Republicans are doing everything they can to thwart Congress’ inquiry into the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol, including by threatening to purge their party of members who participate in the select committee tasked with that investigation.
Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who has repeatedly spread Trump’s election lies, plans to send a letter Thursday to Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asking him to boot from the Republican conference the two GOP members sitting on the select committee: Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Mich.). Biggs referred to the two Republicans — who have also vocally opposed former president Trump — as “two spies for the Democrats that we currently invite to [party] meetings, despite our inability to trust them.”
“We urge you to allow consideration of a proposed change to the rules for the Republican Conference regarding committee membership,” Biggs wrote in the letter. “This proposal is not because of a policy or political difference, but because some members have chosen to work with the Democrats to investigate and potentially remove Republican members from the House.”
Also this week, McCarthy issued a threat to communications companies that comply with the select committee’s investigation into the Capitol attack, warning that the GOP “will not forget” what these companies did, should Republicans regain control of the House. In a statement, McCarthy said that “attempts to strong-arm private companies to turn over individuals’ private data would put every American with a phone or computer in the crosshairs of a surveillance state run by Democrat politicians.”
McCarthy’s threat was in response to a request the committee sent Monday to tech and social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft and Signal and telecom companies such as Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T, asking them to hold onto “metadata, subscriber information, technical usage information, and content of communications for the listed individuals.”
If these companies comply, McCarthy warned, they may be in violation of federal law (although, McCarthy did not specify which laws) and “are subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States.”
In a statement on Twitter, the select committee responded to McCarthy, saying that it has only “asked companies not to destroy records that may help answer questions for the American people.” The statement continued, “The committee’s efforts won’t be deterred by those who want to whitewash or cover up the events of January 6th, or obstruct our investigation.”
According to former Obama ethics chief Norman Eisen and attorney Fred Wertheimer, who wrote an op-ed in Politico, McCarthy’s remarks may violate both House Rules and “may… run afoul of federal criminal law” against obstructing inquiries by Congress.
Undeterred by obstructionism from a number of Republicans, on Thursday, Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) announced that Cheney would serve as vice-chair of the investigative committee, a move that is certain to further anger members of her party.
“We are fortunate to have a partner of such strength and courage, and I look forward to continuing our work together as we uncover the facts, tell the American people the full story of January 6th, and ensure that nothing like that day ever happens again,” Thompson said of Cheney.
Cheney issued a statement of her own, saying, “We owe it to the American people to investigate everything that led up to, and transpired on, January 6th. We will not be deterred by threats or attempted obstruction and we will not rest until our task is complete.”
The Republican obstruction is a logical extension of the Deal with the Donald that the party’s elected officials made after he won the primary election in 2016. Trump was a pathway to power — the power to appoint conservative justices and enact a pro-corporate and anti-worker legislative agenda. The party leaders looked the other way on his bigotry and xenophobia and incompetence, and they dismissed legitimate concerns over his embrace of authoritarianism as “alarmism.”
It was a deal from which there was no going back, and Republicans were intractably the party of Trump long before he incited a mob to attack the Capitol in January. They know that Trump is responsible and they know they’re complicit as well, and so they’re fighting the investigation at every turn, falsely claiming it’s a partisan exercise and hoping like hell that Americans fall for the ruse.