CNN released new Jan. 6 footage last night showing a livid House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reacting to her chief of staff’s report that Trump, who had urged his supporters to march to the Capitol at the end of his rally speech, wanted to come to the Hill with the mob.
Pelosi’s response: “If he comes, I’m going to punch him out. I’ve been waiting for this. For trespassing on the Capitol grounds, I’m going to punch him out. And I’m going to go to jail, and I’m going to be happy.”
While the headline from today’s January 6 Committee hearing is that Donald Trump was subpoenaed for testimony, that really buries the lede. Thursday’s hearing provided the missing piece of the criminal case federal prosecutors are putting together. That missing piece is Trump’s state of mind. What Trump knew and what he intended in the events leading up to the Capitol riots will be central to any possible criminal trial.
The testimony heard this afternoon — some of it new, some repackaged from earlier hearings — completed the puzzle. Specifically, we learned:
- Trump had a premeditated plan to never concede the election.
- Trump knew that he lost and that his allegations of fraud were false.
- Trump intended to ignore the rule of law to stay in power.
It’s all backed up with detailed testimony and almost entirely from Republicans in Trump’s own inner circle. As Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) stated: “There was no doubt that President Trump knew what he was going to do: sending an angry mob… armed with various weapons to the Capitol. There’s no scenario where that action is benign.”
While the committee may make a criminal referral, any indictment is ultimately up to Attorney General Merrick Garland, who is also likely already weighing one for the classified documents illegally taken to Mar-a-Lago. After today’s hearing, it’s hard to imagine that Garland won’t move forward. The stakes for the country are just too high.
The January 6 Committee hearing yesterday might have been the panel’s last public hearing — unless dramatic new evidence materializes or Donald Trump somehow decides to testify.
Three things stand out:
- There was no partisan squabbling at all. That’s mainly because Kevin McCarthy made a major political blunder choosing to let Nancy Pelosi appoint all members of the committee. It may be the only congressional committee in history to record only unanimous votes.
- The stars of the hearings were not the lawmakers. There was not a single soundbite from those on the committee that will be etched into our minds like we recall from the Watergate, Iran Contra or Joseph McCarthy hearings. Instead, the real stars were the producers who brilliantly compiled video testimony and documents into extremely compelling presentations.
- The most damning testimony came from Trump’s closest aides, appointees and advisors — and all of them were Republicans.
We won’t know for a while whether the hearings will dramatically change public opinion or ultimately lead to accountability for Trump and some of his advisors. But the committee succeeded in writing the first draft of the history of this era.
“The Secret Service had warnings earlier than previously known that supporters of President Donald Trump were plotting an armed attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021,” the Washington Post reports.
“Secret Service agents in charge of assessing the risks around the protests had been tracking online chats on pro-Trump websites and noted that rallygoers were vowing to bring firearms, target the Capitol for a siege and even kill Vice President Mike Pence.”
In a major escalation of its probe, the House Jan. 6 Committee voted unanimously to subpoena the ex-president for documents and testimony during what may have been the panel’s last public hearing yesterday.
“Former president Donald Trump on Friday lambasted the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol but was silent on whether he would comply with a subpoena for testimony and documents in a 14-page letter sent to its chairman,” the Washington Post reports.
Said Trump: “Despite very poor television ratings, the Unselect Committee has perpetuated a Show Trial the likes of which this Country has never seen before. There is no Due Process, no Cross-Examination, no ‘real’ Republican members, and no legitimacy since you do not talk about Election Fraud or not calling up the troops. It is a Witch Hunt of the highest level, a continuation of what has been going on for years.”
His first sentence: “THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2020 WAS RIGGED AND STOLEN!”
The letter literally reads like the rantings of a lunatic.
New York Times: “Since it became public that the House select committee planned to subpoena Trump for his testimony, the former president has been telling aides he favors doing so, so long as he gets to do so live.”
“However, it is unclear whether the committee would accept such a demand.”
“After Roger Stone wasn’t granted a post-Jan. 6 pardon, he grew so upset that he suggested fighting Jared Kushner, the man tapped as the point person for handling 11th-hour Trump pardons,” the Daily Beast reports.
“In new exclusive footage obtained by The Daily Beast, a yet-to-be-released documentary captured Stone’s meltdown after learning on President Joe Biden’s inauguration day that he wouldn’t be granted a second coveted legal protection, this time to shield from any Jan 6 legal fallout. (Trump issued a pardon to Stone in December 2020.)”
In a comment apparently directed at Trump, Stone said: “Fuck you and your abortionist bitch daughter.”
John Podhoretz: “They remind us of the evil of that day and a very simple fact that cannot be denied: Donald Trump wanted to unleash hell, and then he watched on TV and said nothing while hell was unleashed for his benefit.”
Charlie Sykes: “There’s no real mystery because there are the tweets, thousands of them. But the arc of the coup can be boiled down to just three — when he summoned the mob, egged on the attack, and celebrated it afterward.”
