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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: january 6 select committee

New Testimony Shatters Sean Hannity's January 6 Alibi For Trump

In an attempt to undermine the House Select Committee, Fox News launched an entire-network offensive to repeatedly — with little evidence — claim that outgoing President Donald Trump had called thousands of National Guard troops to secure the Capitol in the days prior to the insurrection.

Nobody played a bigger role in this misinformation machine than Sean Hannity, who pushed the lie hundreds of times in total, and at least on 43 episodes of his prime-time Fox show, and 48 editions of his daily radio show. (His Fox spot earns him almost 3 million viewers, and the latter garners him over 13 million.)

But like most right-wing conspiracy theories about the January 6 putsch, this tale shattered under the burden of proof, turning out to be a fabrication to portray the former president as a peacemaker, rather than an instigator of the violence.

On Tuesday, the January 6 committee released testimony from former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller stating that there “was no order from the president” to call 10,000 troops to the Capitol in preparation for January 6. (Previous reporting from Vanity Fair described how Trump made an informal comment, which Miller took as a sign that Trump expected millions of supporters to attend his rally. As Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed to The Washington Post, there was also “no record of such an order being given.”)

In a stunning about-face from his testimony to the committee, Miller even appeared on Hannity on June 6, with Trump loyalist and former Pentagon chief of staff Kash Patel, to claim that the former president had authorized 20,000 troops from the National Guard.

After Patel described the meeting in which Trump supposedly authorized the troops, Hannity said to his guests, “Let me – let me be very clear. Both of you said this under oath and under the threat of penalty and perjury to the committee?” Miller responded, “Oh absolutely, Sean.”

What caused this discrepancy in Miller’s testimony is unclear. What is abundantly clear, however, is that within Fox News’ affinity for distorting the truth about January 6, Miller and Patel found a welcome audience in Sean Hannity, who in turn incessantly spewed the lies to his audience.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Ron Johnson Implicated In Trump’s Fake Elector Scheme

The January 6 select committee released a text message from the Wisconsin Republican senator's staff trying to submit fraudulent electors.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) attempted to help subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election, text messages released by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection revealed on Tuesday.

As part of its televised hearing, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol revealed that Sean Riley, Johnson's chief of staff, attempted to arrange to transmit fraudulent Electoral College certificates to then-Vice President Mike Pence falsely showing that defeated President Donald Trump had won Michigan and Wisconsin.

Casey Lucier, an investigative counsel for the committee, said in the presentation that at the behest of the Trump campaign, "a staffer for Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson texted a staffer for Vice President Pence just minutes before the beginning of the joint session" at which the House and Senate would receive the Electoral College results and certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

Riley messaged Chris Hodgson, Pence's director of legislative affairs, at 12:37 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, saying, "Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise." Asked what the item was, Riley answered, "Alternate slate of electors for MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them."

Hodgson responded, "Do not give that to him."

Biden won the popular vote in Michigan and Wisconsin in November 2020 — as well as in swing states Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, and Pennsylvania — and thus earned all of those states' votes in the 538-member Electoral College.

But 84 Trump supporters in those seven states pretended to be electors and tried to cast electoral votes for Trump. The New Mexico and Pennsylvania fake delegations wrote that their votes should be counted only if the election was disputed (which Pennsylvania's results ultimately were), while the rest simply falsely declared themselves to be the legitimate electors.

Federal prosecutors are reportedly investigating the false Trump electors' plan to overturn the election.

The January 6 committee documented that the Trump campaign was deeply involved with this effort — part of what Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said Sunday amounted to a "seditious conspiracy."

While Johnson initially backed the scheme to reject Biden's win in some of the swing states, he ultimately voted to uphold Biden's win after Trump supporters' invasion of the U.S. Capitol delayed the joint session for several hours.

In September 2021, Wisconsin Public Radio reported that a recording — apparently made without Johnson's awareness — captured the Republican senator admitting that there was "nothing obviously skewed about the results" of the 2020 election in Wisconsin.

