Kevin McCarthy's Persona Is Just Ass-Kissing Goofball, But There's Something Much Worse Beneath That
Yesterday, writing for the NY Times, Luke Broadwater reported that 4 insurrectionist congressmen-- Jim Jordan (R-OH), Scott Perry (R-PA), Andy Bigg (R-AZ) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)-- signaled "that they would not cooperate with subpoenas from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, posing a dilemma for the panel that could have broad implications for the inquiry and for Congress itself." Many people think McCarthy and his cronies should have already faced a firing squad for their attempt to help Trump stage a coup. More moderate voices think they should be in a maximum security prison until they die. I'd be happy with either outcome, although people who follow DWT with any regularity could probably guess I'd be happier with the former. (I'm a law and order guy and feel strongly about accountability, particularly for people who have been on the top of the heap, like members of Congress.)
McCarthy is suing in federal court, claiming the subpoenas are illegitimate and date other 3 clowns sent letters to the committee objecting to the investigation.
“For House Republican leaders to agree to participate in this political stunt would change the House forever,” McCarthy and Jordan wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. In a statement, Perry called the Democratic-led committee a “kangaroo court” and accused the panel of “perpetuating political theater, vilifying and destroying political opponents.”
The Republicans’ resistance could hinder the committee’s investigation, leaving unanswered questions about the deadly mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that left more than 150 police officers injured. It will also likely force the panel to decide whether to pursue criminal contempt of Congress charges against the men, which could prompt a legal showdown whose outcome could set a precedent for future congressional investigations.
Perry, Biggs and Jordan were summoned to testify this week, with McCarthy and Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama scheduled for next week.
CNN earlier reported that Perry and Biggs had sent letters to the committee objecting to the subpoenas. Brooks did not respond to a request for comment.
The men have employed slightly different tactics in resisting the subpoenas. While Perry refused to appear-- his lawyer stated flatly that the congressman “declines to appear for deposition on May 26 and requests that you withdraw the subpoena”-- Jordan issued a lengthy list of demands to which the panel was unlikely to agree.
Jordan, who is in line to become Judiciary Committee chairman should his party take control of Congress after November’s midterms, demanded “all documents, videos or other materials in the possession of the select committee” to be used in his questioning and any material the panel has in which his name appears.
“Your attempt to compel testimony about a colleague’s deliberations pertaining to a statutorily prescribed legislative matter and an important constitutional function is a dangerous escalation of House Democrats’ pursue of political vendettas,” Jordan wrote to Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and chairman of the committee.
...The men’s resistance came as 22 former Republican members of the House urged them to cooperate with the panel.
“We understand you may have concerns about this exercise of the committee’s subpoena power,” the former members wrote in their letter, posted to Medium. “Indeed, under most circumstances, we would strongly counsel against compelling the testimony of sitting members of Congress. But the exceptional nature of this circumstance is clear: one in which sitting members may have firsthand knowledge regarding an assault on our government. The best way to ensure a full and fair accounting of what happened before and on Jan. 6 is for you to provide your understanding of the events and to explain it to the American people.”
The committee issued the subpoenas this month as it dug deeper into the role Republicans played in attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
Perry, who coordinated a plan to try to replace the acting attorney general after he resisted Trump’s false claims of widespread voting fraud, argued in a letter to the committee that there was “nothing improper” about his actions.
“The committee is without authority to issue the subpoena, and we respectfully request that it be immediately withdrawn,” his lawyer, John Rowley III, wrote.
The panel has been told by at least one witness that Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, burned documents in the fireplace in his office after a meeting with Perry, a person familiar with the committee’s activity said on Thursday. The information was first reported by Politico. The Times reported on Wednesday that the committee had information that Meadows had used his fireplace to dispose of documents.
McCarthy, along with Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, filed a brief in support of Stephen Bannon, a Trump ally who has been indicted on charges of contempt of Congress after he failed to comply with a subpoena from the committee.
In the brief, lawyers for McCarthy argued that the committee’s subpoenas were illegitimate because, they said, the panel is not following the rules of the House regarding the number of members of the committee and Republicans’ role on the panel. Several judges have already rejected that argument in other suits.
Bannon is attempting to have the contempt charges dismissed, and McCarthy and Scalise sided with him, arguing the Jan. 6 committee’s pursuit of Bannon could cause “potential damage” to the institution of the House.
The panel’s move to compel cooperation from the Republicans was widely seen as unprecedented in the modern history of congressional investigations. In the House, subpoenas are almost never issued outside of the Ethics Committee, which is charged with investigating allegations of members’ misconduct.
