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Tag: select jan 6 committee

Looking Right Through Kevin McCarthy

Of all the Republican politicians who have ascended to leadership in Congress during the past few decades, none is a duller and more obvious hack than Rep. Kevin McCarthy. The House minority leader possesses none of the villainous charisma of Newt Gingrich or the ruthless greed of Tom DeLay, the ideological fervor of Paul Ryan or the puppyish desire to please of Eric Cantor, the louche cynicism of John Boehner or the predatory criminality of Dennis "Coach" Hastert.

Nobody expects the transparently empty McCarthy to stand up for principle of any kind. It is giving him a lot to call him a small-minded partisan, an assiduous corporate fundraiser, and a mediocre climber for whom ideas and ideals are so much grist for the Fox News mill. His far-right rivals in the GOP caucus, such as Rep. Jim Jordan, allow him to hold power because they can manipulate him so easily. His theme song should be "Mr. Cellophane" from the musical Chicago.

Weak in both intellect and character, McCarthy embodies the most banal defects of his predecessors — and so it is that he presides over the final stages of Republican decay, as the party formed to preserve the Union and democracy degenerates into an instrument of fascist insurrection.

As a perfectly hollow hack who first rose under Boehner's tutelage, McCarthy makes the hack Boehner now seem like a big man. McCarthy was against Trump's big lie before he was for it. After denouncing Trump, he ran with his tail between his legs to Mar-a-Lago, parroted the big lie and backed a lawsuit to overturn the election results in two states. Then he denied supporting Trump's claims of election fraud and grudgingly admitted that President Joe Biden had won. And then, within hours after the January 6 attack on the Capitol that clearly terrified him, he nevertheless voted against certifying the Democratic victory in two states — after he had told a reporter that he knew Biden was the legitimate victor.

McCarthy has continued this ridiculous dance — both accepting and not accepting Biden's legitimacy — while he obviously covers up the seditious conduct of his extremist members, from Reps. Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene to. Matt Gaetz and Madison Cawthorn.

But since his attempts to block any investigation of the conspiracies that led to the Capitol takeover on January 6, have failed, McCarthy has become an even more desperate performer. This week he sought to obstruct the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack by absurdly pretending to be a mob boss, as he made an unconvincing threat against telecom companies if they comply with lawful requests from that panel. Though he didn't specify any consequences, he warned that Republicans "will not forget" when they regain the majority.

Rarely has a politician so obviously exposed such blatant consciousness of guilt. Opening himself to an ethics complaint, which has now been filed against him, McCarthy continues his bad acting, showing his fear that the suspicions and speculations about the gang of loony Republicans in the days before that insurrection are true.

McCarthy led the expulsion of Rep. Liz Cheney from her position as the chair of the House Republican Conference to satisfy his insurrectionist caucus. But there's another reason he purged her. She's got his number. And now she's the vice chair of the January 6 investigative committee. McCarthy has reason to engage in his silly threats, his obvious obstruction of Congress, his false bravado. He's scared. But the more he dances, the more everybody sees right through him.

I tell ya Cellophane, Mr. Cellophane shoulda been my name,

Mr. Cellophane 'cause you can look right through me ...

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

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.

Democrats Blast McCarthy’s Obstruction Of Jan. 6 Investigation

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Legal experts and Democratic lawmakers are criticizing a statement issued on Twitter Tuesday night by the official account of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy threatened retribution against telecommunication companies that comply with requests for phone records from the House select committee probing the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The bipartisan committee on Monday asked telecommunication companies to preserve phone records from a number of Donald Trump-supporting GOP House members who spoke at the "Stop the Steal" rally that whipped up Trump supporters with lies about voter fraud before they marched to the Capitol on January 6 and rioted. It asked them to preserve records for Trump and his family members as well.

In the statement, McCarthy claimed, "If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States. If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law."

Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst, tweeted in response to McCarthy's statement, "This is nonsense. A subpoena is not 'strong-arming' and there's no violation of federal law when companies comply."

"McCarthy's threat against telecom companies who lawfully produce documents is shocking," Norm Eisen, an ethics lawyer and fellow at the Brookings Institution, said. "It's like a gangster saying, 'Gee, nice telecom company you've got here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.'"

MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner echoed those sentiments.

Kirschner tweeted, "And this is precisely what happens when our law enforcement authorities refuse to TIMELY hold criminal politicians accountable. It encourages further crime — like McCarthy criminally obstructing a congressional proceeding. Hey DOJ - start enforcing the d@mn law!"

Democratic lawmakers criticized McCarthy's threats as well.

"The House republican leader is openly calling on companies to obstruct justice to stop a probe of the January 6 attack on the Capitol," Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey tweeted. "Obstruction of justice is a felony."

Rep. Ted Lieu of California tweeted, "18 U.S. Code § 1505: 'Whoever…by any threatening letter or communication…endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede…the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any…investigation is being had by either House…Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned… .'"

McCarthy wasn't the only GOP lawmaker to threaten telecommunication companies.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, one of the lawmakers whose phone records the committee is seeking, said during a Tuesday night appearance on Fox News host Tucker Carlson's show, "These telecommunications companies, if they go along with this, they will be shut down. And that's a promise."

The bipartisan committee to probe the Jan. 6 attack said in response to McCarthy's threat, "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."

McCarthy has been against the House committee since Democrats in the House announced they were forming it. They resorted to the select committee structure to probe the attack after House Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan independent outside body to investigate the insurrection.

This is not the first threat McCarthy has made regarding the committee.

