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House Republicans Launch Capitol Riot 'Counter-Programming' Cover-Up

Unrest in the Republican ranks has escalated into a mad scramble as pro-Trump House Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), hurriedly prepare counter-programming to defend former President Trump and denounce the House Select Committee, its findings, and Democrats.

A bipartisan panel of lawmakers investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection , the select committee held the first of its scheduled public hearings on Thursday evening, where it began to the findings of its almost year-long investigation into the insurrection, including “previously unseen material.”

Planning a push-back-harder strategy intended to please Trump and divert public attention away from the hearings will be a tall order for the MAGA coalition of House Republicans as they aren’t privy to what the select committee has uncovered.

On Wednesday, select committee staff correctly predicted that the hearings would show Trump as the central figure in a “coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), a leading figure in the House GOP effort to play defense, has said that he and his far-right coalition plan to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi their prime target, Business Insider reported on Thursday.

"Nancy Pelosi blocked us from the committee because she knows that those questions leave a trail of breadcrumbs right back to the Speaker's office," Banks said to reporters at the US Capitol.

Banks also told reporters that if he were a member of the House Select Committee, he would investigate the roles “Pelosi, the House sergeant at arms at the time, Capitol Police, the FBI, and the National Guard could have played in the attacks,” according to Business Insider.

Another House Republican reportedly marshaling the group’s efforts is Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who has also assailed Pelosi for the hearings. "I am working closely with President Trump, Leader Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and my colleagues to help lead House Republicans in pushing back against lame-duck Speaker Pelosi's sham political witch-hunt," Stefanik said on Fox News.

Conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene also got in on the act in a Monday tweet, saying, “Dems think people care about J6 after Dems caused violent riots w/ $2+ B in damage all over the US in '20. Yeah. Dig that hole deeper.”

McCarthy and other Republicans spearheading this effort at misdirection, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who was subpoenaed along with McCarthy by the select committee but refused to cooperate, hope that their version of events will cast doubt on the select committee’s findings and arguments.

“We'll issue our report later in the year and it will have both facts as to why the Capitol was so unprepared and it will include recommendations the House should take up to prevent this from happening in the future,” said Mark Bednar, a spokesperson for McCarthy.

A Trump spokesperson, Taylor Budowich, in response to requests for comments, declined to outline what the GOP report would entail, but he confirmed that the conservative party’s leaders are fully on board with any plans to defend Trump during the hearings.

“The entire MAGA movement is united against this illegitimate committee and will work to ensure President Trump is defended against yet another Democrat show trial,” Budowich said. “Elected leaders and conservative organizations from every corner of our party are working together to ensure every American is informed by the truth, something the Fake News media is unwilling to do.”

Right-Wing Legislators Embrace 'F--- Joe Biden' Meme On House Floor

Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) used the phrase "Let's go Brandon," a right-wing meme that stands for "Fuck Joe Biden," on the floor of the House of Representatives on Friday.

"People are understandably frustrated. Actually, they are very angry, and they are not going to sit back and take it much longer," Posey said in a speech.

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

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

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

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

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

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

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

But there appeared to be other conflicts as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Cheney Backs Pelosi's Rejection Of GOP Extremists For Jan. 6 Panel

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) had choice words for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, accusing him of doing everything in his power to block a legitimate investigation into the January 6 attack at the Capitol.

Cheney made the comments after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy's five picks — Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) — for the select committee to investigate the insurrection. McCarthy slammed Pelosi's decision to reject those two members, vowing that Republicans will now not participate in the investigative committee at all.

But Cheney sided with Pelosi in the matter, saying that Banks and Jordan — who have openly sympathized with the Trump mob that stormed the Capitol — would have prevented the committee from actually doing real investigative work.

"She has objected to two members and the rhetoric around this from the minority leader and from those two members has been disgraceful," Cheney told reporters on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. "This must be an investigation that is focused on facts, and the idea that any of this has become politicized is really unworthy of the office that we all hold and unworthy of our republic."

Cheney went on to say that McCarthy has taken "every opportunity" to try to block a probe into the attack, which Cheney has accused former President Donald Trump of inciting.

