The GOP has a new reality-warping message

Just as President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus was clearing its last hurdle on Tuesday and passing the House, Republicans on Capitol Hill launched a PR campaign aimed at suppressing Democrats' future ability to claim credit for a post-pandemic economic recovery.

GOP leaders, arguing that the massive relief measure was unnecessary, claimed that America's recovery was already underway and that the Democrats' sweeping package would only hinder — rather than hasten — the economy's revival.

"The economy is coming back, people are getting vaccinated: We're on the way out of this," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters. "We're about to have a boom. And if we do have a boom, it will have absolutely nothing to do with this $1.9 trillion."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made a nearly identical argument — a clear indication these talking points had been carefully crafted.

"I believe the American people are going to see an American comeback this year, but it won't be because of this liberal bill," the California Republican said. "This bill won't speed up our return to normal; it will only ... burden future generations with unnecessary debt."

Biden and Democrats will certainly take credit for speeding the recovery along — and already have, to some degree —even though the economy began to rally even before enactment of the latest stimulus. Economists and experts have indicated that while the legislation is likely to shorten the economy's recovery time, its vast size certainly comes with risks.

These messaging strategies are reminiscent of a decades-old approach that both political parties have used, seeking to turn economic crises to their advantage. To cite the most obvious example, although more Republican presidents have overseen recessions and more Democrats have overseen recoveries, blame can always be spun in either direction, depending on who's doing the talking and how they want to slice up the data.

Democrats of course chose to blame George W. Bush for the Great Recession of 2008, which began toward the end of his term, while Republicans — somewhat less plausibly — tried to pin the blame on Barack Obama. When the economy finally emerged from its deep slump toward the end of Obama's tenure, Democrats cheered a victory while Republicans remained silent — until it was time to hail Donald Trump for record gains in the stock market.

This pattern is closely akin to the way Republicans rediscover their aversion to deficit spending whenever a Democrat moves back into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Aside from hardcore budget hawks like Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, conservatives appeared to forget about the deficit entirely under Trump. On his watch, the national debt continued to skyrocket, even before the pandemic arrived. Democrats have pointed to Trump's tax cuts for corporations and the ultra-rich, which may cost roughly $2 trillion over the span of a decade — and despite conservative promises have not come close to paying for themselves — as the most dramatic evidence of GOP budget hypocrisy.

To absolutely no one's surprise, weeks into Biden's first term, Republicans are already calling on him to address the debt crisis that went unmentioned under his predecessor.

"I think one thing the Biden administration really has to focus on is the risk of what all this debt is going to do to us," Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who chairs the Senate Republicans' campaign arm, told reporters.

The Senate's new troll? Semi-Democrat Joe Manchin says he was only kidding about changing filibuster

Reminding his party one more time exactly how much power he yields in a split chamber, Sen. Joe Manchin delivered another blow to a potential progressive agenda under President Joe Biden amid renewed — but only brief — optimism that the moderate West Virginia lawmaker could be open to dumping the time-honored Senate filibuster.

A procedural tool that offers immense power to the minority, the filibuster requires a 60-vote threshold to advance legislation, effectively ensuring — given the current 50-50 Senate — that Republicans would have the power to prevent Democrats from enacting sweeping policy changes under Biden. (No party has held 60 seats in the Senate since Democrats briefly did after Barack Obama's election in 2008.)

Manchin, the Senate's leading proponent of preserving the filibuster, expressed openness over the weekend to slightly reforming it, such as reinstating the "talking filibuster." That would require that senators physically remain on the chamber floor to block legislation. Currently, members can simply inform leadership they plan to filibuster without being present.

Effectively, a talking filibuster would create a higher bar for the minority to block bills and might mean that the Senate majority could simply play a sort of waiting game. For a fleeting moment, progressives thought that perhaps Manchin was coming around, only to have their hopes squashed on Tuesday when he clarified his position. In the Senate's 50-50 split, Democrats would need every single one of their members to be on board in order to vote the filibuster into oblivion.

"I want to make it very clear to everybody: There's no way that I would vote to prevent the minority from having input into the process in the Senate," Manchin told Politico. "That means protecting the filibuster. It must be a process to get to that 60-vote threshold."

