Travis Gettys

GOP congresswoman denies she led 'insurrectionists' on Capitol tour ahead of violent assault

A newly elected Republican congresswoman denied leading a tour last week for "insurrectionists" who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol the following day.

Democrats have called for an investigation into claims that some GOP House members gave "reconnaissance" tours to groups on Jan. 5, the day before President Donald Trump's supporters burst into the Capitol in an effort to overturn his election loss, and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) pushed back against suspicions against her, reported the Washington Post.

"You said that you could 'confirm' a Member of Congress gave Capitol tours to 'insurrectionists' and implied I was that Member of Congress," Boebert said in a letter to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), who has called for criminal charges against lawmakers who allegedly led those tours. "Your comments are extremely offensive, shameful and dangerous."

Maloney, however, responded by pointing that he hadn't identified anyone by name suspected of assisting the insurrectionists.

"Um, I've never said your name in public, @RepBoebert. Never. Not once," Maloney said in a tweet late Thursday night. "(If you're going to be a gun nut, you probably shouldn't go off half cocked.) I'll tweet the transcript so you can see … but that might be like 'a fact', so might not help you."

Rep. Mikie Sherill (D-NJ) said Tuesday that she saw another House member leading groups through the building one day before the Jan. 6 insurrection that left one police officer and four rioters dead, and Maloney accused an unnamed GOP lawmaker of assisting the protesters.

"Some of our new colleagues," Maloney told MSNBC, "the same ones, of course, who believe in conspiracy theories and who want to carry guns into the House Chamber, who today — today — have been yelling at Capitol Police, shoving Capitol police — who a week ago right now were risking their lives to save ours. This conduct is beyond the pale and extends to some of this interaction with the very people who attacked the Capitol."

Maloney did not identify Boebert or anyone else by name, but the Colorado Republican -- who has expressed support for the Qanon conspiracy theory -- said his remarks led many to suspect he was speaking about her, and she said the comment had prompted death threats against her.

"I did not conspire with criminals that attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6," she told Maloney in the letter. "I have never given a tour of the U.S. Capitol to any outside group or 'insurrectionists.'"

QAnon shaman accidentally unravels GOP impeachment defense: 'He came at the request of the president'

House Republicans defended President Donald Trump from impeachment by insisting that he never encouraged his supporters to violently storm the U.S. Capitol, but court documents show those insurrectionists believed they were carrying out his orders.

The president addressed supporters Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., where he urged them to "peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard" by marching on the Capitol, and GOP lawmakers seized on those words in their impeachment defense -- but one of the most recognizable figures in the siege told investigators he was doing what he believed Trump wanted.

"Your affiant and an FBI agent spoke on the phone with [Jacob] CHANSLEY, who confirmed that he was the male in the face paint and headdress in the Vice President's chair in the Senate," investigators said in an affidavit filed in court. "CHANSLEY stated that he came as a part of a group effort, with other 'patriots' from Arizona, at the request of the President that all 'patriots' come to D.C. on January 6, 2021."'

Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli or the "QAnon shaman," was photographed numerous times carrying a six-foot spear inside the Capitol, including shots of him standing on the dais inside the Senate chamber, in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden's election win.

During his speech, Trump also said: "If you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore."

Pro-Trump message boards showed many others also believed the president was calling on them to march on the Capitol to overturn his election loss.

'Sniveling suck-up' Marco Rubio faces furious backlash for 'spineless' tweet about pro-Trump Capitol violence

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was ripped apart for gently condemning his fellow lawmakers who helped provoke a violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol by lying about overturning President Donald Trump's election loss.

The Florida Republican declined to identify Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) or Ted Cruz (R-TX) for announcing they would object to Joe Biden's electors in some states Trump contested, although he blames the violence on those who promulgated the myth that Vice President Mike Pence could undo the election results.

"Some misled you," Rubio tweeted. "That the VP could reject ballots. That objections could pass or used as leverage to force an audit. They knew the truth but thought it was a great way to get attention & raise money."

Rubio limited replies to those he follows or mentioned, but that wasn't enough to withstand a blast of criticism.

Mitch McConnell allies 'declaring war on Team Trump' after Georgia vote: report

As some Republican senators are preparing to challenge Joe Biden's election win, and others are reportedly planning to wage war against President Donald Trump, Raphael Warnock has been projected as the winner over Sen. Kelly Loeffley (R-GA) and Jon Ossoff holds a slim lead over Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). If those leads hold that would cost Mitch McConnell his majority leadership once Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in.

