Liz Cheney implicates Republican Senators in 'congressional coup' cover-up
Last week, I wrote about an overlooked feature of the former president’s failed hostile takeover of the United States government. Lacking a better term, I called it Donald Trump’s congressional coup.
Last night’s hearing, however, suggested one more layer.
A cover-up of the congressional coup.
By the Congress.
The goal appears to have been getting enough members of the US Congress to vote to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The GOP had a Senate majority at the time. They could have, in theory, overruled the will of the people, at least temporarily. Ultimately, however, just 147 Republicans, including eight senators, objected.
I don’t know, had they amassed enough votes in the Senate, where things would have gone after that. Perhaps it would have triggered the 12th Amendment. Perhaps it would have thrown the process back to red states that Joe Biden had won, where friendly Republican legislators would have fixed things so Trump could stay in office.
In any case, the former president spent a lot of time talking about congressional Republicans and talking directly to congressional Republicans to such a degree as to suggest there was another layer of his grand seditious conspiracy that’s only now coming into light. That’s certainly what the J6 committee has been hinting hard at.
Last week, the panel’s Stephanie Murphy said Trump met in late December with US Reps. Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Brian Babin, Jody Hice, Louie Gohmert, Andy Harris, Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, Scott Perry and Jim Jordan. Margaret Taylor Greene was there. So were Mike Pence, Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani. (Seven of these members asked for pardons. Ditto Meadows, Giuliani and Greene.)
They tried getting the former vice president to go along with the conspiracy. It called for him to reject the count all by himself or send it back to the states where state GOP legislators were waiting.
Pence had refused before. I’m guessing those at the meeting expected him to again. He did. The next step was finalizing a scheme to bring tens of thousands of Trump loyalists to the capital, including armed paramilitaries (eg, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers), in order to terrify not only Pence but GOP senators into reinstalling Trump.
Terrifying GOP senators
According to the J6 committee’s Elaine Luria, Trump was told 15 minutes after returning to the White House after his speech on the Ellipse that the US Capitol was under siege by an armed mob. After the briefing, Luria said, Trump began calling GOP senators for the purpose of persuading them to overrule the results of the election.
On the one hand, the former president had insurgents sacking and looting the seat of government, threatening lawmakers with death – in Mike Pence’s case, with hanging from a makeshift gallows. (It was revealed last night that Pence’s Secret Service detail believed they were going to die. They sent messages of love to their families.) On the other, Trump pushed GOP senators by phone to get on board.
During that time, White House staffers tried and failed to persuade Trump to respond to the assault. (He did not issue orders to anyone, not the secretary of defense, the secretary of homeland security, the attorney general, no one.) Instead of telling them to go home, as staffers had hoped, he posted a tweet accusing Pence of betrayal.
After “pouring gasoline on the fire,” as witness Sarah Matthews said, the former president made more phone calls to Republican senators. Later that evening, after Trump had called for the insurgents to go home, Rudy Giuliani made even more calls to Republican senators.
Indeed, the J6 committee’s Adam Kinzinger named them. They were: Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, Bill Hagerty, Tommy Tuberville and Lindsey Graham. Of that number, only three voted to overturn the results of the election: Cruz, Tuberville and Hawley.
Giuliani also called US Rep. Jim Jordan.
Jordan, as I wrote last week, was nominated to serve on the initial select committee to investigate J6. Speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed his nomination, though. Good thing she did. The current committee would have been compromised by the presence of a congressman who was a serial witness to the serial crimes under investigation.
Jordan was nominated by Kevin McCarthy. As the J6 committee reminded us last night, the House minority leader talked to Trump after the attack. He said Trump said he had “some responsibility” for J6. McCarthy said he told Trump that the House Democrats were likely to pass an impeachment resolution and that he should resign.
Trump didn’t resign, of course.
Perhaps the fix was in.
Implication by omission
Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the J6 committee, reminded us that the committee’s work goes on. Hearings will resume in September, she said. Then the Wyoming congresswoman used some curious math:
Today, we know far more about the president’s plans and actions to overturn the election than almost all members of Congress did when President Trump was impeached on January 13, 2021, or when he was tried by the Senate in February of that year.
Fifty-seven of 100 senators voted to convict President Trump at that time, and more than 20 others said they were voting against conviction, because the president's term had already expired.
Cheney said “almost all,” I think, because a dozen GOP members had been deeply involved in or material witnesses to Trump’s conspiracy.
She said “57 of 100,” I think, because it takes 67 senators to remove and convict a president. She said “more than 20 others,” because she’s apparently giving these GOP senators the benefit of the doubt.
But that still leaves around 20 unaccounted for. Why?
Perhaps because some, or all, of these 20 or so Republican senators had been in contact with the former president as the insurrection was unfolding and therefore potential co-conspirators in the crime.
Perhaps because some, or all, of these 20 or so Republican senators voted against conviction, thus taking steps to cover up the crime.
In any case, it was implication by omission.
The appearance of a conspiracy
We know at least six of them were evidently in both camps. On the evening of J6, Rudy Giuliani called Blackburn, Hawley, Cruz, Hagarty, Tuberville and Graham hoping they would object to the vote count. (Three did.) This same group voted to acquit Trump of treason.
If that’s not a rigged outcome, it sure looks like one.
Liz Cheney seemed to be inviting us to put the former president’s second impeachment trial in light of what we know now.
She seemed to be asking us to consider what it means when at least a dozen sitting members of the House were material witnesses as well as grand jury members deciding on an indictment (impeachment).
She seemed to be asking us to see that at least six of those Senators were materially involved in a crime of which they sat in judgment.
If that’s not a conspiracy, it sure as hell looks like one.
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