Manchin will undoubtedly face increased pressure the deeper we go into the Biden administration, since it's abundantly clear Senate Republicans will block any number of the president's initiatives. Moderates like Manchin say the remedy is found in bipartisanship and negotiation. Progressives say it's long past time to trash the filibuster, which is not enshrined in the Constitution and certainly wasn't contemplated by the founding fathers.

But Manchin isn't alone; Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is right there with him. The Arizona Democrat is also against removing the filibuster. Unlike Manchin, the lone elected statewide Democrat in what is now a red stronghold, Sinema represents a state that has been trending increasingly blue for some time. Biden narrowly carried Arizona, and the state now has two Democratic senators. (Sen. Mark Kelly, who ousted GOP incumbent Martha McSally in November, is the other.)

The Grand Canyon State's voters are apparently more interested in passing new laws than preserving abstruse Senate rules, or so recent polling suggests. A Data for Progress survey reported by Vox showed that 61 percent of voters indicated they favored passing significant legislation, while just 26 percent said they preferred to "preserve traditional Senate procedures and rules like the filibuster."

In a recent letter to a constituent, Sinema noted the long-term consequences dumping the filibuster could have on a future Democratic minority.

"Regardless of the party in control of the Senate, respecting the opinions of senators from the minority party will result in better, common-sense legislation," Sinema wrote. "My position remains exactly the same now that I serve in the majority. While eliminating the filibuster may result in some short-term legislative gains, it would deepen partisan divisions and sacrifice the long-term health of our government."

Watchdog: Strip Lindsey Graham of Judiciary Committee post over Georgia phone call

A watchdog group has demanded that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close ally of Donald Trump, be removed from the Senate Judiciary Committee over his attempt to pressure a Georgia election official to reverse the former president's stunning loss in the Peach State.

The Checks and Balances Project (CBP), a nonpartisan investigative group, has written to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell requesting that Graham immediately relinquish his position on the prestigious Judiciary Committee, which oversees the nomination of federal judges, including Supreme Court justices.

"My question to you is this," CBP executive director Scott Peterson wrote to McConnell, in a letter sent Monday night that was provided to Salon. "Is it appropriate for a Senator to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee when he is under investigation for such a serious crime?"

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last month that the district attorney Fulton County, Georgia, was probing whether Graham had broken any state election laws when the South Carolina Republican phoned Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the days after the November election. Graham, according to Raffensperger, urged him to toss out legal absentee ballots to shrink Trump's deficit.

Graham has long denied the allegation, saying that he was simply inquiring about the signature-matching process during the Georgia recount then underway. But Peterson feels the investigation is grounds for McConnell to remove Graham from the powerful Judiciary panel — which he chaired under the previous Congress — at least until the criminal inquiry is concluded.

"Someone who engages in that type of activity doesn't belong on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee," Peterson told Salon. "In this country, every vote counts. The right to vote is the backbone of our democracy. And instead of fighting for the Constitution and democracy, Sen. Graham called … Raffensperger to try to get him to throw away votes and rig the election."

A spokesperson for Graham noted that this was CBP's second effort to target him, the first being earlier this year when the group wanted lawmakers to push Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland to commit to investigating both Graham and Trump. McConnell's office did not respond to Salon's request for comment.

When the allegations about the Raffensperger phone call first emerged in November, Graham called the assertions that he tried to alter the election's outcome "ridiculous." Raffensperger rebuffed Graham's alleged guidance, but had he followed it and disqualified ballots that had been legally cast by mail, Raffensperger, who is also a Republican, would himself have committed election fraud.

"What I'm trying to find out was, how do you verify signatures on mail-in ballots in these states that are just the center of attention?" Graham told reporters in November, while attempting to justify the content and context of the Raffensperger call.

Graham's alleged involvement, which was first disclosed in a Raffensperger interview with The Washington Post, is reportedly part of a broader criminal probe by Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis into whether then-President Trump broke any laws by pushing Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to win him the state.

"I urge you to ask Senator Graham to step down from the Judiciary Committee until all investigations into his conduct in Georgia are complete," Peterson wrote to McConnell. "If we are to restore public faith in our democracy, this step will go a long way to re-establishing the idea that no one is above the law."

