with Olivier Knox

Happy Wednesday! Welcome to The Daily 202, I am Mariana Alfaro. World War I began on this day in 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Because this is 2021 and I’m addicted to Twitter, I’ve been following an account that has been tweeting about the Great War as it happened. Feel free to follow and nerd out, I won’t judge. 

In one of the most emotional moments of the first hearing held by the House select committee tasked with probing the Jan. 6 insurrection, D.C. police officer Michael Fanone slammed his fist on the dais and called the indifference of some lawmakers to the attacks disgraceful.  

“So many of the people I put my life at risk to defend are downplaying or outright denying what happened,” Fanone said. “I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room. But too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist or that hell actually wasn’t that bad.” 

But, yesterday, those lawmakers weren’t even watching him.  

Police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 testified before Congress on July 27 about their experiences. (Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

House Republicans kicked off Tuesday by calling the hearing a “sham” and a “political charade,” Jacqueline Alemany, Marianna Sotomayor and John Wagner report. When the hearing was over, Republican leaders said they simply didn’t have time watch.  

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he was in “booked in all these different meetings,” and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters he was too “busy doing work” to hear the four officers describe the harrowing ways in which rioters attacked the Capitol.  

Per my colleagues, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he was tied up with a committee hearing, and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) who was named Republican Conference chair after Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), her predecessor, was sacked for criticizing Trump’s role in the attack declined to say whether she watched.  

If they had tuned in, Republicans would have listened to the gut-wrenching testimony from the four officers Fanone, fellow D.C. police officer Daniel Hodges, and Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell as they relived their trauma and recounted the many ways in which the rioters physically, verbally, and emotionally attacked them that day. 

The two Republicans who defied their party and not only listened but also questioned were Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), who were appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to the committee. Throughout the hearing, they moved through their questioning of the officials with something resembling anger, not toward the investigation, but toward the colleagues who weren’t there.  

As he choked down tears, Kinzinger asked the officers if they thought it was “time to move on” from Jan. 6.  

Going down the line, they all said no.  

“There can be no healing until we make sure this can't happen again,” said Hodges, who repeatedly characterized the rioters as “terrorists.” 

Dunn, a 13-year veteran of the Capitol Police, said rioters hurled the n-word at him and other Black colleagues.   

“Is this America?” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) asked him.  

“The fact that we had our race attacked and just because of the way we look, you know … To answer your question, frankly, I guess it is America,” Dunn said. “It shouldn’t be, but I guess that’s the way that things are.” 

The Jan. 6 select committee on July 27 played body-camera footage that showed D.C. police officer Michael Fanone beaten by rioters during the Capitol attack. (Reuters)

Gonell said that, during the day of the attack, he got home covered in chemicals. He felt so toxic, he didn’t even let his wife hold him. To hear former president Donald Trump describe the rioters as a “loving crowd” was “insulting,” he said. “I’m still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day that he claimed,” he said.  

And Fanone, who suffered a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury, said he was “grabbed, beaten, Tased all while being called a traitor to my country.” New video footage presented during the hearing showed Fanone losing consciousness during the attack. After pushing all his weight against a door frame to prevent insurrectionists from entering the Capitol, Fanone was lunged at by the rioters. As they attacked him, a man can be heard yelling, “I’ve got one,” referring to Fanone. It’s at that moment that Fanone tried to appeal to the insurrectionists’ humanity by saying, “I have kids.” 

It is unclear, however, if any of this testimony will change Republican minds, as some opposed the creation of a nonpartisan commission in the first place. Their distaste for the probe only grew deeper when McCarthy pulled his nominees from the committee after Pelosi blocked two of them, Jordan and Jim Banks (Ind.). They voted against Trump’s impeachment and pushed to overturn the election.  

As my colleague Aaron Blake pointed out in May, Republican lawmakers’ minds will likely not change no matter how many hours of painful and difficult testimony they are presented with because reliving Jan. 6 is just not good for them politically. It is not especially helpful for the GOP to focus on images of a pro-Trump mob invading the Capitol this close to the 2022 midterm campaign. It’s less so to see police officers demanding the country get to the bottom of Jan. 6. 

Fanone urged the committee to look into “whether or not there was collaboration between those members [of Congress], their staff and these terrorists.” 

Hodges, meanwhile, said he needs the panel “to address if anyone in power had a role in this, if anyone in power coordinated or aided and abetted or tried to downplay, tried to prevent the investigation of this terrorist attack because we can’t do it.” 

And Dunn, as he closed his testimony, compared the mob to a “hit man.”  

“If a hit man is hired and he kills somebody, the hit man goes to jail,” Dunn said. “But not only does the hit man go to jail, but the person who hired them does. It was an attack carried out on Jan. 6 and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.” 

