The J6 Committee Proves Themselves To Be Suspect Media Whores

Well, here it is. J6 Chairman Bennie Thompson, clearly fueled by Liz Cheney, is going to do one of the dumbest things ever.

A “criminal referral” from this Committee means absolutely nothing. The DOJ will prosecute individuals and/or entities on their own. “Referrals” from Thompson, Cheney and the J6 Committee mean less than nothing legally.

It is noise. It is garbage. And worthless except for preening J6 members. They are proving themselves to be the infomercial jokes they are.

108 replies
  1. Dale Newman says:

    Try looking at it from another angle than just your legal only view. The J6 Committee is a political entity. What they have produced just might mean something to the people they represent who happen to not be lawyers or judges. It may be of interest to those people that the J6 investigation has led the committee to the conclusion that crimes have been committed. It could help people that don’t follow court proceedings and don’t understand them to their own opinions and conclusions in their own minds, which might effect how they look at certain politicians and their followers. That could lead to better decisions on who they vote for and even IF they vote.

    I’ll go put my armoured suit on now.

    • bmaz says:

      Naw, I will stick where I am at. When the Committee takes it upon themselves to make “criminal referrals”, they are trying to be far more than just a “political entity”.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Maybe that referral is a prerequisite for DoJ to get the evidence. If it’s not, then it’s really clickbait. IIRC, Thompson was talking about some perjured witnesses which would be a crime (lying to Congress) for DoJ to investigate.

        It will be more interesting to see what DoJ does with the referrals and who gets them: Garland or Smith?

        • Bombay Troubadour says:

          Political postering and an attempt at anchoring their narrative for future employment? No doubt about it.
          But I Pollyanna believe that the committee served an important function in getting closer to the truth and putting it on the congressional record. I’m not sure the new Congress majority will have the same standards in their ‘investigative’ committees and impeachment attempts.
          Merrick Garland has history in his hands… least until some future state legis bans the teaching of it, like some CRT.

        • Sam Wellington says:

          Except the DOJ has literally been hounding the committee for the evidence especially the closed door testimonies for quite some time now and they have not provided a good reason for not handing it over!

          [FYI – if you find your comment does not clear promptly it may be because of a typo in the username/email/url fields. Yours has been corrected this one time. /~Rayne]

      • Kevin Brady says:

        When I left this site a couple of years ago it was because you were a condescending pompous ass. Seems nothing has changed – bye again

        • 2Cats2Furious says:

          I’ve only recently discovered this site, and I appreciate Ms. Wheeler’s insights.

          I don’t know what bmaz’s credentials are, but it appears he has nothing to offer except criticism. A 3-paragraph post complaining about the 1/6 committee, which has done excellent work?

          WTF is bmaz bringing to the table, besides being disagreeable?

        • Rayne says:

          Welcome to emptywheel. I suspect you have not acquainted yourself with the About Us page which I recommend to you.

          bmaz is an attorney with considerable experience practicing both criminal and civil trial law. His experience shapes his opinion.

          I’m just a political activist and blogger with a diverse background in business and technology. This shapes my opinion.

          We often agree; we just don’t agree about the J6 Committee’s handling of its investigation.

          And we are often potty mouthed and critical here; gods know I’ve sworn a blue streak especially about the orange twatwaffle who occupied our White House.

          Having said all that, please focus on the topic. What do you have to say about the meat of this post — has the J6 Committee overreached in seeking attention? Could they have handle the results of their findings differently?

        • 2Cats2Furious says:

          Thank you for the information. I was a civil litigator for decades (now retired), so I am unbothered by valid criticism or salty language. I do, however, have issues with ad hominem attacks, and plain old rudeness.

          Because you asked me to comment on the “meat” of the post, my issue is that there is no “meat.” There is an opinion that the J6 committee making criminal referrals to DOJ is “one of the dumbest things ever.” The only support for this rather bold assertion is that DOJ will make its own prosecution decisions, which isn’t exactly a brilliant legal insight, followed by a bunch of personal attacks on the J6 committee members.

          Where is the legal analysis as to WHY the referrals are a bad decision, much less “one of the dumbest things ever”? How could this possibly have a negative impact on future prosecutions? I think bmaz could have explained at least that much, with specifics, such that a new reader like myself could understand the basis for his unsupported assertions.

