Politics GOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing
In Trump's Jan. 6 recast, attackers become martyrs, heroes
WASHINGTON (AP) — A cocktail of propaganda, conspiracy theory and disinformation — of the kind intoxicating to the masses in the darkest turns of history — is fueling delusion over the agonies of Jan. 6. Hate is “love.” Violence is “peace.” The pro-Donald Trump attackers are patriots. Months after the then-president's supporters stormed the Capitol that winter day, Trump and his acolytes are taking this revisionism to a new and dangerous place — one of martyrs and warlike heroes, and of revenge. It's a place where cries of “blue lives matter” have transformed into shouts of “f--- the blue.
House Democrats on Tuesday will launch their long-sought investigation into the Capitol attack of Jan. 6, kicking off a contentious probe just as GOP infighting over the insurrection - and former President Trump's role in it - is reaching a fever pitch.
The first hearing of the select committee will feature testimony from police officers who defended the Capitol complex from the violent mob that day. But much of the focus Tuesday will be on a pair of panel Republicans - hand-picked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) - who have emerged as the GOP face of the anti-Trump movement, both in Congress and far beyond.
Democrats begrudgingly accept McCarthy’s picks for Jan. 6 committee
The GOP leader's choices to investigate the Capitol riot include conservative all-stars — and antagonists of the left — such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).The Democrat-led committee is set to hold its first hearing Tuesday, setting up what could be the first of many partisan brawls over the circumstances behind the violent insurrection.
The appointment of Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) to the special committee - while benefiting Democrats by boosting the bipartisan bona fides of the panel - sparked a firestorm of controversy within the Republican conference. Heading into Tuesday's hearing, the internal GOP sparring has now evolved into a bare-knuckle brawl.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) ripped the two defectors on Monday, characterizing them as "" - a disparaging reference, in the eyes of conservatives, given the GOP's historic disdain for the long-serving Democratic leader.
Both Cheney and Kinzinger, who huddled with Democratic members of the Jan. 6 panel on Monday, shot back at McCarthy, calling his remarks "childish," if not unexpected.
Sunday shows - Jan. 6 investigation dominates
The congressional panel investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 dominated the political talk shows on Sunday morning. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) signaled that she plans to appoint GOP Rep Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) to the select committee investigating the attack, saying "you could say that's the direction I would be going."One of the GOP lawmakers blocked from the panel by Pelosi also blamed Democrats for a "breakdown ofSpeaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) signaled that she plans to appoint GOP Rep Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) to the select committee investigating the attack, saying "you could say that's the direction I would be going.
"We're doing big things right now. We're getting to the answers of the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812. He can call me any names he wants," Kinzinger, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, told reporters as he emerged from the strategy session.
"I'm a Republican. Kevin McCarthy is technically my Republican leader. And to call ... members of Congress by childish names like Donald Trump used to do, I guess it's just kind of par for the course," Kinzinger added.
The internal clash is highlighting the explosive controversy surrounding Trump's actions following his election defeat in November, when he spread false claims that the results were fraudulent and encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol to block the certification of President Biden's victory. Five people died in events related to the Jan. 6 insurrection, and about 140 police officers were injured.
To get to the truth about Jan. 6, Democrats need to ignore most of the Republicans
At this point, believing that Republicans can, or will, act in good faith requires magical thinking.Yet now the Republican party leadership says that none of that really happened - and they're asking people to believe a series of lies about that day's events.
Four of those officers - two representing the U.S. Capitol Police corps, and two from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department - are scheduled to testify Tuesday on their experiences defending Congress that day. All four have been critical of both Trump's actions and those of the Republicans now downplaying the violence of Jan. 6.
McCarthy had initially nominated five Republicans to the select committee. But Pelosi rejected two of them - Reps. Jim Banks (Ind.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio), two staunch Trump supporters whom the Speaker deemed to be a threat to the "integrity" of the investigation.
In response, McCarthy yanked all of his GOP picks from the panel, calling it a Pelosi-orchestrated "sham" designed only to attack Trump and Republicans ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. The boycott was hailed by many in the GOP conference, but it was also a gamble, leaving Trump without any defenders on the dais as the select committee plows ahead with its work.
Democrats are hardly sympathetic to the GOP's plight, noting that Republican leaders had initially endorsed - but ultimately blocked - the formation of an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate the attack.
Capitol police testimony blunts GOP's law-and-order message
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican Party's self-portrayal as champions of law and order collided with searing testimony Tuesday from police officers themselves. Officers described in vivid, personal terms the terror of defending the U.S. Capitol from violent Trump-inspired insurrectionists on Jan. 6. Will it matter in next year's elections? Heading into the 2022 midterms, the GOP is seeking political advantage in Americans' concern about risingWill it matter in next year's elections?
