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Monday, December 09, 2019

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Greene Told Trump That Her QAnon Cultists Would Join January 6 Protest

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who pushed the debunked conspiracy theory that “Antifa,” not a pro-Trump mob, was behind the Capitol attack, informed former President Donald Trump that her supporters, including some QAnon cultists, would attend the January 6, 2021, rally that preceded the Capitol attack, ex-White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the House Select Committee.

The House panel’s latest release of full transcripts cache featured two more interviews with Hutchinson, its star witness, conducted last May and June that mentioned prominent Trumpworld figures including Greene, Trump himself, and his administration’s fourth and final chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

As Hutchinson recalled in the June closed-door deposition, Greene had brought up QAnon in several conversations with then-President Trump and in private communications with Meadows, the Independent reported.

“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene bringing QAnon up several the presence of the president, privately with Mark,” Hutchinson testified.

“I remember Mark having a few conversations, too, about — more specific to QAnon stuff and more about the idea that they had with the election and, you know, not as much pertaining to the planning of the January 6 rally,” she added.

Hutchinson also testified that Greene broached the outlandish conspiracy theory on January 4, 2021, during a campaign rally in Georgia that Trump attended to stump for then-Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans.

“... We were on the ground in Georgia… Mr. Meadows and I were having a conversation,” Hutchinson said, “Ms Greene came up and began talking to us about QAnon and QAnon going to the rally, and she had a lot of constituents that are QAnon, and they’ll all be there.”

“And she was showing him pictures of them traveling up to Washington, DC, for the rally on the 6th,” she added.

When the select committee’s vice chair, outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) asked Hutchinson if she recalled Trump talking about QAnon, the former aide disclosed that Greene had lauded her QAnon-supporting constituents in a chat with the lame-duck president.

“I heard him talk on the plane that night because Ms. Taylor Greene gave him a very similar spiel: These are my constituents. Look, one of them had a Q shirt on. They are on the plane,” Hutchinson said. “And she showed him a picture of them, saying: Those are all my people.”

In the days preceding January 6, Greene falsely accused “Joe Biden and the Democrats” of stealing the election, claimed without evidence that “President Trump won by a landslide,” and urged supporters to “flood the Capitol building.”

Yet, Greene told Lindell-TV, a disinformation platform owned by pro-Trump conspiracist and MyPillow magnate Mike Lindell, that anti-fascists were behind the Capitol attack and “no one can convince me it was so-called Trump supporters.”

Hutchinson also told congressional investigators that she recalled other right-wing luminaries discussing QAnon and far-right militias — the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys — including “several other members of Congress.”

Greene participated in these discussions with Trump and Meadows, said Hutchinson, and so far-right Reps. Scott Perry (R-PA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and former Trump White House adviser Peter K. Navarro.

“I remember Mr. Meadows and Mr. Perry talking about all of the groups [the Oath Keepers, QAnon, and the Proud Boys] and with several other members of Congress,” Hutchinson informed panel investigators.

“I remember Mr. Brooks mentioning some of the groups. Mr. Biggs, Ms. Marjorie Taylor Greene… Mr. Navarro had talked about them a couple of times,” she added.

Far-Right House Republicans Vote To Kill Child Sex Abuse Protection Act

The bipartisan Respect for Child Survivors Act, a law that would aid victims of child sex abuse and their families, just passed the House in a 385-28 vote.

All 28 votes against the bill came from Republicans.

The bill would require the FBI to form multi-disciplinary teams to aid sex abuse victims and their families in order to prevent re-traumatization from investigation and any cases from being dropped. These teams would include “investigative personnel, mental health professionals, medical personnel, family advocacy workers, child advocacy workers, and prosecutors,” Newsweek reported.

Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the legislation.

“I applaud Senator Cornyn’s leadership on this issue to correct an egregious wrong committed by certain FBI agents regarding their treatment of victims of sexual abuse,”said Sen. Graham.“Requiring the FBI to use appropriate, tried and true methods to interview child victims will help ensure the FBI’s failure in the Nassar case doesn’t happen again. This legislation will make it clear that we expect better.”

However, not all Republicans expect better from the FBI, it seems.

