Republicans run into early headwinds in two critical Senate races

Last year, Senate Republicans were already feeling so desperate about their upcoming midterm prospects that they rushed to wish Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa a speedy and full recovery from COVID-19 so that he could run for reelection in 2022. The power of incumbency is a huge advantage for any politician, and Republicans were clinging to the idea of sending Grassley—who will be 89 when the '22 general election rolls around—back to the upper chamber for another six-year term.  

GOP fortunes have improved slightly since then, with historical trends improving their midterm prospects since Democrats now control the White House and both chambers of Congress. But the Senate map is still a long ways away from a gimme for Republicans, and several recent developments have brought good news for Democrats. 

The first of those is a new poll from the Des Moines Register showing that nearly two-thirds of Iowa voters (64%) believe "it's time for someone else" to hold Grassley's seat versus the 27% who want to see the octogenarian reelected to an eighth term. Women voters were especially brutal, with seven out of ten saying they were ready to give Grassley the heave-ho.

Grassley's numbers with GOP voters lagged too, with just 51% committing to supporting him again, while just 7% of Democrats and 23% of independents agreed. Grassley's overall job approval clocked in at a meager 45%; it's his lowest level since 1982.

The poll, conducted by Selzer & Co., upends Republican thinking that another Grassley run could help safeguard the seat. In fact, Grassley may be a liability in the general election, or GOP primary voters may choose an alternative. In any case, Iowa's Senate race could prove more competitive than Republicans had hoped. 

Meanwhile, the GOP primary race for North Carolina's open Senate seat has been scrambled by Donald Trump's surprise endorsement of hard-right Congressman Ted Budd, according to Politico. Following Trump's input at the state party convention earlier this month, former North Carolina governor-turned-Senate candidate Pat McCrory rushed to dismiss the endorsement as falling "flat" in the room.

Now, retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr is coming to McCrory's rescue, reportedly arguing both publicly and privately that he is "the only one in the race" who can win the seat statewide. “Pat McCrory has a commanding advantage," Burr told Politico.

Burr, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump of impeachment charges, also took a swipe at Trump's rationale, or lack thereof.

“I can’t tell you what motivates him," Burr said of Trump. "I’ve never seen individuals endorse a candidate a year before the primary. That’s unusual.”

Judging by Budd's own internal polling, Burr has a point. McCrory enjoys far higher statewide name recognition, and he's leading Budd by about two dozen points, 45%-19%. Another Republican contender, former Rep. Mark Walker, garners just 12% of the vote, with 23% still undecided. 

McCrory, who has been meeting with GOP senators to make his case, is running as an establishment Republican. Budd obviously occupies the Trump lane now. It's a scenario that could easily leave one side or the other feeling resentful depending on which Republican prevails, and any result on the GOP side could wind up depressing at least some general election turnout among Tar Heel Republicans.

But that’s the least of the GOP’s worries, according to McCrory’s camp, which is intent on catastrophizing the ultimate result of a Budd primary win.

“If Republicans want a majority in the U.S. Senate, they will nominate Pat McCrory,” said McCrory adviser Jordan Shaw. “Otherwise, Democrats are going to take this seat and keep the majority."

Republicans sink to new, amoral lows this week on everything that matters

Let's check in on this week in congressional Republicans, just a kind of check up to see how that revered institution of Joe Manchin's is doing vis-a-vis the GOP.

On Tuesday, the House passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, intended to address the rise of hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander people during the pandemic. It directs the Department of Justice to facilitate the expedited review of hate crimes and reports of hate crimes and work with state, local, and tribal law enforcement to establish reporting and data collection procedures on hate crimes. There were 62 Republican "no" votes on that bill. Rep. Chip Roy, a Texas Republican, said he voted against it because he didn't think it would work. "We can't legislate away hate," Roy said. Maybe that's why he's pro-hate of LGBTQ people.

In a related measure, 180 House Republicans refused to join Democrats in "Condemning the horrific shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16, 2021, and reaffirming the House of Representative’s commitment to combating hate, bigotry, and violence against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community." That was on Wednesday. "Some Republicans took issue with the resolution's mention of the coronavirus nicknames, and GOP leaders urged members to oppose it, according to a GOP source," reports Forbes. "Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) said in a floor speech she had 'hoped' to support it but that it's 'just another vehicle for delivering cheap shots against our former president.'"

Speaking of seditionists, 175 of them voted against the bipartisan national commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol. Among those voting against the commission was Rep. Greg Pence. He's the Republican brother of former Vice President Mike Pence. Who the mob on Jan. 6 had come to the Capitol to kill. They put up a noose and everything.

Greg Pence said that his brother was a "hero" for doing his job of coming back to certify the election after the attack. This Pence voted to overturn the election results that night. This Pence is more beholden to Trump than his own brother. "I think the whole thing is to spend the summer impeaching, again, Donald Trump," he told HuffPost. "That's all we're doing. It's a dog-and-pony show. … It's another impeachment." That's also a hell of an admission about what happened on Jan. 6, that it was all at the instigation of Trump.

While we're talking Jan. 6, check this out:

Kevin McCarthy doesn't answer a question about whether he's absolutely sure that no House Republicans communicated with January 6 insurrectionists pic.twitter.com/pntSzt7mIJ

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 20, 2021

That's House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, refusing to answer whether he knows for certain that no House Republican was in contact with the Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

While we're on the subject of seditionists, there’s Sen. Ron Johnson. On Thursday, the dumbest man in the Senate claimed that he was conducting his own investigation into Jan. 6. "I'm doing my own investigation to really accurately recreate what happened on January 6th but Nancy Pelosi's commission is not going to dig into this in any bipartisan fashion," the vacuous, dangerous idiot said on Fox News. "She gets to pick all of the staff members. This is a joke and should be voted down." That is not true. The House Republican who helped write the bill creating the commission says so. "The commission creates the rules as a team. They then hire as a team." Like facts are going to stop Johnson.

He says he "talked to people that were there," which suggests that Johnson is among those who needs to be subpoenaed about the events of that day. Anyway, he talked to them and they all said that nothing we saw in front of our very eyes that day happened. "By and large it was peaceful protests except for there were a number of people, basically agitators that whipped the crowd and breached the Capitol, and that's really the truth of what's happening here," Johnson said. Yeah. Agitators. Undoubtedly antifa and BLM. "This is all about a narrative that the left wants to continue to push and Republicans should not cooperate with them at all."

He just won't shut up. "The fact of the matter is even calling it insurrection—it wasn’t," Johnson insists. “I condemned the breach, I condemn the violence, but to say there were thousands of armed insurrectionists breaching the Capitol intent on overthrowing the government is just simply a false narrative."