In July, McCarthy threatened to punish any GOP lawmaker who accepted a spot on the committee from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) ignored McCarthy's threat and accepted Pelosi's invitation to serve.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Follow The Money: How Trump's Campaign Financed Jan. 6 Pre-Riot Rally

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

"Follow the money" is a handy bit of kit in a lot of situations. When it comes to looking at the events of January 6, it's good advice. Because, as OpenSecrets.org has revealed, Donald Trump's various campaign funds paid out over $4.3 million to the people who organized the insurgency warm-up rally on January 6. In fact, running down the list of people, there seems to be considerable overlap in the "staff" for Trump and the supposedly grassroots protest. That includes Trump's campaign director of operations, his national finance consultant, and at least half a dozen other people on the payroll of Trump's various campaign PACs.

In fact, the web of connections between Trump's campaign and the rally where he stepped up to urge the crowd's assault on Congress seems so entangled that the whole thing can be read as just another front stretched over Trump's campaign of self-enrichment. Not all of the names on the overlapping list of Trump and January 6 rally organizers have been targeted by the House Select Committee's latest requests for documents, but they ought to be.

It's past time for someone to turn on the lights and reveal just where the "dark money" that funded Women for America First, the "nonprofit group" that secured a permit and locked down a handy launchpad for insurrection.

Last week, the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurgency sent out a long list of requests for documents. That list included documents related to almost every adult member of Trump's family (excluding Tiffany), several long-time campaign advisors including Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, and a long list of others involved in planning or executing events on that day. Several of those who worked for both Trump's campaign staff and the various organizations that put together the "Stop the Steal" event were included on that list, but far from all.

This only shows that, as sweeping as the committee's requests were, they're still insufficient to come close to capturing the full scope of individuals and organizations involved, which should be no surprise. After all, the Republican Party has spent decades setting up a seemingly infinite number of "institutes" and "foundations" and "think tanks" through which a handful of extremely wealthy donors can turn their money into action. Add to this a Citizen's United-fueled PAC infrastructure and the kind of morass of entangled power and money that people visualize when talking about "the swamp" absolutely exists—on the right.

Now introduce to this Donald Trump, a man whose 100 percent one-man-owned "empire" consists of over 500 companies and corporations created expressly to disguise his own real worth, moving money around without visibility, and creating the illusion of actions necessary to generate tax breaks. Trump really was out to drain the swamp … right into his personal swamp.

From the look of the connections on January 6, he succeeded.

That document request wasn't, and won't be, the last. As The Washington Post reported, the committee has already followed up with a request to tech companies that could generate even more pages of text. On that document, it may not be the exact list of names that's drawing the biggest attention, but the request for communications records related to "any Member of Congress or congressional staff" who put in a call to Trump or the White House on that day.

That request has made GOP leader Kevin McCarthy very upset. For good reason. After all, the news has already come out about how Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz phoned Trump from the Capitol and begged him to call off his goons. Again and again, it seems that Republicans understood two things very well on January 6: The people who were attacking the Capitol and threatening their lives were working for Trump, and Trump had the ability to tell them to stand down. But beyond showing how Republicans in Congress understood who was pulling the strings, the committee's review should also show how many were directly involved in planning or executing the assault on the Capitol.

The actions of the Select Committee won't drain the Republican swamp. It's been dredged out over decades, and exploring its labyrinthine bayous of purposeful obfuscation is work that might never be complete. But this much is clear just from the outset:

  • The Trump campaign and the supposedly separate entities that not only planned the January 6 rally but also conducted attacks on democracy across the country were connected by both money and people.
  • Trump's team created a media company to supposedly pay consultants, then lined up to take checks for themselves.
  • Trump's campaign and PACs put out at least $4.3 million to pay those who set up the Washington, D.C. rally.
  • Behind all of this was "dark money" whose sources have not been revealed, hiding behind the farce of nonprofit groups.
  • The members of Congress who are now defending Trump understood—and understand—that he was behind the assault and that the mob and their organizers answer to him.
  • As members of Congress, none of them can hide behind executive privilege, even in attempting to protect their conversations with Trump.
  • Kevin McCarthy is a wiener.

That last part may seem unconnected, but it's always worth noting. Especially since McCarthy's taking the Fifth rather than admitting that he was one of those begging Trump to call off his mob is likely to be one of the highlights of the Select Committee's work.

House Select Panel On Jan. 6 Attack ‘Is Going After Trump Now’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A former New York state prosecutor says the bipartisan House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack is definitely targeting Donald Trump, the disgraced former U.S. president.

Tristan Snell, who served as assistant attorney general for New York state and helped lead the prosecution against Trump University that resulted in a $25 million settlement says the Select Committee's work this week makes "crystal clear" what it's objectives are.

"A robust, comprehensive, no-stone-unturned subpoena effort is the foundation of any real investigation," Snell explains. "And they're going after Trump himself. That is crystal clear now."

House Panel Dramatically Expands Jan. 6 Investigation

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Just two days after demanding a massive trove of records from the federal government, the bipartisan House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack is indicating it is expanding its investigation even further. On Friday Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) sent letters to 15 social media companies requesting a massive amount of data on disinformation, extremism, and foreign influence.

The letter details a list of 14 topics to be included, including data and documents on "Misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation relating to the 2020 election"; efforts to overturn the certification of the election; "Domestic violent extremists"; and "foreign malign influence," among many other topics, according to Forbes' Andrew Solender.

Among the 15 companies or platforms are Facebook, Gab, Google, Parler, Reddit, Snapchat, Telegram, Tik-Tok, Twitch, Twitter, and YouTube, Solender adds. Also included are message boards 4chan and 8kun that have been popular with QAnon cultists and other conspiracy theorists, and thedonald.win, a pro-Trump message board that has since been scrubbed of its content. And Zello, a walkie-talkie app which "hosted far-right groups who stormed Capitol," The Guardian reported earlier this year.

Solender posted the letter. Click on each of the four images to expand:

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