What’s happening now

England reopened its borders to fully vaccinated visitors from the U.S. and Europe. “Travelers must provide proof of inoculation with a vaccine authorized by the U.S. or European agencies," Erin Cunningham, Karla Adam and Adam Taylor report. "The move may put pressure on the United States to relax some of its own restrictions on travelers. Britain, along with most of Europe, remains under a U.S. travel ban.”

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Lunchtime reads from The Post

  • CDC urges vaccinated people in covid hot spots to resume wearing masks indoors,” by Yasmeen Abutaleb, Joel Achenbach, Dan Diamond and Adam Taylor: “Vaccinated people may be able to spread the coronavirus and should resume wearing masks under certain circumstances, the nation’s top public health official said Tuesday in a gloomy acknowledgment that the mutated delta variant has reversed the promising trend lines of spring. Speaking to reporters in an afternoon news briefing, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expressed disappointment and dismay that the summer surge in cases, driven by the delta variant’s startling transmissibility and low vaccination rates in many areas, had forced her agency’s hand.”
  • Israeli defense minister heads to France with Pegasus spyware on the agenda,” by Rick Noack and Shira Rubin: “Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was set to meet with his French counterpart on Wednesday, amid the fallout over revelations that President Emmanuel Macron may have been considered as a target for surveillance through an Israeli firm's spyware licensed to governments around the world.”

… and beyond

  • Hooked on Trump: How the GOP still banks on his brand for cash,” by the New York Times’s Shane Goldmacher: “The fund-raising language of party committees is among the most finely tuned messaging in politics, with every word designed to motivate more people to give more money online. And all that testing has yielded Trump-themed gimmicks and giveaways including Trump pint glasses, Trump-signed pictures, Trump event tickets and Trump T-shirts — just from the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the month of July. ... The strategy is clearly paying financial dividends, as three main G.O.P. federal committees raised a combined $134.8 million from direct individual contributions in the first six months of 2021, nearly matching the $136.2 million raised by the equivalent Democratic committees, federal records show. But the endless invocations of the former president underscore not only his enduring appeal to online Republican activists and donors — the base of the party’s base and its financial engine — but also the unlikelihood that the G.O.P. apparatus wants to, or even can, meaningfully break from him for the foreseeable future.”
  • 'Tiger of the House’ claws his way through infrastructure talks,” by Politico’s Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle: “House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio is on the verge of getting rolled. And he’s not going quietly. After a 34-year congressional career devoted to transportation and environment issues, the Oregon Democrat could soon be forced to watch his life’s work shunted to the side if Senate negotiators secure a deal this week on a massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure package — largely without House input.  ... As the third most senior Democrat in the House and a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, DeFazio is the rare battleground incumbent who could hardly be confused for a moderate. He’s also one of the chamber’s more quirky members — known among colleagues for living on a houseboat, his love of craft beer and sporting a bolo tie to votes — who has a reputation for being outspoken and sharp-tongued when upset. But he also possesses a staffer-level knowledge of the issues he covers, earning him respect from both leadership and members in both parties."
  • A consolidated meatpacking market leaves ranchers struggling,” by the Counter’s Mary Hennigan: “A rancher in Olney, Texas, Shad Sullivan, 47, has cut costs as producers like him have felt squeezed by the beef market. While consumers pay high beef prices at the grocery store, very little has trickled down to ranchers — in fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the gap between the retail price for beef and the price producers receive is the largest it’s ever been. In interviews, eight ranchers in seven states agreed their profits have stagnated or even decreased, while the meatpacking companies — which buy the animals for slaughter, then package the meat to be sold at grocery stores — have benefited.”