The thing is, he's fundamentally speaking for the majority of the Senate Republicans. Starting at the top. Before the House voted Wednesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell announced that he will oppose the commission. Not one Republican senator, not even Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, has said they will vote for the commission. She sidestepped the question from reporters multiple times, but did say that "if" it happens, Trump should have to testify. Utah's Mitt Romney also avoided answering the question, but said that if it happens it needs to be limited in scope, that the "key thing that needs to be associated with this effort would be the attack on this building."

The reality is, Trump still owns the vast majority of Republicans. He is definitely calling the shots. Even with McConnell, who keeps pointing to the words he mouthed in defending his vote to acquit Trump for the crime of inciting the insurrection, but caved to pressure from Trump to oppose the commission.

This is what the Democrats who oppose filibuster reform—Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and Tom Carper (he's been quieter about it)—are enabling. They're refusing to cut McConnell and Johnson and all the others who are afraid to buck Trump out of the process of governing. Which means they're effectively letting McConnell and crew call the shots.

If they're not stopped, they will use their violent, amoral insurrection to steal the vote in 2022 and 2024, and make absolutely sure that Democrats never win the House, Senate, or White House again.

McConnell and Republicans can only sweep away the Jan.6 insurrection with Manchin’s help

Generations of senators who came before us put their heads down and their pride aside to solve the complex issues facing our country. We must do the same. The issues facing our democracy today are not insurmountable if we choose to tackle them together.

That's Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat arguing in a Washington Post op-ed that the filibuster must be preserved because ... reasons. Those reasons being something about how senators are better than everyone else and know better than anyone else and how dare any lesser being question that. I might be exaggerating a bit. But not much.

Manchin expanded on those deep thoughts the next day, on CNN. "January 6 changed me," Manchin said. "I never thought in my life, I never read in history books to where our form of government had been attacked, at our seat of government, which is Washington, D.C., at our Capitol, by our own people." Gosh, life-changing stuff. It must have really made him focus on how to secure our fragile democracy.

So after experiencing that life-changing day, when that institution he so reveres was attacked, and sharing it with those Republican colleagues he says are worthy of so much trust and respect, what must he think now that they're all lining up to oppose the bipartisan Jan. 6 commission? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who absolutely controls his conference, officially trashed the bill Wednesday, effectively killing it in the Senate. As long as the filibuster stands, anyway.

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"After careful consideration," (yeah, right) "I've made the decision to oppose the House Democrats slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January 6th. As everybody surely knows, I repeatedly made my views about the events of January 6th very clear. I spoke clearly and left no doubt about my conclusions," McConnell said Wednesday morning. Never mind that McConnell's remarks on Jan. 6 came when he was defending his refusal to hold Donald Trump accountable for instigating the attack by voting to convict him in an impeachment.

And never mind that the agreement reached between House Homeland Security leaders Democrat Benny Thompson and Republican John Katko is scrupulously bipartisan—to a fault, considering how much leeway it gives McConnell and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to sabotage it.

Even with that, McConnell has decided to kill the commission directly. Not just McConnell, either. Look at supposedly moderate Republican Sen. Rob Portman. "We have plenty of resources," he said Wednesday. "We had all of our investigative staff involved in both committees. They’re all cleared and up to speed… it’s faster to do something in Congress than to set up a commission where you have to get the staff hired and get them their clearances."

What about Manchin's great "moderate" friend, Sen. Susan Collins? She told reporters that she might deign to vote for it, provided that it has an artificial end date before the 2022 election year. That would give ample opportunity for McConnell and McCarthy, should it actually pass (which it won't), to drag their feet on naming commission members and ensuring that it can't even get to work before fall. They really don't want this to happen. They really don't want accountability.

They don't want to keep this from happening again.

So back to Manchin and what happened on Jan. 6 and what has happened since. Here's how it "changed" him, he wrote in that op-ed. "Our ultimate goal should be to restore bipartisan faith in our voting process by assuring all Americans that their votes will be counted, secured and protected." By not passing S. 1, the bill that would ensure every American's access to the ballot and ensure that elections are held with the highest degree of transparency and security possible. That's because he thinks the people spouting the Big Lie should be listened to, catered to.

Manchin is insisting that the rights of the rioters, the insurrectionists, and the seditionists receive equal deference to the rights of law-abiding American citizens whose votes the seditionists were trying to nullify. Seditionists who stormed the Capitol, threatening the life of then-Vice President Mike Pence and any member of Congress who crossed their path that day.

Now Republicans who aren't actively trying to rewrite the history of that day are trying to cover up what led to that day and what happened on that day, and trying to prevent a reckoning. They'll be able to do so. Joe Manchin, and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for that matter, are granting them that ability by refusing to end the filibuster.

Report: Mitch McConnell Wants A Truce With Donald Trump

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to a report in The Hill, is seeking to bury “his running feud with President Trump.”

In a discussion with reporters, McConnell (R-KY) expressed no interest in addressing fiery comments by the former President and instead is seeking to unify the Republican Party.

“What I’m concentrating on is the future and what we are confronted with here is a totally left-wing administration, with a slight majority in the House, a 50-50 Senate trying to transform America into something no one voted for last year,” he said.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SSD), McConnell’s top deputy, also refused to address Trump’s comments.

“Right now, it’s sort of a one-sided thing. The leader has no animosity and he’s made it very clear he wants to work with the president to get the majority back,” said Thune.

RELATED: Report: Mitch McConnell Signals Support For Impeachment, Says It Will Help Rid GOP Of Trump

McConnell’s Feud With Trump Began With McConnell

McConnell’s neutral stance is a far cry from early January when he was blaming Trump for the Capitol riots and expressing support for impeachment, comments which kicked the feud into high gear.

McConnell, according to a Fox News report at the time, “told associates that impeachment will help rid the Republican Party of Trump and his movement.”

Trump ravaged the GOP leader for echoing Democrat comments about the riot, issuing a statement saying McConnell is “a dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack.”

“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” he added.

Trump slammed McConnell again during a speech at Mar-a-Lago this past weekend, describing him as a “dumb son of a bitch” and a “stone-cold loser.”

McConnell and Thune, though, weren’t taking the bait.

RELATED: Mitch McConnell Says He Would Back Trump in 2024 if He Wins GOP Nomination

Is The Establishment Coming Around?

Is McConnell’s efforts to bury the feud between him and Trump a sign of an America First unity tour heading into the 2022 and 2024 elections?

