A Counter Perspective: On the House January 6 Committee’s Impending Referrals

[NB: it’s an absolute must to check this byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

We don’t all agree here at emptywheel all the time. Our reactions to the news about the House January 6 Committee’s intent to issue criminal referrals is one of those occasions.

You can read bmaz’s take at this link. If you’ve been reading the site’s comment threads since the first posts here about the January 6 Committee’s work, you already had a pretty good idea what bmaz’s sentiments have been as he’s been quite clear.

In essence bmaz found Tuesday’s news about the Committee’s expected criminal referrals

– attention seeking (“media whores,” “preening,” “infomercial”);
– the referrals an activity which “means absolutely nothing” because the Department of Justice will prosecute on their own.

One point of contention between us has been the nature of the Committee’s work. bmaz has called it political, referring to the committee negatively as a “political body” and the criminal referrals “useless and meaningless political gestures.”

Yes, it is political. That’s how governance happens, through politics.

From Merriam-Webster dictionary:

1 a: the art or science of government
b: the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy
c: the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government

2: political actions, practices, or policies

3 a: political affairs or business
especially: competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government)
b: political life especially as a principal activity or profession
c: political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices

From Cambridge Dictionary:

the activities of the government, members of law-making organizations, or people who try to influence the way a country is governed

From Macmillan Dictionary:

the activities and affairs involved in managing a state or a government

the profession devoted to governing and to political affairs

social relations involving intrigue to gain authority or power

the opinion you hold with respect to political questions

the study of government of states and other political units

In the simplest, bluntest terms, politics is how shit gets done by groups who are not all of the same mind at the same time. Governance in a democracy is politics, it is political activity.

Congress is inherently a political body, its activities are political, and the government it legislates to execute laws is a function of politics at work.

~ ~ ~

There is nothing wrong with politics except when it denies the rights of individuals to exist, stripping them of agency and autonomy for the purposes of an exercise in partisan ideology and/or autocratic power, and/or personal venality rather than to achieve the aims of our shared social contract, the Constitution.

It is particularly egregious when the persons aiding and abetting an attack on the Constitution are those who have not only participated in politics for the purposes of serving as an elected representative and then sworn an oath to defend the Constitution and its aims:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What happened on January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. was the furthest thing from a more perfect Union. The acts of thousands sought to undermine the domestic tranquility of millions to the personal benefit of one man.

This was not politics but its antithesis, an attempted smash-and-grab intended to deny liberty and justice obtained through political activities, by obstructing government operations in the transition and transfer of a democracy’s leadership.

~ ~ ~

The Constitution to Article I, Section 1 confers upon Congress “All legislative Powers” – this is the legitimization of a political body to effect the nation’s governance.

Congress’s Powers under Article I, Section 8 include:

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

as well as

To make Rules for the Government

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings;-And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

[bold mine]

Without exercising these powers Congress cannot assure its obligations under the Constitution are completed.

In the specific case of January 6, Congress was attacked in its own seat of power, its election-related proceedings obstructed by domestic terrorists engaged in seditious conspiracy. Americans died, both attackers and defenders. Public property was destroyed.

Response by law enforcement and other security forces like its militia — the National Guard — was not satisfactory leading up to and during the January 6 attack. The risk of domestic terror remained high even after that date.

The person who stood to benefit most from the terror and the obstruction wrought was the head of the executive branch, whose function as executive is subject to legislation and oversight by Congress. That same person may have abused his office to further his personal interests.

It is wholly natural to expect the House to investigate the terror attack on Congress’s offices and its proceedings; it’s part of Congress’s job.

The attack aimed to stop the activities essential to the republic. To that end the House established the January 6 Committee and the mission which the committee was to fulfill.

The mission included releasing a final report of findings to the public, with interim reports as necessary, with the ultimate goal specification of corrective measures to remedy failings and improve the security posture of the Capitol and the nation, without regard to the political party helming either house of Congress or the executive branch.

All of that is politics. All of that is political. That is the nature of government in a democracy.

~ ~ ~

With regard to the complaint the January 6 Committee acted like “media whores,” this site’s comments certainly didn’t reflect that.

The number of comments published every week about when the public would hear or see something from the Committee in the way of action whether subpoenas or hearings or reports or referrals could be annoying – as annoying and frustrating as the complaints about when the Department of Justice was going to do something, anything.

The number of tweets the Committee has published to date are 627, its press releases which may duplicate tweet content amount to less than 90 over 14 months time — hardly an attention seeking volume.

Marcy wrote a number of posts about the DOJ doing something right under everyone’s noses while pundits complained on television and in social media nothing was being done.

While the DOJ was crunching away on the largest investigation it has every conducted, the J6 Committee did likewise while trying to avoid further obstruction by members of Congress as well as persons who continued to support Trump and his Big Lie.