"Emotions running high among McConnell-aligned Republicans early Wednesday am — after reality of what transpired in Georgia settled in," reported Josh Kraushaar, of the National Journal. "May be the heat of the moment, but mood is for declaring war on Team Trump. Want to marginalize Trump as they marginalized Steve Bannon in 2017."

McConnell's allies fear a civil war within the GOP before the 2022 midterm elections that could cost some establishment Republicans their jobs one way or another.

"The alternative, in their view?" Kraushaar reported. "Disastrous political outcomes in the near term, with R primary fights making the establishment-tea party fights of 2010-12 look like a picnic."

Confusion erupts as GOP senator suggests Pence will not preside over certification of Biden's win

A Republican senator ignited confusion on Tuesday after suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence would abdicate his constitutional duty to preside over the congressional certification of Joe Biden's electoral vote win. Pence's office quickly pushed back on the report.

The vice president is duty-bound to preside over Wednesday's certification process, as outlined in the Twelfth Amendment and clarified by the Electoral Count Act, but he will instead hand over those duties to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), reported Roll Call.

"Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Senate president pro tempore, says he and not Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the certification of Electoral College votes, since 'we don't expect him to be there,'" Roll Call reported.

President Donald Trump has publicly pressured Pence to reject Biden slates of electors from some states in favor of alternate slates of GOP electors, who have no legal force behind their support for Trump's re-election.

Grassley said that he would hear debate opened up by challenges from Republican representatives and senators, and signaled he would act as Trump has asked the vice president to do.

"It would be really wrong for me to say I have my mind made up," Grassley told Roll Call.

Pence gave up his chair Sunday, during a Senate hearing as the new Congress was sworn in, and handed it over to Grassley.

A spokesman for Grassley later said the 87-year-old senator did not "have any indication Pence won't be present," and instead meant that he would fill the vice president's chair if he failed to show up or steps out of the Senate for a break.

A Fox News congressional reporter added that Pence is expected to preside over the certification process, but might step away at some point.

Chad Pergram tweeted: "Fox is told, that officials here at the Capitol are expecting Vice President Mike Pence to arrive at the Capitol and fulfill his duties presiding over the Joint Session of Congress to certify the electoral votes. But…It was intimated to Fox…that Pence MAY not stay the entire time…especially if these sessions go deep into the night. Remember, the House and Senate break off from the Joint Session and individually debate the electoral votes if there is a challenge to an individual state."

Grassley's office later sent out a statement confirming the accuracy of Roll Call's quoted remark, but claiming that it had been misinterpreted.

Trump bypasses DOJ guidelines to install new US Attorney in Atlanta as he tries to overturn Georgia loss

President Donald Trump bypassed Department of Justice guidelines to install his own U.S. Attorney in Georgia -- where he's pressuring state officials to overturn his election loss.

Byung Jin "BJay" Pak, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, abruptly resigned Monday -- after a recording leaked of Trump leaning heavily on Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger -- and was replaced early Tuesday morning by Trump appointee Bobby Christine rather than the Northern District of Georgia's first assistant, reported Talking Points Memo.

Christine, who had been appointed by the president as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, will serve in both roles for now.

The change was announced by Kurt Erskine, a career prosecutor and Pak's top deputy, after the Trump administration passed over him to hand the job to Christine.

The decision to bypass Erskine was made "by written order of the president" according to the Department of Justice.

The president was heard in the audio recording calling Pak -- whom he also appointed -- a "never-Trumper."

CNN reporter works over Donald Trump Jr's 'fact-free' defense of 'incessant liar' dad

CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale corrected Donald Trump Jr.'s claims about his plans for covering Joe Biden's presidency.

President Donald Trump's eldest son retweeted an excerpt from an article published by The Atlantic, where Dale said he didn't expect fact-checking the president-elect to be a "24-hour, seven-day-a-week job" as it had been cataloging the outgoing chief executive's lies — which Trump Jr. twisted into an admission of bias.

"CNN 'fact checker' admitting that he's pivoting from fact checking Biden to focusing on 'online disinformation,' AKA CNN code for Republicans who use the internet + 'congressional leaders' which will almost undoubtedly = congressional Republicans in practice," Trump Jr. tweeted.

Dale, however, called out the president's son for spreading online disinformation.