Another member of the establishment wing of the GOP, Nikki Haley, seems to have done an about-face on her criticism of Donald Trump.

After originally saying Trump can’t run for federal office ever again because he’d “fallen so far,” Haley hinted she would support him by bowing out in 2024 if he decides to run.

“I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it,” Haley told reporters.

McConnell, since his comments in January, has indicated he would “absolutely” back Trump in 2024 should he win the Republican Party nomination.

poll almost immediately after the Capitol riot from Axios-Ipsos showed Republican voters overwhelmingly “siding with President Trump over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — big time.”

Perhaps the polls are the true reason Haley and McConnell want to end their feud with Trump.

 

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With a difficult midterm looming, Democrats have a short window to ban gerrymandering

After winning narrow victories to take full control of the federal government in the 2020 elections, Democrats have a fleeting opportunity to pass major legislation, with a window for action that may close in less than two years. Republicans will dominate the upcoming round of congressional redistricting, and the long-running tendency of the president's party to lose seats in midterms is well-known. But congressional Democrats can flip the script by banning partisan gerrymandering—a move that will both make elections fairer and give the party a better chance to prevail in 2022.

Republican victories in key legislative elections last year mean that the GOP is now positioned to draw new maps in states home to 38% to 46% of districts nationwide. Democrats, by contrast, will hold the cartographer’s pen in just 16% to 17% of all districts, giving the GOP an advantage of two or three to one. This disparity, combined with the threat that the increasingly right-wing Supreme Court may exacerbate the GOP's power to gerrymander within the states they control, means that, without further reforms, the congressional landscape is all but certain to remain skewed toward the GOP in 2022, following after two decades in which it already gave Republicans a large advantage.

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The House isn’t the only chamber where the playing field institutionally favors Republicans. The Senate does as well. Thanks to malapportionment and the legacy of a 19th-century GOP effort to carve out new states for partisan gain, Republicans have a major advantage in excess of their popular support. As a result, rural white voters possess disproportionate power at the expense of urban voters of color.

As our recently compiled spreadsheet illustrates, Senate Republicans have not won more votes or represented more Americans than Democrats since the late 1990s. Nevertheless, they’ve run the body just over half the time since, and this pattern of minority rule that existed continually from 2014-2020 may repeat itself next year. With more Americans increasingly voting straight tickets, it’s become almost impossible for Democrats to win the Senate unless the stars align as they did in 2018 and 2020.

The other major challenge Democrats face next year is that the president's party almost always loses a sizable number of seats in Congress in midterm elections, when opposition voters are energized to vote and the president's supporters are usually demobilized.

This dynamic has played out in every midterm since 2006, and the vast majority of them since World War II. The few exceptions include elections such as 2002, when the GOP benefited from George W. Bush’s post-9/11 surge in popularity combined with a pro-Republican shift in redistricting, or 1998, when Bill Clinton's approval rating peaked at over 60% amid the best economic growth cycle in decades and a backlash to the GOP’s impeachment efforts. Joe Biden is unlikely to benefit from such one-off factors, particularly since partisan polarization has only grown stronger in the ensuing years.

However, one mitigating factor for Democrats in 2022 is that, unlike in past midterms such as 2010 or 1994 when Democrats suffered massive downballot losses, Democrats have far fewer seats to protect that are hostile to their party at the presidential level.

In 2010, Democrats were defending 48 House seats that had voted for John McCain in 2008 and another 19 where Barack Obama won by less than his national margin. Democrats that November would go on to lose 50 of these 67 districts. The Senate story is similar: When Republicans flipped the Senate in 2014, Democrats were trying to hold seven seats in states that Obama had lost during his re-election campaign, and the GOP flipped all of them on its way to gaining nine seats that year. 

Following the 2020 elections, however, Democrats hold just seven House districts that voted for Donald Trump and another 15 that Biden won by less than his national margin of 4 points. In the Senate, none of the states that are up in 2022 went for Trump, though four backed Biden by less than his national margin.

While House Democrats are unlikely to suffer a setback anywhere near as monumental as the 63 net seats that they lost in 2010, the post-2020 Democratic majority of just 222 seats out of 435 is also much smaller than the 256 seats the party held going into the 2010 elections. A net loss of only five seats would be enough to flip the House back to Republicans, which is entirely plausible—if not likely—if 2022 proves to be a typical midterm. In the Senate, likewise, Republicans only need to capture a single seat to take back the chamber next year, compared to the six that they needed to flip in 2014.

A booming economy and an end to the pandemic may boost Democrats’ fortunes in 2022 by propping up Biden's approval rating, but the combined threats of GOP gerrymandering, Senate malapportionment, and the typical midterm penalty make Democrats the underdogs next year. Consequently, congressional Democrats must make the most of what limited time they have to pass reforms that are critical for preserving democracy from an increasingly authoritarian Republican Party.

Chief among those reforms is using Congress' constitutional powers to ban congressional gerrymandering by requiring states to adopt independent redistricting commissions and adhere to nonpartisan criteria when drawing new maps in order to promote fairness. House Democrats have passed just such a bill, the "For the People Act"—best known as H.R. 1—which also includes a historic expansion of voting access protections. But enacting it into law will require Democrats to overcome a filibuster, which means getting every Democratic senator on board with changing Senate rules.

Another critical piece of legislation that would reduce the Senate’s pro-Republican bias would be to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., which would end the disenfranchisement of 700,000 American citizens and add a heavily urban and Black state to a body that underrepresents both groups. However, D.C. statehood on its own would only give Democrats two more Senate seats at most and still leave the Senate with a large tilt toward the GOP. To level the playing field further, Democrats should also offer statehood to Puerto Rico, an idea the island voted in favor of in a referendum last year, and consider further ways to expand the chamber.

Most congressional Republicans supported Trump’s attempted coup d’etat following his defeat, underscoring that the party that controls Congress will also hold the fate of free and fair elections in its hands. It’s readily conceivable that a Republican-controlled Congress could simply reject an Electoral College results it doesn’t like in 2024, just as two-thirds of House Republicans voted to do mere hours after Trump incited an insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol.

To avoid this future of escalating autocracy, Democrats must pass serious structural reforms to our democracy while they still can. Time is short, and growing shorter.

Newt Gingrich Annihilates Pelosi For Running ‘Machine-Like House’ – ‘Total Collapse Of The Legislative Process’

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke out to blast the current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for running a “machine-like House” as she tries to force the Democratic agenda through Congress.

