There are some follow-up stories today from yesterday's public hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Patrick Byrne, the former chief executive officer of Overstock, who was mentioned in the hearing yesterday as having attended the December 18 meeting in which lawyer Sidney Powell and former national security adviser Michael Flynn called for Trump to seize voting machines, will talk with the committee on Friday.
Byrne ran Overstock for twenty years before having to resign in 2019 after admitting to an affair with Maria Butina, an apparent guns rights activist from Russia who ingratiated herself with Republican politicians and who later pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to act as a Russian agent without registering with the Department of Justice. She now sits in the Russian parliament, or Duma, which critics say is a reward from the Kremlin.
Byrne has trafficked in conspiracy theories, and after the 2020 election, he became increasingly convinced that Trump was right when he claimed to have been cheated of victory.
Former White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah Griffin, who now works for CNN, told CNN today that when she told Trump's White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that she was resigning after the election to move on as Trump's term ended, Meadows said to her: "What if I could tell you that we're actually going to be staying?"
In a different story, CNN reported that the recipient of the phone call Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) called attention to yesterday from Trump to a witness was a White House support staff member who could corroborate the testimony provided by Meadows's aide Cassidy Hutchinson. This person didn't usually communicate with Trump and was concerned about the call.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) continues to fight his subpoena from a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, that wants to hear from him about at least two phone calls he made to Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to talk about the 2020 election. As of tonight, a judge has stayed the subpoena and on July 20 will hear arguments on whether to reject it.
The editorial board of the Charleston, South Carolina, Post and Courier today ran an editorial titled: "Just testify, Sen[ator] Graham." It says Graham's claim that the calls were about election procedures "never made sense." Now his lawyers say that he was talking about elections to do his job as the chair of the U.S. Judiciary Committee—a top-ranking committee, by the way—which makes even less sense. The board says it doesn't think Graham did anything illegal, but asserted that it is the duty of every U.S. citizen to "comply with a subpoena to testify."
"We expect and deserve better from our senator," it concluded.
And that's just it, isn't it? We are hearing now, 18 months after the fact, that our president tried to overturn our democracy, forcing his own will onto unwilling voters. And, at the time, no one in the White House said anything to the public or to our law enforcement officials to stop this deadly attack.
Worse, it appears that a number of our lawmakers were complicit in the attempt to overturn our democracy. The committee has named at least ten representatives who conspired with the president, and another, Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), who gave a tour through the Capitol complex on January 5, but there have been hints that others knew something was up as well, and that some might have been helping with the scheme.
There is still the question of which senators and representatives saw a presentation of the 38-page PowerPoint titled "Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN," referred to by the committee in mid-December 2021. That anyone went to the trouble of making a 38-page PowerPoint suggests they expected a decent-sized audience.
Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a top aide to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy called her, angry, when he thought Trump was going to go to the Capitol.
"'[T]he president just said he's marching to the Capitol," McCarthy allegedly told Hutchinson. "You told me this whole week you aren't coming up here, why would you lie to me?'"
Why had McCarthy been hearing for a week about Trump's plans with regard to the Capitol?
On January 5, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who was the president pro tempore of the Senate, the second highest-ranking person in the Senate after the vice president, told reporters about the next day: "Well, first of all, I will be—if the Vice President isn't there and we don't expect him to be there, I will be presiding over the Senate." His office immediately clarified that Grassley meant only that he would preside over counting of the Electoral Votes only if Vice President Mike Pence "had to step away during Wednesday's proceedings," and that "'[e]very indication we have is that the vice president will be there." But considering everything we know now about the plans to get Pence out of the way, Grassley's comment continues to bother me.
The silence from Republicans over what we have been hearing from the January 6th committee is deafening.
It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that they were willing to permit Trump to overturn the will of the voters—to overturn our democratic form of government—if it meant they could retain power.
We ignore this willingness to destroy our democracy at our peril.
Two days ago, a spokesperson for Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán announced that the Conservative Political Action Conference has invited Orbán to give an opening address at their gathering in Dallas, Texas, next month. Trump, who has endorsed Orbán in his recent election, will also be speaking.
America's self-styled "conservatives" have gotten increasingly close to Orbán, thanks in part to the enthusiasm of Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson for the Hungarian leader. This spring, Carlson broadcast his show from Hungary, which, with fewer than 10 million people, is about the size of Michigan. (It always strikes me as exceedingly odd that the same people who claim to champion America are using this small central European country as a model for the United States.) In April, CPAC met in Hungary, where Orbán gave a long address.
Orbán has eroded democracy in his country, replacing it with what he calls "illiberal democracy," or "Christian democracy." His country still holds nominal elections, but their outcome is preordained because the government controls all the media and has silenced opposition. Illiberal democracy rejects modern liberal democracy because the equality it champions means an acceptance of immigrants, LGBTQ rights, and women's rights and an end to traditionally patriarchal society. Orbán's model of minority rule promises a return to a white-dominated, religiously based society, and he has pushed his vision by eliminating the independent press, cracking down on political opposition, getting rid of the rule of law, and dominating the economy with a group of crony oligarchs.
When he spoke at CPAC in April, Orbán told the attendees that the right wing in Europe and the United States must fight together to "reconquer" institutions in Brussels and Washington, D.C., before the 2024 election because those "liberals" who currently control them are destroying western civilization.