And she said that his appointment of Banks and Jordan was one of those opportunities to thwart a legitimate investigation.

"She objected to two [of McCarthy's picks], one of whom may well be a material witness to events that led to that day, that led to January 6," Cheney said, referring to Jordan, who reportedly spoke to Trump during the insurrection.

As for Banks, Cheney said he "disqualified himself by his comments in particular over the last 24 hours demonstrating that he is not taking this seriously. He is not dealing with the facts of this investigation but rather viewed it as a political platform."

Banks said in a statement after McCarthy appointed him that he was there to protect Trump and made attempts to blame the attack on Pelosi and President Joe Biden's administration, even though it had not yet begun when the Trump-supporting mob violently beat law enforcement to enter the Capitol to prevent a peaceful transition of power.

Since Pelosi's decision to nix those two members, McCarthy and Banks have been on a media tour to try to paint the committee as political and a farce.

But the Congressional investigation will go on, with the select committee set to hold its first hearing on July 27.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Why Do Mainstream Media Enable GOP Sabotage Of Jan. 6 Investigation?

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Following the attempt by House Republicans to place members on the January 6 select committee who have not only lied about the 2020 election but openly signaled their intention to undermine the investigation on behalf of former President Donald Trump, mainstream media outlets are engaging in a both-sides narrative. Instead of focusing on the organized Republican efforts to undermine the investigation, they are shifting the blame onto Democrats for somehow not trying hard enough to keep the investigation bipartisan with those very same wreckers.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected two out of the five members that Republicans had offered to sit on the committee — to which Republicans replied by declaring they would boycott the committee entirely. (A single Republican remains on the committee, however: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) whom Pelosi had already named.)

Of those two members whom Pelosi rejected, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) had previously met with Trump in late December to confer on strategy to reject the certification of the election results, and declared this week that the committee was "impeachment round 3, this is to go after President Trump" — rather than to investigate a matter of national security. The other, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), had released a statement accusing the committee of having been formed "solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left's authoritarian agenda."

Politico Digs In On The Both-Sides Play

This week, Politico echoed the Republican spin and ignored the obvious reality that the Republican committee picks would be set on sabotaging an investigation. The site followed up in its Playbook newsletter Thursday morning, declaring that partisan oversight had hit "a new low," at once acknowledging Republican opposition to the investigation and putting the burden on Democrats to please them.

"When Republicans voted against an outside bipartisan commission to investigate the siege because of what it might turn up in an election year, we called them out for acting in cowardice," the Playbook authors wrote. "But Pelosi's move will make the investigation even easier to dismiss for people who aren't die-hard members of Team Blue."

The newsletter also removed the moral onus from individuals sympathizing with January 6 rioters by declaring, "It also comes as polling for CBS News finds that Republican voters are increasingly sympathetic to the rioters … making a probe that's credible to the right even more important."

CNN's Chris Cillizza Keeps Blaming Democrats

Perhaps the single worst example of this kind of willful both-sides spin game is CNN's Chris Cillizza — who not only keeps pinning an equal (or greater) blame on Democrats, but also repeatedly shows with his comments that he does know better. On Wednesday, Cillizza published a widely-mocked column declaring that Pelosi had "just doomed the already tiny chances of the 1/6 committee actually mattering."

If you ever held any hope that the House select committee on the January 6 US Capitol riot might produce a report that would help us understand what happened in the lead-up to that day and, in so doing, provide us avenues to keeping it from happening again, you should give up on those hopes now.

No matter Pelosi's reasoning, her decision to reject Jordan and Banks, the two most high-profile Republicans put forward by McCarthy, dooms even the possibility of the committee being perceived as bipartisan or its eventual findings being seen as independent.

But as others pointed out, Cillizza had published another column just the day before titled "Kevin McCarthy's picks for the 1/6 commission reveal his true goals."In it, he had declared that the House minority leader's selection of Jordan and Banks demonstrated that the Republican leader had "zero interest in getting to the bottom of what really happened" on January 6 — further adding that Jordan's presence on the committee would ensure "that it will be a circus" since Jordan is there to "muddy the waters."

