The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: mo brooks

Fearful GOP Extremists Threaten Telecom Companies, Cheney And Kinzinger Over Jan. 6 Probe

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans who are being reviewed as part of a probe into the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol are up in arms, and now some are targeting their fellow GOP lawmakers.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) — who is among the nearly one dozen GOP lawmakers whose phone records the House select committee is seeking — called for two Republicans on the committee to be banished from the House Republican conference.

In a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Biggs called the two GOP lawmakers — Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) — "spies for the Democrats" and said they should be expelled from the conference.

Biggs downplayed the severity of the January 6 attack and claims it is a "false narrative" to call the riot led by a Donald Trump-supporting mob hoping to stop the transition of power an "insurrection."

In the letter, first reported by CNN, Biggs wrote:

Republican Conference meetings are an opportunity for elected House Republicans to strategize the most effective path to push back on the radical policies of Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats. many of the coming discussions will likely revolve around our defense against the Democrats' perpetuation of the false narrative that January 6th was an insurrection and how to protect our own from their legally questionable investigative methods. ... We cannot trust these members to sit in our Republican Conference meetings while we plan our defense against the Democrats.

Biggs' letter follows a threat against telecommunication companies from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), whose phone records are also being sought as part of the probe.

Greene said on Tucker Carlson's Fox News program Tuesday night that, "These telecommunications companies, if they go along with this, they will be shut down. And that's a promise."

This all follows a similar threat from McCarthy himself, who falsely claimed that the House select committee was violating federal law by seeking the GOP lawmakers' phone records and warned that a future Republican majority "will not forget" if the companies turn those records over.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) — who helped organize the effort to stop certification of Biden's Electoral College victory that helped spur the attack — said in an interview on Wednesday that there is no "probable cause" for the committee to get his records.

The House select committee said it's not deterred by the threats.

"The committee's efforts won't be deterred by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6th, or obstruct our investigation," the committee tweeted on Tuesday.

On Thursday, it announced that Cheney will be its vice chair.

Cheney said in a news release announcing her new role:

Every member of this committee is dedicated to conducting a non-partisan, professional, and thorough investigation of all the relevant facts regarding January 6th and the threat to our Constitution we faced that day. I have accepted the position of Vice Chair of the committee to assure that we achieve that goal. We owe it to the American people to investigate everything that led up to, and transpired on, January 6th. We will not be deterred by threats or attempted obstruction and we will not rest until our task is complete.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Washington Post Urges Jan. 6 Subpoenas For Ivanka And Kushner

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Washington Post editorial board is calling on the Democrats' January 6 select committee to subpoena Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

"Top of the list is precisely what then-President Donald Trump did before, during and after the attack," they wrote in a Tuesday op-ed. "How did he prepare his speech preceding the insurrection, in which he told the crowd to fight? What did he anticipate his audience's reaction would be? When did he know the pro-Trump mob was threatening the Capitol?"

The board added: "Answering such questions calls for subpoenaing former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; Mr. Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner; and other White House aides with useful information."

According to a recent book by Washington Post journalists Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Ivanka Trump attempted to calm the former president down on the day of January 6, encouraging him to call off the violent riot – a request Trump repeatedly rebuffed.

"I'm going down to my dad. This has to stop," she reportedly told her aides while spending "several hours walking back and forth" from the Oval Office in an effort to defuse the situation.

The Post's editorial board also called on the select committee to investigate a number of top Trump allies in Congress, including Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), all of whom, the Post reports, may have interacted with Trump on the day of the insurrection. McCarthy, who voted in favor of overturning the 2020 election, has been adamantly opposed to the Democratic-backed select committee and has often downplayed Trump's role in the insurgency. However, back in February, just a month after the riot, CNN reported that Trump and McCarthy had gotten into a "shouting match" over the former president's refusal to tell the rioters to stand down.

"Well, Kevin," Trump told McCarthy over the phone. "I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."

"Who the f--k do you think you are talking to?" the lawmaker responded.

CNN also reported that Rep. Tuberville spoke with Trump on the day of the riot, calling the former president via phone to announce that Mike Pence, the former vice president, had been evacuated in time to avoid the violent horde.

