Liz Cheney calls Kevin McCarthy’s January 6 rhetoric ‘disgraceful’ and says his lack of ‘commitment to the Constitution’ should disqualify him from being House speaker if GOP wins in 2022

liz cheney
Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, speaks to the press at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 12, 2021.

  • Rep. Liz Cheney blasted House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday over the January 6 committee.
  • She called his comments on Pelosi’s select committee “disingenuous.”
  • Cheney also said McCarthy should not be considered for the House speakership if the GOP wins in 2022.
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Rep. Liz Cheney on Wednesday blasted House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy over his “disingenuous” comments about the select committee to investigate the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

“The rhetoric that we have heard from the minority leader is disingenuous,” Cheney told reporters at the Capitol, adding that the riot was “an attack on our Constitution.”

“At every opportunity, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened to block this investigation,” she continued. “The idea that anybody would be playing politics with an attack on the United States Capitol is despicable and disgraceful.”

The Wyoming Republican further criticized McCarthy by suggesting that he should not be considered for the House speakership if the GOP wins back the House in the 2022 midterm elections.

“Any person who would be third in line to the presidency must demonstrate a commitment to the Constitution and a commitment to the rule of law, and minority leader McCarthy has not done that,” she said.

Cheney’s comments came shortly after McCarthy said House Republicans will conduct their own probe into the Capitol riot, separate from the January 6 select committee that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has launched.

It’s unclear what exactly the House GOP investigation will focus on, but McCarthy broadly pointed to the law enforcement failures on the day of the riot.

“Why was the Capitol so ill-prepared for that day … and what have we done to make sure that never happens again?” McCarthy said Wednesday.

McCarthy went on to criticize Pelosi’s efforts to investigate the insurrection, calling the committee a “sham process” and overly partisan.

The top GOP lawmaker originally recommended five House Republicans to join Pelosi’s select committee, including Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio, two Congress members who objected to the 2020 election certification on January 6.

But McCarthy pulled all of his recommendations and threatened to launch his own investigation in response to Pelosi rejecting his picks, Banks and Jordan, from serving on the committee. Pelosi agreed to McCarthy’s three other GOP appointments, Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota and Troy Nehls of Texas.

“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision,” she added.

Cheney backed Pelosi’s move on Wednesday, telling reporters that the top Democrat is dedicated to carrying out a serious investigation, whereas McCarthy is not.

Pelosi picked Cheney to serve on the select committee earlier this month. The lawmaker has been ostracized by her GOP colleagues, including McCarthy, who voted to oust her from her leadership position in May over her pushback on former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

“The American people deserve to know what happened. People who did this must be held accountable,” Cheney said Wednesday. “There must be an investigation that is nonpartisan, that is sober, that is serious, that gets to the facts wherever they may lead.”

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A Capitol riot defendant who threatened to hang Nancy Pelosi said she didn’t need an attorney because she was divinely immune from the court’s laws

Screenshots of Pauline Bauer in the Capitol Rotunda on January 6.
Pauline Bauer in the Capitol Rotunda on January 6.

  • An accused Capitol rioter said she doesn’t need a lawyer because she is a “self-governed individual.”
  • Prosecutors say Pauline Bauer said she wanted to hang Nancy Pelosi while inside the Capitol on January 6.
  • Now, Bauer is claiming to have special legal privileges.
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A Pennsylvania pizzeria owner arrested and charged in connection to the January 6 Capitol attack, demanded the removal of “any and all” defense attorneys on her behalf, arguing that she is a divine entity immune from the court’s laws.

Prosecutors say Pauline Bauer, was among the hundreds of pro-Trump protesters who broke into the US Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s presidency. Bauer attempted to organize mass transportation to bus people to DC for the Trump rally that preceded the attack, and once inside the building, she told police she wanted to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, court documents say.

“Bring Nancy Pelosi out here right now,” Bauer can be heard saying on body-worn camera footage from inside the Capitol rotunda, according to prosecutors. “We want to hang that f—ing b—-.”

Now, in a series of bizarre court filings made late last month, Bauer is insisting on representing herself and is claiming to have special legal privileges as a “self-governed individual.”

A court-appointed lawyer for Bauer did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

In a Zoom court appearance on June 11, Bauer told the judge she was attending “by special divine appearance,” according to The Daily Beast.

“I do not stand under the law,” Bauer said, according to the outlet. “Under Genesis 1, God gave man dominion over law.”