Senate Republicans bailing out on 2022 are opening the door for more QAnon candidates and Trumpers

A slew of Republican senators have thrown in the towel. At least five GOP incumbents are planning not to run for re-election next year, making way for a potential seismic ideological shift in the upper chamber.

With most of the outgoing lawmakers considered to be old school, pragmatic conservatives, their GOP colleagues say the institution may be adrift without their leadership.

This exodus may offer Democrats increased optimism that they may be able to hold onto a Senate, despite the long tradition that the sitting president's party typically loses seats in midterm elections. But on the other side of the aisle, it remains to be seen what path the Republican Party chooses to go down: Does it back candidates who align themselves with Donald Trump, or those who try to distance themselves from him?

The writing is on the wall, argues GOP strategist Susan Del Percio, citing the retaliatory measures numerous state Republican parties have taken against members of their party who voted to impeach Trump. But Del Percio sees danger here: Shifting further to the Trumpian right would further undermine the possibility of substantive policy debate and open the door for more Democratic wins, she said.

"It's the latest casualty of what Trump has done to the Republican Party," Del Percio told Salon. "State committees are Trump-controlled. You'll see people go more and more to the right in who they nominate and support. It doesn't mean they'll win the seat."

On Monday, Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri became the fifth GOP senator to reveal that he will not seek re-election next year, joining a list of departing colleagues that has swelled in recent months.

Blunt's revelation meant that one-tenth of the Senate Republican Conference is leaving, a startling statistic that could continue to grow; Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa have not yet announced their plans for 2022. (Grassley, now in his seventh term, will turn 88 just before the next midterm election.) Zero Senate Democrats have said they plan to retire.

"After 14 general election victories — three to county office, seven to the United States House of Representatives and four statewide elections — I won't be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate next year," Blunt said in a video statement posted to social media. He did not cite a specific reason for his decision to step aside.

A leadership member who often immersed himself in detailed policy negotiations as an institutionalist and conservative lawmaker, the 71-year-old has now joined Richard Burr of North Carolina, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Rob Portman of Ohio on the list of Republican retirees.

"It seems that in recent times, it's all about beating the other person or preventing them from winning, not about putting forward good, sound policies," Del Percio said. "These are more than just political people like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. They cared about what they were doing, and about moving policies forward. It is devastating."

Most of the departing senators are on the older side, although Toomey is just 59 — relatively young, for the Senate — and they're all younger than Grassley. This flight of conservatives from federal public office is more likely a byproduct of the fatigue among sitting Republicans created under the Trump era, which saw the traditional, conservative wing of the party diminished, if not conclusively defeated.

Blunt's retirement caused at least one election forecaster to shift the Missouri race one rating to the left, from "Safe R" to "Likely R." It's hard to imagine states as red as Missouri or Alabama ever going for a Democrat. Then again, Alabama's 2017 special election, in which Democrat Doug Jones triumphed over Republican Roy Moore, who was accused of repeated acts of sexual misconduct with underage girls, proved it's possible against the right candidate. In states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio, open-seat Senate races are likely to be competitive, and candidates hewing too closely to the Trump mold could alienate all-important suburban voters and galvanize Democratic turnout.

Praise for Blunt from his current and former colleagues came immediately, mirroring that for his fellow retiring Republicans. Lawmakers and aides who had the pleasure of crossing paths with Blunt agreed the Senate is losing a valuable policy wonk, who is generally well liked on both sides of the aisle. Both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, described his retirement as a "big loss" for the upper chamber. In a statement, McConnell called Blunt "a true leader, a policy heavyweight and a driving force behind both key conservative victories and essential bipartisan work." Whether his departure offers an unexpected opening for Democrats or another pathway for Donald Trump's total conquest of the Republican Party, it's too early to say.

Ron Johnson -- worth $40 million -- derided as 'face of the opposition' to COVID relief

As the Senate began to officially debate the latest coronavirus spending measure on Thursday, a wide-ranging package worth roughly $1.9 trillion, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., drew sharp criticism from his Democratic colleagues for positioning himself as the central figure standing in the way of aid swiftly reaching struggling Americans.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

The Wisconsin Republican has vowed to delay the pandemic relief that includes provisions like individual $1,400 checks, extended unemployment benefits and housing assistance because of its size and scope. One of his tactics was to force Senate clerks to read the bill's more than 600 pages in its entirety — and force stenographers to retype the whole package — which could take up to 10 hours.

