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Rep. Chip Roy

Screenshot from Rep. Chip Roy's Twitter (@RepChipRoy)

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The Republican Party of Texas called out one of its own on Friday for pro-lynching comments made during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on violence against Asian Americans. But it rejected demands from Democrats that Rep. Chip Roy resign from Congress.

The committee's ranking member, Roy said during the hearing on Thursday, "The victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice" before immediately pivoting away from the subject, saying, "I would also suggest that the victims of cartels moving illegal aliens deserve justice. The American citizens in south Texas, they are getting absolutely decimated by what's happening at the southern border deserve justice. The victims of rioting and looting in the street ... last summer deserve justice."

Roy then went on:

We believe in justice. There are old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. We take justice very seriously. And we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys. That's what we believe. My concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law and taking out bad guys.

Allen West, the pro-secession state GOP chair and former Florida congressman, said in a statement, "Congressman Chip Roy's comments were inappropriate and unfortunate, no one should infer hanging as a metaphor." He added, "My recommendation to Congressman Chip Roy would be to engage the brain before firing the mouth, it would avoid embarrassing situations such as this."

But West dismissed suggestions that Roy should step down for the comments, writing, "While his comments about hanging were dumb, they're not grounds for resignation."

Roy also repeated the inflammatory statement that China's government is to blame for the coronavirus pandemic, calling it "the bad guys."

After Democratic colleagues, including Rep. Grace Meng, the first Asian American to represent New York in Congress, called out Roy's comments, the Texas Republican doubled down on them Thursday evening.

"Apparently some folks are freaking out that I used an old expression about finding all the rope in Texas and a tall oak tree about carrying out justice against bad guys. I meant it. We need more justice and less thought policing," he told NBC News. "We should restore order by tamping out evil actors, not turn America into an authoritarian state like the Chinese Communists who seek to destroy us. No apologies."

Others condemning Roy included Texas Democrats Chair Gilberto Hinojosa, who put out a statement on Thursday calling on Roy to resign immediately. "It is an outrage, and terrifying, to hear a Congressman claiming any connection between lynchings and justice," he wrote. "Roy's comments are painful and offensive to a country reeling from the horrifying anti-Asian attacks in Atlanta this week. Roy is perpetuating the racist systems that harm us and contributing to the terror people of color face every day in our country."

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also blasted Roy, telling CNN his comments were "shameful and disgusting and disgraceful."

Roy responded to West's criticism by complaining that he had not reached out to him personally. He told the Texas Tribune that his analogy had come from "a Willie Nelson lyric" and promised, "I will continue to 'engage my brain' to combat the leftist mob which demands that we police speech rather than focus on fighting evil-doers - be they murderers, cartels, or the dangerous Chinese Communist Party."

"Beer for My Horses," a 2003 song recorded by Nelson and Toby Keith, contains the line: "Take all the rope in Texas, find a tall oak tree, round up all of them bad boys, hang them high in the street, for all the people to see."

Roy is no stranger to making comments that draw immediate and strong criticism.

In January, he warned that if Democrats won runoff elections for Georgia's two Senate seats, the nation would find itself in a "hot" civil war.

Last year, he smeared a 20-year-old survivor of the 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, as "functionally illiterate" for his criticism of Donald Trump's family separation policies, compared anti-racism protesters to the white former cop charged with murdering George Floyd, and likened coronavirus safety guidelines to "Nazi Germany."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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