Five of Hearts: House Freedom Caucus: An “insurrectionists’ clubhouse”

Looking back . . .

2020 ELECTION: The House Freedom Caucus Just Trashed What Little Credibility It Had Left​:

  •  In a new low for the House Freedom Caucus as an entity, roughly two-thirds of the House Freedom Caucus, including  co-founder Rep. Jim Jordan (R–Ohio),  signed a petition in support of President Donald Trump’s long shot bid to have the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, which Trump plainly lost.
  • The action should stand as a permanent reminder that they have no principles beyond doing what Trump asks. 
  •  In a more serious petition, a group of conservative legal scholars described the underlying lawsuit as making “a mockery of federalism and separation of powers.” Reason.com, Dec. 11, 2021
  • The Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit by Texas that had asked the Court to throw out the election results in four battleground states that President Trump lost in November, ending any prospect that a brazen attempt to use the courts to reverse his defeat at the polls would succeed. 
  • The order, coupled with another one on Tuesday turning away a similar request from Pennsylvania Republicans, signaled that a conservative court with three justices appointed by Mr. Trump refused to be drawn into the extraordinary effort by the president and many prominent members of his party to deny his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his victory.
  • It was the latest and most significant setback for Mr. Trump in a litigation campaign that was rejected by courts at every turn. nytimes.com, Dec. 11, 2020

 

Race to the Bottom: “How Low Can You Go?”

 

“GOP colleagues sneer at Rep. Good’s election complaints”

Axios:

Rep. Bob Good‘s (R-Va.) efforts to sow doubts about the results of his too-close-to-call GOP primary are being met with eye rolls from many of his House Republican colleagues.

Why it matters: The House Freedom Caucus chair is tapping into a strain of election denialism common in Donald Trump’s Republican Party – but without the widespread GOP support Trump enjoyed.

  • “No one is buying it, but all understand this is one of the several stages of electoral grief,” said one House Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
  • The GOP lawmaker added that Good’s assertion of election irregularities is “the reflexive thing people who can’t accept loss say these days.”…
  • Former Rep. Denver Riggleman, a Republican-turned-independent who lost to Good in 2020, noted that McGuire and Good have both echoed Trump’s claims about the 2020 election.
  • “I don’t find it surprising that an election between an election denier and an election denier would end with one of them denying the election was fair based on conspiracy theories,” he said.

 

Letters from an American, Heather Cox RichardsonApril 17, 2024

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

[Excerpt:]

Earlier this month, both Representative Michael R. Turner (R-OH), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned about Russian disinformation in their party. Turner told CNN’s State of the Union that it is “absolutely true” that Republican members of Congress are parroting Russian propaganda. “We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor.” When asked which Republicans had fallen to Russian propaganda, McCaul answered that it is “obvious.”

That growing popular awareness has highlighted that House Republicans under House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) have for six months refused to pass a national security supplemental bill with additional aid for Ukraine, as well as for Israel and the Indo-Pacific, and humanitarian aid to Gaza. After the Senate spent two months negotiating border security provisions House Republicans demanded, Republicans killed that bill with the provisions at Trump’s direction, and the Senate then passed a bill without those provisions in February.

Johnson has been coordinating closely with former president Trump, who has made his admiration for Russia and his disregard for Ukraine very clear since his people weakened their support for Ukraine in the 2016 Republican Party platform.Johnson is also under pressure from MAGA Republicans in the House, like Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who oppose funding Ukraine, some of them by making statements that echo Russian propaganda.

While the White House, the Pentagon, and a majority of both chambers of Congress believe that helping Ukraine defend itself is crucial to U.S. security, Johnson has refused to take the Senate measure up, even though the House would pass it if he did. But as Ukraine’s ability to defend itself has begun to weaken, pressure for additional aid has ramped up. At the same time, in the wake of Iran’s attack on Israel last weekend, Republicans have suddenly become eager to provide additional funds to Israel. It began to look as if Johnson might bring up some version of foreign aid.

But discussions of bringing forward Ukraine aid brought not only Greene but also Thomas Massie (R-KY) to threaten yesterday to challenge Johnson’s speakership, and there are too few Republicans in the House to defend him.

Today, Johnson brought forward not the Senate bill, but rather three separate bills to fund Israel, the Indo-Pacific, and Ukraine, with pieces that House Republicans have sought. A fourth bill will include other measures Republicans have demanded. And a fifth will permit an up-or-down vote on most of the measures in the extreme border bill the House passed in 2023. At the time, that measure was intended as a signaling statement because House Republicans knew that the Democratic Senate would keep it from becoming law.

Johnson said he expected to take a final vote on the measures Saturday evening. He will almost certainly need Democratic votes to pass them, and possibly to save his job. Democrats have already demanded the aid to Gaza that was in the Senate bill but is not yet in the House bills.

Reese Gorman, political reporter for The Daily Beast, reported that Johnson explained his change of heart like this: “Look, history judges us for what we do. This is a critical time right now…  I can make a selfish decision and do something that is different but I’m doing here what I believe to be the right thing.… I think providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important.… I’m willing to take personal risk for that.”

His words likely reflect a changing awareness in Republican Party leadership that the extremism of MAGA Republicans is exceedingly unpopular. Trump’s courtroom appearances—where, among other things, he keeps falling asleep—are unlikely to bolster his support, while his need for money is becoming more and more of a threat both to his image and to his fellow Republicans. Today the Trump campaign asked Republican candidates in downballot races for at least 5% of the money they raise with any fundraising appeal that uses Trump’s name or picture. They went on: “Any split that is higher than 5% will be seen favorably by the RNC and President Trump’s campaign and is routinely reported to the highest levels of leadership within both organizations.”

Nonetheless, Greene greeted Johnson’s bills with amendments requiring members of Congress to “conscript in the Ukrainian military” if they voted for aid to Ukraine.

A headline on the Fox News media website today suggested that a shift away from MAGA is at least being tested. It read: “Marjorie Taylor Greene is an idiot. She is trying to wreck the [Republican Party].” The article pointed out that 61% of registered voters disapprove of the Republican Party while only 36% approve. That approval rating has indeed fallen at least in part because of the performative antics of the extremists, among them the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that made him the first cabinet officer to be impeached in almost 150 years. Today the Senate killed that impeachment without a trial.

As soon as Johnson announced the measures, President Joe Biden threw his weight behind them. In a statement, he said: “I strongly support this package to get critical support to Israel and Ukraine, provide desperately needed humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, and bolster security and stability in the Indo-Pacific. Israel is facing unprecedented attacks from Iran, and Ukraine is facing continued bombardment from Russia that has intensified dramatically in the last month.

“The House must pass the package this week and the Senate should quickly follow. I will sign this into law immediately to send a message to the world: We stand with our friends, and we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed.”

[Boldface added]

The Conservative Partnership Institute has become a breeding ground for the next generation of Trump loyalists and an incubator for policies he might pursue. Its fast growth is raising questions.

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In the lobby of the grand Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla., where a sprawling new force in Washington’s right-wing ecosystem, the Conservative Partnership Institute, was holding its winter conference, the former Trump legal adviser Cleta Mitchell was exultant.

“Did you hear the ‘War Room’ today? Bannon was on fire!” she said to a friend. She was referring to the podcast hosted by Stephen K. Bannon, the former Trump White House senior adviser who had been condemning Republican senators for supporting billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine and Israel earlier that day.

Ms. Mitchell was among some 150 conservative donors and activists who gathered in Coral Gables earlier this month to celebrate the ascendancy of a group that has become a well-paying sinecure for Trump allies and an incubator for the policies the former president could pursue if elected. The participants toted gift bags in the warm sunshine and swapped golf clothes for business attire at a dinner where they applauded as two Black speakers — Ben Carson, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Representative Byron Donalds of Florida — extolled conservative values while condemning the racial identity politics of the left.

The group’s top executive, Jim DeMint, the former U.S. senator from South Carolina, was there, as was Mark Meadows, President Donald J. Trump’s former chief of staff, who is paid $847,000 annually as the organization’s senior adviser. More than a dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus also turned up, as did Mollie Hemingway, the editor in chief of the right-wing journalism website The Federalist, whose parent company C.P.I. helps underwrite.

The message at the conference was “taking on the Swamp” from a nonprofit with a $36 million annual budget from private donors that now operates as a full-service nerve center for right-wing activity and a breeding ground for the next generation of Trump loyalists.

Legislators can hold fund-raisers in its event rooms; send their staff members to training sessions at the group’s getaway lodge in Maryland; do their TV news hits in its studio; or be fed, by text message, follow-up questions for lawmakers to ask witnesses during congressional hearings. Donors can funnel their money through the institute into a host of conservative causes, from promoting Christian values in education to helping pay legal fees incurred by what the group calls “America First public servants.”

“We’re just doing what the other guys have been doing for decades,” Robert Bruce, a retired Texas aviation entrepreneur and C.P.I. donor, said in an interview two days after the conference. “There’s been a void in Washington, D.C., and C.P.I. has filled it by giving conservatives a refuge.”

The organization aims to be much more than a refuge. One of the groups it has staffed and funded, the American Accountability Foundation, says in its mission statement that it seeks to “advance conservative messaging” by aggressively attacking appointees for the Biden administration. Another offspring, the Center for Renewing America, aims to take on what it calls a leftist “cultural revolution” as well as a “taxpayer-funded woke federal bureaucracy.”

 

Behind the border mess: Open GOP rebellion against McConnell

The Republican leader told POLITICO that his critics “had their shot” already. But conservatives are not done whacking him over the immigration-for-Ukraine aid implosion.

https://www.politico.com/news/2024/02/07/mcconnell-gop-rebellion-border-deal-00139972

Conservative hardliners once celebrated Mitch McConnell for wrestling the federal judiciary to the right and thwarting progressive hopes.

Now he is under open attack from the right for even trying to work with Democrats on the border.

The Senate GOP leader is facing internal resistance not seen in more than a year as Republicans descend into discord over two issues they once demanded be linked: border security and the war in Ukraine.