          Anyone who has followed the process already knows that the House has already made several referrals to DOJ, some of which DOJ has chosen to prosecute (Steve Bannon, who was convicted), and some of which they’ve declined to prosecute (Mark Meadows). Why should additional criminal referrals be any different, or problematic? The committee may well have information that the DOJ does not, which could be useful in making more expedited prosecutorial decisions. And frankly, I’m certain the committee will leave the door open for the DOJ to decide to bring whatever charges they see fit. Until we see the final report, neither bmaz nor I are frankly in a position to criticize the decision to issue referrals.

          I gather from the tone of the post that bmaz sees the J6 committee as useless, or perhaps worse than useless. I disagree. Through the committee’s work, I learned a lot more about the “behind the scenes” actions leading up to, and on, J6. I think the committee did an invaluable job of informing the electorate, unlike the vast majority of “showboating” hearings we see in Congress. So no, I don’t think the committee is overreaching in “seeking attention” – the voting public needs this information, and Congress needs to take whatever steps necessary to ensure we don’t have another J6.

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks for the follow through.

          WRT this: “Anyone who has followed the process already knows that the House has already made several referrals to DOJ, some of which DOJ has chosen to prosecute (Steve Bannon, who was convicted), and some of which they’ve declined to prosecute (Mark Meadows).

          These particular referrals were related to the conduct of the J6 Committee’s investigation. Bannon in particular was vocal about refusing to cooperate. Meadows, on the other hand, was in partial compliance — communications were turned over IIRC but he wouldn’t testify in person. Prosecuting Meadows with the likelihood he’d invoke executive privilege to drag out his case, sucking up valuable resources and impeding other investigation avenues could explain why nothing happened with Meadows’ failure to fully comply with the subpoena.

          I have to believe the J6 Committee’s referrals will not pertain to the investigation but the attack itself, punctuating what the final report will say, i.e. The Committee found [X] had done [Y] based on evidence [Z] and therefore refers [X] to DOJ releasing documentation [Z].

        • 2Cats2Furious says:

          You are likely correct about the reasons behind DOJ’s decisions to prosecute or not for prior criminal contempt referrals. I elected not to go into the details, because my response was already longer than bmaz’s OP.

          That said, I don’t think anyone can say for certain whether the J6 committee referrals will be limited to those arising from the investigation itself (for example, contempt or perjury), or whether they will attempt to be more comprehensive (for example, charges for seditious conspiracy). We just won’t know until we see the final report, so I think it’s premature to criticize the committee.

          Regardless, any good lawyer – and there are many on the committee and its staff – will likely present the referrals as a non-exhaustive list, noting that final prosecutorial decisions are to be made by DOJ based on the facts and evidence before it.

          None of this changes the fact that you and I have put a lot more thought into this issue than bmaz did in his OP. If he has objections to the idea of the J6 committee making criminal referrals to DOJ – before we’ve even seen what those referrals are – then he should use his words to explain WHY those referrals are a bad idea, rather than just calling the committee “media whores.”

        • bmaz says:

          Hi there. I’ll take care of myself. Never attack anybody else if your intent is to come for me. In your history here, you have two full comments. You are a newfound troll, at best.

        • 2Cats2Furious says:

          Wow. You’re even more of a jerk than I thought.

          Who do you think I “attacked,”other than you? Please be specific. I certainly didn’t go after Rayne, who I quite obviously agree with, or anyone else here.

          As for calling me a “newfound troll, at best,” based on the fact that I’m a new commenter, I mentioned at the outset that I was new to this site.

          Lawyers like you reaffirm my decision to retire from the profession. Apparently you never learned the lesson that it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

        • bmaz says:

          Sure. But I have been here forever and did not just wander in to attack us. Like you did.

          If you are too much of an “ethical lawyer”, please explain. I will be right here, where I have always been, and you have never been.

        • 2Cats2Furious says:

          I didn’t “wander in to attack” emptywheel. To the contrary, I specifically praised Ms. Wheeler’s insights.

          I only raised issues with your specific post, which I thought was rude, and unsupported by evidence.

