History provides a roadmap for forcing Jim Jordan to answer questions about the Jan 6th insurrection: columnist
In a column for the Guardian, Sidney Blumenthal -- a former senior White House adviser under President Bill Clinton -- explained that there is no legal reason why the House select committee investigating the Jan 6th insurrection can't call upon Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) or any other lawmaker to testify in public.
With members of the committee reportedly making up a list of witnesses they would like to subpoena in order to get to the bottom of how the riot began and who was complicit in inciting it, there have been questions whether members of the House can compel some of their colleagues to appear and answer questions about their conversations with ex-president Donald Trump on that day.
The Washington Post reported on Saturday that committee members are weighing what could "...lead to an unprecedented legal and political showdown over how to force members of Congress to take the witness stand."
As Blumenthal explained in his Guardian column, there is a legal precedent if the committee wants to call Jordan or House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to the stand based upon another violent insurrection that occurred in 1859.
Quoting Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) claiming, "I don't know what the precedent is, to be honest," Blumenthal added, "There is one."
"After a bloody insurrection was quelled, a congressional committee was created to investigate the organization of the insurrection, sources of funding, and the connections of the insurrectionists to members of Congress who were indeed called to testify. And did," Blumenthal wrote before citing abolitionist John Brown's attack on Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1859.
After the trial of Brown, Blumenthal wrote, "the Senate created the Select Committee to Inquire into the Late Invasion and Seizure of the Public Property at Harpers Ferry. Senator James M Mason of Virginia, the sponsor of the Fugitive Slave Act, was chairman. He appointed as chief prosecutor Jefferson Davis of Mississippi. Davis was particularly intent on questioning Senator William H Seward of New York, the likely Republican candidate for president."
According to Blumenthal, lawmakers had been alerted that Brown might be planning something including Henry Wilson, a Republican from Massachusetts who later served as Ulysses S. Grant's vice-president. The columnist then added that both Seward and Wilson were called before the investigating committee and that they complied.
Adding "Other witnesses were subpoenaed and warrants were issued for the arrest of those who failed to appear," Blumenthal explained that the committee in their final report -- written by Jefferson Davis -- cited the Constitution when explaining their justification for getting their colleagues to testify.
"The Senate committee concluded its report citing the fourth section of article four of the constitution: 'The United States shall guaranty to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, and, on the application of the legislature or of the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence,'" Blumenthal wrote before noting that Davis himself, just eight months later, "...assumed command of the greatest insurrection against the United States in its history, sworn in as president of the Confederacy."
You read all of the historical details here.
I don't know about you, but I was elated earlier this spring when it seemed as if Trump and COVID were gone, and Biden seemed surprisingly able to get the nation rapidly back on track.
Now much is sliding backwards. It's not Biden's fault; it's Trump's ongoing legacy.
The new Delta strain of the virus requires, according to the CDC, that we go back to wearing masks inside in public places where the virus is surging, even if we're fully inoculated.
This would be nothing more than a small disappointment and inconvenience were it not for Republicans using it as another opportunity to politicize public health.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded to the new CDC recommendation with the kind of unhinged hyperbole Trumpers have perfected. "The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state," he said.
Republican politicizing of public health will get worse if the Delta variant continues to surge. At some point vaccines will have to be mandated because being inoculated is not solely a matter of personal choice. Herd immunity is a common good. If infections mount, that common good can only be achieved if nearly everyone is vaccinated.
But those eager to exploit the virus's resurgence – the know-nothings, Trump wannabe's, vilely ambitious political upstarts, Tucker Carlsons and similarly cynical entertainers – are already howling about "personal freedom" threatened by "socialism."
The investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 is further evidence of how far the Republican Party has descended into opportunistic treachery.
We need to know what happened and why if we are to have half a chance of avoiding a repeat. Just as with the history of systemic discrimination and brutality against Black people in America – which Republicans are calling "critical race theory" and trying to ban from classrooms – the truth shapes our responses to the future.
Here again, the dispiriting aspect of the present moment is Republican denial and obfuscation.