McConnell, now nearing his 82nd birthday, is determined to fund the Ukrainian war effort, a push his allies have depicted as legacy-defining. But now that his party is set on Wednesday to reject a bipartisan trade of tougher border policies for war funding, his far-right critics are speaking out more loudly: Several held a press conference Tuesday where they denounced his handling of the border talks, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) calling on McConnell to step down.

In an interview, McConnell rejected the criticism and said his antagonists fail to recognize the reality of divided government.

“I’ve had a small group of persistent critics the whole time I’ve been in this job. They had their shot,” McConnell said, referring to Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-Fla.) challenge to his leadership in 2022.

“The reason we’ve been talking about the border is because they wanted to, the persistent critics,” he added. “You can’t pass a bill without dealing with a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate.”

Despite that pragmatism, McConnell’s job is only getting harder. If he runs for another term in leadership next year, a tougher fight than Scott gave him seems almost inevitable.

That is in part because of Donald Trump, whom McConnell barely acknowledges after criticizing his role in the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021. The former president played a leading role in killing the border deal and has called consistently for McConnell’s ouster. And at this time next year, Trump could well be back in the White House.

More and more of Senate Republicans’ internal strife is seeping out into public view, exposing years-old beefs that are still simmering. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) posted a fundraising link asking donors to “kill this border bill” in the middle of a closed-door GOP meeting on Monday and demanded “new leadership,” while Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) memed McConnell as Charlie Brown whiffing on an attempt to kick a football held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.).

“I’ve been super unhappy since this started,” Johnson said in an interview. “Leader McConnell completely blew this.”

Trump and Speaker Mike Johnson helped squash the border bill’s prospects in the House while Ron Johnson, Lee, Cruz, Scott and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) pummeled it on TV and social media. The intensity of that assault turned many GOP senators sour on a border security deal that would have amounted to the most conservative immigration bill backed by a Democratic president in a generation — a bill they once said was the key to unlocking Ukraine aid.

Though McConnell touted the work of Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and the bill’s endorsement by the Border Patrol union, he conceded what was obvious by Monday night: This legislation is dead.

“The reason we ended up where we are is the members decided, since it was never going to become law, they didn’t want to deal with it,” McConnell said in the interview. “I don’t know who is at fault here, in terms of trying to cast public blame.”

At Tuesday’s party meeting, Cruz told McConnell that the border deal was indefensible, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) questioned why the GOP would walk away from it, according to two people familiar with the meeting. That followed a Monday evening private meeting where Johnson got into a near-shouting match with Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), one of several senators who has tried to rebut Trump’s influence on the party.

Young played down the spat afterward: “Ron and I have a very good relationship. We can be very candid with one another.”

McConnell’s loud critics are among those most responsible for raising opposition to the border deal, attacking its provisions while the text was being finalized. They raised such a ruckus that none of McConnell’s potential successors as leader — Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and John Thune (R-S.D.) — offered to support it.

McConnell can’t be ejected spontaneously like a House speaker, meaning his job is safe until the end of the year. He also has major sway over the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that may have to help Cruz, Scott and other Republicans win reelection.

And McConnell is not without defenders. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said any attempt to blame McConnell for the border crackup is “a bit misplaced.”

Indeed, McConnell was OK with just approving foreign aid back in the fall, but agreed to link it to border security after rank-and-file Republicans grew eager to extract concessions from Democrats in order to get Ukraine money.

“It’s not James’ fault, he did the best he could under the circumstances. It’s not Mitch’s fault,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.).

The historical record holds plenty of quotes from McConnell’s current critics asking for stronger border policy during the Trump administration. Many of them now have since changed their tune to say Biden doesn’t need new laws at all to enforce border security.

“We all wanted to see border security. And I think a lot of our members were demanding that in exchange for the rest of the funding. That’s an issue our conference needs to be aware of,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the No. 4 leader. “The conference wanted border security.”

The animosity McConnell now faces from Ron Johnson, Lee and others isn’t new either: They’ve questioned Senate GOP leadership’s decisions for years.

Ron Johnson’s been a thorn in McConnell’s side for years, particularly after many Republicans abandoned his reelection bid in 2016. Cruz has sparred with McConnell since getting to the Senate in 2013, Lee frequently breaks with leadership and a number of newer GOP senators voted for Scott over McConnell in 2022.

One GOP senator, granted anonymity to assess the situation candidly, said that the new wave of attacks could be happening because McConnell’s opponents sense weakness — or just out of “personal pique” over years-old disagreements.

“For three months it’s been nothing but border and Ukraine, border and Ukraine, border and Ukraine. I don’t know how many speeches I’ve heard … and now all of a sudden, it’s: ‘We’re not going to do that,’” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), another of the McConnell critics. “It just seems like total chaos to me.”

Either way, the 180 among many Republicans is evidence of a major drift away from McConnell’s style of Republicanism and toward Trump’s. McConnell hasn’t talked to Trump since the Jan. 6 riot and tried to turn the party in a surprisingly deal-centric direction during the first two years of President Joe Biden’s presidency.

Just two years ago, debt ceiling increases, gun safety and infrastructure laws passed with McConnell’s blessing — all a reflection of his view that protecting the filibuster requires working with Democrats on bipartisan bills.

Now the reality is that Trump, the likely nominee, doesn’t want a deal that Republicans set out to secure four months ago. Deal-making without Trump’s blessing appears impossible, and that’s a challenging dynamic for the longtime GOP leader.

“This wasn’t good for him. This wasn’t good for any of us,” said Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) of McConnell, whom he backed in 2022. “And I’m not gonna say he’s the total cause of it, but we got to have a better plan. This didn’t work out for us.”

Ursula Perano contributed to this report.

[Boldface added]

 

Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson
January 19, 2024 
[Excerpt:]
This means that, like his predecessor Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) had to turn to Democrats to keep the government operating. The chair of the extremist House Freedom Caucus, Bob Good (R-VA), told reporters that before the House vote, Freedom Caucus members had tried to get Johnson to add to the measure the terms of their extremist border security bill. Such an addition would have tanked the bill, forcing a government shutdown, and Johnson refused.

 

House Republicans stew over members who caused upheaval

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/4380823-house-republicans-members-caused-upheaval/

[Excerpt:]

Another one of the eight lawmakers who voted to oust McCarthy, Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), has been elevated to be the chair of the House Freedom Caucus — the influential hard-line conservative group whose members are often at the center of public interparty disputes and rebellion against GOP leadership. 

His election did not come without some internal drama, though. Fellow Freedom Caucus member Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) resigned from the group’s board in part because of Good’s election. He wrote in a letter reported by Axios that he was concerned the group relies too much on hard power and “too little on influence with and among our colleagues.”

Good, by contrast, is leaning into the hard-line tactics the group is known for — saying before the holiday break that Republicans have to be “willing to withstand a potential partial government shutdown to try to force the Democrats to negotiate.”

 

House GOP hardliners push Mike Johnson to go full throttle

href=”https://www.axios.com/authors/jbrufke”>Juliegrace Brufke

Dec. 6. 2023

https://www.axios.com/2023/12/06/house-republicans-mike-johnson-freedom-caucus

[Excerpts:]

House Republican hardliners are starting to crank up the pressure on their hand-picked Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), warning that anything less than an aggressive push to the right means caving to Democrats.

Why it matters: Hopes that Johnson’s election would calm the underlying tensions that triggered former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) ouster are quickly dissipating.

The intrigue: In a conference meeting Tuesday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) called for the release of all Capitol surveillance footage from Jan. 6 and the creation of what one source described as a “Jan. 6 revenge committee.” [Boldface added]

A leadership source pointed to the impeachment inquiry, the Jan. 6 footage and Johnson’s strides toward avoiding a massive omnibus spending bill as examples of his success. [Boldface added]

Jim Jordan’s Conspiratorial Quest for Power

How the Ohio Republican built an insurgent bid for Speaker on the lies of Donald Trump.

[Excerpts:]

On the Hill, the different ideological factions inside the Party were known as the Five Families; the most unruly of these was the House Freedom Caucus, a group of thirty-three hard-line anti-institutionalists. The closest the conference came to a proactive message was its vow to investigate Joe Biden and to fight the scourge of the federal bureaucracy. 

During the race for House Speaker in January, twenty members of the Freedom Caucus withheld their votes from McCarthy. In exchange for their support, they made numerous demands; one of them was the creation of a freestanding committee to uncover how the federal government was supposedly cracking down on conservatives. McCarthy appeased them, in part, by agreeing to create a subcommittee run out of the Judiciary Committee and led by Jordan, who had helped found the Freedom Caucus, in 2015. More than anyone in the House at the time, several G.O.P. insiders told me, Jordan held the key to McCarthy’s Speakership.

On January 2, 2021, Jordan led a conference call with Trump to discuss how they could delay certifying the election. One of the ideas was to encourage Trump supporters, via social media, to march on the Capitol on January 6th. Jordan spoke routinely with the President by phone during the next few days, including twice on January 6th, and he texted Trump’s chief of staff with advice on how to get Vice-President Mike Pence not to count electoral votes. Hours after the insurrection, Jordan stationed himself next to the House floor to whip votes against certification. Before leaving office, Trump gave him the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Jordan, Trump has said, “is a warrior for me.”

—–

In his seventeen-year career in Congress, Jordan has not once sponsored a bill that became law. Instead, he’s searched for victims of liberal plots—the most famous being Donald Trump, whose election loss, in 2020, Jordan refused to certify.

House Republicans ditched Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) as their nominee for Speaker on Friday, thrusting the GOP conference back to square one and escalating the chaos that has ensnared the group for nearly three weeks.

By his own admission, Jordan “didn’t come to Washington to make more laws.” He had risen in stature as a political hit man, a launcher of partisan inquisitions. In a conference of cynics, he had distinguished himself as a true believer. No one was more aggressive in prosecuting the Party’s paranoia or more creative in stoking its sense of victimhood. The villains in the schemes he rode to power could come from anywhere.