"I feel bad for the clerks who are going to have to read it, but it's just important. So often we rush these massive bills that are hundreds, if not thousands of pages long," Johnson told reporters. "All I'm trying to do is make this a more deliberative process and obviously shine the light on this abusive and obscene amount of money that's going to further mortgage our children's future."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and others derided Johnson, who is estimated to be one of the top 20 wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth of nearly $40 million, for deciding "to make himself the face of the opposition."

The former CEO of a polyester and plastics manufacturer before his 2010 election to the Senate, Johnson has emerged as one of the chamber's most extreme Republican ideologues, despite his mild Midwestern demeanor. He has repeatedly rejected the scientific consensus on climate change, describing it as "lunacy," and as chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee last year invited several witnesses to expound on discredited fringe theories about COVID-19. He was staunchly loyal to Donald Trump throughout the former president's term, launching half-baked investigations he claimed would prove Joe Biden's "unfitness for office" and spreading incoherent rumors about an anti-Trump conspiracy within the Department of Justice and FBI.

Schumer tried to look on the bright side, despite ripping into Johnson for going to "ridiculous lengths" to obstruct the relief bill and for promoting various false narratives about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 insurrection. (Johnson did not admit that Trump had lost the November election for more than six weeks, and has suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was somehow to blame for the attack on the U.S. Capitol.)

The majority leader also accused Johnson and many of his fellow Republicans of hypocrisy by their willingness to dish out money under the past president but changing their tune for the current one. "We are delighted that the senator from Wisconsin wants to give the American people another opportunity to hear what's in the American Rescue Plan," Schumer said. "We Democrats want America to hear what's in the plan."

The relief legislation, which was released in revised and presumably final form at the start of debate on Thursday afternoon, is moving through Congress via reconciliation, a budget process that would allow the bill to pass without any Republican support, on a 50-50 tie to be broken by Vice President Kamala Harris. But with that avenue comes a hellish process known as a "vote-a-rama," where any number of senators can offer an unlimited number of amendments and further stall the final passage.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., for example, has said he plans to force votes on all of his nearly two dozen amendments. Johnson distributed a sign-up sheet to Republicans so they could take shifts to ensure enough of their members would be on the floor at all times to further extend the marathon effort.

Some GOP senators, such as Rand Paul, R-Ky., have said they would make the vote-a-rama last indefinitely, if they could. But the expectation and goal of those like Johnson is to at least draw out the session until Sunday.

"It will come to an end," said Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill. "I don't know if it will be one day or five days, but it will come to an end. There will be a vote."

Johnson's ultimate goal is to sour the public's opinion on the relief package, which has unusually high bipartisan approval from voters, considering that so far the bill has not received the support of even one Republican senator. He has apparently modeled his strategy on the battle over a 1993 supplemental appropriations bill, which remained on the floor for 12 days and was significantly decreased in cost.

"I don't think we need any additional authorization right now when you have [money that] hasn't been spent yet," Johnson said. "Spend that first before you authorize any new dollars, but that's not what the Democrats want to do."

Ex-Democrat Rep. Jeff Van Drew slams bill as 'socialism' — but he used to support it

In 2019, newly-elected Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey hailed a sweeping elections reform package led by Democrats as a "clean-up corruption in Washington" bill that would "restore our democracy and promote bipartisanship."

This article first appeared in Salon.

But on Wednesday, almost exactly two years later to the day, the two-term lawmaker equated the legislation, known as H.R. 1, to socialism "served on a platter."

What changed? Not the legislation; the content of the measure remains virtually the same, which Democrats say would tackle corruption, provide greater government transparency, increase access to voting and end gerrymandering.

House Democrats passed it under the previous Congress with the help of Van Drew. It's expected to pass the lower chamber again on Wednesday along party lines. The most significant difference this time around is that Van Drew is now a Republican.

"We were warned for years about the rise of socialism," Van Drew said in a brief floor speech. "Well, here it is, served on a platter."