          Again, if you think I leveled criticism towards anyone but you, please let me know, and be specific.

          If it’s your contention that new posters aren’t allowed to state their opinion or be critical of just you, specifically, then say so.

        • Chuffy says:

          I’ve been a reader of this blog for a minute, and to you as a newcomer, would like to offer a bit of devil’s advocacy/perspective on bmaz:

          Moderating comments sections is a real pain in the ass. This blog has open comments, but it is really, really clean of a lot of trolls and clowns. This is largely due to Rayne and bmaz’s approach. There’s a bit of a “locals only” feel to it. The net positive of that is that the comments section here is often full of really thoughtful and deep conversations. It’s almost a rite of passage to get slapped down for your username being too vague, or to get taken down a peg for comments about the moderators, rather than the substance of the posts. It also has the benefit of the comments section being about topics, not individuals.

          Moderating comments sections is really hard work. bmaz is cantankerous, but he also keeps this page relevant. If you have the stones to comment, more power to you, but have a take and be ready to bring it…

          I rarely comment for this reason. Some of my thoughts are poorly constructed, maybe speculative, maybe not really germane. None of that flies here. Have thick skin, be ready to back up what you say, and stick around for a bit before you chime in. This J6 post requires a lot of context, because what you are probably looking for is likely already said in hundreds of previous comments over the course of this year…if you haven’t been around for long, you will likely be missing that context.

          Bad cop + locals only with a large portion of refusal to suffer fools…this is a service that often grates, but also has a really positive impact on the quality of the comments section.

        • 2Cats2Furious says:


          Thank you for your insights. My initial posts got stuck in moderation, so please excuse the untimeliness of my response.

          In my short time here, I do appreciate that the comments seem to be of a higher quality, and relevant to the actual post, than a lot of other sites. I assume that is because of the moderation, which I acknowledge is a difficult task.

          I still don’t think anything I said could properly be construed as trolling – and that was certainly not my intent. But, I acknowledge that my limited exposure to bmaz led me to the conclusion that he’s fairly rude, and that did move me to comment in the 1st place, as opposed to commenting on one of the many posts I do find helpful here. That’s my bad.

        • Chuffy says:

          Your exclusively cantankerous posts and comments are pretty good troll bait. Not that 2Cats was trolling in the least. Certainly not the only reader of this fine blog to hold the opinions brought forth.

        • 2Cats2Furious says:

          I certainly didn’t intend to troll anyone, nor do I think I did so inadvertently. If anything, I thought the OP was trolling.

          But if new commenters are automatically dismissed as trolls, just because they’re critical of a post, that doesn’t seem like a very good business model.

          Perhaps it’s unhelpful that the 1st post I was moved to comment on was this one. However, it’s also unhelpful that – as a new visitor to to this site – the posts and comments I’ve seen so far from bmaz have been singularly rude and devoid of legal analysis. I take it that I’m not alone in that assessment.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Can’t wait to see how substantive is their final report. Should say more about the committee than this feckless criminal referral, which DoJ will consider de novo. I’m most suspicious about whether and how Cheney will convince Thompson to keep its scope narrow, rather than to document for the public the wide range of wrong and/or illegal conduct the committee’s investigation unearthed.

  3. AlaskaReader says:

    The idea that lawmakers should not make criminal referrals after unearthing evidence of crimes is just odd.

    I would hope that my representatives in Congress would make criminal referrals should they uncover evidence of crimes.

    I’d be mighty upset by Congress failing to do so.

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, would you now? You think useless and meaningless political gestures are super seriously important? And you think that partisan political “referrals” are grand? What will you think a year from now when Jim Jordan is making them? Will you still believe the same, or naw?

      • Rugger_9 says:

        What would be the mechanism to get the information from the J6 committee to prosecutors for action? It’s not clear to me that the J6SC would have the same data set as DoJ, and I’m not really keen on the idea of sharing investigators especially in GOP hands.

      • Klaatu Something says:

        “Meaning” exists in context. Any J6 Committee referral is not a “meaningless political gesture”, it carries significant political (if not legal) weight. Any referrals from JJ also carry political weight, even if (to sane people) it’s a joke.