 

GOP ditches Jordan and scrambles for Speaker: Five takeaways

Jim Jordan’s remarkably thin legislative track record

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/10/16/jim-jordan-speaker-legislation-effectiveness/

The most oft-cited data on legislative success comes from the Center for Effective Lawmaking, a joint project of Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia. It tracks not only bills that become law, but bills that get some kind of traction, along with how significant the bills are. (i.e. you don’t get the same credit for getting a bill naming a post office passed as you would for an overhaul of health care.)

Lawmakers of both parties often tout these rankings when boasting that a member has had a bona fide impact on our nation’s laws.

Jordan has not had much impact, at least by this measuring stick.

CEL data have routinely ranked Jordan near the bottom of the House when it comes to his effectiveness. To wit:

  • Last Congress, only four lawmakers ranked below him.
  • He has ranked in the bottom five among House Republicans each of the past four Congresses.
  • He has ranked in the bottom quarter of House Republicans in every full Congress he served in.
  • Before this Congress, its data don’t record any bills Jordan sponsored passing or receiving any action — whether in committee or on the floor.

Once a tormentor of the Republican Party’s speakers, the Ohio congressman and unapologetic right-wing pugilist has become a potential speaker himself.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/06/us/politics/jim-jordan-speaker-republicans

[Excerpts:]

“That notion that he could go from ‘legislative terrorist’ to speaker of the House is just insane,” said Mike Ricci, a former aide to both Mr. Boehner and Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin.

In a Republican House that has defined itself in large part by its determination to protect Mr. Trump and attack President Biden, Mr. Jordan has been a leader of both efforts. He leads a special subcommittee on the “weaponization of government” against conservatives. He has started investigations into federal and state prosecutors who indicted Mr. Trump, and he is a co-leader of the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden that Mr. McCarthy formally announced last month as he worked to appease the right and cling to his post. The weaponization subcommittee has spotlighted some examples of government overreach and the impeachment inquiry has produced unflattering information against President Biden’s son Hunter, but neither has produced proof of Republicans’ boldest claims.

Mr. Jordan helped undermine faith in the 2020 presidential election results as Mr. Trump spread the lie that the election had been stolen through widespread fraud. Mr. Jordan strategized with Mr. Trump about how to use Congress’s official count of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, to reject the results, voting to object even after a mob of Mr. Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol. His candidacy for speaker has drawn a stark warning from former Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was the No. 3 Republican and vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee, who said that if he prevailed, “there would no longer be any possible way to argue that a group of elected Republicans could be counted on to defend the Constitution.”

In a speech at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday, Ms. Cheney told the audience that “Jim Jordan was involved, was part of the conspiracy in which Donald Trump was engaged as he attempted to overturn the election.” [Boldface added]

 

McCarthy Locks Arms With Freedom Caucus To Jump Off Cliff

TPM Morning Memo

Sept. 21, 2023

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/morning-memo

It appears that Speaker McCarthy has decided to push ahead with a continuing resolution that only right-wingers could love. It sets up the possibility of rare Friday and Saturday votes in the House, but more importantly it puts the House in direct conflict with the Senate and White House with no obvious path forward for how to fun the government past the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.

To reiterate, this proposed CR is a grab bag of draconian spending cuts and pet messaging vehicles, a Freedom Caucus wish list, if you will. It’s not even clear it will pass the House, let alone go anywhere after that.

Meanwhile, Democrats are reveling in the GOP chaos.

As GOP investigates prosecutors, experts worry about judicial independence

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/09/09/republican-investigations-judicial-independence/

[excerpts:]

Investigate the investigator.

. . . in the wake of 91 criminal charges against Trump, the party’s blitz of attacks on prosecutors threatens to degrade an important precedent that protects prosecutorial independence and the ability to fairly root out wrongdoing without partisan influence or gain, according to legal experts.

“Big picture, this does seem incredibly troubling,” said Caren Morrison, a former federal prosecutor who is an associate professor at Georgia State University College of Law. “For years I’ve told my students that one principle we can always rely on is the principle of prosecutorial discretion — it is unassailable and that is the essence of their power: They can choose which cases to pursue and which cases not to pursue. … We are kind of at a point where nobody agrees on what the rules are.”

And state lawmakers have begun discussions to remove Willis from her seat through a disciplinary commission in Georgia — one of several states that have recently adopted laws aimed at reining in the power of locally elected prosecutors.

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio), one of the three GOP chairmen who targeted Bragg, announced an investigation into Willis after an Atlanta-area grand jury indicted Trump and 18 of his associates on charges related to attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Jordan requested information regarding any federal funding the office receives, along with any correspondence between Willis’s office and the Justice Department. Republican lawmakers have also gone after David Weiss, the newly appointed special counsel tasked with prosecuting President Biden’s son Hunter after his plea deal collapsed in July. Weiss filed court papers on Wednesday saying he intends to seek an indictment against Hunter Biden by the end of this month.

Jordan and others have drawn sharp criticism from Democrats for what they view as attempts to undermine active and ongoing criminal investigations.

In a nine-page letter to Jordan sent on Thursday, Willis blasted the chairman for what she called an unconstitutional attempt “to interfere with a state criminal matter” and transgression of the separation of powers. She also warned Jordan that if House Republicans followed through on threats to deny federal funding to Willis’s office, that “such vengeful, uncalled-for legislative action would impose serious harm on the citizens we serve, including the fact that it will make them less safe.”

“Whomever is the accused deserves an adjudication which is, as much as possible, the application of law to facts, and you do everything you can to shield that inquiry from the rough-and-tumble of constituent politics,” said Robert Raben, the former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs under President Bill Clinton. “There are important lines of division that should not be penetrated — and we can squabble about where those lines are — but hauling up an investigator while something is pending to influence something to which you are not a party is inappropriate,” he added.

Raben is the author of what is known as the “Linder Letter” — one of the most commonly referenced distillations of the guardrails needed between the branches of government to prevent disclosures that could compromise national security, criminal investigations, prosecutions or civil cases, and individual privacy. Written in 2000 and addressed to former congressman John Linder (R-Ga.), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Rules and Organization of the House, at the beginning of a new Congress during a presidential election year, the letter was sent in advance of an “avalanche of politically tinged investigations” from the GOP-controlled Congress, according to Raben.

It is regularly cited as the basis of the Department of Justice’s long-standing refusal to comply with information requests related to ongoing investigations. The letter was referenced by Carlos Uriarte, the assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs under Biden, in his inaugural correspondence with the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee, in which he reiterated the department’s practice of not providing information about ongoing investigations.

Former Attorney General Edward Levi, who was appointed in 1975 by President Gerald Ford in the wake of the Watergate scandal, delivered an address that year on the importance of confidentiality in government to preserving the separation of powers as he worked to restore the credibility of the department.

“Our ability to analyze the legal and public interests involved has become a prisoner of our vocabulary,” Levi said in the speech. “Much more is involved than the President’s personal prerogative standing against the people’s right to know. The problem is the need for confidentiality and its limitations in the public interest for the protection of the people of our country.”

The “accommodations process” between Congress and the executive branch — designed to resolve conflicts between the competing needs of both branches — has at times accommodated the investigatory interests of Congress while protecting the interests of an ongoing criminal investigation. But it’s a complicated dance that runs into what Stephen Boyd, the assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs under Trump, describes as a philosophical conflict between Congress and the Justice Department.

“A professional and correctly conducted Justice Department investigation starts with a fact, and then follows to another fact, and leads to some sort of conclusion,” Boyd said. “A Capitol Hill political investigation often starts with a conclusion and then looks for facts to support it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Congress is wrong, but it means they are most interested in the things that prove their point.”

Boyd added that lawmakers serious about investigating prosecutorial misconduct have other avenues to raise issues regarding whether a case has been handled appropriately — either through the Inspector General of the Department of Justice or the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

In some states, however, lawmakers have enshrined into law the ability to punish prosecutors themselves.

Republican lawmakers in Georgia pushed through a law earlier this year that created a commission to discipline and remove state prosecutors who “refused to uphold the law.” Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the bill into law, last month shut down calls for a special session to investigate Willis and has rejected attempts to retaliate against her. The commission’s structure is still being finalized, according to Stacey Jackson, a district attorney for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit who is working on the matter, but it will be able to start accepting complaints by Oct. 1, 2023. The Texas legislature also pushed through legislation this spring that gives courts the power to remove district attorneys who decide not to pursue certain crimes for misconduct.

Local efforts to pass legislation that punishes prosecutors has run parallel to Trump’s brazen attacks on the judicial system and those who have brought charges against him. Trump’s presidential campaign aired a television ad in August that leveled unsubstantiated claims against Willis, and also attacked Bragg, Smith, and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who has sued the Trump Organization and Trump family.

Trump’s salvos against prosecutors and the Justice Department have come at a cost: The Post previously reported that the U.S. government spent nearly $2 million for U.S. Marshals to provide security to Smith and other officials between November 2022 and March 2023. Security measures have been bolstered for several other officials involved in the proceedings around Trump’s criminal charges.

Some House Republicans have recently rallied around ideas to prohibit the use of federal funding to pay for Smith’s investigation. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced a bill in July proposing that “no funds authorized or appropriated by federal law and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by Federal law, shall be expended for the special counsel’s office.” Some Georgia lawmakers have also pushed to defund Willis — a move that Georgia’s House Speaker Jon Burns (R) called an “attempt to interfere with the criminal justice system” and “harmful to public safety.”

Jim Jordan: Impeachment inquiry ‘looking more and more likely’

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/jim-jordan-impeachment-inquiry-looking-more-and-more-likely

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday that chances of an impeachment inquiry into President Biden and his family are “looking more and more likely.”

“I do think it’s looking more and more likely that we move to what’s … called an impeachment inquiry phase of our Oversight investigations relative to the Bidens, and frankly the [Department of Justice],” Jordan, also a House Oversight Committee member, said on “Fox Across America with Jimmy Failla.” 

On Sunday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that an impeachment inquiry is a “natural step forward” after House Republican-led investigations into Biden and his family, which McCarthy and other GOP leaders claim reveal improper foreign dealings.

“So, if you look at all the information we have been able to gather so far, it is a natural step forward that you would have to go to an impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said.

