Monday Reads: As the Insurrection TurnsPosted: January 3, 2022
Happy New Year Sky Dancers!!
It’s the first Monday of the year! The country is stilled mired by Covid-19 and the ongoing insurrection. The Trumps and the pandemic dominate the news so far.
Jim McGovern–writing for The Boston Globe— has this Op-Ed headline: “The coup is still underway. Make no mistake — an aspiring dictator, egged on by his allies in Congress, failed to hold on to power this time. But those very same people haven’t given up.”
But a year later, a fundamental question remains: Will the Jan. 6 insurrection be swept under the rug, or seen for what it could be — the beginning of the end of American democracy as we know it.
Many of the people who failed to overturn the election are now using the levers of power at the state level to rig future campaigns.
They’ve introduced more than 440 bills across 49 states designed to hijack the election process and suppress the right to vote. This represents a dagger to the heart of the American experiment: that the people get to decide who is in charge. Chillingly, 34 of those bills have become law in 19 states.
Those who manufactured the crusade to steal the 2020 election know how and why they failed. They are laying the groundwork to overturn the next election successfully. The coup is still underway.
Make no mistake — an aspiring dictator, egged on by his allies in Congress, failed to hold on to power this time. But those very same people haven’t given up — they are analyzing their failures and will continue their brazen attempts to seize power by any means necessary. This is not some academic debate: In future elections, they might succeed in the unthinkable.
Another Op-Ed in The Philladelphia Inquirer–written by Will Bunch–has this lede: “Is the ‘smoking gun’ in Trump’s Jan. 6 attempted coup hiding in plain sight? Trump insider Bernie Kerik claims ex-president drafted a letter to involve the Insurrection Act on Jan. 6. The American people need to see this.”
Thanks to a somewhat surprising source — the disgraced former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, a Team Trump insider — we now know the name of a document with the potential to become a “smoking gun.” Just its title suggests Trump was planning an unprecedented abuse of presidential power — to use the Big Lie of nonexistent 2020 election fraud to undo the results of a free and fair vote.
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the insurrection that disrupted Congress and left five people dead or dying, the question that looms large over 2022 is whether the American people will ever get to see this proof, or the other evidence of the 45th president’s involvement in election tampering, in inciting those who violently rioted on Capitol Hill — and whether the endgame was an autocoup to seize power and deny Joe Biden the White House.
According to a letter from Kerik’s attorney, the document is called “DRAFT LETTER FROM POTUS TO SEIZE EVIDENCE IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY FOR THE 2020 ELECTIONS” — and it’s believed to have been written on Dec. 17, 2020. That was a critical time for the Trump insiders who were accelerating their schemes to deny the presidency to Biden, even after the Democrat won 7 million more popular votes and the Electoral College by a 306-232 margin.
Here’s the catch: While Kerik, a longtime close associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani, last week turned over some election-related materials to the House Select Committee tasked with getting to the bottom of Jan. 6, the draft letter from Trump is on a list of records that Kerik is refusing to turn over — claiming that the document is shielded as “attorney work product.” While some legal experts are already throwing cold water on that claim, the reality is that Team Trump has been remarkably successful for months in stonewalling — in keeping both key records and important witnesses out of investigators’ reach. In an echo of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, the future of democracy may hinge on Trump’s ability to thwart the probe.
Understanding why the 12/17/20 document could be a “smoking gun” means understanding where the concept of a national emergency and “seizing evidence,” which could include paper ballots or voting machines from the 2020 election, fits into the growing body of data showing both that an attempted Trump coup was afoot — and why it failed.
Many Republicans still believe the ‘big lie’, disregard the nature of the insurrection, as well as cling angrily to a huge set of lies about Covid-19. What can you do when so many people live in alternative reality? This is from the NPR Tweet above.
Fewer than half of Republicans say they are willing to accept the results of the 2020 election — a number that has remained virtually unchanged since we asked the same question last January.
“There is really a sort of dual reality through which partisans are approaching not only what happened a year ago on Jan. 6, but also generally with our presidential election and our democracy,” said Mallory Newall, a vice president at Ipsos, which conducted the poll.
“It is Republicans that are driving this belief that there was major fraudulent voting and it changed the results in the election,” Newall said.
Nearly two-thirds of poll respondents agree that U.S. democracy is “more at risk” now than it was a year ago. Among Republicans, that number climbs to 4 in 5.
Overall, 70% of poll respondents agree that the country is in crisis and at risk of failing.
The country can’t even decide what to call the assault on the Capitol. Only 6% of poll respondents say it was “a reasonable protest” — but there is little agreement on a better description. More than half of Democrats say the Jan. 6 assault was an “attempted coup or insurrection,” while Republicans are more likely to describe it as a “riot that got out of control.”