Bauer was later removed from that video proceeding “due to her inability to show qualm and decency to the Court,” records show. She was ordered to appear again in-person later that month.

But at a June 21 hearing, Bauer refused to accept the conditions of her release and was jailed overnight as a result, according to court documents. She was later released on personal recognizance after verbally agreeing to the required pretrial release conditions.

Days later, she submitted several filings full of far-right conspiracies, mounting an apparent “sovereign citizens” defense. Subscribers to the pseudo-science movement believe that “they – not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials – should decide which laws to obey and which to ignore,” according to The Southern Poverty Law Center.

In one filing, Bauer included a “Patent of Nativity,” a document which she claimed “serves as proof that [her] living DNA existed on this land before there was a United States of America or Any STATE Thereof.” The document includes a detailed genealogy of both her mother and father’s ancestry.

Among the filed documents, Bauer also demanded corrections be made to existing court documents in her case file.

Bauer, who faces charges of obstructing justice and Congress; knowingly entering a restricted building; knowingly engaging in disorderly conduct in a restricted building; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, is set to head back to court in person later this month.

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A lawyer for a Capitol riot attendee who agreed to take a plea deal argued that a lenient sentence for his client would ‘heal the nation’

Paul Hodgkins in the Capitol with a Trump flag on January 6.
Paul Hodgkins.

  • A Capitol riot attendee who pleaded guilty to obstruction is asking the court for no prison time.
  • A defense attorney for Paul Hodgkins filed a wide-ranging sentencing memo on Thursday.
  • The lawyer argues Hodgkins should receive leniency because he came forward to “accept judgement.”
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One of the first Capitol riot defendants to plead guilty in connection to the deadly January 6 attack is asking the court for a lenient sentence in a request that could serve as an early sentencing indicator for the hundreds of other defendants headed to court.

Prosecutors say Paul Hodgkins, 38, took a selfie inside the Capitol during the insurrection that eventually led the FBI to his door. The Florida man was arrested in February and indicted on five counts in March. Hodgkins originally pleaded not guilty to all five charges, but changed his tune in June when he agreed to strike a deal, pleading guilty to one count of obstructing an official proceeding, court documents show.

In a wide-ranging new sentencing memo filed on Thursday, attorney Patrick N. Leduc argues Hodgkins, a “kind” and “thoughtful” man, should avoid prison time, in part, because “it takes courage and strength of character to be the first person to step forward and accept judgement.”

In the 32-page document scattered with several references to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, and the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Leduc argues that giving Hodgkins “a sentence that provides…charity,” would go “a very long way toward healing a nation in dire need of seeing what undeserved ‘grace’ looks like.”

Hodgkins’ sentencing is scheduled for July 19. Leduc said in Thursday’s sentencing memo that Hodgkins has prepared a “powerful” statement for the court.

Hodgkins could face up to 21 months in prison and a fine of $250,000, according to federal sentencing guidelines, but Hodgkins has already agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution fees as part of his plea deal.

His sentencing later this month will be only the second case of a Capitol riot attendee being sentenced. Last month, Anna Morgan Lloyd was sentenced to three years of probation and 120 hours of community service, but no jail time.

More than 550 people have been arrested and charged in connection to the insurrection so far.

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DOJ unveils massive indictment accusing 5 Floridians of attacking 7 police officers during Capitol riot

Washington Capitol Police protest riot
Trump supporters face off with police and security forces in front of the US Capitol building, January 6, 2021.

Five Floridians were arrested and charged last week in connection to the Capitol attack in one of the largest indictments stemming from the insurrection to date.

Prosecutors say the defendants, all from the Tampa Bay area, attacked and assaulted a line of police officers several times while outside the Capitol on January 6. Court documents say the defendants used riot shields and flagpoles to hit officers in the head and neck and later punched, kicked, and elbowed officers.

The Justice Department unveiled the indictment on Thursday.

Jonathan Pollock, 21 Olivia Pollock, 30, Joshua Doolin, 22, Joseph Hutchinson III, 25, and Michael Perkins, 37, were arrested and charged last week. In court on Thursday, Doolin, Hutchinson, and Olivia Pollock pleaded not guilty and were released from jail on home detention or with GPS monitoring, CNN reported.

Prosecutors asked a judge to keep at least one of the defendants detained.

Shortly before 2:00 p.m. on January 6, Jonathan Pollock was caught on body-worn camera footage and other publicly available video charging toward a line of police officers while brandishing flagpoles, according to an affidavit.

A photo of Jonathon Pollock yelling.
Jonathon Pollock.

