The 2020 Democratic National Committee Report on Capitol Hill Insights into the 2016 Watergate Slepton Scenario: Myths and Practices Revisited
Editor’s Note: Julian Zelizer, a CNN political analyst, is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author and editor of 24 books, including ” The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment.” Follow him on Twitter @julianzelizer. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. CNN has more opinion on it.
The committee also revealed evidence of the extensive contact between Trump’s allies, particularly Roger Stone, and militant right-wing extremist groups, such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. There had been warnings about the seriousness of the threat of violence against the Capitol.
The committee is bound to seek answers from the man who set this all in motion. We can act now to protect the Republic because every American is entitled to the answers.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, and other legislative leaders were shown in never-before-seen footage scrambling to obtain more police and national guard forces to repel the rioters on Capitol Hill.
In public hearings during the past four months, the bipartisan panel attempted to reveal the full context of what happened that day and who was responsible.
The campaign to overturn the 2020 election, one of the most distinctive elements of which is that it happened in broad daylight, is very different from the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon in 1974.
If Biden had been elected it would have been through the rhetoric of a stolen election that would give pause to his supporters and cause them to doubt the legitimacy of his victory. The team discussed how to achieve their goal.
The Mueller Report of January 6, 2020: How the Trump Administration Attempted to Spread Doubt about Election Results Including the Campaign against Robbery
The committee did an admirable job of filling out the story, even though they did not know at the time how dangerous the events of those months were.
Intentionality: The committee demonstrated that January 6 was not some sort of one-off, unintended day of chaos where events unexpectedly spun out of control. It was premeditated.
The panel examined how intentional the Trump administration had been in attempting to spread doubt about the election results – from testing different theories about challenging the results, to leaning on state officials – like their push in Georgia – to literally change the vote, to mobilizing supporters to intimidate Congress as they certified the Electoral College results.
Steve Bannon said to a group of people that the former president would say he was victorious, but it wasn’t a declaration of victory. “If Biden is winning, Trump is going to do some crazy shit,” Bannon predicted.
When told in subsequent weeks repeatedly by top election and legal advisers, such as then-Attorney General William Barr, that the claims of fraud were “bullshit,” Trump and his inner cabal ignored those warnings and moved forward with reckless abandon.
On the day of the “Stop the Steal” rally, January 6, 2021, Trump knew that the protesters were armed and dangerous but did nothing to stop them. He wanted to go to Capitol Hill, but a Secret Service agent prevented him from going. The former president even lunged at a Secret Service agent and tried to steer the wheel of the car when he was told he couldn’t go, according to former aide Cassidy Hutchinson.
Trump and his attorneys, such as Rudy Giuliani, probed to see if various state officials would do their bidding. Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a staunch conservative who backed the administration, was unsettled as Giuliani and Trump pressured him during a phone call in late November 2020 to have the state legislature reconvene and invalidate the results in his state. The road map for the attempted election fraud was written by the president’s lawyer and he urged the aides to reject the results.
The Campaign to Overturn the 2020 Election: The January 6 Violence, the Marching Mob, and the Final Hearing of Trump’s 2016 Campaign
Continuum: January 6 was just one piece of a much larger story. The committee is not just called the January 6 committee, but a committee to look into the campaign to overturn the 2020 election. The months of November 2020 and January 2021, are important to understand.
Chairman Bennie Thompson said that the Trump administration embarked on a systematic “multi-part” plan to overturn the election. The January 6 violence and the rally were just part of a bigger strategy.
The committee members made it clear to Trump that he wasn’tduped or irrational. He knew what he was doing. After the Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit backed by the former president in December 2020, Trump, who the Secret Service said was “pissed,” was heard saying he didn’t “want people to know we lost.”
When the mob attacked the Capitol, Cheney added, Trump engaged in “shameful” behavior by sitting and watching the violence on television. His actions, Cheney said, were “unlawful” and “an utter moral failure” and a “clear dereliction of duty.” When he finally agreed to call off his supporters, Rep. Elaine Luria noted, he did so with language that justified what the rioters had done.