As Officer Michael Fanone – who suffered traumatic brain injury on Jan 6 when rioters attacked him – testified yesterday at the start of the hearings, "What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens — including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend — are downplaying or outright denying what happened."
With the exception of Rep. Liz Cheney – whom I never expected to hold up as a model of integrity – Republicans are eager to divert the public's attention. Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik declared at a press conference yesterday that "Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility, as speaker of the House, for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6."
This is absurd on its face. The Speaker of the House shares responsibility for Capitol security with the Senate majority leader, who at the time of the attack was Mitch McConnell. If Pelosi was negligent – and there's zero evidence she was – McConnell was as well.
Stefanik and other Republican leaders don't want the public to know about Republican members of Congress who were almost certainly involved in the travesty, either directly or indirectly. The list includes Representatives Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Andrew Biggs, and McCarthy himself. Senator Josh Hawley also seems to have been on the know, given his fist-salute to the rioters.
And then there's Trump himself, cheerleader and ringleader.
All should be subpoenaed. All, presumably, will fight the subpoenas in court.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to stage rallies for his avid followers as he did last weekend in Phoenix, where he declared "Our nation is up against the most sinister forces… This nation does not belong to them, this nation belongs to you."
Wrong. America belongs to all of us. And we all have a responsibility to protect its public health and its democratic institutions. The real sinister force is the Trump Republicans' cynical exploitation of lies and anti-scientific rubbish to divide and divert us.
Months ago, it seemed as if this darkness was behind us. It is not.
GOP official doubles down on 'disgraceful' Star of David post -- saying vaccine mandates will lead to 'gas chambers'
Despite swift condemnation from fellow Republicans — including two sitting U.S. senators and his own vice chair — Oklahoma GOP chair John Bennett is doubling down on a Facebook post from Friday comparing COVID vaccination requirements to the Holocaust, the Washington Post reports.
"Those who don't KNOW history, are DOOMED to repeat it," read Bennett's post on the party's Facebook page, below an image of the Star of David with "Unvaccinated" written across the top.
"Limited access to travel within their State, Province or Territory. The bearer may not fly, cannot enter a pub, restaurant, club or theatre. … WAKE UP PEOPLE — Is this sounding familiar?" the post said, urging people to contact the governor's office to urge him to call a special session to address vaccine mandates by private employers.
Oklahoma's Republican governor and lieutenant governor — along with GOP Sens. James Inhofe and James Lankford — released a joint statement calling Bennett's comparison "irresponsible and wrong." Bennett's vice chair, Shane Jemison, went a step further.
"Equating the possibility of private entities requiring their employees to receive the Covid-19 vaccine to the Holocaust is beyond abhorrent, disgraceful, and a gross misrepresentation of the Republican Party and its values here in Oklahoma and nationally," Jemison said.
Nevertheless, on Sunday, Bennett posted a seven-minute video defending the comments and refusing to apologize.
"The Star of David, when they put that on the Jews, they weren't sending them directly to the gas chambers," Bennett said in the video. "They weren't sending them directly to the incinerator. This was leading up to that. They gave them a star to put on, and they couldn't go to the grocery store, they couldn't go out in public, they couldn't do anything without having that star on their shirt. Take away the star and add a vaccine passport.
"This is communist, this is totalitarian, and if we don't do something now, it's going to end in the same exact result as we saw when nobody stood up whenever the Jews were told that they had to wear that star," Bennett added.
The Post notes that Bennett also has a history of hateful comments toward Muslims.
The Anti-Defamation League recently reported a "shocking rise" in people using the Star of David to protest COVID-19 vaccine requirements and mask mandates. "The utilization of this type of Holocaust imagery wrongly compares the antisemitic, racist, misogynist, xenophobic and homophobic Nazi-regime and its genocidal acts to current government measures to contain the pandemic" the ADL wrote. "Comparing the two is not only an act of moral outrage, but also represents an attempt to downplay the enormity of the Holocaust."
The Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City responded to Bennett by calling it "sad and ironic that anyone would draw an analogy from the largest recorded genocide in the 20th century with public health attempts to save lives."
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