This remarkable reversal is a byproduct of Van Drew's denunciation of the Democratic Party in December 2019 just ahead of former President Donald Trump's first impeachment trial. Van Drew left the party — quite literally — and went from the Capitol to the White House, where he pledged his "undying support" to Trump in front of cameras in the Oval Office. At the time, internal polling showed he had dismal chances for re-election as an anti-impeachment Democrat.

Van Drew's office did not respond to a request for comment about his policy flip-flop.

He lauded H.R. 1 in a March 2019 press release as legislation that would reign in the power of dark-money politics and unlimited corporate political spending.

"This reform bill will clean-up corruption in Washington, restore our democracy, and promote bipartisanship," Van Drew stated at the time. "We need to restore our democracy to a government of the people, by the people and for the people."

His tone toward the package on Wednesday was quite different.

"It would keep the status quo, like we saw this past November with voter rolls that are not up-to-date and live ballots being mailed to voters that have died, moved or even multiple ballots to the same voter," Van Drew said. "Elections do have consequences, and when leaders said the goal was to change America, they were telling the truth. And here we are."

Van Drew also repeated an inaccurate claim, widely circulated among Republicans, that H.R. 1 would use "taxpayer money" for a public campaign financing program. In response, Democrats have tweaked the language of the bill. It remains true, however, that the legislation would use public funding through civil and criminal court penalties — not a blanket tax on Americans, as Republicans have suggested — to match small-dollar donations for candidates who meet certain requirements.

"Do you like those robocalls during campaign season? How about the negative TV ads and the mailers?" Van Drew said. "Well, your tax dollars are paying for them. And yes, this is taxpayer dollars, no matter how they tell you otherwise."

DC National Guard commander tells Congress he was 'stunned' by three-hour Jan 6 delay

On Jan. 6 at 1:49 p.m., Maj. Gen. William Walker, commander of the District of Columbia National Guard, received a frantic phone call from then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund. The Capitol complex was being overrun by hostile supporters of then-President Donald Trump, Sund told the general, asking for immediate assistance from as many National Guard troops as Walker could muster.

"I would have immediately pulled off the Guardsmen supporting the Metropolitan Police Department," Walker testified before a Senate committee on Wednesday, and told them to "get on buses and go straight to the armory and report to the most ranking Capitol Police officer they saw and take direction."

But the decision wasn't up to Walker; he needed Pentagon approval. While he awaited the official go-ahead, Walker quietly directed 155 Guard troops to meet at the D.C. armory and board buses, in order to be ready the second the order came down.

"That number could have made a difference" in terms of controlling the crowd and protecting the Capitol, Walker told lawmakers. "We could have helped extend the perimeter and push back the crowd. Seconds matter. Minutes matter."

At 5:08 p.m. — three hours and 19 minutes after his request to senior Army leadership to deploy troops — Walker finally received the green light. The Guardsmen waiting aboard the buses arrived at the Capitol 18 minutes later, only to be greeted with the aftermath of a chaotic bloodbath that had spread across the sprawling grounds and into the halls of Congress.

Walker's testimony, provided to two separate Senate panels investigating the Capitol insurrection, offered stunning new revelations about the Trump administration's failure — part bureaucratic red tape, part apparent lack of willingness — to swiftly respond to the event that led to several deaths, including those of Capitol Police officers.

Walker agreed that the hours-long delay, which left him "frustrated" and "stunned," was unusual. He said that last summer, amid the deployment of D.C. National Guard troops during protests against racial injustice, he was in "constant communication with" then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. On Jan. 6, he said, there was radio silence.

During a call with senior Army leadership, as well as Capitol and city officials, to request mobilization of the National Guard, Walker said that military leaders, including Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn — the brother of former Trump official Michael Flynn, who called for martial law amid efforts to subvert the election — and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, raised concerns about the optics of sending federal troops to protect the Capitol.

"The Army senior leaders did not think it'd look good [or] would be a good optic," Walker said. "They further stated it could further incite the crowd."

The National Guard commander said the issue of optics was "never discussed" when troops were deployed last summer during the Black Lives Matter protests.

Throughout Congress' probe of the riot, current and former government officials have offered conflicting timelines and statements about the events that unfolded on Jan. 6. Wednesday's hearing was no different.

