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House Select Committee May Issue Subpoenas To GOP Lawmakers

While GOP lawmakers cheer the conservative Supreme Court’s reported willingness to overturn Roe v Wade — the culmination of a decades-long Republican effort to rip women’s rights to shreds — a congressional panel’s tightening investigation into the January 6 insurrection is about to take a turn forceful enough to flip those conservative smiles upside down.

The House Select Committee, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers looking into the deadly Capitol attack, particularly the roles former President Trump and his allies played in inciting the mob, has signaled its willingness to compel GOP lawmakers to cooperate with its investigation by way of subpoenas.

Sources familiar with the select committee’s investigative and deliberative process have told news media outlets that the panel will make its decision on subpoenas in the coming weeks. The select committee is wrapping up its probe in preparation for its public hearings in June.

After trying and failing to divert Congress’ focus to the “violence and public property damage” of the racial justice protest of Summer 2020, Republican lawmakers denounced the congressional investigation into January 6 as a partisan political tool wielded against Trump and refused to cooperate, so the select committee siphoned information from the Republicans’ deputies and assistants, per Politico.

However, the coordinated effort by GOP lawmakers and top Trump allies to stonewall the select committee’s investigation has angered members of the select committee, veering their sentiments towards the near-unprecedented subpoena action, according to the Guardian.

The sentiment shift in the select committee was triggered by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republican lawmakers’ refusal to voluntarily appear for an interview and compounded by three Trump allies’ strikingly similar refusal to testify.

Having pierced through Trump’s inner circle’s secrecy by turning to Trumpworld staffers who often witnessed, or were briefed, on sensitive meetings, the select committee is increasingly unwilling to ignore some Republican members of Congress’ deep involvement with Trump’s unlawful campaign to subvert the 2020 presidential elections.

Last week, the select committee sent letters to three House Republicans — Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Ronny Jackson (R-TX), the former physician for the Trump White House — requesting their voluntary cooperation in its investigation, a glance into the lawmaker’s unorthodox connections with the Trump White House, as well as the far-right militia groups that attacked the Capitol on January 6, The Guardian is reporting.

In the letter to Jackson, for instance, the select committee cited “encrypted messages” obtained from the Oath Keepers about “provid[ing] you personally with security assistance.” The panel wished to uncover how the Trump-supporting militia group learned that Jackson had “critical data” to guard, per text messages unveiled in the House panel’s court filings.

Although the select committee is running out of options in its pursuit of accountability for the perpetrators who incited the pro-Trump mob to stall Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s victory, its members are reluctant to resort to subpoenas, for fear that their colleagues would drag the panel into lengthy legal battles for its attempt to compel their testimonies.

However, sources on the select committee told the Guardian they’re confident some Republican congressional representatives will comply with subpoenas out of fear that Democrats would, in a similar fashion, defang future Republican subpoenas, should the party win back control of the House come November’s midterms.

Republicans Who Don't Represent New York City Are Furious Over Its Vaccine Mandate

House Republicans are blasting a new COVID-19 safety requirement implemented by New York City, including several who don't represent districts anywhere near the city.

"Mayor de Blasio will impose a first-in-the-nation vaccine mandate for all PRIVATE sector workers in NYC," Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs tweeted on Monday. "Bill de Blasio isn't a mayor, he is a tyrant."

Michigan Rep. Lisa McClain wrote, "Mayor de Blasio is placing vaccine mandates on the NYC private sector. Maybe he doesn't understand what the word private means."

"Just because Bill de Blasio lost his job doesn't mean he has to make New Yorkers lose their jobs," complained Texas Rep. Lance Gooden.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, whose New York district does not include any of the city, also added, "No one wants to live through this de Blasio gone wild power kick anymore. This new COVID vax mandate isn't just wrong & disastrous for NYC, but it's also illegal. If courts don't intervene, many NYC residents are about to lose their job which they don't deserve & can't afford."

They were upset that Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is term-limited and serving out the final weeks of his time leading New York City, announced a private sector vaccine mandate earlier in the day.

Under the order, which de Blasio calls a "pre-emptive strike" to prevent another wave of COVID-19 cases, nearly all in-person workers will be required to get vaccinated by the end of the month. Everyone above age 5 will also be required to get vaccinated before entering dining or entertainment venues.

The new order comes as coronavirus cases are trending back up nationally and the first domestic omicron variant cases are being reported.

It also comes as new data shows that areas with high rates of vaccination are faring noticeably better than those with lower rates. A Washington Post analysis on Saturday found that death rates were far below the national average in counties with the highest rates of vaccination.

And in large part due to high vaccination rates in Democratic-leaning areas, an NPR report on Sunday noted, the COVID-19 death rates in counties that voted heavily for ex-President Donald Trump in the 2020 election were nearly three times as high as in counties that favored President Joe Biden.