House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) criticized Republicans for their recent consideration of an impeachment inquiry Tuesday morning on CNN, arguing they were merely following orders from former President Donald Trump.

“They have nothing to show for their majority throughout the year,” Jeffries said on CNN. “And so, as a natural consequence of that, they just continue to take orders from Donald Trump, their puppet master in chief, who has directed them to persecute and to go after Joe Biden, which may take the form of an illegitimate impeachment inquiry.”

 

[GOP] Lawmakers quickly react to latest Trump indictment

 

As Spending Fights Loom, Freedom Caucus Is at a Crossroads

By Annie KarniRobert Draper and Luke Broadwater

July 25, 2023

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/25/us/politics/majorie-taylor-green-freedom-caucus

[Excerpts:]

The expulsion of [Majorie Taylor] Greene, perhaps the most famous hard-right rabble-rouser in Congress, from the group that has long styled itself as the rebellious voice of the extreme right in the House reflects something of an identity crisis within the Freedom Caucus even as a slim G.O.P. majority has given the group more power than ever.

As the Republican Party has moved further to the right, the fringe has become the mainstream, swelling the ranks of the Freedom Caucus but making it difficult for the group to stay aligned on policy and strategy. The rise of another hard-right faction in the House calling itself “the Twenty” — including some members of the caucus and some who have long refused to join — has raised questions in recent months about where the real power lies on the far right.

Still, Ms. Greene in some ways personifies the forces buffeting the group, which was founded in 2015 by a band of rebel conservatives who wanted to push Republican leaders to the right on fiscal and social issues.

These days, the group is larger and harder to organize, in part because its members are, by nature, not rule followers. Some complain that when the group takes an official position, they do so on a messaging app, Telegram, and don’t take votes in person. Mr. Perry has at times vented privately that he has little control over his own caucus. And Republicans aligned with the group have grumbled behind closed doors that the quality of the members has diminished over time.

At the same time, some of the most vocal hard-right voices in the House who have sought to thwart Mr. McCarthy’s rise and his agenda, like Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, have never been members.

Mr. Gaetz, however, has emerged as a charter member of the Twenty, a group of 20 populist members that has in recent months become the more disruptive threat to Mr. McCarthy’s control of the House. The smaller group views itself as a more efficient fighting force. It does not take votes to establish official positions; its members just go out and disrupt, as they did in June when they staged a blockade on the House floor to protest Mr. McCarthy’s debt limit deal with President Biden.

As Spending Fights Loom, Freedom Caucus Is at a Crossroads

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

By Annie KarniRobert Draper and Luke Broadwater

July 25, 2023

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/25/us/politics/majorie-taylor-green-freedom-caucus

[Excerpts:]

The expulsion of Ms. Greene, perhaps the most famous hard-right rabble-rouser in Congress, from the group that has long styled itself as the rebellious voice of the extreme right in the House reflects something of an identity crisis within the Freedom Caucus even as a slim G.O.P. majority has given the group more power than ever.

As the Republican Party has moved further to the right, the fringe has become the mainstream, swelling the ranks of the Freedom Caucus but making it difficult for the group to stay aligned on policy and strategy. The rise of another hard-right faction in the House calling itself “the Twenty” — including some members of the caucus and some who have long refused to join — has raised questions in recent months about where the real power lies on the far right.

Still, Ms. Greene in some ways personifies the forces buffeting the group, which was founded in 2015 by a band of rebel conservatives who wanted to push Republican leaders to the right on fiscal and social issues.

These days, the group is larger and harder to organize, in part because its members are, by nature, not rule followers. Some complain that when the group takes an official position, they do so on a messaging app, Telegram, and don’t take votes in person. Mr. Perry has at times vented privately that he has little control over his own caucus. And Republicans aligned with the group have grumbled behind closed doors that the quality of the members has diminished over time.

At the same time, some of the most vocal hard-right voices in the House who have sought to thwart Mr. McCarthy’s rise and his agenda, like Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, have never been members.

Mr. Gaetz, however, has emerged as a charter member of the Twenty, a group of 20 populist members that has in recent months become the more disruptive threat to Mr. McCarthy’s control of the House. The smaller group views itself as a more efficient fighting force. It does not take votes to establish official positions; its members just go out and disrupt, as they did in June when they staged a blockade on the House floor to protest Mr. McCarthy’s debt limit deal with President Biden.

 

Jim Jordan Pushes Bogus Hank Aaron Vaccine Conspiracy During RFK Jr. Hearing

The GOP lawmaker insisted that Kennedy was “just pointing out facts” when the anti-vaccine conspiracist suggested the baseball icon died from the COVID-19 shot.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/jim-jordan-pushes-bogus-hank-aaron-vaccine-conspiracy-during-rfk-jr-hearing

 

House GOP flirts with Jan. 6 extremism

By JORDAIN CARNEY and KYLE CHENEY

Updated: 06/18/2023 

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/18/house-gop-jan-6-extremism-00101259

Far-right conservatives have entertained false conspiracy theories about the Capitol attack — but so have some House GOP leaders and key committee chiefs, without outright embracing them.

House Republicans don’t want to talk about Jan. 6. They also can’t stop talking about it.

At times, GOP lawmakers insist they’re uninterested in relitigating an attack that is political poison for the party outside of deep-red areas. But at other times, some Republicans have stoked narratives that falsely pin blame for the attack on police, Democrats or far-left agitators — or downplay the violence at the Capitol. The latter approach has seen a noticeable uptick of late.

And it’s not just far-right conservatives who fall in that group — some House GOP leaders and key committee chiefs have shown they’re willing to flirt with the fringe without an outright embrace. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has shared security video of that day with far-right media figures who have minimized or fed inaccurate portrayals of the attack.

Yet they’re also batting down some of those same false conspiracy theories and preparing to focus on at least one area of bipartisan concern: Capitol security vulnerabilities, many of which remain unresolved since the attack. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who faced scrutiny from the Jan. 6 select committee for a Capitol complex tour he gave on Jan. 5, 2021, is warning allies against automatically accepting certain claims.

“You wouldn’t believe how many experts there are out there on Jan. 6, who know exactly what happened because they read it on the internet,” said Loudermilk, who is leading the GOP’s look back at the attack and at the Democratic-led Jan. 6 panel.

Loudermilk’s comments underscore House Republicans’ reality. While most admit privately, if not publicly, that Jan. 6 was the work of a violent mob, they have a political calculus to consider: A not-insignificant faction of their party is hellbent on rewriting the history of the day.

Hanging over it all is former President Donald Trump’s vociferous defense of the rioters and continued false claims that he won the 2020 election. Federal and Georgia prosecutors are investigating his efforts to subvert the election and could bring charges later this year.

Trump is uninterested in making the balance any easier on Republicans: His pledge to pardon a large number of Jan. 6 defendants is a feature of his commentary on the campaign trail, where he remains the frontrunner for the party’s 2024 nomination.

Still, House Republicans aren’t fully playing to Trump. For now, they’re giving Jan. 6 a side hug more than a bear hug.

McCarthy encapsulates the half-hearted embrace. He angered some allies on the right this year by defending a Capitol Police officer’s decision to shoot a Jan. 6 rioter who was attempting to breach a room adjacent to the House chamber. But he’s also provided exclusive access to thousands of hours of security footage to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who’s used the film to demean and distort police officers’ actions.

“Speaker McCarthy promised that House Republicans would investigate the security failures of that day and provide transparency to the American people. Former Speaker Pelosi and her Select Committee set one bad precedent after another — including releasing select clips for partisan purposes,” a McCarthy spokesperson said in a statement that did not address conference dynamics around Jan. 6.

“For two years, we heard no concerns when footage was used by Democrats, the media, and Pelosi’s daughter for her HBO documentary,” the McCarthy spokesperson added, declining to be identified by name and referring to Nancy Pelosi’s daughter filming her mother and other party leaders on Jan. 6.

Some of McCarthy’s most trusted committee chairs have taken a similar approach to the California Republican, eschewing the most extreme efforts demanded by the far-right flank but still winking at some of their concerns.

For example, no committees have pursued baseless claims that Ray Epps, who rioted on Jan. 6, was acting as an undercover government agent. And GOP leaders have sidestepped a far-right fervor to subpoena and probe Jan. 6 select panel members, to scrutinize distorted allegations about Pelosi’s handling of Capitol security or to dig into judges’ treatment of the 1,000-plus criminal cases stemming from the attack.

Notably, no committee chairs or party leaders participated in the biggest platform House Republicans have given Jan. 6 defendants so far: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), joined by a handful of others from the conference’s right flank, hosted an event last week with former Trump acting assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark, people charged in relation to Jan. 6, defendants’ family members and allies.

The event featured a veritable kitchen sink of conspiracy theories as well as rehashed false claims, including that the 2020 election was “stolen” and that the Jan. 6 committee “doctored” video.

But Jan. 6 defendants, their advocates and some GOP lawmakers have called for Republicans to push further.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said that probing the Justice Department’s handling of Jan. 6 prosecutions should be one of the “top priorities” for a Judiciary sub-panel tasked with investigating GOP claims of bias against conservatives within the federal government.

She introduced impeachment articles against the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia who has taken the lead on prosecuting members of the mob. Meanwhile, Gaetz introduced a resolution to censure Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who led the now-closed riot select committee. Both efforts have a single-digit number of cosponsors at the moment.

Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) did recently release a wider report that accused the FBI of artificially conflating the number of Jan. 6-related investigations. The report and a subsequent hearing also included testimony from whistleblowers who lost their security clearances due to improper actions related to Jan. 6.

One of the whistleblowers, Steve Friend, and several Freedom Caucus members were invited to speak at a retreat hosted by the conservative Center for Renewing America, where Friend is a senior fellow, shortly before the hearing, according to research by the progressive group Accountable.US that was provided exclusively to POLITICO and confirmed via House disclosure forms.

Jordan also fired off new Jan. 6-related letters, one asking for more information on the FBI’s investigation into pipe bombs found near the Capitol the day of the attack and another expanding a probe into record-sharing with federal investigators.