Gingrich Sounds Off On Democrats In The House

While appearing on New York WABC 770 AM radio’s “The Cats Roundtable” on Sunday, Gingrich said that members of the House are acting like “robots” in voting in-step with Pelosi. He added that the “machine-like” process is “a total collapse of the legislative process.”

“I think that it really tells you how the system is evolving that they’re ramming through all of this legislation,” Gingrich said of the House under Pelosi’s leadership.

He went on to add, “They have a five-vote margin, and basically, they’re saying to their members, ‘You don’t have to read anything. You don’t have to know what’s in it. We don’t have to have any hearings. You can’t offer any amendments. All you need to know is show up and vote yes.’”

Related: Newt Gingrich Eviscerates Pelosi – ‘Most Destructive Speaker In History’

Gingrich Zeroes In On Pelosi

“And It is the most machine-like House I can remember going back to Joe Cannon in around 1905. And these folks don’t represent anybody except Nancy Pelosi,” he continued. “And so, they walk in. They’re told, ‘We’re bringing up this next bill and vote yes.’ And they go, ‘Absolutely.’ And it’s a total collapse of the legislative process.”

“[T]he Democrats are expected to automatically vote yes no matter what. I mean, it’s working, but it has nothing to do with a free society or a representative government,” Gingrich added. “It’s just pure machine politics. And that to me has been probably the biggest surprise of what’s happened so far this year.”

Not stopping there, Gingrich later described Democrats in the House as “Pelosi’s robots.”

“[Y]ou’re getting an automatic, robotic, you know, sort of like Pelosi’s robots are walking out there, and they’re voting yes automatically,” he said. “If the Republicans offer an amendment — even if it’s a smart amendment — they vote no automatically. The same thing is happening in the Senate.”

Related: Gingrich: Pelosi Impeachment Push Is Because She’s Scared Trump Might Run Again – And Win

Check out Gingrich’s full interview below.

In the months since the presidential election, Gingrich has been critical of Pelosi, Joe Biden, and their fellow Democrats. Given his latest comments, it does not seem like Gingrich will be backing down and refraining from attacking the left anytime soon.

This piece was written by James Samson on March 22, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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59 Democrat New York Politicians Team Up To Demand Cuomo Resign

Things just got a whole lot worse for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) as 59 Democratic lawmakers in his state penned an open letter on Thursday demanding that he resign because of his altering of data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths and the six allegations of sexual misconduct that have been made against him.

Democrats Turn On Cuomo

The Democrats wrote that Cuomo “has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need.”

“We have a Lieutenant Governor who can step in and lead for the remainder of the term, and this is what is best for New Yorkers in this critical time,” they added. “It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.”

Related: Bill de Blasio Calls On Cuomo To Resign After Sixth Woman Comes Forward With Groping Allegations

Forty of the Democrats who signed the letter are members of the New York state assembly, which has the authority to impeach Cuomo.

If they end up calling for Cuomo’s impeachment, they would be just five votes short of the 76 that they need to impeach, since 31 Republicans have already voiced their support for impeachment, according to The Daily Caller.

If Cuomo is impeached, he would be stripped of his powers immediately, and Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul would become acting governor. He would only be able to regain his authority over the state of the state senate voted to acquit.

Related: Sixth Cuomo Accuser Comes Forward, Claiming Governor Touched Her Inappropriately

Chances Of Cuomo Impeachment 

Republican Assembly Member Kieran Michael Lalor said that while the letter was “definitely a step towards impeachment,” a couple more things need to happen before these proceedings can begin.

“If you’re a member of the assembly, you’re one of the only 150 people in the world who have the actual mechanism to remove the governor,” Lalor explained. “He’s not going to resign. Unless you’re also calling for impeachment, it’s kind of disingenuous.”

Cuomo has stubbornly refused to resign despite many calls for him to do so.

“It’s the threat of impeachment that gets governors to step down,” Lalor continued. “Calling for resignation doesn’t get governors to step down. All of my colleagues who are saying resign, they should really be saying impeach, and I hope that they will realize that.”

“We’re talking about the deaths of 15,000 vulnerable New Yorkers,” he added, referring to Cuomo’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes.

“What could be more important than that? What are we doing in the assembly today, yesterday, tomorrow, next week, that’s as important as bringing justice to the 15,000 people who died and their families?” Lalor said.

Lalor Doubles Down

Lalor went on to say that proceedings to impeach Cuomo can’t begin until State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie allows a vote on the matter. He’s not expecting Heastie to say anything about this until he’s finished negotiating the state’s budget bill, which is expected to be concluded at the end of this month.

“He’s negotiating a budget with a very weak and desperate governor,” Lalor said. “He doesn’t want Cuomo to know, because he’s going to get everything he wants in this budget.”

“If the speaker came out for impeachment, he’d have 76 votes within minutes. That’s a great piece of leverage that the speaker has,” he continued.

“He’s choosing to use that leverage to get his budget priorities rather than using that leverage to check the chief executive, bring justice to the sexual harassment victims, the 15,000 nursing home victims and their families,” Lalor concluded. 

This piece was written by James Samson on March 12, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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GOP Sen. Toomey Says Trump Can’t Be The GOP Nominee In 2024 Because He Cost Republicans Senate And White House

Retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) spoke out on Friday to say that former President Donald Trump should not be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.

It should be noted that Toomey was one of the Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump in his second impeachment trial last month.

Neil Cavuto Questions Toomey

Toomey made his latest comments on this while appearing on Fox News Channel’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto.”

“I know you’re leaving the Senate,” host Neil Cavuto said. “You got into a storm of controversy with your own state GOP because you voted to convict the president in the impeachment trial in the Senate.”

“Do you look back at that and have any regrets and the wrath you have received for that vote and the criticism of the president and others?” he asked. 

Toomey Responds 

“I did what I thought was right,” Toomey replied.

“Over time what Republicans will do is we’ll acknowledge and recognize, as most already do, that there were some tremendous accomplishments by the Trump administration during those four years, but in my view, the behavior of the president after the election, culminating on January 6, was completely unacceptable,” he added. “And I think I did the right thing.”

“Do you believe he should run and deserves to run for president if he wants to? Would you support him if he were your nomination?” Cavuto questioned.

“I don’t think he can be the nominee,” Toomey responded. “Look what happened. He won the election in 2016, and then we lost the House.”

“And then he cost us the White House, which was a very winnable race,” he added. “And then he cost us control of the Senate by what he did in Georgia. I think with that kind of track record. It’s not likely that he’ll be the nominee.”

“If he were, would you support him?” Cavuto asked, to which Toomey replied, “I don’t see that happening.”

