Incoming House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries described the Republican “circus” in Washington as “chaos, crisis, confusion, and craziness.”
I’m afraid he is correct, but even worse, these folks represent a real national security threat. Not only are they being led by what’s been labeled the “Sedition Caucus,” because major players in the domestic terrorist attack on our country have been elevated to leadership positions instead of being kicked out, but we learned on Monday that the January 6 committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and committee Vice-Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) fear Republicans will leak names of national security personnel who work at the White House and who testified to help their country before the now disbanded U.S. House Select Committee’s 1/6 investigation.
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Thompson and Cheney said in a letter to the White House that White House employees had “provided very important information for the Committee’s investigation” and have had their identities shielded, but warned that with the changeover, they can no longer “ensure enforcement of the commitment to maintain the confidentiality of the identity of the witnesses.” They have concern for “the safety, security, and reputations” of the witnesses.
And who can blame them.
We have all seen what happens to anyone who gets on the bad side of Donald Trump, but of course, this kind of political extremism and even terrorism isn’t relegated to just Trump supporters.
There are extremists on both sides, but the extremists on the Right are responsible for most of the domestic terrorism we are currently experiencing, and they were also using these same tactics back during President Obama’s leadership. Let’s not allow this all to be laid at Trump’s feet. The Tea Party bringing machine guns to town halls to stop affordable healthcare wasn’t exactly a gesture of willingness to share power with the executive branch when they don’t hold it.
But just based on the earlier testimony in the January 6th committee, we know that witnesses who cooperated will be targeted if their names are leaked.
What would Republicans get out of leaking those names? Why would they jeopardize their own country?
To further obstruct justice and send a message to anyone else even thinking of coming forward that they will be harassed, threatened, and even physically harmed. This party is operating more like an organized crime operation than a political party in a two-party democracy.
In December, we learned that in her Sept. 14 deposition, former White House aide and assistant to former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Cassidy Hutchinson was assigned a lawyer by the Trump team, who then took calls with New York Times’ “Trump whisperer” Maggie Haberman, even when Hutchinson asked him not to.
Hutchinson said under oath that the same Trump lawyer who told her to lie, Stefan Passantino, said, "Don't worry. Like, Maggie's friendly to us. We'll be fine."
Here’s that whole exchange from May 17th, when they were on their way to Hutchinson’s third interview. This is important because it shows how Trump lawyers appear to have used what they qualify as “friendly” media sources to let Trump know what had transpired in a witness’ interview and it is also the last time Passantino represented Hutchinson:
So we’re going to the wharf and literally — I want to say maximum 2 minutes after we’re in the car, his phone starts to ring. I look over at his phone. We’re sitting, like, probably closer than Jody and I are sitting here, so maybe about a foot, foot and a half apart.
is ringing. I look down at his phone. It’s Maggie Haberman calling him. And I looked at Stefan, and I said, “Stefan, did you tell Maggie Haberman that we were meeting with the committee today?”
And he’s like, “No, no. Maybe that’s not what she’s calling me about.”
And I said, “Stefan, did you tell Maggie that we were meeting with the committee today?”
And he said, “No, no, but I should probably answer to see if she knows, right? I should answer.”
And I said, “Stefan, no. I don’t think you should answer that call. She probably wants to know if we met with the committee today.”
He said, “Cass, I’m just going to answer. It will just be 2 seconds. I just want to find out what she’s going to talk to me about.”
He answers. I can’t hear what she’s saying, but I hear Stefan say, “Yeah, yeah, we did just leave her third interview. You can put it out, but don’t — don’t — don’t — don’t make it too big of a deal. I don’t think she’ll want it to be too big of a deal. All right. Thanks.”
And I said, “Stefan, was that Maggie Haberman asking about my interview?”
And he said, “Yeah, but don’t worry. She’s not going to make it a big deal.”
I said, “Stefan, I don’t want this out there.”
He said, “Don’t worry. Like, Maggie’s friendly to us. We’ll be fine.”
So I was just like, “Whatever.”
Haberman followed this up with a tweet about Hutchinson’s appearance at her third deposition.
Back in July, Cheney said several witnesses had been contacted ahead of questioning, including this message sent to Hutchinson in an apparent attempt to influence her testimony. They didn’t say at the time who had sent it, but it was later reported to have been sent by Mark Meadows to Hutchinson.
“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”
If we put that in context with calling Haberman, we can see a very effective and well-oiled mob-esque pressure campaign. (Haberman might not be friendly to them and she most certainly didn’t report on these matters to help Trump pressure witnesses, but she was clearly used to do so.)
