Eleven charged with 'Seditious Conspiracy' on Jan. 6
Split decision from Supreme Court on Biden vaccine mandates
The feds finally roll out major charges for the Jan. 6 attack. Win one, lose one on the Biden vaccine mandates. And we may have real election fraud - from Republicans in seven states. This is “Regular Order” for January 14, 2022.
CAPITOL ATTACK. For the first time in the January 6 investigation, the Justice Department has brought charges of ‘seditious conspiracy’ in the Capitol Attack. 11 people - including the head of the Oath Keepers militia group - now face those charges, marking a major turn in the investigation, which has mainly focused on individual rioters.
PLANNING. The new indictment details extensive preparation for an attack. Months of planning. 'Quick Reaction Forces' with weapons caches were set up at hotels in Virginia, with plans to rush those supplies to the Capitol. Some looked at using boats to cross the Potomac River with arms and supplies.
OATH KEEPERS. The head of the Oath Keepers - a far right militia group - spent thousands of dollars in the weeks before the attack, buying weapons and various firearms accessories. Groups from Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina were specifically tasked to stockpile weapons.
STACK. The Oath Keepers organized into small groups, marching in a 'stack' formation to make their way into the Capitol. They used code names like 'Gator 1' and 'Gator 6,' and were organized with paramilitary clothing, tactical vests, helmets, and radios for communications.
NOTABLE. For months, critics of the probe have said, 'Why hasn't anyone been charged with insurrection or sedition?' Now they have. The indictment also claims one stack of Oath Keepers went in search of Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Capitol. "They did not find Speaker Pelosi."
REACTION. Democrats said it was more proof of how dangerous January 6 really was. “These extremists are accused of stockpiling an arsenal to violently overturn the election results just minutes away from the Capitol,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
NOT TOURISTS. And the new charges also gave Democrats the chance again to ridicule the words of Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA). “The GOP claims it was a normal tourist visit,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA). “They won't call it an insurrection.”
CORONAVIRUS. Six days after hearing arguments, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a split decision on President Biden's vaccine mandates. The Justices blocked a rule forcing businesses with more than 100 employees to require the Coronavirus shots - but the Court allowed a vaccine mandate for workers at health facilities which get funds from Medicare or Medicaid.
OSHA MANDATE. Republicans in Congress hailed the business mandate decision. "This is a huge victory for Americans' personal freedoms!" said Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK). “This vaccine mandate is unconstitutional and an overreaching power grab,” said Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL).
DEMS. The reaction was the exact opposite among Democrats. "This is so deeply irresponsible," Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) said of the justices. “What planet do they live on?” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).
MEDICARE MEDICAID. The circumstances were different in the second case, as the vaccine mandate was kept in place for workers at health facilities which get federal Medicare or Medicaid funding. The reasoning was simple - the feds can set health rules when federal money is directly involved.
FUNDING. The feds have used the power of Medicare/Medicaid funding in the past for other initiatives. “Decades ago, the federal government used the leverage of Medicare payments to desegregate hospitals,” said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
VOTING RIGHTS. Democrats still haven’t figured out how to change the filibuster in order to advance voting rights and elections legislation. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer canceled next week’s scheduled recess in the Senate, saying debate would start Tuesday on a reform bill approved yesterday by the House.
FILIBUSTER. Schumer promised there would be votes to change the rules on the filibuster next week, even though those efforts are expected to fail. “Every member will go on the record,” a frustrated Schumer said last night.
PERSONAL APPEAL. Earlier on Thursday, President Biden had met with Senate Democrats, making another appeal for action on elections. “I hope we can get this done,” the President told reporters. “The honest to God answer is - I don’t know whether we can get this done.”
SINEMA. Just before President Biden arrived at the Capitol, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) went to the Senate floor to say - again - that she was against any changes in the filibuster. “I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.”
NO NUKES. The timing of Sinema’s speech raised eyebrows - as she didn’t wait to hear the direct plea from the President. But Sinema has been telling reporters for months that she would only support a bipartisan filibuster agreement, and would not get on board with the nuclear option.
MANCHIN. It was the same story with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). "I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster," Manchin said. Sinema and Manchin met with the President last night - but it didn’t break the logjam.
ONE NOTE. Manchin said the Senate has never been able to end debate with a simple majority vote. He’s wrong about that - and you read the details Thursday in this newsletter. Here’s my Twitter thread to recap.
BIDEN. Don’t sugarcoat what has happened in recent days. This week was not a good one for President Biden. He gave what many felt was a tone-deaf speech in Atlanta on voting rights - even when the White House had to know this effort was in deep trouble. The Supreme Court undercut his vaccine mandate effort. And his poll numbers have sunk even lower.
BOTTOM LINE. I’m going to say this again. If you really thought this week was going to be any different on the filibuster in the Senate - you haven’t been paying attention. Yes, the Democrats can fire up their base with this - but that doesn’t bring about a deal.
DISARRAY. It didn’t take long for the slings and arrows to start. “Sen. Sinema should stop obstructing progress and help save democracy,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY). Manchin took it on the chin in December over stopping Build Back Better - now it’s Sinema’s turn to feel the heat.