Related: Trump Not Considering Replacing Pence On Potential 2024 Ticket, Jason Miller Claims

Jim Jordan Endorses Trump

This comes days after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) officially endorsed Trump, should he run again in 2024.

“[H]e’s the leader of the conservative movement,” Jordan said of Trump. “He’s the leader of the America first movement, and he is the leader of the Republican Party.”

“And I hope, and you know, I hope — like I said yesterday, I hope on January 20, 2025 he’s, once again, will be the leader of our country,” he added. “I hope he runs, but he’s definitely the leader of our party.”

“We need to stay together, and the vast, vast, vast majority of our party supports President Trump as our leader,” Jordan said.

Full Story: Jim Jordan Defies Left To Say ‘I Hope On January 20, 2025’ Trump Is The President Again

This piece was written by James Samson on March 6, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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It’s amazing to see, but Republicans are really digging their own graves

Much has been written lately about the GQP’s unfathomable opposition to the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package (see here, here, here and here). In short, the Democrat’s proposal is incredibly popular, even among Republicans. A Morning Consult poll pegged support at 76% of voters, including 60% of Republicans. That’s bipartisanship. But Republicans in Congress want to play off the old destroy-Obama-at-all-costs playbook, and have put up a wall of opposition to the legislation. 

And not only are they rhetorically opposing it, but they’re actively whipping against it, forcing congressional Republicans to vote against it or else. Let’s hope they’re successful, because nothing will make the 2022 midterm messaging clearer than “those checks came from us, they didn’t want to help you at all.” 

Indeed, their current stances are so at odds with basic political common sense, it almost makes you suspicious, right? What do they know that we don’t? But no, they think the COVID-19 relief package is like the Affordable Care Act, where they could fearmonger about losing your doctor. Pandemic relief isn’t about taking anything away from you, it’s about giving you cold, hard cash. 

The current Republican response is hilariously stupid. It’s stuff like this: 

We’ve run the numbers and here’s your receipt, @SpeakerPelosi @SenSchumer. pic.twitter.com/e2cAG8st8W

— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) February 24, 2021

That “$$$”, of course, is checks for people. But even libraries and mass transit aren’t particularly unpopular items, so not sure what they think they’re getting from this kind of messaging. Here’s another one: 

Only 9% of the Biden Bailout Bill goes to #COVID relief. A few examples of where the money is actually going: ➡️$135 million for the National Endowment of the Arts ➡️$350 billion in blue state bailouts ➡️$1.5 million for the Seaway International Bridge ➡️$1.5 billion for Amtrak

— Ways and Means GOP (@WaysandMeansGOP) February 24, 2021

For a party that is losing ground with swing voters, not sure why they think that “blue state bailouts” kind of divisive rhetoric gets them anything beyond their old, white, rural, and literally dying off base. “$1.5 million” for something? In a $1.9 TRILLION dollar bill? Does anyone care? And Amtrak is a lifeline for many rural communities. And people like trains

Part of the GOP’s problem is that they no longer know how to message against an old white male. President Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren? Oh boy, they’d have a field day. But the old guy who doesn’t grandstand or showboat much, keeps his head down, stays professional? They’re at a loss. 

So much so that he is a far more popular politician than pretty much anyone else in this country. Some polling has shown positively gaudy numbers for Biden. 

New numbers from @MorningConsult show that @JoeBiden is the most popular national political leader in America https://t.co/EgQ7jtrlob pic.twitter.com/marUPs14FJ

— John Anzalone (@JohnAnzo) February 24, 2021

Civiqs, which does a great job of filtering out partisan non-response bias (in essence, demoralized partisans refusing to answer polls), has more measured numbers: 

For comparison’s sake, Donald Trump is at 42% favorable, 56% unfavorable. And just as important as the toppling, the trend is a good one. Republicans can’t touch him, which is maybe why they’re resorting to this kind of buffoonery: 

Newsmax guest attacks Biden's dogs for being dirty and "unlike a presidential dog" pic.twitter.com/6yitOlM765

— aliciasadowski (@aliciasadowski6) February 20, 2021

They’ve got nothing of real substance. 

Now, as we look ahead to 2022, take a look at this question, which asks which party better represents you:

That 16-point gap (46% Democratic vs. 30% Republican) is quite dramatic, and is driven by crashing numbers among independents: only 22% think the GOP is concerned about people like them, down from 33% on Election Day. Meanwhile, 36% of independents say Democrats are concerned about them. Let’s keep an eye on this chart in the coming months, because it’s going to become extra clear which party cares about people, and which one is hell-bent on committing political suicide. The damage Republicans are doing to themselves is already extensive. Let’s compare the two parties: 

Republican Party favorability: 23% favorable, 65% unfavorable, with brutal trendiness.

Democratic Party favorability: 44% favorable, 49% unfavorable, with gradually improving trendiness. 

Republicans already lost the 2018 and 2020 elections, and demographic trends continue to move against them. Trump cost them the White House, the Senate, and the House, and there is zero guarantee his voters will ever turn out for an election without Trump on the ballot (they haven’t before). Yet the Republican Party isn’t just doubling down on Trumpism, it’s doubling down on opposing popular legislation.

Think about it, even a Q-addled Republican will have to think twice in 2022 if she or he has to vote between losing their monthly child credit check from the IRS, or a Republican promising to end any such help. Deliver help to people, and it’s a different playing field. It’s already happening, and the legislation hasn’t even passed into law. 

Democrats gifted Republicans the chance to rip out the Trump cancer from their party, but the GQP refused to convict in the impeachment trial. Now Republicans are gifting Democrats the chance to lock in popular support for their party and candidates. 

Perhaps it’s time to stop looking the gift horse in the mouth, and just run up the advantage. 

Opening hearing into Jan. 6 by joint Senate committee highlights confusion over intelligence

On Tuesday, a joint oversight hearing in the Senate began investigations into the events of Jan. 6. Testifying were a number of officers and leaders in law enforcement including: former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, and acting Chief of the Metropolitan Washington D.C. Police Robert Contee. 

The hearing actually opened with moving and disturbing testimony from Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza, who recounted her experiences during the Jan. 6 insurgency. She rushed to the Capitol in response to first signals of the emergency by dealing with a pipe bomb and charging into the fray at the Capitol. She suffered a punishing physical attack that included sustaining lingering chemical burns from armed insurgents.

The opening statements from police leadership showed some significant differences between how these officials viewed their roles on Jan. 6 and the limits of their positions and forces. They were united around the idea that this was “a failure of intelligence,” but not always in the sense that information wasn’t properly relayed. Despite Republican efforts, the outcome of these discussions seems to be focused in a way that can’t be making Republicans happy.

