Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?
Follow the timeline, because it is simply delicious: After the election, Donald Trump — along with his team of boneheads and almost every Republican in the House (but I repeat myself) — began laboring to overthrow the 2020 presidential election results. Among those House Republicans who cleaved to Trump and his mission was Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who wants to become speaker if the GOP takes the majority in November.
The effort culminated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol Building, an event McCarthy witnessed personally that affected him deeply. For a day or two, he told everyone who would listen that Trump was to blame for that lethal fiasco and needs to resign. Over the next few days, however, McCarthy swerved away from what his own lyin’ eyes had told him on the 6th, going so far as to travel down to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump’s ring and abase himself for his momentary apostasy.
Since that incredibly humiliating moment, McCarthy has said and done all the things one would expect of a hardcore Trump loyalist. Trump, for his part, did not flay McCarthy alive for his post-1/6 remarks, a show of restraint that surprised many veteran Trump observers… until you realize that if McCarthy does become speaker, he will be a creature of Trump and not much more. Trump will be holding the gavel after the red November wave most analysts are predicting, and for him, that possibility is worth keeping McCarthy politically viable.
Trump endorsed McCarthy in his recent primary race, but notably has yet to endorse him for speaker. Nobody knows why Trump has avoided such an endorsement, especially after that new bond was formed after the 1/6 riot, but it sounds an awful lot like there’s real trouble brewing between the would-be speaker and the would-be king.
Why? The hearings, as The Washington Post explains:
Speaking to donors gathered at the Georgetown Four Seasons, McCarthy instead recommended Republicans talk about other issues that could help them regain the majority in both chambers of Congress, according to people familiar with the meeting, such as the soaring inflation rate and record-high gas prices — all under Democrats’ watch.
While most rank-and-file members in the Republican House conference have heeded his direction, another influential Republican has tuned into every hearing and has grown increasingly irate — to “the point of about to scream at the TV,” according to a close adviser — with what he views as the lack of defense by his Capitol Hill allies.
Former president Donald Trump has said privately for months that McCarthy’s decision to pull pro-Trump Republicans from sitting on the Jan. 6 select committee was a mistake, one that has become clearer as Trump watches the hearings that are working to build the case that he should be criminally charged for conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
According to a close adviser, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail private conversations, Trump has made it clear to anyone who will listen that “there’s no one to defend me” on the dais before, during or after the hearings. The blame is falling squarely on McCarthy’s shoulders, according to some Republican congressional aides and advisers close to the former president.
It’s the scorpion and the frog all over again. “Why did you sting me? Now we will both die,” husks the frog as he sinks into the lake. “Because it is my nature,” replies the scorpion from the frog’s back. In other words, if you spend enough time in Trump’s orbit, you will be defenestrated by Trump the first moment your destruction is advantageous to him. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has obvious designs on the GOP nomination Trump believes he deserves, has learned the lesson. He is building his own power, media and money base to insulate him from Trump’s wrath. McCarthy, in contrast, is like a shabby little kid’s kite caught on the power lines leading to Trump headquarters.
Republican leadership disdained the 1/6 hearings from the go, as did Trump himself. McCarthy offered up a slate of potential participants that was deliberately intended to be a finger in the committee’s eye. (Jim Jordan was one, ‘nuff said.) Those choices were rebuffed, and Liz Cheney joined Adam Kinzinger in a Republican counterinsurgency that has made the committee far more productive and reliable. This is clearly not sitting well with Trump, who is now blaming McCarthy for the thrashing Trump has absorbed in these hearings.
With the fifth 1/6 hearing looming large this afternoon — it is expected that a pile of Justice Department officials, including former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen, will testify — the bad noise is only getting louder. More hearings with fresh evidence are in the offing.
Over at the Justice Department, investigators have widened their own inquiry into the 1/6 attack. Their specific focus at the moment is on the scheme to overthrow the 2020 election by deploying a second, unauthorized and illegal set of electors to disrupt the process. In short, the subpoenas have been flying like Tippi Hedron’s birds.
Once such was delivered in a pre-dawn raid by federal officials at the home of Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice Department official who threw himself into the effort to overturn the election. “The law enforcement action at Mr. Clark’s home in suburban Virginia came just one day before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was poised to hold a hearing examining Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department after his election defeat,” reports The New York Times.
Jeffrey Clark will be a large part of today’s hearing discussion.
Anything that gets Trump into a twist like this is a happy place for me. I’m not saying you should get your hopes up, as we’ve been to that dry well too many times before. Just be sure to watch, and the chips will fall as they may.