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Tag: steve scalise

When Did Admitting A Mistake Become 'Weakness' For Republicans?

In 2002, Trent Lott of Mississippi tried, awkwardly, to make amends.

What did the then-Senate majority leader do to merit penance? Waxing poetic and perhaps feeling a bit nostalgic, Lott gave a speech honoring the 100th birthday of fellow Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, the onetime Dixiecrat who once broke off from the Democratic Party with a group of the like-minded to form the States’ Rights Democratic Party, built on segregation and steeped in white supremacy.

“I want to say this about my state,” said Lott, harking back to Thurmond’s 1948 folly. “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

First, Lott backtracked by saying he did not mean what he clearly said, calling the celebration “lighthearted.” Next, the apology, “to anyone who was offended.”

“A poor choice of words conveyed to some that I embraced the discarded policies of the past,” he said in a statement. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

He resigned as majority leader after receiving criticism mostly from Democrats but also from some Republicans, worried they might lose support of Black conservative voters for whom whistling Dixie was a step too far.I’m not sure if Lott’s motive was genuine moral growth or reading the room. But at the very least, it acknowledged that longing for the bad old days was not a good thing.

For reasons exemplary or political or both, anything that name-checked the divisive and ugly politics of Dixiecrat days of glory was seen as a drag for a politician and his or her party. This was true even when the words honored Thurmond, a longtime senator, one whose hypocrisy moved front and center when his Black daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, in 2003 claimed her truth and her birthright.

Was 2002 really that long ago? In political years, apparently, yes.

Today, Lott’s apology would be seen as “weakness,” in GOP canon a deal-breaker, and his resignation a sign of capitulating to the “woke mob,” whatever that means. The savvy move would be for Lott to double down, make outraged appearances on right-wing news outlets and field as many fundraising pleas as possible.

Or, he could just deny having said the offensive words in the first place, since refusing to admit the provable, recorded truth is not only acceptable but also encouraged.

It’s not that by 2002, or at any time in American history, appeals to racial and cultural grievance — a wish by those on top that everyone else should “know their place” — had lost their ability to work.

But comparing then to now is an eye-opener for those who believe progress and justice move one way, forward. The landscape in 2022 is a reminder that the Southern strategy can morph into the tea party, which can morph into “Make America Great Again,” with hardly a tweak.

The fact of a two-term Black president doesn’t disprove that theory, and could actually be one reason for the politics of fear getting a reboot. After President Barack Obama, America elected President Donald Trump, still president of the Republican Party if not the United States of America, and his critic and slavish supplicant, Kevin McCarthy, a leader without apology, honesty or shame.

It’s become increasingly clear that House Minority Leader McCarthy — longing to change that “Minority” title to “Majority,” and seeing it within his grasp come the midterm elections — has no problem distinguishing right from wrong or truth from lies. We know that for a fact, thanks to the slow drip of tapes and reporting from New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns in advance of the official release of their book.

McCarthy’s own voice reveals this witness to the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol not only blaming Trump but also worrying that members of his own caucus would be complicit in undermining democracy and would put “people in jeopardy.”

In audio that contradicts his repeated denials, McCarthy name-checks Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama and others, citing their incendiary rhetoric and verbal attacks on congressional colleagues such as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the same House member McCarthy would force out of leadership when she stood up to Trump’s lies and castigated his involvement in January 6.

Gaetz, of course, responded this week, using the phrase “weak men” to describe McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, both of whom had questioned the legality of Gaetz’s posturing.

Back then, McCarthy fretted about the rantings of Alabama Republican Rep. Barry Moore, who added the obligatory racism, with tweets about supposedly fraudulent votes in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit, and comments on the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt, on the front line of rioters. “It was a Black police officer who shot the white female veteran.”

McCarthy understood everything, including the implications of members of his party excusing insurrection and violence.

But when the political winds drifted, McCarthy bent the knee to Trump in his Mar-a-Lago Xanadu. No wonder Trump has forgiven him.

McCarthy knew and knows better — and it doesn’t matter. Party, tribe and Trump over country and the Constitution.

