The Beer Belly Putsch
We need an investigation into January 6th.
Good morning to everyone except the person who invented the pan that I burned my finger on this week. You might say that it wasn’t a good idea for me to take the pan off the stove, flip it over, and try to fix the dented metal on the bottom by pushing on it with my finger. But I can’t be held responsible for every product’s design flaw, or heat in general. That is a roundabout way of saying that this will probably be a shorter Jackal because it hurts my fingy to type.
So, it’s Monday morning and I know what everyone is thinking about: Hitler. And if you weren’t, then you certainly are now, thanks to me. The title of this Jackal references a significant event in history, the Beer Hall Putsch. I think a lot of Americans have the following understanding of World War II:
Hitler becomes the leader of Germany.
He tried to kill a lot of people.
People got mad.
And when I say, “Americans,” I mean me, mostly, because I had never heard of the Beer Hall Putsch up until a few years ago. If you want a detailed account of it, the Wikipedia (ew) is good, but David King has written an entire book about it. If you want to read neither, it was basically Hitler’s first attempt to seize power (ew). Long story short, it didn’t go well and he went to prison, where he wrote Mein Kampf. Just like art school, Hitler was not successful on his first try at becoming a dictator.
The country is currently in the process of memory-holing January 6th and treating it as just another weird function of America’s single-term flirtation with Trumpism. But, in reality, it was a Putsch, a.k.a, a violent attempt to overthrow a government. What shouldn’t be controversial: The event itself should be fully investigated so we can find out (1) how much it was endorsed by Trump and (2) what were the goals of those involved. But it has become controversial.
A lot of Republicans previously supported a 9/11 style commission to investigate January 6th to answer those very questions. Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, endorsed one back in January:
[T]he violent mob that descended upon this body was neither peaceful nor democratic. It acted to disrupt Congress’s constitutional responsibility. It was also an attack on the people who work in this institution, members, staff, and the hundreds who work behind the scenes so that we can serve the American people. The greatest statesman in the history of our country understood that the most dangerous threat to freedom is lawlessness. A young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln famously said, “There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.” Yet for several hours last week, mob law tried to interfere with constitutional law. […] The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump, accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term. The President’s immediate action also deserves congressional action, which is why I think a fact finding commission and a censure resolution would be prudent.
Pete Gallagher, a Republican representative from Wisconsin, laid into President Trump right on January 6th:
House Republicans - including McCarthy and Gallagher - voted against the commission when it came to a floor vote this week. And although it passed the House (with 35 Republicans joining), it seems like it is almost certainly going to die in the Senate, where Mitch McConnell is currently whipping votes against it.
The GOP’s calculus has obviously changed on the commission since January. Most of that is related to GOP’s voters, roughly 70% of whom say that the election was stolen from Trump. But those voters are downwind of Trump himself, who is still making the argument that he won the election via his blog. McCarthy (and others in GOP leadership) have basically ceded control of the Republican Party to Trump. They do not want an investigation into what happened on January 6th because it will likely show that Trump was responsible for the events that day, and that maybe even some GOP members of Congress were involved. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for instance, was recently seen in a video with one of the members of Vanilla ISIS who stormed the Capitol.
The GOP’s failure to endorse the commission is not only cowardly, but it’s also bad as a political strategy. Democrats are not going to simply let January 6th go and are almost certain to conduct their own investigation. Under the rules of the bipartisan commission (which were secured by a Republican Congressman), subpoena power is shared and approved by all members of the commission. It allows for both Republicans and Democrats to appoint the same number of members, with the chair of the commission being chosen by Nancy Pelosi and McConnell. It also borrows heavily from the 9/11 Commission, at times copying the exact same language. In other words, it’s a great deal for Republicans. But they just can’t seem to take “yes” for an answer.
If the Senate rejects the commission bill, the House will simply put together a select committee to investigate January 6th, and - unlike the bipartisan commission - they will have complete control over subpoenas and sitting members of Congress will be doing the investigating, as opposed to private citizens. The calculus here is that if Republicans force Democrats to investigate on their own, it will be easier for them to brand the investigation as partisan. Most members of Congress are already assuming that whatever the investigation finds, it will be bad for Trump. The more partisan it appears, the easier it is to write it off (although try making that argument to Robert Mueller). The problem there is that January 6th is not the Russia investigation or Benghazi.
While all of this is happening on the national level, local GOP officials are diving further and further into election conspiracies. Local Republican Party leaders who acknowledge Biden as the President are being pushed out of power. And we don’t even need to talk about what’s currently happening in Arizona. We are potentially entering a reality where QAnon will become the moderate wing of the GOP.
The problem here isn’t even Donald Trump. In fact, he has never been weaker: He is facing serious legal trouble in New York (more on that later), his phone is basically a brick, and if he wants to get his thoughts out onto social media, he has to hope that someone else tweets on his behalf. It has never been easier for the GOP to move on, but because #StopTheSteal and Trump himself are fundraising giants, the Republican leadership has decided that the Putsch was no big deal.
Second big story: Donald Trump is going to jail. Alright, maybe that’s not actually going to happen, but the Trump Organization is in a world of hurt. This week, New York’s Attorney General, Tish James, said that her civil investigation into the Trump Organization has become criminal. That, on its own, is not a particularly surprising development.
What is significant is that her office will be working in cooperation with the Manhattan DA’s criminal investigation, run by Cy Vance. This must mean (to me) that James’s office got a hold of something that Vance didn’t have previously. And it also means that criminal charges are going to eventually be brought against the Trump Organization. James would never issue a public statement if she was simply going to close up shop and hit the former President’s company with a slap on the wrist. She has something and she shared it with Vance.
Relatedly, there are rumors that the big finance boi at the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, is now cooperating with prosecutors. Why is that significant?
He. Knows. Everything.
For a should-read, the Wall Street Journal has a major scoop: Intelligence officials are investigating a potential lab leak in Wuhan as the genesis of the COVID-19 pandemic. And here is a sentence in this piece that really sticks out to me:
The Biden administration declined to comment on the intelligence but said that all technically credible theories on the origin of the pandemic should be investigated by the WHO and international experts.
If you were even a smidge interested in the main topic of this Jackal, you need to watch this Vice News report on Trump as the future of the GOP.
Rational Security is a great podcast, even if they lost one of their hosts to the Biden Administration. This past week’s podcast covered both the insurrection and also had a great discussion on Israel. It’s heady, but worth a listen.
No Jackal next week since it will be Memorial Day. I’ll be back on Monday, June 7th. Have a great week my beautiful babies.