What Liz Said
“Hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.”
It will come as no surprise to you to learn that Donald Trump really does not want former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to testify before the House January 6th Committee (or, presumably, any grand juries).
On Wednesday, after the committee subpoenaed the former presidential lawyer, Trump lashed out on his Truth Social site: "Unselect Committee [sic] is asking to interview the former White House counsel for dirt, even though that would set a terrible precedent for future Presidents. NO!"
But could it happen? Could Cipollone give sworn testimony? Maybe.
A lawyer familiar with Mr. Cipollone’s deliberations, who was not authorized to speak for the record, said that the subpoena was needed before the former White House counsel could consider transcribed testimony before the committee, and that Mr. Cipollone would now evaluate matters of privilege as appropriate.
It would be a BFD.
Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony made it clear that Cipollone might have some extraordinary things to say.
“Mark, we need to do something more,” Ms. Hutchinson said she heard Mr. Cipollone tell Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, on Jan. 6 as Mr. Trump’s supporters entered the Capitol. “They’re literally calling for the vice president to be f-ing hung.”
“You heard him, Pat,” she said Mr. Meadows responded. “He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
Ms. Hutchinson also testified that Mr. Cipollone objected to suggestions that staff members allow Mr. Trump to join a crowd of his supporters marching to the Capitol. “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable,” Ms. Hutchinson said Mr. Cipollone told her.
Liz Cheney: We stand at the edge of the abyss
Two things are worth noting here:
(1) Liz Cheney held nothing back during her speech last night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. “My fellow Americans, we stand at the edge of an abyss, and we must pull back,” she declared.
(2) Despite her unflinching denunciation of Trump, “Cheney was greeted warmly by the audience, which gave an extended standing ovation upon her entrance.”
You can watch here:
Here’s a rough transcript (my apologies for any errors) beginning at 8:46:
I'm a conservative Republican, and I believe deeply in the policies of limited government, of low taxes, of a strong national defense. I believe that the family is the center of our community and of our lives. And I believe those are the right policies for our nation.
But I also know that at this moment, we are confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before. And that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional Republic.
And he is aided by Republican leaders and elected officials, who've made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.
Now, some in my party are embracing the former president, and even after all we've seen, they're enabling his lies.
Many others are urging that we not confront Donald Trump, that we look away.
And that is certainly the easier path.
One need only look at the threats that are facing the witnesses who've come before the January 6th committee to understand the nature and the magnitude of that threat.
But to argue that the threat posed by Donald Trump can be ignored is to cast aside the responsibility that every citizen, every one of us, bears to perpetuate the Republic.
We must not do that. And we cannot do that.
Ronald Reagan said it is up to us in our time to choose — and to choose wisely — between the hard but necessary task of preserving peace and freedom, and the temptation to ignore our duty and blindly hope for the best, while the enemies of freedom grow stronger day by day.
No party, and no people, and no nation can defend and perpetuate a constitutional Republic if they accept a leader who's gone to war with the rule of law, with the democratic process, or with the peaceful transition of power, with the Constitution itself.
As the full picture is coming into view with the January 6th Committee, it has become clear that the efforts Donald Trump oversaw and engaged in were even more chilling and more threatening than we could have imagined.
As we have shown, Donald Trump attempted to overturn the presidential election. He attempted to stay in office and to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power.
He summoned a mob to Washington.
He knew they were armed on January 6th.
He knew they were angry, and he directed the violent mob to march on the capital in order to delay or prevent completely the counting of electoral votes.
He attempted to go there with them. And when the violence was underway, he refused to take action to tell the rioters to leave.
Instead, he incited further violence by tweeting that the vice president, Mike Pence, was a coward. He said, quote, Mike deserves it. And he didn't want to do anything in response to the “Hang Mike Pence” chants.
It's undeniable. It's also painful for Republicans to accept.
And I think we all have to recognize and understand what it means to say those words, and what it means that those things happen.
But the reality that we face today, as Republicans, as we think about the choice in front of us:
We have to choose. Because Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution…. [LOUD APPLAUSE]
And as we think about this choice, and as I think about how I come to this choice, the first thing that I think about is that I come to this choice as a mother, committed to ensuring that my children and their children can continue to live in an America where the peaceful transfer of power is guaranteed.
We must ensure that we live in a nation that is governed by laws, and not by men….
America is exceptional. We're the exceptional nation. We're a good and a great nation. And our history teaches us that ordinary Americans in every generation have done extraordinary things. They have done heroic things. Our men and women in uniform have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom.
And that task is now ours.
In his inaugural address, President Kennedy said this: “In the long history of the world, there have only been a few generations that have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.”
And today that responsibility is ours — and what a magnificent responsibility that is, and what a blessing it is that that is our duty and our obligation.
But my fellow Americans, we stand at the edge of an abyss, and we must pull back.