If McCarthy gets his wish, he might have a devil of a time keeping his GOP caucus in line, though.

To start, there’s Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, who was at the rally before the storming of the Capitol, as he is at Trump’s side whenever possible. Cawthorn is not much good at legislating but great at racking up traffic violations and toting loaded weapons into airports.

And, of course, there’s Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, so bold in her texts contemplating “Marshall law” to overturn the results of a free and fair presidential election, so timid with “I don’t remember” answers when questioned about the same under oath.

If McCarthy comes out on top in the fall, we’ll get to see how a House majority leader operates without a conscience.

In retrospect, Lott’s 2002 apology seems almost quaint, recalling a brief period when, even if you didn’t mean it, you acted as though you did, as though having character — and a soul — actually counted.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3. Her Roll Call columns won the 2022 National Headliner Award.

GOP House Leaders Kowtow To Far Right Over McCarthy Leaks

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Minority whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) clashed with top Trump allies in a private meeting over leaked audio of the two leaders blasting far-right GOP members of Congress for their role in inciting the violent mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6, endangering other lawmakers.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tore into both leaders, describing them as “weak men” for their “sniveling calls” with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), which took place before the House GOP leadership booted Cheney from its leadership.

The New York Times published new audio clips on Tuesday in which McCarthy, on a conference call with Scalise, Cheney, Rep. Tim Emmer (R-MN), and congressional aides, voiced his worries that the statements of a far-right minority of the House GOP could incite violence.

McCarthy and other leaders discussed Gaetz, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), and other Republican lawmakers they believed posed threats to their colleagues.

McCarthy accused the congressman from Florida, Gaetz, of “putting people in danger” for calling some Republican lawmakers “anti-Trump” days after the January 6 Capitol attack. “He’s putting people in jeopardy. And he doesn’t need to be doing this. We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and these people came prepared with rope, with everything else,” McCarthy said.

Scalise chimed in. “It’s potentially illegal what he’s doing,” he said, speaking of Gaetz.

Gaetz fired back in a statement on Tuesday night, saying, “This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders.”

“While I was protecting President Trump from impeachment, they were protecting Liz Cheney from criticism. They deemed it incendiary or illegal to call Cheney and [GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger] ‘Anti-Trump,’ a label both proudly advertise today,” Gaetz added.

Gaetz also challenged Scalise in the private meeting to state which of his comments were “illegal,” according to NBC News.

Scalise didn’t specify any comments as Gaetz had requested. Instead, he blamed the excess information “flying around” after the insurrection for the confusion and said he was reacting to a Cheney aide who accused Gaetz of endangering her safety.

Both leaders were also challenged by another Trump loyalist, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who is battling a group of her constituents in court over her alleged role in the insurrection. Greene demanded that both leaders apologize for discussing GOP lawmakers on a private call, but neither leader apologized, per NBC.

After the meeting, Gaetz assailed Scalise again on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight.

“If you accuse someone of breaking the law, you have to say what law you think they broke and you have to present what evidence you think you have,” Gaetz fumed. “If there is no evidence, you need to acknowledge that.”

Scalise caved and met Gaetz privately after the meeting to apologize. Speaking to NBC News of the meeting afterward, Scalise said he told Gaetz that he wanted to "ratchet down the rhetoric" because members of Congress on both sides had received death threats.

"Now, clearly, those didn’t ultimately come to fruition because there were no charges that were brought, but what we were being told were some pretty alarming things — some from law enforcement, some from other members," Scalise told NBC News.

"And so I shared that with Matt. I’m sorry that those comments caused him problems because it was things that [were] conveyed to me from a number of places."

Finally Vaccinated, Scalise Falsely Blames Democrats For Red-State Hesitancy

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

In case you missed it, the political race is suddenly on to point fingers over the latest coronavirus surge ripping through red states and highlighting the severely lagging vaccination rates among Republican voters in particular.

According to the White House, seven states have accounted for half of all new U.S. COVID-19 cases over the past week: Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Among that group, Florida and Texas have led the charge, contributing one-third of all new cases. The obvious trend is that nearly every one of those states is run entirely by Republicans. Louisiana is the only outlier, seating a Democratic governor while both state legislative chambers are controlled by Republicans.

