Where Things Stand: Some News Amid The Commemorations And Noise

This is your TPM evening briefing.
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 19: U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, speaks during a committee business meeting at Cannon House Office Build... WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 19: U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, speaks during a committee business meeting at Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. The committee voted to hold former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to cooperate with the committee’s subpoena. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS

A decent chunk of what would’ve been the right’s blusteringly distasteful counter-programming to Congress’ introspective coup-versary commemorations today were canceled last minute.

Trump nixed his big press conference scheduled for this afternoon in a statement yesterday, claiming the “total bias and dishonesty” of the Jan. 6 “unselect” committee’s investigation and the “fake news media” in general had somehow forced his hand. (In reality, Senate Republicans openly urged the former president to call the anticipated Big Lie revival off, rightfully assuming it’d probably devolve into little more than a tacky distraction. Trump fired off some angry statements today instead.)

At the state and local level, some groups of election-fraud enthusiasts followed suit, canceling planned “vigils” and Trumpy grievance rallies guised as one-year anniversary recognitions.

The unhinged duo, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), did stick with their tour of terribleness plans this afternoon, holding a lengthy press conference where they cemented their status as lawmakers living in an alternate reality. They harped on their belief that the federal government somehow played a role in insurrect-ing itself last year — a “fedsurrection,” if you will.

But their planned insurrection reenactment of sorts was called off. The two had initially planned to “walk the grounds that patriotic Americans walked from the White House to the Capitol,” a fittingly dumb and dangerous ode to all those innocent, peaceful protesters who violently mobbed the lawmakers’ place of work last year.

But below the noise, the head-down Jan. 6 select committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) made some news today on the investigative front. During an interview with the Washington Post this afternoon, he offered his own counter-programming:

  • The panel hasn’t yet found evidence of criminal behavior on Trump’s part, but that doesn’t mean they won’t, Thompson said. “The good part about Bennie Thompson is, I’m not a lawyer,” he said, adding “we’ll look at it” and if they find something they might consider criminal in Trump’s dealings that day, there will be “absolutely no reluctance on our part to make a referral to the Department Of Justice, just as we did with Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows.”
  • Mark Meadows’ “treasure trove”: without the former White House chief of staff’s bundle of texts handed over to the committee, the panel wouldn’t have known a lot of things, Thompson said, including Sean Hannity’s day-of communications with Trump and the White House. “Once we started going through it, we’re saying, ‘woah, what is all of this?'”
  • Thompson confirmed that the committee has asked to speak directly with former Veep Mike Pence, but said they’ve only heard back from staff at this point.
  • There have been murky allegations of members of Congress giving “tours” to would-be insurrectionists on the days leading up to Jan. 6 for months now, with some reports suggesting that members of Congress even pointed out how to find the offices of key Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the building. But nothing substantial has come out of those reports. Until now: Thompson confirmed today that there were, in fact, members of Congress who gave tours to people who later attended Jan. 6 rallies, though it wasn’t clear from his remarks whether those who attended the tours later helped break into the Capitol. “As to whether or not those tours morphed into giving people directions of where Speaker Pelosi’s office, or Whip Clyburn’s office, or Leader Hoyer’s office, we’re just not sure,” Thompson said. “But we know there was member participation.”
  • Prime time hearings: Thompson announced the committee plans to hold “late evening” hearings in the next month or so, confirming reports from earlier this week. He said they’ll likely be held two, three or four days in a row in February, carrying on the now-tradition of Trump-related investigations held for all to hear in the second month of the year (back-to-back February impeachments, if you recall). “Historically congressional committees have done their work during the day,” he said. “Well we think Jan. 6 and what happened is so important, we need to give the greatest number of Americans an opportunity to see first hand what we have uncovered as a committee.”
  • When to expect findings: The committee plans to release an “interim” report “probably early spring,” followed by a final report “sometime early fall,” Thompson said. Just in time for whatever that big 2022 election is.

The Best Of TPM Today

Here’s what you should read this evening:

A couple of great reads published this morning: From Malheur To Jan. 6: NC Militia Organizes Letter Writing Campaign To Insurrectionist ‘Political Prisoners’

And: Wisconsin Republicans’ Endless Election Investigation Is Carrying The Jan. 6 Banner Forward

Follow our live coverage of the Jan. 6 anniversary here: Members Of Congress Mark One Year Anniversary Of Insurrection

Highlights from Biden’s speech today: Biden Walks Line Between Persuasion, Fight In Jan. 6 Speech

Cruz Faces Right-Wing Backlash After Calling Jan. 6 A ‘Violent Terrorist Attack’

Two great pieces from TPM Cafe today: Can A Christian Flag Fly At City Hall? SCOTUS Will Have To Decide

And: I Saw Firsthand What It Takes To Keep COVID Out Of Hong Kong. It Felt Like a Different Planet.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Several Republican Senators Are Suddenly Open To Electoral Reform. Dems Are Skeptical. — Matt Shuham

What We Are Reading

Of Course Joe Biden’s Speech Was Political. January 6 Saw Political Violence With a Political Goal. — Charles P. Pierce

To preserve our democracy, we must bar insurrectionists from the ballot — Ron Fein and Alexandra Flores-Quilty

Trump Enjoyed Riot So Much He Rewound TV to Watch It Twice, Ex-Aide Says — Jamie Ross

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