        • bmaz says:

          No, it really is useless. And “carries” nothing more than glory whoring by the J6 Committee. In fact crim referrals from the Committee are worse than doing nothing whatsoever.

        • Klaatu Something says:

          “Not meaningful to me” is not the same as “meaningless”.

          You are all map and no territory.

      • Steve Carrow says:

        Seriously, who urinated in your breakfast cereal? I think it indicates a “sense of Congress” indication; not without value. As for whatever Gym Jordan will do as he runs the HJC into the ground, he gonna do it anyway, as anyone reading this fine blog knows.

        • bmaz says:

          I do not eat “breakfast cereal”.

          Lol, the “sense of Congress”. Take that to Starbucks and try to buy a cuppa coffee.

        • timbozone says:

          The sometimes incapacitating nature of Gym Jordan—one incapacitating character of his anyways—is his inability to think of something effective until he sees someone else do it. In this sense, if the J6 Committee were to be effective >politically< in making a criminal referral, he would naturally seek to be also effective at this. Whether he would succeed is, frankly, up to the winds of misfortune. The point is though that Jordan is emboldened by any perceived use of power he feels he can apply. That is not to say that a criminal referral by the J6 Committee is a bad idea, only pointing out that showing someone like Gym Jordan blue prints on how to be a more effective bully is perhaps the other edge of a blade.

      • Bombay Troubadour says:

        With due respect, Do you think that Jordan will have the same level of evidence to make a case to the public? Or to make a criminal referral? Would Jordan have that same damaging testimony from Democrats against their own Biden admin? Like Bill Barr finally admitting Trump bad? That could happen to Dems? Would the ‘what about, same as’ media spin it as just equal political posturing from the R’s ? Perhaps in this post-truth era it won’t make any difference to the comfortably numb masses.
        I sure would like to be a fly on the wall in some of the grand juries, democracy on life-support.

        • SteveinMA says:

          My thoughts exactly. Jordan COULD make some referral, but I seriously doubt whether it would have anything resembling real evidence of a crime. While the J6 committee will supply DOJ with reams of evidence (which DOJ may or may not use). I almost hope Jordan will do so, if only to have someone (probably not in DOJ though I would welcome it) point out what a crock of crap he has submitted. Not incidentally, note how the Benghazi hearings produced absolutely nothing of substance. Typical RW nonsense.

      • AlaskaReader says:

        Yes, I would. I just said so.

        As to Jordan or any other winger, I’m confident the referrals would stand or not based on their merits.

        Are you one to propose that if one sees clear evidence of a crime they have no responsibility to report it?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Congress and DoJ operate on parallel tracks. DoJ doesn’t need a referral from Congress to investigate. If it gets one, it considers it from scratch, giving Congress’s views – or the views of any other referer – no special regard.

      DoJ would, however, have benefited from more and earlier evidence sharing. That that doesn’t seem to have happened here seems to be on Thompson and Cheney.

      What Congress should do is publish verified facts about who and what it investigated and what it thinks the implications of that are, for the public and future legislative action. I can imagine, for example, several legislative improvements Congress could take in response to the facts this committee unearthed. (Those will now have to wait until the Dems regain control of both houses.)

      Lastly, I note that Thompson, again, is only saying his committee might make referrals, which goes to bmaz’s point. Not much sand left in the hourglass. His committee should shit or get off the pot.

      • Chuck M. says:

        “What Congress should do is publish verified facts about who and what it investigated and what it thinks the implications of that are, for the public and future legislative action. ”

        Excuse me. That’s been plainly stated as the plan from Day One of the hearings.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Excuse me, Chuck M, have you seen the infighting with Liz Cheney over the scope of the final report? I’ll focus on what politicians do, not what they say, thanks very much.

        • Chuck M. says:

          Sure, fine. Very aware of some competing interests and I’m pretty confident they’ll work it out, and as directed and promised, will issue a report. My comment on your comment was that it sounded like maybe you missed that part. A report is part of their mandate.
          Maybe I misinterpreted your point? Or you think the creation of that report is undecided?
          Just looking for some clarity, which in the context of the original post was less clear.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          A report might be part of J6’s mandate, but how thorough will it be? That Cheney should be fighting over its breadth and detail, and Thompson is still only considering criminal referrals to the DoJ, as of December 6th, are not causes for optimism.

