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Fearful GOP Extremists Threaten Telecom Companies, Cheney And Kinzinger Over Jan. 6 Probe

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans who are being reviewed as part of a probe into the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol are up in arms, and now some are targeting their fellow GOP lawmakers.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) — who is among the nearly one dozen GOP lawmakers whose phone records the House select committee is seeking — called for two Republicans on the committee to be banished from the House Republican conference.

In a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Biggs called the two GOP lawmakers — Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) — "spies for the Democrats" and said they should be expelled from the conference.

Biggs downplayed the severity of the January 6 attack and claims it is a "false narrative" to call the riot led by a Donald Trump-supporting mob hoping to stop the transition of power an "insurrection."

In the letter, first reported by CNN, Biggs wrote:

Republican Conference meetings are an opportunity for elected House Republicans to strategize the most effective path to push back on the radical policies of Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats. many of the coming discussions will likely revolve around our defense against the Democrats' perpetuation of the false narrative that January 6th was an insurrection and how to protect our own from their legally questionable investigative methods. ... We cannot trust these members to sit in our Republican Conference meetings while we plan our defense against the Democrats.

Biggs' letter follows a threat against telecommunication companies from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), whose phone records are also being sought as part of the probe.

Greene said on Tucker Carlson's Fox News program Tuesday night that, "These telecommunications companies, if they go along with this, they will be shut down. And that's a promise."

This all follows a similar threat from McCarthy himself, who falsely claimed that the House select committee was violating federal law by seeking the GOP lawmakers' phone records and warned that a future Republican majority "will not forget" if the companies turn those records over.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) — who helped organize the effort to stop certification of Biden's Electoral College victory that helped spur the attack — said in an interview on Wednesday that there is no "probable cause" for the committee to get his records.

The House select committee said it's not deterred by the threats.

"The committee's efforts won't be deterred by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6th, or obstruct our investigation," the committee tweeted on Tuesday.

On Thursday, it announced that Cheney will be its vice chair.

Cheney said in a news release announcing her new role:

Every member of this committee is dedicated to conducting a non-partisan, professional, and thorough investigation of all the relevant facts regarding January 6th and the threat to our Constitution we faced that day. I have accepted the position of Vice Chair of the committee to assure that we achieve that goal. We owe it to the American people to investigate everything that led up to, and transpired on, January 6th. We will not be deterred by threats or attempted obstruction and we will not rest until our task is complete.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

VIDEO: Watch Angy Mike Pompeo Flip And Flop On Taliban

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With the Taliban now in control of Afghanistan, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is vehemently criticizing President Joe Biden for withdrawing U.S. troops from that country — neglecting to mention that Biden was essentially following the plan that Pompeo and former President Donald Trump came up with in 2020. MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan, in response, has posted a video showing how badly Pompeo is now contradicting what he had to say about Afghanistan and the Taliban last year.

Some right-wing Republicans have at least been consistent in their views on Afghanistan. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and former National Security John Bolton have been slamming the Trump/Pompeo plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan as badly flawed and saying that Biden and his advisers were wrong to go along with it. But Pompeo, as Hasan's video demonstrates, is now contradicting much of what he had to say in 2020.

The video shows Pompeo, in 2020, praising "the senior Taliban leadership" for "working diligently to reduce violence," followed by the Pompeo of 2021 saying of the Taliban, "These are butchers…. These are evil people" and telling Fox News' Chris Wallace, "We never trusted the Taliban."

Pompeo is seen in 2020 saying with confidence, "There are a series of commitments the Taliban have made. We have every expectation they will follow through on them." And Pompeo, in 2020, expressed confidence that the Taliban would "break" their "relationship" with al-Qaeda and "work alongside" the United States "to destroy, deny resources to and have al-Qaeda depart from that place." But in a 2021 clip included in Hasan's video, Pompeo complains, "We have allowed al-Qaeda to run free and wild all around Afghanistan."

The video ends on a mocking note with a clip of Pompeo angrily saying, "No, I'm not defensive at all."

Here are some responses to Hasan's video:

Pompeo’s Hometown Paper Roasts His Afghan Hypocrisy

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With Afghanistan having been taken over by the Taliban, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is slamming President Joe Biden for withdrawing U.S. troops from the country — neglecting to mention that Biden was essentially following the Pompeo/Donald Trump plan for withdrawal, although at a slower pace. The Kansas City Star's editorial board, in a scathing editorial published on August 18, slams Pompeo's total hypocrisy.