Wall Street Journal editorial: “What the committee has accomplished, however, is to cement the facts surrounding Mr. Trump’s recklessness after Nov. 3 and his dereliction of duty on Jan. 6. The Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s own campaign repeatedly told him that his fraud claims were without basis. Whether it was willful blindness or an intentional strategy, he kept repeating them…”
“The Jan. 6 committee probably won’t get Mr. Trump under oath, but the evidence of his bad behavior is now so convincing that political accountability hardly requires it.”
Susan Glasser: “When the January 6th hearings began, on June 9th, Trump’s average approval rating in the polls was 42.7 per cent, and his average disapproval rating was 53 per cent, according to FiveThirtyEight. As the hearings ended, Trump’s average approval rating stood at 40.4 per cent. All that damning evidence, and the polls were basically unchanged.”
“The straight line in the former President’s approval rating is the literal representation of the crisis in American democracy. There is an essentially immovable forty per cent of the country whose loyalty to Donald Trump cannot be shaken by anything.”
New York Times: “A former president who tried to overturn a demonstrably free and fair election to hang onto power in defiance of the voters, the Constitution and nearly two and a half centuries of democratic tradition remains the dominant figure in his political party and the odds-on favorite to win its nomination to run again. While the committee extensively documented the plot for history’s sake, it could not enforce accountability for it…”
“Since Mr. Trump pressed House Republican leaders not to participate in the committee, he had no defenders to offer any mitigating evidence or challenge witnesses over the last four months. But even outside the committee room he has offered no serious defense through statements, interviews or social media other than to insult former aides who testified and accuse the panel of being out to get him. He has not explained his actions nor backed off his false claims.”
“The Jan. 6 Capitol riot investigative committee has obtained records showing that a member of the Secret Service’s protective intelligence division had multiple phone calls in 2020 with members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group,” NBC News reports.
“The U.S. House committee asked the agency for records of all contacts with the Oath Keepers.”
“A former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence returned before a grand jury Thursday to testify in a criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election after federal courts overruled President Donald Trump’s objections to the testimony,” the Washington Post reports.
“In a sealed decision that could clear the way for other top Trump White House officials to answer questions before a grand jury, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled that former Pence chief of staff Marc Short probably possessed information important to the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol that was not available from other sources.”
It almost got buried in January 6 Committee news, but the Supreme Court’s slap down of Trump was a big win for federal prosecutors investigating the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.
Washington Post: “Not long after Trump took office, Walt Nauta left the mess to become one of Trump’s valets, spending some of his workday in a small passageway that connects the West Wing to a private dining room. From there, he had access to a small refrigerator stocked with Diet Cokes, which he brought to the president in the Oval Office when Trump pressed a call button on his desk.”
“Nauta frequently served as a kind of gofer, fetching any items the president might need throughout the day and tidying up the room, the former staffer said. When Trump left the Oval Office for the night, it was Nauta who brought his coat. Their daily proximity meant that the two developed a close professional relationship, and Trump ‘trusted him completely,’ this person added.”
Maggie Haberman: “What he is very focused on right now is the other investigations that could lead to criminal charges. And that is still where much of his energy is focused. And for whatever reason, he is very focused on this lawsuit that’s coming up next week, where he has to be deposed, where he’s being sued for defamation by E. Jean Carroll, a woman who has accused him of rape. The developments around January 6th, he considers those baked in. Everybody else does not, but he does.”
Los Angeles Times: “The strategy session was supposed to be a discreet backroom conversation, but as it got underway in a private room at the headquarters of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, someone was recording it. Over the next hour, a device captured the Democratic politicians and the labor leader, all Latino, speaking contemptuously about those they regarded as rivals or impediments. The recordings included racist, bigoted and crude remarks about Black, Jewish, Armenian, Indigenous and gay people.”
“The politicians departed apparently oblivious to the taping, and for the next 11 months, the explosive recording remained a secret. It was not until Sunday when The Times reported the contents that it became widely known, triggering a cascade of outrage that reached all the way to the White House.”
“With L.A. still reeling from the contents of the audio, much about the recording itself remains a mystery: Who made it? And how? Who leaked it? And why?”
“Three days after the release of a secretly recorded conversation in which she made racist remarks and disparaged the child of a colleague, the former president of the Los Angeles City Council resigned from elected office on Wednesday,” the New York Times reports.
“The announcement by Nury Martinez followed a deluge of outrage from all corners of the city, culminating in two City Council meetings packed with protesters who demanded the Democratic official step down.”
David Frum spoke to Charlie Sykes about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA):
“There needs to be kind of like an anti-Robert Caro book about him. So, Robert Caro wrote all these volumes about how people can parlay things that never seem to have power — into power. You know, you’re the parks commissioner of New York City, you’re the Senate Majority Leader at a time when that’s like one of the worst jobs in American politics. And people take these plays, they discover potentiality for power, and they build power.”
“OK, now we need a book about how you can be leader of the number two party in the House of Representatives, and soon-to-be Speaker of the House of Representatives and be an absolute doormat.”
Washington Post: “The unusually detailed and often caustic statement, attributed to a Saudi Foreign Ministry official, came after the White House and members of Congress condemned the kingdom for a decision by OPEC Plus last week to cut its oil output by 2 million barrels a day, a move that could boost oil prices in the United States and worldwide.”
