House Republicans Issue A Truly Absurd Report Re January 6

The House Administration Oversight Subcommittee, also known as the Rep. Barry Loudermilk Sedition Funtime Revue,  released its “INITIAL FINDINGS REPORT” on Monday, attempting to refute the conclusions of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. And yes, the title is in all-caps; I’m not making that up.

Readers, it is not pretty. Beyond being mostly incoherent, it’s not so much an attempt to discredit the Jan. 6 committee as it is a grab bag of odd and often petty complaints—the tried-and-true “spaghetti on the wall” approach to report-crafting. 

Among the more revealing sections is one insisting that “OVER ONE TERABYTE” of data was missing from the digital files that the Jan. 6 committee handed over to Loudermilk and his little subcommittee, along with accusations of “deleted” and “encrypted files.” But the killer line of the section is supposed to be Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the Jan. 6 committee, telling Loudermilk that he had “absolutely no idea what you are talking about.”

I promise you that “I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about” is a sentence Barry Loudermilk has heard quite often in his life.

In large part, the report seeks to discredit Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and one of the Jan. 6 committee’s witnesses. However, the report’s supposed refutation of her testimony is—well, what’s the word? Inept? Bumbling? Comical? Somebody here is attempting to be a Columbo, but they don’t have the chops to manage an Inspector Clouseau. 

Loudermilk presents partial testimonies of four unnamed “White House employees” whom he says “directly undermine claims made by Hutchinson and the Select Committee.”

But they … don’t?

Interview of White House Employee One, June 10, 2022:

The interview of White House Employee One occurred on June 10, 2022. The redacted version of the transcript lists the witness as a “White House Employee.” Based on the unredacted portions of the transcript, this individual had firsthand knowledge related to President Trump’s demeanor and actions on January 6. The Select Committee asked White House Employee One if they recalled President Trump ever expressing a desire to go to the Capitol prior to January 6, 2021. White House Employee One White House Employee One testified that they did not recall hearing President Trump express a desire to go to the Capitol prior to January 6, 2021.

White House Employee One continued that if President Trump planned to go to the Capitol, it is information that this individual, according to their own testimony, would have known. White House Employee One testified that “typically, [they] would hear something like that if we were, like, going down to the Capitol, because it’s like a whole… movement of things that still have to be coordinated, and [they] didn’t hear any of that being organized or him ever mentioning wanting to walk or go down to the Capitol at all.”

Absolutely fascinating. This former White House employee says they weren’t aware of any plans for Trump to go to the Capitol with his assembled mob prior to him announcing it in front of the crowd. At the time, Trump told the crowd, “Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. … We’re going to walk down to the Capitol.”

In other words, this employee interview does not in any way refute Hutchinson’s assertion that Trump wanted his driver to take him to the Capitol after he announced to the mob that he would be joining them.

Indeed, White House Employee One is full of things they couldn’t verify one way or another.

White House Employee One also testified that they never heard the President try to pressure the Vice President either directly or through White House counsel that he had that the authority to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Wow, you know who also never heard the president pressure the vice president? My three cats. The frozen chicken in my freezer. And Ronald McDonald. And all of the other people who weren’t in the damn room when other witnesses testified that, yes, Trump and White House counsel pressured Mike Pence to change the election’s outcome very damn much. Trump also pressured Pence to “send it back to the states” in his speech to the mob directly before ordering them to march to the Capitol; it was broadcast live on television. So apparently there was quite a lot that White House Employee One never happened to hear.

The Select Committee specifically asked White House Employee One if he recalled the President saying something to the effect of “maybe he should be fucking hung, maybe he deserves it.” White House Employee One testified that he did not recall hearing the President saying anything to that effect.

And this is pretty much the tone of the whole report. For every bit of testimony given to the House Jan. 6 committee that pins Trump to specific actions on or leading up to the insurrection, Loudermilk’s report says it found someone who wasn’t a witness to it. And if everyone in America didn’t witness an event that they weren’t present for, that means it didn’t happen!

Yeah. Yeah, I know. These are the people who write our laws, or at least the people who take lobbyist-written bills and turn them into our laws. And this is the level of logic being deployed to suggest that everyone who did witness Trump doing those things is super-duper, for-sure, cross-our-hearts wrong.

Moving on to Loudermilk’s blockbuster White House Employee Two, identified as a “desk officer within the Situation Room on January 6.”

White House Employee Two testified that they first became aware of discussions of a possible movement to the Capitol at approximately 11:24 a.m. on January 6–just minutes before the President departed for the Ellipse. White House Employee Two testified that, around this time, Situation Room staff were trying to determine “if [President Trump] truly wanted to go” to the Capitol. When the Select Committee asked White House Employee Two what the response was among fellow staff to the idea of the President going to the Capitol, the witness testified that everyone was “in a state of shock.”