If anything the American public didn’t hear enough about what the Committee was doing. As of late October, the Committee had issued at least 100 subpoenas; the media reported in any detail only on the most intransigent subjects like former Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

If the Committee had been media whoring, we would have had every jot and tittle crammed in our faces daily and weekly about the subpoenas and consequent testimony – but we saw very little, save for nine hearings taking less than 40 hours time.

What we did see was distilled for a contemporary audience flooded with other media, an audience which wouldn’t have the patience to deal with thousands of hours of testimony and evidence.

It’s quite possible the opposite is true, that the Committee didn’t do enough to share its work in progress with media. Had it done more earlier to release testimony and evidence, perhaps the GOP would have had to counter these reports instead of sowing manufactured fear, uncertainty, and doubt about inflation and the economy’s direction during the mid-term elections.

Perhaps control of the House might not have gone to the GOP if the Committee had been more open about the partisan nature of the attack on the Capitol.

You can be certain had the shoe been on the other foot, with the GOP leading an investigation, it would have been another pointless circus like the Benghazi hearings which GOP congresspersons admitted were purely partisan stunts intended to suppress approval of Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 election.

The Benghazi hearings were politics without governance, not one passed bill as a result of all the hot air.

That 2015 committee’s work “means absolutely nothing” even seven years later, except as a cautionary tale about partisan hackery in lieu of governance.

~ ~ ~

Again, not all the team here at emptywheel will agree about the J6 Committee’s work, particularly the anticipated criminal referrals.

Marcy mentioned in comments,

… If it’s a referral on 1512 grounds for Trump, I’m not all that interested. If it’s a means to refer the witness tampering for specific witnesses that would not have been replicated before DOJ, by all means refer.

By “1512” she means Title 18 U.S. Code 1512 – Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant – I’m not certain which subsection(s) she means.

The Committee will likely refer whatever it found, though, without regard to the DOJ’s progress so far. (The Committee should not know much about the DOJ’s investigative efforts.)

If there is to be corrective action recommended and corresponding legislation drafted, submitted, debated, and passed, there must be a documented need for the change.

We should expect to see some duplication between J6 Committee and DOJ for this reason: they have different objectives.

Because of the Constitution’s Article I, Section 6 Rights and Disabilities, the Committee has more power and latitude to question and demand accountability of its own members within its own chambers, should its investigation have uncovered evidence of criminal behavior by congresspersons who supported Trump’s Big Lie efforts.

Further, the J6 Committee has an obligation to history and not just its legislative duties. It needs to document what crimes it found had been committed against it, the political body which acts as the representative of the people in its creation of laws to create a more perfect Union.

It’s not enough to report a crime has been committed against the people’s representatives. The people must demand with criminal referrals that the highest law enforcement body investigate and prosecute who attacked our democratic republic, even if DOJ has already begun this effort.

As Ben Franklin said in 1787 in response when asked what form of government the Constitution Convention had established: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

The J6 Committee’s “political gestures” are some of the means to do so.

113 replies
    • Rayne says:

      It was late and I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when I wrote this post. I completely omitted making the point that the J6 Committee’s mission — while it doesn’t say so explicitly — includes performing a postmortem.

      DOJ can only address criminal behavior. It can’t produce a postmortem taking apart everything leading up to the insurrectionists’ terror attack on the Capitol, nor the risks which remain after the change in leadership and the change in Congress. Further, DOJ itself may have blind spots which have gone unaddressed by the current AG. The J6 Committee needs to spell them out and take corrective legislative action.

  1. Legonaut says:

    Thanks to all of the EW crew for your efforts! I, for one, appreciate seeing rational discourse over disagreements on rich and complex issues — that’s why I come here. Some viewpoints may be promulgated over an extended series of posts, which rewards the frequent reader. (Thanks also to the community & mods for consistency in posting names, for this very reason!)

    Now that the Georgia senate race has been called, I can go to bed myself (also ET). I’m not sure what’s next for Mr. Walker, but if he’s suffering any CTE-related issues, perhaps he can get some help now.

  2. Badger Robert says:

    The referrals may not have much impact on the divided opinions of old white people. But they may live on in the ideas of the urban educated people, who would prefer that democracy endure. But
    Was the mediocre success of the R party their high point? Or will there be another attempt, more successful the next time, to use hatred to supplant rational thought?
    Maybe now we will see indictments of the easier target, the corrupt lawyers who pandered to Trump’s obsesions.

  3. Cheez Whiz says:

    My guess is that bmaz somehow sees the Congressional hearing process as interfering with the DOJ. It makes a kind of sense for someone who has dedicated his career to the law to see an “extralegal” process as self-indulgent at best, and counterproductive to the working of the legal system. But the threat to the Constitution is not a legal threat, and the law will only offer a roadblock at best, not a solution. As far as I have seen, bmaz has offered nothing beyond contemp for the committee as a solution to our current problem. Putting the entire Trump administration in prison will not slow down, let alone stop, our slide into fascism.

