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Rep. Kevin McCarthy

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The leader of House Republicans Kevin McCarthy has responded to his subpoena from the House Select Committee with a lengthy letter from his attorney, arguing, like others have tried and failed before him, that the panel lacks “valid legislative purpose.”

And as for his own discussions with former President Donald Trump—impeached for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last year—those details, McCarthy argues, are not subject to oversight.

McCarthy’s response also came with a list of demands, much like his colleague in the House and fellow Trump-ally Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. But unlike Jordan, who at the very least offered to provide an "adequate response” if his requests were met, McCarthy’s attorney, Elliot Berke, opted instead to present only McCarthy’s challenge to the committee’s authority—with the demand that members on the panel defend their “legal rationale” for issuing the subpoena.

“It is unclear how the Select Committee believes it is operating within the bounds of law or even within the confines of the authorizing resolution,” Berke wrote in the 11-page letter to committee chair Bennie Thompson.

As for the California Republican’s conversations with Trump on the day of the attack—the details of which the committee has sought for months and beyond what has potentially been publicly reported—McCarthy’s attorney says that information would effectively have no bearing on whatever legislative agenda the probe might have.

”Of course, the Select Committee has no valid legislative interest or oversight authority to question the Leader about public statements he has already made to the press or in the House Chamber,” Berke wrote.

McCarthy, through his attorney, also accused the committee of wishing to “interrogate him” politically and slammed the panel as unconstitutional and acting beyond the “power of inquiry as decreed by our Founding Fathers.”

Federal courts have already established that the committee has a valid legislative interest in investigating the events leading up to January 6. This decision was rendered in John Eastman’s fight to keep the committee away from documents it deemed pertinent to the probe’s fact-finding mission and again when the Republican National Committee tried to shield data from the committee about its fundraising materials.

Those documents, the committee has argued, were entrenched with the former president’s falsehoods and lies about the outcome of the 2020 election and this was used to effectively defraud the public.

McCarthy Letter to Bennie T... by Daily Kos

The response also contends at length that the committee itself was improperly formed because just nine members sit on it and the resolution states the speaker “shall appoint 13 members to the select committee, 5 of whom shall be appointed after consultation with the minority leader.”

But McCarthy had his chance to nominate picks to the committee. Some of his picks were accepted by Pelosi and others were denied. When Pelosi sent two of the nominees back—including Trump stalwart Jim Jordan—McCarthy, to borrow a phrase, took his ball and went home.

He ended negotiations cold and established clearly that he would not continue engaging with the committee.

The January 6 committee, as it stands today with nine members, includes seven Democrats and two Republicans.

An investigatory body was initially proposed and designed to be an independent, truly bipartisan commission. Democrats suggested splitting membership right down the middle, affording equal subpoena powers to both their party and the Republican Party.

But this proposal couldn’t muster enough support in the Senate and as such, the dreams of that commission were shut down.

Republicans continued to balk, largely, at holding any investigation at all. In the House, only two Republicans—the only two that now serve on the committee, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger—voted in favor of forming the select committee.

The House passed the resolution.

Five members of the House including McCarthy and Jordan have been hit with subpoenas for their records and depositions. The committee also sent subpoenas to Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Andy Biggs of Arizona. To a man, each have have refused to comply.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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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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