Senate Republicans and some governors are now making a sudden push to rewrite history about their own party's malignant disinformation campaign on the vaccines. But some House Republicans are attempting something even more preposterous—blaming Democrats for the vaccine hesitancy and rejection that has flourished in red America.

Chief among them is GOP House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who spent months putting off getting vaccinated before having an abrupt change of heart in late July. As the delta variant started ravaging his state, Scalise was photographed getting the jab. At a press conference several days later, he told reporters, "I would encourage people to get the vaccine. I have high confidence in it. I got it myself."

But quickly adopting a pro-vaccine posture wasn't enough for Scalise. On July 26, he posted a disinformation video claiming, "Democrats have a history of vaccine misinformation and not trusting the science."

Using sound bites from last fall—before the vaccines had even been developed—the video features then-candidate Joe Biden, his running mate, then-Sen. Kamala Harris, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressing doubts about the Trump administration's push to develop the vaccine before the November election.

At the time, Trump had become obsessed with the idea of announcing a vaccine prior to Election Day, viewing it as a cure-all for his reckless mismanagement of the pandemic.

In September, with roughly 200,000 Americans already succumbing to COVID-19, Trump started publicly pressuring the Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine forthwith. As the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler recounts, on Sept. 23, Trump said the White House might even overrule the FDA if it moved too slowly on approval. Simultaneously, FDA leadership was pushing back in an effort to maintain public confidence in any vaccines that did eventually emerge. "FDA will not authorize or approve a vaccine that we would not feel comfortable giving to our families," said FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn.

Crucially, for the sake of his reelection, Trump was actively warring with the scientists charged with keeping the American public safe. It's in that context that some Democrats began to express concerns about the integrity of the approval process under Trump. But Scalise's video plucks comments made in that early fall timeframe devoid of all context.

"The first question is: Is the vaccine safe? Frankly, I'm not going to trust the federal government's opinion," Gov. Cuomo said at a Sept. 24 press conference.

When a vaccine finally is approved, Biden worried on Sept. 2, "Who's going to take the shot? Who's going to take the shot? Are you going to be the first one to say sign me up? They now say it's okay."

Harris, asked on Sept. 6 if she would take the shot, responded, "Well, I think that's going to be an issue for all of us. I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump."

In her vice presidential debate on Oct. 8, Harris offered, "But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I'm not taking it." What wasn't included in Scalise's disinformation montage was her preceding sentence, "If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I'll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely."

Republicans have clearly looked at their polling and realized their staunch anti-vaccine, anti-mask, anti-mitigation posture is a political liability. They have good reason to worry—Trump's epic mishandling of the pandemic sealed his fate in 2020. Consequently, many Republicans are pulling a complete 180 on messaging and hoping the American public will forget which party stoked doubt, fear, and even animosity toward the Biden administration's all-hands-on-deck effort to get shots in arms and restore some sense of normalcy to both the U.S. economy and American life.

Whether the GOP gaslighting works remains to be seen. But for now, most Americans know exactly which party stymied the vaccination effort, and it sure as heck wasn't Democrats.

House Republicans Explode As Capitol Police Enforce Masking Rules

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans vehemently criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday after Capitol Police officials announced they would begin enforcing COVID-19 safety rules once again.

"In today's edition of Pelosi's abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals," Florida Rep. Kat Cammack tweeted.

"To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to ARREST vaccinated people who aren't wearing masks," added House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. "This isn't about science—it's about power and control."

Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik claimed in a separate tweet that Pelosi was an "authoritarian" for reissuing the mask directive, while Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs called it "insanity."

"Threatening arrest for not wearing a mask is unlawful and tyrannical!" he wrote.

Other Republican lawmakers dared the House Speaker to punish them for not complying.

"Nancy Pelosi has lost her damn mind, arresting staff and visitors for not wearing masks? This is the People's House, not her House," tweeted Florida Rep. Byron Donalds. "Let me make it easy for you, Speaker Pelosi, my office, and my visitors won't comply — have an issue with that? Come see me."

