Sunday, December 25, 2022

Cheney and Trump

In an important and largely ignored piece about  the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, on November 23, The Washington Post explained that Representative Liz

Cheney’s influence over the committee’s final report has rankled many current and former committee staff. They are angered and disillusioned by Cheney’s push to focus the report primarily on former president Donald Trump, and have bristled at the committee morphing into what they have come to view as the vehicle for the outgoing Wyoming lawmaker’s political future.

Fifteen former and current staffers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, expressed concerns that important findings unrelated to Trump will not become available to the American public.

The reporters added

Several committee staff members were floored earlier this month when they were told that a draft report would focus almost entirely on Trump and the work of the committee’s Gold Team, excluding reams of other investigative work.

Potentially left on the cutting room floor, or relegated to an appendix, were many revelations from the Blue Team — the group that dug into the law enforcement and intelligence community’s failure to assess the looming threat and prepare for the well-forecast attack on the Capitol. The proposed report would also cut back on much of the work of the Green Team, which looked at financing for the Jan. 6 attack, and the Purple Team, which examined militia groups and extremism.

The committee now has released its Executive Summary and full report and, as The New York Times notes, it described

in extensive detail how former President Donald J. Trump had carried out what it called “a multipart plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election” and offering recommendations for steps to assure nothing like it could happen again.

It revealed new evidence about Mr. Trump’s conduct, and recommended that Congress consider whether to bar Mr. Trump and his allies from holding office in the future under the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists.

“The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” the report said. “None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.”

The report included a few recommendations for legislative action and one for bar associations. Nonetheless, either completely or nearly so, it reflects the work of the Gold Team.  Ron Brownstein recognizes

Both the 154-page executive summary unveiled Monday and the 845-page final report released last night made clear that the committee is focused preponderantly on Trump. The summary in particular read more like a draft criminal indictment than a typical congressional report. It contained breathtaking detail on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election and concluded with an extensive legal analysis recommending that the Justice Department indict Trump on four separate offenses, including obstruction of a government proceeding and providing “aid and comfort” to an insurrection.

Brownstein wishes the committee had not largely ignored that

Thousands of far-right extremists responded to his call to assemble in Washington. Seventeen Republican state attorneys general signed on to a lawsuit to invalidate the election results in key states; 139 Republican House members and eight GOP senators voted to reject the outcome even after the riot on January 6. Nearly three dozen congressional Republicans exchanged ideas with Meadows on how to overturn the result, or exhorted him to do so. Dozens of prominent Republicans across the key battleground states signed on as fake electors. Nearly 300 Republicans who echoed Trump’s lies about the 2020 election were nominated in November—more than half of all GOP candidates, according to The Washington Post. And although many of the highest-profile election deniers were defeated, about 170 deniers won their campaign and now hold office, where they could be in position to threaten the integrity of future elections.

All are significant: fake electors; state attorneys general trying to overthrow the election; members of Congress keen on working with the President's Chief of Staff to overturn the results; 170 Republicans who were elected in November with the potential power to undermine elections.

But even more important were the issues addressed by the Blue Team and the Green Team.  Unsurprisingly, they were ignored by the committee members.

The role the Secret Service and Chris Wray's FBI may have played in the insurrection has been unexplored by the media. Any role played by either- worse yet, possibly in concert- strikes at the very heart of American government and democracy. If the committee had not chosen to bury the work of its Blue Team staffers, we may have learned of the existence of a "Deep State"- not  the one Donald Trump and his acolytes periodically have bleated about for seven years, but one actually existing in reality.

In his "All the President's Men," author/journalist Bob Woodward said to Watergate committee chairperson Sam Ervin (D-NC) "The key was the secret campaign cash and it should all be traced," a line simplified as "follow the money." Instead, the January 6th committee decided to turn a blind eye to the financial backing of the insurrection, whatever it was and whomever it may have led to. The Green Team, like the Blue Team, was neutered.

It's not hard to determine why.  According to the Post, a "former committee staffer" maintained

We all came from prestigious jobs, dropping what we were doing because we were told this would be an important fact-finding investigation that would inform the public. But when [the committee] became a Cheney 2024 campaign, many of us became discouraged.

It's hard to believe that Liz Cheney is sufficiently deluded to believe that she has any chance to be the next GOP presidential nominee. More likely, as a lifelong, traditional Republican, she didn't want the report to reflect badly on conservative institutions, such as federal law enforcement agencies,  nor on the web of financing which might include Turning Point USA/Action, American Legislative Exchange Council, the Heritage Foundation, Charles Koch, or whomever.

Now, we'll never know about this, nor what institutions ignored the threat of an attempted coup or even facilitated it.   Hats off to the remarkably focused Liz Cheney, who has a special hatred of Donald Trump and is leading us down the road to something better, or not nearly to where we might have been. He's her special project and with it, she wielded more influence this year than any other woman (save the Speaker of the House) in American politics.



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