"The only reason Trump lost Wisconsin is 51,000 Republican voters didn't vote for him," Johnson said in the recording. "If all the Republicans voted for Trump the way they voted for [Wisconsin State] Assembly candidates, he would have won. He didn't get 51,000 votes other Republicans got — that's why he lost."

In response to a request by the American Independent Foundation for comment, Johnson spokesperson Alexa Henning shared a pair of tweets minimizing — but not actually denying anything about — the committee's findings.

"The senator had no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office. This was a staff to staff exchange. His new Chief of Staff contacted the Vice President's office," Henning wrote. "The Vice President's office said not to give it to him and we did not. There was no further action taken. End of story."

Johnson, who is seeking a third term this November despite promising to limit his tenure to two terms, already faced an uphill battle for re-election before this latest revelation.

The four Democratic candidates seeking the Senate nomination seized on Tuesday's news and condemned Johnson's role in the conspiracy.

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes released a statement calling for Johnson to step down: "Ron Johnson actively tried to undermine this democracy. He literally tried to hand Mike Pence fake ballots. Once again, Ron Johnson has proven he's a danger to our country and our fundamental rights. I'm calling for him to resign immediately."

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski tweeted, "There it is. Ron Johnson was directly involved in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election and overrule the will of Wisconsin voters. He is a threat to our democracy and a disgrace to our state."

Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry wrote, "Ron Johnson is a seditious traitor and a danger to democracy."

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson added: "The @January6thCmte just introduced evidence that fully implicates @SenRonJohnson in the 'fake elector' scheme to overthrow American democracy. Tell me how this isn't a crime? I've called for him to be subpoenaed by the committee. I hope the @USDOJ pays attention as well."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Conservative Judge: Trump Is ‘Clear And Present Danger’ To Democracy

Retired Judge J. Michael Luttig testified under oath before the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on Thursday that the former president, Donald Trump, and his MAGA supporters are a “clear and present danger to American democracy.”

Luttig, a highly-respected conservative attorney and a former federal judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, advised then-Vice President Mike Pence that the John Eastman scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election was illegal.

“I have written, as you said, Chairman Thompson, that today – almost two years after that fateful day in January of 2021 – that still, Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.”

“That’s not because of what happened on January 6. Is because to this very day, the former president, his allies and supporters, pledge that in the presidential election of 2024 if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican Party presidential candidate were to lose that election that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.”

Luttig goes on to say, “I would have never have spoken those words ever in my life except that that’s what the former president and his allies are telling us.”

“The former president and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 and open and plain view of the American public.”


Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Endorse This: Colbert Says 'Come Get Me' To Proud Boy Joe Biggs

Late Show host Stephen Colbert didn't mince words last night when he delivered a message to the Proud Boys leader who mentioned his name in court.

."You are going to jail you neo-numbnut, and if you don’t like it, you can come and get me," quipped Colbert during his monologue. "Welcome to the monkey house, brother."

Apparently, Colbert's name came up in a statement from a lawyer representing Joseph Biggs, a Proud Boys leader indicted for their role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Biggs is charged with seditious conspiracy, a crime that carries a potential sentence of 20 years in prison. Biggs argued that his trial should be moved out of Washington D.C. due to Colbert's "negative press and media coverage about the fraternity known as the Proud Boys."

Wait, fraternity?

"Oh that's right, the Proud Boys is just a fraternity. January 6 was just hazing. I mean we all heard their chant," Colbert, 58, said Wednesday.

Watch the segment below:

Newly Released Footage Raises Questions About Capitol ‘Tour’ On Day Before Riot (VIDEO)

A man who appears to be seen taking photos of security checkpoints and hallways in the U.S. Capitol during a tour led by Republican Representative Barry Loudermilk on January 5, 2021, is also allegedly seen—and heard—in footage captured from January 6 where he is outside of the Capitol screaming threats at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Reps. Jerry Nadler and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The committee released segments of security footage from the tour on Wednesday morning, arriving fresh on the heels of an announcement by U.S. Capitol Police chief Tom Manger stating that the department found “no evidence” that Loudermilk led a “reconnaissance tour” of the complex with supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The man who appears to be taking photographs has not yet been identified publicly but according to multiple outlets including CNN, he has been interviewed by the select committee.