The January 6th Committee pointed out that Trump and his lieutenants "engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation" regarding state officials to overturn the election results.
Trump’s team contacted nearly 200 state legislators from battleground states to solicit support for overturning the election - at least some said they were on behalf of the president.
On Jan 2, 2021 nearly 300 state legislators from battleground states participated in a private briefing with then President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and others.
Before January 6th, there were other “opponents” who got targeted, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who made the courageous decision to share her experience of being sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh years ago, only to have to move from her home and be unable to go to work.
Okay, so we’ve established the pressure campaign, but you might be thinking that you don’t see national security risks yet. I would argue that a party enabling an attack on its own country is obviously a national security risk, in addition to the foreign interference and specifically Russian talking points the party had adopted against its own country and against Ukraine, starting in 2016 when they allowed Trump to alter their party platform in regard to Ukraine.
But no, it gets worse.
This is a moment that is simply stunning. We had heard of this in Bob Woodward’s book Peril, but it was confirmed in 1/6 Committee testimony. Speaker Pelosi asked the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs if the nuclear codes were safe because she feared the President was crazy and might use military power to hold power.
From Milley's testimony regarding the January 8, 2021 call:
Q: Yeah. What prompts her call is concern about the President's stability or mental health. She even says in the call, "You know he's crazy, don't you," and she is reported to have said, General Milley, that you agreed with her. You said: I agree a hundred percent with everything you've said. The one thing I can guarantee is that as the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, I want you to know, I want to you to know this in your heart of hearts. I can guarantee you 110 percent that the military, use of military power, whether it's nuclear or strike in a foreign country of any kind, we're not going to do anything illegal or crazy.
You reassured her that, despite her concerns about the President's stability, the nuclear codes and the launch capacity has to go through this process, and you personally will ensure that nothing crazy, the word that you used, happens.
A: That's right. And I was, you know, talking to the Speaker of the House.
As you all are all aware, the current Speaker of the House is no longer the esteemed Nancy Pelosi. We don’t have one as of this recording, because Republicans are having a war among extremists to see who can seize the most power from the Speaker in order to misuse the power granted to the U.S. House of Representatives, to abuse that power to go after political opponents instead of doing the work they were ostensibly elected to do.
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund warns us in his new book “Courage Under Fire,” that the Capitol is still not safe from domestic terror attacks. This is coming from top law enforcement.
Back to the House, the New York Times reported that Brazilian authorities intend to prosecute George “Jew-ish” Santos for fraud. These are the kinds of people that a healthy political party would reject. But Republican leadership can’t afford to give any members the boot, even if they attacked their own country and or tried to steal the votes from millions of Americans or defrauded people, because they only have a four-seat majority.
None of this concern is hyperbole, I wish it were. I’ve been covering politics since 2010, and the Republican Party has only gotten worse in that time. Even Jake Sherman tweeted, “I've been covering House Republicans for 13+ years. I've never seen lawmakers so uncertain about what comes next. tons of anxiety, nervousness and fear about today, this week and the future”.
The House failed to elect a speaker on the first ballot in 1923. It happened again today. The House Republican caucus melted down into a shouting match as they reportedly started screaming at each other before the Speaker vote today.
These are the people in charge of the U.S. House.
Meanwhile, Jason Easley noted in PoliticusUSA, “Democrats have been bailing out inept, dysfunctional congressional Republicans for over a decade, but not anymore. Kevin McCarthy is on his own, as Democrats will stay unified behind their new House leader.”
Speaker Pelosi’s last “dear colleague” letter really got me last night. In it she closed by thanking people for the well wishes for her husband, who was attacked by a person radicalized by Trump Republican Q rhetoric, who wanted to use her as an example to force Congress to do his bidding — which is also known as political terrorism.
She wrote, “With gratitude for your kind wishes to Paul…”
It should trouble everyone in this country that Speaker Pelosi’s last two years have been marred by domestic terrorism both at work and at home.
Is this the kind of country we want? Where witnesses are intimidated and harassed and our national security is threatened by an entire political party?
Shame on the Republican Party and may we somehow be saved from their immeasurable failures.
We all deserve better than this.
This is Sarah Jones on the Politicus Pod for PoliticusUSA’s The Daily. If you’re also tired of billionaires controlling the news you see and you want to be a part of the movement supporting news for The People, subscribe to our Substack.
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