More on Jan. 6

Rep. Jim Jordan appeared to acknowledge speaking with Trump on Jan. 6. 
  • Jordan “appeared to acknowledge he spoke with Trump on Jan. 6, increasing the likelihood that he will be called to testify before the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters,” Wagner reports.
  • “Jordan, a staunch Trump ally, was pressed on the subject during an interview on Fox News. At first, he offered a vague answer, saying that he speaks frequently with Trump but doesn’t think it’s appropriate to share what they talk about.”
  • “Asked specifically about Jan. 6 by anchor Bret Baier, Jordan said: ‘Yes. I mean I’ve talked to the president, I’ve talked to the president so many — I can’t remember all the days I have talked to him, but I have certainly talked to the president.’”
  • “Before Jordan’s interview, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), one of the Republicans whom Pelosi appointed to the committee, suggested that Jordan could be summoned as a material witness as the panel’s investigation proceeds. ‘I think that Congressman Jordan may well be a material witness,’ Cheney said.”
McCarthy pulled all six Republicans designated to serve on a key select committee on the economy. 
  • The move is “a sign of the fallout among House Republicans over being vetoed from the panel investigating the January 6 insurrection,” CNN’s Annie Grayer reports. “None of McCarthy's initial appointments to the select committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth will be joining that committee's first meeting this week.”
  • “What is still unclear at this time is whether these Republicans are boycotting the committee temporarily or leaving it altogether. It also remains to be seen whether there are other select committees Republicans will reject.”
  • “A separate lawmaker familiar with the select committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth told CNN that McCarthy removed Republicans from this select committee as ‘a hold for if and when he gets his appointments to the 1/6 committee.’”
The Justice Department says Republican Rep. Mo Brooks may be sued over his Jan. 6 speech to Trump supporters. 
  • “Brooks (R-Ala.) had argued that he is effectively immune from a lawsuit filed by his colleague Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) that accused Brooks, Trump, and others of fomenting the failed attack on Congress,” Devlin Barrett and Rachel Weiner report.
  • “The agency ‘cannot conclude that Brooks was acting within the scope of his office or employment as a Member of Congress at the time of the incident out of which the claims in this case arose,’ the court filing said. ‘Inciting or conspiring to foment a violent attack on the United States Congress is not within the scope of employment of a Representative — or any federal employee.’ ”

At the table

Today we’re having lunch with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to talk about a new bipartisan proposal to rein in the executive branch’s war-making powers. Murphy and Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are its lead authors. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Knox: How did you and Sens. Lee and Sanders come together on this issue?

Murphy: Bernie, Mike and I had worked together on the Yemen war powers resolution, but our concerns ran much deeper than just America’s involvement in Yemen. Yemen was a symptom of a broader problem, which is the abdication of Congress in war-making and the vacuuming up of emergency and war-making powers by the executive branch over the course of multiple presidencies.

We all believe that we should trust the American public more than we do today when it comes to decisions about war and peace, and who we sell, and who we don’t sell arms to. And this was a mechanism to try to put on the table a discussion about putting more power in the hands of people and less in the national security establishment in Washington.

Knox: Successive administrations have resisted curtailing war powers. What’s your sense of the Biden administration’s buy-in?

Murphy: I haven’t talked to them about this legislation. But I’ve listened to what Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said, and I do think he understands a lot of the frustrations in Congress. President Biden comes from the Senate, so I think he takes seriously the responsibility in Article I for Congress to hold war-making powers.

But look, I don’t expect the administration to embrace greater national-security powers in Congress. But I think there are some benefits for the executive branch. Some of these decisions end up being really unpopular. And simply from a political standpoint, it probably is better for the administration to share responsibility for these very big decisions with the legislative branch.

Knox: I’ve covered this for a long time. I can anticipate some Pentagon objections. Typically, they don’t like deadlines they argue it complicates the logistics of deploying and supplying military operations overseas. How do you convince them otherwise?

Murphy: I think the Pentagon has gotten really used to the forever wars. It’s very convenient for the Department of Defense that they can fight infinite wars, in an infinite number of countries, against an infinite number of enemies, and never have to come to Congress for permission.

So I don’t know that the Department of Defense is ever going to love the idea of getting permission from Congress before adding another country to the list of those where hostilities are taking place. But most of my constituents were pretty shocked to find out last week that we’re at war with Somalia. But we are. And there doesn’t seem to be any other pathway beyond this legislation to give the public a greater say in where and how we put our forces into battle.

Knox: There’s a long-running debate over the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), and how you define “hostilities,” and how you define “associated forces,” and the like. What would your legislation change?

Murphy: Most importantly, our legislation would flip the presumption about whose responsibility it is to get the authorization. Right now, presidents can continue to make war up until Congress passes a law that gets signed by the president, withdrawing funding for that war. Our legislation would immediately stop the funding for any hostilities overseas that aren’t authorized by Congress. And our legislation would provide some additional definition as to what would constitute hostilities. 

I think there will always be a controversy between the legislative branch and the executive branch as to how the two interact over the declaration of war and the beginning of hostilities. But the barrier to Congress stopping a way is way too high right now, and our legislation seeks to solve that.

Knox: The Biden administration seems to be okay with repealing the 2002 Iraq authorization. They’ve sent conflicting signals with what they want to do with the 2001 authorization. Is there space, do you think, in the U.S. Senate today to, maybe not repeal, but maybe rewrite the 2001 authorization?

Murphy: I hope there is.

I don’t think we’re doing our constitutional duty if we continue to allow the 2001 AUMF to be used for a panoply of military activities overseas that were never conceived by the drafters.

Properly revising the 2001 AUMF will likely dramatically increase Congress’s workload, and we have to be okay with that. Because I think a proper rewrite of the 2001 AUMF will likely name the terrorist groups the president has the permission to fight, and name the geographic areas in which the fight can occur.