Despite significant data indicating that vaccine requirements work, congressional Republicans have fought to block them.

More than 200 House Republicans last month signed on to an effort to overturn Biden's requirements that workers at businesses with 100 employees or more either get vaccinated or get tested for COVID-19 weekly. Biggs, Gooden, McClain, and Zeldin all are co-sponsors of that effort.

Now, in addition to opposing a national policy, these lawmakers are trying to dictate what elected officials in localities far from their own districts can do to combat the pandemic and keep their constituents safe.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

What January 6 Rally Organizers Are Telling Congressional Investigators

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Several House Republicans—exactly the ones you would guess—were involved in planning meetings for protests on January 6 as Trump supporters tried to block the certification of the 2020 election and with it, Donald Trump's loss, two sources have detailed to Rolling Stone.
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Trumpist Diehards Still Question Biden’s Victory in House Oversight Hearing

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Pro-Trump Republican congressmen repeatedly questioned Joe Biden's victory in Arizona's 2020 presidential election in a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Thursday -- despite testimony from Maricopa County's top elected Republicans that their election results were accurate and that 2020 saw the best-run presidential election in years.

"I was asked who won [the presidential election] in Arizona. I don't know," said Rep. Andrew Biggs (R-AZ) "We've not resolved the issues that took place."

"It's somehow wrong for Republicans to raise legitimate questions when we had an election that was fraught with irregularities and potential fraud," said Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA).

The House hearing was called to discuss the "audit" of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona and "threats" to American democracy by copycat efforts in other battleground states. It yielded little new information about the review sanctioned by the Arizona state Senate but did highlight the voices of locally elected Republicans who rejected Trump's stolen-election claims.

"I want to start by saying that the election of November 3, 2020, in Maricopa County, was free, fair, and accurate," said Jack Sellers, who chairs the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. "They executed a secure, accurate, and efficient election… during a worldwide pandemic."

Sellers also observed that "a small yet loud minority" had pushed the state's Senate to launch an outsourced review led by pro-Trump contractors with no prior election auditing experience. The Senate's investigators went looking for problems that would somehow validate and perpetuate Donald Trump's unproven claims of a stolen election, said Sellers, and Arizona's legislative leaders would not listen to facts.

"During the last 10 months, I've learned a lot about people," Sellers continued. "I was naive in thinking I could sit down with our state Senate leadership and explain the answers to their questions and accusations, and we could put this uncertainty behind us and move on."

Bill Gates, a Republican election lawyer and Maricopa County Board of Supervisors vice chair, expanded on Sellers' remarks and noted the corrosive effect of the "audit" on democracy.

"It was the most scrutinized election [result] in the history of Maricopa County," Gates said. "Election experts said that. Machine counts confirmed it. Hand counts confirmed it. The court system reconfirmed it, and our residents were happy, too. We did a poll of 80,000 of our voters and 90 percent of them said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the election."

"Unfortunately, some in our party see it differently," Gates continued. "They have attacked the work that was done by our elections workers in Maricopa County, and they have fanned the flames of conspiracy. And this willingness to do so, unfortunately, is what led to the first non- peaceful transfer of power in our country's history [on January 6]. And unfortunately, Arizona has been at the center of this attack on our American ideals."

Gates noted that events since Election Day have led to a national pattern where many Republicans, led by Trump supporters, have cast doubt on contests that the party lost. Those attacks, Democrats on the House panel said, have become a pretext for altering state laws to make voting harder, and to try to give state officials new authority to overturn the popular vote.

"Even though Joe Biden won Arizona, by 45,000 votes [in Maricopa County], 20 members of the Arizona legislature signed a resolution asking Congress to disregard those results and seat a slate of Trump electors," Gates recounted. "That was, without a doubt, a staggering refusal to follow the will of the voters."

"The problem we have [is] Donald Trump refused to accept the results," said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). "And unfortunately, we have one of the world's great political parties which has followed him off of this ledge of this electoral lunacy. And it's dangerous for democracy."

The House hearing disclosed few new details about the Arizona Senate's review led by the Cyber Ninjas, whose CEO, Doug Logan, was invited to speak but did not appear. The Cyber Ninjas also have not complied with the panel's demands for documentation related to the review.

On September 24, the Cyber Ninjas' team told Arizona legislators that Biden won the election, and even gained votes, while Trump lost some votes. However, the investigators released little documentation of their vote counts, and also raised many questions about technicalities that they claimed called into question tens of thousands of votes.

The hearing became a spectacle where congressional Republicans repeatedly ignored the Cyber Ninjas' conclusions about Biden's victory, and instead cited bureaucratic issues that the only speaker defending the Senate's review said would not have changed the election's result.