The barrage of complaints came after the Capitol Police issued a memo citing the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance urging vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor settings to curb the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, and a decision by Congress' attending physician to require mask use in the federal building.

The CDC made its determination based on new evidence that some fully vaccinated people may still contract and spread the Delta variant.

House rules, adopted by the majority of its members in accordance with the Constitution, already require face mask use in the chamber. That rule had been eased prior to the latest public health data for vaccinated members, but was tightened again after two GOP lawmakers announced they had contracted COVID-19 in the past two weeks (one had been fully vaccinated, the other had previously had the disease).

The Capitol Police memo stated that any "visitor or staff member" found not wearing a mask would be "denied entry to the House." If an unmasked individual continued trying to circumvent the rule, it read, they could be "subject to an arrest."

Many of the Republicans lashing out on Thursday have made efforts in the past to frame themselves as defenders of "law and order."

In a July 1 tweet, Stefanik branded herself "the North Country's Law & Order Candidate."

And in February, Biggs claimed only Republicans could be considered "the party of the Constitution, law and order, freedom, and smaller government."

On Wednesday, Republicans spent more than an hour of House time making repeated failed motions to adjourn the work day, in protest of the mask requirements. During a floor speech, Texas Rep. Chip Roy suggested that the "institution is a sham and we should adjourn and shut this place down" over the reintroduced safety measures.

On Thursday, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said that she had directed staff to work from home over the requirements, tweeting, "No one should be arrested over a mask. We should follow the science not Speaker Pelosi."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Vaccination Rates Rising Again, But Disinformation Still Kills

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

After weeks of sometimes depressing, sometimes infuriating headlines about intransigent vaccine hesitancy in mostly red areas of the country, health officials appear to be making some headway with the unvaccinated even as case counts surge and some hospitals begin to reach a breaking point.

The pace of vaccine shots being administered on a daily basis is the highest it's been in two weeks, with a seven-day average of 582,659 shots per day, according to CDC data relayed by CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins.

And as of Monday, the seven-day average of newly vaccinated people in the U.S. was up 24 percent over a week ago, according to Cyrus Shahpar, the White House COVID-19 data director.

Last Thursday, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that the five states with the highest case rates—Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Nevada—"had a higher rate of people getting newly vaccinated compared to the national average."

But even with some positive signs emerging, the reality on the ground in many red states is still dire and extraordinarily frustrating for health officials.

In Alabama, George Grabryan and Mike Melton, two emergency management officials who have helped local residents navigate a series of natural disasters over several decades have been flummoxed by their inability to reach those very same people with messages about the vaccine. In rural Lauderdale County, just 34 percent of residents are vaccinated, writes Politico, while the delta variant has spiked new infections in the area by 300 percent in the past couple weeks.

"I've been out to the funeral home for more visitations this year than I have before," Grabryan said. "There's no one in this area that doesn't know someone who was affected by it."

And yet the gusher of misinformation and disinformation driven mainly by social media (Facebook, in particular) and Fox News has dealt a lethal blow to health officials struggling to get more local residents vaccinated. Indeed, in two of the states hardest hit by the delta variant—Louisiana and Alabama—health advocates ranging from public officials to physicians to local volunteers told Politico that social media and some news outlets are the main culprits in suppressing vaccination rates.

Doctors and health officials in Alabama and Louisiana say their only hope for getting people vaccinated is if the media outlets that message to these areas, primarily Fox News, start advocating people get the shot, instead of pushing them away from the jab.

But as desperate as they continue to be, local health officials in many red states have warned against sending federal "surge teams" to go door-to-door in conservative areas, fearing it would only exacerbate the problem. At base, Fox News and many Republican politicians have taught their loyalists to distrust the federal government, even when lives are at stake.

"I don't know going door to door would help us," said Karen Landers, an Alabama state health officer in Sheffield. "People in more rural areas … you're going on to their property. It might not be the best idea to have them do that because people are protective of their privacy."