The phone call has since come under scrutiny in the light of Trump's tweet attacking Pence less than ten minutes after the call.

It's not clear whether Rep. Brooks spoke with Trump on the day of the riot. However, the Alabama lawmaker did deliver a White House-approved speech during the "Stop the Steal" rally just outside the Capitol building, where he bandied Trump's election lies and told Trump's supporters: "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names."

Brooks has since personally disavowed the riot.

The Post editorial board also argued that lawmakers should put the leaders of far-right extremist groups on the stand – particularly leaders "at the center of the violence" – as well as Justice Department and Capitol Police officials who "failed to anticipate the riot."

Months after the riot, it was reported in various media that the Pentagon had denied multiple requests to deploy the National Guard, even as the chaos was unfolding. Capitol Police also reportedly had extensive intelligence that there would be violence on January 6, but the former Capitol Police chief dismissed the concerns as alarmist.

The Sedition Caucus, Under Oath

It is an indisputable fact that House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, were at the very heart of former President Donald Trump's coup plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. While more than hints and clues have pointed to their involvement ever since the January 6 insurrection, their central role emerged this past week when notes of a December 27, 2020, conversation between Trump and the acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen were disclosed.

Informed by Rosen that the Department of Justice could not and would not reverse President Joe Biden's election victory, Trump urged him to "just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen." Moments later, Trump referred specifically to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, founder of the Freedom Caucus and close associate of Mark Meadows, the former Freedom Caucus chair who left Congress to become Trump's White House chief of staff.

Jordan is so far unwilling to say whether he will testify about the insurrection if he is summoned, just as he refused years ago to assist official inquiries into hundreds of sexual assaults on the Ohio State wrestling team in which he was suspected of complicity or worse. But this time, if the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol requests his appearance, either voluntarily or by subpoena, he will have to show up or face legal consequences. So will several other members of the Capitol Hill "sedition caucus" who sought to invalidate Biden's election, including McCarthy and Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, to name a few of the most prominent.

And so will their longtime confederate Meadows, who has already been subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee in the Rosen matter and "may face significant criminal exposure," according to the Just Security website published by New York University School of Law.

Each of these Republican myrmidons has serious questions to answer. Brooks, donning a flak jacket when he addressed the pre-riot Trumpist rally at the Ellipse on January 6 calling for "kicking ass," has claimed immunity, a justification denied by the DOJ. Boebert allegedly gave a tour through the Capitol with unknown persons later identified as insurrectionists in December and January. "Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander boasted of concocting a plan to intimidate Congress from certifying the election with Gosar, Biggs, and Brooks.

Jordan was implicated in the coup effort very early, even before Election Day, when he publicly accused Democrats of planning to corrupt the balloting. In the weeks leading up to the insurrection, he plotted with Meadows and Trump at the White House; in the days afterward, he was given the Medal of Freedom by Trump in a closed ceremony there. It is undoubtedly the first time that high honor has been awarded for seditious conspiracy against the Republic.

As the Lincoln historian and former presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal pointed out in a recent Guardian column, members of Congress possess no immunity against a subpoena from a House investigating committee. Moreover, as Blumenthal also noted, there is richly ironic precedent to summon all of these characters, voluntarily or otherwise, in the official Senate probe of John Brown's infamous Harpers Ferry raid on the eve of the Civil War. Leading that investigation was none other than Mississippi Sen. Jefferson Davis, the traitor who later served as president of the Confederacy (whose battle flag soiled the Capitol hallways on January 6.)

Harper's Ferry was the last domestic insurrection to come under congressional scrutiny — until now. Among the witnesses called to testify about the events leading up to Brown's attack were two antislavery Republican senators suspected by Davis of knowing or aiding him. And it is safe to say that Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and other Democrats on the committee are aware of that precedent.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans named to the committee by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has suggested that Jordan and McCarthy, both of whom spoke with Trump on January 6, should be called — and a very large and rapt television audience awaits her questioning of them.

Meadows, who spent that day and the days preceding the insurrection with Trump in the White House and knows what the former president did and didn't do, will have to face the music. It will not be the last time he's been caught in a coup. In January 2013, when he conspired with Jordan to overthrow Republican House Speaker John Boehner, he was exposed in the failed attempt. He later came to the speaker's office, according to Boehner, got down on his knees, and pleaded, "Will you please forgive me?" Meadows will undoubtedly have another opportunity to get on his knees soon.