"That other Republicans are criticizing Biden's implementation of Trump's deal is one thing," the Star's editorial board explains. "But Pompeo personally oversaw the Trump Administration's Afghanistan withdrawal discussions with Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, whom the CIA had arrested in 2010. He'd been in a Pakistani prison until Trump got him out two years ago. So, it's a little bit stunning to watch Pompeo accuse Biden of 'leading with weakness' by finishing the troop withdrawal that Trump planned to accomplish even more quickly."

The "other Republicans" that the Star is referring to in its editorial could include Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, although the Star doesn't actually mention either of them by name. Cheney and Kinzinger have both been vehemently critical of the Biden Administration in the days following the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan, but they have also been vehemently critical of Trump and Pompeo — arguing that the Trump/Pompeo plan for withdrawal was horribly flawed and that Biden was wrong to go along with it. For that matter, some Democrats and Biden allies have made the same argument.

Pompeo, however, is blaming Biden for embracing a Trump-era policy that he aggressively promoted — which, as the Star points out, is exactly the type of gall, arrogance and "brass" one expects from Pompeo.

The Star notes, "Trump undermined the success of his own team's efforts by bringing more and more U.S. troops home without any concessions from the Taliban. The Taliban was supposed to negotiate a peace agreement with the Afghan government, and when that didn't happen, the withdrawal continued anyway…. Pompeo's gloating that this withdrawal would have gone very differently under the previous administration is unsupported by what did happen when Trump was president."

By slamming Pompeo, the Star's editorial board isn't saying that Biden is blameless in the Afghanistan debacle. But Pompeo, according to the Star, is the last person who should be pointing the finger at Biden over the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan.

The editorial board stresses, "Trump, you remember, even invited the Taliban to Camp David…. Pompeo pushed hard for this plan, which put him at odds with then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, who the New York Times reported at the time 'argued that Mr. Trump could keep his campaign pledge to draw down forces without getting in bed with killers bathed in American blood.' Yet in Wichita, we heard the chief proponent of this deal argue that Biden is weak for failing to stand up to the same Taliban that just a minute ago, Pompeo was talking up as our trusted partner in counterterrorism — and the same Taliban that both Trump and Biden failed to hold accountable."

"The execution of this long overdue withdrawal has been ugly," the Star's editorial continues. "How Trump could have somehow done the same thing both faster and more gently is unknowable at this point. A less disingenuous partisan would have acknowledged that, and would maybe even have shown some humility, given his role in what's playing out in Afghanistan."

The Capitol Riot Aftermath Bodes Ill For Democracy

Someday, the past year or so may be remembered as a bout of temporary insanity among a large share of the American people. This group refused to take basic precautions against a devastating pandemic, swallowed the lies of a president who had lost an election, and excused a violent mob that attacked the Capitol to prevent Congress from doing its constitutional duty.

Or maybe not. Maybe it will come to seem perfectly normal. Maybe this period will be known as the time when we lost our bearings for good, dooming us to a catastrophic national unravelling.

The rise in insanity is hard to overstate. A recent poll found that 20 percent of Americans — including half of those who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 — believe the inoculation implants a microchip that the government can use to track them. Nearly half of Republicans don't plan to get vaccinated.

Even as the Delta variant fuels a surge in infection, governors in some red states have rejected mask requirements in public schools, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vowing to "provide protections for parents and kids who just want to breathe freely."

Right-wing politicians and their media allies have spread the preposterous claim that massive fraud deprived Donald Trump of reelection. A May Reuters-Ipsos poll showed that 61 percent of Republicans believe it. An April Reuters-Ipsos poll found that a majority of them agree that "the January 6 riot at the Capitol was led by violent left-wing protestors trying to make Trump look bad."

It gets worse. A poll sponsored by the Public Religion Research Institute found that the lunatic QAnon movement has gained a significant following, with 23 percent of Republicans affirming that "the government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation." GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado have praised QAnon.

This week's hearings on the Capitol insurrection were another reminder of the alarming radicalization of the Republican Party, something exploited and encouraged by Trump.

The mob set up a gallows, chanted "Hang Mike Pence," forced both Republican and Democratic members to flee for their lives and savagely beat police officers. But congressional Republicans now want to move on, treating it as a minor incident grossly exaggerated by Democrats and the media — rather than an extremist effort to block a legitimate transfer of power.