The reality that red states are reeling from the latest surge in cases is also starting to tear into the core of GOP messaging on the pandemic. While some Republicans are reveling in the inability of the Biden administration to fully vanquish the coronavirus, others are starting to realize they might have a real political problem on their hands.

After House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana finally got vaccinated last week and encouraged other unvaccinated folks to follow suit, he also lied about the many conservative pundits and lawmakers who have purposely stoked anti-vaccine fears for months now. "I haven't heard any conservatives raising doubts," Scalise said despite all evidence to the contrary.

In Florida, where new COVID-19 infections are at their highest rate since January, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has developed a split personality on the issue. On the one hand, DeSantis has railed against mask mandates and tried to score political points by promising that he wouldn't let his 3-year-old be "muzzled" by any forthcoming federal guidelines about masking in schools.

"I've got a 3-year-old son, and you've got people like [Dr. Anthony] Fauci saying 'he should be muzzled and you should be throwing masks on these 3-year-old kids,'" DeSantis said late last week. "It's totally unacceptable."

For the record, Dr. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, has never said kids should be muzzled. But after the American Academy of Pediatrics backed universal school masking in new guidelines last week, Fauci said the CDC is "carefully looking" at encouraging universal masking in schools for everyone over two regardless of vaccination status. Fauci also said Sunday that the CDC is considering making new masking recommendations for vaccinated individuals and potentially urging booster shots for people with suppressed immune systems.

But back in Florida, anti-masker DeSantis has also touted the effectiveness of the vaccines.

"So here's, I think, the most important thing with the data: if you are vaccinated—fully vaccinated—the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero," DeSantis said at a press conference last week. "These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality."

On a national level, health officials are continuing to do what they can to promote vaccination. Medical groups representing million of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care workers on Monday urged a vaccine requirement for all U.S. health officials, according to the Washington Post.

"We call for all health care and long-term care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19," the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and 55 other groups wrote in a joint statement. "The health and safety of U.S. workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it."

Leaders of the groups involved in the effort see health care workers as important message carriers to the broader communities they are serving.

Rachel Villanueva, an OB/GYN and president of the National Medical Association representing more than 50,000 Black physicians, told the Post that leading by example is essential since many communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

"We want to continue to dispel myths, educate, increase confidence and increase vaccination rates in our communities," Villanueva said.

‘Traitor’: Gosar’s Family Urges His Expulsion From Congress

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona is not well liked by those who know him well. His entire family has campaigned against him and endorsed his opponents no less than twice. Their argument is that Paul Gosar is not fit for office and something of an appalling person. Gosar's performance in Congress has proven out his family's admonitions. Gosar has found his niche in this Republican Party taking up the white supremacist/nationalist, provocatively and openly racist space left by people like former Rep. Steve King.

Gosar's racism and white nationalism comes with the very easy to understand anti-democracy of fascism and authoritarian fetishism we see from most domestic terrorist groups in our country. He has championed the big lie claims of Donald Trump and many in his political party, that the national elections were fraudulent. His recent attempts to attach Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy of peaceful protest and civil rights to the death of a January 6 insurgent is just one of many examples of Gosar's grand crapulance. His own sister has called for Congress to investigate not simply the insurrection of the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, but her brother Paul's possible involvement in it.

Gosar's brother Dave told NBC News that after the events of January 6, 2021, "I consider him a traitor to this country. I consider him a traitor to his family. He doesn't see it. He's disgraced and dishonored himself." If we've learned anything about GOP operatives, it's that the bottom always has some wiggle room.

Now, Gosar is reportedly planning another (as in this is not the first time) fundraiser along with America First Political Action Committee's (AFPAC) Nick Fuentes. Fuentes is known around these here parts as a white nationalist troll. Calling his commentary sophomoric is offensive to juveniles just beginning to develop their egos. Fuentes is the bottom of the barrel white supremacist, garden variety level of racist fear-monger. But Nick Fuentes does have one thing in common with Paul Gosar. They know how to make their little scraps of money together peddling misery to angry white folks.