These ultra-right Republicans are the face of an authoritarian and frankly nihilist insurgency that began its takeover of the Grand Old Party back when their model Newt Gingrich rose to power as speaker. It is no surprise that this miscreant crew now surrounds their would-be dictator Trump like a praetorian guard, or that they spearheaded his attempt to destroy democracy. But the time is rapidly approaching when they will have to answer for those actions under oath. Of course, Jordan and Meadows and Brooks and Boebert and the other members of the gang can always plead the Fifth Amendment.

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

Mo Brooks Files Comically Irrelevant Response To Jan. 6 Lawsuit

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) is being sued by Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA) for his role in allegedly inciting the January 6 insurrection. Brooks infamously evaded being served by going to great lengths, resulting in forcing the process server to hand the papers to his wife at their home.

Brooks on January 6 spoke at Trump's MAGA rally and told the estimated 12,000 attendees, "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass." But Brooks was also the first member of Congress to announce he would vote to overturn the election. And in December Politico reported Brooks was "spearheading the long-shot push to overturn the election results in Congress," and noted he had organized a "trio of White House meetings, which lasted over three hours and included roughly a dozen lawmakers."

The Alabama Republican Congressman tried to get the Dept. of Justice to defend him, claiming his inciting thousands of loyal Trump cultists was a part of his job as a federal government employee. The DOJ disagreed and refused.

So now he is in court.

Brooks, who is an attorney, is reportedly representing himself.

Here's what he told the judge on Wednesday in his defense, asking to be dismissed from the lawsuit, per Reuters' legal affairs reporter Jan Wolfe.

"Brooks is 67 years old."

"Brooks has never smoked tobacco. Brooks does not consume alcohol. Brooks has never experimented with or taken illegal drugs."

"Brooks has never been arrested or convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors."

"Brooks has never had a DUI, a reckless driving ticket, or even a speeding ticket."

"Brooks has never had a motor vehicle wreck in which anyone claimed Brooks was at fault."

"Brooks has been married 45 years. Brooks has always been faithful to his wife. Together they have raised four children, all of whom are married, none of whom have been divorced, all of whom are law-abiding, none of whom have been arrested for anything, all of whom have college degrees and jobs," it says.

He concludes with one curious claim: "Brooks has a perfect ethics record…despite Democrats…having harassed Brooks with at least 38 ethics complaints."

Justice Department Won't Defend Mo Brooks In Capitol Riot Lawsuit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Justice Department in a court filing on Tuesday declined to defend Republican congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) in a lawsuit that alleges he conspired to instigate the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Brooks had asked the Justice Department to consider him covered by the Westfall Act, which protects federal employees from being sued for actions taken as part of their jobs, concerning the lawsuit brought by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA). The Justice Department's filing could indicate it may not defend former President Donald Trump, who has also been sued by Swalwell for a...

Why The Justice Department Must Not Defend Mo Brooks’ Seditious Speech

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who spoke at former President Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C. on January 6, is named in a civil lawsuit alleging that he incited the violent mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol Building that day. Brooks is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene in the case, insisting that he did nothing wrong on January 6. And opinion writer Jennifer Rubin, this week in her column, argues that Attorney General Merrick Garland should not side with Brooks.

The civil lawsuit that Brooks is facing was filed by Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell and also names former President Trump, Donald Trump, Jr. and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

At the "Stop the Steal" rally, Brooks urged supporters of then-President Donald Trump to start "kicking ass" in response to Trump's election fraud claims — which had been repeatedly debunked. Swalwell's civil lawsuit alleges that Brooks was inciting the January 6 riot with such rhetoric. But Brooks contends his actions were legally protected.

"On Tuesday," Rubin explains, "the Justice Department and the House of Representatives will file briefs explaining to a federal court whether each believes that Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) was acting within the scope of his employment when he allegedly incited the violent attack on the Capitol and sought to subvert the peaceful transfer of power on January 6. This sounds absurd, but in effect, Brooks is asking the Justice Department to certify that he was acting in the scope of his duties when he tried to overthrow the government."