The bill was opposed by the following GOP Representatives: Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar (Arizona); Dan Bishop and Virginia Foxx (North Carolina); Lauren Boebert (Colorado), Mo Brooks and Barry Moore (Alabama); Louie Gohmert, Ronny Jackson, Troy Nehls, Chip Roy, and Michael Cloud (Texas); Andrew Clyde, Jody Hice, Austin Scott, and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia); James Comer and Thomas Massie (Kentucky); Rick Crawford (Arkansas); Byron Donalds and John Rutherford (Florida.); Bob Good (Virginia), Clay Higgins (Louisiana), Tom McClintock (California), Ralph Norman (South Carolina), Scott Perry (Pennsylvania.), Matt Rosendale (Montana), and Jeff Van Drew (New Jersey).

Despite this, the bill is supported by the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, the National District Attorneys Association, Army of Survivors, the National Children’s Alliance, Keep Kids Safe, Together for Girls, Darkness to Light, the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and the Brave Movement.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

How GOP House Members Keep Covering Up For Neo-Nazi Violence

One of the unfortunate realities of the Republican assumption of control of the House in 2023 is that congressional committees’ power to investigate far-right terrorism and insurrection will functionally evaporate, because the GOP has zero interest in pursuing the matter. Rather the opposite: Republicans have demonstrated over the past two years at congressional hearings that they’re intent on turning them into clown shows, diverting attention away from the subject as a means to cover their own culpability, trotting out bogus witnesses like Candace Owens to waste everyone’s time with claims that Democrats are the real terrorists.

Rep. Jamie Raskin’s House Committee on Oversight and Reform gave it one last shot this week, though, with a final hearing on “Confronting White Supremacy.” True to form, Republicans offered as their only witness an activist from the Independent Women’s Network (IWN) who claimed that the truly grave threat to American democracy wasn’t white supremacy, it was “the Woke Army.” Republican congressmen, meanwhile, tried to claim that the white supremacist who shot up a Black neighborhood grocery store in Buffalo was actually a “leftist.”

The GOP’s witness, IWN’s Asra Nomani, titled her testimony, “Woke Army unleashes a new racism on kids” on Twitter. She opened by pooh-poohing the idea that white supremacy poses any kind of serious threat, claiming: “Every single person is opposed to the idea of white supremacy.”

No doubt this will come as a surprise to people like Donald Trump’s recent dinner guests, Nick Fuentes and Kanye West, not to mention all the white nationalists who rubbed shoulders with Donald Trump Jr. and Steve Bannon at that recent black-tie gala in New York—as well as the army of explicit neofascists who promote white supremacy under the banners of outfits like Patriot Front.

Nomani, who specializes recently in so-called “parental rights” (think “Don’t Say Gay”) activism continued: “But we cannot replace an old hierarchy of human value with a new hierarchy of human value that demonizes children,” holding up a children’s book she claimed made white children feel badly about being white.

“Why is this a threat to our democracy?” she asked rhetorically, holding up a pair of posters that had briefly appeared in a classroom display of student-created posters—and seemingly oblivious to those students’ own free-speech rights. “Because we then have posters like this one in the Los Angeles school district. What does it say? F America, with KKK replacing the C. Because the idea is that our nation has become a white supremacist nation, and that is not true. That is not the reality. And we can see exhibited here today this poster also, F the police.” She went on:

This is an ideology that I call the Woke Army. It is an ideology of activists who are going through America’s school districts and our communities. And what they are doing is a threat to democracy. What is the greatest threat that our children face today? It is the learning loss that has happened in our school districts.

Republican Congressman Andy Biggs of Arizona—who remains deeply implicated in the Jan. 6 insurrection, particularly regarding his role in Donald Trump’s efforts to have “alternate” electors from key battleground send in bogus votes to the Electoral College—later tossed in his own dissent regarding the purpose of the hearing:

I wasn’t planning to do this, but since it’s been brought up, the Buffalo shooter—a heinous, evil being, absolutely there can be no excuse for it—but you know, we hear a lot about right-wing extremists, but this guy was an admitted socialist, who was thankful that the conservative movement was dead, he attacked Rupert Murdoch as a Christian Zionist, and he mentioned Ben Shapiro multiple times with rather pejorative terms because of his Jewish heritage. That’s evil. That guy is evil.