But those efforts make up a small slice of his collective, sweeping investigations.

The Oversight Committee organized a tour of the D.C. jail to investigate two-year-old claims of “disparate treatment” of the approximately two dozen Jan. 6-related detainees — nearly all of whom were incarcerated or detained for violence against police. But Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) didn’t attend the tour, which was led by panel member Greene.

Democrats who attended said that GOP lawmakers and the detained rioters treated each other as allies and friends.

Some members of the Oversight panel recently raised Jan. 6 during a hearing with testimony from Graves and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser — but the session was billed as about broader crime and governance issues.

There’s a reason behind the conference’s actions to sidestep those issues: A broad swath of House Republicans see spotlighting Jan. 6-related investigations as a terrible political strategy.

Loudermilk has largely conducted the GOP’s most focused dive into Jan. 6 so far. He received a copy of the Capitol Police’s radio transmissions from the day and met privately with former law enforcement officials to discuss security failures. Loudermilk’s sub-panel, according to the McCarthy spokesperson, will also soon be rolling out “additional access” to view Capitol security footage.

Still, Loudermilk set off alarm bells among Democrats when he pushed the D.C. police to disclose how many undercover officers were in the crowd during the attack. The letter dovetails with, but did not specifically mention, claims by some Jan. 6 defendants that plainclothes agents or the government itself might have fomented the riot.

But Loudermilk says he won’t lend his subcommittee’s imprimatur to some of the most egregious false claims.

“We want to just follow the facts, not hyperbole or some kind of conspiracy theory, so our interest is just: What is the truth?” he said.

[Boldface added]

 

Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson

May 16, 2023

[Excerpt:]

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

From the earliest days of the Reagan Revolution, those leaders who wanted to slash the federal government to end business regulation and cut the social safety net recognized that they did not have the votes to put their program in place. To find those votes, they courted racists and traditionalists who hated the federal government’s protection of civil rights. Over time, that base became more and more powerful until Trump openly embraced it in August 2017, when he said there were “very fine people on both sides.”

As he moved toward the techniques of authoritarians, his followers began to champion the system that Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán called “illiberal democracy” or “Christian democracy” in his own country. Orbán argued that the principle of equality in liberal democracy undermines countries by attacking the national culture. Instead, he called for an end to multiculturalism—including immigration—and any lifestyle that is not based on the “Christian family model.” He seized control of universities to make them preach his values.

Today’s Republican leaders openly admire Orbán and appear to see themselves as the vanguard of a “post-liberal order.” They believe that the central tenets of democracy—free speech, religious liberty, academic freedom, equality before the law, and the ability of corporations to make decisions based on markets rather than religious values—have destroyed national virtue. Such a loss must be combated by a strong government that enforces religious values.

Right-wing thinkers have observed with approval that DeSantis’s Florida is “our American Hungary.” Indeed, DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” law appears to have been modeled on Orbán’s attacks on LGBTQ rights, which he has called a danger to “Western civilization.” DeSantis’s attack on the New College of Florida, turning a bastion of liberal thought into a right-wing beachhead, imitated Orbán’s attack on Hungary’s universities; on Monday, DeSantis signed three more bills that undermine the academic freedom of all the state universities in Florida by restricting what subjects can be taught and by weakening faculty rights.

DeSantis’s attack on Disney is yet another attack on the tenets of liberal democracy. He is challenging the idea that Disney leaders can base business decisions on markets rather than religion and exercise free speech.

There is another aspect of the Republicans’ turn against democracy in the news today. If democracy is a threat to their version of the nation, it follows that any institution that supports democracy should be destroyed. Today, the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, led by Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), continued its attack on the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ranking member Representative Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) pointed out that Jordan was violating committee rules by refusing to let Democrats on the committee see the transcripts he claims to have from a whistleblower. Other committee members noted that two of the witnesses have been paid by Trump loyalist Kash Patel.

Plaskett warned: “The rules don’t apply when it comes to the Republicans…. It’s all part and parcel of the Republicans’ attempt to make Americans distrust our rule of law so that when 2024 comes around and should their candidate not win, more and more people will not believe the truth. The truth matters.”

And so does power. Although House Republicans are trying to protect Representative George Santos (R-NY), who was just indicted on 13 counts, by sending his case to the Republican-dominated Ethics Committee rather than allowing a vote on whether to expel him, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) introduced articles of impeachment against President Biden.

Also today, the far-right House Freedom Caucus has called for an end to any discussions of raising the debt ceiling until the Senate passes its bill calling for extreme budget cuts. Forcing the nation into default will cause a global economic panic and, asked if they should compromise with the White House, Representative Bob Good (R-VA) said: “Why would we? We have a winning hand.”

 

FBI Strips Security Clearances From Jim Jordan Witnesses Over Jan. 6 Issues

David Kurtz

TPM Morning Memo

May 18, 2023

Jim Jordan’s sham “weaponization” committee was dealt a blow when the FBI revoked the security clearances of three agents “who either took part in the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, or later expressed views about it that placed into question their ‘allegiance to the United States,’” the NYT reports.

Two (Marcus Allen and Stephen Friend) of the three agents are set to testify in Jordan’s circus ring today as among the so-called “whistleblowers” that House GOPers have been touting for months. Allen, Friend, and Brett Gloss have all been suspended by the FBI.

The details of each agent’s actions on and around Jan. 6 or in subsequent investigations are almost hilariously bad – were it not all so serious. How serious?

 

G.O.P. Witnesses, Paid by Trump Ally, Embraced Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theories
Axios Sneak PeakHans Nichols and Zachary Basu

March 3, 2023

1 Big Thing: Jordan under Fire

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — facing criticism that his probe of “weaponized” U.S. agencies has moved too slowly and found little — is threatening to subpoena 16 more witnesses from the FBI, Axios’ Sophia Cai reports.

Why it matters: Jordan is under increasing pressure from disappointed Republicans who want results — and from Democrats who say his investigation is being exposed as a partisan sham.

Driving the news: Criticism of Jordan escalated over the weekend, after the New York Times reported that three witnesses Jordan had cast as FBI “whistleblowers” provided little information and had touted various conspiracy theories. Two had received financial help from an ally of former President Trump.

Between the lines: Critics say Jordan has been hampered by his off-the-cuff style, lack of structure and separation between Judiciary and its “weaponization” subcommittee — and a tendency to make statements first and hope his investigative work will back them up.

  • By choosing to lead both Judiciary and its weaponization panel, Jordan forced his small circle of five close advisers to work on at least a dozen probes simultaneously, according to an Axios analysis of oversight requests sent by Jordan this Congress.

What they’re saying: “Jordan is overextended and short-staffed, biting off much more than he can chew,” Mike Davis, former chief counsel for nominations for then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), wrote in a tweet thread. “This is doomed to fail.”

  • On his show, Fox News’ Jesse Watters said: “Make me feel better, guys. Tell me this is going somewhere. Can I throw someone in prison? Can someone go to jail? Can someone get fined?”

Zoom in: Jordan last week requested more resources for the Judiciary Committee and the weaponization panel — an apparent acknowledgement that he’s understaffed.

  • The Republican firebrand is asking for an additional $2 million a year and access to a “substantial reserve fund” of $15 million to conduct investigations.

What we’re watching: Jordan’s oversight strategy hinges largely on his ability to produce whistleblowers who bring evidence of bias by federal law enforcement.

  • He opened the weaponization panel’s first hearing by saying he would seek testimony from “dozens and dozens” of whistleblowers who had information about “the political nature at the Justice Department.”
  • Everyone — Republicans, Democrats and others — is still waiting.

Share this story.

 

 

Democrats said a trio of witnesses billed as “whistle-blowers” provided no evidence of wrongdoing, espoused false claims about the Capitol riot and were compensated by an ally of former President Donald J. Trump.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/02/us/politics/house-weaponization-committee-jan-6

[Excerpts:]

WASHINGTON — House Republicans have spent months promising to use their majority to uncover an insidious bias against conservatives on the part of the federal government, vowing to produce a roster of brave whistle-blowers who would come forward to provide damning evidence of abuses aimed at the right.

But the first three witnesses to testify privately before the new Republican-led House committee investigating the “weaponization” of the federal government have offered little firsthand knowledge of any wrongdoing or violation of the law, according to Democrats on the panel who have listened to their accounts. Instead, the trio appears to be a group of aggrieved former F.B.I. officials who have trafficked in right-wing conspiracy theories, including about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the Capitol, and received financial support from a top ally of former President Donald J. Trump.

The roster of witnesses, whose interviews and statements are detailed in a 316-page report compiled by Democrats that was obtained by The New York Times, suggests that Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the panel, has so far relied on people who do not meet the definition of a whistle-blower and who have engaged in partisan conduct that calls into question their credibility. And it raises questions about whether Republicans, who have said that investigating the Biden administration is a top goal, will be able to deliver on their ambitious plans to uncover misdeeds at the highest levels.

“Each endorses an alarming series of conspiracy theories related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, the Covid vaccine, and the validity of the 2020 election,” Democrats wrote in the heavily footnoted report, which cites scores of statements made by the witnesses. “One has called repeatedly for the dismantling of the F.B.I. Another suggested that it would be better for Americans to die than to have any kind of domestic intelligence program.”

 

Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson

January 21, 2023 

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) has celebrated his elevation to the chair of the House Judiciary Committee with a flurry of requests to the Department of Justice for information about the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the investigation of the events of January 6, 2021, in which Jordan himself was implicated.

But a response today from the DOJ reminded Jordan that the department could not share information about ongoing investigations and that it would need clear information about what, exactly, he hoped to investigate rather than blanket demands. Then Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte assured him that the department “stands ready to provide expertise as the Committee considers potential legislation,” an apparent suggestion that Jordan recall what his constituents elected him to do. 

“The Administration’s stonewalling must stop,” Jordan tweeted after receiving the letter, but it is notable that Jordan himself refused to answer a subpoena from the bipartisan House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. McCarthy ignored one too. 

Mark Meadows Exchanged Texts With 34 Members Of Congress About Plans To Overturn The 2020 Election

The Messages Included Battle Cries, Crackpot Legal Theories, And ‘Invoking Marshall Law!!’

