and the man who drove the mob into the halls of Congress. McCarthy was quoted as saying, “I’ve had it with this guy” after telling a group of Republican representatives that he would push for Trump to resign. McConnell also told fellow Republicans that Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6 attack and vowed to “drive him from politics.”

But within days, McCarthy hurried down to Mar-a-Lago, begging the forgiveness of Trump and denying he’d ever said anything about trying to remove him from office. A position made only slightly more awkward by recordings of McCarthy doing exactly that. 

Now Republicans have another chance to walk away from Trump. Don’t expect them to take it. Because it’s too late.

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Once upon a time, in the Pre-Trumpian age that now seems so far away, but was really just 2016, Republicans up and down the dial were readily aware that Donald Trump was in no sense qualified for high office, and that even putting him on the ballot as the Republican nominee was absolutely ridiculous.

There was Marco Rubio saying, “We’re about to have someone take over the Republican Party who is a con artist” (and Rubio should know). Rubio also called Trump the most “vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency” and someone “who has fed into language that basically justifies physically assaulting people who disagree with you.” 

Ted Cruz called Trump, “utterly amoral,” “a pathological liar,” and “a narcissist at a level that I don't think this country has ever seen.” Repeating … Ted Cruz said this.

And of course, Lindsey Graham was there to say that Trump was, “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn't represent my party.” 

"You know how you make America great again?,” asked Graham. “Tell Donald Trump to go to hell."

Then every single one of these leaders showed that they had feet, not of clay, because clay has much more consistency than anything demonstrated by these men. Watery mud, at best. 

The Republican Party might have tried to hold itself separate from Trump’s white nationalist kleptocratic authoritarian agenda. It didn’t. It might have broken with Trump when the first impeachment hearings revealed how he attempted to bully Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into generating false evidence against Joe Biden in exchange for the weapons it needed to hold back Russia. It didn’t. It might have broken away from Trump at a hundred different points, before, during, and after Jan. 6. It didn’t. 

Every day Republicans have had an option: Take their lumps for supporting Trump, and try to save what remains of their party. Instead, they’ve picked door number two—the one where they pull out a spade and dig the hole even deeper. Every day they’ve made the bet that wading further into the swamp is the better alternative—even though they’ve watched the waters close over the heads of so many former party stalwarts.

Last night in Illinois, Mary Miller beat out Rodney Davis for the nomination in the 15th congressional district on the sole basis of being the most willing to do anything, anything, anything, that Donald Trump says. It’s a story that has been repeated so many times in the last five years. What’s left of the Republican Party to save at this point? There’s no version of Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene that is not just about being proxies for Trump. Ditto Josh Hawley, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, et. al. 

If Republicans stepped away from Trump, who would lead that charge? McCarthy? Graham? Cruz? Any of them might have preserved something of a dry place to stand that they could leverage now. But they didn’t. There’s maybe Mitt Romney and maybe half a dozen members of the House who have made it through the last four years like kids hunched down at the back of the class, hoping that the teacher would never, ever call on them. The only other Republicans who haven’t groveled at a level that embarrasses earthworms have either lost their seats, retired, or are about to.

Republicans should be thanking Cassidy Hutchinson for this fresh opportunity to declare that they didn’t know Trump was that bad. Because, beyond the ketchup on the walls and the grabbing for the wheel, what Hutchinson made dead obvious was that Donald Trump acted to make sure that his supporters at the Capitol were armed and that he intended to lead their assault on Congress personally. He wanted to be on hand to direct the people chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” which was music to his ears.

There are going to be charges of seditious conspiracy. A number of people are going to go to jail. What’s left of the Republican Party can either take this opportunity to bail on Trump or double down on the destruction of democracy.

Expect them to choose door number two. Again.