  4. orvillej says:

    Thanks for that well written opinion, Rayne. I respect all the contributors to this website and their thoughts and opinions, but I most enjoy clear writing and a lack of name calling and hyperbole. I agree with what you’ve expressed and I think the J6 committee is serving a very important purpose and, yes, it is political and a lot about the optics. We need to see that our represenatives are doing something and the criminal referrals, even though we know the DOJ has complete discretion as to what they will pursue, will help Americans understand what’s been going on and who is behind it.

    Thanks again for expressing an opinion that I think an awful lot of folks agree with…oj

    • gknight says:

      Hear hear!

      Public opinion is important. Congress, through the J6 Committee, seems designed to help rebut what Fox (and other media) and Republicans have tried to destroy. The Senate failed to throw Trump out. And as far as public opinion, The Law has not turned the tide relative to the threat to our democracy.

      Some people ignore the social and psychological sciences of human behavior.

      • LadyHawke says:

        Yes, Rayne details so many important points here, not the least of which:
        “Further, the J6 Committee has an obligation to history and not just its legislative duties. It needs to document what crimes it found had been committed against it, the political body which acts as the representative of the people in its creation of laws to create a more perfect Union.”

  5. foggycoast says:

    while we’ve had disagreements i agree with your sentiments here. thanks for posting this. while focus only on the legal aspects it’s worth remember that politicians craft the laws.

    • Rayne says:

      It’s just as important to remember those politicians crafting the laws are our representatives, acting on our behalf. We should be more selective about who represents us, ensure that better candidates get into and through democracy’s pipeline; we should develop and maintain an ongoing a relationship with the democratic process, candidates, and electeds so that this system remains a government of, by, and for the people.

  6. James says:

    Thank you Rayne. I rarely comment, but I do appreciate the rational discussion here, even when there are sharp differences-of-opinion.
    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have numerous community members named “James” or a variant. Your unique username should contain a minimum of 8 letters to meet our new security standard. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  7. gnokgnoh says:

    Just as bmaz has repeatedly stated, do not expect the courts and the DOJ to remedy our politics; so, we should expect Congress to take up that very challenge, however frustrated we are by their means or timing.

  8. Brian says:

    Thank you, Rayne. The previous post really had me questioning what was going on here at emptywheel, but I refrained from making any comments, hoping for just such a clarification as you’ve offered.

    In my opinion, there’s no such thing as an “empty political gesture” – even the usual Republican spewing of “thoughts and prayers” after every one of their policy-enabled shootings has content, though not the one they intend. Since many were whining, assuming that the J6 Committee wouldn’t dare make criminal referrals, I couldn’t understand the cry of rage when they say they will. A group of our elected officials is not letting one branch do all the heavy lifting – they’re adding their weight to the call for accountability. That’s important, especially as we come up on what will now undoubtedly be the most important, most fractious, and most politically charged case(s) in our nation’s history.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. THIRD REQUEST: Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have numerous community members named “Brian” or “Bryan.” Your unique username should contain a minimum of 8 letters to meet our new security standard. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • bmaz says:

      Hi Brian. That “previous post” was by me. My name is bmaz, use it.

      And “what was going on here at emptywheel” is the same thing that has always been going on here. We all come at things from different perspectives, that is not only okay, it a good thing,

      • Stacy (Male!) says:

        No one is under any obligation to use your name, big shot. Calling the chairman of the J6 committee a media whore is dehors rational discourse. One of the perks of retiring after >40 years of litigation is the absence from my life of obnoxious egomaniacs such as yourself.

  9. John B. says:

    Thank you, Rayne. I agree with your perspective here but also think the larger issue is still politics; namely politics got us into this mess and only politics will get us out. Criminal referrals, trials by jury and convictions can help for sure, but they alone are not the answer.

  10. bmaz says:

    Except, a Trump defense lawyer would be praying for this stupid “Committee” to issue meaningless “referrals”.

    It would be a gift from the heavens. And a feature of opening and closing arguments. That is what is being cheered. It is pretty funny how many people want accountability and yet cheer feckless nonsense that inhibits it.

    • Sloth Sloman says:

      What is being inhibited by the criminal referrals? If they’re meaningless, wouldn’t they just fade into the ether over time?

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Loose lips sink ships, as they say. Can the J6 committee simply give relevant material to DOJ and make it known that they have done so, without any criminal referrals for Trump? Isn’t that what DOJ wanted them to do all along?

          I was once involved in a labor dispute (not the one involving white supremacists) where I found it to my benefit to submit the least amount of information I could to the government. Had I been asked for more, I probably would have given it. But I was not and did not.

          Nevertheless, a political player in the administration did not hesitate to find a way to use that information against me in my subsequent civil case that did involve the white supremacists. It was an unethical maneuver that had the short term results that political player desired. Fortunately, it did not deter a positive outcome for me in the long term.

