Ten Takeaways From The House Vote

35 GOPers break with TFG

Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger had some company yesterday.

Defying TFG’s demands of a coverup and Kevin McCarthy’s opposition, nearly three dozen GOP representatives voted to form a bipartisan, independent January 6 Commission.

Senate Republicans are expected to kill it. So the takeaways are decidedly mixed. Here are a few:

(1) Welcome to the land of contradiction.

35 Republicans broke with their leadership to support the commission.

BUT, 175 Republicans — 84 percent of the conference — voted to memory-hole the insurrection.

This suggests that a sense of shame has not been utterly extinguished from the GOP, although it remains vanishingly rare.

(2) As Politico notes, the vote “was a major rebuke to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who worked hard to minimize the brewing rebellion in his ranks over the commission.” It reflected the extraordinarily unusual dynamic of a ranking Republican negotiating a deal and getting a reasonable compromise, only to be knee-capped by his own leader. That obviously did not sit well with a significant portion of the conference and could leave lingering, and completely justified doubts about McCarthy’s leadership, reliability, and savvy.

The former young gun is turning out to be a damp squib.

(3) If you squint hard enough, you can see a positive trajectory here. Bulwark reader Heath Waddingham notes:

Since the Ukraine scandal, House Republican sanity has been growing exponentially:
—on December 18, 2019, no House Republicans voted for Donald Trump’s first impeachment
—on January 13, 2021, 10 House Republicans voted for Donald Trump’s second impeachment
—today, 35 House Republicans voted for a January 6 Commission

I thought I would plot these data points out and got the following graph:

“Based on this trend line, “ he writes, “every House Republican (all 211, right down to Marjorie Taylor Greene!) will become sane by August 17.”  

”Clearly, The Bulwark is working.”

If only…

(4) One-time rising stars continue to debase themselves. This is what Wisconsin’s Mike Gallagher said on January 6.

Yesterday, he voted against forming the commission. Cowardice is contagious.

(5) The vote creates momentum to find 10 GOP Senate votes, but the likeliest outcome is that Mitch McConnell will smother it there. Tim Alberta notes that no commission = no recriminations.

(6) Appeasing Trump remains the alpha and the omega of the GOP’s political morality. The timeline here is glaringly obvious. In the bipartisan negotiations, McCarthy got nearly everything he wanted, and until yesterday, Mitch McConnell said he was open minded about the commission.

Then they both flipped. Why?

They heard their master’s voice. On Tuesday night, the TFG issued his directive from the Orange Versailles:

Republicans in the House and Senate should not approve the Democrat trap of the January 6 Commission. It is just more partisan unfairness and unless the murders, riots, and fire bombings in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, and New York are also going to be studied, this discussion should be ended immediately. Republicans must get much tougher and much smarter, and stop being used by the Radical Left. Hopefully, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!

(7) John Thune said the quiet part out loud. In an interview with CNN, the Senate GOP Whip said Republicans were worried that the findings of an independent investigation "could be weaponized politically and drug into next year."

"A lot of our members, and I think this is true of a lot of House Republicans, want to be moving forward and not looking backward. Anything that gets us rehashing the 2020 elections I think is a day lost on being able to draw a contrast between us the Democrats' very radical left-wing agenda."

As our colleague Amanda Carpenter noted:

(8) There’s still an awful lot we don’t know about 1/6. Via NBC’s First Read: “That missing part? An official accounting of Donald Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, especially once he returned to the White House after addressing his rallied supporters.”

(9) Even as more than four out of five GOP reps voted against the commission, the FBI was providing these “normal tourist visit” updates.

(10) The GOP is doubling down on denialism. Via The Atlantic.

David A. Graham: The party has clearly decided that this is going to be the strategy from now until the 2022 midterms. Everything leads us to believe that Republicans will take back the House, and maybe the Senate, in 2022, so they’re going to conclude that it worked. Which means we’re likely to see this until at least 2024, whether Trump or a Trumpist candidate runs.

Join us tonight!

Inside the Maricopa County sh*tshow.

When Jennifer Morrell was asked to be an observer of the Arizona Senate’s audit of Maricopa County’s ballots, she writes in the Wapo, “I anticipated that I would see some unusual things.

Don’t miss this bizarre detail:

At one point, I overheard some volunteers excitedly discussing a stain on a ballot. “It looks like a Cheeto finger,” one said. “Like someone’s touched it with cheese dust!” That had to be suspicious, their teammate agreed. Why would someone come to the polls with cheese powder on their hands? But I’ve seen ballots stained with almost anything you can imagine, including coffee, grease and, yes, cheese powder. Again, when you have experience working with hundreds of thousands of ballots, you see some messes: That’s evidence of humanity’s idiosyncrasies, not foul play.

ICYMI: Josh Kraushaar sounds some warnings about Democratic overreach.

Anti-Trump former GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman, an outspoken critic of his own party’s extreme turn, nonetheless is bullish about the GOP’s short-term political future, even predicting a landslide showing for downballot Republicans in next year’s midterms.

“The issue is between crazy and crazier. A lot of Democrats are becoming disengaged on the moderate side because you're seeing screaming on social issues and even foreign-policy issues. People are not nuts," Riggleman said on the Against the Grain podcast. “Right now, crazy is an amazing fuel, but so are crazy policies. ... I think there could be a 20-40 seat swing [in the House] towards Republicans. If Democrats want to be competitive, don't try and match the crazy."

The results also point to a sobering reality for Democrats in our base-first political world: Without being able to rely on Trump as a one-man turnout machine for the opposition, Democrats are being pressured to tack leftward on policy in order to gin up the necessary activist enthusiasm heading into a midterm year.

Good luck reforming this party: Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theorists Are Taking Over State Republican Parties.

A VICE News review of public positions of all 50 GOP state chairs shows a significant number are openly pushing conspiracy theories, spouting unhinged rhetoric, and actively undermining voters’ trust in democracy. That includes the chairs of nearly every swing state in the U.S. And the trend is accelerating: Many of the most extreme chairs just won their chairmanships or have been reelected since Trump left office four months ago, a number of them with his explicit endorsement. 

Quick Hits

What If Roe Is Overturned?

Mona Charen writes that the politics of abortion could change more than the practice if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade.

If the Supreme Court grasps this nettle and reverses Roe/Casey, millions of Americans who have tended to focus their political sights on Washington, D.C. will be forced to look homeward. Abortion rights supporters will have to get busy in their neighborhoods, counties, and state capitals. Abortion opponents have already been at this to some degree, passing restrictive laws in hopes of getting a test case to SCOTUS. Now that the Court has agreed to hear the case, it’s possible to imagine 50 state fights. That is the way we’re supposed to resolve these fraught questions. And there’s a silver lining for pro-choice advocates: The issue may juice interest in 2022 races among Democrats, who so far have lagged Republicans in expressions of enthusiasm.

Finally, for those abortion foes who’ve shown themselves willing to accept any moral compromise in the name of “saving babies,” this might be an opportunity to step back. The presidency will be largely irrelevant to the question of abortion if it becomes a matter of state law. So being on the right side of the question can no longer serve as a get-out-of-jail- free card for otherwise morally loathsome candidates.

Cheap Shots

J.D. Vance update.