"Not at all what I said; no 'pivot,'" Dale responded. "What I said: Since Biden — like every non-Trump Republican in the 2016 field and potential 2024 field! — lies way less frequently than Trump, there'll be time in the Biden era to *also* fact check others in addition to the president.'

"CNN will rigorously fact check President Biden," Dale added. "It's just objective and obvious fact that it takes less time to fact check basically everyone in politics than it takes to do Trump, a staggeringly incessant liar. If you choose to call me biased for stating that fact, feel free."

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy under fire after newly elected Republican dies from COVID-19

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was blasted with criticism after he offered thoughts and prayers to a Republican congressman-elect who died from COVID-19 just days before being sworn in.

Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA) died Tuesday of complications from a coronavirus infection at age 41, less than a week before he was set to join Congress, and the House minority leader offered his condolences on Twitter.

"Our hearts break tonight as we process the news of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow's passing," McCarthy tweeted. "I spoke with his wife, Julia. Judy and I are praying for her and their two young children during this terrible time."

However, his statement angered many social media users who felt that McCarthy could have done more to promote public concern about the highly contagious virus and its spread, rather than pushing to reopen the economy and standing by while fellow Republicans politicized safety measures.

Bombshell report: Jared Kushner's shell company diverted campaign cash to the Trump family

Jared Kushner helped set up a shell company that secretly paid President Donald Trump's family members and spent nearly half of his 2020 campaign's funds.

The president's son-in-law and White House senior adviser directed his sister-in-law Lara Trump, Vice President Mike Pence's nephew John Pence and Trump campaign CFO Sean Dollman to sit on the shell company's board, a source familiar with the operation told Business Insider.

The company, which was incorporated as American Made Media Consultants Corporation and American Made Media Consultants LLC, spent $617 million of the campaign's $1.26 billion war chest, according to campaign finance records.

Trump's top advisers and campaign staff told Insider they were unaware of how the shell company operated, and campaign officials even conducted an internal audit of its operations under former campaign manager Brad Parscale but never reported those findings, and the next campaign manager Bill Stepien had little involvement with AMMC.

"Nothing was done without Jared's approval," said a former advisor to Trump's 2016 campaign. "What Stepien doesn't know is because Jared doesn't want him to know."

The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a civil complaint in July with the Federal Election Commission accusing the campaign of disguising" about $170 million in spending "by laundering the funds" through AMMC.

"[It's a] scheme to evade telling voters even the basics on where its money is really going [and a] shield to disguise the ultimate recipients of its spending," said Brendan Fischer, the center's director of federal reform.

The Department of Justice may open a criminal investigation if the government suspects the payments were a "knowing and willful" violation of election law.

Several sources from the Justice Department and FEC told Insider that investigators may already be looking into the campaign's activity.

"Lara Trump and John Pence resigned from the AMMC board in October 2019 to focus solely on their campaign activities, however, there was never any ethical or legal reason why they could not serve on the board in the first place," said Tim Murtaugh, the campaign's communications director. "John and Lara were not compensated by AMMC for their service as board members."

Texas Republicans want to secede over Trump’s loss — but they’re fighting another losing battle of their own: GOP strategist

Some Texas Republicans are threatening to secede from the United States over President Donald Trump's election loss, but one GOP strategist says that's the last gasp from a dying majority.

Party leaders and lawmakers threatened to leave the country after Texas attorney general Ken Paxton failed in his bid to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the election, but GOP strategist Susan Del Percio says in a new column for NBC News that they're fighting another type of losing battle.

"Even as the Texas GOP attempts to pledge its undying loyalty to Trump, the reality is that Texas will eventually go blue," Del Percio wrote. "While 2020 polls showed a tight race, it was always highly unlikely that Biden would win Texas. However, he was able to close the gap to just 6 points, an improvement on Hillary Clinton's 9-point gap in 2016. Yes, 6 points is a solid victory, but Trump won the same 52 percent in 2020 as he did in 2016, showing no growth for the Republican on the ballot."

Texas added about 3.9 million people in the last decade, the largest population growth in the country, and Hispanics make up about half of that growth, and those changing demographics will strengthen Democratic chances there — just as they did in Georgia.

"When this change does come to Texas, will Republicans work to recognize the diversity in their state — or will they become even more outspoken as they become outnumbered?" Del Percio wrote. "In a state where elected officials are already willing to incite sedition or propose sedition, the future looks bleak. Politicians of all stripes eventually lose their power, unless they learn that governing is about respecting the needs of the constituents — all of them."