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Tag: louie gohmert

GOP Extremists Plot Stunt For Jan. 6 ‘Political Prisoners’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Department of Justice arrested and charged over 500 people who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, many in a coordinated effort to overturn a free and fair election. DOJ expects to charge about 100 others as well.

"The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Attack will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence," the U.S. attorney's office in D.C. wrote in March, when the list of people to be charged was estimated at about 400, The Washington Post reported at the time.

On Tuesday, as the newly-minted U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack launches, holding its first day of events, four far right wing House Republicans – some of whom has been linked to white nationalists – will be holding a different type of event.

Instead of working to uncover and piece together all the information about what happened on Jan. 6, including what led up to the attempted coup, four GOP representatives – Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Marjorie Taylor Greene – will hold a press conference on the "treatment" of the January 6 "prisoners," suggesting they are "political prisoners," which is false.

The four extremists will hold that press conference Tuesday at 1 PM, "demanding answers on the treatment of January 6 prisoners" from Attorney General Merrick Garland, per a press release.

"This is taking place on the same day as the January 6 select committee's first hearing," Forbes' Andrew Solender reports. House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy "is also holding a presser ahead of that to counter-program."

"The lawmakers have all pushed a baseless conspiracy theory that federal agents were behind the attack, with Gosar also casting slain rioter Ashli Babbitt – who was shot by law enforcement while trying to breach the House chamber – as a martyr," Solender says in a Forbes article.

Gohmert Claims Jan. 6 Insurrection Was FBI ‘Entrapment Scheme’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is demanding the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department tell Congress what they know about their own alleged "participation" in Donald Trump's January 6 insurrection, which led to at least seven deaths. Gohmert falsely claims the attack on the U.S. Capitol – which in reality was an attempted coup designed to overturn a free and fair election – was instead a "monumental entrapment scheme used as a pretext to imprison otherwise harmless protestors" and used to "frame the entire MAGA movement as potential domestic terrorists."

News organization The Recount calls Gohmert's assertions "a bullshit baseless conspiracy theory."

The Texas Republican congressman, explained on Thursday on the floor of the House that his "friend," Fox News white supremacist host Tucker Carlson "covered this last night," called the conspiracy theory "really disturbing... because we don't like to see government agents stirring up trouble or find that there are criminal acts that would not likely have occurred had not the federal government been participating."

Having no evidence that January 6 was an "inside job," which is what Gohmert is asserting, he goes on to make up possible scenarios, again, without any basis in fact.

"Whether they were actual agents, or an undercover agents, or informants that were working for the federal government. But this is scary stuff this is, This is kind of third world stuff, this is not only third world stuff but this is like Putin-like kind of activity. So, if there were federal agents that were involved on January 6, we really need to know what the FBI knew and when they knew it, and not only that, we need to know how much participation did any of our federal friends either at DOJ, FBI, or any of the Intel Community, what kind of role were they playing?"

It's almost like he is demanding Speaker Pelosi form a Special Committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection.

Far-Right Republicans Vote No On Congressional Medal For Capitol Police

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Democrats are criticizing their GOP colleagues after 21 Republican members Tuesday night voted against awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to law enforcement officers who responded to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

The bill passed the House on Tuesday by a vote of 406-21 — with every "no" vote coming from Republican lawmakers. All but two of the 21 House Republicans who voted against the award for the law enforcement officers also voted to overturn the 2020 election results.

A number of the members have also tried to downplay the attack, such as Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) saying the violent riot was just a "normal tourist visit" and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) falsely saying the rioters weren't armed.

"I think this is a new low for this crowd. They voted to overturn an election. But in their vote today, they kind of sealed the deal of basically affiliating with the mob," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) said in an interview with CNN.

Connolly added, "They now are part of the insurrectionist mob. They brought enormous disrepute and dishonor on themselves in not honoring the brave men and women who defended the Capitol of the United States — everybody in it, but also defending the symbol of democracy in the world, not just here in the United States."

Meanwhile, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) tweeted that the Republicans who voted against the award amount to "a sad commentary on the @HouseGOP."

And Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) called the Republican votes against the award "sick."

"I mean, they have to live with themselves," McGovern told Politico. "It's sad, pathetic."

The vote was made by agreement between members of the House and Senate. The Senate had voted only to award Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman — who helped steer the insurrectionists away from the Senate chamber to give senators time to safely evacuate — with the Congressional Gold Medal.

But the bill that passed the House on Tuesday awarded four Gold Medals, to the entire Capitol Police force, to the Metropolitan Police Department officers who responded to the attack, and two to be displayed in the Smithsonian Institution and in the Capitol.