Ongoing Threat: The committee wanted to make it clear that the danger is not over in the future, in the hearing Thursday. “There remains a clear and present danger to our electoral system and to democratic institutions,” Raskin said, “So, that is something that will come through in our final hearing. This is not ancient history we’re talking about; this is a continuing threat.” That continued threat exists on many levels. The rhetoric of election denialism is being used by Republican candidates in the upcoming elections.
Republicans who subscribe to this agenda are also running for several key offices, ranging from gubernatorial positions to secretaries of state in key states such as Pennsylvania and Arizona, all of whom will play a key role in overseeing future elections. And, finally, the former president remains the top contender for the Republican nomination in 2024.
When she asked why Americans should think those institutions will be able to do things next time, Cheney made it clear that she was referring to the wrong people in positions of power. The story of January 6 turned out to be a string of officials, many of whom were Republicans, who refused to go along with the scheme. She reminded the nation that our institutions “only hold when men and women of good faith” make sure that they are strong regardless of the political consequences.
It will be up to prosecutors to decide if the criminal referrals are made to the Justice Department. We will find out if Congress can complete work on reforms, such as the Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022, that renders some of the mechanisms Trump was counting on incapable of doing damage in the future. We will watch as voters determine, in the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election, whether to send a clear message to Washington that messing with democracy will not be tolerated. Most of the campaigns haven’t dealt with January 6 in a big way.
The dark days of the 2020 election were explained by the committee. They have been exposed in clear detail right in front of our eyes. There are questions as to whether as a nation we will simply move forward without demanding accountability, justice and reform.
Twitter, the FBI, and Hunter Biden: The story of Hunter’s laptop disappears in a tweet on April 16, 2019: A congressional hearing on a conspiracy between Twitter and the FBI
When journalist Matt Taibbi kicked off a 36-tweet thread on Twitter last week, dropping leaked emails from the former C-suite of the social media company now owned by Elon Musk, conspiracy theorists rejoiced. Musk responded.
It has become established rhetoric among the political right that suppressing the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop was nothing short of a conspiracy between the Biden campaign and Twitter, supposedly proving Trump’s grandiose claims of an orchestrated effort to keep him from the White House.
The panel included Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal Twitter account was permanently suspended in January 2022 by the company’s previous management for repeatedly violating Twitter’s rules against false claims about COVID-19 and vaccines. After Musk bought the micro-publishing platform, Greene was let back in.
According to sources at the FBI and at Twitter who spoke to CNN, none of that information was disclosed to Twitter executives trying to decide how to treat the laptop story, nor to anyone else for that matter.
The hearing marks the second-straight election where social media companies and the FBI have faced scrutiny for decisions made in the final weeks of a presidential election. After 2016, social media companies like Twitter were under fire for doing too little to police their platforms for misinformation campaigns, particularly from foreign governments like Russia.
One QAnoninfluencer wrote that the TWy files confirm Q’s entire main narrative. “Balenciaga confirms the rest.” That message, which references the fantastical claims about fashion brand Balenciaga’s role in child trafficking, was seen more than 120,000 times on Telegram. Despite some hope that his account would be re-established, the particularQAnoninfluencer remains suspended on micro-blogging site. Other QAnon influencers seized on the fact that former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s personal email, which Taibbi failed to censor in a screenshot he shared, used the custom top-level domain .pizza.
The 2016 January 6 Insurrection: When the United States Attempted to Overturn the 2020 Election Was Farce and Unprecedented
The House January 6 committee’s findings are devastating even if they don’t include any details in the final report.
Following 18 months of deliberations and hearings, more than 1,000 witnesses and countless documents, the committee has produced a blistering account accusing former President Donald Trump and his allies of attempting to overturn the 2020 election.
The January 6th insurrection should be thrown in the $$$[ $$$[ $$$[y bin, if anyone continues to believe that it was an overblown farce or that a bad attempt was made. The committee’s recommendations are historic.
The US Justice Department was the place where the four criminal referrals against Trump were sent. If the United States is to survive as a “nation of laws and democracy,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, said we can “never let this happen again.”