          Also, because I provided the least amount of information I needed for the initial labor dispute, it was able to be resolved in an efficient, effective manner. It ended well for me, but not so much for someone else.

          So, I think I understand what you mean about the referrals being used in opening and closing statements. I can see how that could happen.

    • Rayne says:

      You could actually expand on that point, that Trump’s defense wants the Committee to issue referrals and why.

      You could also explain how the Committee could avoid the trap *apart from not issuing referrals*. Not issuing referrals for crimes committed under their noses during the course of their investigation would be like turning their backs on a burning house — that would make the House look ineffective.

      You could also point to who among Trump’s supporters is cheering for criminal referrals and whether or not they have a personal vesting in the outcomes.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        I concur, with the proviso that it depends upon the information contained within the referrals. Are they public record in all cases? If that information involves knowledge that DoJ wanted kept under wraps (who’s talking can also point to what might have been said) bmaz would be correct. I know there will be a clamor for the list.

        However, the hearings did place a lot of evidence into the public sphere already so to make bmaz’s point more valid what has to be included in these referrals are the supporting information not released in the hearings and/or the unredacted report. Since no one has seen these referrals yet, no one can say with authority what the effect will be.

        There is also the part of what DoJ will do with the input, starting with who will be tasked to handle it. Will it be DoJ Main or the Special Counsel?

      • Scott_in_MI says:

        Does bmaz ever expand on points? His “media whores” post now has more *responses* than the original post contained *words*. (Your response to him immediately above, for that matter, is longer than his post.)

      • Dark Phoenix says:

        I suspect it’s because the argument against ALL of Trump’s crimes over the last 6 years has been “It’s just a political witch hunt by the Do-Nothing Dems!” and his lawyers will try to use Jan 6th Committee referrals as “proof” it’s a political witch hunt. Of course, this ignores a few facts, like that Trump’s team is going to do that no matter what, referrals or no, and that a witch hunt in the proper sense is an investigation that isn’t meant to find anything in particular, but is supposed to create a smokescreen so that people can claim there’s a fire; the Jan 6th investigations are anything but.

  11. Bears7485 says:

    “The Benghazi hearings were politics without governance, not one passed bill as a result of all the hot air.”

    This has been my focus all along. If Eastman and FPOTUS believed that a Green Bay (ew) Sweep could be successful, we need to close that door forever with legislation. Along with the countless other doors that FPOTUS proved are proverbially ajar during his term.

    • aduckisaduck says:

      I add my thanks and appreciation for Rayne’s incisive and thorough argument. It is strengthened further by her comment post about the importance of who gets elected to represent us politically. And therein, like all the arguments over Jan. 6th, etc., politics and law are inextricably intertwined. As they should be in a democracy. So, there are many cogent criticisms about how democrats [both upper and lower cases] have (or should have) allocated their efforts to right the many recent legal and political wrongs: competing agenda, unexplained time lags in response to delay efforts, excessive grandstanding, etc. Political efforts should not impede legal efforts, but the crucial, needed changes involve changes in laws and their applications: always both legal and political.

  12. Ravenclaw says:

    One more voice of thanks here.

    You’ve really hit the main points. The Congressional (hence historical) record will forever reflect the work and findings of the J6 Committee, the relatively short and well-edited presentations will likely live on for many years as educational tools, and at least a few people may have come forward to testify before Congress who would not necessarily have been flagged by a criminal investigation. Yes, there was showboating, and yes, there was duplication of efforts, and maybe even some undercutting of DoJ work (but probably not much). But that’s the nature of the beast. If I could add anything, it’s that unlike DoJ’s potential criminal prosecutions, there is no way to claim that the J6 Committee’s work was produced by a “deep state.” They are elected officials. The true crazies can claim that they’re all devil-worshipping pedophiles, but as soon as someone says that, most folks know them for crazies. They are, in fact, elected representatives of the people. And doing what they were elected to do.

  13. harpie says:

    Happening today:

    Five Things I’m Watching in Tomorrow’s U.S. Supreme Court Argument https://www.democracydocket.com/opinion/five-things-ill-be-watching-in-tomorrows-us-supreme-court-argument/ Marc Elias December 6, 2022

    On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court will hold oral argument in Moore v. Harper, a North Carolina redistricting case that could shake the foundations of federalism and judicial review. This landmark lawsuit gives the Court the opportunity to review the fringe independent state legislature (ISL) theory, which Republicans are promoting to argue that the U.S. Constitution grants state legislatures the exclusive ability to set the “time, place and manner” of congressional elections, without state court judicial review.

    At the urging of North Carolina Republican legislators, the Supreme Court has taken up discussion of a fringe constitutional theory that it has previously dismissed. If the ISL theory is adopted, it could give immense power to state legislatures to set rules for federal elections without oversight from other parts of state government, which would have devastating ramifications for American democracy. […]

  14. hcgorman says:

    Thank you Rayne. Although I understand bmaz’s concern I think the effort by our congress is important.