Republicans shocked to find that refusing to be on Jan. 6 committee means not being on committee

On Wednesday, multiple Republicans, including Donald Trump, expressed their dissatisfaction with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy over how he has handled the House select committee on Jan. 6. On Thursday, as the committee prepares to air its next hearing, the “blame McCarthy” message seems to just keep expanding. One thing is absolutely clear: Republicans can see that the series of public hearings are devastatingly effective.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed McCarthy that she would not seat either Rep. Jim Jordan or Rep. Jim Banks on the committee because both were likely to be sought as witnesses because of their involvement in the Jan. 6 conspiracy, McCarthy made an immediate response. Rather than appoint replacements, McCarthy reacted by withdrawing his three other nominees to the committee and refusing to cooperate. The intention from McCarthy was to create the impression that the select committee was, as Trump repeatedly claims, “a partisan witch hunt.” However, McCarthy could not stop Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from participating.

In spite of the continuing cries on the right that the committee is “partisan” and “slanted,” it’s obvious Republicans can see the effect the public hearings are having. Day by day, the committee has reminded the public of the violence committed on Jan. 6. It has shown how white supremacist militias were involved in planning and promoting that violence. In the most recent hearings, the committee has begun the process of unfolding the conspiracy, led by Trump, that hoped to use Jan. 6 as a means of subverting a national election.

The effectiveness of those hearings can be directly measured in the scorn now being heaped on McCarthy.

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It’s not as if total noncooperation was an idea original to McCarthy. Refusal to cooperate and forcing House committees to go to court to get the most trivial documents that are usually handed over as a matter of course was standard operating procedure during the Trump White House. That noncooperation has continued as Trump has made it clear he doesn’t want any of his insiders testifying before the select committee on Jan. 6.

However, as The New York Times now reports, pro-Trump Republicans have discovered that since McCarthy cut them out off the committee, they have, shockingly, been cut out of the committee. That is, they haven’t been privy to the inner workings of the investigation or had any clarity on how the committee staff was building the case against Trump and his supporters. That’s left them open to surprises in terms of documents and testimony turned up in the investigation.

The absence of Trump-defenders on the committee has become exceedingly obvious during the public hearings, as the testimony of witnesses has not been hijacked or sidetracked as it frequently was during the House impeachment hearings. Witnesses to Jan. 6 violence have not been asked to give their opinion on Hunter Biden’s laptop, to discuss how President Joe Biden is responsible for high gas prices, or about anything related to Hillary Clinton. And Republicans are suddenly regretting that.

As The Washington Post notes, McCarthy is still instructing Republicans to simply ignore the hearings until they go away. Except a few Republicans seemed to have removed their heads from holes long enough to note that people are watching these hearings and seeing things that are not so good for Republicans. And especially not good for Trump.

That’s why Trump is said to be at “the point of about to scream at the TV” and why he has been going on right-wing media to complain that McCarthy made “a very, very foolish decision.” Not only does this information highlight the growing rift between Trump and McCarthy, it also provides the satisfying knowledge that Trump is sitting down at Mar-a-Lago, watching the hearings and fuming.

As he watches, Trump is complaining that there is no one to defend him. Blame for that lack is “falling squarely on McCarthy’s shoulders.” 

Elsewhere in the Post, a new Quinnipiac poll shows that 26% of Americas say they are watching the hearings very closely, while 32% say they are watching somewhat closely. In that poll, 64% of Americans also say they believe the Jan. 6 attack was planned, rather than spontaneous. 

As Politico notes, Republicans are now finding themselves in an uncomfortable schism between Trump, who multiple sources indicated intends to run again in 2024, and McCarthy, who hopes to replace Pelosi as House speaker after the fall midterms. The hearings are already hurting them both, but the growing rancor against McCarthy is making things worse.

Trump has refused to endorse McCarthy for the speaker position. And Republicans like Jim Jordan, who is regarded as an ally of McCarthy but a disciple of Trump, is finding there is no safe ground in this fight. Trump is reportedly “leaving room to turn on McCarthy if he chooses.” 

Considering the public statements he’s already making, the question should be if Trump chooses to turn on McCarthy more

However, one thing is certain: If Republicans didn’t see these committee hearings as effective, McCarthy wouldn’t be getting criticism. If they thought the hearings were really being viewed as partisan, or that Americans weren’t paying attention, McCarthy would be collecting praise.

And it’s not as if there haven’t been plenty of Republicans in the committee hearings. They’ve been in there every day, testifying to how Donald Trump pressured them, threatened them, and terrorized them in an effort to overturn a federal election.