"It would not change that outcome—correct," said Ken Bennett, the Arizona Senate's liaison to the audit and a former Arizona secretary of state. "Did the audit show that Mr. Biden got more votes than Donald Trump in Maricopa County? Yes, the audit shows that."

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.

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.

The Sedition Caucus, Under Oath

It is an indisputable fact that House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, were at the very heart of former President Donald Trump's coup plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. While more than hints and clues have pointed to their involvement ever since the January 6 insurrection, their central role emerged this past week when notes of a December 27, 2020, conversation between Trump and the acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen were disclosed.

Informed by Rosen that the Department of Justice could not and would not reverse President Joe Biden's election victory, Trump urged him to "just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen." Moments later, Trump referred specifically to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, founder of the Freedom Caucus and close associate of Mark Meadows, the former Freedom Caucus chair who left Congress to become Trump's White House chief of staff.

Jordan is so far unwilling to say whether he will testify about the insurrection if he is summoned, just as he refused years ago to assist official inquiries into hundreds of sexual assaults on the Ohio State wrestling team in which he was suspected of complicity or worse. But this time, if the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol requests his appearance, either voluntarily or by subpoena, he will have to show up or face legal consequences. So will several other members of the Capitol Hill "sedition caucus" who sought to invalidate Biden's election, including McCarthy and Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, to name a few of the most prominent.

And so will their longtime confederate Meadows, who has already been subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee in the Rosen matter and "may face significant criminal exposure," according to the Just Security website published by New York University School of Law.

Each of these Republican myrmidons has serious questions to answer. Brooks, donning a flak jacket when he addressed the pre-riot Trumpist rally at the Ellipse on January 6 calling for "kicking ass," has claimed immunity, a justification denied by the DOJ. Boebert allegedly gave a tour through the Capitol with unknown persons later identified as insurrectionists in December and January. "Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander boasted of concocting a plan to intimidate Congress from certifying the election with Gosar, Biggs, and Brooks.

Jordan was implicated in the coup effort very early, even before Election Day, when he publicly accused Democrats of planning to corrupt the balloting. In the weeks leading up to the insurrection, he plotted with Meadows and Trump at the White House; in the days afterward, he was given the Medal of Freedom by Trump in a closed ceremony there. It is undoubtedly the first time that high honor has been awarded for seditious conspiracy against the Republic.

As the Lincoln historian and former presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal pointed out in a recent Guardian column, members of Congress possess no immunity against a subpoena from a House investigating committee. Moreover, as Blumenthal also noted, there is richly ironic precedent to summon all of these characters, voluntarily or otherwise, in the official Senate probe of John Brown's infamous Harpers Ferry raid on the eve of the Civil War. Leading that investigation was none other than Mississippi Sen. Jefferson Davis, the traitor who later served as president of the Confederacy (whose battle flag soiled the Capitol hallways on January 6.)

Harper's Ferry was the last domestic insurrection to come under congressional scrutiny — until now. Among the witnesses called to testify about the events leading up to Brown's attack were two antislavery Republican senators suspected by Davis of knowing or aiding him. And it is safe to say that Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and other Democrats on the committee are aware of that precedent.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans named to the committee by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has suggested that Jordan and McCarthy, both of whom spoke with Trump on January 6, should be called — and a very large and rapt television audience awaits her questioning of them.

Meadows, who spent that day and the days preceding the insurrection with Trump in the White House and knows what the former president did and didn't do, will have to face the music. It will not be the last time he's been caught in a coup. In January 2013, when he conspired with Jordan to overthrow Republican House Speaker John Boehner, he was exposed in the failed attempt. He later came to the speaker's office, according to Boehner, got down on his knees, and pleaded, "Will you please forgive me?" Meadows will undoubtedly have another opportunity to get on his knees soon.

These ultra-right Republicans are the face of an authoritarian and frankly nihilist insurgency that began its takeover of the Grand Old Party back when their model Newt Gingrich rose to power as speaker. It is no surprise that this miscreant crew now surrounds their would-be dictator Trump like a praetorian guard, or that they spearheaded his attempt to destroy democracy. But the time is rapidly approaching when they will have to answer for those actions under oath. Of course, Jordan and Meadows and Brooks and Boebert and the other members of the gang can always plead the Fifth Amendment.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

House Republicans Explode As Capitol Police Enforce Masking Rules

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans vehemently criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday after Capitol Police officials announced they would begin enforcing COVID-19 safety rules once again.

"In today's edition of Pelosi's abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals," Florida Rep. Kat Cammack tweeted.

"To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to ARREST vaccinated people who aren't wearing masks," added House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. "This isn't about science—it's about power and control."

Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik claimed in a separate tweet that Pelosi was an "authoritarian" for reissuing the mask directive, while Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs called it "insanity."