The most recent scam fundraising work the two racist men did together was in February, when Rep. Gosar decided to spend his time down in Florida at a Fuentes AFPAC fundraiser. Gosar did this instead of casting a vote on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that passed through the House. He told Congress he couldn't be present in D.C. because of the pandemic. Real scumbaggery.

Below is Nick Fuentes denying the Holocaust and the idea that 6 million Jews were exterminated by the Nazis. It is a point-by-point conspiracy theorist's denial that the Holocaust happened.

Fuentes reportedly confirmed the plans to fundraise with Gosar in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday, calling Gosar "really, honestly, hands down the best congressman in America." Gosar, for his part, has been the kind of cagey coward we have come to expect from these bigoted snowflakes on the right. Without addressing it outright, he tweeted out: "Not sure why anyone is freaking out. I'll say this: there are millions of Gen Z, Y and X conservatives. They believe in America First. They will not agree 100% on every issue. No group does. We will not let the left dictate our strategy, alliances and efforts. Ignore the left."

Gosar's six siblings have been vocal about their concerns for the country's health with Paul in any positions of power, since 2017. That was when Gosar promoted the conspiracy theory that the Charlottesville white supremacist rally that terrorized the city was some kind of "false flag" operation by the government—not just racists being super racist and violent. The former dentist has continued to promote himself as a deep state conspiracist since then, as it really seems to be a lucrative market for easy exploitation by the Republican Party.

Gosar is not a new phenomenon. Just the most recent … 62-year-old version of it. You might remember Rep. Steve Scalise, who tried to sell himself to fellow Republicans as "David Duke without the baggage." Scalise is still in the Republican Party leadership and his opinions are now considered orthodoxy in the Grand Old Party of racism.

Capitol Police Officers Blast GOP Leaders For Opposing Jan. 6 Commission


Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

On Wednesday, anonymous members of the United States Capitol Police, in a letter addressed to members of Congress, said they felt "profound disappointment" in the decisions by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to oppose an investigation into the January 6 attack.

The U.S. Capitol Police said on its Twitter account that the letter was not an official statement from the organization.

CNN reported that it had confirmed with the Capitol Police officer who wrote the letter that it represents the views of 40-50 officers.

"The brave men and women of the USCP were subjected to hours and hours of physical trauma which has led to months of mental anguish," the members wrote.

Addressing McCarthy and McConnell, the Capitol Police write that it is "inconceivable" that "some of the Members we protected" would "downplay the events of January 6th."

Noting that each indictment connected to the insurrection is a constant reminder of the trauma of the day of the attack, the letter says it "is unconscionable to even think anyone could suggest we need to move forward and get over it."

The signees of the letter, which is on official Capitol Police letterhead, note that they are anonymous "because as U.S. Capitol Police Officers we are expected to remain neutral and do our jobs with honor and integrity."

"It's unfortunate that our 'bosses' (Congress) are not held to the same standard."

The letter was sent to the media and to chiefs of staff of House members of both parties.

To: Members of Congress
From: Members of the United States Capitol Police
Subject: January 6th Commission
We members of the United States Capitol Police write this letter to express our profound disappointment with the recent comments from both chambers' minority leaders expressing no need for a January 6th commission. The brave men and women of the USCP were subjected to hours and hours of physical trauma which has led to months of mental anguish. If you look around the Capitol building, you still have doors that are broken, windows still smashed and in some cases missing. Officers are forced to go to work with the daily reminder of what happened that dreadful day.
On Jan 6th where some officers served their last day in a US Capitol Police uniform, and not by choice, we would hope that the Members whom we took an oath to protect, would at the very minimum, support an investigation to get to the bottom of EVERYONE responsible and hold them 100 percent accountable no matter the title or position they hold or held.
It is inconceivable that some of the Members we protect, would downplay the events of January 6th. Member safety was dependent upon the heroic actions of USCP. It is a privileged assumption for Members to have the point of view that "It wasn't that bad". That privilege exists because the brave men and women of the USCP protected you, the Members.
Lastly, with each passing week, a new revelation about Jan 6th reveals itself. A new indictment comes to light, another newsreel of USCP officers being assaulted is released, or some breaking news regarding "somebody's" involvement. With these constant reminders, it is unconscionable to even think anyone could suggest, we need to move forward and get over it. Unfortunately this letter comes to you anonymously because as US Capitol Police Officers, we are expected to remain neutral and do our jobs with honor and integrity. It's unfortunate that our "bosses" (Congress) are not held to the same standard that we, the USCP are.

