Aside from the tantalizing but unlikely possibility that Trump might be held accountable for the coup attempt and insurrection, for me the most interesting thing about the post-January 6 investigations have always been the exposure of insurrectionists in government, particularly members on Congress and Republican candidates-- like Nebraska insurrectionist Charlie Herbster. We'll come back to Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), drag queen Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Lauren Boebert (Q-CO), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-GA), Gym Jordan (R-OH), Scott Perry (R-PA), Jody Hice (R-GA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)and Ron Johnson (R-WI) in a moment. But first let's recall gubernatorial candidate Herbster's activities on January 5.
Herbster, then Trump's top rural advisor, spent the evening with a gaggle of coup plotters at Trump's DC hideaway down the street from the White House. Both Don Jr and Eric Trump were there, as was Trumpist Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville and insurrectionists David Bossie, Peter Navarro, Corey Lewandowski, Adam Piper (soon to be fired executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association) and notorious traitor Michael Flynn. Herbster posted this just hours before the insurrection began:
Seth Abramson wrote that "The purpose of the January 5 meeting at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. was arguably seditious conspiracy-- as it appears to have been intended to promote and incite criminal acts by a mob whose purpose was to intimidate federal officials engaged in the certification of a democratically elected branch of government."
...According to the Omaha World Herald, 'Herbster attended the rally where Trump urged supporters to march to the Capitol [the Stop the Steal/March to Save America], but said he left the area to fly home before the riot.' This remains unconfirmed, but if true, it suggests yet another top Trump adviser taking actions central to the events of January 6 but then conveniently deciding-- in advance of the march-- that he wanted to be far away as it was happening."
Maybe what Jamie Raskin was referring to the other day when he said the select committee investigating the insurrection is going to blow the roof off the house is answers to questions like who, precisely, shared the locations of non-reinforced Capitol windows, who disabled Mike Pence’s key card, who planted the pipe bombs and who removed the panic button in Ayanna Presley’s office? Or was it just that the committee has testimony from Mark Meadows' top aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, confirming that Gym Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Traitor Greene and Louie Gohmert met on December 21st to plot to overturn the constitution?
Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu reported last night that Republican members of Congress were heavily involved in calls and meetings with Señor Trumpanzee and his top aides "as they devised a strategy to overturn the election in December 2020, according to new evidence filed in federal court late Friday. Deposition excerpts filed by the Jan 6. select committee-- part of an effort to force former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to appear for an interview-- suggest that some of Trump’s top allies in Congress were frequently present in meetings where a handful of strategies to prevent then-President-elect Joe Biden from taking office were discussed, including efforts to replace the leadership of the Justice Department with figures who would sow doubts about the legitimacy of the election."
The new evidence underscores the expansive cast of elected Republicans who had ultimately enlisted themselves in Trump’s last-ditch effort to cling to power. Members traded theories about ways to push then-Vice President Mike Pence to single-handedly stop Biden’s election, they parried with the White House Counsel’s Office on the boundaries of the law regarding presidential electors and they met directly with Pence’s staff to encourage him to take direct action on Jan. 6, when Congress convened to count electoral votes.
...The disclosure came as part of a Friday evening court filing by the select panel asking a federal court to throw out Meadows’ lawsuit against the committee. In the filing, the select committee revealed that Meadows turned over 2,319 text messages during a brief period of cooperation but withheld more than 1,000, citing various privileges.
“[H]e was not acting as anything like a typical White House Chief of Staff advising the President on official matters of government policy,” House General Counsel Doug Letter wrote. “Mr. Meadows was playing a campaign role, attempting to facilitate a strategy that would have reversed the certified results of the 2020 election.”
The committee indicated that Meadows told Jordan in a text message that he supported efforts to convince Pence to send the election back to the states.
“I have pushed for this. Not sure it is going to happen,” Meadows texted Jordan early in the morning on Jan. 6.
Some of the GOP lawmakers were present in December meetings, Hutchinson recalled, when members of the White House Counsel’s Office raised significant legal doubts about a plan for pro-Trump activists to submit “alternate” electors in states won by Joe Biden.
Others attended a Dec. 21 meeting where Rudy Giuliani, then the president’s personal lawyer, and some associates advocated a plan for Pence to unilaterally refuse to count Biden’s electors and instead send the election back to various GOP-controlled state legislatures to replace Biden’s electors with Trump’s.
The panel also released text messages between Perry and Meadows about replacing Justice Department leadership before Jan. 6 with officials thought to be more sympathetic to Trump’s claims of voter fraud.
“Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down. 11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration,” Perry texted the then-White House chief of staff on Dec. 26, 2020, asking him to get in touch with Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. “We gotta get going!”
“I got it. I think I understand. Let me work on the deputy position,” Meadows responded.
Perry rejected a request from the select panel to testify.
The panel also revealed that it interviewed Steven Engel, the former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Engel indicated that Clark proposed on Jan. 3, 2021, having DOJ issue a legal advisory opinion regarding “the Vice President with respect to his authority when it comes to opening the votes as the President of the Senate on January 6th.”
“And I shot down that idea,” Engel recalled. “But I said-- I said: ‘That’s an absurd idea. The-- you know, the Vice President is acting as the President of the Senate. It is not the role of the Department of Justice to provide legislative officials with legal advice on the scope of their duties.” And-- you know, and-- not to mention it was 3 days from the date. OLC doesn’t tend to provide the legal opinions, you know, in those cases, you know, in that short timeframe.”
The committee also homed in on Meadows’ role as an unofficial campaign adviser, noting that he routinely straddled the line between his official White House work and his effort to keep Trump in office. Hundreds of documents Meadows claimed were privileged included contacts he had with Trump campaign lawyers, the committee said, citing a privilege log from Meadows himself.