While trying to push through a metal barricade, Jonathan Pollock screamed “Let’s go!” while Hutchinson pulled back the fence in order to allow other rioters access to the line of police officers, court documents said. Jonathon Pollock then assaulted three police officers punching and pushing one in the neck, kneeling and punching another in the face, and pulling a third down stairs, according to The Justice Department.

As the metal barriers were overrun by protesters around 2:00 p.m., a line of police officers was all that remained between the pro-Trump mob and the Capitol. According to the affidavit, Hutchinson charged the line of officers and began punching them, while Jonathan Pollock fought an officer for his riot shield before pushing him down the steps. Once Jonathan Pollock obtained the riot shield, prosecutors say he charged toward officers and slammed into them. Perkins, meanwhile, grabbed a flagpole and shoved it into an officer’s chest, before holding the pole over his head and hitting an officer in the back of the head, legal documents say.

An FBI "Most Wanted" posting for Joseph Hutchinson III.
Joseph Hutchinson III

The defendant’s assault of the officers continued as Jonathan Pollock grabbed another riot shield, shoving it into an officer’s throat, and Hutchinson began kicking the line of officers, prosecutors allege. Moments later, Olivia Pollock joined the fight, carrying an American flag flagpole and punching a stumbling officer, court documents said. She attempted to take an officer’s baton and elbowed the officer in the chest after she failed to acquire it, prosecutors said.

A photo of Olivia Pollock at the Capitol riot.
Olivia Pollock.

Just before 3:00 p.m., the five defendants had made their way to the ledge of the upper west terrace, where Jonathan Pollock once more shouted “Let’s go,” before attempting to pull a police officer over the railings, the affidavit said.

Michael Perkins holding a Trump flag.
Michael Perkins.

Doolin, who was seen with zip-tie handcuffs and a riot-control chemical canister on his person, according to prosecutors, is not accused of assaulting any officers.

Joshua Doolin at the Capitol attack.
Joshua Doolin.

More than 550 people have been arrested and charged in connection to the deadly Capitol attack so far.

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Trump asked aides drafted a proclamation in case he invoked the Insurrection Act amid the Black Lives Matter DC protests last year, The New York Times reports

President Donald Trump walks from the White House through Lafayette Park to visit St. John's Church Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump walks from the White House through Lafayette Park to visit St. John’s Church Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • Aides prepared for former President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act in response to the protests last summer, The New York Times reported..
  • Three former administration officials talked Trump out of deploying active-duty troops, but aides drafted the proclamation.
  • Trump denied he had wanted to deploy active-duty troops in a statement to The Times.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Aides drafted a proclamation in case former President Donald Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to call in active-duty troops in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, DC, The New York Times reported Friday.

Last summer, protestors gathered across the nation following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died while in police custody after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes.

On June 1, 2020, Trump expressed interest to former Attorney General Bill Bar, former defense Mark Esper, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, Gen. Mark Milley, to deploy active-duty troops in Washington, DC, amid the protests last year, two senior Trump administration officials told The Times.

The Times reported that the former president was talked out of deploying the military to patrol the streets by the three former administration officials. Barr told Trump that civilian police forces had enough personnel to respond to the protests and invoking the Insurrection Act could provoke more violence and unrest, according to The Times report.

“We look weak,” Mr. Trump said, according to one of the officials, The Times reported.

But the proclamation was drafted in the event that Trump decided to do so and in the event that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser refused to implement a city-wide curfew – which she later put into place – and other measures to curb the protests, one former senior administration official said Trump was aware the document was prepared.

Trump ultimately never invoked the act, but in an address in the Rose Garden that same evening, he indicated he would deploy the military if city and state leaders declined to take action.

“If the city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residence, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said.

In a statement to The Times, Trump denied that he wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act.

“It’s absolutely not true and if it was true, I would have done it,” Trump told The Times in a statement.

A representative for Trump did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

The Insurrection Act, which grants the president authority to use active-duty troops for law enforcement, has only been invoked twice in the last four decades – once in response to the widespread looting and civil unrest after Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and another during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles after the acquittal four Los Angeles Police officers involved in the beating of Rodney King.

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A Florida pastor and his son were arrested in connection with the Capitol riot after a congregant gave them up

Protesters congregate inside the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection.
Protesters inside the Capitol on January 6.

A father and son pastor duo are the most recent accused Capitol rioters to be arrested and charged over their participation in the January 6 insurrection.