One issue came up as a possible solution to dealing with these events: Washington, D.C. statehood.

Just the opening agreements showed how clumsy the existing structure is when it comes to dealing with … anything, really. Sund indicated that he had to go through the Capitol Police Board—which included Stenger and Irving—to get so much as “a glass of water for his officers on a hot day.” In later testimony, Contee made it clear that Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser lacks the authority of a state governor when it comes to calling in the National Guard. 

Under questioning, a picture built of a lack of intelligence—not always in the lack of communication but in the lack of basic information. Specifically, Sund repeatedly pointed out that the FBI and other agencies did not seem to be taking domestic terrorists seriously.

The two biggest issues that came up were intelligence—especially with Sund repeatedly saying that intelligence agencies failed to cast “a wide enough net” when it came to considering the plans of white supremacist domestic terrorist groups—and the clumsiness of getting more forces assigned to the Capitol because of the divided, multilevel control of forces in and around Washington.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar opened by asking all to agree that this was a planned and coordinated attack involving white supremacists and extremist groups that represented a real threat to the Capitol. All the former and current police leadership agreed.  

Klobuchar then questioned Sund about the reaction of the Capitol Police to an intelligence report received from the FBI on Jan. 5 warning of potential violence, and that Trump supporters were coming “prepared for war.” Sund variously claimed that it wasn’t reviewed until the evening of Jan. 5, that he never saw the report, and that it was never sent to either the Metro D.C. Police or the sergeants at arms. This report, and the lack of response to the extremely violent language it showcased, came up in much subsequent questioning.

Sund repeatedly defended the idea that he had conducted an “all hands on deck” approach that was “appropriate” based on all past events. However, he also pointed out that he had to run everything past the Capitol Police board (specifically in this case just Stenger and Irving). Sund claimed that he could not request the National Guard without a declaration of emergency from the Capitol Police board.

Questioned about the delay in National Guard response, Sund admitted to frustration. “I don’t know what issues there were at the Pentagon, but I was certainly surprised at the delay.”

Sund finished by saying: “Jan. 6 was a change in the threat we face.” While Stenger noted that while the United States has  greatly expanded intelligence since 9/11, it doesn’t seem efficient at gathering information on internal threats.

Sen. Gary Peters

Peters noted an FBI report carrying a number of expressly violent threats from the Proud Boys and other groups did reach the Capitol Police on Jan. 5, but it didn’t get to operational command. Sund pushed the report off as “raw data” based on “social media posts” that needed to be investigated, something that could not happen given the few hours between the report and events on Jan. 6. 

Sund insisted that the CP “expanded our perimeter” and “coordinated”  based on a Jan. 3 report. Peters went back to Sund’s claims about “military style coordination” and asked what the leaders saw. Sund noted that insurgents “brought climbing gear, they brought explosives, they brought chemical agents.” Sund also indicated that marching toward the Capitol 20 minutes before Trump’s speech ended appeared to be a coordinated movement.

Contee noted that insurgents used hand signals, radios, coordinated use of chemical munitions, and placement of pipe bombs. Both Irving and Stenger agreed it was a coordinated attack.

Contee also noted he was “stunned” by the “tepid response” from the National Guard when the coordinated nature of the attack was clear. He said that Sund was “begging” for the National Guard on a call to the Pentagon, but there was not an immediate “yes.” Instead there was a concern about “optics” and an “exercise to check the boxes.” 

In closing remarks, Peters noted that intelligence agencies are eight months late on a requested report on the threat from domestic terrorism.

Sen. Roy Blunt:

Blunt asked Sund about attempts to secure the National Guard on Jan. 6. Sund said he made a call asking for this assistance at 1:09 PM, but Irving and Stenger didn’t approve it until 2:10 PM. This timing became the focus of much later questioning. 

Irving said first: “I did not take call from Sund as a request.” Then he clarified that he meant the earlier call on Jan. 4. According to Irving, Sund said he had received an “offer” for National Guard forces and that Irving “talked it through” with Sund and Stenger, who “agreed” the “intelligence did not support” using National Guard. Irving says they all decided to “let it go.”

Stenger was asked about what was meant by the National Guard being “on stand by.” It appears neither he nor Sund did anything to keep the Guard in the loop. 

Sund claimed that he asked Irving for Guard assistance at 1:09 PM. Irving said he was on the floor at the time (which appears to be the case) and didn’t recall getting request until 2:10 PM. “I have no phone record of a call from Chief Sund.” He then says he talked to Sund at 1:28 PM, but Sund did not make a request at that time. 

Sen. Rob Portman

Portman requested that they get Sund and Irving’s phone records to deal with the issue. 

Sund admits that Capitol Police were not prepared for a large insurrection or “infiltration” of the Capitol. Portman got both Stenger and Irving to admit that Secret Service has a plan for a similar attacks on the White House, and he wondered why the Capitol Police did not.

Under questioning, Sund admits that all Capitol Police are not outfitted with “hard gear” (helmet, shields, etc.). “Up until Jan. 6, the [seven platoons of “civil disturbance” officers] had been enough” for every previous event. Only four of those platoons had hard gear. Sund said he had ordered riot gear, but it was delayed “because of COVID.”

Contee indicated that in addition to seven platoons with full riot gear, all Metro D.C. police have helmets, protective gloves, gas masks, batons, etc. and all officers have basic civil disturbance training and almost all get additional training. Sund said that such training was “a process being implemented” by Capitol Police.

Portman underlined that officers had not given proper training and didn’t have the necessary equipment. “I appreciate the sacrifice and the bravery of that day, but we owe it to the officers” to fill those needs.

Sen. Patrick Leahy

Leahy acted to cut off claims that the House or Senate were a bottleneck. He asked all of the law enforcement leaders if “the appropriations committee has met your request for salaries and operating expenses in every fiscal year.” Irving: “Yes.” Stenger: “Yes.”

“I happen to think that we have not a failure of inadequate resources,” said Leahy, “but a failure to deploy the resources that we have.”

Leahy points out that when the police were given a warning of armed extremists, they can't then claim that there was no warning of violence. The repeated claims that things were going to be no worse than previous events were not backed up by the intelligence that was received.

Sen. Ron Johnson

Johnson skipped out on asking any questions to instead read a lengthy statement from an anti-Muslim hate group blaming “fake Trump protesters” and “agent provocateurs” for Jan. 6. According to Johnson, all the “real” Trump supporters were “happy” and “in high spirits.” Johnson’s account ended with claims that Capitol Police incited the crowd by firing tear gas after police overreacted to “a tussle.”