  15. ChicagoDD says:

    I am possibly one of the the least steeped-in-law readers here (I am a musician but am always politically active in terms of investing time/effort into political work), so it is a bit daunting to comment esp when there is (skilled) verbal swordfighting going on, but why not? The presentation of multiple ideas makes the site that much more legit and compelling; single opinion preach-to-the-choir venues don’t help one hone one’s own opinions nearly as well as when a reasoned debate of sorts is going down: thanks much, Marcy et al. Anyway, since Congress is the branch that makes the laws, I don’t see it as a stretch whatsoever that they at bare minimum have the right to weigh in on whether they believe said laws have been broken, no? Even the undeniable responsibility? Maybe then it’s a question as to HOW to conduct that needed oversight, without which “their” laws are a feeble joke. The ironic question may be that on one side, the (scripted, but well done in that aspect) hearings may enable detractors to claim that any future DOJ legal punishment/consequences was politically forced and therefore gratuitous, illegitimate, VERSUS the J6 Cmte deliberately and rightfully exterting pressure on the DOJ via having exposed and clarified which laws were broken and how… thus pressuring leading the DOJ to act. The J6 has put facts front and center and the DOJ simply must do its job, which does appear to be going forward with prosecutions. The rub may be that to me the onus is now on DOJ to prove that THEY are not politically intimidated by likely fallout or claims of illegitimacy if they demur. Difficut, granted, for the (supposedly apolitical) DOJ to prove political independence EITHER way, thus more fraught. Politics seems to be inherent in BOTH branches’ responses, seems inescapable.

    • ccinmfd says:

      It’s not unique opinion: but my main takeaway from the Georgia senatorial runoff election yesterday -and for that matter the work of the Justice Department and J6 Committee – is the abject failure of our media and educational establishment, among others, to accurately inform and educate the general public, period. Blame MSM; blame social media. Blame those like Bannon whose strategy to “flood the zone with shit” is having its intended effect. But if one is looking for “blame,” how about our generally inattentive American public – exceptions including EW posters and readers. It’s very troubling that more folks seem interested in the latest celebrity/entertainment news than in understanding our shared history, our governmental architecture and the necessary actions of citizens and elected officials needed to bring closer to fruition “our more perfect union.” How 48+% of voters could cast a ballot for Walker is mind-boggling. So I echo what many posters here have written: thank you emptywheel. Thank you Marcy. Thank you Rayne. Thank you, bmaz, for helping educate me. While I happen to agree with Rayne’s interpretation of the duty and responsibilities of the J6 Committee as it wraps up its work, I can wholeheartedly appreciate bmaz’s piece and rationale for same.

      • timbozone says:

        If it makes anyone feel only slightly better, it was only 48% of the folks who bothered to vote in NC the other day that voted for a Republican candidate on the ticket. The 100% of those voting in the Tuesday Senate run-off do not represent all the people who are registered to vote in NC, let alone all those who are qualified to vote but have not registered. Thus, apathy and inconvenience are the angels of plurality but not necessarily reflective of popular sentiment when it comes to any given run-off candidate.

  16. cbear says:

    Thank you, Rayne, for your compelling and beautifully written post.
    I would only add that, based on the ratings, I suspect a non-trivial number of Independents and perhaps even some Republicans were influenced in their voting in the past election based on information they gathered from the hearings.
    Thanks again.

  17. Unabogie says:

    Not specifically about whether or not sending criminal referrals is useful, but the main difference between the DOJ and the J6 Committee is the fact that the DOJ is tasked with something completely different than the committee. The DOJ is there to decide if charges are warranted, and if so, to speak in indictments. They will, by necessity, leave out things that are bad but not criminal. Things that are dangerous to democracy but not chargeable. The purpose of the committee is to tell the public what happened. And if part of that is voting to say that crimes were committed, and to include all the underlying acts, even ones that add context but don’t rise to the level of a crime, then they are doing their jobs. And all of that is political, and solely for public consumption, and that is the way it should be.

    • OnKilter says:

      The J6 Select Committee found evidence of criminal activity.

      Therefore, criminal referral(s) MUST BE ISSUED.

      Otherwise the thugs that perpetrated the crimes win without a fight.

  18. PieIsDamnGood says:

    Much of my frustration with the Democratic Party is how little they whore for the media. They need to serve up easy to digest conflict that makes Republicans into the bad guy. The committee seems to have done a pretty good job of that, and sending referrals gives an opportunity to drive another news cycle.

  19. Tom-1812 says:

    As I get older, I find I have more regrets about the things I didn’t do than the things I did do. If I were a member of the J6 Committee speaking to my grandchildren, I’d rather be in the position of explaining to them the reasons why I agreed to make criminal referrals to the DOJ than the reasons why I didn’t.