  4. Tom R. says:

    For years we have seen asymmetric warfare: One side presents a meticulous legal case, while the other side wages a PR campaign. We saw this in connection with the Mueller investigation, two impeachments, and many other examples. It’s as if somebody told the Democrats on Capitol Hill not to bring a knife to a gunfight, so they brought a spoon.

    Now it seems they have wised up a bit. They have decided that unilateral disarmament in the communications sphere is not a good strategy. The direct effect of a referral on DoJ is small, but that’s not why they are doing it.

    There is a world outside the courtroom. Not everything in life is governed by FRCrP. Lincoln said: “With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.” Not everybody who is concerned about public sentiment is a media whore.

    • RJ says:

      Hear, hear they are playing to the broader community, not just a functional move.
      [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Please also stick with your unique username for future comments; you have commented as “Randomizer” previously. /~Rayne]

    • Adam Selene says:

      Thanks for your response TomR. I think this action by Bennie Thompson was his way of putting a final stamp on the investigation.

      The heinous crimes of TFG and his MAGA army of neo-fascists before and after January 6, 2021 were not noise. The January 6 hearings were not a Democratic “meaningless gesture”. But that’s how Faux News and hate radio have framed it.

      I think the Honorable Bennie Thompson was daring the DoJ not to drop it all in January when the GOP is back in control. It may likely happen IMO.

      I see others here are also cutting the chairman some slack.

        • Adam Selene says:

          I know, just as preposterous as Trump being impeached twice and not being convicted, and trying to violently overthrow a US presidential election.

          Sheer nonsense.

        • RJames0723 says:

          The DoJ is under the control of the Executive branch. Other than dragging Garland and Smith before them to answer questions, the House has little say over what the DoJ persues. Pelosi had no control over what Barr did.
          As to the Senate not convicting the previous President, that has nothing to do with the DoJ.
          The DoJ is investigating the attempt to overthrow the 2020 election and we will see where that leads.
          So yes, sheer nonsense.

        • Adam Selene says:

          I am totally with you and want it to be true, but my faith in justice fell apart in 2000 when Al Gore might have won without Trump’s favorite Attorney General of Florida helped Florida’s favorite son Bush II by some electoral magic. Ask Al to clarify that.

          I love this country, and the thugs that occupy high places that they shouldn’t can muck things up, as the insurrection did.

        • Rayne says:

          If your faith in justice fell apart in 2000, I wonder that you bother to come here to this blog where contributors’ work attempts to preserve and defend civil liberties and justice in what remains of US democracy.

          I also wonder if you’ve done anything at all to remedy that failure in the last 20 years. I took up both political activism and blogging because of it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Not to drop a ball that Thompson’s successor will soon deflate and hide in the cloakroom?

        We have yet to see what steps J6 will take to preserve its record – however complete it is – and pass it on, perhaps to a Senate committee, if possible, and/or to the DoJ. But it’s getting late for Thompson to say he’s only “considering” doing something.

    • GrantS01 says:

      You have said it better than I could. Thank you. Politics does not take place in a court room (solely) and the DOJ news audience is far smaller than the J6 Committee’s reach. They get to inform before the large group of right-wing sites frame their message over it.

  5. Rapier says:

    Says the NY Times; “Representative Bennie Thompson said no decision had been made on who would be the subject of the referrals or what the charges would be.”. Ouch.

    That said, of course congressional hearings are partly infomercials but more seriously they are a historical record. The problem being few care about history and more than half that do care prefer to rewrite history to their liking. I’m not sure capturing 1/8th of a news cycle rates as the dumbest thing ever.

    • Timmer says:

      Indeed….part of historical record. Many of us do not have the time or patience required to dig into or understand legal arguments being made. Thanks to DrEW for helping us to understand and to the free press, such as it is, to report on J6 hearings

  6. clyde g says:

    Isn’t it a legal (& moral) responsibility to report a federal felony to authorities (misprision of felony)?

    • Glen Dudek says:

      IANAL, but my understanding is that misprision of a felony only applies if one affirmatively takes steps to conceal it, which would not be the case here.