James “Jim” Varnell Cusick, 72, and his son Casey Cusick, 35, who both serve as pastors at Global Outreach Church of Melbourne in Melbourne, Florida, as well as a member of their congregation, were arrested on Thursday, according to charging documents.

In late January, the FBI received an anonymous tip that James was inside the Capitol rotunda during the Capitol attack, prosecutors said. On March 26, the agency received another tip from a different individual alleging that both James and his son Casey had traveled from Florida to Washington, DC, to attend then-President Donald Trump’s rally.

The tipster said the pair was accompanied by another individual, “known to law enforcement” as David Lesperance, and the three had entered the Capitol during the riot and taken videos and pictures, according to charging documents.

In the days following, authorities received another tip regarding Lesperance, prompting task force officers to interview the man, prosecutors said. During the interview, Lesperance, 69, reportedly admitted his pastor was also at Trump’s rally and that “they” had entered the Capitol, but he refused to give authorities any additional names, charging documents said.

Lesperance also acknowledged he took videos and photos while inside the Capitol but told authorities he later deleted the media fearing repercussions, according to legal documents.

Authorities were able to connect Lesperance to Global Outreach Church of Melbourne, where James Cusick and Casey Cusick serve as founder and vice president, respectively. Officials also found a photo from the church’s Instagram account featuring both Casey and Lesperance together.

A photo from Global Outreach Ministries Church's Instagram showing multiple men posing.
A photo from Global Outreach Ministries Church’s Instagram.

Authorities tied all three men’s cell phone locations to the vicinity of the Capitol on January 6, prosecutors said. Officials were also able to compare photos of both James and Casey found on Lespearance’s iCloud account that appear to show them wearing the same clothes as they were seen wearing on footage captured by body-worn camera and security footage from around and inside the Capitol on January 6.

James and Casey were arrested on Thursday and face charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

According to Florida Today, Lesperance faces similar charges.

Neither James nor Casey via Global Outreach Church immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment. Lesperance could not be reached for comment.

The men were due in court for an initial appearance on Thursday afternoon in Orlando, the outlet reported.

More than 500 people have been charged in the Capitol riot so far.

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A former US lawmaker known as ‘Putin’s favorite congressman” marched to the Capitol on January 6

Dana Rohrbacher California
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) speaks during a House Foreign Affairs Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats Subcommittee hearing.

  • A former California congressman participated in the January 6 march to the Capitol that preceded the insurrection.
  • Internet detectives identified Dana Rohrabacher in video footage from the scene earlier this month.
  • Rohrabacher told the Portland Press Herald he discouraged his fellow protesters from entering the building.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An ex-congressman from California confirmed he participated in the January 6 march to the Capitol that preceded the deadly insurrection, after internet detectives discovered him in video footage from the scene, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican who represented California in the US House of Representatives from 1989 to 2019, told the outlet he participated in what started as a “peaceful” march, but denied entering the Capitol and said he discouraged his fellow protesters from doing so as well.

“I marched to protest, and I thought the election was fraudulent and it should be investigated, and I wanted to express that and be supportive of that demand,” Rohrabacher told the Press Herald. “But I was not there to make a scene and do things that were unacceptable for anyone to do.”

The polarizing figure, who has been called “Putin’s favorite congressman” due to his prominent pro-Russia opinions and an unusual friendship with the Russian president, is one of the most high-profile figures to be outed as a rally attendee thus far.

Rohrabacher, who fashioned himself as a Trump ally, was the longest-serving House member to lose reelection in 2018 and moved to Maine shortly after.

According to the Press Herald, a group of anonymous sleuths using the account @capitolhunters identified Rohrabacher in four videos that place him near the Lower West Plaza from around 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on January 6. Identified by his knit hat and overcoat, the internet investigators determined he was almost 500 feet beyond police barriers inside the restricted zone, but concluded there was no evidence suggesting he climbed the West Plaza steps or entered the building.

In an interview with the Press Herald on Monday, Rohrabacher blamed the left-wing for the historic Capitol attack and its ongoing fallout.

“By going into the building, they gave the Left the ability to direct the discussion of what was going on in a way that was harmful to the things we believe in,” Rohrabacher told the outlet, saying he believed “Leftist provocateurs” encouraged the crowd to enter the Capitol. There is no evidence that the riot was provoked by “leftists.”

Since January, more than 500 people have been arrested in connection to the Capitol riot, many of whom have ties to right-wing extremist groups like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and the Three Percenters, as well as followers of the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon.