Committee chairman Bennie Thompson first asked Loudermilk to cooperate with the probe voluntarily this May, giving him an opportunity to discuss the video footage the panel discovered during its review of key Capitol surveillance video.

In a statement, USCP Chief Manger said footage reviewed by the department did show Loudermilk with a group of 12 people that initially ticked up to 15 as they walked through a number of office buildings around the U.S. Capitol. Manger said the guests did not “appear in any tunnels” leading to the Capitol itself.

The committee’s release appears to challenge that narrative, or at the very least, point out behavior it still deems highly suspicious.

“The foregoing information raises questions the Select Committee must answer,” Thompson wrote in a letter to Loudermilk on Wednesday morning.

“Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol as well as House and Senate office buildings in advance of January 6, 2021,” Thompson wrote. “For example, in the week following January 6, 2021, members urged law enforcement leaders to investigate sightings of ‘outside groups in the complex’ on January 5, 2021, that ‘appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day.”

The individuals accompanying Loudermilk, the committee noted, “photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists, including hallways, staircases, and security checkpoints.”

Including an image in the letter of an individual appearing to photograph a staircase in the basement of the Longworth House Office Building, Thompson notes Loudermilk is just nearby talking to other members of the group in the background.

In the nearly three-minute-long video shared by the committee, the man believed to be part of the Capitol complex tour given by Loudermilk on the 5th is recorded by a friend on the morning of the 6th.

They are near the Washington Monument when his friend shows him a flagpole he’s carrying with a sharpened end.

“That’s for a certain person,” the companion tells the man.

“That’s right, that’s for somebody special, somebody special,” the man responds.

On the day of the Capitol assault, that same man taking photographs of the halls a day before is excitedly heard clamoring about “patriots” converging on the Capitol in a recorded video.

“There’s no escape Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler, we’re coming for you. We’re coming in like white on rice for Pelosi, Nadler, Schumer, even you AOC. We’re coming to take you out and pull you out by your hairs.

How about that Pelosi? Mind as well make yourself another appointment. When I get done with you you gonna need a shine up on top of that bald head,” he says.

The video also shows two photos obtained by the committee that appear to have been taken by the same person. One photo is of a nameplate for Rep. Jerry Nadler, something that would typically appear just outside of a lawmaker’s office. Another photo captured the physical directory of Democratic majority members.

Before the video came out, on Tuesday, Loudermilk accused the committee of falsely accusing him of giving reconnaissance tours.

“To my knowledge, no one that visited my office on January 5 was involved in any illegal activity on Januar 6, so if the committee has the evidence they should release it, not just make accusations,” Loudermilk told CNN.

A representative for U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Punchbowl News was the first to report that the committee had this footage.

When calls for an investigation were first raised by a group of more than 30 Democrats about Loudermilk’s tours, he issued a swift denial and filed a House Ethics complaint against Democrats who demanded a closer examination.

Loudermilk slammed the Democrat's request for an investigation as a “stain” on Congress. He also voted to overturn the certification of the 2020 election results on Jan. 6 after the attack.

During the riot Loudermilk, according to texts obtained by the select committee, sent a message to Trump’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows.

‘It’s really bad up here on the Hill. They have breached the Capitol,” he wrote.

Loudermilk has defended the tour he gave of the Capitol on January 5 as something he did for “a constituent family with young children” merely eager to meet with their congressman.

A member of Democratic Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García’s staff, deputy communications director and digital director Ben Kamens, said on Twitter Wednesday that he saw the group identified by the committee in the Capitol Tunnel between the Longworth and Cannon and Capitol building between 1 and 2 p.m. on January 5.

Kamens said they were unescorted. He has already provided this information to the committee and law enforcement.

Kamens told Daily Kos over email Wednesday that he remotely interviewed voluntarily with the committee in February and sat for just under an hour.

“I approached one of them and asked them to put on a mask because people that work here have pre-existing conditions and it was before the wide availability of vaccines,” Kamens said.

Indeed, the Capitol building was closed to visitors and anyone on unofficial business.