  7. viget says:

    Not to poke the bear here, but I partially disagree with bmaz. If there are new crimes directly related to the committee’s investigation, especially if it’s from actors we haven’t heard about yet, then by all means, refer. These could yield useful cooperation agreements in the J6 prosecutions writ large.

    But if it’s just a rehashing of crimes we know were committed or have suspected were, I do think that’s something of a joke and can only serve to de-legitimize the Special Counsel’s work. Let the DOJ do their talking in the indictments and trials.

    So, I will respectfully reserve judgement here. I’ve seen stories that the committee’s final report WILL be comprehensive and not just a rehash of Trump’s crimes and the public hearings. If that is true, then I suspect we will see some interesting things with the DOJ referrals as well.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m with you.

      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.

      • Gatorbaiter says:

        Perjury should be referred as well, too many people escaped accountability for lying about Russian contacts.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, sure, a late and legally feckless “referral”, that would be withdrawn within 30 days is going to mean anything whatsoever. Other than to prove what a joke Cheney and Bennie have been.

        • Peterr says:

          You keep using that word “prove.” You appear to me to be assuming facts not in evidence.

          Congress has made criminal referrals in the past. When the ethics committees of either the House or Senate find that one of their members has (in their opinion) committed crimes, they pass that information along to the DOJ. They can expel the member, but cannot prosecute them for crimes. When Congress believes that someone has lied to them in a hearing, they pass that along for a criminal investigation and possible prosecution. When Congress comes across evidence in the course of their work that indicates that a crime has been committed, such as a contractor who has committed fraud, they refer that to the DOJ. It’s what they do.

          That is not to say that any of these referrals obligate DOJ to prosecute, or even to investigate what is referred. Congress is saying nothing more or less than “we think there’s a possible crime here, and here’s why . . .” To say that a referral “proves” legal fecklessness is nonsense.

        • Peterr says:

          Ad hominems do not become you.

          I don’t recall you taking such umbrage when Congress made referrals to DOJ after the hearings on USA Gymnastics failing to protect gymnasts. From Politico:

          Two top senators on Friday accused the U.S. Olympic Committee’s former CEO of lying to Congress about his handling of abuse allegations against USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar, and said they have referred the matter to the Justice Department.

          Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D. Conn.), who are the lead members of a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the health and safety of U.S. Olympic and NCAA athletes, said Scott Blackmun made “materially false statements contained in his written testimony to the Subcommittee during the course of the Subcommittee’s investigation.”

          Once referrals are made by the J6 committee, we can judge their fecklessness. Until then, you’re just speculating.

  8. dRose says:

    I think the criminal referral is also a response to the Mueller fiasco that allowed certain folks to claim that no criminal activity had been uncovered because the findings were not identified explicitly as criminal. If the J6 committee makes a criminal referral it is simply stating clearly that they believe they have uncovered criminal activity in the investigation. Nothing more than that, but nothing less.

  9. wetzel says:

    Congress itself was attacked. It is altogether fit and proper for the victim of a crime to report it to the proper authorities. Furthermore, if the Jan 6 committee were not to make ‘criminal referrals’, that would not be simply ‘inaction’ or ‘silence’. It would be that the Jan 6 committee decided not to make criminal referrals (based on what?) They can’t just say we decided not to make criminal referrals because bmaz told us it would serve any purpose.

    From the beginning of this process, it has been widely covered that ‘criminal referrals’ might be forthcoming when the committee wraps up its business. If the Jan 6 committee ‘decided not to make criminal referrals’ it will be presented as a finding of exoneration along the lines of the Mueller report. They would say ‘We have chosen not to make criminal referrals’, and the history books will say in Florida that the Jan 6 committee did not find any evidence of crimes.

  10. ExpatR&RDino-sour says:

    Try looking at it from another angle than just your legal only view. The J6 Committee is a political entity. What they have produced just might mean something to the people they represent who happen to not be lawyers or judges. It may be of interest to those people that the J6 investigation has led the committee to the conclusion that crimes have been committed. It could help people that don’t follow court proceedings and don’t understand them to their own opinions and conclusions in their own minds, which might effect how they look at certain politicians and their followers. That could lead to better decisions on who they vote for and even IF they vote.

    I’ll go put my armoured suit on now.