In the footage uncovered by @capitolhunters, Rohrabacher can be seen with another man, whom he told the Press Herald was his friend from Japan who is active in the cannabis industry.

In addition to his support of several far-right and authoritarian European leaders during his time in office, Rohrabacher was also a vocal supporter of marijuana legalization.

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MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says he ‘never even watched footage’ of the Capitol insurrection and believes ‘it was a setup’

mike lindell trump
US President Donald Trump listens as Michael J. Lindell, CEO of MyPillow Inc., speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 30, 2020.

  • Mike Lindell denied ever witnessing the Capitol insurrection and claimed it was a “setup.”
  • “I’ve never even watched footage of that,” he told Rolling Stone in a recent interview.
  • Lindell joins a growing chorus of Republicans who have downplayed the deadly riot.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in a new interview published Monday denied ever witnessing the January 6 Capitol insurrection and claimed it was a “setup.”

When asked about the deadly riot, Lindell told Rolling Stone magazine: “I’ve never even watched footage of that.”

“But in my opinion it was a setup,” he continued. “I’ve been to over 50 rallies … There has never been one incident. And you don’t think it was a setup? Gimme a break.”

Lindell joins several other Trump allies who have sought to downplay the insurrection or spread falsehoods about it. GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has previously said the Capitol riot “didn’t seem like an armed insurrection” and has falsely described it as a “peaceful protest.” He most recently reiterated that stance during a Fox News appearance on Sunday.

Widely circulated video footage and photos of the Capitol on January 6 show large numbers of apparent Trump supporters rioting, constructing a gallows on the complex, holding zip ties, and attacking police officers. Federal investigators have charged 521 people so far in connection with the riot.

Former President Donald Trump has been widely accused of inciting the insurrection after he rallied his supporters to protest the 2020 election results based on lies that the race was stolen from him. Lindell, a staunch ally of Trump’s, has repeatedly pushed his false claims about the election.

Congressional Republicans last month voted to block the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection. Trump had been against the bill.

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GOP Rep. Tom Rice says he voted for Trump’s impeachment because ‘what he did in my mind is what dictators do’

tom rice
In this Dec. 18, 2019, file photo, taken from video, Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington.

  • Rep. Tom Rice defended his vote to impeach Trump over his role in inciting the Capitol insurrection.
  • Rice called Trump a “bully” and said his actions were “completely despicable.”
  • The South Carolina lawmaker faces several Republican challengers hoping to unseat him in a primary election.
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Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina defended his vote earlier this year to impeach then-President Donald Trump over his role in inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

“I took an oath to defend the Constitution. I didn’t take an oath to defend Donald Trump,” Rice said in an interview with The Washington Post that was published on Sunday. “What he did was a frontal assault on the Constitution.”

Rice expressed no regrets over his decision, telling his constituents at an event last week that Trump is a “bully” and his actions on that day were “completely despicable.”

“I will vote that way every single time,” the Republican lawmaker said, according to The Post.

Rice also blasted Trump for tweeting an attack against then-Vice President Mike Pence while his supporters were storming the Capitol and Pence was being rushed to safety.

“For him to be calling Mike Pence a coward and him sitting at the White House surrounded by Secret Service and tweeting while Mike Pence is in the middle of all that, and he’s a coward? Give me a break,” Rice said, per The Post.

Trump at the time said Pence lacked “courage” for refusing to overturn the 2020 presidential election results over false claims that the race was “rigged” and “stolen” from him. The vice president has no authority to challenge the results, and there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election.

“If the president, by force, can intimidate Congress into voting their way, then we might as well do away with Congress and hand it over to a king. What he did in my mind is what dictators do,” Rice said of Trump.

Rice was one of 10 House Republicans who broke from their party and supported Trump’s second impeachment – the most bipartisan impeachment vote in US history. His vote shocked many GOP lawmakers, who at the time called him to make sure it wasn’t an accident, The Post reported.

Rice’s comments come as several pro-Trump Republicans have launched campaigns to unseat him in an upcoming primary election for his South Carolina district.

“If you want a congressman who’s going to choose a personality over the Constitution, I’m not your guy,” Rice told voters at the event last week, per The Post.

The Post reported that some of Rice’s constituents are frustrated over his impeachment vote against Trump and that his job is in jeopardy. But Rice is trying to win voters over by pointing to his record. Rice voted with Trump 94% of the time and helped draft the GOP’s tax cuts legislation in 2017.