“It was a group of mostly older women [in their] 40s to 50s and young men, late teens early 20s that I saw,” Rep. Garcia’s communications director said Wednesday. “I wouldn’t have gone that way if it wasn’t an intern’s first day and I wasn’t showing her how to get around on our way to get her ID badge.”

At the time Kamens said he witnessed this, he was working as a congressional aide to Rep. Andy Kim, a New Jersey Democrat.

Kim inadvertently made headlines after the insurrection. He was spotted cleaning up debris from the floor of the rotunda after the building was secured.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat who has experienced routine harassment by the former president’s supporters and Republican members of Congress, responded to the video release in a tweet on Wednesday.

Rep. Loudermilk did not respond immediately to a request for comment Wednesday.

He released a statement late Wednesday afternoon, however, accusing the committee of “doubling down on a smear campaign” against him and claimed to have received death threats as a result of the footage’s release.

The Georgia Republican also said he did not recognize the man making threats toward Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler, and Ocasio-Cortez.

CBS News reported on Wednesday that it reached Al Foley, identified as “one of the Rep. Loudermilk’s constituents who toured the Capitol with the Congressman” on January 5 and was previously interviewed by the House Select Committee.

Foley told CBS that suggestions it was a reconnaissance tour were “the farthest thing from the truth.” The allegation, Foley said, was “disgusting.”

A spokesman for the committee told Daily Kos on Wednesday that he did not believe Foley was the man taking photos of the stairwell leading up to the Longworth Building.

In another clip obtained by NBC News on Wednesday that was not a part of the original three-minute clip released by the committee, the same man seen taking pictures during the tour with Loudermilk on January 5 filmed another part of his visit in the Capitol.

In related news, in a court filing on Wednesday, Proud Boy Zachary Rehl entered a document onto the record that generated a considerable stir this spring: an extensive plan to attack and occupy federal buildings. Proud Boy ringleader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, who is now facing seditious conspiracy charges for crimes connected to January 6, allegedly cited the plan during the attack.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Endorse This! Colbert Owns Fox News On Avoiding January 6 Coverage

Even if Fox News choose to ignore the explosive January 6th hearings like Covid guidance in order to keep their viewers ignorant as always, every major news network broadcasted the first of several high-profile hearings involcing all the sordid details of the January 6th insurrection. And while the Republican party of treason claimed that the first airing of hearings would be a "nothing burger," it was a freaking impossible burger.

The Late Show host Stephen Colbert weighed in on why the hearings were quite significant and why Fox News desperately made sure not a single one of their sheep (or viewers) turned the channel.

“They were wrong,” he said to cheers from his audience. “It was such a juicy burger that Fox News knew that even their viewers would be tempted to take a bite. Which is why—and this is true—for the hour of his show opposite the hearings, Tucker Carlson took no commercial breaks.”

“Do you understand what that means?” he asked. “Fox News is willing to lose money to keep their viewers from flipping over and accidentally learning information.” But the host said he wasn’t “surprised” because “that’s the first rule of any cult: never leave the compound.” The second rule? “Present your testicles to the tanning station.”

Watch the entire segment below:

As Hearings Expose Coup Plot, Expect Fireworks Between Trump And Pence

This week the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol will commence its public hearings on Thursday, June 9 at 8 p.m. ET beginning what will be a month-long presentation of evidence that congressional investigators have compiled through extensive interviews with key witnesses to the violent insurrection incited by former President Donald Trump.

Hearings will be televised and streamed online and will feature live witness testimony, new and unseen video footage, and previously-recorded interviews with members of Trump’s innermost circle and reportedly, members of his family including his daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law-turned-White House adviser, Jared Kushner, and others.

On the path to this moment, investigators have amassed over 125,000 pages of records and hundreds of hours of deposition. Many records were obtained voluntarily, while others were only secured after hard-fought but critically victorious legal battles against Trump and his entourage of lawyers, campaign and administration staff, so-called “alternate electors,” and other allies like right-wing conspiracy theory peddlers and members of extremist hate groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

Committee investigator, constitutional scholar, and Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, described the probe’s findings to this Daily Kos reporter recently:

“This was a coup that was orchestrated by the president against the vice president and against the Congress,” he said.

