September 1, 2022
This morning, former president Trump told a Newsmax host that he was “financially supporting” some of the rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Calling it “disgraceful” that they are being prosecuted, he said that If reelected, he would look “very favorably at full pardons” for them and would apologize to them.
At a time when his supporters are increasingly calling for violence after the FBI executed a search warrant on the Trump Organization’s Mar-a-Lago property in order to recover classified documents, Trump is normalizing violence and suggesting that if he regains the presidency, he will protect those who fight on his behalf.
Today the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol wrote to former House speaker Newt Gingrich, asking him to appear before the committee voluntarily. Historians identify Gingrich’s rhetorical attacks on Democrats and on those Republicans he considered too moderate—Republicans in Name Only, or RINOs—as key to bleeding traditional Republicans out of party leadership in the 1990s.
The letter explained that the committee has learned that Gingrich was part of the effort to overturn the 2020 election. He apparently exchanged emails with Trump’s advisors, including Jason Miller and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, in which Gingrich provided “detailed input” on the scripting of television ads that deliberately pushed lies that the 2020 election was stolen. The ads encouraged people to pressure state officials to overturn the election.
Gingrich wrote: “The goal is to arouse the country’s anger through new verifiable information the American people have never seen before[.]... If we inform the American people in a way they find convincing and it arouses their anger[,] they will then bring pressure on legislators and governors.”
Gingrich was also apparently involved in the scheme to produce fake electors and did not let up even after the attack on the Capitol. That night, he emailed Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to pursue the plan.
Today, Emma Brown of the Washington Post reported that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas, wrote not only to 29 lawmakers in Arizona to press them to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory by appointing their own electors rather than the ones the voters had chosen, but also to lawmakers in Wisconsin.
In Arizona, Jerod MacDonald-Evoy of the Arizona Mirror reported that Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters has hired two fake electors as part of his staff. Before the primary, Masters’s website read: “We need to get serious about election integrity. The 2020 election was a rotten mess—if we had had a free and fair election, President Trump would be sitting in the Oval Office today and America would be so much better off,” although he has since scrubbed it to read simply: “We need to get serious about election integrity.” Trump endorsed Masters.
Today the White House Twitter account reminded people that 147 congressional Republicans voted to challenge the results of the 2020 election even after the January 6 riot, retweeting the 2021 New York Times article listing them by name.
And yet there has been concern on Twitter tonight that President Joe Biden’s 24-minute prime-time speech on “The Continued Battle for the Soul of the Nation” was unfairly partisan.
Biden spoke from Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park, which includes Independence Hall, where lawmakers created the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
There, the nation’s early leaders created a country based on equality and democracy, Biden said, and those principles made the United States “the greatest nation on Earth.” Now those principles are under assault, and “we do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise.”
Biden offered a passionate defense of democracy, recalling Americans to their heritage: a fight for liberty that has preserved the nation through wars, depressions, and struggles to expand civil rights. That mission still drives us, he said, toward “an America that is more prosperous, free, and just.”
But “we must be honest with each other and with ourselves.”
Things are not normal, he said. And then he called out the elephant in the room: “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
As he has done in similar comments lately, Biden isolated the extremist MAGA Republicans from the rest of the country, while including mainstream Republicans in the larger body of Americans who still believe in democracy. But he acknowledged the truth that “the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.”
They “do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election. And they’re working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.”
They “are determined to take this country backwards—backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love. They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.”
We are not powerless to combat these threats, Biden said. Far more Americans reject the extremism of MAGA Republicans than embrace it. He called for all Americans—”Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans”—to reject government by violence, and instead work together to defend democracy and build a better future, one based in the Constitution, the rule of law, free and fair elections, the will of the people, honesty, decency, respect, patriotism, liberty, justice, hope, and possibility.
Biden listed the accomplishments of the past year and a half and echoed the line he has used since he ran for president: “There is not a single thing America cannot do—not a single thing beyond our capacity if we do it together.”
“The soul of America is defined by the sacred proposition that all are created equal in the image of God. That all are entitled to be treated with decency, dignity, and respect. That all deserve justice and a shot at lives of prosperity and consequence. And that democracy…must be defended, for democracy makes all these things possible. Folks, and it’s up to us.”
Our democracy is imperfect, Biden said, but “history and common sense tell us that opportunity, liberty, and justice for all are most likely to come to pass in a democracy.” “Our task,” he said, “is to make our nation free and fair, just and strong, noble and whole.”
“We just need to remember who we are. We are the United States of America.”