Not just democracy is at stake this fall.

[Excerpts:]

When it comes to the House, FiveThirtyEight has found that so far, at minimum 117 House Republicans with at least a 95 percent chance of winning are full-blown election deniers or questioners, a good leading indicator of radicalism and a willingness to ignore facts and embrace fantasy. In turn, they are willing, if not eager, to blow up institutions and government itself to accomplish their goals.

The current members of the Freedom Caucus make up barely a fifth of all House Republicans, but they represent a rogues’ gallery of bombastic pot stirrers and insurrectionist enablers—people such as Scott Perry, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Louie Gohmert, and Mo Brooks. In the 118th Congress, they will make up more of their party in the House. Their goals include impeaching Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, Alejandro Mayorkas, and more; investigating Hunter Biden, Anthony Fauci, and others; but also crippling the FBI and blocking further investigation or prosecution of Trump and his allies, stopping all future Biden policies, and likely fighting for a nationwide ban on abortions, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, tough immigration policies, and more. [Boldface added]

We have moved into a new and frightening era in American politics and governance, one when radicals intent on a revolution and craving major disruption will be not just a vocal minority but potentially dominating a governing body. We cannot risk the full consequences of that brutal reality.

 

MCCARTHY’S MATH

Politico

Oct. 7, 2022

https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly/2022/10/06/misunderstanding-kevin-mccarthy

[Excerpt:]

Yet even beyond that portrait of McCarthy as an intellectual lightweight, critics say he’s failed in his own efforts to clear his conference of conservative gadflies who could prove ungovernable in a future majority. A recent Bulwark column made a compelling case that McCarthy’s been ineffective at evicting “the looniest of the loonies in the party” from his ranks.

But like it or not — and his critics don’t have to — McCarthy’s never styled himself as an arbiter of responsible conservatism, out to smooth out the Trumpiest elements of the GOP. And he’s rarely hinted that he finds the more bumptious members on his right flank to be real problems, aside from ousted Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.).

Part of that may stem from the reality of the modern Freedom Caucus, as POLITICO’s Olivia Beavers has catalogued : The hard-line group is now less formally conservative than a vehicle for Trumpism, and its members are increasingly less unified around the set of policy goals that sparked their loudest pushback against McCarthy’s predecessors.

The Freedom Caucus’ most influential member, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), is now a McCarthy ally about to take the Judiciary Committee gavel. Its members aren’t even planning right now to back a formal challenger to McCarthy in next year’s speaker vote. [Boldface added]

So when McCarthy goes about picking horses in GOP primaries, he’s not trying to dislodge all problematic conservatives from his conference at all — he’s trying to lock in the majority he needs on the floor next year to claim the House’s top gavel.

And on that score, he’s doing pretty well. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), perhaps the most divisive member of his conference, lauded McCarthy’s “Commitment to America” agenda before it even came out.

 

Freedom Caucus frets over how far to push its rebellion

A split has emerged inside the House Freedom Caucus over its members’ use of delaying tactics on the floor to protest Democratic policies.

By OLIVIA BEAVERS and MELANIE ZANONA

03/30/2021 04:30 AM EDT [Excepts from full article]

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/30/freedom-caucus-cracks-478429

A notable split has emerged inside the House Freedom Caucus in recent weeks over its members’ use of delaying tactics on the floor to protest Democratic policies. That effort has grabbed attention and ruffled leadership, two hallmarks of the Freedom Caucus, but it’s also snarled legislative proceedings enough to breed frustration among some members of the far-right crew.

Initially formed as a hard-right irritant to GOP leadership, the Freedom Caucus later became a club for Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters. In the post-Trump era, the group will face its own questions about its broader direction, especially as it gears up to elect a new leader this fall. Biggs will be term-limited by the end of this year and is also considering an Arizona Senate bid.

 Even the group’s co-founder and most high-profile member, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), has noticeably steered clear of recent public antics by members. Jordan stayed silent when a cohort of Freedom Caucus members opposed a bill honoring the Capitol Police for protecting the building during the riot and when other members accused two Asian American lawmakers of being “racist” for demanding more representation in Biden’s Cabinet.

 Some foresee a potential schism in which Freedom Caucus rebels, such as Biggs and Greene, continue to throw bombs in an effort to torment leaders. Biggs recently clashed with McCarthy behind closed doors over his procedural gambits, suggesting the Arizona Republican has little interest in following leadership’s direction.

There’s some real concern among the Freedom Caucus that it lacks a long-term vision,” said a senior GOP aide with knowledge of the caucus politics. “There doesn’t seem to be an organized legislative plan or agenda — only sporadic press conferences and news releases. It could be argued that this … has divided the caucus more than ever before.”

 

Letters from an American

July 29, 2021

Heather Cox Richardson Jul 30

Brooks is not the only one in danger of receiving a subpoena. Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) admitted on the Fox News Channel that he spoke to the former president on January 6, although he claimed not to remember whether it was before, during, or after the insurrection. He tried to suggest that chatting with Trump on January 6 was no different than chatting with him at any other time, but that is unlikely to fly. Jordan also repeatedly referred to Trump as “the president,” rather than the former president, a dog whistle to those who continue to insist that Trump did not, in fact, lose the 2020 election. 

 

Meadows comes under growing Jan. 6 panel spotlight

[Excerpts:]

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is increasingly targeting — and losing patience with — Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s powerful chief of staff who appeared to be deeply involved with the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. This week the committee released 16 new subpoenas over two days, encircling Meadows by demanding depositions from a number of those he worked closest with at the White House. 

It also presented him with an ultimatum after Meadows had been said to be “engaging” with the committee about a deposition originally scheduled for Oct. 15: show up Friday or risk being held in contempt.

Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman and chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus (HFC), could also be a link to a number of other lawmakers in the caucus who may also be central to the committee’s investigation. [boldface added]

That includes the lawmakers who have denied Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander’s claim they helped conceive of the strategy of putting “maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting.” Those lawmakers include Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).

The committee is also believed to be interested in the phone records of Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who are also in the House Freedom Caucus. (boldface added)

 

Fact-checking Jim Jordan’s letter to the Jan. 6 committee

by Tara Subramaniam

January 12, 2022

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/12/politics/jordan-jan-6-letter-fact-check/index.html

In a letter sent Sunday responding to a request to meet with the House select committee investigating January 6, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio accused the investigation of spreading misinformation “to paint a false and misleading narrative.”

As part of its effort to examine the role former President Donald Trump and his allies played in the insurrection, the committee has already interviewed more than 300 witnesses but its interview requests to Jordan and other major allies of former President Donald Trump represent a significant step in the investigation.

When asked on Monday, Jordan declined to say explicitly that he would not cooperate with the committee but emphasized that “The letter speaks for itself. You read the letter. We put the reasons in there, we put the statements in there that we did because we felt that were important to say.”

Here are the facts around some of the statements and assertions in Jordan’s four-page letter.

Jordan’s relevancy

Jordan indicated he doesn’t plan to cooperate with the committee’s request because he has “no relevant information that would assist the Select Committee.”

Facts First: Though Jordan might not believe he has relevant information, what matters is that the Select Committee does. Committee Chair Bennie Thompson requested Jordan’s cooperation on the basis that he “had at least one and possibly multiple communications with President Trump on January 6th.” A January 6 select committee spokesperson said in response to Jordan’s letter that due to these communications he does have information the committee is seeking and is a “material witness.”

It’s worth noting that Jordan is a long-term Trump ally who objected to the certification of the November 2020 election in the House on January 6. In December 2020, Jordan attended meetings at the White House with Trump, then-Vice President Mike Pence, and a handful of other congressional Republicans to discuss how to overturn the election results. Ultimately, Jordan voted to overturn the results in the two states where Republicans’ objections made it to a vote — Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Republican members

Attempts to establish a bipartisan committee to investigate the January 6 attack have been plagued by partisan conflict since the start. Even after both sides agreed to a structure for the panel, tensions emerged around who should sit on it.

Jordan claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “failed to consult with Leader McCarthy about the appointment of Republican members,” thereby violating a requirement outlined in the resolution establishing the select committee.

Facts First: This is misleading. McCarthy initially selected five GOP members to serve on the committee. Pelosi rejected two, Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, but accepted the other three. However, McCarthy pulled all five members in response to Pelosi’s rejection. Pelosi then selected Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger to represent the GOP on the panel.

This is not a new line of attack from Republicans against the committee. In response to lawsuits trying to argue the committee’s subpoenas are invalid because of how the members were chosen, Charles Tiefer, a legislative professor at University of Baltimore School of Law and a former House deputy general counsel, said in December 2021 that, “As far as the resolution creating the committee, it only promised ‘consultation’ with the minority. It did not promise the minority particular membership.”

Texts to Meadows

In December 2021, the House select committee released new text messages obtained from former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that were sent to him in the days leading up to the insurrection and while the Capitol was under siege.

During a meeting to consider whether to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress, committee member Rep. Adam Schiff read from a graphic which included a portion of a text sent to Meadows from an “unnamed lawmaker.”

According to Jordan, Schiff “doctored” a text message Jordan had “forwarded” to Meadows which was among those released.

Facts First: It’s misleading for Jordan to suggest Schiff “doctored” the text. While the text Schiff read was not the entirety of what Jordan sent Meadows, every word he said was included in Jordan’s message. A committee source told CNN an aide inadvertently placed a period before the end of a sentence in the graphic that was not in the original text. The rest of the text, which was not read aloud by Schiff or shown during the meeting, outlined a legal justification for why Pence could prevent the certification of the 2020 election which was initially sent to Jordan from Joseph Schmitz, a former Department of Defense inspector general.

Days after the portion of the text was shared by Schiff, a spokesperson for Jordan confirmed that the congressman had sent it to Meadows on January 5 but that it was part of a longer message Jordan had forwarded from Schmitz.

“Mr. Jordan forwarded the text to Mr. Meadows, and Mr. Meadows certainly knew it was a forward,” Russell Dye, a spokesperson for Jordan, confirmed to CNN.