The committee found that Trump stoked the violence with incendiary tweets and that the White House was purposely slow in responding to the insurrection at the US Capitol.
Rep. Liz Cheney, one of the panel’s two Republicans, said that the transfer of power was a good thing and only one President, Donald Trump, had failed to abide by it.
The findings rank among the worst presidential scandals of all time. It is fair to say that the abuses of power that President Richard Nixon engaged in and the violations of the law under the Reagan administration are related to the effort to reverse the election of a sitting President.
In other words, the committee concluded that Trump abused presidential power in unprecedented ways that threatened the very foundation of our democracy: elections. While the term “unprecedented” has been grossly overused, in this case the term works.
In 1974 the “smoking gun” tape allowing legislators to hear Nixon obstructing an investigation was enough for politicians to say enough.
The discoveries that national security officials in the Reagan administration violated the Boland Amendment by sending money and arms to the Nicaraguan Contras caused Reagan’s approval ratings to plummet and put his legacy in jeopardy.
The President was saved by two things: the fact that the committee couldn’t connect the operation to him and the fact that the administration mounted a public relations campaign to win back public support. Congressional Democrats, moreover, decided that they wouldn’t pursue impeachment.
Even Clinton’s scandal, which was over an issue far less relevant than what faced Nixon or Reagan, clearly contradicted his public statements and legal testimony about the subject after DNA evidence emerged of his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
It is uncertain if a congressional investigation can still have an outsize impact. It’s difficult for Congress to shift political momentum because of all the other concerns.
There wasn’t a serious political realignment even after 9/11. Even when a leader of a party is found to have committed egregious abuses of power, the process of polarization is still triumphant.
There is a related challenge that social scientists call asymmetric polarization. The Republican Party has moved further to the right than Democrats have to the left. A large part of the GOP has been tactical, where party leaders have embraced a form of partisanship with no boundaries as to what is permissible.
There is little chance that the relevant party will change its ways or respond. It is worth remembering that Senate Republicans originally filibustered the plan to set up an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate January 6 and did not cooperate with the congressional committee set up instead.
The Republicans who did serve on the committee — Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — have been attacked, marginalized and essentially pushed out of the party. Republican candidates ran away from the issue of election denialism in favour of a central campaign theme in the 2022 mid-terms.
The 1988 Watergate Report: How News Has Changed Since. January 6: A New Day for Journalism and Politics in the 21st Century
The media did not lend itself to the kind of reaction that took place with Watergate. When professional journalists coalesced around the facts presented by an investigation in the 1970s, those times are now gone.
Partisan media outlets such as Fox News ignore the weight of evidence. Show hosts are more than willing to spin the news in a particular direction that satisfies political yearnings.
In the next few weeks, there will likely be stories that exaggerate what the committee discovered in order to push conspiratorial claims. The world of social media will give opportunities to push misinformation that is contrary to the stories found in the report.
There was a report put out in 1987 by the opposition in the congressional investigation of Iran-Contra. Opponents of the committee have multiple platforms and opportunities to make a different story out of the committee findings.
The national culture that seems incapable of staying focused on issues for long is one of the forces that will check the impact of the report. In a short attention span, everything must be fresh and new, and we push the media to the other side of the story with fast television commercials.
January 6 is remembered as a time of chaos in our era, just like the Watergate scandal did, but for many Americans it is also known as the day that started the most chaotic period of our era.
Hunter Biden, Twitter, and the New York Post: The FBI isn’t the only criminal investigation launching a story on a tech giant
The decision of whether to indict Trump is a politically perilous one since he is now one of President Joseph Biden’s campaign opponents in four years. Garland has appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, who is overseeing the investigations of Trump and will make recommendation s.
The question is whether this report will push Garland toward taking action to ensure accountability rather than focusing on concerns about fueling division within the electorate.
The January6 report is likely to cause stress for the problematic state of our democracy. It is unlikely, however, to change the basic dynamics.
Musk has accused the government of censoring communications in order to keep the Hunter Biden laptop story under wraps.
Some of the early encounters were terse. Tech executives were upset that the FBI was only giving limited information to help protect their platforms, according to reports.