GOP senators blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the attack. House Republicans tried in vain to stock a House committee with Trump henchmen who could be counted on to disrupt the inquiry.

Many Republican politicians are too infatuated with Trump — or too afraid of him — to admit the terrifying scope of the danger the insurrection represents. The party's elected officials have become a coalition of crazies and cowards.

It fell to a lonely pair of GOP conservatives, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, to join the House investigative committee and decry the events of January 6 as a horrific attack on the nation and the Constitution.

Kinzinger did something else, debunking the pernicious claim that the Capitol attack was not as bad as the riots that erupted in cities last summer over the police murder of George Floyd.

"I was called on to serve during the summer riots as an Air National Guardsman," he said. "I condemned those riots and the destruction of property that resulted. But not once did I ever feel that the future of self-government was threatened like I did on January 6. There is a difference between breaking the law and rejecting the rule of law, between a crime — even grave crimes — and a coup."

In Tuesday's hearing, Kinzinger struck a hopeful note: "Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We're defined by how we come back from bad days."

But the response of Republicans to the attack is even more ominous than the attack itself. The aftermath offered a moment for them to confront the cancer that has embedded itself in the party and act to cut it out. They refused.

The majority of GOP voters have insisted on rationalizing or defending the insurrection while staying loyal to the defeated president who did so much to incite it. By indulging them, Republican leaders are inviting more of the same — and worse.

What kind of democracy is defined by its bad days? A dying one.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

Why It May Be Too Late For Cheney And Kinzinger

I wish I could be a Cheney fan. I really do. Rep. Liz Cheney has conducted herself honorably for the past nine months. Her courage in telling the truth about the election and the insurrection of Jan. 6 has been punished by the Republican conference, which booted her from leadership and replaced her with the lying, scheming Trumpist, Rep. Elise Stefanik. Former President Donald Trump is apparently working feverishly to unseat Cheney from Congress altogether, and his lickspittle lieutenants are joining the effort.

The invertebrate minority leader, Kevin McCarthy — who, let's recall, declared on January 13 that "the president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters" — has long since scurried back under Trump's skirts, from whence he issues barbs against the few remaining Republicans who still have some principles. McCarthy sniped that Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the other Republican appointed to the Jan. 6 committee over the objections of party leadership, are "Pelosi Republicans."

The opening segments of the January 6 select committee hearings were another fine moment for Cheney. She began by thanking the police officers who testified about their experiences defending the Capitol that day:

"Thank you to each of the witnesses appearing before us today. ... You defended the Constitution and our Republic, and every American owes you our undying gratitude. Every American, I hope, will be able to hear your testimony today and will watch the videos. The videos show the unbelievable violence and the inexcusable and intolerable cruelty that you all faced, and people need to know the truth."

She went on to outline the stakes:

"If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system."

Those are good words, and as I said above, I respect Cheney's willingness to pay a price. She understood that by taking on the "Big Lie" and the almost-as-consequential lie about what happened on January 6, she was risking her leadership position, her seat and possibly her own security. Every word of truth that she (and Kinzinger) utters is like a balm of Gilead.

And yet, the voice in the back of my head keeps saying, "Is it too late?"

Both Cheney and Kinzinger, may they live to be 120, had many, many earlier opportunities to extinguish this forest fire before it became a raging inferno. Both supported Trump's reelection in 2020. Kinzinger said he was "upset" by President Joe Biden's victory. Cheney appeared on Fox and Friends in July 2020, and while she allowed that she disagreed with Trump on some issues, most notably withdrawal from Afghanistan, she emphasized how important it was that Trump be reelected: "Whether or not we have debates and discussions internally — as I'm sure we continue, we will continue to do — we are going to be absolutely united going forward on the big issues, and I'm not going any place."

Both Cheney and Kinzinger voted against the first Trump impeachment. They stuck with their support for his reelection, despite the first debate with Biden, despite the catastrophic handling of COVID-19, despite Trump's green light to China's Uyghur camps, despite QAnon, and despite the avalanche of lies and cruelty that corrupted America's soul — and prepared the ground for the violent insurrection they are now investigating.

Is it welcome that they finally found a line they couldn't cross? A thousand times, yes. But how might this story have unfolded differently if they, and thousands of other Republicans, had found their uncrossable lines sooner?

You can say, "The base is calling the shots, and the elected are just following what the voters demand." That's nonsense. The base doesn't get its ideas from nowhere. It gets them from Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and the rest of the conservative media world. And it gets them from elected officials. To paraphrase what Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn told the Jan. 6 committee: When elected officials give permission, there is no limit to the violence that may ensue.