The text as shown on the graphic read: ‘On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”

Three sources told CNN the full message was: “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all — in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence. ‘No legislative act,’ wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78, ‘contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.’ The court in Hubbard v. Lowe reinforced this truth: ‘That an unconstitutional statute is not a law at all is a proposition no longer open to discussion.’ 226 F. 135, 137 (SDNY 1915), appeal dismissed, 242 U.S. 654 (1916). Following this rationale, an unconstitutionally appointed elector, like an unconstitutionally enacted statute, is no elector at all.”

Gag orders

The House select committee has asked phone companies for records including subscriber information and call logs but not the content of individual communications.

In his letter, Jordan claimed the committee “has abused fundamental civil liberties” by “seeking to impose gag orders on telecom and email companies to prevent them from notifying their customers that the Select Committee has demanded their data.”

Facts First: This is misleading at best. It’s possible Jordan’s claim is based on the fact that the committee at one point asked Verizon to contact them if the company could not respond to requests without alerting the specific subscriber or account. However, after the committee issued its latest round of phone record subpoenas, Verizon did inform its customers they would need to file in court by January 5 if they wanted to try to block the panel from getting the records, according to some of the filings.

Bernard Kerik

Jordan said the committee “falsely accused former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik of attending a meeting in Washington on January 5, 2021, when Kerik was actually in New York City.”

Facts First: Jordan rightly points out that the committee wrongly suggested that Kerik attended the January 5 meeting. In an email to CNN Thursday evening, Kerik’s lawyer said that during Kerik’s Thursday interview with the January 6 committee, he confirmed to the committee that he did not participate in the January 5 meeting, either in person or remotely.

CNN’s initial fact-check of this claim by Jordan, published on January 11, said it was unclear whether Kerik was physically present at the January 5 meeting in Washington, but noted that he did play a role in helping organize the election-related command center for Trump advisers in DC ahead of January 6.

That assessment was made based on the committee’s November subpoena to Kerik, which said that he “reportedly participated” in a January 5 meeting at the Willard Hotel in Washington in which Trump advisers discussed options for overturning the election results.

After this fact check was published, Kerik’s lawyer noted to CNN that the committee had changed its stance on whether Kerik participated in the January 5 meeting at the Willard.

The committee then referred CNN to its updated press release announcing the subpoena. The updated press release detailing Kerik’s subpoena removed mention of a specific January 5 meeting and said more broadly that “Kerik was reportedly involved with meetings at the Willard Hotel in Washington.” It’s unclear when the press release was updated.

The language of the November subpoena to Kerik remains unchanged and still mentions his participation in the January 5 meeting.

Even if Kerik was absent for that particular meeting, that does not absolve him of the committee’s wider claims that he played a role in helping organize the election-related command center for Trump advisers in DC ahead of January 6.

In its request to Kerik, the committee mentioned public records which show Kerik “paid for rooms and suites in Washington, DC, hotels that served as election-related command centers” and cited a Washington Post articlewhich names Kerik as an investigator for the effort to reinstate Trump.

While the article does not specify whether Kerik attended the January 5 meeting, Kerik confirmed to CNN that most of the Post’s story was accurate.

Kerik also told CNN that he and others on the legal team were focused on investigating election fraud starting on November 5 and that’s what they were doing at the Willard.

“Moving into the Willard had nothing to do with January 6,” Kerik said.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the assessment of Jordan’s claim and reflect additional information from Kerik’s lawyer.

 

New details show extent of GOP effort to unwind Trump’s loss

Documents and texts stemming from the House investigation into Jan. 6, 2021, offer new details about the extent House Republicans, particularly members of the Freedom Caucus, were involved in plans to unwind the 2020 election — even as lawyers at the White House warned them their proposals could be illegal.

The content — released in the committee’s court battle against Mark Meadows and in a trove of texts to the former chief of staff obtained by CNN — outlines a lengthy list of Republicans involved in conversations with the White House about planning for the rallies on Jan. 6 and efforts to oppose the certification of votes that day.

Taken together, the messages show how early the White House reached out to lawmakers in its effort to keep former President Trump in office.

They also show a consistent effort by various members to strategize over how to keep Trump in office after his election loss.

That effort ranged from selecting alternate slates of electors from swing states ahead of the Electoral College vote to directing the crowd to the Capitol after the Jan. 6 rallies to discussing the possibility that Trump declare martial law days before he was set to leave office. 

Testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former special assistant to the president and Meadows, relays that Meadows, a former Freedom Caucus chairman, was the one to make “outreach” to members of the conservative caucus, including then-Rep-elects. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Reps. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

Hutchinson identified those four as being involved in the earliest stages of efforts to unwind the election.

Texts to Meadows as early as three days after Election Day 2020 show lawmakers rallying around the idea of alternate electors.

“I’m sure you have heard of this proposal,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) texted to Meadows on Nov. 6. “Is anybody on the team researching and considering lobbying for that?”

As early as the first or second week of December, the White House’s own counsel was pushing back against the idea.

“Hey, this isn’t legally sound, we have fleshed this out internally, it’s fine that you think this but we’re not going to entertain this in an official White House capacity on behalf of the President, we’re putting a stop to this,” Hutchinson characterized the White House Counsel’s Office as saying.

That message was relayed to at least Perry, Jordan, and Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), according to Hutchinson.

By Dec. 21, a larger group was meeting at the White House with Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani, where the focus had shifted to the ways former Vice President Mike Pence could buck his ceremonial duty to certify the election results.

That group attending that meeting included Jordan, Brooks, Biggs, Gaetz, Greene, Gohmert, Perry, and Reps. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Hutchinson said.

“They felt that he had the authority to — pardon me if my phrasing isn’t correct on this, but — send votes back to the States or the electors back to the States, more along the lines of the Eastman theory,” Hutchinson said, referring to John Eastman, who crafted two memos for the Trump campaign outlining how to challenge the election.

“I don’t recall anybody speaking out and definitively expressing disagreement with that theory,” she said of the lawmakers, adding that “the vice president’s team appeared slightly skeptical.” 

Later that day, Brooks suggested to Meadows they try to frame the meeting as being both positive and productive after being contacted by reporters.

“Media is contacting my office about this afternoon’s White House meeting regarding formulation of our January 6 strategies,” Brooks wrote to Meadows. “Does the White House want me to reply or be mum? Also, it is one thing to discuss (in general terms) our meeting beforehand. It is another to discuss afterwards.

“If you believe discussion is a positive, I suggest message should be: 1. Progress is being made. 2. More are joining our fight. 3. We can’t allow voter fraud & election theft occur if we are going to be a republic. Your choice. Let me know,” he concluded.

About a week after the meeting, Greene complained to Meadows they didn’t get enough time to chat with Giuliani about the strategy.

“We have to get organized for the 6th. I would like to meet with Rudy Giuliani again. We didn’t get to speak with him long. Also anyone who can help. We are getting a lot of members on board. And we need to lay out the best case for each state,” she texted Meadows on New Year’s Eve.

While lawmakers were coordinating with the legal team through the White House, Perry was involved with Trump’s pressure campaign at the Department of Justice (DOJ), texting Meadows on both Dec. 26 and Dec. 28 to encourage him to make contact with Jeffrey Clark. Trump would later weigh installing Clark, a mid-level DOJ official who primarily worked on environmental issues, as acting attorney general in order to forward investigations into his baseless election fraud claims.

But new testimony released by the committee shows DOJ staff pushed back as Clark tried to get a memo directly to Pence to encourage him to not certify the election results on Jan. 6.

“Mr. Clark suggested that OLC provide a legal opinion to the Vice President with respect to his authority when it comes to opening the votes as the President of the Senate on Jan. 6,” Steven Engel, who served as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel at DOJ under Trump, told the committee.

“And I shot down that idea, but I said — I said: That’s an absurd idea. The — you know, the Vice President is acting as the President of the Senate. It is not the role of the Department of Justice to provide legislative officials with legal advice on the scope of their duties. And — you know, and — not to mention it was 3 days from the date. OLC doesn’t tend to provide the legal opinions, you know, in those cases, you know, in that short timeframe,” he added.

As Jan. 6 neared, lawmakers were once again coordinating with the White House about preparations for the day, including a discussion over whether to actively encourage rallygoers to march to the Capitol.

“I remember Mr. Perry had said that he had been starting to put tweets that night, Congressman Perry, that he was going to start putting out tweets that night, and he was a primary participant in the call,” Hutchinson said.

“I don’t think there’s a participant on the call that had necessarily discouraged the idea,” she added. “I don’t recall every single participant on the call that night, but I do recall it was a Freedom Caucus call.”

Gaetz would also go on to advertise on Jan. 5 during an appearance on Fox News that there could be “tens of thousands of people potentially marching in the streets in Washington, D.C., tomorrow.”

The same two troves show many GOP lawmakers would text Meadows as the chaos was unfolding at the Capitol, with some pleading for the chief of staff to get Trump to take action.

And other prior reporting shows that some Republicans who were initially involved eventually backed away from White House efforts amid their own doubts.

Still, another text from Greene just days before President Biden’s inauguration shows Greene — and evidently other members — were hopeful Trump might still try to resist any effort to swear in a new president and provide lawmakers tools to go after the new president.

 “In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall law. I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him,” she texted Meadows on Jan. 17.

“They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!” she added.

Jan. 6 committee subpoenas five House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

The committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob has subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), after they refused to cooperate with the panel’s inquiry.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the select committee, said Thursday that the panel has subpoenaed McCarthy and Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio).

The move marks a significant escalation in the committee’s efforts to obtain information related to lawmakers’ communications with then-President Donald Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before, during and after the attack.

A group of members of the House Freedom Caucus will meet with former President Trump at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club next week. 

The group of Republicans, known for its confrontational tactics and willingness to criticize House GOP leadership, will “discuss its continued efforts to defeat the Democrats’ radical socialist agenda, and advance conservative America First policies,” House Freedom Caucus spokesperson Melissa Braid said in a statement.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) will attend, his office confirmed. Politico, which first reported the meeting that is expected on Tuesday, said Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the former caucus chairman, are also set to be there. Those offices did not respond to requests for comment.

