January 28, 2022
Today the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas to 14 individuals who were either chairs or secretaries of the groups signing the false electoral documents in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, on December 14, 2020.
In the past several weeks, it has become clear that the submission of false electoral votes from seven states was part of a larger scheme to throw the election to then-president Donald Trump. This raises the question of who organized the process of writing false documents and getting a group together to sign them. In a press release announcing the subpoenas, committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said the committee thinks the individuals it is subpoenaing “have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme.”
The committee has also issued a subpoena for documents and testimony from former deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere, who, according to a copy of the subpoena letter obtained by CNN, helped with “formulating White House’s response to the January 6 attack as it occurred.” The letter also said that Deere was in a January 5 staff meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump repeatedly asked “What are your ideas for getting the RINOs to do the right thing tomorrow? How do we convince Congress?” Deere was part of the White House response to the insurrection on January 6 and beyond. He currently works as a deputy chief of staff to Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN).
On Tuesday, Ben Williamson, who was an aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified before the January 6 committee for between six and seven hours and did not invoke the Fifth Amendment.
Yesterday, Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the January 6 committee, told CNN: “We have filled in a lot more evidence that [Trump] wasn’t just inciting an insurrection, he was working to organize a coup against the democracy...I can’t imagine that the Department of Justice would not have evidence at this point to that effect.”
If the information hanging out there turns out to be explosive, it is not clear that Trump can continue to command the loyalty of the Republican base. His position in several investigations appears to be precarious, and as those investigations play out, his suitability as a political leader might well take an irreparable hit.
His legal troubles also likely mean he is having trouble borrowing money and, if his instant hop on the fundraising bandwagon after the story of Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement from the Supreme Court is any sign, is relying on donations. On Monday, Forbes reported that a review of documents released last week in the civil suit over fraudulent valuations of Trump properties indicated that Trump had about $93 million in cash in the last year of his term, compared to his claims in 2015 that he had $793 million in cash. Trump’s valuations of the value of his holdings are notoriously unreliable, but it is likely there is a downward trend going on.
A recent poll shows that 57% of Republicans say they will not vote for any candidate who admits Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, a result which explains why presidential hopefuls continue to talk about election crimes. But 27% of Republicans say Trump should not run again and 21% say they would vote for Florida governor Ron DeSantis instead of Trump.
DeSantis and Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin both seem to be trying to out-Trump the man himself, perhaps in preparation to take his place.
DeSantis this week said he might sue the federal government for halting the use of two monoclonal antibody therapies for Covid-19 after the Food and Drug Administration said they don’t work against Omicron. Other therapies, which appear to be effective, are still authorized.
DeSantis has downplayed vaccines and touted monoclonal antibody treatments for the disease, opening clinics this summer to provide the treatment. Now that those treatments have proved less effective than they were against previous variants. DeSantis has blamed Biden for restricting access to the drugs, although the banned measures don’t appear to work against the Omicron variant and Biden had nothing to do with the regulatory decision.
Youngkin is giving DeSantis a run for his money. He distanced himself from Trump and ran on the idea that he was a moderate who would defer to the wishes of voters; he outperformed Trump in Virginia by 14 points. But as soon as he took office, he began to use executive orders to advance a far-right agenda.
Youngkin issued an executive order ending mask mandates in public schools. School boards immediately sued him, arguing the order was unconstitutional. The move has been unpopular in the state, with 56% of those polled in a Public Policy Polling survey saying that local school districts should set their own policies. Opponents have also pointed out that Youngkin’s own child goes to a private school in Maryland that requires masks.
Youngkin has also signed an executive order banning the teaching of critical race theory or any “inherently divisive concepts.” He has established a tip line for concerned parents to “send to us any…instances where they feel that their fundamental rights are being violated, where their children are not being respected, where there are inherently divisive practices in their schools.”
Today, he signed a memo with officials from colleges and universities to pave the way for more publicly funded private schools in Virginia. The measure will permit private, for-profit businesses to open schools using taxpayer money.
Youngkin’s move is in line with a long history of right-wing activism calling for the privatization of public schools. That call illustrates the marriage of business, racism, and religion that currently dominates the Republican Party. The for-profit school industry likes the idea of privatization because it would move enormous amounts of taxpayer money into private businesses; reactionary and religious parents like it because it would fund segregated or religious schools.
Meanwhile, the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge near Frick Park in Pittsburgh this morning, which injured ten people, illustrated the need for federal investment in public infrastructure. Biden was on his way to the city today anyway and toured the site before a speech touting his administration’s investment in roads, bridges, manufacturing, and innovation and calling for the passage of the Build Back Better plan. His goal, he said, is “to restore the backbone of America: the middle class.” He noted that the U.S. has added 367,000 manufacturing jobs since he took office—the highest increase in 30 years.
Blaming inflation on the high price of cars due to the lack of semiconductors, Biden promised to address that shortage by increasing production of electric cars. Noting that our investment in research and development has dropped from 2% of our gross domestic product to less than 1%, he thanked the American Rescue Plan for $1 billion to strengthen regional economies. “When the federal government invests in innovation, it powers up the private sector to do what it does best: creating incredible new technologies and new industries and, most importantly, new jobs—good-paying jobs,” he said.
“We need to ease the burden on working families,” he said, “ making… everything… more affordable and accessible to hardworking people.” “It’s about time we stopped fighting and it’s about time we start working together again,” he said. “We can do an awful lot.”
As a physician I am enraged when politics undermine science and medicine. It has been a decades long pattern, as described in Chris Mooney’s book “The Republican War on Science” published 17 years ago. Republican stances on masking, lax vaccination, and disposable health care workers/teachers/service industry workers have certainly killed hundreds of thousands.
In terms of kids wearing masks while we are in the peak of the worst wave yet, and seeing Omicron cases (some mild, others not) spread even among vaccinated and boosted teachers and families, it is unethical and savage really to capitulate to parents who think masking their kids causes some greater harm.
My masked kid has had an opportunity to learn about community sacrifices, the greater good, deferred gratification, and mutual respect for the safety of other people. She has worn an N95 with grit, and has not spread Covid nor received an unnecessary lungful of coronavirus that could imperil her own and her parents’ short and long term health, and her grandparents’ very lives.
We need to instill a sense of duty and purpose in our children, and not make them feel like they are too fragile to put up with a mask for as long as it takes. Republican governors and politicians who undermine scientific truths, meddle with specific monoclonal treatment guidelines when variants render them obsolete, undermine basic public health measures that could limit deaths which are back up towards 4K/day- are they not practicing medicine without a license, and malpracticing it at that?
I now live in snowy PA, but I was fortunately raised in Fairfax County, VA. As a retired teacher and daughter of a 32 year retired teacher, I am happy to report that Youngkin's call lines are blocked and filled with parents calling in to report that their child's teacher is guilty of teaching their child. Youngkin is being constipated by the truth.