Sweaty Trump Stooge Kevin McCarthy Tries to Kill Jan. 6 Commission
There could never be a probe that meets McCarthy’s desire to pretend the insurrection is long behind us and it’s now time to all get along.
House Minority Leader and Trump stooge Kevin McCarthy announced Wednesday that he would vote no on Thursday morning to a bill to investigate the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol that had been negotiated, under close supervision, by Republican Rep. John Katko, a trusted ally.
The day before the House vote, McCarthy surprised his caucus by citing the proposed panel’s "political misdirection,” "counterproductive nature,” and its supposed failure to examine "interrelated forms of political violence," for his abrupt 11th hour rejection. In other words, McCarthy is trying to save his neck, and Trump’s, by attempted murder of the 1/6 Commission.
It’s attempted because McCarthy might not succeed. The whitewash of Jan. 6 that Liz Cheney warned of could be foiled by Democrats if their slim majority holds or they’re joined by those nine Republicans who voted against McCarthy in favor of resuming the electoral college count after the riot. That number includes Cheney, who no longer has a title but does have a vote.
The compromise that Katko called “a solid, fair agreement that is a dramatic improvement over previous proposals" provided for a 50-50 split of the parties on the panel, no subpoenas unless both sides agreed, and a strict deadline of Dec. 31. Of working with his Democratic counterpart, Katko said, “We both dispensed with our politics to do what the greater good is.” At first, McCarthy was going to let his caucus vote their consciences but by afternoon he ordered another of his allies, Steve Scalise, to ignore Katko and tell the caucus to vote with their leader.
It’s been quite a week. McCarthy, who likes to be liked, turned his back on two friends, Cheney first and then Katko. Scalise may want to have someone watch his back. Katko’s first mistake was to go for “fair” when McCarthy has a white can of paint under his desk that says “cover-up.”
McCarthy voting no is all the more peculiar in that Katko accomplished all McCarthy asked of him, with one small exception. The GOP argued for expanding the investigation beyond the fatal insurrection in Washington to delve into an examination of every protest everywhere. Instead Democrats offered up a separate commission to look at the demonstrations after George Floyd's murder that presumably McCarthy agreed to. Trump could even have gung-ho pal Matt Gaetz officiate if he likes.
Katko was used: There could never be a commission that meets McCarthy’s desire to pretend Jan 6 is behind us and it’s time to move along—especially after Cheney said on Sunday that he should have to testify about what Trump told him that day or presumably be subpoenaed as part of a wide-open investigation.
Fear is usually the culprit when McCarthy goes limp. He is afraid of being forced to reveal the contents of a call exchanged with Trump at the height of the riot. Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler heard one side of it as she hid out in McCarthy’s office. In it, Trump, expletives intended, told McCarthy he, the president, couldn’t shut down the rioters, as McCarthy suggested, because they were actually left-wing extremists disguised as his supporters. He complained that McCarthy even asking him to intervene meant that “these people [MAGAites? left wing extremists?] are more upset about the election than you are.”
McCarthy is in Trump’s camp again, he for whom victory is never satisfying unless someone is humiliated in the process. Trump didn’t just remove Rex Tillerson. It had to be leaked that the secretary of state learned of his ouster while confined to the bathroom with dysentery in one of the “shithole” African countries Trump forced him to go to.
The only investigation that would be fair to Trump, so far as Trump and McCarthy are concerned, is one with an unenforced subpoena, an informal rule that the president should not be summoned, and Bill Barr ready to pronounce “nothing to see here” before it’s even released. Jim Jordan in shirt sleeves would be co-chair, or Marjorie Taylor Greene shouting through the mail slot, or any one of those Republicans at a hearing last week previewing a “What insurrection?” defense. It’s so long ago they can barely remember. When a video to refresh their memories is played, they look down at their notes or their shoes.
Shrink-wrapping the commission is one part of the Republicans' bold M.O. to put Jan. 6 in the past and control of Congress in their future. While pretending there was no coup to speak of, they’re preparing for dozens of others, replacing all those squishy officials who couldn’t find all those mythical dead voters or ballots tossed in a river with political hacks. Georgia’s heroic Republican, Trump voter and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, is toast. Out go rules about recounts and court cases. In come rogue groups like the one in Arizona handling ballots with less care than tax receipts in a junk drawer. There’s no chain of custody possible as the Cyber Ninjas have to close shop temporarily for a high school graduation prompting Republican officials in the state to charge that the audit is a “sham” that “feeds Trump’s lies.” But going forward, look for more UV lights and bravado to challenge irregularities that must be investigated if the person who should have won did not, a version of Trump’s belief that any election he didn’t win was automatically fraudulent.
Trump could still have his way if the House bill dies in the Senate. But surprisingly Sen. Mitch McConnell, who’s traded in his own horror over Jan. 6 for ‘Let’s make Biden a one-term president,’ may not filibuster it but let it go through.
But even if it gets through the Senate, how much can a 50-50 commission accomplish? The chances of nailing Trump are not that good. Facts have been reduced to stupid things. What you see with your own eyes is subject to multiple interpretations, like a Fellini film. Was the congressman who saw tourists where others saw terrorists, subsequently caught on tape moving heavy furniture to bar the door to the chamber, redecorating or in fear for his life?
Agreement on subpoenas will come slowly, if at all, and then will be fought past the Dec. 31 deadline. Former White House Counsel Don McGahn, subpoenaed in 2017, is just now getting around to responding.
With 67 percent of Republicans in the most recent CBS News poll believing that Trump is rightly president, that number likely includes a fair number of House members who think of that fateful day through two conflicting realities: that the police are always right and have the right to kill you if someone resists going face-down on the ground at a traffic stop for who-knows-what violation; but attack the police, Capitol, and D.C. and National Guard, as the mob did with barbaric weapons, killing one or more depending on how you count, and it’s the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys and Trump hangers-on who have qualified immunity against the police.
Trump and the mob can’t even identify who stole the election; antifa, Dominion Voting Systems, or Biden himself helped in some mysterious way by bottled water smuggled in by folks waiting in long lines. And without the 1/6 Commission, we’ll never get to the bottom of what Trump knew and when he knew it. We live in the United States of Amnesia, at least the feigned kind.
Now that we know what one party is capable of, only by exhuming every ugly detail can we harden democracy against it ever happening again.