On Wednesday, Roth testified that potential Russian interference was the frame through which Twitter viewed the Post story – even though he personally did not believe the Post article broke Twitter’s rules.
“There were lots of reasons why the entire industry was on alert,” Roth said at a conference in November, not long after he resigned from Twitter. He thought the company made a mistake when they decided to block the story.
What Twitter did not know at the time was that Hunter Biden was the subject of a federal criminal investigation. The Justice Department has been looking at Hunter Biden’s business activities in foreign countries. In late 2019? the FBI used a subpoena to get a laptop that Biden left behind at a Delaware computer repair store.
The Republicans on Capitol Hill want tech executives to testify about the government order to suppress a story on social media, even though they haven’t seen a smoking gun.
An email show Baker setting up a meeting with an attorney in the FBI’s office of general counsel, in the midst of a discussion about how to handle the New York Post story. It is not clear what the two discussed.
Several former US intelligence officials wrote an open letter after the laptop story broke saying it had “all the classic hallmarks of a Russian information operation.” The group of former officials who signed the letter included former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who, as a CNN contributor, appeared on the network to express his view.
“The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public. It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”
A team reviewing the internal communications released by Musk has identified the 10 documents that Chan sent to him. The FBI official told CNN that there was nothing in the 10 documents regarding the Biden laptop or the story about it.
The official said eight of the documents pertained to “malign foreign influence actors and activities,” the FBI’s terminology for foreign government election meddling. The documents were flagged by the FBI as potential evidence of election-related crimes, such as voter suppression, according to the official.
The FBI is obligated to reimburse companies for the cost of obeying subpoenas and other legal requests as part of the bureau’s investigative work.
To prepare for the next election, the executives set about bolstering their internal controls, including hiring former law enforcement and intelligence officials. But they also knew they had to forge a closer relationship with the US government to help root out foreign trolls and sources of disinformation.
Communications released as well as interviews with people involved in the meetings portray routine, friendly and sometimes tense contact between company executives and government officials, who they often interact with. The released communications show that some of the tensions are at play as the Silicon Valley and government try to work together.
The meetings went on as planned. The first one took place at Facebook headquarters. Later meetings were held at Twitter and LinkedIn’s offices, a person familiar with the meetings told CNN.
By 2020, according to former employees, their discussions had become better coordinated and useful to both sides. One indicator of how advantageous the relationship had become: By 2020, Facebook was issuing press releases about some of the discussions.
According to the communications,Roth was not prepared to give up information about users who did not have a formal legal request for it.
The US government has interest in the data of TWT and its colleagues are urged to remain connected and keep a solid front against these efforts.
In December of 2020, the government warned the Federal Election Commission that they had information of hack-and-leak incidentstargeting people associated with political campaigns. Roth said that he learned in the meetings with government agencies there were “rumors that a hack-and-leak operation would involve Hunter Biden.”
According to Roth, law enforcement agencies gave warnings about the campaign, but he didn’t point to the government as the source of the rumor.
Chan was deposed this year as part of a lawsuit brought by the Missouri attorney general alleging government censorship of social media. Chan disputed that the government told social media companies to “expect” hack-and-leak campaigns, saying that it would have only warned companies it was a possibility.
The House Oversight Committee is investigating the policies of the Joe Biden administration and will hear testimony from three former executives who worked on the platform at one time or another.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, who seems to want to be taken seriously by the Washington elite while tossing asinine red meat to the Republican base, claimed Twitter happily followed supposed FBI instructions to censor the Hunter Biden story because they were “terrified of Joe Biden not winning the election.”
Comer said they want to know what the policy was with respect to how they determined what wasn’t true. The government is wanted to know what role it played in discouraging certain stories from being published. We want to know if federal agencies spent tax dollars on tweet, or if it was just used as an educational tool.
Baker is one of three people including a former chief legal officer and a head of trust and safety to appear before the committee.
The Democrats called a witness, as a way of coming home that point. She testified last year to the Jan. 6 select committee about the platform’s role in the insurrection.