I raise that because I’m thinking, this was intoned today as well—the Pelosi attacking. Uh, David DePape. David DePape was a leftist himself, a radical leftist.

And the point is, there’s no exclusivity here. There’s evil in the world and we have to deal with that evil in the world. And it seems to me, statements like we heard in your written statement, Ms. McCord, actually provide inflammatory rhetoric that is dangerous as well.

Yes, in the MAGA alternative universe, it’s the people who call out the eliminationist rhetoric that targets vulnerable minorities—not the people who are wielding that rhetoric—who pose a real threat to the public.

Unfortunately for Biggs, DePape’s latest court hearing also occurred on Thursday, and it told a very different story: At one time, DePape was a generically left-leaning drifter, but in recent years had become a hardcore, red-pilled right-wing extremist. By the time he invaded the Pelosis’ San Francisco home and attacked the House speaker’s husband with a hammer, that had grown into a determination to act out on those beliefs violently: “They go from one crime to another crime to another crime to another crime,” DePape said in an interview played during the preliminary hearing, “and it’s just like the whole fucking four years until they were finally able to steal the election.”

DePape also told officials he planned to target California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Hunter Biden, and actor Tom Hanks: You know, your typical targets for a “left-wing radical.”

Republican Florida Congressman Byron Donalds chimed in to support Biggs’ similar up-is-down characterization of the Buffalo shooter:

Yeah, look, if you go back to the Buffalo shooter, which was awful, for all reasons considered. Did he cite replacement theory? Yes. Did he also cite socialist theories? He most definitely did. Did he target black people? A hundred percent he did. So if you combine all the issues with the Buffalo shooter, you have somebody who wanted to kill Black people—obviously that’s a white supremacist. But he also espoused ideas from the left wing of politics! Both things can occur at the same time! And they did in the Buffalo shooting.

And I think the thing that is the most frustrating in hearings like this is because the supposition from my colleagues is that if you are a white supremacist and at the same time you are on the right side of politics, the Buffalo shooter actually demonstrates that’s not true.

One of the other witnesses, Eric Ward of the Western States Center, explained carefully:

We should be clear that those targeted at the supermarket were targeted because they were Black. It was Black shoppers. Not all victims were Black, but the majority were. We should understand that the killer himself identified himself as an ethnonationalist, as an eco-fascist, and a national socialist, which is a reference to the Nazi party in Germany. When asked if folks could call him that, he said, in his own words, ‘I would not disagree with you.’ I think it’s important not to mislead in terms of the driving force of these killers, which was antisemitism. They were attacking a Black population because they saw African Americans as puppets of a Jewish cabal, of a Jewish conspiracy. And that’s why the killer acted in violence.

Raskin asked Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League, if he thought there were any indications that the Buffalo shooter was any kind of “leftist”: “The Buffalo shooter invoked the Great Replacement theory, engaged in other racist and antisemitic speech, he said he was inspired by the New Zealand mass murderer who killed more than 50 people and proclaimed his loyalty to antisemitism and racism and so on—if that person calls himself a national socialist, would you categorize him in your research on the left?” he asked.

Segal answered: “I think any sober look at the Buffalo shooter’s manifesto statements—and by the way, the symbols and names on his weapons: symbols of white supremacy, the names of white supremacist shooters before him—would recognize that as clearly a white-supremacist attack.”

Indeed, this was clear at the time of the attack, when the shooter’s manifesto made his right-wing orientation explicit: He was obsessed with nonwhite immigration, he despised liberals, and indeed explicitly stated that "fascism is one of the only political ideologies that will unite Whites against the replacers. Since that is what I seek, calling me a fascist would be accurate."

Raskin also inquired about Nomani’s “Woke Army” claims, asking Segal: “I just want to be clear about this, because we’ve been focused on violence today: Is there such a thing formally, literally, as a ‘Woke Army’ that has ever killed anyone in a synagogue like the Tree of Life synagogue, or a church like the Emmanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina, or a supermarket like the Tops supermarket, or a Wal-Mart? Does a ‘Woke Army’ exist as a violent threat to the American people?”

Segal readily answered: “I’m not aware of any Woke Army other than in a semantic argument type of way.”