“The cuts were widely seen as a political blow to President Biden ahead of a tough winter and a month before midterm elections.”
“An escalating public dispute over oil between the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia risks causing irreparable harm to US relations with the crucial Mideast partner,” Bloomberg reports.
“The remarkably public contretemps reflects brewing impatience within the White House now that it has little to show for Biden’s outreach to the Saudis — which he was compelled to make as gasoline prices soared over the summer, despite his campaign promise to treat Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a ‘pariah.’”
The Texas sheriff who’s investigating Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) nakedly political scheme to fly duped Venezuelan migrants from the Lone Star State to Martha’s Vineyard has certified the migrants as victims of a possible crime, which makes them eligible to apply for special visas for crime victims and witnesses called “U-visas.”
The sheriff has said he’s investigating the case as “possible unlawful restraint” due to the migrants’ allegations that they were tricked into boarding the planes with fake promises of housing and assistance at their destination and that they weren’t told they were going to Martha’s Vineyard.
The Texas probe isn’t the only investigation DeSantis is facing over his MAGA theater: The Treasury Department is looking into whether the GOP governor used federal COVID-19 aid to pay for the flights.
A jury on Thursday rejected the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz, the man who opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 people in 2018. Instead, Cruz will be sentenced to life without parole.
“Elon Musk said Friday that his space company could not keep funding the Starlink satellite service that has kept Ukraine and its military online during the war, and he suggested he was pulling free internet after a Ukrainian ambassador insulted him on Twitter,” the Washington Post reports.
“A Starlink cutoff would cripple the Ukrainian military’s main mode of communication and potentially hamstring its defenses by giving a major advantage to Russia, which has sought to jam signals and phone service in the eastern and southern combat zones.”
“Britain’s beleaguered chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, was fired on Friday as Prime Minister Liz Truss prepared to announce a large-scale retreat over a package of unfunded tax cuts that have rattled financial markets, causing a crisis that has threatened her political survival,” the New York Times reports.
A new Ipsos poll finds Liz Truss has the lowest level of satisfaction with the public —16% to 68% — ever recorded for a British Prime Minister.
“Senior Conservatives are holding talks about replacing Liz Truss with a joint ticket of Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt as part of a ‘coronation’ by MPs,” the Times of London reports.
“The judge dropped one of the five charges against Igor Danchenko, specifically pertaining to the allegation that he lied to the FBI about speaking with a Democratic operative about the anti-Trump dossier,” CNN reports.
“District Judge Anthony Trenga said in court Friday that Danchenko’s answer to the FBI interviewer ‘was literally true’ and that John Durham’s case on that specific charge was too weak to send to the jury. This is a major victory for Danchenko, who has maintained that he told the truth to the FBI agents who were trying to corroborate the dossier in 2017.”
In a new book, the former US ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland defends his conduct around Donald Trump’s first impeachment, derides Democrats for their investigation of Trump’s attempt to extract political dirt from Ukraine – and calls his former boss a narcissist and a “dick,” The Guardian reports.
“A juror in the third Gretchen Whitmer kidnap trial is under scrutiny over concerns she is flirting with one of the defendants, smiling at him from the jury box and looking at him frequently — so frequently that the judge said he’s going to keep an eye on her,” the Detroit News reports.
Said Judge Thomas Wilson to the defendant’s lawyer: “I see her looking directly at your client, and a number of times I’ve seen smiles coming out of her face. It’s enough that it’s drawing my attention. I’m going to be paying close attention. … I don’t know if I’m going to kick her off or not.”
“Five members of a Texas family were sentenced Wednesday for their roles in the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, as part of a family trip to Washington paid for in part with a government stimulus check,” USA Today reports.
“A pro-Trump operative who was caught on tape participating in a Georgia voting system breach after the 2020 election has testified before the special grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the outcome in that state,” CNN reports.
“Turkey’s Parliament has passed sweeping new legislation intended to stamp out disinformation, allowing the government to jail journalists and social media users for up to three years for spreading information deemed to be false or misleading,” the New York Times reports.
The U.S. will soon need to deter two major nuclear powers for first time.
More than 40% of high school seniors meet none of the college-readiness benchmarks.
JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon warned the U.S. is likely to slip into recession in 6 to 9 months.
“South Korea’s military said it detected a North Korean short-range ballistic missile launch, the latest in a series of tests by the nuclear-armed country that have raised tensions with its neighbors in Asia and in the U.S.,” CNBC reports.
“South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff also said North Korean warplanes flew near their shared border.”
A senior opposition leader has been arrested in Pakistan for a “highly obnoxious and intimidating” tweet against the chief of the country’s powerful military, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Al Jazeera reports.
Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) office announced on Thursday night that the senator was “not feeling well” and was taken to the hospital for an overnight stay “as a precaution.”
We don’t know exactly what caused Leahy to feel unwell.
Leahy, one of the most senior members of the Senate, has been admitted to the hospital three times in the past two years. He went last year after experiencing muscle spasms, and he had to have two surgeries this past summer to fix a broken hip after suffering a fall.