Jan. 6 panel reveals more details from probe
Democrats search for way forward after voting rights defeat
More specifics emerge about Trump and the Capitol Attack. Democrats try to pick up the pieces of their legislative agenda. And the White House does more clean up after the President. This is “Regular Order” for January 21, 2022.
JANUARY 6. As the special House panel investigating the Capitol Attack asked one of Donald Trump's children to answer questions, the committee on Thursday shed more light on the pressure Trump was putting on Vice President Mike Pence to illegally swing the election away from Joe Biden.
PHONE. The morning of Jan. 6, Trump spoke to Pence by phone from the Oval Office. Listening to Trump was Pence's National Security Adviser - Army Gen. Keith Kellogg - who confirmed that Trump belittled Pence for refusing to block electoral votes from certain states won by Biden.
PENCE. In snippets of testimony released by the panel, Kellogg said Trump's message to Pence was, 'you're not tough enough.' The General said that after the call ended, Ivanka Trump turned to him and said, "Mike Pence is a good man," seemingly supporting his refusal to help her father.
IVANKA. The details came in an 11 page letter sent to Ivanka Trump, as the panel asked Trump's daughter to voluntarily answer questions about what she saw and heard that day.
WHITE HOUSE. Meanwhile, another text exchange showed the worry inside the White House about the Capitol violence, and Trump’s refusal to denounce it. "Is someone getting to (Trump)?" read a text to an unidentified White House staffer. "Someone is going to get killed." The staffer said Trump was not listening. "It's completely insane."
HANNITY. More texts were also released from Fox News host Sean Hannity, as he urged officials to rein in Trump. "No more stolen election talk," Hannity texted on Jan. 7 to Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, saying Trump should be told 'impeachment and 25th amendment are real' options against him.
VISITORS. Hannity also urged McEnany to keep people away from the Oval Officer who were continuing to press the never-ending false charges that the 2020 election was rife with fraud. "No more crazy people," Hannity wrote.
DEMOCRATS. One year after Joe Biden took the oath of office, Democrats on Capitol Hill were trying to figure out on Thursday how best to retool their agenda, looking to breathe new life into the President's Build Back Better package, and chalk up other legislative accomplishments before the November elections.
DISARRAY. Amid widespread anger that two Democratic Senators had blocked a major voting rights and elections bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continued to encourage Democrats to move forward, no matter the setbacks of the past month. "We don't agonize, we organize," Pelosi said.
SINEMANCHIN. As she has for months, Pelosi earnestly played the role of the 'good cop' - urging Democrats not to attack Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). "I don't think there's any upside in Democrats criticizing Democrats," Pelosi told reporters.
PROGRESSIVES. More liberal Democrats weren't exactly listening. "The legacy of Jim Crow is alive and well in 2022," said Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO). "That’s all I have to say right now about Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and Senate Republicans."
BUILD BACK BETTER. There's all sorts of talk again on Capitol Hill about finding a way to re-write the Build Back Better package - but it still seems like Sen. Manchin remains the major roadblock. On Thursday, Pelosi even suggested renaming the bill.
LEGISLATION. At her news conference, Pelosi said she hoped Congress could move ahead soon on a Senate-passed competitiveness bill, telling reporters the plan is still not ready for a House-Senate conference. It's a good example of how things have changed on Capitol Hill. Let me explain.
OLD DAYS. Standard procedure used to be this: the House passes a bill, the Senate amends that bill, and a House-Senate panel would hammer out the differences. But no more. Not a single bill has been turned over to a conference committee so far in the 117th Congress.
CONFERENCE. Instead of high-profile conference committees, both parties now prefer behind the scenes negotiations. It’s made the conference committee almost as obsolete as the House call of the private calendar (inside Parliamentary Nerd joke).
COMPETITIVENESS. The House and Senate both passed competitiveness bills in June. In mid-November, Democratic leaders said they would 'immediately begin a bipartisan process of reconciling' the House and Senate bills. But nothing has happened so far.