Rubin continues, "If he succeeds, he would be immune from suit, and the Justice Department would step in on behalf of the government in civil suits arising from the violent insurrection. It would be a gross error and invitation for future insurrections if either the House or Justice Department agreed that Brooks is protected. How can encouraging a mob to disrupt the Electoral College tabulation possibly be within Brooks' duties? That would be akin to saying Gen. Robert E. Lee was acting within the scope of his duties in the U.S. Army when he attacked Union troops. Sedition is not within the scope of any official's duties."

Rubin goes on to make her point by quoting an op-ed by attorney Laurence H. Tribe, an expert on constitutional law, that was published in the Boston Globe on July 19.

Tribe wrote, "If the attorney general decides to treat such action as merely one way of discharging official duties, then self-government will become a mirage — and those who are guilty of trashing it will have been placed beyond the reach of legal accountability to those they injure…. That would mean that popular sovereignty is dead, and the twin principles that no one is above the law and that every legal wrong deserves a remedy might as well be tossed into history's dust heap."

Ethics expert Walter Shaub, who isn't quoted in Rubin's column, has also been weighing in on Swalwell's lawsuit and the arguments Brooks is making to the DOJ.

In a recent newsletter, Shaub noted, "Here's how this lawsuit could spark serious long-term consequences when it comes to holding political leaders accountable for wildly incendiary speech: Brooks has asked Attorney General Garland to certify that he was acting within the scope of his official duties as a member of Congress when he spoke to the crowd…. If Garland grants this request and persuades the court to agree, the certification would effectively immunize Brooks by dismissing him from the lawsuit and substituting the government as a defendant."

Shaub argues that "if Garland certifies that Brooks was acting within the scope of a congressional representative's duties, he will be legitimizing the incitement of a mob" and sending a "message to elected officials" that "they can act with impunity, even when their actions are inconsistent with the oath they took to support and defend the Constitution."

Rubin concludes her op-ed by warning that if Garland agrees with Brooks, he will be sending out a message that Trump and his allies are above the law.

"We need an attorney general to aggressively pursue facts and bring actions against Trump and his supporters where warranted," Rubin writes. "If not, Garland would have inadvertently affirmed Trump's argument that he was above the law."

Political Spending At Trump Properties Plunges Sharply

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

The number of federal political committees that have spent money in the first half of 2021 at Trump Organization properties has dropped dramatically from the same period two years ago, Federal Election Commission filings show. Those continuing to spend: a smaller circle of loyal supporters of former President Donald Trump and candidates jockeying for his favor in contested Republican primaries.

During the first six months of 2021, 27 federal committees have reported spending $348,000 at Trump Organization properties, with the Republican National Committee accounting for more than half the total. That's a steep decline from the 177 committees that did so during the 2019-2020 election cycle or the 78 committees that spent more than $1.6 million at Mar-a-Lago, the Trump International Hotel in Washington and other company sites in the first half of 2019, filings show.

Of course, that spending came in the run-up to a presidential election in which Trump was the incumbent. The biggest spenders in 2019 were the RNC and Trump's own political committees raising money to support his campaign.

While the RNC is the top spender so far in 2021, many of the other PACs that used Trump properties as venues for fundraising events and other activities appear to have stopped their spending. The National Republican Congressional Committee, the fundraising arm of House Republicans, has not reported spending any money at Trump properties through May of this year after spending $32,532 during the previous election cycle. (National party committees will file reports covering activity in June on July 20, which may show some spending at Trump's facilities.)

Those that have spent money at Trump properties this year represent some of the former president's most fervent loyalists, including Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who is running for an open Senate seat, and Ronny Jackson of Texas, who previously was the White House physician. Overall, 13 of the 23 committees spending this year are connected to current members of the House or Senate.

"Republican candidates are in a delicate moment, I think, because of uncertainty surrounding Trump's future power," said Abby Wood, a professor of law, political science and public policy at the University of Southern California, in an email. "Trump's power in the next election is much less certain than it was from the vantage point of folks spending money (and enriching him) at his properties in 2019."