The House had passed a similar bill in March, and at the time 12 Republicans voted against it. But that number grew on Tuesday to 21.

Republicans said they voted against it because they took issue with the fact that the legislation called the rioters "a mob of insurrectionists."

"I wouldn't call it an insurrection," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) told Politico of the January 6 attack, when a Donald Trump-supporting mob tried to block the peaceful transition of power from Trump to President Joe Biden.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

FBI Director Testifies Capitol Rioters Carried ‘All Sorts Of Weapons’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified under oath on Thursday that at least one person among the supporters of Donald Trump who rioted at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 carried a firearm, while many used other items as weapons, refuting GOP attempts to portray the insurrection as less violent than it was.

Asked by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee whether anyone involved in the riot had been armed with a firearm, Wray responded, "I can think of at least one instance where there was an individual with a gun inside the Capitol, but for the most part the weapons were weapons other than firearms."

Gohmert is one of several GOP lawmakers who have downplayed the attack that left five people dead and 140 law enforcement officers injured. Republicans like Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) falsely described the riot as a "normal tourist visit," while Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) described the Trump supporters who violently pushed their way into the Capitol and beat up police officers guarding the building as "peaceful patriots."

Gohmert, for his part, falsely claimed back in May that there was no evidence to suggest the attack was an "armed insurrection" and said the FBI was "unfairly" targeting Donald Trump supporters.

At the hearing, Wray said that nearly 500 people have been arrested and charged with crimes in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, when a mob of Trump supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

Wray said that the insurrectionists had "all sorts of weapons, you know, kevlar, tactical vests, bear spray."

A Senate report released on Tuesday detailed the brutal attacks law enforcement officers suffered at the hands of the pro-Trump mob, finding that insurrectionists used weapons such as flag poles, metal fence stakes, and chemical irritants that left some officers with burns that they are still recovering from months after the attack.

The report did not delve into how the attack was fomented, nor how a future one like it can be prevented.

Democrats — and a very small minority of Republicans — are calling for an independent probe of the attack.

But the Republican minority leaders in Congress, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are blocking the formation of a bipartisan commission to answer those questions. Reports say Republican leaders fear such a probe could be imperil their party's chances in the 2022 midterm elections, with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) telling CNN he was concerned the results of an investigation "could be weaponized politically and drug into next year."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Gohmert Repeats Debunked Claim That Jan. 6 Rioters Were ‘Anti-Trump’


Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Thursday advanced a long-debunked conspiracy theory that anti-Trump protesters wore pro-Trump gear and were part of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

While questioning FBI Director Christopher Wray during a session of the House Judiciary Committee, Gohmert claimed that on Jan. 5 he spoke to Capitol Police officers who he alleges told him they had been briefed on "online activity that there are people that are going to be coming that hate Trump, but they're going to dress up in red, MAGA, Trump paraphernalia to try to blend in and create trouble."

The allegation has frequently circulated in viral messages alleging a conspiracy about the attack.

In a Jan. 9 fact check, Reuters reported that viral images purporting to show antifa supporters infiltrating the Capitol were not real and noted that the FBI said there was "no indication at this time" that antifa supporters were part of the Capitol attack.

A fact check from FactCheck.org similarly described the claims as "bogus" and noted that the claims were part of "an unfounded conspiracy theory that anti-fascist activists in disguise orchestrated the event."

Fact checks from the Associated Press, Politifact, USA Today, and NPR have also debunked the allegation.

Wray did not get a chance to address Gohmert's claim, but in testimony given in March, Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that, up to then, he had not "seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th."

Gohmert has a history of boosting unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and was recently a key speaker at a conference advancing the beliefs of QAnon supporters, who falsely allege that celebrities and politicians are involved in child trafficking, among other claims.

From a June 10 session of the House Judiciary Committee:

LOUIE GOHMERT: The night before Jan. 6, Jan. 5th, that evening I was talking to Capitol Police officers and I said, "You know, let's face it, most of the conservatives that come, they don't have any intention of being violent."
And they said, "Well, we've been briefed today that there's a good bit of, as I understand it, online activity that there are people that are going to be coming that hate Trump, but they're going to dress up in red, MAGA, Trump paraphernalia to try to blend in and create trouble."
We had Capitol Police Chief [Steven] Sund testify that they got no information from U.S. intel or from the DOJ, FBI, of any threat of the nature that came about. Did the FBI have information about the violent threat that occurred on Jan. 6 on Jan. 5th?

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Unvaccinated Republican Leads Anti-Mask Tantrum On House Floor

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A Kentucky Republican who is not vaccinated, and says he has no plans to be, led an anti-mask protest on the House floor — protesting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to keep a mask mandate following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the organizer of the protest, according to multiple reports. Massie, along with nearly a dozen other GOP lawmakers, refused to wear masks in the House chamber even though they are still required. The lawmakers face fines for their behavior, as part of House rules.

"We've had enough," Massie tweeted on Tuesday. "We are refusing to wear our masks on the floor during this vote in spite of Pelosi's threat to take $500 from each of us. Her rule is not based on science. All you need to know is the mask rule has only ever applied to members when they can be seen on TV!"

Even if Pelosi had changed the guidance based on the CDC's new guidance — which says fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors — Massie would still not be able to take his mask off under the House rules, as he has not been vaccinated.

The rest of the lawmakers who joined Massie's protest — including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Lauren Boebert (CO), Brian Mast (FL), Chip Roy (TX), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Beth Van Duyne (TX), Louie Gohmert (TX), Ralph Norman (SC), and Mary Miller (IL) — would not tell NBC News reporter Haley Talbot whether they are fully vaccinated.

But some of those lawmakers, like Greene, have said they had no plans to get the vaccine.

And others have made anti-vaccine comments in the past, including Boebert, who in the fall of 2020 came out against all vaccine requirements, such as public school rules that students be vaccinated before starting.

Of the lawmakers in the protest, only one — Norman — has publicly confirmed being vaccinated, according to a CNN survey of every member of Congress. Meanwhile, every single Democratic lawmaker in both the House and Senate is vaccinated.

It's not the first time some of these lawmakers blatantly disregarded mask rules.

During the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, Greene was one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who refused to wear masks in a safe room where members of Congress were hidden from the violent Donald Trump-supporting mob that was ransacking the building.

Republicans have been fighting mask mandates since the early days of the pandemic, even though public health experts said face coverings were the best way to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus until vaccines were widely available.

And now that vaccines are available, many of those same Republicans lawmakers are refusing to get the vaccine, which could complicate efforts to end the pandemic.

Polls have shown that Republican voters are more hesitant to get vaccinated than Democratic and independent voters. And vaccine rates in states across the country bear that out, with blue states having far higher vaccination rates than red ones. President Joe Biden carried all 10 of the states that currently have the highest vaccination rates, according to the New York Times vaccine tracker.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

House Republicans Launch ’Nakedly Nativist’ America First Caucus

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although former President Donald Trump has been gone from the White House for almost three months, many far-right Republicans in Congress continue to push an equally nativist "America first" agenda — and Punchbowl News is reporting that some of Trump's Republican allies in the House of Representatives are putting together an "America First Caucus" based on "Anglo-Saxon political traditions."

According to Punchbowl, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona are "distributing materials" calling for a caucus that would express a "common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions." Punchbowl reports that according to an e-mail invitation it has obtained, House Republicans who have been invited to join the America First Caucus include Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Rep. Barry Moore of Alabama.

"We've been covering Congress for a long time, and this is some of the most nakedly nativist rhetoric we've ever seen," Punchbowl reports.

The e-mail, according to Punchbowl, is trying to recruit House Republicans who are willing to "follow in President Trump's footsteps." The pitch reads, "History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to positively contribute to the country."

Elections Daily's Eric Cunningham tweeted that even Gohmert found some of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in a description of the America First Caucus troubling:

Politico reporter Andrew Desiderio notes:

Republicans Conceal Fascist Terror Threat -- By Blaming BLM And Antifa

Republicans rolled out their narrative response to Democrats who were intent to see a law enforcement crackdown on the far-right extremist elements who assaulted the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 during Wednesday's hearing of a House Judiciary subcommittee on "The Rise of Domestic Terrorism in America." It resembled a team version of the "let's throw shit at the wall and see what sticks" strategy, but beneath it all was a thread: Blame everything on Black Lives Matter and left-wing antifascists.

The presence of right-wing pseudo-journalist Andy Ngo—whose entire body of work has portrayed left-wing and anarchist political protests as terrorism—as the Republicans' only witness was emblematic of the approach. Florida Congressman Greg Steube encapsulated the narrative by showing a video of anti-police brutality protests from the summer and then demanding that the Democratic witnesses label it terrorism.

Ngo's testimony was indistinguishable from one of his talks promoting his "wildly dishonest" book, in which he depicts "antifa" as an existential threat to America. He repeatedly described last summer's 120 day-long string of protests against police brutality in Portland—none of which he actually attended, but instead relied on others' reports for his coverage—as "riots," and insisted that this was terrorism and fundamentally no different than the Jan. 6 insurrection in nature:

For more than 120 recurring days, Antifa carried out nightly riots targeting federal, county, and private property. They developed a riot apparatus that included streams of funding for accommodation, travel, riot gear and weapons. This resulted in murder, hundreds of arson attacks, mass injuries, and mass property destruction. To put that into context for those here today, similar actions that occurred at the Capitol Hill riot on January 6, 2021, were repeated every night months on end in the Pacific Northwest.

This remained his thesis when questioned by Republican committee members, notably Congressman Andy Biggs of Arizona, one of the key planners of the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" event that became the insurrection. Biggs asked him: "If we don't talk about antifa, is antifa going away?"

Ngo, true to his running thesis, replied that antifa wasn't going away, and actually it's dedicated to the destruction of American democracy and willing to use terrorism to achieve that. He then described multiple instances of the summer protest violence as fitting the legal description of terrorism.

In reality, domestic terrorism is an entirely different phenomenon from protest violence, which has never been included in any terrorism database. Protest violence is usually—as it was last summer—an outcome of interactions between protesters exercising their free speech and police forces using aggressive tactics against them; this summer's protests were acutely so because the police themselves were the primary object of the protests, particularly in Portland.

Terrorism, in contrast, comprises preplanned acts of violence directed at political targets with the intention of striking fear into the larger populace. Both protest violence and terrorism are political in nature, but their core nature is fundamentally very different, particularly when it comes to intent.

Steube, a former Judge Advocate General officer who represents the Sarasota area, either didn't grasp this distinction or was intent on obliterating the committee's ability to do so. After setting out a self-servingly incomplete definition of domestic terrorism, he played a video showing scenes from the summer protests—focusing at one point on a bonfire set by protesters in Portland that in fact was not any kind of arson—and then proceeded to harangue the Democrats' witnesses, which included national security expert Michael German of the Brennan Center for Justice, MSNBC intelligence expert Malcolm Nance, and Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Steube demanded of each of them: "Do you believe that what you saw on that video meets the definition of domestic terrorism?" He also insisted on a yes or no reply.

Nance was blunt: "No, it's civil disobedience. We have codes for that."

Steube pounced on this, pointing to his exculpatory conclusion: "So that's civil disobedience, burning down—creating $80 billion worth of damage across our country, but what occurred here on January 6 was domestic terrorism."

Steube, of course, ignored that the motive for whatever violence occurred this summer was anger at police brutality and a demand for change in American policing, while the motive for the Jan. 6 insurrection was to overturn the outcome the 2020 presidential election by stopping American democratic processes from occurring. In defining terrorism, motivation and intent are the determinative factors. (Also worth noting: Steube outrageously inflated the costs of the summer's civil disturbances, which are estimated in the $1-2 billion range.)




Texas congressman Louie Gohmert—who in fact advocated insurrection and mass protest to overturn the election during a Nov. 14 "Stop the Steal" rally—was now adamant that the people who invaded the Capitol were criminals and should face consequences, but then he tried flinging a different turd at the wall: The whole incursion inside the Capitol was actually the fault of a single antifa/Black Lives Matter activist named John H. Sullivan—a theory that was referenced by other Republicans at the hearing as well.

There's just one problem with this claim: It's been thoroughly debunked. Sullivan, as The Washington Post reported in detail, is a man who initially attempted to organize BLM protests in Utah outside of the existing African American protest community. In short order, a person was shot during one of his events and then Proud Boys began showing up to support his protests. Among BLM activists, he was widely regarded as a duplicitous "double agent." His last organized protest of the summer was a pro-gun rights rally featuring large numbers of far-right militiamen, including Oath Keepers.

The constant comparisons of BLM activists and antifascists to white nationalist terrorists wore down the patience of everyone else involved in the hearing. After all, a 2020 domestic terrorism database found that between 2017 and 2019, right-wing extremists committed a total of 49 acts of terror that resulted in 145 deaths. Antifascists, in contrast, were responsible for exactly one case of domestic terrorism, and the only death that resulted from that case was the perpetrator's. Black Lives Matter activists were connected to zero cases of domestic terrorism.

As Tennessee congressman Steve Cohen noted: "It's like comparing a forest fire to someone with a match."

The most pointed retort came from Missouri congressman Cori Bush, who was appalled by the constant comparisons of white supremacists to BLM protesters. She ripped into her Republican colleagues at the hearing.

"Equating a righteous movement for justice with hateful and racist white nationalism is outright ignorant and disingenuous on your part," she said. "But for white supremacy, in which you benefit, we would not be in the streets demanding to be heard."