    • rip no longer says:

      One of the few benefits of getting older. Saying what you think and seeing where everything ends up.

      I’m almost embarrassed when at meetings, if I as a grey-haired elder utter some inanity, how many youngers will act like they agree with me. (Or maybe I’m misreading their head movements….)

  20. Molly Pitcher says:

    Apologies, this is OT, but very worrisome.

    According to MSNBC and NPR, Authorities in Germany (using over 3000 officers) have arrested a large group who was attempting to overthrow the government and install a new one in a violent coup. The seditionists were Q-anon believers, right wing extremists and military/former military.

    They were led by a man in his 70s named as Heinrich XIII, from an old aristocratic family, is alleged to have been central to the plans.


    • Just Some Guy says:

      Apparently there was a Russian citizen involved (and arrested), too. Useful as a reminder that the Putin regime is dedicated to undermine democracy pretty much everywhere.

    • P J Evans says:

      From what I can determine, he isn’t exactly who he’s claiming to be – there *was* a Heinrich XIII of Reuss, but he did in 1818. This guy…isn’t him.

      This story isn’t getting a lot of US coverage, and the available information is sparse.

      • Just Some Guy says:

        While not the lead story, it’s been placed high on the NYT website all day (currently it’s the third story after Chinese COVID protocols changing and Warnock’s victory).

        Worth noting too that the NYT story states that many of those arrested are AfD party members.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        The Imperial County of Reuss was abolished along with the German Empire in 1918, however the males were all named Heinrich in honor of a medieval Holy Roman Emperor they admired. According to Wiki, they would run up to 100 and restart at 1. Since this practice started in the 1200s that’s a lot of boys. I don’t think George Foreman knew of this for naming his kids.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        PJ, the man arrested is a minor aristocrat whose family names the first born Heinrich ** (insert current number here) for each generation. If you read further down in the BBC article I linked, it goes into more detail.

        • Krisy Gosney says:

          Quickly, I was talking to my less informed spouse, who wants to be informed but doesn’t read the news like I do, she was having a hard time digesting how people can be duped by Russian agents. I asked her to think of people she used to serve with on a local committee and then think about which one’s personalities would respond to someone telling them their ideas/personhood is superior to their current place in life and then offer some support and money to raise their stature then the agent insinuates their goals into whatever the person is producing. She could think of 3 people. I’m sure everyone could think of at least 3 people they know.

          Thank you for pointing this out. I had not seen the story any where before. Look forward to reading about it.

        • Just Some Guy says:

          NYT’s article on the arrests in Germany is now the top one on their website.

          Not to be outdone, Peru’s Congress just ousted their President, after the latter tried to dissolve the former.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Argentina just convicted it’s Vice President, Cristina Fernández, who is also the former President, of $1B fraud, and sentenced her to 6 years in prison. But she will not serve until she is out of office !?!

      • Eichhörnchen says:

        My understanding is that that family tree has many branches and that is customary among the descendants to name their children Heinrich.

    • Verrückte Pferd says:

      There is indeed a movement similar to MAGA in Deutschland (Germany), but it’s older and just as complex. The arrests included a former member of AfD party, and the ringleader does call himself Heinrich XIII, though the old family name is Reuß. The plot is dangerous because there have already been assassinations here, and some of those arrested worked in the security services; just as Secret Service wiped their phones. it is unclear if a significant cache of military weapons has also been suspected. Details are still emerging, of course.

      • Just Some Guy says:

        Updated NYT reporting states it wasn’t just an AfD party member who was arrested, but a former AfD legislator and current judge (!!!!!):

        ‘In the plot exposed on Wednesday, an AfD member, identified in German media as Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a lawmaker until last year, was designated to become the group’s justice minister in the post-coup regime the prosecutors said.

        ‘Her own story highlights some of the challenges German institutions face in trying to fight far-right threats from within: Only in October, Ms. Malsack-Winkemann was allowed by a judicial board to retain her position as a judge in Berlin, despite the protest of several regional judicial authorities, who said she had far-right views.

        ‘The German newspaper, Der Spiegel reported that she had posted regularly on Telegram using the slogan “WWG1WGA,” which stands for the QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we go all.” Spiegel said she deleted the posts after it questioned her.

        ‘But according to an internal judiciary review, her social media posts were not considered sufficient evidence to disqualify her.

        ‘“If these initial reports are confirmed, that a former AfD member of the Bundestag is involved in this conspiracy, then that shows what kind of quagmire the AfD as a party is in,” said Christian Dürr, a lawmaker for the Free Democrats, one of three governing parties. “This is not about Germany at all, it is in truth about the destruction of parliamentary democracy.”’