FILIBUSTER IRONY. After it became obvious that Democrats did not have the votes to change the rules on filibusters, Democrats then used the filibuster to block a bill to slap sanctions on a gas pipeline between Germany and Russia. The vote on the plan from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was 55-44. 60 votes were needed for approval.
TOUGH VOTES. This sanctions vote was cast as a difficult one for Democrats. But their leaders managed to peel off a few votes by offering their own Russian sanctions plan. It’s unclear when that will get a vote in the Senate.
FAKE ELECTORS. One of the craziest stories this week is that Republicans in seven states submitted fake Electoral Vote certificates - claiming that Donald Trump won in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin - when Trump really lost those states in 2020.
PAPER TRAIL. The documents sent to the National Archives look official. They say the electors met in various state capitals on December 14, 2020. But it's all fake. None of them were the official electors for their respective states, because Trump and Republicans did not win.
GOP LEADERS. Those involved are not crackpots. State GOP party chairs. Candidates for Governor. A former Congressman. Other party officials. And what they were doing was submitting a fraudulent election document.
FRAUD. Democrats denounced the seven state scheme. “Fake electors were just one part of the coup,” the Pennsylvania Democratic Party said. In Michigan, the state Attorney General said the matter was being referred to the feds for possible prosecution.
FLORIDA 20. A Republican candidate for Congress from South Florida is refusing to concede his special election loss on Tuesday, making unsupported claims of election fraud. Jason Mariner didn't come close to winning, as he received just under 20 percent of the vote. Winner Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D) had 78 percent.
DEMS. For Democrats, Mariner's reaction reminded them of someone else who lives in Florida. "The GOP is rapidly becoming an undemocratic cult of personality with no respect for elections," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).
BALLOT. Maybe the most bizarre part of this story is that Mariner claims the special election ballot was unfair. Mariner's name is listed first. Many studies show that is *the most* favorable position on any ballot.
CAPITOL ATTACK. The January 6 committee has issued new subpoenas to major social media companies relating to disinformation about fraud in the 2020 election and the January 6 attack. The revised requests are going to the parent companies for YouTube and Facebook, as well as Twitter and Reddit.
YOUTUBE. In a letter to Alphabet, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) notes YouTube has not produced any documents from previous requests related to its algorithms before the January 6 attack.
FACEBOOK. It’s the same message to Meta (Facebook) - which has not responded to three requests. "Meta has declined to commit to a deadline for producing or even identifying these materials.'
TWITTER. "Twitter has not produced important documents relating to warnings it received regarding the use of the platform to plan or incite violence on January 6," Thompson wrote.
CAPITOL ARREST. A woman from Michigan drove to the headquarters of the Capitol Police, parked her Chevy Silverado illegally outside, and said she wanted to talk about the January 6 attack. During the chat, officers spotted weapons inside her vehicle, and she was subsequently arrested.
REPORT. "At this time, there is no evidence the 58 year old suspect was coming here to do anything, except speak with our officers," police reported. Police recovered ammunition, along with a .410 shotgun, a .50 caliber muzzleloader, a .22 rifle, and a pellet gun.
NAZI APOLOGIES. A day after comparing COVID restrictions in Washington, D.C. to the treatment of Jews by the Nazis, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) backtracked. "I appreciate my Jewish friends who have explained their perspectives and feel horrible that I have offended anyone," Davidson said.
OFFICE RULES. It was yet another example of a member of Congress making a Nazi comparison and then taking flak. Maybe it should be obvious by now - if you're thinking of comparing anything to the Nazis, just stop. Don't do it. Find some other way to make your point.
COVID POLITICS. At a Senate hearing this week, the two parties went their different ways on how best to deal with the virus outbreak. Democrats raised red flags about their own administration, while two Republicans opted for another round of Performance Art. That’s my column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
PARLIAMENTARY NERD NOTE. The calendar will finally change today in the U.S. Senate, where it was Monday all week. Let me explain.
LEGISLATIVE DAY. The Senate convened on Monday, but never officially adjourned until last night. There was only a 'recess' each evening, which meant it was January 10 on January 11-12-13 in the Senate.
RULE XIV. Why did Democrats just recess? It was likely to delay the addition of 18 Republican bills to the Senate calendar, which would have made it easier to call those up on the floor - if Democrats changed the filibuster rules.
TODAY. One more quirky thing will happen this morning. The Senate will reconvene at 11:20 am. Not 11 am. or 11:30 am. But 11:20 am.
MUSE OF HISTORY. January 14, 1836. In the wake of the Great Fire which destroyed New York City, Congress was debating aid to the city to cover millions of dollars in damages. "Touch one single street in this great commercial emporium - touch Wall Street - and you give a shock to the whole country," said Sen. William King of Alabama. 95 years later on Jan. 14, 1931, disaster aid was again being discussed on the Senate floor, as Sen. Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee rattled off the 1836 help for New York - and dozens of other times Congress approved disaster relief - arguing Congress should approve money to combat hunger during the Depression. "It was not the fault of these people that there was a great panic in New York," McKellar said.
The House meets at 11 am.
The Senate meets at 11:20 am.
President Biden’s daily schedule link.
See the full Regular Order archive.