Here’s what happened this week
As rioters storming the Capitol in 2021 chanted “Hang Mike Pence!,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows came out of the dining room next to the Oval Office and relayed to colleagues that Donald Trump was complaining that his vice president was being taken to safety. Trump, Meadows relayed, expressed some kind of support for hanging Pence. That account from Meadows was relayed to the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6th and reported by The New York Times, CNN, Politico, and others this week. The Times included a caveat: “It is not clear what tone Mr. Trump was said to have used.” But the anecdote further underscores the deep rift and resentment Trump has continued to feel toward his vice president for refusing to entertain Trump’s desires to overturn the 2020 election when Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s win—and, again, suggests the possibility that the committee could be sitting on a little trove of such quotes that we’ll all know soon enough.
Pence rarely flashes anger and even here, in public, Trump’s former vice president has refrained from throwing any kind of counterpunch back at his old boss. But Pence is allowing speculation that he might run for president in 2024—even if Trump runs as well. “We’ll go where we’re called,” Pence said in a story about his early 2024 moves. And if Trump runs, he won’t look to Pence as his running mate. Other names have floated around: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and, more recently, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, who has gone proudly ultra-MAGA since she replaced Liz Cheney in the House GOP leadership.
It’s safe to say that since January 6—at least—neither Trump or Pence have seen each other in their respective ideal futures.
The committee is pushing forward with its interviews, and some of Trump’s most outspoken allies are digging in in the face of congressional subpoenas. On Thursday, CNN reported that Congressman Jim Jordan penned a letter to the committee questioning the constitutionality of subpoenaing him. Congressmen Andy Biggs and Scott Perry also voiced their objections to the subpoenas. Besides those three congressmen, the panel has also subpoenaed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Congressman Mo Brooks. It’s stupendously unlikely that they will break with Jordan, Biggs, and Perry and cooperate with the committee. The panel has actually had more luck with Rudy Giuliani, who met with investigators for over nine hours. As we’ve said before, Giuliani is a potentially valuable witness, but his testimony could also be exceptionally unreliable.
Speaking of Perry and Meadows, according to new testimony to the committee from former Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson, the White House chief of staff burned papers after meeting with Perry. Literally, incinerated papers in his office (was everyone else using the paper shredders at that moment?). The meeting between Meadows and Perry came “in the weeks after Election Day,” according to Politico. If this testimony is true, it further explains why the committee is interested in Perry (more on that here).
Let’s be honest, though. Congressmen like Biggs and Jordan were never going to work with the committee. They were always going to fight the panel’s moves every step of the way. That’s not a surprise. What has been a bit of surprise is that the outside group No Labels, which professes itself to be a solutions-oriented nonpartisan organization (the list of solutions they’ve helped orchestrate is … not long), has decided that the January 6 Committee has become “a partisan exercise about which the public is skeptical.” That spurred Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal to issue her own blistering statement: “To malign the January 6 Committee as a ‘partisan exercise’ is a dangerous message for the American public and our democracy—one that deeply undermines the Committee’s work and denies the truth about the Republican party.”
The January 6 committee was set up to be nonpartisan. Its backers hoped that its critics would be few. Sadly, the opposite has happened and even as the panel works diligently to produce a report free of political rancor, the critics bashing the committee are clearly driven by their own political leanings. Which makes No Labels’s criticism all the more surprising, since it purports to have none.
Whom to watch?
Trump will be rallying in Wyoming with congressional candidate Harriet Hageman—who is challenging Representative Liz Cheney in the Republican primary—on Saturday. Cheney has been a particular target of Trump’s ire, in large part given her role on the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Will Trump deviate beyond his usual script to discuss the events of January 6?
Both chambers of Congress are out next week, but the select committee is expected to begin public hearings sometime in June; The Guardian reported that the committee will hold six hearings, with the first and last taking place during prime time. We might be learning more next week about what those hearings will entail: what they will look like, and who the witnesses will be.
It will also be worth watching how the Republican members of Congress continue to react to the committee’s investigation, and whether more will follow in Jordan’s footsteps.
- In other investigation news, a New York state appeals court ruled that Trump must testify under oath in the state’s civil investigation into his business practices, the Associated Press writes.
- Wisconsin Public Radio reports that a Republican elections commissioner in Wisconsin abruptly resigned on Wednesday, saying: “Trump lost the election in 2020, lost the election in Wisconsin in 2020, and the loss was not due to election fraud.”
- Trump disputed a claim from Kellyanne Conway that she told him he lost the 2020 election, according to The Hill. Conway has been traversing the media circuit recently as she promotes her new book.
- The New York Times reports that the Justice Department is ramping up its criminal investigation into the creation of alternate slates of fake electors in the 2020 election.
Best quote of the week on Jan. 6
“I know that sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey.” — January 6 defendant Thomas Hale-Cusanelli, claiming in court that he did not know Congress met in the U.S. Capitol