As public hearings hammer home Trump’s conspiracy, Republicans have an answer: Blame Kevin

On Tuesday, the nation heard incredibly compelling testimony about the pressure placed on state and local officials by Donald Trump in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. As Brandi Buchman reported, the testimony showed how Trump personally leaned on these officials, how his bullying opened both them and their families to threats, and how Trump was at the center of a scheme to subvert democracy using a slate of fake electors in multiple states.

Tuesday’s testimony was only the latest in a series of hearings in which the public has seen new information about events on Jan. 6. In those hearings, the House select committee has been working backwards. They started by showing the violence of the assault on the Capitol. Then they showed how Trump recruited white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys to his cause. Then how Trump and his legal team concocted a fictional narrative about voting fraud. Tuesday was the first day dedicated to Trump’s efforts to make that plan reality. 

If it seems familiar, it’s because what the select committee is doing is what the prosecution does at every murder trial: Show the jury a body on the ground, identify the weapon, then prove who was wielding the knife. They’re giving the nation the body of the crime, the tools enlisted to make it happen, and both motive and means of execution. 

And now Republicans are sorry. Not sorry that Jan. 6 happened—sorry that they didn’t corrupt the select committee when they had the chance.

Over at Punchbowl News, there’s a feeling from Republicans that, horror of horrors, the committee is doing a good job. That is, they’ve put together convincing evidence and the presentations to the public have been convincing. Republicans “won’t admit it openly” but in private, they’re fretting over how the committee has created a “blistering portrayal of former President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat following the 2020 elections” and the steps Trump took to overturn the results. And, as happens on almost every occasion, Republicans are looking for the most important thing in any crisis situation: someone to blame. 

It can’t be Trump, because as Lindsey Graham made clear, they’re all terrified of Trump. They love that little frisson of terror they get at the mere mention of his name.

So the finger of blame seems to be pointing at the guy who had the chance to turn this committee into an absolutely ineffective, watered down, good-people-on-both-sides farce, but passed up that opportunity: House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. 

Just over one year ago, Republicans in the Senate filibustered a bill to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate Jan. 6. As Laura Clawson reported at the time, Democrats made “huge concessions” concerning the makeup of the committee and limits of the investigation in an effort to address concerns expressed by Republicans. It was enough to get 35 House Republicans on board, but in the Senate only six Republicans were willing to go along, and a smirking Mitch McConnell led the filibuster to halt an investigation into crimes that were then only four months in the past. 

A month later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi handed McCarthy the outline for the current select committee, giving him the opportunity to appoint Republican members. McCarthy might have chosen to take it seriously, but he didn’t. Instead he promptly picked Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, both of whom McCarthy knew would be sought as witnesses for direct involvement in the Jan. 6 conspiracy.

When Pelosi rejected this attempt to knee-cap the committee, McCarthy had a list of literally hundreds of Republicans to choose from. He might have saddled the committee with any of a number of cynical old hands or hard-charging MAGA freshmen, either of which could have served to turn every session in the committee into the kind of “where is Hunter Biden’s notebook?” madness seen during Trump’s impeachment hearings.

Every public hearing, if there even were public hearings, could have been subject to lengthy diatribes about Benghazi and demands that they subpoena the grandkids of Hugo Chavez. Republicans could have done what Republicans do in defense of Trump: Throw up smokescreens, erupt in faux outrage, and use up committee time making regular statements about how the whole investigation was “a witch hunt.”

Only McCarthy didn’t do that. Refused his first choice of sleeveless wrestling shower guy, McCarthy decided that he wouldn’t name anyone at all, leaving Pelosi the opportunity to select Liz McCarthy and Adam Kinzinger from the very short list of Republicans who were not willing to crown a game show host as America’s king.

Now, as that committee wades into Trump with one punch to the gut after another, Republicans are coming to the consensus that it was McCarthy who screwed this up. That consensus includes Trump.

Trump: “I think in retrospect [McCarthy should’ve put Republicans on] to just have a voice. The Republicans don’t have a voice. They don’t even have anything to say. … “I think it would’ve been far better to have Republicans [on the panel]. [Jim Banks and Jim Jordan] were great. They were great and would’ve been great to have them. But when Pelosi wrongfully didn’t allow them, we should’ve picked other people. We have a lot of good people in the Republican Party.”