The drop in political spending comes at a precarious time for the Trump Organization, which in early July was hit with 10 felony charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., as well as additional charges against Allen Weisselberg, the organization's chief financial officer. Both Weisselberg and the company have pleaded not guilty to the charges, but the impact of the investigation and the fallout of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol appear to have damaged the company's business prospects. The Washington Post described the company as at its "lowest point in decades."

The other spenders include congressional candidates advertising their ties to Trump, such as Lynda Blanchard, who is one of Brooks' opponents for the GOP nomination in the Alabama Senate race, and Josh Mandel, who's running for an open Senate seat in Ohio. Brooks, Blanchard and Mandel have each paid to use Mar-a-Lago, Trump's property in Palm Beach, Florida, while Jackson paid for an event at the Trump hotel in Washington.

"It is my intention to do fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago as often as I can, so long as they help generate positive cash flow for my Senate campaign for America First policies," Brooks said in a statement. "I personally thank President Trump for allowing me to use Mar-a-Lago and hope he will continue to be so generous in the future."

The campaigns of Blanchard, Jackson, and Mandel, along with the RNC and the Trump Organization, did not respond to requests for comment. The RNC has spent more money for events at other locations this year, including $529,000 for a donor event at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach in April.

Mar-a-Lago, a private club that also doubles as the former president's residence, has been the leading recipient of federal political committee spending among Trump properties, bringing in at least $283,000 this year, much of it for hosting an RNC donor retreat in May. In addition to getting the venue and Florida weather, politicians holding events at the club stand a good chance of having Trump make an appearance.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and the BLT Prime restaurant located there, have seen a significant drop-off in political spending compared to the first half of 2019. Two years ago, the D.C. hotel and restaurant brought in more than $518,000, according to FEC records. This year, without Trump in the White House nearby, the total is less than $15,000.

"Given Trump is no longer president and there is less need to curry favor with him, congressional incumbents and party committees may choose less expensive venues," said Paul Herrnson, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut.

Mo Brooks Pays $25K To Trump Resort After Former Guy Endorses Senate Bid

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who is currently a candidate for Alabama's U.S. Senate seat, paid out over $25,000 to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort just days after receiving an endorsement from Trump.

Brooks is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Shelby, who has announced he will not run for reelection in 2022. The seat has been rated as "solid" for the Republican Party by multiple political ratings organizations.

On Thursday, in a federal campaign finance filing, Brooks' campaign disclosed that it had paid over $25,000 to Mar-a-Lago for catering and event space. Shelby held a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago on April 23 and Trump, who currently lives at the resort after losing the presidential election, was scheduled to be in attendance.

Just a few weeks before, on April 7, Trump endorsed Brooks over the three other Republican candidates who have already declared their candidacy.

"Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks," Trump wrote in a statement, noting that the candidate "has my Complete and Total Endorsement."

Trump told Fox News on April 20 that Brooks would have "clear sailing" in his campaign for the seat and asserted he "just went up 41 points" even though no poll to support that claim has been released.

During his presidency, members of the Republican Party and businesses and governments seeking Trump's influence frequently spent money at his properties, with Trump businesses profiting throughout his term in office.

Brooks has deeply integrated the Trump endorsement into his campaign. On his official campaign Twitter account, Brooks refers to himself as "Mo Brooks – Endorsed by President Trump." The phrase "Endorsed by Trump" appears in the banner of the account as well, and the same language appears on Brooks' official campaign website and Facebook account.

Brooks has been under fire for a speech given on January 6 at a "Save America" rally protesting the outcome of the 2020 election. Before Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol, Brooks told the crowd to "stop at the Capitol" and that "today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass."

Several members of Congress called for Brooks to be formally censured for inciting the crowd.

"Censure seems too trifling a punishment in this horrific case, but it's the minimal level of accountability Congressman Brooks should face from the same Congress he goaded rioters to assault," Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement in January.

Brooks is also being sued by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) for his role in the insurrection. Swalwell alleges that Brooks, along with Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, broke the law by inciting the riot.

Despite this criticism, Brooks recently spoke at CPAC in Dallas, Texas, on July 9 and told attendees, "Our choice is simple: We can surrender and submit, or we can fight back."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.