  21. biff murphy says:

    Hi, IANAL
    In the beginning(cue orchestra) the DOJ seemed reticent to get things going, but, I get a feeling that the committee “maybe” thought with the hemming and foot dragging from the DOJ, that it was time to get the public involved and “maybe” also give them a kick in the ass to get them started.
    Maybe it worked, as they now want all transcripts from their interviews.

    • matt fischer says:

      You’ve been commenting here at EW long enough to know better than to regurgitate the tired “hemming and foot dragging from the DOJ” trope.

      Marcy has tirelessly pointed out the many signs that DOJ has not been dragging their feet, not to mention that DOJ made initial requests for J6 Committee transcripts more than half a year ago.

      • timbozone says:

        It is interesting that there are many here that always side with the DOJ holding their cards close to their vest but then yell at Congress when that co-equal branch of government also tries to do so. Basically, do those of you who feel this way believe in co-equal branches of government or not? Or would you prefer that the Congress just do everything out in the open as opposed to DOJ’s seeming to thrive off of secrecy until the last minute?

        • matt fischer says:

          The Executive Branch’s DOJ has strict rules regarding disclosures related to ongoing investigations.

          Congress has much more discretion, which, as a coequal branch, they exercise as they deem fit.

  22. viget says:

    Rayne, this is truly excellent and nicely crystalizes my thinking as well. Thank you for all that you do.

    Regarding the narrative about “referrals” I can’t help but think that these media reports are actually the staffers trying to ensure the public knows about everything they found. I mean I’m grateful to Liz Cheney for taking this seriously, but if you think she’s not there to protect the old guard GOP’s reputation above all, then as they say, I’ve got a bridge….

    The reports from a few weeks ago regarding the scope of the report make it painfully clear that Cheney’s been acting like it’s her committee, not Bennie Thompson’s and that her goal was to absolve the GOP to pin all the blame on TFG. Since those reports, we now see new articles claiming the final report will have “everything”, even today per CNN, specifics on RNC fundraising antics after November 8th.

    In much the same way…we first hear about referrals, and then we hear that they haven’t yet decided who to refer and for what. Again, it seems like a power dynamic between Cheney’s folks (probably just refer Trump et al for obstruction) vs. the rest of the D staffers (consider other crimes too or in lieu of any ongoing investigation the special counsel is doing). By necessity, the other staffers’ referrals would be more informative to the public and likely expose new information about the J6 plot that the public should know.

    I hope the correct referrals are made.

    • bgThenNow says:

      This is the best analysis of Cheney’s behavior I’ve seen. Her politics and endgame (still to be revealed), not to mention her connection to Dick, have certainly never veered. I am sick of hearing what a heroine she is, and this has clarified it for me in a way I can explain it to anyone who goes on about her gallantry. Dick is not from the ancient (now essentially forgotten, but certainly cast aside) version of the GOP. And that legacy is what she is protecting. UGH. Thank you for your contribution.

  23. Revelator says:

    Thank you, Rayne, This is a very well-written, thoughtful analysis of the J6 Committee’s actions. I agree with you and the Committee’s work. It might be for different reasons, but the previous column echoes too much what RW congressmen like Gomar and Greene have been saying. They’re wrong and so was the previous columnist.

  24. DaveInTheUK says:

    From this side of the pond, it seemed incredible that the J6 committee would uncover so much evidence of wrongdoing and then NOT make a criminal referral. We, of course, must presume Trump to be innocent until proven guilty, that’s for a court to ultimately decide, but to sit on such a huge volume of testimony and evidence and do nothing with it would be negligance of the highest order.

    My reading of the situation is that Republicans had ample opportunity to participate in the committee, but chose to play silly games by nominating the most unsuitable panellists possible. They are in no position now to whinge about the committee’s findings or processes, especially given that so many of the witnesses were Republicans themselves.

    Would the DoJ make indictments with or without the J6 committee’s “help”, however useful or useless one judges that to be? We’ll never know. They don’t trumpet their every move in the media, and rightly so. But we are where we are, and hopefully indictments and trials are on the horizon.

    Contrary to what you may believe, here in the UK we’re still rooting for you. America are our friends, our trading partners, our holiday destination, and our allies. We want you to have a robust democracy, led by rational and competent people who will do well for your people and the planet as a whole. Sending a strong signal that insurrection and other such shenannigans will not be tolerated is key to that.

  25. PeteT0323 says:

    I, for one, find it possible to love both Ryan and bmaz – in the platonic sense. Even if I may not agree with them all the time.


    I have had my ears boxed by both of them a time or two, but I keep coming back for the “love” – and the ear boxings are educational.

    • rip no longer says:

      Me too! But I think you meant Rayne rather than Ryan.

      And just like when I was a kid and was “found out”, I’ve learned something every time I’ve been corrected by bmaz, Rayne, and even EW – might not appreciate it much, but that’s how we learn.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      Not really a comparable situation since Castillo is a leftist, unlike Trump. Nor was he the loser of a recent election. Additionally, members of his own party voted to oust him after he announced his plans to dissolve Congress.