“If it cost me the job, then it cost me the job,” Rice told The Post. “I hope it doesn’t.”

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Rep. Paul Gosar learned the hard way: supporting the insurrection has consequences in Congress

paul gosar trumpism 2x1
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on February 27, 2021.

  • Representative Paul Gosar has supported the January 6 insurrection from the beginning.
  • He has since found that it’s tougher for him to get things done in Congress.
  • Let this be a lesson to Republicans: undermining our democracy has consequences.
  • Raul Grijalva is the US representative for Arizona’s third district.
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When armed insurrectionists broke into the US Capitol on January 6, I had just finished speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives. My colleagues were debating a motion to reject the results of Arizona’s election for president, which had been resolved in favor of President Biden.

I spoke against the motion – the challenge was not based on any evidence – and took my seat. I was followed briefly by Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, who has played a leading role in the insurrectionist cause from the beginning. He was, somewhat ironically, the last person to speak before security officials ordered an evacuation.

Just a few hours earlier, Rep. Gosar had challenged the certification of Arizona’s electoral votes during a joint session of Congress, receiving a standing ovation of nearly 30 seconds from his House and Senate Republican colleagues for his efforts. That morning, he led a crowd of Trump supporters in chants of “Stop the steal” at the now-infamous rally near the Capitol, and tweeted a demand that Biden concede the race, concluding ominously, “Don’t make me come over there.”

Rep. Gosar has only doubled down since then. At a May 12 hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, he called the insurrectionists “peaceful patriots” who have been maligned only because of their support for Donald Trump.

It’s not unsurprising that his tune hasn’t changed. Whatever you may think of his political sentiments, they are clearly genuinely held. But like all extremists, he should be prepared to accept the consequences of his actions, and now that his colleagues are starting to impose those consequences, he is deflecting and making excuses rather than confronting them honestly.

This came to a head on May 24, when a panel of the Natural Resources Committee, which I chair, held a hearing on a politically uncontroversial bill called the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act. As the name suggests, the bill – sponsored by Democratic Rep. Mike Levin – creates incentives and eliminates barriers to develop clean energy projects on certain federally managed lands. It has been a popular and bipartisan piece of legislation for years.

Rep. Gosar knows the bill would benefit his own constituents tremendously, and he had been its leading Republican cosponsor in previous sessions of Congress. Unfortunately, his name carries negative weight among his Democratic colleagues, and having him play a leadership role in this Congress would hurt the bill’s chances of passage. As a result, Rep. Levin informed Rep. Gosar in mid-May that he could not serve as lead cosponsor of the bill this year and made it clear that this was a consequence of his role in the insurrection.

Rather than accepting this as a relatively small price to pay for his convictions, Rep. Gosar immediately introduced his own bill – with language identical to Rep. Levin’s – and told a reporter this was happening because of his “vocal criticisms of the Biden administration and its focus on climate change as it relates to the use of federal lands.” His own press release went so far as to suggest, disingenuously, that his bill would be the one discussed on May 24. It was not.

This is worse than crocodile tears. This is rewriting history. Rep. Gosar pretending on the one hand that a violent attack on the US Capitol is all much ado about nothing and, on the other, that he isn’t facing pushback for his leading role that day, suggests that he isn’t as ready to sacrifice for his cause as he wants his supporters to believe. If he is proud of his record, he should forthrightly say as much. Instead, we are seeing a deliberate effort to muddy the waters by a member of Congress who seems incapable of dealing with the real consequences of his actions before, during, and after January 6.

Those who try to sanitize what happened during the attack on the Capitol are free to do so, but outside their bubble, they have destroyed their credibility. Federal law enforcement agencies continue to make arrests in connection with a multitude of crimes committed that day. The big lie – that Donald Trump really won in the 2020 election – continues to wreak very public havoc, both in Arizona and elsewhere, and will unfortunately take a long time to die.

As a lifelong Democrat, I’m not in the habit of quoting Richard Nixon, but as he once observed, “The best and only answer to a smear or to an honest misunderstanding of the facts is to tell the truth.” I have no doubt that Rep. Gosar continues to believe himself the victim of smears and misunderstandings. But he needs to remember that his colleagues were there that day on the floor of the House, heading for the exits at the very moment his supporters broke into the building because of the false and dangerous story he was telling.

It’s time for him – and his like-minded colleagues who are similarly avoiding responsibility – to start telling the truth, not least of all to themselves. Their actions are unpopular, and with Democrats in the majority in Congress, there will continue to be consequences.

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