Americans are bitterly divided over the events that led to Jan. 6, as well.
But the political blight that contributed to the attack has only worsened, inside and outside the Capitol. So while leaders feel readier today than they did on Jan. 5, no one is rushing to declare the threat has passed.
“The last thing that I want to do is say, ‘this could never happen again’ and have it sound like a challenge to those people,” said Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, who took over the department in August after his predecessor’s ouster following the siege. “I’m not trying to be overconfident. We are much better prepared.”
The story of that preparation is only partially written, though. Capitol Police officers remain overtaxed and exhausted, logging crushing amounts of overtime as they grapple with a depleted force. Threats against members of Congress are still spiking. A Sept. 18 rally to support certain insurrectionists drew an overwhelming police presence that dwarfed the smattering of demonstrators, raising questions about an overcorrection and quality of intelligence.
And with the atmosphere under the dome as personally corrosive as ever, it’s tough to say the Capitol has moved forward from Jan. 6. Many of those who fled from or responded to the violence are indelibly scarred.
“My concern about the Capitol Police is that we’re making them work too hard and too long,” Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, the top Republican on the Senate committee that oversees Capitol security, told reporters recently. “And we need to figure out a way to shift some of those responsibilities … or to figure out a way to recruit more people.”
The wheels of justice are moving albeit slowly. Here are so updates. This is from The New York Times: “New York A.G. Seeks to Question Trump Children in Fraud Inquiry. The attorney general, Letitia James, has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump as part of a civil investigation.”
The New York State attorney general’s office, which last month subpoenaed Donald J. Trump as part of a civil investigation into his business practices, is also seeking to question two of his adult children as part of the inquiry.
The involvement of the children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, was disclosed in a court document filed on Monday as the Trump Organization sought to block lawyers for the attorney general, Letitia James, from questioning the former president and his children.
The subpoenas for the former president and two of his children were served on Dec. 1, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Eric Trump, another of Mr. Trump’s sons, was already questioned by Ms. James’s office in October 2020.
The attorney general’s effort to interview Mr. Trump under oath became public last month, but it was not previously known that her office, which has been conducting a civil investigation into the former president’s business practices for almost three years, was also looking to question Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.
Lisa Mascaro of the Associated Press reports: “Schumer: Senate to vote on filibuster change on voting bill.”
Days before the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the Senate will vote on filibuster rules changes to advance stalled voting legislation that Democrats say is needed to protect democracy.
In a letter Monday to colleagues, Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Senate “must evolve” and will “debate and consider” the rules changes by Jan. 17, on or before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as the Democrats seek to overcome Republican opposition to their elections law package.
“Let me be clear: January 6th was a symptom of a broader illness — an effort to delegitimize our election process,” Schumer wrote, “and the Senate must advance systemic democracy reforms to repair our republic or else the events of that day will not be an aberration — they will be the new norm.”
The election and voting rights package has been stalled in the evenly-split 50-50 Senate, blocked by a Republican-led filibuster and leaving Democrats unable to mount the 60-vote threshold needed to advance it toward passage.
Democrats have been unable to agree among themselves over potential changes to the Senate rules to reduce the 60-vote hurdle, despite months of private negotiations.
The breaking news on this is pretty intensive, This is from the NPR tweet above. “Schumer tees up vote on rules change if voting rights legislation is blocked.” It’s a new year and a new dawn.
“Much like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol nearly one year ago, Republican officials in states across the country have seized on the former president’s ‘Big Lie’ about widespread voter fraud to enact anti-democratic legislation and seize control of typically non-partisan election administration functions,” Schumer wrote in the letter.
Democrats say last year’s insurrection was propelled by former President Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him and that election fraud was rampant, allegations that spurred Republican state legislatures to implement new voting restrictions.
Democrats argue passing The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would, among other things, ensure that states have early voting, make Election Day a public holiday and secure the availability of mail-in voting, are necessary measures to combat the actions taken by somestate legislatures.
The GOP is expected to once again reject the bills, arguing they’re a form of federal overreach. In a 50-50 Senate, Democrats need 10 Republicans to join them to advance the legislation because of the 60-vote threshold required under Senate rules. But uniform Republican oppositionhas led voting rights advocates to urge Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster, or carve out an exception for voting rights legislation.
In order for that to happen, all Democrats need to be on board. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have repeatedly defended the filibuster and may not be open toamending it, despite supporting the voting legislation itself.
Manchintook part in a series of meetings on potential rules changes with other Democratic senators during December, which continued through the holidays.
Senators have been discussing two different approaches to altering Senate rules: either setting up a “talking filibuster” that would give the minority the ability to block action on legislation or creating a carve out that would provide a path for Democrats to pass voting rights legislation with a simple majority, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
I’ll try to post updates as we get them. Meanwhile, what’s your reading and blogging list?