Indeed, statistical studies of domestic terrorism and political violence have been unanimous on this point: Left-wing violence and terrorism, both in the United States and abroad, has been for decades relegated to a relative handful of incidents, while right-wing violence, in contrast, has been on a straight line rocketing upward in the past decade.

“I think the data suggests that we should be taking right wing domestic terrorism way more seriously than many have done,” University of Maryland criminal-justice professor Gary LaFree remarked about a recent study he conducted. “The ‘Fox News angle’ that antifa is just as dangerous as the Proud Boys just doesn't hold up right now.”

Well, that was an awesome way to finish out the 2022 election cycle! Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard revel in Raphael Warnock's runoff victory on this week's episode of The Downballot and take a deep dive into how it all came together. The Davids dig into the turnout shift between the first and second rounds of voting, what the demographic trends in the metro Atlanta area mean for Republicans, and why Democrats can trace their recent success in Georgia back to a race they lost: the famous Jon Ossoff special election in 2017.

We're also joined by one of our very favorite people, Daily Kos Elections alum Matt Booker, who shares his thoughts on the midterms and tells us about his work these days as a pollster. Matt explains some of the key ways in which private polling differs from public data; how the client surveys he was privy to did not foretell a red wave; and the mechanics of how researchers put together focus groups. Matt also reminisces about his time at "DKE University" and how his experience with us prepared him for the broader world of politics.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Bitter GOP Infighting Over Speakership Spreads To Committee Chairs

The GOP civil war over Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become Speaker of the House next month has spilled over into skirmishes among members angling for plum spots in the new, tiny majority. It’s vicious out there, people. And kind of hilarious.

Thursday morning broke with a report from Punchbowl News that McCarthy is talking about pushing all the contested chair races into January so that he doesn’t end up angering people while he’s trying to get them on his side. These races are usually decided in November or early December, so that the new majority and its committees can get staff in place and hit the ground running when the session begins. It’s a sign of just how chaotic things are right now in the House GOP.

That was made a whole lot juicier with the additional news that one of the guys who wants to be Ways and Means chair—Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)—is threatening to resign if he doesn’t get the nod from McCarthy. That’s a powerful threat—one fewer member could make McCarthy’s math problem even direr. Except that Buchanan says that story is bunk. “I was never contacted for that story, but the notion that I would consider resigning is laughable and ridiculous,” Buchanan told Florida Politics.

But here’s the good part: “Sources close to Buchanan characterized the news blurb as a vicious rumor from Smith world.” Fight! Fight!

The “Smith world” is by those around either of Reps. Adrian Smith (R-NE) or Jason Smith (R-MO) who are also vying for the chair of the powerful tax-writing committee. For now, the not-Smith in the race is hitching his wagon to McCarthy. “I’m committed to helping elect Kevin McCarthy Speaker and continue to work every day to earn the support of the Steering Committee to become the next Ways and Means Chairman,” Buchanan said.

The idea that McCarthy is putting off these contests until his is decided was confirmed by one member interviewed by the Capitol Hill paper, Roll Call. That lawmaker, “with knowledge of the situation,” said that it was likely these votes won’t be held until after Jan. 3, “though the situation remains in flux.”

That’s because McCarthy’s speaker bid remains in flux. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), the only announced candidate against McCarthy, doubled (tripled? quadrupled?) down on his challenge for the job Thursday.

He’s going to take this fight all the way to the floor, he promises. That could be his response to the idea another one of his anonymous colleagues came up with that he’s just putting himself forward as the sacrificial lamb, taking all the fire from McCarthy’s team to allow an unscathed alternative to emerge and take the gavel.

Or he could be telling his fellow never-McCarthy guy Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) to back off. Rosendale wasn’t too subtle about testing the waters for himself in an op-ed he wrote in the Billings Gazette.

Or maybe Biggs’ message is for current GOP whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-SC), McCarthy’s number 2 guy in leadership, who pointedly did not take himself out of the running for the speaker job with reporters this week.

Another person to keep an eye on is the odious Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who last month was re-elected as conference chair, the fourth-ranking post in the conference in a GOP majority. She got the job after the conference kicked Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) out of it last year, when Cheney proved a little too loyal to the Constitution for Republicans’ liking.

Stefanik has been uncharacteristically silent throughout this whole business. Granted, her path to the job is limited by the fact that she’s a she and thus will be written off by a decent chunk of the conference. Sure, she can be in a support job, but sitting in the chair? That’s for Democrats. Don’t count her out when it comes to making coups. Just ask Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who had the conference chair post until Stefanik came along, and who isn’t in leadership anymore.

Election season overtime is finally winding down, so Democratic operative Joe Sudbay joins David Nir on The Downballot as a guest-host this week to recap some of the last results that have just trickled in. At the top of the list is the race for Arizona attorney general, where Democrat Kris Mayes has a 510-vote lead with all ballots counted (a mandatory recount is unlikely to change the outcome). Also on the agenda is Arizona's successful Proposition 308, which will allow students to receive financial aid regardless of immigration status.

Over in California, Democrats just took control of the boards of supervisors in two huge counties, Riverside and Orange—in the case of the latter, for the first time since 1976. Joe and David also discuss which Democratic candidates who fell just short this year they'd like to see try again in 2024, and what the GOP's very skinny House majority means for Kevin McCarthy's prospects as speaker.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

House Republicans Reject Effort To Track And Curb Neo-Nazis In Military

The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to improve transparency about the ongoing problem of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the military and federal law enforcement. But every single Republican present voted no.

The party-line vote was 218-208 in favor of an amendment sponsored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) to "direct the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of Defense to publish a report that analyzes and sets out strategies to combat White supremacist and neo-Nazi activity in the uniformed services and Federal law enforcement agencies not later than 180 days after enactment and every six months thereafter."

The amendment's text requires that these reports include "the number of individuals discharged from the uniformed services due to incidents related to White supremacy and neo-Nazi activity," "the number of Federal law enforcement officers separated from federal agencies due to incidents related to White supremacy or neo-Nazi activity," a description of what happened in each incident, information about how the incidents were handled, and plans to address the problem.

In a floor speech explaining his proposal, Schneider cited a May report by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency titled, "Insider Threat and Extremist Activity Within the DOD."

He said the agency "laid out in a very clear presentation, defining what is domestic violent extremism, laying out the stages of development, highlighted seven cases of extremism in active-duty and former-duty servicemembers, and went on to describe — for commanders — steps they can take in prevention and reporting."

Noting that the amendment would help agencies track and address the problem, Schneider explained, "These are exceptions. They are rare, but we must do everything we can to identify them and thwart them before risks become reality."

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) denounced the amendment as "Orwellian" and said it "attempts to create a problem where none exists." He also predicted that potential military recruits would be so offended by even the existence of such a report that they would not join up:

Every member of the military who showed an interest or actual participation in a white supremacist or white nationalist group has faced discipline. The relevant branch either demoted the individual, discharged them, or otherwise disciplined the sympathizer. Further, the armed services have taken steps to address these concerns going all the way back to the 1980s.

At a time when it is difficult to recruit military and law enforcement, Democrats should be not be maligning their integrity by implying they're overrun with white supremacists and neo-Nazis. In fact, we have lost recently tens of thousands, forced out of service — military service — due to the vaccine mandate. We are way below in our recruiting levels. This type of malignancy, this type of imputation of bad conduct, in a generic form, in a generalized form, because that's what this amendment does, actually will make it harder to recruit.

Extremism is a real problem in the military. But Republican lawmakers have opposed even talking about the issue, suggesting that doing so is an attack on servicemembers and veterans.

At an October 2021 hearing by the House Veterans' Affairs Committee on domestic violent extremist groups targeting active and former military members for recruitment, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) complained, "I hope every veteran in America is watching this hearing today and hearing from you and the majority in control of this committee that our veterans are so stupid and susceptible to becoming domestic terrorists that you and the Democrats have to save them from it," adding, "It's wildly offensive and dangerous."

After all 208 Republicans present voted against the amendment, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) tweeted a photo of the vote breakdown, writing, "We just voted to combat neo[-N]azis in our military and every single [R]epublican voted no."

Despite the GOP's unanimous opposition, the Schneider amendment will now be part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, a must-pass bill to establish the budget and operating rules for the military for the upcoming year.

The House is expected to vote on final passage of the defense package by the end of this week.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

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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