    • giorgino says:

      Well I’m behind you, and you don’t seem so sour. Personally, I think symbolism is important; it’s a mirror through which we understand the world that we live in. Studying medieval manuscripts as an under-grad, the iconography and symbols of that time provided much information, and led to the understanding of not only the documents, but also the times in which they were produced; especially the times.

  11. Chuck M. says:

    An excessively harsh post on this very important subject.

    This series of hearings is as much about optics as it is about the historical record. That doesn’t mean it’s some kind of Kabuki, the optics accurately show thorough investigation, and therefore it’s necessary to respond to criminal behavior in more than buried in a report (ala Mueller, et al). Obviously optics are everything in Washington in gaining the public’s trust, and the behavior of the Republicans and their minion has enjoyed a pretty cushy, enabling ride. This committee owes it to the public to show they accomplished more than a pretty document, regardless what the pundit class thinks about it.

    Disappointing that this otherwise thoughtful blog would take this negative stance.

      • Gatorbaiter says:

        Not fair at all, comparing Trusty to Bmaz is akin to comparing an ant to an ardvaark, Bmaz would eat him alive.

        • Sloth Sloman says:

          I’m commenting on the post itself, not the person who wrote it.

          It is fair, because this post is just as substantive as a Trusty filing. Loud, obnoxious claims with no supporting evidence (if it exists, it’s not in the filing/post). I’m sure there would be things I agree with had there been elaboration on the point, but there is nothing to parse because there is no argument being made; it is just a reminder of the author’s position on the J6 Committee.

    • Tech Support says:

      On some level there needs to be a dialog between those elected to congress and the people who elect them. At today’s scale and with today’s technology, I can accept the theory that symbolic acts intended for mass media consumption are a legitimate tool in the communication toolbox.

      It’s not clear to me that this specific example will prove to have any value in shaping public discourse (aside from any potential real-world suggested by EW above) but we’ll see?

  12. Ginevra diBenci says:

    It seems that Rep. Thompson got ahead of the other committee members. The fact that he had to walk his original statement back indicates that they are not media whores; they’re not even all on-message. They have struggled all along to find that messaging discipline, partly because they’re wrestling so much factual content into a coherent form.

    Jim Jordan has always benefited from a complete vacuum in terms of substance, which allows him to blather freely at will. Yes, I fully expect him to make criminal referrals of his own. That’s what the whole “laptop” “scandal” is made for, and since they have nothing else they will surely go with that.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I don’t think your second sentence holds water. Not agreeing on the message just means they don’t agree on the message.

  13. massappeal says:

    Interesting comment and thread; thanks, all.

    I’ll make a slightly different version of a point several others have made: the Jan6 committee is a more a political entity doing politics than it is a legal entity doing law. When dealing with political conspiracies like Jan6 (or like Watergate), there’s room, indeed need, for both.

    In his Watergate book, Jimmy Breslin put it this way: ““This is a country of men, not laws, and therefore the situation at this point needed a man; a working politician; a professional; a drinking, eating, handshaking member of the Elks, Knights of Columbus, Knights of St. Finbar; trustee of Boston College; Man of the Year 1962; National Conference of Christians and Jews; a director of the United Appeal; a ten-term Congressman who had spent 4,000 nights at dinner tables everywhere in the city of Washington. Only a working politician could challenge and erode the one thing Richard Nixon could not afford to lose: the support of political people.” ”

    Trump will be removed from the public arena not simply by convicting him in a court of law, but also by eroding his political base in the Republican party until a critical mass of that base turns away from him and the movement he represents. To the extent the Jan6 committee helps that process along, more power to them.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There’s virtually nothing Trump could do or be convicted of – no sex, drug, financial, or political crimes – that would erode his base. The exception is when someone else comes along who “wins” more. That is, who’s more radical and effective at owning the libs. Hence, the downward spiral toward greater fascism.

      • Marji Campbell says:

        Maybe. I check over at the foxnews online site sometimes to see how they cover big news. Usually they ignore it. This time, the trump org convictions were top of the page, and the comments were not positive for trump. I think what will bring him down is being seen as a lover. I think we are reaching critical mass on that!

      • massappeal says:

        For Trump’s hardcore base, I agree. There’s some percentage that will always support him (or whichever fascist comes along).