  26. velcroman says:

    Thank you for a great piece. It was measured, thorough, and heartfelt. The facts support it, and the conclusions are solid. No name calling, and even those who disagree can understand and respect your opinion.

    If all posts on empty wheel were like that, I would spend a lot more time here, and I think others would too.

    If you are reading this, I was raised to make my criticism subtle and let people figure it out for themselves, but apparently you don’t go for that. So here it is straight. You regularly have great things to say. But when I get to your ad-hominem rants, often free of any useful information or insight, I usually close the tab and move on to other things. The rants are not infrequent, they don’t make anything better, and make a lot of things worse. They diminish this wonderful website, and I can’t imagine that is what you want.

    • bmaz says:

      Anything else? I “was raised” to tell the truth. I seriously do not care what you “think”. Thanks for participating for all five of your comments.

      • Velcroman says:

        Serious question- are you actively trying to drive away readers and posters?
        It absolutely looks like it from my end.

        You can tell the truth kindly and respectfully, like Rayne did.
        Or you can be a hurtful, hateful poster who will drive people away from your views because of the ugliness of your presentation.
        Same facts, different attitude.
        Which is more effective?

        • bmaz says:

          Serious answer: Who are you stalking Mr. Horse? I have been here for a very long time. Where, exactly, did you come from?

          It is curious how many attacks, like yours, from people who have never been here before, suddenly appear. Where did you suddenly come from?

        • velcroman says:

          My name is not Mr. Horse. You can cal me velcroman. Your little nickname refers to my email address, the one that I believe is not intended to be public when we post. I question whether it is appropriate for a moderator to release portions of that private information, especially in a taunting way.

          With all due respect, you did not answer the question.

          I will respectfully, honestly and completely answer your questions.
          I have the reasonable expectation that you do the same.
          Of course, that assumes that your intention is to communicate ideas and foster relationships.

          As to your question, where did I suddenly come from: I found references to this website from other similar websites and users I interacted with. I started reading and posted occasionally. I don’t remember when I started, but I have browser history from August.

          As a matter of logic, it seems to me that every new user “suddenly appears”. If there is away to join without suddenly appearing, let me know, otherwise I am not sure what you are getting at.

          I will give you a little more background. I am a loyal friend, I value fairness, and I try to stand up for the underdog. If I see bullying, I try to politely defuse the situation. Sometimes that is by gently complimenting the useful content, but pointing out the caustic attacks.

          I have answered your questions.
          Can you do me the courtesy of answering mine?
          I apologize -the tone of the original question was not as respectful as it could have been.
          Please allow me to rephrase.

          You unambiguously disrespect posters who do not agree with you. They are not disrespectful, they just have different opinions.

          Can you please explain why you do that, rather than treat them with respect? What is your intended result?

          Do you think that is beneficial to the site? Do you care?

        • Rayne says:

          You just spent 315 words *not* about the topic. Can we focus on the topic, please, instead of piling on about moderation?

  27. mgloraine says:

    I think it’s important for the committee to state their findings in full. If they have encountered evidence of criminal activity, then a referral to DOJ is appropriate, knowing in advance that the referral may not result in indictments. If the committee makes NO referrals, then the Trumpniks will be crowing about how they were “completely exonerated”.

  28. bgThenNow says:

    Thank you, Rayne for the wonderful wrap-up. I appreciate bmaz for the point you made clarifying your stance WRT trials. I had a lot going on and haven’t had time to catch up here. But EW is my touchstone every time. I always read all the comments as well. One of the first things I learned in college was that I was not as smart as I thought I was. I’m still learning, thanks to you, which is one good thing.

  29. Paulka says:

    The quick and comprehensive guilty verdicts in the Trump inc trial may indicate that convicting Trump of the crimes he has committed may not be the difficult task many think

  30. Bay State Librul says:

    I think it was Mike Tyson who said that everybody has a plan until they get hit in the face. My plan was to give my thoughts on the J6 Committee, with emphasis on the members, and the role that history will place on it. My fifth attempt. Thanks Jack

    Bravo Rayne, for your counter points to the Committe Hearings that are now part of our history.
    I’ve given my two cents worth (ad infinitum), so I’ll just mention a few observations.
    First, thanks to Bennie (MS), Liz (WY), Adam (IL), Elaine (VA), Jamie (MD), Murph (FL) and the three from California, Pete, Adam and Zoey – The citizens each of each state should be proud of their contributions
    Second, I used the trusty Urban Dictionary to define “Media Whore” in which I pulled out three examples:
    A celebrity who sells out their integrity for fame and fortune, the psychological need to get into TV, Film, Radio, or print, or finally, a journalist who writes stories at the expense of truth and objectivity.
    In my opinion, the members failed to meet the bar.

Comments are closed.