December 15, 2021
A year ago today, Trump retweeted pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood’s declaration that Georgia governor Brian Kemp and Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger would “soon be going to jail” because they would not overturn the election results in Georgia.
Today the House of Representatives sent its contempt resolution concerning Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to the Department of Justice.
The Federalist, a pro-Republican media outlet, exposed Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) as the author of the text to Meadows proposing that “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 an attempt to defend Jordan, the author of an article in The Federalist claimed that Adam Schiff (D-CA) a member of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, “misrepresent[ed]” and “doctored” the text message. The original, the author’s article explained, was actually Jordan forwarding a legal article that made this argument. While it’s not clear that forwarding the article is significantly less troubling than writing original words, The Federalist was also the first to identify Jordan as the sender.
Jordan’s office confirmed his authorship of the text but claimed the text was only him forwarding a legal theory by Joseph Schmitz, a Federalist Society lawyer who was President George W. Bush’s inspector general for the Defense Department; an executive officer with Erik Prince’s private military company, Blackwater Worldwide; and a foreign policy advisor for Trump’s 2016 campaign.
This, of course, raises other questions.
Hugo Lowell of The Guardian reported that a deposition scheduled tomorrow before the January 6 committee for Jeffrey Clark, the Justice Department lawyer who fed Trump’s attack on the 2020 election results, has been postponed for the second time because of Clark’s medical condition.
Today, before Clark revealed his ongoing illness, Clark’s former deputy, Kenneth Klukowski, testified before the committee.
The vice chair of the committee, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), continues to push the idea that Trump acted criminally. She emphasized today that Fox News Channel personalities Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham “are standing by the texts they sent to Meadows on January 6 urging that President Trump take immediate action to stop the violence.”
“...[F]or multiple hours, President Trump chose not to take the specific and immediate action many urged - as the violent mob besieged & invaded the Capitol, attacked & injured scores of Capitol Police, & obstructed Congress’s count of electoral votes,” she reiterated. “This was a supreme dereliction of the President’s duty….”
The texts showing lawmakers, as well as journalists, media personalities, and even the president’s own son, begging Trump to call off the rioters while he refused to do so for more than three hours add teeth to the question of whether Trump criminally obstructed an official proceeding of Congress. The committee is clearly contemplating this question.
Members of the committee say they are following the trail wherever it leads, and a piece today by New York Times reporters Katie Benner, Catie Edmondson, Luke Broadwater, and Alan Feuer identifies six members of the House Freedom Caucus, which Meadows co-founded when he entered Congress in 2015, whom they might find on that trail.
Representatives Jim Jordan, Scott Perry (R-PA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and Mo Brooks (R-AL), who wore a bullet-proof vest to give his speech at the Ellipse on January 6, were all actively involved in the attempt to stop Biden’s election.
The Fox News Channel is also under pressure for its role in the insurrection. It’s dealing with the news that three of its own personalities texted Meadows frantically on January 6 begging Trump to call off the rioters, then went on television that night and claimed those attacking the Capitol were left-wing activists.
It is also facing a demand from voting technology companies Dominion and Smartmatic to see emails from FNC’s top executives Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan, to prove either that the men knew the accusations on-air personalities were making against the technology companies were lies, or that they made no effort to determine whether they were real before airing them. The tech companies are suing FNC for defamation and are asking for billions in damages from FNC and Trump loyalists who pushed the Big Lie.
The Democrats continue to try to legislate in the midst of the storm of insurrection news. But they are bogged down in their attempts to pass the large infrastructure package known as the Build Back Better bill or the reconciliation package through the Senate, attempts that have dragged on for months. This was the bill that was supposed to move in tandem with the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure bill for traditional infrastructure measures like repairs to roads and bridges and the extension of broadband across the country.
With Republicans united in their opposition to the larger infrastructure package, progressive Democrats agreed to back the bipartisan measure in exchange for moderate Democrats’ support for a larger package that includes funding for child care and elder care, education, and measures to address climate change.
Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law on November 15, but now Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia refuses to back the second measure unless it comes in under $1.75 trillion over the next ten years, significantly smaller than progressives wanted or than the $3.5 trillion Biden initially proposed. Manchin told CNN reporter Manu Raju that he objects to the bill’s inclusion of a one-year extension of the child tax credit because he believes it will likely be extended further and thus is far more expensive than projected. He says his limit is $1.75 trillion, and the Democrats must cut to reach that number, one way or another.
While Manchin is framing his objection as one about the budget, it is also a statement about the nation’s priorities. The monthly distribution of the child tax credit, included in Biden’s American Rescue Plan passed in March, by July had kept 3 million children out of poverty. It dropped the child poverty rate by almost 4% with the first payment alone.
In West Virginia, that translated to 170,000 children who became eligible for payments. Those payments dramatically lowered the food insecurity rate in households with children, which in July dropped from 11.6 percent to 8.4 percent. By September, 86 percent of West Virginians with children felt the payments had made a “huge difference.”
And yet, despite Republican and conservative Democratic concern about the deficit, today by a vote of 88 to 11 the Senate passed a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the Pentagon $25 billion more than Biden’s budget asked for in a measure that funds the military for only a single year. Progressives in the House tried to hold the bill down to the amount Biden requested but were overruled. It passed the House by a vote of 316 to 113.
The measure focuses on a growing threat from Russia and China, and seeks to bring the country’s military up to speed on emerging technologies, but lawmakers were also reluctant to let go of older technologies built by their constituents. The measure also includes funding for an investigation of the country’s 20-year war in Afghanistan and takes sexual assault prosecutions out of the chain of command of those accused, a practice that has been associated with whitewashing sexual assault.
We need to speak up. Sent just now:
Dear Attorney General Garland:
I recently read your bio. I am impressed with your service over the years. You have been an outstanding example of a public official and a role model for our kids. Please don’t disappoint us now.
Modern Americans are an impatient bunch. We do think it stunning that we are approaching the one year mark from when our government suffered a violent attempted coup. By now it is obvious that this was NOT just a random group of protesters turned rioters. We know now that they were organized and aided by several Individuals who were assistants to or advisors of the former president - as well as members of Congress.
There was a complex plot with alternate options to overthrow the government – to deny a duly elected president-elect his peaceful transition to the White House.
Should I be confident that you and your staff are vigorously pursuing your own investigation and preparing to file charges – and about to arrest those who were attempting that coup? Should I feel that the House Committee investigation the events of January 6 is a compliment to your own efforts – not a substitute?
American patience is running thin. Time is not on our side. Democracy in America is becoming a sadly dark and ironic joke on the international stage. Please act.
With deep respect and admiration,
The Federalist Society’s website claims, “The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of conservatives and libertarians…founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.” Which is utter bullpucky, as they’ve demonstrated over and over. If they believed in truth in advertising (or truth in general) their statement of principle would say, “The Federalist Society is a group of partisan hacks that frets that liberal, progressive principles are eroding the privileged position of wealthy, white males in America. We will do everything in our power, legal or not, to elevate right-wing, Republican judges and politicians to positions of power, democracy be damned.” That’s a more accurate description of Federalists, including the 6 members who are currently justices on the Supreme Court.