“The insurrection is only comprehensible when you understand that it was unleashed as a way to assist this political coup, this inside political coup. Donald Trump and his entourage had been looking for ways to overthrow the 2020 presidential election results for months.”

The hearings begin June 9 at 8 p.m. ET. The next hearings will be held at 10 a.m. on June 13th, 15th, 16th, and 21st. The final anticipated session will unfold on June 23rd at 8 p.m. ET.

For the first hearing, the violence that exploded at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 will be put into whip-sharp relief as the committee is expected to introduce the broad strokes of a plot that its members say was orchestrated by the former president to stop the nation’s transfer of power after he lost the popular and Electoral College vote to Joe Biden in 2020.

Other hearings will zero in on how that plot was navigated including through the use of bogus electors in key battleground states. It is expected that the committee will explore the nuances behind the concerted pressure campaign foisted on then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop the counting of votes by Congress on January 6 despite a lack of constitutional authority to do so.

Trump’s private conduct in the White House on the day of the insurrection, which reportedly included him vocalizing support for those clamoring to “Hang Mike Pence,” will also come under the magnifying glass.

As a result of the Jan. 6 attack, five people died. Hundreds of police officers were assaulted. More than $1 million in damages were inflicted to the Capitol building alone. The committee, as it has made clear since its inception, does not have the power to prosecute anyone, It only has the power to investigate and legislate.

A final report with legislative recommendations will be issued this September.

What those recommendations will look like exactly is uncertain for now, but the committee has said repeatedly over the last 11 months that its plan is to beef up all available legislative firewalls against would-be usurpers of the nation’s peaceful, democratic process.

Important to note is that a criminal referral of Trump by the committee to the Department of Justice has not been ruled out as of yet.

The department has slogged through its own January 6 investigation for more than a year, arresting over 800 people for a sprawling number of crimes including seditious conspiracy. It has also opened up a number of grand juries—special or otherwise—to weigh indictments for key Trump-tethered figures.

The DOJ recently refused to indict Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and aide Dan Scavino for contempt of congress following their respective defiance of initial subpoenas. The decision was announced late Friday and left committee chairman Bennie Thompson and vice-chair, Liz Cheney, “puzzled.”

“If the department’s position is that either or both of these men have absolute immunity, from appearing before Congress because of their former positions in the Trump administration, that question is the focus of pending litigation,” Thompson and Cheney said in a June 3 statement.

U.S. prosecutors did, however, indict Steve Bannon, Trump’s short-lived White House strategist as well as Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro.

Meadows cooperated in part, giving the committee a plethora of text messages and other correspondence, only some of which has been made public prior to the hearings. Those messages demonstrated how Meadows was at the center of a storm of election fraud conspiracy and legally dubious strategies proposed to keep Trump in office well after his defeat.

Meadows was also the touchstone for an onslaught of panicked presidential allies, who, records have revealed, begged for Trump to quell the violence during a staggering 187-minutes of silence from the Oval Office as the mob raged, lawmakers fled and blood was spilled.

Scavino cooperated with the committee in part, haggling for weeks over executive privilege concerns. Bannon and Navarro, however, flatly refused to cooperate. Bannon’s executive privilege claims started on shaky ground: at the time of the insurrection, he was years removed from Trump’s formal employ though he was still well embedded with the administration.

Navarro was officially-entrenched until the end and though he argues executive privilege should bar his compliance with the select committee, federal prosecutors disagree. Bannon goes to trial in July. Navarro’s next moves will be hashed out in court following his arrest last week.

How his case progresses will warrant close attention since prosecutors have taken the slightly unusual step of asking Navarro to not only produce records first meant for the committee but other specific communications from Trump, in particular. This could signify that Trump is under investigation by the department directly.

The DOJ has reportedly requested transcripts of the committee’s interviews as well, a resource that could bolster the department’s collection of evidence for any possible ongoing civil or criminal cases.

The witness list for the public hearings is evolving even now, as are the exact details of its presentations.