So it was all the fault of antifa and the police. Everyone but the Trump supporters, who were all “cheerful” in marching on the Capitol.

Johnson then spent the rest of his time complaining about not getting answers on his conspiracy theories. He made one feint at the end to get Sund to agree that Trump protesters were “pro police,” but Sund noted there were Trump people claiming to be police even as they were pushing through police lines. In terms of wacky highlights, this was it.

Sen. Jacky Rosen

Rosen asked Contee about the report from the FBI on Jan. 5, which also reached the Metro D.C. police late at night by email. Contee’s initial response was much the same as Sund’s: that this was raw data without a suggested response. However, he noted that the Metro police were already prepared for widespread violence in association with Jan. 6. They just weren’t responsible for the Capitol.

Contee also noted that the previous two MAGA rallies in November and December included weapons recovered from several people. “Those were the only rallies were we’ve seen people coming armed,” said Contee. 

Rosen noted that there seemed to be “a breakdown” between the FBI and Capitol Police. But Sund insisted that it wasn’t just the FBI, and it was more than just how the message was delivered. “We need to look at the whole intelligence community and the view that they have on domestic extremists,” said Sund.

Sen. Mark Warner

Warner expressed concern that the “hurdles from the previous administration” slowed and limited to support for Washington and limited its ability to prepare. He brought up Washington, D.C. statehood as a solution for streamlining some of those difficulties.

Warner noted that he talked directly with FBI leadership on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5. “I felt like the FBI felt like they were in better shape in terms of intel,” said Warner. 

Sund said the relationship between Capitol Police and the FBI is “outstanding.” He noted that the FBI was very effective in the aftermath of the events in helping investigate those who invaded the Capitol. And Sund again indicated that the failure was more about the intelligence being gathered rather than what was passed on.

Contee said he wanted more a “whole intelligence approach,” noted that the FBI was a “great partner” for the Metro police.

Warner agreed, noting that Jan. 6 drew the same kind of antigovernment extremists who were on the streets of Charlottesville, but that these groups aren’t “getting the level of serious review” that other threats were. He also noted that these groups have ties to extremist groups overseas, specifically in Europe.

Sen. James Lankford

Lankford was the first to seem more interested in how to twist the information to support some Fox News-worthy narrative. He started by asking Sund to talk at length about a letter from Sund to Nancy Pelosi. Sund said that Pelosi called for his resignation “without a full understanding of what we had gone through and prepared for.”

Lankford then asked about how the pipe bomb was found at the Republican National Committee (RNC). When he was told that an employee at the RNC located the pipe bomb and called it in, Lankford then seemed to take this as proof that the pipe bombs weren’t really “coordinated” with the rest of the attack because the discovery of those bombs at that time was coincidental. (But was it? This certainly seems like a good thing to investigate.)

Lankford also spent some time trying to dismiss the idea that the National Guard was slow to respond. He insisted that it usually takes “multiple days” to approve the National Guard, and insisted that the delays in their approval on Jan. 6 were “typical,” saying that the National Guard was not “the riot police” or “a SWAT team.” Lankford attempted to get Sund to agree that he knew the National Guard was forced to be unarmed, with no drones and no helicopter. Sund denied knowing these restrictions had been put on. Lankford then claimed these “restrictions were put on them by the city of Washington D.C.” without evidence and without asking Contee about this point.

Finally, Lankford spent some time comparing the attack on the Capitol to the “attack on a federal courthouse in Portland” and insinuating that the same forces were involved in both.

Sen. Tom Carper

Carper started off by pointing out that the National Guard is frequently called in to respond quickly to emergencies, and does so. But “the D.C. National Guard operates differently.” Carper also noted that this is one of the reasons he’s worked for years in favor of Washington, D.C. statehood.

Carper gave Contee another opportunity to make it clear that Bowser has no authority to authorize National Guard deployment—that she has to go through an entire chain of requests and approvals. This includes both the Capitol Police board and Pentagon officials.

Carper then asked Contee if having an easier means of calling the National Guard—similar to that given every state—would help to protect the city and federal installations. Contee’s response was an enthusiastic “yes,” and an agreement that this needs to be investigated as part of the response to Jan. 6.

Carper asked Sund why the threat of a “truly devastating attack” was so badly underestimated. Sund pointed back at the FBI and other intelligence agencies for not warning that a coordinated attack across many states was being prepared. Sund indicated that it was not so much “a failure to communicate” but a failure to investigate and focus on domestic extremists.

Sen. Jeff Merkley

Merkley pointed out the level of violence called for in the statement from the FBI, which included white supremacists calling directly to disrupt the certification of the electoral vote “or die.” That report is the same one that was emailed to both Capitol Police and Metro D.C. Police, but not until late in the evening on Jan. 5 and without any warning or flag that would have made its importance obvious.

Merkley spent a good deal of time dealing with specific incidents of Capitol security. That included how the police dealt with what Sund kept describing as “an expanded perimeter” without additional forces to secure that perimeter.  

Stenger noted that there is a drill “once a year” in which there is a test of locking and protecting Congressional chambers, which is something that failed on Jan. 6. He could not say when the last such drill took place.

Sen. Rick Scott

Scott focused on an extremely odd point for his entire time at bat: Why was the National Guard still in Washington? No matter what he was told, or how futile his questions became, Scott wouldn’t move from this issue.

"No one has any reason why we have the National Guard here," said Scott. (Ignoring that little insurgency thing.) Scott kept hammering this point, even when each of those testifying made it clear they had no involvement in maintaining the Guard or information on why they were there.

When told that he should ask the current Capitol Police and sergeant at arms, he seemed genuinely confused. However, he still could not leave this pointless question alone. "I'm flabbergasted that there's no public information why we have all this National Guard here," said Scott. Sund and others tried to point out there had been an insurrection. Scott never seemed to get it. 

Sen. Maggie Hassen

Hassen asked Contee to describe the coordination between Metro police and the National Park Service when it comes to approving permits. Contee agreed that this system needed to be reviewed, especially when it comes to evaluating risks. While the Parks department was still giving out permits, even with the evidence of violence by the same groups in previous appearances, the Washington government had actually suspended mass gathering since March to respect the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hassen expanded the discussion of intelligence beyond the FBI and asked about any communication from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Sund and Contee agreed that no one from DHS attempted to issue a national security event or reach out to Capitol Police with any concerns around Jan. 6.