One of my Democratic colleagues said to me recently that he looked forward to the day when he and I could disagree again, and, believe me, I share that sentiment, because when we can disagree again, about substance and policy, that will mean that our politics have righted themselves.
That will mean that we have made the decision that we are going to reject anti-democratic forces, that we are going to reject toxicity, that we are going to reject some of the worst kinds of racism, and bigotry, and antisemitism that characterize far too much of our politics today.
History has taught us that what begins in words, ends as far worse. And we must reject those things.
1. Trump’s Flailing, Angry Desperation on Jan. 6th
Will Saletan writes in today’s Bulwark:
The committee might not persuade any of Trump’s supporters that he committed crimes related to Jan. 6th. And the Justice Department’s investigation of the plot might not end with Trump being indicted or convicted. But the hearings have made it abundantly clear that he’s morally incapable of serving in any job that requires concerns for others. Nothing matters to this man but himself.
2. Cassidy Hutchinson Is a Heroine
Mona Charen writes in the Bulwark:
When Trump first crashed into American politics in 2015, it required only political courage to oppose him. Yet one after another, the leading figures of the GOP, from Chris Christie to Jeff Sessions to Ted Cruz, snapped like dry twigs under his boots. And after the elected leaders, the intellectual leaders of the conservative movement fell into line behind the sociopath as well, explaining that they had no choice because, well, Antifa burned buildings and AOC wanted to socialize the economy.
By 2020, it required more than political courage to stand up to Trump—it required physical courage. Adam Kinzinger has received death threats not just against himself, but against his wife and 5 month-old baby. Tim Rice, who voted in favor of Trump’s second impeachment, received so many death threats that his chief of staff took to sending some directly to the police and reserving others for the congressman’s perusal. (Rice recently lost his primary to a Trump loyalist). So many election workers have been threatened by Trump goons (850 according to Reuters) that three states are considering legislation to protect them.
This is the world that every Republican and conservative brought us by failing to show the minimal amount of integrity. Now they are shamed by the shining example of a 26 year-old woman with her life ahead of her, with no motive but love of country, and no power except that which comes from a clear conscience.
3. Texas Republicans Get Deadly Serious About Secession
Make sure you read Casey Michel in the Bulwark today:
Previous Texas GOP platforms have gestured at secession, with the most recent iteration, in 2020, claiming the state’s right to secede if the United States ever stopped being “a constitutional republic.” The new platform, though, is qualitatively different, not only in its formal endorsement but for specifying a timeline for such a vote. Put another way: For the first time since 1861, an American state’s ruling party has formally endorsed a referendum on secession.
Last Word: Tim’s Hair Shirt
Fantastic read about our colleague, Tim, and his new book.
The new book is marbled with pearls of wisdom, observations on human psychology and entire chapters of harsh self-reflection that only an insider like Miller — who by all accounts is a supremely talented opposition researcher and communications strategist who had a direct hand in everything from planting hit pieces on various politicians in Breitbart to knifing rivals — could pull off.
“At one point, my editor told me to take off the hair shirt,” Miller said, because there was too much culpa in his mea culpa…
On his way out of the mainstream G.O.P. class, Miller blew up every bridge he had built over his years in Washington, fled to Oakland and adopted a daughter, Toulouse, with his husband.
Friends say that Miller “walked off a cliff” into a future that could mean ostracism and threats to his mental health and physical safety. His book, which chronicles his relationships with the Republicans he left behind, tries to unpack why he did what he did and why they did what they did.
“Not a lot of people have been both brave and successful,” said Juleanna Glover, a public affairs consultant and former press secretary for Vice President Dick Cheney who hosted the party last weekend.
Wondering aloud where any of us would be right now without the insistent and persistent voice of Liz Cheney.
Cipollone should testify, if for no other reason than to atone for the grievous damage he did to the country in serving as a defense lawyer for Trump during his first Impeachment trial. The guy is kind of a dirtbag, but when it was no longer fun and games, he seemed to realize it was time to stop playing. As JVL said in yesterday's Next Level, Cassidy Hutchinson wasn't John Dean, but Cipollone could be.
It's tough for Republicans, though I don't have any real sympathy for them. They realize internally, if they won't admit it publicly, that Democrats and Never-Trumpers had this guy pegged from the beginning, and were right all along. What makes it more obnoxious, though, is that most Republicans had this guy pegged from the beginning, too. What changed was that he beat Hillary Clinton in November of 2016. Rubio, Cruz, McConnell, Paul Ryan, JD Vance, Kellyanne Conway all of these guys knew Trump was an unfit bastard, and said it publicly and on the record, at least through the primaries, and for some even up to the election. I don't think any critics of Trump were more scathing and accurate than Vance. But then Trump became President, and the descent into the abyss, halting at first, became a full-on, enthusiastic embrace of the darkness, the acceptance of every lie, the defense of every outrage. Because the Republican voters demand fighters against the elites and the un-American libs, and a party that at least had some sort of vision became a party of amoral trolls, alternative facts, and nihilism.