This is a trial at which Trump has refused to testify and done everything he possibly can to keep all the others involved in the conspiracy from raising their right hand. And the truth is that every Republican in Washington, D.C., and Mar-a-Lago thought McCarthy had done the right thing at the time, because “illegitimate witch hunt” was a well-established theme they could sell to Trump’s base.

Except Trump’s base isn’t watching the committee hearings. Everyone else is. And Trump is discovering that when you’re on trial for attempting to murder democracy, refusing to put on a defense isn’t a great strategy.

Expect the “blame Kevin” chorus to only grow louder. After all, “scapegoat” is McCarthy’s dedicated role.

MTG touts climate change ‘benefits’ while bizarrely claiming no one can see Jan. 6 video footage

You may not have heard of Right Side Broadcasting Network, and if that’s the case—congratulations! You live a rich, full life unadulterated by brain weevils. Obviously, you’re not part of the network’s target demographic, which appears to consist almost entirely of Scott Baio getting shambolically drunk on Boone’s Farm.

But what the network lacks in gravitas it more than makes up for in goofy-ass displays of meretricious nonsense. Enter the ever-benighted Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia’s modest contribution to our slow-rolling apocalypse.

In a recent interview with RSBN’s Brian Glenn, Greene was so gobsmackingly weird, for a moment I thought my Jewish space LASIK surgery was making me hallucinate.

Watch: 

“I thought the Capitol was the most secure building in our country ... There are lots of cameras, but you can’t see the video footage. I don’t know why you can’t.” — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who apparently missed the January 6th committee’s first public hearing pic.twitter.com/OSzcEZhcow

— The Recount (@therecount) June 13, 2022

Transcript!

GREENE: “My third day on the job, the Capitol gets breached and then they blame me and President Trump and many other Republican members of Congress for doing it. I was so shocked, and I’ll tell you what was so shocking, I thought the Capitol was the most secure building in our country at least.”

GLENN: “Right, with thousands of cameras.”

GREENE: “Well, there are lots of cameras, but you can’t see the video footage. I don’t know why you can’t ....”

And in case you haven’t been waterboarded recently, here’s the full hour-plus interview

So how does one respond to this? 

For one thing, there is video footage of the attack—including lots of Capitol security footage—and it’s definitely viewable to anyone who cares to look at it. For instance, there’s this NBC News video from Trump’s second impeachment, helpfully titled “Impeachment Managers Show New Graphic Security Footage Of Capitol Riot”:

Meanwhile, Greene is also convinced that humans aren’t actually hurting the planet by burning fossil fuels—we’re enhancing it! Think of it as our new, improved operating system, Earth 2.0—only without all the usual bugs. No, really. There will be no bugs. They can’t possibly survive what’s coming. Earth 2.0 will be a fungus-and-lungfish paradise, which gives MTG a fighting chance, come to think of it.

Marge Greene presents her scientific argument why global warming is a good thing: “This earth warming and carbon is actually healthy for us.” pic.twitter.com/fw5DMMeSJN

— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) June 13, 2022

Transcript:

GREENE: “We’ve already warmed 1 degree Celsius, and do you know what’s happened since then? Here, let me tell you. We have had more food grown since then, which feeds people. We are able to, producing fossil fuels, keep people’s houses warm in the winter. That saves people’s lives. People die in the cold. This Earth warming and carbon is actually healthy for us. It helps us to feed people, it helps keep people alive. … The Earth is more green than it was years and years ago, and that’s because of the Earth warming, that’s because of carbon.”

Uh huh. People do die in the cold, and those deaths are strongly correlated with both climate change and Ted Cruz wearing flip-flops in airports. Meanwhile, plenty of people also die in the heat, but never mind those jabronis.

In January 2021—with a big assist from our worst-ever president—Georgia was kind enough to gift us two Democratic U.S. senators. They also gave us this moist, quavering mound of peach tree-dish detritus.

Do better, Georgia. You can start by making wiser choices this November.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

We talk to gun control advocate and executive director of Guns Down America, Igor Volsky on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast