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Opinion Rep. Zoe Lofgren embarrassed Republicans with their own words. Now they seek to silence her.

In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) speaks during the impeachment trial against President Trump in January 2020. (Senate Television/AP)

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) earned kudos from truth-tellers in March when she released a report simply documenting the social media posts of Republicans “who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.” She compiled their words, revealing a hodgepodge of conspiracy-mongering and lying about the 2020 election. This was too much for the snowflake Republicans.

They have now filed a complaint, a copy of which I have obtained, with the Communication Standards Commission, an obscure body in the House formerly known as the Mailing Standards Commission, as it historically dealt primarily with franking issues.

The complaint, filed by Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.), whines: “At its core, the so-called report repeatedly violates the Commission’s rules of decorum and civility by personalizing and politicizing attacks on more than 100 Members of Congress for public statements they made on social media.” Actually, it simply recorded Republicans’ own words, thereby embarrassing them. He claims the report “engages in speculation as to the motivation or intent of the Members,” but it does no such thing. The giveaway is that Carter claims Lofgren only “insinuates” members “aided and abetted the insurrection or incited the attack” on Jan. 6.

Carter, of course, did not come up with this on his own. The Republican ranking member on the Committee on House Administration, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), solicited such complaints. As his staff wrote in a “Dear Colleagues” letter that apparently was inadvertently released publicly: “If any Member feels strongly that they want to take action against the report and wants to know more about the process for filing a complaint with the Communications Standards Commission please reach out to … schedule a time for a call with our team.”

Lofgren is having none of this. In her response to the complaint, which I also obtained, she declares, “The Review does not violate the House of Representatives’ Communications Standards Manual, which provides that Members may use official communications resources to conduct official business that relates directly or indirectly to congressional functions and Federal issues of public concern. To the contrary, this Review is critical to our obligations to the Constitution and our understanding of the House’s responsibilities under the 14th Amendment.” (She refers to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prevents those who have engaged in insurgency from holding office, absent a waiver from Congress.)

She reminds her colleagues that the disgraced former president was impeached for “Incitement of Insurrection.” Therefore, the participation of any members in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election is a “fact-based question.” She explains:

In order to make a determination regarding the application of the 14th Amendment to sitting House Members, it would be necessary to examine the actions and rhetoric of those Members. Accordingly, I asked my staff to take a quick look at the social media postings of Members who had objected to the counting of Electoral College votes in the same time frame that the former President’s statements had been examined. It is, of course, a judgment call for each Member to make whether any given statements or the accumulation of those statements amounts to incitement of insurrection.

The nub of the problem for Republicans, as Lofgren points out, is that her report “is a mirror that lists Members’ own words. If there are screenshots of and/or links to communications that are ‘disparaging,’ including ‘personal insults, ad hominem attacks or attacks on a person’s character,’ those communications were made by the Members of Congress listed, not by me, and the Complainant could properly address his concerns to those Members.”

The Fix’s Aaron Blake breaks down the growing momentum among House Republicans to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from leadership and what it means for the party. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post, Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

She then quotes at length Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who condemned the Former Guy after his acquittal and made clear that there “is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President. And their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated President kept shouting into the largest megaphone.” It was McConnell who declared the problem was not merely the former president’s words but “the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe; the increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was being stolen in some secret coup by our now-President.”

In other words, Jan. 6 was about the Big Lie that the election was stolen, which many House Republicans helped spread and which they now insist Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) must countenance, if not embrace. Lofgren concludes: “There has been much discussion about so-called 'cancel culture' of late, but I can only note that Congressman Carter’s efforts to silence me could never succeed in cancelling the dangerous, violent insurrectionist misconduct the nation saw on display January 6th.”

Republicans’ political stupidity is hard to fathom. They chose to attack a strong, informed woman (arguably the most knowledgeable on the subject of impeachment and a master of House rules) for airing their own rhetoric. Did they really think they were going to silence Zoe Lofgren, of all people?

It’s hard to think of a better way for Republicans to remind Americans of their own wholly irresponsible conduct. (The complaint will go nowhere since the commission is split 3-to-3.) What’s more, the timing is priceless. This comes the same week the GOP is attempting to banish Cheney from leadership for the “crime” of honesty, for refusing to sweep Jan. 6 under the rug and for refusal to kneel (as they have) before the MAGA cult leader. They simply cannot abide truth-telling women.

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