        Side note: After the Obama – Alan Keyes senate race, when 27% of the Illinois electorate voted for Keyes blogger John Rogers half-jokingly postulated the existence of the crazification factor, or the Keyes constant—that 27% of any given electorate is crazy. A similar percentage supported Nixon until the end.

        The other 20% or so of Trump’s base, I think, can be eroded away from him. One way is, as you suggest, if a new and improved fascist comes along and Trump “loses” to them. But there’s another way too: if “the libs” start owning Trump.

        We saw some of that with the Jan6 committee hearings this summer. Their report may (or may not) add to that sense, politically. Various investigations and court cases may add to that sense as well.

  14. Troutwaxer says:

    There are other realities than the courtroom, including public understanding and what the propaganda will be like in the event that the J-6 committee doesn’t make referrals.

  15. ergonap1 says:

    Thank you for this. A lot of other places I read implied that this was a lot of significance (which I didn’t know any better), but your writing here provides plenty of clarity.

  16. Willis Warren says:

    It’s a historical document, in the same way that all impeachments and investigations are, B. I think it’s fairly important, although the republicans will respond with something stupid

  17. Randy Baker says:

    Insofar as Mr. Smith is the real deal, it may well be that the committee’s referral is immaterial. However, given the history of DOJ’s avoiding prosecution of rich and/or powerful white guys — something neither DOJ nor most government officials or pundits acknowledge [U.S. District Court Judge Rakoff, being a notable exception], the referral may well serve as prophylaxis to DOJ’s repeating this pattern in Trump’s case. The six month delay in its securing a search warrant of Mara Lago after notice Trump had stolen, and indeed threatening national security documents there, indicates DOJ may have been trying to repeat this history with Trump.
    At some point it is possible the history of the DOJ investigation into Trump may become public. My bet is that the history will show that it was the “preening Jan 6 members”, and particularly their public hearings, that caused DOJ to move up the food chain directly to the Orange Beast.

  18. David F. Snyder says:

    Legally useless, but politically helpful. Of course, “helpful people are a nuisance.” Nonetheless, the folks back home want to know that their reps think the man’s a crook (or not). Congress is how The People address the executive branch, after all. Still, the legislation that failed to pass had the actual teeth needed. The GOP has managed to neuter the J6 committee pretty well, in that regard.

  19. jksardonyx says:

    It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. One seemingly insubstantial little straw. Not a big heavy cinder block, which would be greatly appreciated by all of us. But more straws please too!

  20. Just Some Guy says:

    So let me get this straight: we’re supposed to respect every jury’s decision because jury members take their jobs seriously, weigh all the evidence impartially, work hard, and most importantly are a part of our justice system which, despite being made up of wholly-fallible human beings, is somehow infallible…

    …yet we’re supposed to disrespect the January 6th Committee and its decisions because the Committee members somehow don’t take their jobs seriously, don’t weigh all the evidence impartially (how could they? it’s “politics” after all!), work hard, and most importantly are a part of our political system which, despite everyone knowing that it is made up of wholly-fallible human beings just like our justice system, is somehow much, much worse?

    Did I get that right? Polite replies only, please! And please let me know in advance if in reply which honorific is required.

  21. BenF57DC says:

    IMO the only thing that criminal referrals would accomplish would be to bolster Trump’s claims that any charges brought against him and his allies are politically motivated.

    • Rayne says:

      Mm-hmm. Which is why the hearings were conducted the way they were, with GOP reps Cheney and Kinzinger often in the public eye.

      But it’s rather difficult to get around what our lyin’ eyes and ears told us.

  22. velcroman says:

    I can easily imagine that thousands of constituents are calling their Representatives to demand a criminal referral. Which, all things considered, is a decent reason for doing it, assuming no harm is done legally.

    A couple of questions:

    Does a referral harm anything, other than the reputation of Congress in the eyes of some, but not all, Americans?

    What is the best way for the Committee to put a bow on the proceedings that makes it clear that crimes were committed and should be pursued? Surely you are not expecting a Committee to refrain from a final summary announcement, other than a lengthy and dense report? How would that announcement be fundamentally different from a criminal referral?

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