And during an appearance Wednesday on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper, Cillizza acknowledged that "the reason that we're where we are, generally speaking with this, is because Mitch McConnell decided that they didn't want to play ball within a true bipartisan, independent commission. It's the only reason that there's a select committee now."

But Cillizza wasn't alone at CNN in his obtuseness. A news article by reporters Annie Grayer and Jeremy Herb claimed in its second paragraph that Pelosi's decision had "injected new fuel into the partisan fight over the select committee" — as if the open declarations by Jordan and Banks that they would seek to undercut the investigation on partisan grounds had not done that very thing to begin with.

Other Mainstream Outlets Are Giving In

The Washington Post ran an article headlined "Bipartisan House probe of Jan. 6 insurrection falls apart after Pelosi blocks two GOP members" — though in fact, the committee still has a bipartisan membership including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). The article also featured a both-sides narrative about Congress' supposed inability to investigate the storming of the Capitol by supporters of a single political leader:

The inability of the House to move forward with a bipartisan committee marks the latest failure in repeated attempts by members of Congress to investigate the first storming of the Capitol in more than 200 years. Both parties have attacked the other as insincere and uninterested in conducting a fair-minded examination of the attack by Trump supporters seeking to overturn the 2020 election.

Similarly, ABC News reporter Ben Siegel wrote an article headlined "Jan. 6 commission collapses after Nancy Pelosi vetoes GOP selections Jim Jordan, Jim Banks." By contrast, Thursday morning's editing of ABC's newsletter The Note cast Cheney as "now perhaps the only person standing in the way of final Jan. 6 takeaways devolving into wearying and meaningless 'both sides-ism.'"

In a discussion on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Associated Press White House reporter Jonathan Lemire detailed the "deeply cynical" actions by congressional Republicans. But then he made the media into just a passive observer, saying that Republican efforts to cover up January 6 were "just going to lead to more and more Americans just shrugging their shoulders and saying, 'Look, this is why Washington is so broken.'"

But mainstream media voices like himself have the ability to prevent that impression from just sinking in among the American public — they don't just have to accept it.

Republicans Abandon Capitol Riot Panel After Pelosi Rejects Jordan, Banks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday withdrew his five nominees to serve on the special committee probing the deadly January 6 attack on the Capitol after Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of them. Pelosi had earlier rejected Representatives Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, staunch defenders of former President Donald Trump, from serving on the panel investigating the Trump supporters who assaulted Congress in an attempt to stop it from certifying President Joe Biden's election. "With respect for the integrity of the investigation, w...

GOP's 'Working Class' Agenda Is A Feeble Echo Of Fox News Obsessions

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Political parties often respond to electoral defeat by spending time contemplating, with varying degrees of seriousness and success, why they lost and how they need to change their approach to win in the future. Following President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection, for example, the Republican Party commissioned and published a 100-page report which pinned the blame on Mitt Romney's weakness with Hispanic voters and called for a more benign policy toward undocumented immigrants. But the party backed off after a revolt by prominent right-wing media commentators, and in 2016, Donald Trump seized the GOP nomination and eventually the presidency with a nativist campaign that both halves of the 2012 Republican ticket criticized as racist.

GOP leaders are trying to avoid a similar scenario in the wake of Trump's 2020 defeat. They are circulating a memo that seeks to chart the party's course by keeping it closely aligned with the former president -- and with Fox News.

The document represents another datapoint in the ongoing merger of the right-wing media and Republican politics. Under Presidents Bush and Obama, Fox served as the GOP's communications arm. With Trump's ascent, the feedback loop between the network and the administration gave Fox unrivaled influence. Now, the Republican Party seems to have completely capitulated to the whims of its propagandists.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), the chair of the arch-conservative Republican Study Committee, writes in the memo that thanks to Trump, the GOP is now "the party supported by most working-class voters." He calls for a continued embrace of the former president, a rebranding as the "Party of the Working Class," and a focus on five issue areas he claims will "appeal to working-class voters" and bolster the GOP going into the 2022 midterm elections.