Trump was the arsonist. But if every time he dropped a match on the dry tinder of American polarization, Republican elected officials and others had leaped to extinguish the small flames, we would not be here.

And where is here? We have seen the end of 160 years of the peaceful transfer of power. We've seen the majestic United States Capitol turned into a scene from a dystopian fantasy; an armed mob attempting to subvert an election. They smashed and tortured and caused deaths. They erected a gallows and hunted for the speaker of the House and for the vice president. And Republicans, almost to a man and woman, are excusing, downplaying or whitewashing what happened. An entire political party has abandoned commitment to the rule of law.

To speak up now, well, it's better than nothing. But it's a little like saying you'll take away a drunk's driver's license after he crashed into and killed an 8-year-old. What about all of those times when you saw him get behind the wheel after five drinks and did nothing?

Trump attacked the basics of American democracy. The consequences were foreseeable. There were countless warnings. The great tragedy of this moment is not that Trump attempted what he did, but that so few Republicans tried to stop him when it would have made a difference.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense.To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com

Kinzinger Warns McCarthy May Face Subpoena In Jan. 6 Probe

A Republican member of the House select committee probing the January 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol on Sunday wouldn't rule out calling on fellow members of Congress to testify. “I would support subpoenas to anyone that can shed light. ... If that's the leader, that's the leader," Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told ABC's This Week. He'd been asked if House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, (R-CA), and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) — who spoke to former President Donald Trump the day a throng of his supporters attacked the Capitol — should be subpoenaed. “I want to know what the president was doing every...

House Republicans Who Quit Are Still Whining About Jan. 6 Panel

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans who were slated to be on the select committee to probe the January 6 insurrection held a news conference Tuesday morning to complain they are being shut out from the probe.

But the fact that there are no allies of former President Donald Trump on the committee was a choice made by the GOP. It was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy who decided to pull all of his members from the investigative panel.

"It's with great disappointment today that I don't get to question my friend Harry Dunn," Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), one of McCarthy's picks for the committee, said at the news conference, referring to a law enforcement officer who is testifying about the Jan. 6 events at the committee's first hearing on Tuesday. "We don't get to ask the questions that will lead to why there was not a better security posture here on the Capitol complex."

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX), another Republican McCarthy appointed to the committee before he chose to pull his members out in protest, similarly said he is upset that he cannot ask questions on Tuesday. He said he wanted to understand why police were not prepared for the siege from the pro-Trump mob.

But Davis and Nehls did have the chance to ask questions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not block those men from being seated on the committee; she only refused to seat two of McCarthy's picks, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN), citing "an insistence on the truth" and "concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members."

But there appeared to be other conflicts as well.

Jordan reportedly spoke to Trump during the attack, making him a potential material witness to the event the committee is probing, according to remarks made by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) today.

Banks had released a statement after his selection by McCarthy slamming the probe.

"Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left's authoritarian agenda," Banks wrote in a statement.

Despite the complaints issued at the press conference, some Republicans do get to ask questions at the hearing.

Two GOP lawmakers — Cheney and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) — are both on the committee, after being appointed by Pelosi.

Both have vowed to make sure the investigation is taken seriously and produces a legitimate report while accusing McCarthy of aiming to do the opposite: stonewalling the investigation to protect Trump.

"There are some in my party, including Leader McCarthy, who continue to act as though this is about partisan politics," Cheney said Tuesday morning on ABC News. "I think it's really sad. I think it's a disgrace."

Without McCarthy's picks on the committee, Trump loyalists in the GOP won't have a mouthpiece to continue attacks on the investigation.

"At every step in this process Kevin McCarthy has acted in bad faith, shown loyalty to the person of Donald Trump rather than the United States of America, and told shameful lie after shameful lie," Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) tweetedTuesday after the GOP complaints about being shut out of the committee. "We need to be clear about that. Kevin McCarthy is lying."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Kinzinger Agrees To Join Special Panel Probing Capitol Insurrection

CHICAGO — Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump and his GOP allies in Congress, said Sunday he has agreed to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's request that he join the select committee examining the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Kinzinger said he “humbly accepted" Pelosi's request, adding that the investigation requires a “serious, clear-eyed, non-partisan approach." He vowed to “work diligently to ensure we get to the truth and hold those responsible for the attack fully accountable." “For months, lies and conspiracy ...