“Here’s the serious issue, what happens when a social media platform is actually used for the incitement of violent insurrection against the government of the United States? What are we going to do about that? The top Democrat on the Oversight Committee told CNN that they learned something from theTwitter whistle-blower. “So, I think the gravity of her testimony is pretty extraordinary compared to the trivia that the majority is engaged in.”
The platform was used to whip up violence ahead of the vote, and was also used to foment transphobia, as well as being the focus of manipulation campaigns by Russia, Iran and China.
“I’ll get to ask the executives of Twitter why they felt they could ban a member of Congress — permanently being a member of Congress. MarjorieTaylorGreene said her account was permanently banned for nearly a year.
The account was suspended in January for repeated violations of the company’s misinformation policy. Her account was restored after she was bought by Musk.
Twitter had no choice: a panel discussion of Musk’s laptop story and the case of Ocasio-Cortez’s candor
Democrats say they intend to poke holes in the Republican allegations surrounding the laptop story – while questioning the committee’s decision to hold the hearing in the first place.
Ahead of the hearing, Musk traveled to Capitol Hill and met with a number of House Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Comer. The Kentucky Republican said that Musk offered him tips on lines of questioning, though Comer declined to offer more details ahead of the hearing.
Such statements from Baker, former Trust and Safety head Yoel Roth, and former general counsel Vijaya Gadde saturated Wednesday’s hearing — but they fell on deaf ears. Republicans showed, once again, that they are married to pushing claims that Silicon Valley is intentionally and unjustly censoring conservative views, even when the facts do not contort with their narrative.
“Silly does not even begin to capture this obsession,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. “The key point here is that it was Twitter’s decision. Twitter is a private media company in America. Private media companies can decide what to publish or how to curate content however they want,” he said.
The hearing will be one of the first actions taken by the House Republicans, as they aim to launch a series of investigations into the Biden administration.
Anika Collier Navaroli, a former Twitter safety policy employee called as a witness by committee Democrats, told the panel that Twitter removed the phrase “go back to where you came from” from its policy barring abuse of immigrants after Trump expressed the sentiment in a 2019 tweet targeting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-NY) and other Democratic congresswomen.
The hearing mentioned that the White House tried to censor the speech of an American. She testified that she was told that the White House demanded that the comment be removed and that there was at least one instance when it was done.
The company’s bungling of the incident has been the focus of debate and controversy for the past two years.
Citing its rules against sharing hacked material containing private information, Twitter showed a warning to anyone who tried to post a link to the article saying it was “potentially harmful.” It also suspended the Post’s Twitter account until it deleted its tweets about the story.
When he sees it, and when he does, what he doesn’t see: a tech expert’s perspective on the case against a hacking attack
“The decisions here aren’t straightforward, and hindsight is 20/20,” he said. It isn’t obvious what the right response should be to a suspected but not confirmed cyberattack on a presidential election.
The hearing, which was interrupted by a power outage, followed the split-screen format that’s become the norm when lawmakers grill tech executives: Republicans spent their time accusing witnesses of censorship, while Democrats argued tech platforms have not done enough to crack down on harmful content.
Greene attacked the panel for her ban and lobbed baseless allegations against the former executives. That included a lot of repeated claims against Roth that were amplified by Musk. The threats that resulted from Musk’s airing of those stories forced him to sell his home.
Democrats on the Committee lambasted the premise of the hearing, accusing Republicans of wasting time and taxpayers’ money on a political crusade.
That is the only conclusion that can be drawn from Wednesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill where GOP lawmakers continued to push a factually unsupported narrative about the federal government secretly colluding with Twitter to censor the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020.
Despite no real evidence to support this weighty and consequential claim, Republicans were unrelenting in peddling it to the American public. At Wednesday’s hearing they showed no regard for misinforming those who turn to them for accurate information or the fact that they were smearing a private business and its former executives in the process.
What Republicans Really Want to Know About the Media: The Reality of Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address in the Presidency of the House Select Committee
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The facts — reality — simply do not matter. When the committee denied the claims of the people subpoenaed by them, it didn’t make a difference to one Republican. The right-wing media apparatus did not care if they repeated them to their audience.