"Kevin McCarthy has made his bed and he has to sleep in it," Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), one of Pelosi's picks on the committee, told The Hill on Monday.
The arrival of the investigation - and intraparty warfare that's accompanied it - has put McCarthy in a difficult spot at a moment he is trying to unify his 211-member GOP conference against the Biden administration in a bid to take back the majority next year.
McCarthy is facing calls from the Freedom Caucus, the bloc of conservative rabble rousers close to Trump, to force a symbolic floor vote by the end of the week from the Speakership.
Other rank-and-file Republicans are pushing McCarthy to seek retribution against Cheney and Kinzinger for agreeing to serve on Pelosi's Jan. 6 panel. On Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) called on McCarthy to strip them of their other House committee assignments.
"They're no longer a member of our team," Gaetz, a key Trump ally, said on Newsmax TV.
Appearing at a White House event Monday, McCarthy took aim at Cheney and Kinzinger but was non-committal when asked if he wanted to see them booted from their other congressional committees, as he did in 2019 with then-Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) over his defense of "white supremacy."
"We'll see," McCarthy in the Rose Garden.
Republicans' Jan. 6 counterprogramming filled with falsehoods
On the day a House select committee held its first public hearing to glean facts about the January 6 attack at the US Capitol, some Republican lawmakers continued to deceive the public about both the attack and its aftermath. © Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks with reporters as he arrives to a caucus meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill on July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Leader McCarthy has picked five GOP House members to serve on the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th riots.
Some McCarthy allies said they don't see him backing the effort to punish Cheney and Kinzinger. It would further highlight GOP divisions, and it's unlikely McCarthy could even successfully oust the pair given that Pelosi and the Democrats, who hold the majority, would have the option to vote down the GOP effort on the floor, Democratic sources said.
"I think it's a stretch at this point" that McCarthy would take action, said one GOP lawmaker close to the leader.
The internal jousting has highlighted Trump's continued grip on the party - and the disagreeable choice facing Republican lawmakers as a result. Either they endorse his lie about the "stolen" election and downplay the violence of Jan. 6, or they risk his ire - and perhaps a career-ending primary challenge.
Indeed, who voted to impeach Trump in January are already facing promises of such a challenge, and the former president is any GOP candidate who might emerge to take on the 10th, Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.).
Cheney, a defense hawk and scion of a conservative political dynasty despised by Democrats for decades, has suddenly found herself being hailed by liberals as a patriot.
"The country increasingly is going to be appreciating the integrity and constitutional patriotism of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and other Republicans who are willing to investigate for the truth, rather than for a narrow partisan agenda," Raskin said.
In February, Raskin led the Democrats' prosecution during Trump's second impeachment trial, which included graphic video of a pro-Trump mob attacking police officers as they defended the Capitol. A mix of new and old video of Jan. 6 will play a role in Tuesday's hearing as well, Democrats said.
Trump takes two punches from GOP
It's been a tough week for former President Trump. Trump's preferred candidate in a special House election in Texas lost on Tuesday to another Republican who was likely boosted by some protest votes against the former president. And on Wednesday, 17 Senate Republicans voted to advance a bipartisan infrastructure deal that Trump spent weeks railing against. While Trump remains a towering figure in the GOP, the back-to-back blows have led some to question whether his influence may have started to wane since he left office. "Trump has not had a big win in quite a while," Alex Conant, a Republican strategist, said.
Cheney, who was ousted from GOP leadership in May for continuing to blame Trump for Jan. 6, will get a during the hearing immediately after Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) gives his opening remarks.
With so much media attention on the Jan. 6 panel's opening hearing, Trump's loyalists made clear they'll try to distract and run counter programming.
McCarthy and his five picks for the panel will hold a news conference Tuesday morning, before the hearing, likely trying to shift blame on Pelosi for the security breakdown at the Capitol that day. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) are teasing a "major announcement" Tuesday morning. And later, Greene, Gaetz and others will head to the Justice Department to demand information about the "treatment" of Jan. 6 insurrectionists who remain in jail.
Trump's critics in both parties are ignoring the distractions, saying the Jan. 6 attack was a threat to the nation's underlying democratic traditions - and one that deserves a thorough examination.
"It's going to be ... a really important opportunity to remind everybody about the necessity of accountability for what happened, [and] for making sure that it never happens again," Cheney said.
House GOP's new midterm headache: Candidates tied to the Capitol riot .
Several Republican candidates were in the vicinity of the Jan. 6 attack, raising uncomfortable questions for the party's House campaign arm.House Republican leaders have forcefully condemned the violent Capitol riot by Donald Trump's supporters. But the GOP campaign arm is now in the uncomfortable position of watching several of its own candidates face sharp questions about their role in the deadly siege that injured scores of police officers.