The members will huddle with the former president just days before the House committee investigating the Jann. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol holds its first public meeting on Thursday evening.

Several Freedom Caucus members have come under scrutiny by the Jan. 6 committee, which issued subpoenas last month to Perry, Biggs, and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). In a letter this week, the committee extended the deadline for Jordan to comply to June 11.

Trump’s relationship with the Freedom Caucus evolved over his four years in office from butting heads to close allies.

In 2017, Trump named Jordan and then-Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) in angry tweets because they opposed then-Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) GOP health care plan, which failed just two months into his term. The president had threatened primary challenges to Freedom Caucus members over their refusal to get on board.

By the end of his term, Meadows was White House chief of staff and Trump awarded Jordan the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The group now includes some of Trump’s strongest allies in Congress, including first-term Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).

 

Axios Sneak Peek

By Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Zachary Basu 

Jun 08, 2022

House Republicans, eager to get ahead of the barrage of revelations the Jan. 6 committee has planned for its prime-time hearing tomorrow night, launched their counterprogramming blitz in earnest this morning, Axios’ Alayna Treene reports.

Driving the news: House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), one of former President Trump’s top Jan. 6 surrogates, accused Democrats of “scrambling to change the headlines, praying that the nation will focus on their partisan witch hunt instead of our pocketbooks.”

  • Stefanik called the investigation “a smear campaign” against Trump and criticized the committee’s hiring of former ABC President James Goldston to produce the made-for-TV hearings.
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) also went after the panel in a new op-ed for The Federalist titled: “The True Goal Of The J6 Committee Is To Slander And Shame Conservatives Out Of The Public Sphere.”

Why it matters: This is just a taste of what Republicans have prepared for the coming messaging war — a counteroffensive crafted during private deliberations in which key Trump surrogates reviewed old documents, settled on talking points and plotted their media strategy.

What we’re watching

1. The stakes of subpoena defiance.

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and four other House Republicans have signaled they do not plan to comply with subpoenas issued by the committee last month.
  • This is uncharted territory: the Republicans’ refusal to cooperate with the unprecedented subpoenas will force the panel to decide whether to pursue criminal contempt charges, dragging the Justice Department into the political spotlight.

2. Trump’s involvement.

  • Axios reported last week the former president has not ruled out a public appearance as part of an effort by him and his allies to flood the airwaves with their own messaging.
  • During the opening arguments of his first impeachment trial in 2019 — before he was banned from Twitter — Trump was so animated he broke his record for most tweets sent in a day.

3. Loyalty test.

  • While it’s clear top House Republicans — namely McCarthy, Stefanik, Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) — plan to launch a full-throated defense of the former president, some GOP members want nothing more than to move on from Jan. 6 altogether.
  • But choosing not to defend the former president could trigger a backlash and potential retribution.

4. Groundwork for retaliation.

    • House Republicans are eager to sink their teeth into the Biden administration and Democrats if they take back the majority next year, including with their own Watergate-style hearings covering a catalog of alleged wrongdoing.
    • Jordan, who spoke at today’s press conference, would be chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee if Republicans take power, and he’s promised to unleash a flood of investigations as retribution.[Bullet point boldface added for emphasis]

    • Jordan again rebuffs Jan 6 panel as subpoena deadline looms

       

      The insurrectionists’ clubhouse: Former Trump aides find a home at a little-known MAGA hub

      Nearly two dozen alleged members of the Jan. 6 plot are connected to a single Capitol Hill address.

      https://www.grid.news/story/politics/2022/07/05/the-insurrectionists-clubhouse-former-trump-aides-find-a-home-at-a-little-known-maga-hub/

      [Excerpts:]

      The network has broad reach and keeps an eye on future elections: CPI helped found and support the election monitoring nonprofit run by ex-Trump lawyer Cleta Mitchell, along with roughly a dozen other dark money and advocacy groups, virtually all of which share the address of the CPI town house on official reporting. Mitchell did not respond to inquiries from Grid for this story.

      Several of the figures of greatest interest to the Jan. 6 committee are now employed by CPI or its subsidiary groups, including:

      • Freedom Caucus

        CPI has forged close ties to the Freedom Caucus, the far-right group of Republican House lawmakers co-founded by Meadows that was deeply involved in the events leading up to Jan. 6, according to reports and sworn testimony.

        In addition to holding meetings and recording podcasts at CPI, the group runs its PAC from its offices, documents show, and some members pay dues to the organization. CPI has spent tens of thousands of dollars taking Freedom Caucus lawmakers and their aides on trips. In February 2021, just weeks after the failed insurrection, CPI flew three dozen Freedom Caucus members to Florida for an unpublicized retreat at Miami’s Biltmore Hotel, according to congressional disclosures.

        According to testimony from Hutchinson, Meadows’ former aide, Freedom Caucus members met with Trump prior to Jan. 6 to press their belief that Vice President Mike Pence could delay the vote certification or send the matter back to individual states.

        “We have to get organized for the 6th. I would like to meet with Rudy Giuliani again. We didn’t get to speak with him long,” Freedom Caucus member Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia texted Meadows on Dec. 31, 2020. “We are getting a lot of members on board. And we need to lay out the best case for each state. I’ll be over at CPI this afternoon.”

        “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all,” Jordan texted Meadows late on Jan. 5, messages Meadows later handed over to the committee showed.

        Four out of five Freedom Caucus members voted against certifying the 2020 election results. Several Freedom Caucus members sought pardons for their involvement in the election subversion effort, the committee has alleged. Some have denied doing so. At least four Freedom Caucus members have been subpoenaed by the committee.

        • Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania allegedly connected Trump with little-known DOJ lawyer Clark and participated in planning meetings with Trump prior to Jan. 6;
        • Founding Freedom Caucus member and former chair Rep. Jim Jordan was being contacted by Meadows from the White House on Jan. 6, according to testimony;
        • Former caucus chair Rep. Andy Biggs allegedly helped organize the rally that segued into the storming of the Capitol, and pressured Rusty Bowers, the Arizona House speaker, to decertify electors;
        • Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close associate of the Freedom Caucus, but not an official member, has been one of the former president’s most vocal supporters and has spread conspiracy theories about the “feds” being behind the Capitol riot. According to testimony, Gaetz was one of several members of Congress who requested broad pardons from Trump. Gaetz was a speaker at CPI’s 2022 leadership conference and records his podcast at CPI’s studios;
        • Jan. 6 committee testimony revealed that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene asked Trump for a pardon, but she denies this. She faced a lawsuit in her home state of Georgia where she was forced to testify on her involvement in the effort to overturn the election. She often said she couldn’t recall key moments and meetings. In its 2021 annual report, CPI listed Greene as a “Hero of 2021,” and she spoke at the organization’s 2022 leadership conference.

        Neither Perry, Jordan, Biggs, Gaetz nor Greene responded to requests for comment for this story.

      These organizations employ or assist at least 20 key operatives, reportedly involved in Trump’s failed effort to subvert the 2020 election, including Mitchell, ex-Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, and former Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark, who was the subject of both a recent Jan. 6 hearing and an FBI raid. And they help raise millions for Trump-aligned members of Congress — more than $38 million over the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, according to the nonprofit OpenSecrets.

      “They’re frauds,” said one longtime Republican strategist who has worked for major campaigns and spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person’s job could be at risk for speaking negatively. “They claim to be fiscal conservatives, but they’ve made a living off of generating conservative outrage in order to raise money for themselves.”

      CPI and its affiliates are more than just a safe harbor: The network and its employees are a continued source of false vote fraud allegations, and produce and amplify defensive messaging in conservative circles responding to the major revelations of the Jan. 6 hearings.

       

      Cheney: Scott Perry sought pardon for role in trying to overturn 2020 election results

      The new details surfaced during the Jan. 6 select committee’s first public hearing, as it launched the unveiling of its findings of a yearlong investigation into the insurrection.

      Cheney says Scott Perry and other Republicans sought pardons after Jan. 6

      Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, as well as multiple other Republican lawmakers, contacted the White House in the weeks after Jan. 6, 2021, to seek presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the presidential election results, the Jan. 6 select committee revealed Thursday in its prime-time hearing on the Capitol attack.

      “Rep. Scott Perry … has refused to testify here,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the select committee, said as she opened its case to the American public. “As you will see, Representative Perry contacted the White House in the weeks after Jan. 6 to seek a presidential pardon. Multiple other Republican congressmen also sought presidential pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election”

      The new details surfaced during the panel’s first public hearing, as the bipartisan committee launched the unveiling of its findings of a yearlong investigation into the insurrection. It’s the first of a string of hearings scheduled in the coming weeks that are set to paint a picture of a carefully planned and orchestrated attack on American democracy.

      Perry was a major actor in then-President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, connecting Trump with Jeffrey Clark, an official in the Department of Justice who supported Trump’s efforts, according to testimony and documents obtained by the committee.

      Cheney on Thursday talked about how close the former president came to appointing Clark as acting attorney general, and that the former president wanted Clark to send a letter to Georgia and five other states saying that “the U.S. Department of Justice had ‘identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election.’”

      “This letter is a lie,” Cheney said.

      Perry, who is now chair of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus, repeatedly pushed Trump’s chief of staff at the time, Mark Meadows, to implement the plan to sow doubt in the election results. [Boldface added]

      “Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down,” Perry texted Meadows on Dec. 26, 2020, according to messages released by the select panel. “11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration. We gotta get going!”

      These efforts were halted after other Justice Department leaders threatened to resign if Trump moved forward with selecting Clark as attorney general.

      Perry has not complied with a subpoena for his testimony, and as POLITICO reported last week, the select committee was told that Meadows burned papers after meeting with the Republican in his office at the White House. The meeting took place in the weeks after Election Day in 2020, as Trump and his allies began seeking ways to overturn the loss against Joe Biden.

       

“Historians are fond of saying that the past doesn’t repeat itself; it rhymes.

To understand the present, we have to understand how we got here.”

— Heather Cox Richardson