REFORMS. After introducing a bill to stop lawmakers from trading stocks while in office, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) want to ban campaign donations from certain political action committees. "Our legislation would put an end to the corrupt influence of corporate PACs," said Kelly.
LEFTOVERS. While that kind of bill would face an uphill fight, it’s always possible - after the demise of a sweeping elections bill from Democrats this week - that some reform elements from that could be brought into a broader political reform package.
STOCK TRADES. One more note about the stock trade ban. Speaker Pelosi last month belittled the plan - which only seemed to generate momentum for the proposal. Yesterday, she opened the door to the stock ban. “If members want to do that, I'm okay with that,” Pelosi said.
SUPREME COURT. Pelosi also very publicly noted the lack of stock transparency for the U.S. Supreme Court, and gave her full support to ethics reforms for the Justices. "When we go forward with anything let's take the Supreme Court with us," Pelosi told reporters.
CLEAN UP ON AISLE 46. The White House on Thursday continued to clean up after President Biden's Wednesday news conference. First, it was his remarks about a ‘minor incursion’ by Russia into Ukraine. The next backtrack was about the Biden comments on the legitimacy of U.S. elections - without changes in a voting rights bill from Democrats.
ELECTIONS. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden 'was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 election.' Psaki said the point was that if Republicans tossed out votes in 2022 - as they wanted to do in 2020 - then that would be illegitimate.
BRONX CHEER. Republicans were having none of that, as they blasted Biden over his Ukraine and election comments. “President Biden's first year has confirmed he is unfit for office,” said Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO).
РАДІО КИЇВ. Even the leader of Ukraine was throwing shade at Biden, as Republicans said the President had basically given Russians the green light to invade Ukraine.
CODEL. This week, a group of seven U.S. Senators went to Ukraine for a swift 24-hour trip. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) wrote his thoughts on what happened.
CUELLAR. A day after FBI agents raided his home in Laredo, Texas, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) remained mum about what the feds were doing, as no reports had yet emerged on the reason for the law enforcement scrutiny. Cuellar voted remotely on Thursday - as he did all this week.
PRIMARY. The raid may have had an immediate impact on Cuellar's re-election bid, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) endorsed Cuellar's main Democratic primary opponent, Jessica Cisneros. The press release made no mention of the raid. Still, the timing spoke otherwise.
IMPACT. Not only are the optics bad for Cuellar - as it would be for any incumbent - but the questions related to the raid probably won't go away with the Texas primary elections a little less than six weeks away, on March 1.
USDA. Republicans used a House hearing Thursday to press Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on when federal employees will fully return to work. Vilsack disputed GOP assertions that COVID restrictions are hampering the ability of farmers to get federal help. "The work is getting done," Vilsack said. "It's getting done because folks are working online."
GOP. But Republicans say the entire federal workforce should be back in person. "Main Street businesses are getting back and running," Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) told Vilsack. “You're saying that the work is getting done - but that's not what we're seeing in Tennessee.”
FILIBUSTER SURVIVES. If there's been a constant since World War II, it's been efforts to reform - or even eliminate the filibuster. But time after time, those efforts at change fall short, as they did this week in the Senate. That's my column this week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
GIFT OF STRAIGHT NEWS. Christmas was almost a month ago - but you can still give someone a subscription to ‘Regular Order.’ Support independent journalism on Capitol Hill - from the day’s headlines to Clio, the Muse of History.
MUSE OF HISTORY. January 21, 1861. Most of the headlines about this date in history on Capitol Hill concern the five southerners who resigned from the U.S. Senate in 1861, as the nation teetered on the brink of civil war. But their departure allowed something very important to happen next, as the Senate a few hours later approved a bill to admit Kansas as a free state - with slavery specifically outlawed in its Constitution. The vote that day on a key amendment was 29-28, and Kansas would join the Union eight days later.
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