Members of Pence’s staff including counsel Greg Jacob and aide Marc Short have been invited to testify. So too has Michael Luttig and Luttig is expected to appear.

It was Luttig’s advice, as a former federal judge, that Pence relied on when Pence announced mere minutes before Congress was set to convene on Jan. 6 that he would not and could not “claim the unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”

Pence Letter Jan 6 2021 by Daily Kos on Scribd

Pence Letter Jan 6 2021 by Daily Kos

Luttig is considered an expert on the Constitutional process and, crucially, the Electoral Count Act, the very legislation that his former clerk-turned-consigliere for Trump John Eastman sought to unwind when Eastman authored a memo proposing a six-point strategy to overturn the election.

Eastman Memo by Daily Kos

Eastman Memo by Daily Kos

As for the former vice president, he is not expected to testify.

Short and Jacob’s testimony will be useful to set the scene for the public: Both men were present for a January 4, 2021 meeting when Eastman presented the strategy to have Pence stop the count.

Other possible witnesses include Cassidy Hutchinson, a senior aide to Meadows who sat with the committee privately on multiple occasions. Legal records revealed in April that Hutchinson told investigators Meadows was warned of violence looming over Washington prior to Jan. 6.

Hutchinson testified too that several lawmakers, including Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Mo Brooks, of Alabama and Matt Gaetz of Florida, among others were integral forces n the public and private pushes to advance the unconstitutional alternate elector scheme.

Former DOJ officials Jeffrey Rosen or Richard Donoghue may also testify.

Rosen, once the acting attorney general under Trump, told oversight and judiciary committees in both the House and Senate last summer that he was pressured by Trump’s allies at the DOJ—namely, Rosen’s subordinate, Jeffrey Clark—to issue a public statement saying the FBI found evidence of voter fraud in various states. The draft was proposed during a meeting just after Christmas 2020.

Richard Donoghue, Rosen’s deputy, took contemporaneous notes from that call with Trump.

“Just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the R. congressman,” Donoghue wrote of Trump’s remarks.

When the committee’s held its first-ever public hearing last July, it heard visceral testimony from a handful of police officers who fought off the mob for hours.

Several officers injured have only recently made significant gains in their physical recovery efforts, like U.S. Capitol Police Staff Sergeant Aquilino Gonnell.

Others are still working through the post-traumatic stress.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who dealt with a barrage of racial slurs and physical attacks on January 6, has been vocal about the need for officers to receive therapy. A year after the attack, Dunn has kept up that messaging as well as demands for accountability and transparency as he continues to work on the Hill surrounded by the memories of that fateful day.

As the hearings get underway, there is counter-programming expected from the committee’s most staunch opponents.

Axios reported an exclusive scoop in advance of the committee hearings that House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Elise Stefanik of New York will lead the counter-programming efforts publicly. Matt Schlapp, Trump’s onetime political director and now chairman of the powerful Conservative Political Action Committee, is reportedly in charge behind the scenes.

Jordan, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, is one of Trump’s most loyal lapdogs in Congress. During the former president’s first impeachment inquiry, the congressman used every opportunity during proceedings to throw witness interviews off track or demean their testimony.

When McCarthy nominated Jordan to serve on one of the first iterations of the committee to investigate Jan. 6, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—per rules of a founding resolution—refused to seat Jordan. The California Democrat also refused to seat another one of McCarthy’s picks, Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana.

Pelosi accepted other Republican nominees put forward by McCarthy but Jordan and Banks had a track record that proved too divisive to be seriously considered. Both legislators had promoted Trump’s claims of election fraud openly and vociferously. Both voted to overturn the results. Both vowed before the committee was even formed, that they would use the opportunity to explore how Democrats were to blame for security lapses on January 6. They also sought to equate the violence of Jan. 6 with racial justice protests that dotted the nation after the police killing of George Floyd.

Negotiations for the committee stretched for more than a month and included moderate Democrats and Republicans in the process.

But when Jordan and Banks were skipped over for seats on what would have been a truly bipartisan committee with five Democrats and five Republicans sharing equal subpoena powers, McCarthy abruptly ended all negotiations.