Before sending their letters, the Republicans under subpoena privately discussed how best to respond, according to people familiar with their thinking who described it on the condition of anonymity. Some argued there was a clear political benefit to defying the committee-- because Trump’s base would almost certainly look favorably on the move-- but some also are worried about weakening the authority of their own subpoenas if their party takes over Congress.
Thompson has said that if the men do not comply, another option beyond a contempt charge could be a referral to the Ethics Committee.
This morning, Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent noted that "A top lawmaker who is actively working to scuttle a full accounting into a violent insurrection attempt has no business playing a potentially decisive role in the process by which the next presidential election is brought to its official conclusion. Yet it’s becoming more likely that this is exactly what will happen." He was talking about McCarthy, who is likely to become Speaker in January because of the horrible mistake Obama made in manipulating a clearly unfit Joe Biden into the Democratic presidential nomination. Biden, as we warned over and over during the primary, is poised to go down as one of the least accomplished presidents history-- not as bad as Trump, of course, but... bad and unable to get anything done to help the voters who turned out for him. (Similarly, Democratic congressional leadership also sucks and aims to be just one thing: not as bad as Republicans.)
Sargent wrote that "If Congress doesn’t revise the antiquated process that governs how Congress counts presidential electors, he could play a critical role influencing which electors get tallied, potentially swinging the outcome... McCarthy’s case against the committee’s subpoena is pure nonsense. Along with co-author Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who has also been subpoenaed, McCarthy insists in the op-ed that the subpoenaing is a 'dangerous abuse of power' that 'serves no legitimate legislative purpose.' The idea that the subpoena serves no legislative end is demonstrably false. Committee members have already said the investigation will inform congressional deliberation over how to revise holes in the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which Trump and his co-conspirators sought to exploit to overturn his loss."
An effort to reform the ECA is already underway in the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans are working on such a proposal. This blows McCarthy’s excuses to smithereens.
There is no doubt that the Jan. 6 committee’s work has the capacity to assist this effort. Indeed, the very House Republicans preparing to defy the committee possess information that could help inform this and other legislative recommendations.
Take Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. The committee has subpoenaed him to learn about his role in trying to help Trump manipulate the Justice Department into creating a fake pretext for invalidating Joe Biden’s electors. That could shape reforms that would make such manipulation of the department harder.
Or take Rep. Jordan. The committee wants to know about his being neck-deep in the effort to overturn Trump’s loss by procedural means, including by pressing state legislatures to certify sham electors for Trump, justified by pretexts such as state “audits.”
Understanding the vulnerability of state-level actors to such corrupt pressure could help shape ECA reform. This will make it clear that reforms must account for a scenario in which corrupt state officials successfully certify sham electors for a presidential candidate who lost the state’s popular vote.
One way to do this: build in a new backstop role for the courts. If an effort to certify fake electors prompts a dispute in the state about which electors are the correct ones, the courts would determine which are legitimate. Congress would then be required to count those electors.
Under the current ECA, if a Republican-controlled state sends sham electors in 2024 and a GOP House led by Speaker McCarthy counts them, they would stand, potentially swinging the outcome. So the cover-up of Trump’s 2020 scheme by the same GOP lawmakers who would be in a position to count sham electors next time underscores why reform is needed so badly.
“McCarthy and his allies in Congress are actively concealing the plot that almost succeeded due to the ECA,” legal scholar Matthew Seligman, an expert on the ECA, told me. “Anybody who would conceal their own role in such a scheme can’t be trusted to count the right electors next time.”
It’s true that the committee’s subpoena of GOP House members is an extraordinary event. But the information that those members are concealing has to do with an even more extraordinary event.
Consider McCarthy himself. He’s refusing to divulge information about his direct communications with Trump at the very moment Trump was essentially weaponizing a mob to intimidate his vice president and GOP lawmakers into subverting the electoral count, to keep himself in power illegitimately.
How can the person who won’t disclose this information to the country be given outsize control over the next electoral count in a scenario where a state-level effort to certify sham electors could succeed?
“It’s like putting the bank robbers in charge of counting money at the bank,” Seligman told me. “This shows reform is urgent.”
Let’s be ultra clear: The events around Jan. 6, 2021, were all about trying to overturn our constitutional and political order by subverting the count of electors, first through extraordinary procedural corruption and then through violence.
McCarthy is trying to scuttle a reckoning of those events, mainly because it threatens his bid for speaker. If he gains the power that comes with that role, he will be poised to play a critical role in the next count of electors.
That’s absurd and dangerous. It can’t be allowed to stand. But without ECA reform, it very well may become a reality.