"Threatening arrest for not wearing a mask is unlawful and tyrannical!" he wrote.

Other Republican lawmakers dared the House Speaker to punish them for not complying.

"Nancy Pelosi has lost her damn mind, arresting staff and visitors for not wearing masks? This is the People's House, not her House," tweeted Florida Rep. Byron Donalds. "Let me make it easy for you, Speaker Pelosi, my office, and my visitors won't comply — have an issue with that? Come see me."

The barrage of complaints came after the Capitol Police issued a memo citing the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance urging vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor settings to curb the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, and a decision by Congress' attending physician to require mask use in the federal building.

The CDC made its determination based on new evidence that some fully vaccinated people may still contract and spread the Delta variant.

House rules, adopted by the majority of its members in accordance with the Constitution, already require face mask use in the chamber. That rule had been eased prior to the latest public health data for vaccinated members, but was tightened again after two GOP lawmakers announced they had contracted COVID-19 in the past two weeks (one had been fully vaccinated, the other had previously had the disease).

The Capitol Police memo stated that any "visitor or staff member" found not wearing a mask would be "denied entry to the House." If an unmasked individual continued trying to circumvent the rule, it read, they could be "subject to an arrest."

Many of the Republicans lashing out on Thursday have made efforts in the past to frame themselves as defenders of "law and order."

In a July 1 tweet, Stefanik branded herself "the North Country's Law & Order Candidate."

And in February, Biggs claimed only Republicans could be considered "the party of the Constitution, law and order, freedom, and smaller government."

On Wednesday, Republicans spent more than an hour of House time making repeated failed motions to adjourn the work day, in protest of the mask requirements. During a floor speech, Texas Rep. Chip Roy suggested that the "institution is a sham and we should adjourn and shut this place down" over the reintroduced safety measures.

On Thursday, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said that she had directed staff to work from home over the requirements, tweeting, "No one should be arrested over a mask. We should follow the science not Speaker Pelosi."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

House Freedom Caucus Mounts Doomed Bid To Remove Pelosi

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The far-right wing of the House Republican caucus is demanding the party immediately mount a quixotic bid to remove Nancy Pelosi from her position as Speaker of the House. They claim the California Democrat is too "authoritarian."

In a letter dated July 23, the House Freedom Caucus asked Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the House Republican Conference to "bring up a privileged motion by July 31, 2021 to vacate the chair and end Nancy Pelosi's authoritarian reign as Speaker of the House." They ask McCarthy (R-CA) to obtain authorization from the party conference to force a vote on a resolution to remove Pelosi.

Formed in 2015, the Freedom Caucus is a group of hard-line conservative House Republicans. It claims to "support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans." While it does not disclose its roster, dozens of its members have been identified, including its chair, Andy Biggs (AZ), and its vice chair, Jim Jordan (OH).

The letter to McCarthy specifies a handful of grievances against Pelosi, who the group claims is "destroying the House of Representatives and our ability to faithfully represent the people we are here to serve."

First, they charge that she "has championed unconstitutional changes like allowing proxy voting and insulting security metal detectors for Members coming to the floor to vote."

These moves were not unconstitutional. The Constitution expressly grants each chamber the authority to "determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member."

After numerous COVID-19 cases in Congress, the House voted to pass a temporary rule change to allow members to designate a colleague to serve as their proxy if they are "unable to physically attend proceedings in the House chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency."

Republicans initially objected, calling the change a decision by the Democrats to "abandon ship" and filing a federal lawsuit challenging the work-from-home system. A federal judge rejected their case last August, and a three-judge appellate panel unanimously dismissed their appeal on Tuesday — but McCarthy's office said he plans to ask the Supreme Court to intervene.

But dozens of House Republicans — including several members of the Freedom Caucus — have taken advantage of the system. Some even used it as an excuse to skip work and attend the CPAC conference in February.

The House also voted to require members to pass through metal detectors after several ignored a prohibition on firearms in the chamber.

The Freedom Caucus' letter also complains of Pelosi's decision not to appoint two GOP members chosen by McCarthy to the select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection, as well as the House's February vote to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from her committee assignments over her racist and bigoted behavior.

"Less easily reversible is the damage done to the institution by the Leadership of one party directing the ability of Members of another party to serve in roles at the direction of their own conference," they wrote, adding that this followed "the intolerable action of unseating another Republican from her committees."

Numerous House members who later joined the Freedom Caucus voted in 2014 to create an earlier select committee to study the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. That committee was appointed at the sole discretion of the Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner.

And 200 House Republicans — including most members of the Freedom Caucus — voted this March to remove Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Even if the Freedom Caucus convinces the rest of the House Republicans to force a vote on Pelosi's removal, it is almost certain to fail in the majority-Democratic House.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.