The select committee was formed not long after. This time, its resolution established it would have nine members including seven Democrats and two Republicans. The only two Republicans that would participate on the committee were Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger. Kinzinger is not seeking reelection.

As for Stefanik, her rapid ascent in the GOP will undoubtedly be underlined this month. Since her effective anointment by GOP Leader McCarthy to replace Liz Cheney as the party’s conference chair, the New York Republican has tirelessly echoed Trump’s cries of “witch hunt” whenever his conduct comes up for review or the events of January 6 are discussed.

The counter-programming will largely be a continuation of the meritless arguments and legal theories Trump’s allies have advanced in various court battles where they have sought to evade congressional subpoenas for their records and testimony. McCarthy, Jordan, Brooks, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania have all received subpoenas from the select committee. Despite many of those same lawmakers admitting publicly to having conversations with Trump at critical times before, during, or after the insurrection, none agreed to come forward, either voluntarily or under force of subpoena.

McCarthy and the rest will staunchly defend the former president by presenting the easily-debunked argument that the committee was not properly formed and its members, as such, illegally empowered. That is not so, according to the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts that have ruled, again and again, in favor of the committee’s standing as well as its pursuit of information relevant to its probe.

The select committee has been recognized not only as a valid legislative body but also as a properly formed one thanks to its binding resolution that was afforded the protocols necessary before a final vote in the full House of Representatives was held. The House voted last June, 222-190, to establish the select committee.

Last month, Vox obtained a copy of a strategy memo prepared by the Republican National Committee for its members and operatives to use as the January 6 hearings are underway.One goal allegedly listed was to push the message that “Democrats are the real election deniers” and that “Trump’s requests” this month to his “surrogates” should shape coverage on friendly media networks.

Though the endgame for Republicans during the hearings will largely be to deflect and distract, the committee’s sessions will be followed by a long summer with the events of January 6 still in focus: Bannon goes to trial in July to face his contempt charge and members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers facing seditious conspiracy charges (and other allegations) are slated to meet jurors in July and September, respectively.

While Trump and his cohorts are spinning, President Joe Biden is expected to keep somewhat of a distance from the spectacle of the proceedings. He waived executive privilege over Trump’s presidential records related to January 6 and on the record has been measured in his response to the select committee’s function and work. Politico reported Sunday that a former official suggested anonymously that Biden’s team would likely reconsider the hands-off approach if the counter-programming billows out of control.

At least one Republican, the former Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman, has thrown his support behind the hearings and then some. Riggleman has been an adviser to the committee for several months.

He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Sunday that the hearings would be a refreshing and unique change from the typical congressional committee hearing setting where Republicans and Democrats are often locked into partisan bickering and waste valuable time trying to course-correct.

“There’s not going to be a lot of partisan whining and screaming,” Riggleman said.

Rep. Raskin told Daily Kos in April that he believed the committee hearings would, at the very least, empower voters with “intellectual self-defense against the authoritarian and fascistic policies that have been unleashed in this country.”

Time, which is now running out, will tell.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

#EndorseThis:  Colbert Wonders Why Trump's Pals Are Such BAD Criminals

After taking a week off due to catching Covid, Stephen Colbert was back at the late night helm and ready to unpack all the January 6 texts from the Trump cabal. Among the deluge of treasonous messages was an exchange between Mark Meadows and Sean Hannity, in which the former White House chief of staff encouraged the Fox News host to “stress every vote matters."

“That’s a lot of messages,” said Colbert. “Luckily Meadows has T-Mobile’s Unlimited Talk and Treason plan.”

There was also a slew of messages from former Energy sSecretary Rick Perry claiming to have non-existent evidence of voter fraud. Perry denied sending the texts, though they were signed “Rick Perry” and included his phone number. “Why are these guys so bad at committing crimes?” Colbert wondered. “It’s like if the Zodiac Killer released a note that said ‘This is the Zodiac speaking. To unearth my identity solve the enclosed cipher … and return to John Evans, 1414 Hawthorne Lane. Good luck!’”

You really have to wonder how any of these bootlicking Trump toadies ever got this far in life.Watch the entire clip below: