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Tag: mitch mcconnell

Trump Ripped Former GOP Allies In Furious Interview

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

No matter how much a Republican has done for Donald Trump, the former president can easily turn against them if he feels they have let him down in some way — and that includes former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. They all were his targets for an interview featured in Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker's new book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year.

On March 31, Washington Post reporters Leonnig and Rucker interviewed Trump in person for their book at his Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida. I Alone Can Fix It is being released half a year into Joe Biden's presidency; it was six months ago, on January 20, that Trump vacated the White House and Biden was sworn into office. Highlights of that interview can be found in a book excerpt published by Vanity Fair.

During the interview, Trump promoted the false and debunked conspiracy theory that he won the 2020 election — which, in fact, he lost by more than 7 million votes. And Trump believes that Pence let him down by not preventing Congress from affirming Biden's Electoral College victory on January 6, the day a violent mob of Trump's supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol Building.

The ex-president told Leonnig and Rucker, "The greatest fraud ever perpetrated in this country was this last election. It was rigged, and it was stolen. It was both. It was a combination, and Bill Barr didn't do anything about it."

In December 2020, Trump was furious when Barr told the Associated Press that there was no evidence proving the type of widespread voter fraud that Trump was alleging. As much of a Trump loyalist as Barr had been, he acknowledged that Biden was the United States' legitimate president-elect.

Trump told Leonnig and Rucker, "Barr disliked me at the end, in my opinion, and that's why he made the statement about the election, because he did not know. And I like Bill Barr, just so you know. I think he started off as a great patriot, but I don't believe he finished that way."

Similarly, Trump believes that Pence let him down as well. Pence, in early January, stressed that as vice president, he didn't have the authority to reverse the Electoral College results. But as Trump saw it, he wasn't trying hard enough.

At Mar-a-Lago, Trump told Leonnig and Rucker, "Had Mike Pence had the courage to send it back to the legislatures, you would have had a different outcome, in my opinion. I think that the vice president of the United States must protect the Constitution of the United States. I don't believe he's just supposed to be a statue who gets these votes from the states and immediately hands them over. If you see fraud, then I believe you have an obligation to do one of a number of things."

On Capitol Hill, Democrats view Sen. Mitch McConnell as a fierce and unyielding partisan who fights them every step of the way. But Trump doesn't agree.

Thanks in part to McConnell, all three of Trump's Supreme Court nominees are now on the High Court: Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Yet Trump believes that McConnell didn't do enough for him. And ironically, Trump holds a grudge against the Senate minority leader for not wanting to abolish the filibuster. Democrats, during the Biden era, have been complaining that the filibuster is preventing them from getting important legislation passed in the Senate — from a voting rights bill to a commission to study the January 6 insurrection.

Trump said of McConnell, "He's a stupid person. I don't think he's smart enough. I tried to convince Mitch McConnell to get rid of the filibuster, to terminate it, so that we would get everything — and he was a knucklehead, and he didn't do it."

Other Republicans Trump ranted against during the March 31 interview ranged from former House Speaker Paul Ryan to Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The former president told Leonnig and Rucker, "Chris has been very disloyal, but that's OK. I helped Chris Christie a lot. He knows that more than anybody, but I helped him a lot. But he's been disloyal."

While GOP Pushes Anti-Vax Message, McConnell Claims To Be ‘Perplexed’

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Tuesday that he is "perplexed" by the ongoing unwillingness of some Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"We need to keep preaching that getting the vaccine is important," he told reporters. "Part of it is just convincing the American people of the importance of doing this."

While McConnell didn't say as much, that message is particularly important for members of his own party. Republicans and conservatives are much more likelythan others to tell pollsters that they have not and do not plan to take the vaccines, even amid a surge of new U.S. cases and with data showing hospitalizations and deaths almost entirely concentrated among unvaccinated populations.

What is driving this refusal by Republicans to get vaccinated? One factor is their party's success in inoculating them against something conservatives have long considered a major threat -- mainstream journalism.

Generations of GOP leaders urged their supporters to ignore the mainstream press and instead patronize and trust a parallel apparatus of right-wing propaganda outlets. This campaign encased the Republican base in an impermeable bubble of lies, paranoid demagoguery, and reflexive opposition to Democrats, creating a politically potent echo chamber that served the party well for years.

But now -- whether from hope of political gain, fear of losing market share, genuine stupidity, or some combination thereof -- that right-wing media apparatus is using the same tools to sabotage the coronavirus vaccination campaign for its own audience.

Fox News, the crown jewel of the right-wing effort to create a parallel media, has for months aired a steady drumbeat of segments undermining the vaccines.

Hours after McConnell spoke to reporters, Fox prime-time host Laura Ingraham devoted a segment to the superiority of "natural immunity" -- achieved by getting and recovering from the virus -- over vaccination. Earlier Tuesday evening, Lara Trump, former President Donald Trump's daughter-in-law and a Fox contributor, told Sean Hannity that the vaccination effort is part of a public health approach that has "been about control from day one." Tucker Carlson, the face of the network, offered a similar comment about the vaccine as "social control" on Monday.

Fox's right-wing cable TV competitors are, if anything, even less responsible.

Newsmax viewers have been subject to a broad network campaign to dissuade them from taking the vaccine; one of its hosts recently made news by claiming that vaccines go "against nature" because some diseases are "supposed to wipe out a certain amount of people."

And over on One America News, this week alone the audience has been told that the vaccines are "a threat to everyone that gets them" and that the mainstream media have ignored the "man-made disaster" of mounting "deaths from the coronavirus vaccines."

Those outlets have smaller audiences and are less influential than Fox, but their behavior creates a strong incentive for Fox to behave irresponsibly to retain its market dominance.

Republicans are getting the same message of skepticism about the vaccines and the vaccination campaign from other parts of the right-wing media apparatus, from digital outlets to talk radio to podcast shows to Sinclair Broadcast stations to the new generation of social media influencers. There are a handful of conservative media figures who try to push back against this tide, but they largely lack influence, having been marginalized within the movement for their insufficient Trump support.

McConnell wants more "preaching" to help get the Republican flock vaccinated. But the media figures who the GOP's strategy placed in the pulpit have lined up against the effort. It's going to get their audience members killed, and they don't seem to care.

GOP Senators Block Election Reform -- As States Erode Democracy

For now, Senate Republicans have blocked sweeping election reform. They argued that America's elections are not in crisis and are best run by rules set by states. Meanwhile, in capitals across battleground states, numerous Republican legislators have been claiming elections face numerous threats and have passed dozens of laws, the most aggressive of which curtail voting options, newly police the process, and empower party loyalists at post-Election Day counting stages.

"The Republican leader flatly stated that no matter what the states do to undermine our democracy—voter suppression laws, phony 'audits,' or partisan takeovers of local election boards—the Senate should not act," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, and majority leader, referring to Kentucky's Sen. Mitch McConnell and a Republican filibuster that blocked the election reform bill.

"Republican state legislatures across the country are engaged in the most sweeping voter suppression in 80 years," Schumer said. "Capitalizing on, and catalyzed by, Donald Trump's big lie [that he won in 2020], these state governments are making it harder for younger, poorer, urban and non-white Americans to vote."

The deepening divide over voting in America is larger than the For the People Act, the Democrat-sponsored bill that addresses presidential ethics, campaign finance, partisan redistricting and voting rights. Both major parties are vying to change who votes in America and how they cast ballots. Republicans often are seeking a more limited franchise. Democrats are seeking the opposite.

In the Senate on June 22, the GOP argument often reverted to states' rights, which had permitted a litany of voting rights abuses and violence for decades until the passage of strong federal civil and voting rights laws in the 1960s.

"You are imposing a federal mandate and a one-size-fits-all approach that just might not fit well," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, in a speech opposing the reform bill. "We don't know everything best back here [in Washington]."

Voting rights battles are not new, but new ground is being broken in 2021. Seen nationally, Republicans, whose base is aging and shrinking, have been raising the bar for access to a ballot and seeking to segregate voters by party for much of the 21st century. This is especially true in increasingly purple states where the party holds gerrymander-created legislative majorities and dominates the courts.

Democrats, in turn, have been left in more defensive postures where they have railed against the immorality of complicating the process for voters, which can suppress turnout; have sued to blunt new laws that can impede voters; and have worked to increase voter turnout, especially in high-profile contests. On balance, Republicans have been more proactive, and Democrats' responses have been less effective, leaving Republicans with the upper hand in shaping America's strictest voting rules.

That dynamic and history led to congressional Democrats teeing up a massive reform bill comprised of proposals that have languished for years. It also gave congressional Republicans a single target. As GOP senators attacked a handful of progressive voting rights reforms in the For the People Act, they drew upon a strategy that has long been part of their party's "election integrity" messaging.

They criticized the bill's loosening of strict voter ID rules, creating public financing for candidates, and so-called ballot harvesting, the GOP's term for activists and party workers who provide assistance to voters by collecting ballots mailed to and filled out by voters and delivering them to election offices. Senate Republicans recited these objections as talking points and more broadly defended states' rights, despite Democrats' rebuttals that the senators were reviving last century's segregationist arguments.

"Republican leaders say that they like this rigged system… taking us back to the racist efforts that existed before the 1965 Voting Rights Act," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, in one such floor speech. "A violent mob storming the Capitol isn't the only way to attack Democracy."

A Widening Attack On American Democracy

It would be a mistake to characterize the Senate gridlock as just another phase in America's endless partisan battles. Starting in Trump's presidency, many Republicans have widened this playbook to not just attack expanded access to voting but now also to target election administrators and voting systems. That development, whose rhetoric is filled with false claims about stolen votes, is serious because it rattles several foundations of American democracy.

American elections have largely relied on the good faith of election officials. In most cases, these civil servants place public service and overseeing a reputable process before personal and partisan gain. But many career election officials are leaving the field due to the partisan attacks and threats of violence that followed the 2020 election. In addition, the conspiratorial thinking has led many supporters of Trump to believe that the 2020 election is not over. No finality in elections, in turn, delegitimizes representative government and the ability to govern.

"We are watching, once again, the devolution of democracy in the United States," said Stacey Abrams, one of the Democratic Party's foremost voting rights activists, speaking on a June 22 Zoom briefing to promote her new book, Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America.

But the problems facing American democracy are bigger than Trump, she said.

"Yes, there's a guy who wanted to win, and he didn't win, and he told a big lie, and there are those who use him as their proxy," Abrams said. "But let's be clear, their [Trump supporters'] anger is about who made the choice; their anger is about who showed up to vote—who did not vote before. Because of COVID-19, we saw… a confrontation with voter suppression the likes of which we have not seen in a generation in the United States. Because of that [response], 50 million people voted by mail because it was too dangerous to go outside."

In election administration circles, the pandemic was historically disruptive. Once 2020's primaries resumed, many states struggled to accommodate voters due to health precautions, poll worker shortages and last-minute logistical challenges. By the fall's general election, however, public officials made extraordinary efforts to offer more options for voters to get a ballot and ways to cast it.

According to the U.S. Elections Project, which tracks voter turnout, 56 million people voted in a different manner in the 2020 presidential election than they had in the 2016 presidential election. Many Republicans in the U.S. Senate and in state legislatures have said the expanded voting options were not normal and must be reeled in (despite the fact that many Republican candidates won 2020 state and federal races).

But Trump's stolen election rhetoric has not just endured in right-wing circles. It has led many red-run states to pass new laws to make voting harder, targeting the early and mail options that Democrats embraced in the 2020 election. And in some states, legislators expanded the power of their party's observers and curtailed the authority of local officials to maintain order during the final vote-counting phase. Simply put, the GOP attack on voting has widened its targets.

"And so we are watching as, state by state, the insurrection that we saw happen on January 6 takes root in our state governments, and state by state, we are watching anti-voter legislation putting up new barriers or tearing down access," Abrams said. "We are watching additional harms being put in place to challenge election workers—people whose only job is to make the administration of elections work. They are being attacked. They are being criminalized. We are watching the subversion of democracy through legislation."

These anti-voting trends can be seen in 10 states that tend to have a large impact on national politics, said Abrams, citing Texas, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kansas and Oklahoma. "We've had more than 22 states in this year alone adopt more restrictive language," she said.

Post-2020 Impacts Coming Into View

Like all political decisions, new legislation can have unforeseen or overlooked consequences once the white-hot debates subside and laws are implemented.

That dynamic can be seen in Georgia, for example, where Republicans are using little-noticed language from bills passed earlier this year to remove Democrats from county boards of election.

These unseated officials—who, in Georgia, include several Black women who have spent years learning the details of running elections—decide on matters such as weekend polling place hours, ballot drop box locations and other details that affect whether voting is easier or harder. This is an attack on voters by targeting the referees of the process, whereas previously, bipartisan election administration lent credibility and legitimacy to the election outcomes.

A related under-the-radar dynamic has been simmering in Arizona, where the state Senate Republicans have sanctioned a post-election review of ballots from Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and 60 percent of the statewide electorate. In recent weeks, Voting Booth has reported on the accuracy-related shortcomings of that exercise, especially its hand count of 2.1 million ballots.

A June 22 report co-authored by Trey Grayson, a Republican and Kentucky's former secretary of state, and Barry Burden, a University of Wisconsin political scientist, affirmed these observations, saying the Arizona Senate review was run by "inexperienced, unqualified" private firms that are "ill-equipped to conduct it successfully and produce meaningful findings."

But the hundreds of paid workers—mostly middle-aged and older Maricopa County voters who supported Trump—employed in the Arizona state Senate's inquiry think that they are taking part in a process that is patriotic and saving American democracy, as Voting Booth has repeatedly been told in interviews while reporting from Phoenix.

But election auditors have challenged this assumption, pointing out that the Senate review's contractors have not performed crucial comparisons of the hand count of ballots against the building blocks of the official results, which would be essential to the meaningfulness of the inquiry. Moreover, many of these workers are suspicious of the voting process and distrustful of election officials. One hand-count employee was overheard saying, "I hope they are fake ballots, because there are so many [for] Biden."

While it is unclear what kind of report or claims will emerge from the Arizona Senate's review, it is not expected to be anything like a June 23 report by the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee, a Republican-led body, that inventoried and debunked the stolen election accusations made in that state. Nor is anything produced by the Arizona Senate's contractors expected to put doubts about 2020 to rest.

"If the election lives on forever, and the doubt in the electorate grows, the whole institution of election administration is undermined, and the norms that are associated with that [institution] are undermined," said Larry Moore, the retired CEO of Clear Ballot, an election auditing firm, and critic of the Arizona review.

"If you keep discussing [the process] as though you'll end up with a different outcome, you rob the government—the people who won—with the ability to govern. And that is so incredibly corrosive."

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, the American Prospect, and many others.

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

Poll: Big Majority Supports Biden Spending Plans, Bipartisan Or Not

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

More than three-fifths of likely voters want Congress to pass President Joe Biden's spending plans, even if the Democratic majority has to do so without a single Republican vote, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by Data for Progress for Invest in America, which campaigns for public investment in infrastructure, was released Tuesday. It found 62 percent support for passage of Biden's American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan through the budget reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to pass taxation and spending bills by a simple majority vote.

Such a move is backed by 86 percent of Democratic voters, 59 percent of independents, and 36 percent of Republicans.

"Our polling w/ @DataProgress shows voters don't care about process, they care about results," tweeted Invest in America. "The bipartisan deal is a solid first step — but a majority of voters still support passing the rest of the American Jobs and Families Plans through reconciliation."

Congressional Republicans have tried to block a reconciliation package, objecting to the "partisan" process and saying it amounted to "caving" to the "left-wing base."

Biden proposed the American Jobs Plan in March, recommending a $2.25 trillion investment in bridges, roads, water systems, transit, clean energy, broadband, climate, child care, and caregiving infrastructure. In April, he proposed the American Families Plan, which would invest $1.8 trillion in paid leave, free preschool and community college, and affordable health care.

Not a single Republican in Congress backed either proposal, despite the wide popularity of both with the American public.

Biden and bipartisan group of senators struck a deal on June 24 on $579 billion in new spending on transportation, water, and broadband infrastructure.

Democratic leaders made it clear that in order to pass that agreement, Congress would also have to pass a separate package containing funding for climate and human infrastructure that was removed from the bill during negotiations.

But when Biden suggested that both bills would be necessary, Republicans claimed to be outraged.

"The two top Democrats literally pulled the rug out from under their bipartisan negotiators with these unserious demands before they'd even made it to the White House," complained Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "An expression of bipartisanship, and then an ultimatum on behalf of your left-wing base."

Biden clarified on June 26 that he was not threatening to veto the bipartisan infrastructure plan, but hoped to see both it and the rest of the funding pass in tandem.

Now McConnell (R-KY) is trying to pressure Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi into skipping Biden's other priorities, suggesting that insisting on passing them together with the infrastructure bill amounted to holding the latter "hostage over a separate and partisan process."

"Unless Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi walk-back their threats that they will refuse to send the president a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless they also separately pass trillions of dollars for unrelated tax hikes, wasteful spending, and Green New Deal socialism, then President Biden's walk-back of his veto threat would be a hollow gesture," McConnell said Monday.

But McConnell has not even backed the bipartisan infrastructure deal and was not involved in the negotiations. Negotiations he did back, between Biden and a GOP group led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, broke down in early June after the Republicans refused to offer more than a small fraction of the new infrastructure spending the White House requested.

While McConnell and his colleagues have attacked Biden's proposed investments as unneeded socialism, the Data for Progress poll suggests those arguments are not working: 58 percent of those surveyed said the nation should invest more "to spur job creation and boost the economy after the coronavirus pandemic," while just 33 percent said it should wait "over concerns about the economy overheating and inflation."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Democrats Can Win Next Year The Same Way They Won Last Year

Many Democrats are leery about the party's ability to retain control of Congress in 2022. The president's party normally loses ground in mid-term elections, and Democrats have little margin for error. Lose a half-dozen House seats and the Biden administration will find itself stymied; lose the Senate, and total paralysis would set in: zombie government personified by Sen. Mitch McConnell.

It's been reported that President Biden believes that when people understand all that Democrats have done for them—bringing the Covid pandemic under control, restoring the U.S. economy, bringing unemployment down, passing long-delayed, badly-needed infrastructure repair—things will take care of themselves at the polls.

With all respect, if Biden thinks that, he's dreaming.

What got Biden elected, what drove the voter turnout that won him an extraordinary 81 million votes, was the majority's revulsion and fear regarding Donald Trump. If Democrats want to prevail in 2022, good government won't be enough. They need to turn the mid-term elections into a referendum on the Trump cult and GOP sycophancy toward his alarming assault on democracy.

"Here in the US, there's a growing recognition that this is a bit like WWF—that it's entertaining, but it's not real," Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said recently. "I think people recognize it's a lot of show and bombast, but it's going nowhere. The election is over. It was fair."

Would that it were so.

Anyway, only a bit like the World Wrestling Federation? Not for nothing is Trump a member of the pro-wrestling Hall of Fame. As I pointed out in 2016, he basically stole his whole act from Dr. Jerry Graham, the bleach-blonde super-villain of 1950s TV rasslin' at Sunnyside Gardens in Trump's native Queens. The swaggering, the boasting, the pompadour hairdo — "I have the body that men fear and women adore," Graham used to say — it's all the same.

Asked the subject of Graham's doctorate, his manager once confided, "He's a tree surgeon." Smashing rivals with balsa wood chairs, bleeding copiously from chicken blood capsules, the Graham Brothers drew 20,000 fans to grudge matches in Madison Square Garden. Riots broke out among those naïve enough to believe the mayhem was real.

But few confused pro-wrestling with a real sport. In the eighth grade, I thought it was the funniest thing on TV. Trump appears to have drawn a different lesson: the bigger the lie and the more flamboyant the liar, the more some people will believe it. Hence his "Stop the Steal" rallies in the summer of 2021. And, yes, most of the costumed bumpkins in the red MAGA hats believe Trump's preposterous falsehoods about his landslide victory.

He's turning the GOP into an anti-democratic cult of personality. Precious few Republicans have the political courage of a Mitt Romney, a Rep Liz Cheney (R-WY), or a Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Trump's doing his best to purge any Republican who's ever crossed him. This is providing Democrats with a political opportunity not to be missed

Polls show that upwards of half of GOP voters believe that "audits" like the farcical spectacle under way in Arizona will reverse the 2020 election; fully three in ten expect that Trump will somehow be "reinstated" as president this summer. It's beginning to appear that the Big Man with the bouffant and the diseased ego may actually believe this fantasy too.

Two thoughts: America being America, some form of ritual violence will almost surely result. Something like January 6, except with guns. Second, three in ten Republicans amounts to maybe ten percent, give or take, of the national electorate. (The party's been shrinking since Trump took over.) That's roughly the same proportion that pollsters say subscribes to the QAnon delusion that Satan-worshipping pedophiles control the Democratic Party.

No doubt there's significant overlap.

So they say they want a culture war? Democrats should give them one. Have you noticed that for all the determination of Georgia Republicans to suppress voter turnout, nobody has seriously challenged the accuracy of that state's two 2020 US Senate races?

That's because once the Big Loser and his surrogate candidates turned the runoff into a referendum on Trumpism, Democrats and Independents turned out in record numbers to defeat them. Fear and anger drove them.

If that can happen in a Deep South state like Georgia, what's apt to happen in swing districts across the country? So run on good government bread and butter issues, by all means. Remind people of the good things the Biden administration has done for them.

But also nationalize the election: blanket the airwaves with TV ads showing before and after footage of GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Mitch McConnell first condemning then making weasel-worded alibis for Trump's role in the January 6 insurrection. Tie bizarre figures like Marjory Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz around their necks like anvils.

Give voters a clear choice: Trumpism, or democracy?

GOP Blocked Bipartisan Jan. 6 Investigation -- But Now They Demand One

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

One month after congressional Republicans blocked a bipartisan investigation into the January 6 Capitol insurrection, congressional Republicans are demanding a bipartisan investigation into the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

The House in May passed by a vote of 252-175 a bill that would have created a bipartisan commission modeled on the one that investigated the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The bill, the result of a compromise between Republican Rep. John Katko of New York and Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, was nearly identical to a January GOP proposal. It would have established an outside panel with an even number of Democratic and Republican appointees.

But just 35 Republicans joined the Democratic majority in voting for it after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to support it and Donald Trump instructed Republican lawmakers to block the legislation.

Days later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he and his Republican caucus would filibuster the bill. "I do not believe the additional, extraneous commission that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts, or promote healing," he said in a Senate floor speech. "Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to do that."

On May 28, 44 Senate Republicans stopped the bill from coming up for a vote.

Up against the GOP's intransigence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced legislation on Monday to create a House special committee to investigate the January insurrection.

Her proposal, likely to come up for a vote on Wednesday, would establish the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Pelosi would appoint 13 representatives to the committee, five of them "after consultation with the minority leader."

"When it comes to what happened on January 6, we want to get to the bottom of that; it's disgusting what transpired that day," McCarthy said on June 24. "Unfortunately, the speaker has always played politics with this. Time and again."

"I led the charge to create a January 6th commission that would be external, independent, bipartisan & equitable in membership and subpoena power. The select committee proposed by Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi is literally the exact opposite of that," Katko said in a statement on Monday. "It would be a turbo-charged partisan exercise, not an honest fact-finding body that the American people and Capitol Police deserve."

"Unfortunately we suspected this would happen if it didn't survive," said Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks on Tuesday. "I won't vote for the Pelosi bill."

"I supported the 1/6 commission last month because it gave Republicans an equal seat at the table. Speaker Pelosi's partisan commission put forward last night cuts Republicans out of the process," wrote Florida Rep. Carlos Gimenez. "I never have, and I never will, support a partisan and politicized investigation."

"Instead of working with Republicans to actually make a bipartisan commission, @SpeakerPelosi is now creating a select committee to investigate January 6th," tweeted Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan on June 22. "Let me tell you straight, this isn't about getting answers, this is all politics."

"I'm voting no on the bill because it's not going to do what we need," said Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. "I want something the American people can believe, and find credible. And the only way to do that I believe is a 9/11 style commission which I voted for."

"Sadly, as of last week, there remains no prospect for additional votes from Republican Senators to create the National Commission to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Complex," Pelosi said in a Monday press statement.

"It is imperative that we establish the truth of that day and ensure such an attack cannot again happen," she wrote. "The Select Committee will investigate and report upon the facts and causes of the attack and report recommendations for preventing any future assault."

A Pelosi aide told the Washington Post on Monday, "The speaker is seriously considering including a Republican among her eight appointments to the Select Committee."

Though McClain is now opposing the legislation that would establish the committee as too partisan, she also voted against the bipartisan independent commission based on the same argument.

"While both Republicans and Democrats will be equally represented on the commission itself, the Democratic chairman gets to approve all hires of staff," she claimed at the time, ignoring language in the bill that explicitly said staff would be selected after bipartisan consultation. "This almost guarantees the commission will be stacked with biased investigators who will have a predetermined conclusion," McClain said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

McConnell Admits He Tolerated Trump’s Election Lies For Political Expediency

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed in an account published Sunday that he declined to publicly confront former President Donald Trump's election lies because he did not want to upset Trump and wanted to win Senate elections in Georgia.

The Atlantic's Jonathan Karl reported that ahead of two January runoff Senate elections in Georgia, McConnell told then-Attorney General William Barr that he wanted Barr to confront Trump over his lies about the 2020 election results and would not do so himself.

"Look, we need the president in Georgia," he said. According to Karl's reporting, McConnell was afraid Trump would "sabotage" the Georgia campaigns if he declared Joe Biden had won the election. "And so we cannot be frontally attacking him right now. But you're in a better position to inject some reality into this situation. You are really the only one who can do it."

Karl said Barr provided the story in an interview and noted, "McConnell confirms the account."

Campaigning for then-Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Trump continued to promote conspiracy theories and falsehoods about the election he had lost to Biden.

"They cheated and rigged our presidential election, but we'll still win," Trump said at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, on December 5. On January 4, the day before the runoffs, Trump repeated the lies at a rally in Dalton, saying, "By the way, there is no way we lost Georgia. There's no way. That was a rigged election. But we are still fighting it."

Although in a speech in the Senate on December 15, 2020, McConnell did acknowledge that Biden was president-elect, he did not push back against Trump's lies.

On January 6, after Republicans lost both elections in Georgia and Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock were declared to have won election to the Senate, Trump appeared at the "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C., during which he reiterated his lies about the election results.

Trump's comments at the rally were cited as evidence during his impeachment in the House on charges of inciting a mob of his supporters to walk to the Capitol and break in, in an attempt to overturn election results he and they still called fraudulent.

It was only after the attack that McConnell admitted that Trump had circulated "wild falsehoods" and that his incitement of the mob was a "disgraceful dereliction of duty." Nonetheless, McConnell still sided with a majority of Senate Republicans to acquit Trump during his second impeachment trial.

Trump has continued to lie about losing the election. On Sunday, he told supporters at a rally in Ohio that the result of the 2020 election was "the scam of the century and this was the crime of the century."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Yes, There Is A Conspiracy

Conspiracy has replaced policy as the motivating force of the Republican Party and its media minions — but only the most flimsy and imaginary conspiracies qualify for partisan attention. Actual criminal conspiracies that threaten the nation merit no concern.

That's why congressional Republicans killed the independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection but now insinuate that the terrible events of that day were secretly instigated by the FBI. While there is no shred of evidence to support that fraudulent and insulting claim, the Party of Trump can say anything to its moronic cultists without fear of contradiction. They're faithful supporters of law enforcement, except when they're insulting law enforcement officers, accusing them of felonious schemes or perhaps trying to maim them.

Such fabrications ought to be familiar to anyone who has been paying attention over the past few years. Concocted to distract from real events and issues, they have become the standard Trumpist retort whenever a troubling question arises.

When the collusive relationship between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and the Kremlin became too obvious to ignore, the response from the suspected perpetrators (and traitors) in the White House was to scream "conspiracy." Somebody was conspiring to mount a "witch hunt" against Trump, whether it was the Deep State, the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, the fake news media, or all of them combined. Investigators and subpoenas uncovered the facts, which included Trump Tower meetings with Russian agents, interference by Russian intelligence assets to support Trump, and even a handoff of sensitive campaign materials to a Russian spy. Then came the cover-up, with Trump promising (and eventually delivering) pardons to Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, and other crooks who might incriminate him.

Dismissing all of that, Attorney General Bill Barr pretended to see a possible conspiracy against Trump — and even deputized a U.S. Attorney named John Durham to uncover it. By the time that probe came up empty, however, everyone had presumably moved on.

Now the Republicans want to avoid a thorough investigation of the January 6 insurrection — and the malign and traitorous actors behind it — at any cost. Any serious probe will not only incriminate Trump and certain figures around him but may well implicate members of the House Republican caucus who encouraged the violence. We already know at least a few of their names, including Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. All of them are frantically trying to conceal the horror of that day. Their actions scream consciousness of guilt.

Equally troubling for the Republican leaders is the prospect of testifying under oath about their own knowledge of what went down. They don't want to discuss the very strange failure by Trump to respond to pleas for help while the rioters hunted for members with intent to kill — as recounted by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. It's just too sickening, and so is their cowardice.

The Justice Department is prosecuting extremely violent conspiracies by members of the Trump-affiliated groups that attacked the Capitol, notably the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and the QAnon cult. When all of the connections between those scummy outfits and Trump's circle are finally revealed, McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pray that America will no longer be paying attention.

If the fascist faction in the House — and their spokesman Tucker Carlson, the Fox News fabulist — believe their own slanders of the FBI, they should be clamoring for an independent investigation. But they're manufacturing a lie — and they know it.

Fortunately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just announced the formation of a House select committee to mount a full investigation of the January 6 insurrection. That special committee will have subpoena authority and, hopefully, a Democratic chair who will pursue the facts without remorse or fear. Unlike the independent commission, which Republicans rejected despite concessions to all of their demands, this committee will face no deadlines, nor require bipartisan agreement on investigative decisions.

Yes, there was, and is, a conspiracy against democracy, whose ringleaders will be exposed — despite the Republican leadership's desperate attempts to shield them.

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