White House Employee Two testified that staff in the Situation Room were “watching the [camera] feed” to see if President Trump’s motorcade was heading toward the Capitol and that they saw President Trump sitting inside the vehicle for over a minute before it departed the Ellipse. The Select Committee subsequently asked White House Employee Two if by “watching the feed, [they] mean the actual visual of [President Trump] in the car,” to which White House Employee answered, “Correct.”

The Select Committee also asked White House Employee Two if they knew about anything that occurred within the [President’s] vehicle following the rally. White House Employee Two responded, “no.” The Select Committee did not push the witness on this question unlike in other interviews. The Select Committee settled for a simple “no” from an individual who worked in the White House, in an interview conducted shortly after Hutchinson’s explosive public testimony.

Yeah, sport, that’s because this person testified that they weren’t there and didn’t know. It’s not clear what “watching the [camera] feed” means, and whether it means broadcast news coverage or security cameras private to the Secret Service, but if the person says they don’t know anything about what happened inside the vehicle, then what else is the Jan. 6 committee supposed to ask? Once again, Loudermilk thinks that finding a witness who doesn’t know about an event means the event didn’t happen.

White House Employee Three also provides not-explosive testimony in which they supposedly “dismissed the premise that President Trump planned to go to the Capitol and testified they did not know where the [Employee Two] got this information,” but the actual testimony quoted makes it clear that Loudermilk is fudging—and hard—to make that assertion.

What Employee Three actually testified to is that they understood that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol with the crowd, but, to quote the employee, “My assumption was that the Chief of Staff relayed to the President the same thing he relayed to me, that they weren’t going to go.”

White House Employee Three testified repeatedly that the President was not going to the Capitol, and there was no plan for the President going to the Capitol, nor would assets be in place for to support this movement.

Again, that’s what we’ve heard all along: Trump expressed a desire to meet the crowd at the Capitol, but the Secret Service rejected the idea of plopping a sitting president down in the middle of a frothing anti-government mob, and not even Trump himself was able to change their minds. 

Loudermilk seems to be trying to make the point that if, hypothetically, Trump only informed his team immediately before the rally that he would be going to the Capitol with his mob, then that hardly counts as him planning to do that thing. But in reality, it again corroborates what the Jan. 6 committee reported: Trump did tell his subordinates he wanted to drive to the Capitol alongside his mob, his staff and security detail told him no, and then Trump got furious and demanded they go to the Capitol.

Loudermilk even confirms that part of the story in his own report! Amid the report’s attempts to discredit Hutchinson’s testimony that Anthony Ornato, a former White House deputy chief of staff, told her Trump lunged at his Secret Service driver when the driver refused to take him to the Capitol as Trump had demanded.

Despite White House Employee Three testifying they were in the same area around the same time Hutchinson claimed to have been in Ornato’s office, the Select Committee did not specifically ask this witness about Hutchinson’s version of events inside the SUV after the President’s speech at the Ellipse.

White House Employee Three, however, did testify that Ornato told him that the President was “irate” on the drive back to the White House. White House Employee Three consistently answered that Ornato told him about President Trump’s mood and never testified that President Trump lunged, grabbed, or made any aggressive movements as claimed by Hutchinson.

Did you catch it? If you didn’t, Loudermilk helpfully includes Employee Three’s testimony verbatim. The witness says Ornato told them Trump was “irate, he was really angry, you know, that we proceeded back to the White House.”

So, once again, we’ve confirmed that Trump told his staff and his security detail that he intended to meet his mob on the grounds of the Capitol, and that when his staff refused to take him there, he flew into a rage.

Employee Three says they don’t know about Ornato telling Hutchinson about Trump lunging for or otherwise threatening his driver, despite being “in the same area around the same time” as the Ornato-Hutchinson exchange—and yes, that is how time and space work. It’s possible to be in the same area at “around” the same time and not see the stuff that happened before and after. There have been whole scientific papers on this notion, this mind-bending concept that if you’re not there at the exact time and place an event occurred, then you … weren’t there.

We can keep going like this, but there’s no point. The rest of the report is all the same, and it all paints Loudermilk as someone who’s significantly unqualified not only for his current job but also for any job that requires basic critical thinking. But is it a surprise that anything “prepared at the direction of Chairman Barry Loudermilk” would be anything other than a hot mess? “Hot mess” is what Loudermilk has aimed for since he arrived on the political scene. Loudermilk also found himself embroiled in the Jan. 6 investigation in 2022, which is likely the reason he was given his own subcommittee to try to obfuscate the scope and dangers of the insurrection.

In this report, Loudermilk wants to nitpick the details of the Jan. 6 committee’s report even as he confirms the most consequential of its facts: Trump wanted to join the mob that he had goaded into storming the Capitol. He became irate when he wasn’t allowed to. He watched as the crowd turned violent, apparently content to see his supporters attack Capitol police officers and smash their way into the building. He did nothing. He is a seditionist and a traitor to democracy. The man belongs in prison rather than being fêted and defended by anti-democratic allies like Rep. Barry Loudermilk.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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