Robert Salesses, a senior Defense Department official who also testified, pushed back against some of Walker's testimony, including the timing of the troop deployment, the suggestion that Flynn and Piatt were concerned about optics and Walker's authorization to unilaterally deploy troops.

Walker told lawmakers that prior to a Jan. 5 memo from then-Army Sec. McCarthy and then-Defense Secretary Chris Miller stating that he must seek their authorization to address any civil disturbances, he had the power to deploy troops. Salesses, the acting assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Security, contended that it had always been the case that Walker would need prior authorization.

Salesses also told lawmakers that McCarthy approved the request for the National Guard at 4:32 p.m. but that it wasn't until 5:08 p.m. — 36 minutes later — that Walker was notified. Salesses did not offer a clear explanation for the time lapse, suggesting there were obvious communication failures in the chain of command.

"I think that part of the challenge is some of the delayed communications problems were some of the challenges we had that day," Salesses said.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the federal government's response time to the insurrection while traveling with reporters on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post.

"For the Pentagon, that's super fast," he said. "That's like sprint speed."

The Republicans who are now falsely blaming Nancy Pelosi for the Capitol insurrection

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, one of former President Donald Trump's closest allies in Congress, recently earned four Pinocchios from the Washington Post's fact checker over his false claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied a request for National Guard troops prior to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

But Jordan has been far from the only Republican or prominent conservative voice to pretend that such a baseless assertion is reality on Twitter, the social media site where such falsehoods have spread like wildfire. Several other Republicans and Trump allies have circulated — or at least appeared to entertain — the same narrative.

The top Republicans on the House Administration, Intelligence and Oversight Committees — Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Devin Nunes of California and James Comer of Kentucky, respectively — signed onto a Feb. 15 letter to Pelosi along with Jordan, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

The letter, which came the same day as Jordan's false tweet about Pelosi delaying the National Guard, speculated by suggesting that then-House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving had been concerned about the "optics" because of Pelosi.

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., spread the same notion this past weekend in separate tweets.

"It's finally come out that Nancy Pelosi specifically directed National Guard to stay off Capitol grounds on January 6th because of 'optics,'" Cawthorn wrote. "Pelosi was more concerned about optics than the safety of her colleagues and the American people."

".@SpeakerPelosi," Greene posted, sharing a Daily Caller story that echoed the GOP letter about optics," did you deny National Guard at the Capitol???"

The claims have been undercut, most notably by public testimony from Irving, former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger and former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund on Feb. 23 before a Senate committee. Pelosi's office has also said that the speaker approved National Guard troops — a topic not discussed with her prior to the riot — as soon as Irving made the request when the Capitol was being overrun.

Irving testified that deploying National Guard troops was not discussed with congressional leadership until Jan. 6, and that "optics as portrayed in the media played no role whatsoever in my decisions about security." Stenger confirmed that he had also not discussed the matter with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who at the time was majority leader, before that day.

None of the Republican offices whose members have circulated the Pelosi narrative immediately responded to requests for comment. Jordan's office had pointed the Post to the Feb. 15 letter he signed.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the idea that Pelosi delayed federal assistance to the building where lawmakers, staff and journalists were hiding for their lives continues to be circulated. Now, Trump himself has even helped disseminate the baseless claim.

In an interview with Fox News late Sunday, Trump falsely said he "requested" 10,000 National Guard troops, an assertion that earned him four Pinocchios from the Washington Post.

"I requested … I definitely gave the number of 10,000 National Guardsmen, and [said] I think you should have 10,000 of the National Guard ready," Trump said. "They took that number. From what I understand, they gave it to the people at the Capitol, which is controlled by Pelosi. And I heard they rejected it because they didn't think it would look good. So, you know, that was a big mistake."

An official Defense Department planning and execution memo makes no mention of the supposed troop order, and a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed on the record to The Post that the agency had "no record of such an order being given."

It was not the first time that Trump mentioned a 10,000-troop order. It was first documented in a Vanity Fair story from January. But as the Post highlighted, simply referencing the idea is not the same as acting on it, as the then-president did when he ordered troops to be stationed throughout the nation's capital last summer amid unrest in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

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