The hearing showed that the social networking sites changed its policies after they decided that Trump had violated its rules.
But after a wild week in Washington, it’s fair to ask who is on each side of the line the Arkansas governor drew in her Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
The national television audience was used to commit to the hardline “Make America Great Again” base strategy pushed by the GOP, which was led by Trump. Her strategy was spread out and did not come in isolation. Liberal policies on social, economic and foreign policy can be seen as crazy by many conservatives. Democrats have had their own issues with left-wing extremists in the past, including those who once called for defunding the police, which turned into a huge political liability in successive elections.
The collapse of civility in the Trump era’s Republican politics can be seen in the sight of the weak speaker in the chamber as Biden spoke. Even if McCarthy were to reach a deal with Biden on cutting spending in return for raising the government’s borrowing limit, the California republican would be able to sell anything other than his hardline position on a conflict that threatens to pitch the US.
The Sensitivities of the Radical Candidate George Santos: The Case against the Biden Administration in the Midterm Elections
The new House majority is also grappling with the distraction of serial fabulist George Santos, the New York congressman who was caught lying about his education, his job resume and his family background. His fellow New York Republican, freshman Rep. Nick LaLota, told CNN on Wednesday, “Every time I have to come to something like this and talk about George Santos, I can’t talk about what Republicans ought to be doing instead.”
They risk alienating moderate voters by exposing the GOP’s most extreme, media-hungry personality, even if it could harm the Biden administration, and they can fire up vital base voters by cooking up a general stench of scandal.
Of course, political normality is in the eye of the beholder. Sanders argued that Biden had surrendered to a “woke mob that can’t even tell you what a woman is” and that the country is in the grip of a left-wing cultural purge.
But while Sanders may be adopting a shrewd approach for a rising star in a party that often rewards far-right candidates in primaries, it would seem to fly in the face of lessons of the midterm elections, when voters in swing states rejected far-right extremism.
Some Republicans may be annoyed that Biden claims that Social Security and Medicare should be phased out, even though McCarthy said that’s not on the table in debt ceiling talks. And McCarthy’s comment on Fox that it was one of the most partisan State of the Union addresses he’d ever heard was not totally wide of the mark.
But the president again positioned himself as the bulwark between more moderate Americans and the excess of what he has called “ultra MAGA” Republicans – a tactic he used especially successfully in the midterms.
Biden’s strategy went to McCarthy’s followers after he said that Americans didn’t want to see fighting in Congress.
McCarthy was evasive when reporters wanted him to speak about the performance of the man who has developed a strong relationship with him. While he wanted to avoid a spectacle of extremism with millions watching on TV, his hopes of keeping his job depend on radicals like she and her wilder colleagues. One of the reasons why McCarthy hasn’t repudiatedSantos is because he has a narrow hold on power thanks to a small majority.
Even though she gave Democrats the image they most want to highlight, she told CNN that she wouldn’t be sorry for her poor manners during Biden’s speech. She said she was “pissed off” and “I don’t clap for liars.” Former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN on Tuesday night that Greene’s antics encapsulated a choice for Americans between “chaos” and “stability.”
Not every Republican is tolerating the party’s incivility. Romney told Santos he has no place in the House. In his interview with CNN, he stressed that the New York Republican had become distraction from the party’s priorities.
“We want to talk about putting our economy back on the right track, securing our border, hold the administration accountable – these are the things that Republicans campaigned on, these are the things that Republicans want to govern on,” LaLota said.
Given the Biden White House’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Covid-19 pandemic and the border crisis, there is plenty for House Republican chairmen to sink their teeth into. There is no reason why a genuine investigation into Biden’s finances – and those of his son, who is under federal investigation – should not be part of this oversight either.
The lack of a smoking gun doesn’t mean the hearing was a waste of time for some Republicans trying to cloud the Biden administration in the appearance of scandal Members teased that some executives were against Trump even if they didn’t suppress the story for political reasons. Conservative media and the fundraising machine turn on members like Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert who berating deep-state witnesses.