Sen. Josh Hawley

The idea that Hawley would be questioning law enforcement officials is itself an indictment of the government. However, Hawley made an elaborate point of thanking Capt. Mendoza and other police for their work in "repelling these violent criminal rioters."

For most of his questioning, Hawley remained reasonable. He asked Sund about National Guard activation. Back on the 1:09 PM phone call question, Sund said Irving told him he needed to run a Guard request "up the chain of command." Hawley pondered who this "chain of command" might be. 

Irving again said he didn't recall the phone call, and his phone records do not show a call at that time. Irving claimed that had he gotten such a request, he "would have approved it immediately." Instead, Irving says Sund called him a half hour later and didn't actually make a request until 2:10 PM.

Sund insisted he made request at 1:09 PM. And that his call at 1:22 PM was to "follow up on the status of that request."

Irving said he never consulted "congressional leadership" or waited for their approval. Irving denies seeking approval from Pelosi or McConnell, which likely deflates some theory by Hawley that Pelosi nixed Guard approval.

Sund repeated that Irving was concerned about the "optics" of bringing in National Guard on Jan. 4.  Irving denied this, saying his "issue was with whether the intelligence warranted" calling in Guard. He said again that his understanding was that Sund had "an offer" of troops, but that he, Stenger, and Sund talked about it and agreed to turn it down. Hawley asked what the concern over deploying guard was. Irving says he wasn't concerned about anything but intelligence.

Finally, Hawley asked Klobuchar for an extra minute. When this was granted, Hawley used the time to attack Pelosi for appointing retired Gen. Russel Honoré to conduct an investigation into events on Jan. 6.

Sen. Alex Padilla

Padilla began by asking all the witnesses if the video of events shown during Trump's impeachment was accurate. All agreed that it was.

Sund again said they had no information on the scope of what was coming. No idea that "we would be facing an armed insurrection involving thousands of people."

Padilla asked if the previous MAGA incidents in November and December might have been "trial runs" during which the same groups involved on Jan. 6 could gather intelligence on the limits of police response. Sund agreed this was possible. Padilla made it clear that Donald Trump had had control of those intelligence agencies that were failing to focus on domestic terrorism by white supremacist extremist groups.

Padilla asked about the difference in preparations on Jan. 6 versus protests over the summer, noting hundreds of arrests. However, Sund claimed there were just six arrests during the BLM protests and said preparation on Jan. 6 was far greater. Of course, Sund is limited to the Capitol, not other sites around the city. But clearly preparations on Jan. 6 were nothing like the masses of troops that met some peaceful protests.

Sen. Bill Hagerty

Hagerty wasn’t much interested in anything the witnesses had to say, but, like Johnson, had plenty to say on his own. He started by claiming the Guard presence in summer of 2020 was "necessary following some of the worst rioting in decades."

Hagerty then tried blaming the failure of Guard to appear on Jan. 6 on "backlash" against the use of the Guard to "restore order" in the summer. So … the insurgency was BLM’s fault.

Sund refused to agree, insisting again that he was surprised by how reluctant the Pentagon was to cooperate. Thwarted, Hagerty then went straight to attacking Pelosi and Honoré. And ... that was it. Hagerty couldn't even think of how to fill his time because he had no actual questions.

Sen. Angus King

King refocused on the intelligence failure, but—in contradiction to Sund's statements—kept returning to "a failure of communication." King then turned to asking Sund about how to secure Capitol without "turning it into a fortress."

Sund insisted there was a process to get credible intelligence where it needs to be and again said the failure was in intelligence gathering. He said the Capitol Police well prepared for issues like lone gunmen, etc., but insisted that much of this should be discussed in a closed, classified session.

King asked Sund to expand on the intelligence shortfalls. Sund said even the director of the field office for the FBI gave no hint that there was a coordinated attack planned despite a direct call on Jan 5. The email late on Jan. 5 might have had some alarming language, but there was no hint it was part of a large, multistate plan.

King asked about the process for making assistance requests, calling in the Guard, etc. Sund agreed that the process needs to be streamlined.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

Sinema asked about the meetings leading up to Jan. 6 and which agencies were involved. Contee detailed a number of meetings that included both Metro D.C. police and Capitol Police.

Contee discussed what he saw as the major mistakes. He said the issue on sharing information, and how it was shared, is a concern. The FBI sent the most frightening information to email boxes at 7 PM on the night before the event. It didn’t raise concerns in earlier calls and did not contact Contee or Sund to bring any concerns to their attention.

Sund emphasized again that the report—which he didn’t even learn about until after he had resigned—was seen as raw data that wasn’t moved forward. He recounted the process for moving information from the FBI, but again emphasized that the letter was sent as raw data without analysis or recommendations on the evening of Jan 5. There wasn’t a high level of attention assigned to it.

Contee confirms that the Metro D.C. Police were aware of the significance of Jan. 6 and that Bowser called up additional units, pulled in forces from the outlying districts, and requested Guard officers to free up additional police forces.

Sen. Ted Cruz

Irony, part two.

Cruz described Jan. 6. as "a terrorist attack" on the Capitol. He then went back to requests from Sund, and Sund's statement that Irving was "concerned about the optics." Sund was asked to describe the conversations at length. Sund said he met with Irving in his office and again said that Irving told him "I didn't like the optics" and told Sund to talk to Stenger. Stenger asked Sund to call National Guard Commander Gen. William J. Walker to prepare. Walker told Sund that the 125 troops being deployed to Washington could be armed and sent to the Capitol quickly. That response seemed to satisfy Irving and Stenger.

Irving said the meeting on Jan. 4 was a phone call. (Sund said it was an in-person meeting.) Irving said it was an "offer" to send in Guard. (Sund said it was a request.) Irving said he can't recall using term "optics." Irving and Stenger said they did contact Pelosi and McConnell on Jan. 6, but only to inform them that there "might" be a request for National Guard assistance.

Cruz joined others in asking for phone records. Cruz was surprisingly subdued and didn't ask any “gotchas.”

Sen. Jon Ossoff

Again, Ossoff and Sund discussed the training and preparation of the Capitol Police. Sund returned to saying that there was no training on how to deal with a mass insurrection. Sund did say that Capitol Police called out “tabletop exercises” in advance of national security events such as the inauguration, but this was not done on Jan. 6.

Sund also said that communication and chain of command “broke down” during Jan. 6 as communications with those on the scene at the Capitol became difficult.

Ossoff asked if procedures exist for dealing with an emergency like an attack on the Capitol without the approval of the Capitol Police board. Short answer: No.

Sund emphasized that Capitol Police are a “consumer” of intelligence and the organization is not configured to collect or analyze intelligence.