A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Happy New Year!
Welcome back from the holiday break. Three stories dominated the holiday period: (i) Kevin McCarthy’s shambolic campaign for the House speakership, (ii) the public release of the Jan. 6 committee’s historic work product, and (iii) the unraveling of the serial fabulist George Santos.
The three stories overlap and interweave amongst themselves in various interesting ways, so let’s get to it.
Hold Onto Your Hats!
Republicans officially take over the House today. It’s going to be a zoo on the House side for the next two years.
You can’t overstate what a destructive menace this House majority represents. And yet … don’t lose sight of the fact that with a Democratic Senate and White House, the House GOP has very limited power.
What’s fascinating about the new House majority, what makes it a great story, is how it embodies all the worst elements of what the Republican Party and conservative movement have become: anti-democratic, corrupt, unmoored from principle, ungovernable, uninterested in governing, cruel, and destructive — while also being comically absurd.
But keep in mind the outrageous and transgressive conduct that the House GOP campaigned on, is promising to continue, and in fact revels in is its only real political currency. That is its appeal to its supporters. That is the point. It is performative, especially with Democrats controlling the White House and Senate.
A sophisticated approach to understanding and covering the House GOP requires not launching into a cycle of outrage and indignation over its transgressions.
McCarthy Doesn’t Have The Votes Yet
The new House is sworn in today with a great deal of suspense over McCarthy’s prospects of securing the speakership.
What Price The Speakership?
McCarthy is prepared to give up almost anything to win the speakership, including the ability to be an effective speaker.
The Arsonists Plan To Investigate The Firefighters
It’s painful to watch the coverage of the change of power in the House covered in the same traditional, low key way — as if Jan. 6 hadn’t happened, as if the insurrectionists themselves aren’t returning to power, and as if a principle aim of the insurrectionists isn’t to thwart and undermine any investigations of the insurrection. But here we are.
The rush by the Jan. 6 committee to dump its work product into the public domain is best seen as an effort to protect the committee’s work from the incoming House GOP majority.
As one of its last acts, the committee warned the Biden White House in a Dec. 30 letter that with the new incoming House leadership it could no longer assure the anonymity of cooperating witnesses.
The Jan. 6 Committee’s Final Flourish
The enormous volume of material released over the past two weeks by the Jan. 6 committee challenges the capacity of reporters and observers to fully process and absorb all the new evidence. If you’re a mere news consumer trying to enjoy the holidays, it was overwhelming. But here are a few of the highlights and best efforts to summarize the new revelations:
NYT: Trying to Trademark ‘Rigged Election,’ and Other Revelations From the Jan. 6 Transcripts
CNN: Trump wanted to trademark ‘Rigged Election!’ and other key findings from the Jan. 6 panel’s latest release
Politico: Notable moments from Jan. 6 panel interviews
Politico: Inside the Jan. 6 committee’s massive new evidence trove
AP: Final revelations from investigation
Some Of My Personal Faves From The Jan. 6 Committee
Vice: Mark Meadows Threw Documents Into White House Fireplace, Ex-Aide Testified
Robert Costa: An extraordinary moment in American history
The Guardian: Hope Hicks texted ‘we look like domestic terrorists’ on January 6
Politico: Jan. 6 committee interview sheds light on origins of Proud Boys ‘1776 returns’ document
Lost In the Shuffle
I don’t disagree with the Jan. 6 committee’s decision to focus its efforts largely on Trump and the conspiracy to the subvert the 2020 election rather than emphasize the security and intelligence failures that enabled the storming of the Capitol. But those failures remain worth understanding and examining. Ryan Reilly has been on the case.
Proud Boys Jury Selection Is Tough In DC
It’s a lot to keep track of, but the criminal justice side of the accountability for Jan. 6 continues apace, with jury selection in DC for the seditious conspiracy trial of the Proud Boys grinding on into a second week.
Whitmer Kidnap Plot Sentences
Two of the leaders of the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer received long prison sentences.
Santos Embodies The Absurdity
Nothing quite captures the new House GOP majority like incoming Rep. George Santos (R-NY).
Under investigation at home and abroad, with no real defenses to his serial lies, Santos will be sworn in today and immediately become a critical vote for McCarthy for speaker.
The Associated Press describes Santos as a “distraction” for the incoming GOP majority during its moment of triumph. He is so much more than that.
The Hits Keep Coming For Santos
NYT: Brazilian Authorities Will Revive Fraud Case Against George Santos
TPM: Santos Once Boasted About Being ‘Head Guy For New York City’ At Alleged Ponzi Scheme
Politico: Where George Santos’ many scandals stand
WABC: Queens District Attorney is third prosecutor’s office looking into George Santos
NYT: George Santos Comes to Washington. It Could Be Awkward.
NYT: As His Life of Fantasy Comes Into Focus, George Santos Goes to Washington
Politico: How Justice Kagan lost her battle as a consensus builder
Vox: The Trumpiest court in America
NYT: A Charity Tied to the Supreme Court Offers Donors Access to the Justices
Remember Kris Kobach?
The longtime scourge of voting rights and immigrants is now the incoming attorney general in Kansas – and he’s facing a $30,000 FEC fine for campaign finance violations during his 2020 run for U.S. Senate.
Meadows Won’t Face Voter Fraud Charges
The North Carolina Department of Justice has declined to pursue charges against Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows or his wife for allegedly illegally registering to vote in the state.
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