Banks' argument is muddled at best. Exit polls show that contrary to Banks' claim that Trump built a working-class coalition, he lost union households and voters making less than $100,000 while winning those making more by 12 points. What's closer to the truth is that Trump held a sizable advantage among white voters without college degrees, a demographic significantly overrepresented in the U.S. electoral system due to its geographic distribution.

But what Banks' memo does is keep the GOP on the same page as Fox's stable of right-wing stars. The agenda Banks highlights as a winner for the party is largely composed of cultural issues that receive heavy coverage on the network, rather than the political ones the network has downplayed. And like Fox's hosts, Banks is more invested in sneering at "Democrat elitism" than in describing policies that would concretely improve the lives of working-class voters.

An Issue Platform Ripped From Fox News

Banks is effectively urging his colleagues to try to bolster the GOP coalition not by proposing popular economic policies, but by bashing perceived members of the Democratic coalition -- migrants, college professors, corporations whose executives espouse views that Republicans disagree with, and the like -- thus providing news hooks for the ravenous right-wing noise machine.

Notably, one of Banks' five agenda items is "anti-wokeness." Banks does not bother to define what, exactly, "wokeness" is, though he calls it an "official part of the Democrat Party platform" which "encapsulates Democrats' elitism and classism" and ties it to "identity politics." But it amounts to turning the right-wing media's venomous, unending outrage cycle over culture war issues into a major portion of the party's platform. It's a big country -- there will always be someone for them to be angry about.

A denunciation of "regressive coronavirus lockdowns" -- a frequent subject of incendiary Fox segments -- also makes Banks' list of issues, under the culture-war frame of "Main Street vs. Wall Street" that floats government retaliation against companies that don't espouse right-wing values.

So does "Trade," which focuses not on actual policies but on Fox-friendly attacks on the Democratic Party's purported "coziness with China."

"Big Tech" is also on the menu, following years of dishonest claims about anti-conservative bias in that industry.

And after weeks of bigoted, cruel, inflammatory, and misleading Fox attacks on migrants seeking to cross the U.S. southern border, "Biden's Border Crisis" is part of the agenda.

You can see this synergy between the GOP and its communications apparatus playing out in real time.

After Georgia Republicans responded to Democratic victories in the state and Trump's false claims of a rigged election by passing a new voting law last week that curtails ballot access and shifts power to the overwhelmingly Republican state legislature, major corporations condemned it. Those companies are now coming under withering criticism from the right-wing press, stoked by calls from Republican politicians to use state power to target them for retribution.

What's Missing From This Vision For The GOP?

The Republican Study Committee traditionally focuses on a rigidly orthodox right-wing agenda of economic and budget policies. But Banks' memo includes little to no mention of taxes, spending, deficits, debt, or government regulations.

Those are startling omissions given Biden's recent passage of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, his subsequent unveiling of a $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan financed with tax increases on corporations, and forthcoming legislation which will address health care, education, and paid leave. Together, those bills amount to a historic investment in the material prospects of working-class Americans.

That tracks with the right-wing media's lackluster response to Biden's economic agenda. The commentators have opposed those bills, just like the GOP legislators who voted as a bloc against Biden's coronavirus legislation and have signaled similar treatment of his other packages.

But everyone involved seems more interested in talking about the likes of Dr. Seuss' purported cancellation than in challenging wildly popular Democratic economic policies. Fox commentators are more practiced at demagoguing about cultural issues, its audience has come to expect and enjoy hearing about those topics, and GOP officials would rather stoke those fires than try to fight them.

Indeed, the lines between right-wing media and political figures have become increasingly blurry. Congressional Republicans alternatively use Fox's coverage to bootstrap their political ambitions or seek to join the network or its cable news competitors. They openly acknowledge that they build their offices around communications, not legislation, or moonlight as podcasters.

This is no way to run a country. It's not good for one of the two major parties to be generating its platform based on the rantings of divisive demagogues who are paid for their ability to keep members of the base from changing the channel.

The GOP no longer has a Fox-watcher in the White House. But the party is as wedded as ever to the network's brand of politics.