Proud Members of the United States Capitol Police




GOP Leadership Betrays Bipartisan Deal On 1/6 Commission

Reprinted with permission from Alternet


EDITOR'S UPDATE: On Wednesday evening the House passed a bipartisan bill to establish an independent commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol insurrection, as 35 Republicans defied their party leadership and former president Donald Trump to support the commission.

.The bill now moves to the Senate where it faces an uncertain fate as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his opposition on Wednesday.

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday that he will not be supporting the bipartisan deal for a commission to study the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. And not only that, but the No. 2 Republican in the House, Rep. Steve Scalise, revealed that he'll be whipping Republican votes against the legislation.

It was a disappointing but predictable development for those hoping to have bipartisan consensus on the plan to analyze the monumental challenge to American democracy. With the right wing increasingly downplaying the events of January 6 and former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election, or even defending them, it was clear Republican leadership had little interest left in seeking accountability. While legislation for the commission is almost certain to pass the House because of the Democrats' majority, it faces a less certain future in the Senate, where it will need 60 votes. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he is undecided on the legislation.

In turning his back on the commission, McCarthy was essentially throwing one of his own under the bus. Indeed, this is exactly the sentiment New York Republican Rep. John Katko reportedly expressed to a colleague about the development, according to a recent report in The Hill.

"Katko feels like he's been thrown under the bus," the person said. "I think he feels frustrated he was given a direction to go in and had the rug pulled out from under him."

Katko is the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee. He was, it seems, given an impossible task: to negotiate a deal with Democrats on a commission that McCarthy and most the GOP caucus was bound to end up opposing.

McCarthy was initially outraged by the events of January 6, pinning the blame on Trump even as he opposed impeachment. But Republican voters have clearly signaled they don't want Trump held accountable, and they're unconcerned with the insurrection, so McCarthy has dutifully abandoned any interest in the commission.

In a statement released by Scalise, the House GOP leadership offered a series of excuses for their opposition to the commission, trying to put the blame on Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the objections were frivolous.

The first three bullet points here are all basically the same point: that the commission only focuses on the events of January 6. That is, of course, the whole point of the legislation. The idea that the 2017 baseball shooting is suddenly among McCarthy's concerns strains credulity, and it has no credible link to January 6 attack. But if it did, nothing would prevent the commission from studying the link. (And if McCarthy had thought the event itself was worthy of study, he could have proposed that back in 2017.)

The point that the report is "due to late" is hard to parse even on its own terms.

The last two points just refer to other investigations of the events, such as in the DOJ and congressional committees, which serve different purposes from an independent commission. Notably, they're run ultimately by Democrats, while the commission is intended to be bipartisan.

Ultimately, the GOP's talking points against the commission just amount to an admission they don't want a commission at all. It's clear there was no reasonable agreement that would satisfy them, unless perhaps it was so watered down as to be pointless. And of course, they use the delay imposed by the negotiations they insisted upon as another reason to oppose the commission.

So why go through all this song and dance? McCarthy perhaps concluded that it would look too cynical to just oppose a commission outright, or mayube he genuinely wanted a commission at the start and changed his mind.

But the attempt to blame Democrats for the failure is falling flat. The arguments against the commission are laughable. And without a doubt, some House Republicans will vote for the commission, just as some voted for impeachment, giving it a seal of bipartisanship even if McCarthy is opposed. It's hard to imagine how the House minority leader's reputation comes out improved after all this.

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern blasted McCarthy for abandoning the agreement after all the negotiation:

And according to Punchbowl News, many Republicans aren't impressed with McCarthy's excuses, either.

"Sure, there are some Republicans who can toe the line and say that they will oppose it because it doesn't allow for an investigation into all political violence," it reported. "But many in the party are finding that excuse incredibly lame."