And if the administration wants to add groups, or add countries, they will have to come back to Congress. But Congress has to signal its willingness to entertain that debate and have an up or down vote. So if we reauthorize the 2001 AUMF, we also as a body need to be willing to be much more actively involved in the maintenance of that new authorization and make sure that it squares with the actual threats posed to the United States.

The Biden agenda

Biden’s outside allies are bristling at the idea of vaccine mandates. 
  • “A steep divide has emerged among labor unions — as well as between members and leaders — over whether to require workers to be vaccinated,” Politico’s Rebecca Rainey and Natasha Korecki report. “On Tuesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he would support a mandate, giving a boost to White House efforts to increase vaccination rates after they stagnated in recent weeks. But Trumka’s position was at odds with some of the AFL-CIO's largest members, including the American Federation of Teachers, whose president said that vaccine protocols should be decided at individual workplaces. Other unions have also voiced opposition.”
Biden’s pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives struggled to nail down support from all Democrats. 
  • “The White House and Senate Democrats are struggling to secure support in their own ranks to install David Chipman as head of the ATF, a position central to Biden’s crime-fighting strategy but whose confirmation is getting snarled in gun politics,” Seung Min Kim and Paul Kane report. “No Republicans are expected to vote for Chipman in the evenly split Senate, meaning Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) needs all 50 Democrats to back the nominee for a position that has been enmeshed in controversy since it became subject to Senate confirmation 15 years ago.”
  • “Administration officials are particularly concerned about where Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) will land on the Chipman nomination, according to a person familiar with the process ... King is facing pressure from influential sportsmen’s groups in Maine to oppose Chipman and has tersely declined to elaborate on his thinking when questioned by reporters.”

Hot on the left

The Justice Department seized a rare, ancient tablet illegally auctioned to the Hobby Lobby. “The artifact – known as the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet – is inscribed with a portion of ‘Gilgamesh,’ an epic poem considered one of the world's oldest works of literature. In 2014, Hobby Lobby, a privately owned arts and crafts retailer whose president is also the chairman of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, bought the clay tablet for display in the museum from an international auction house for $1,674,000,” CNN reports. “The museum and Hobby Lobby both asked the auction house about the tablet's origin, but the auction house withheld that information and lied in saying that the antiquities dealer had confirmed the details of provenance, according to the Justice Department, which has sought to return to artifact to Iraq.”

The DOJ also sold a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang album to cover the debt of disgraced pharma executive Martin Shkreli. The single copy of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” “has been purchased by an anonymous buyer for an undisclosed sum of money, the federal prosecutors who seized the album three years ago said,” the Times’s Jonah Bromwhich reports. “The terms of the sale required the government to keep the purchase price and the buyer secret, but the sale satisfied the balance that Mr. Shkreli had owed the government.”

Hot on the right

Voters in North Texas rebuked Trump last night, electing state Rep. Jake Ellzey to a vacant seat in Congress after Trump endorsed a rival Republican candidate, David Weigel reports. “Ellzey, a Navy veteran who ran on border security and stopping the Democrats’ congressional agenda, defeated Susan Wright, the widow of Rep. Ron Wright, whose death this year after contracting the coronavirus created a vacancy in Texas’s 6th Congressional District. Although Ellzey did not criticize Trump during the campaign, his allies suggested that the former president made a mistake by endorsing a first-time candidate who struggled to raise money and held few campaign events.”  

Australia’s mouse plague, visualized

Australia suffers a mouse plague every decade or so. One contributing factor is changing farming practices. To maintain moisture in Australia’s arid soil, farmers are sowing new crops directly onto the old stalks that were left in the ground. That means mice have more places to shelter — and have more food.

Today in Washington

Biden will land in Allentown, Pa., at noon, where he will deliver remarks on the importance of buying American-made products in a manufacturing facility. 

In closing

Simone Biles, the world’s best gymnast, will not compete in the sport’s signature individual event.“Biles withdrew from Thursday’s all-around final as she continues to focus on her mental health, USA Gymnastics announced,” Emily Giambalvo reports. “After one rotation in Tuesday’s team final, Biles withdrew from the competition. Biles said afterward that she wasn’t in the ‘right head space,’ so she decided to prioritize her mental health and sit out the rest of the competition.”

Quote of the day

“It is okay to take a backseat,” Simone Biles said, “even at the most important meet.”

Katie Ledecky won a gold medal in the 1,500 freestyle swim. “It is easy on days such as Wednesday, as Ledecky prepared to tackle more championship meters in a single day than any female swimmer in Olympic history, to forget she is a human being who bleeds and grieves and every once in a while climbs out of the pool without a medal,” Dave Sheinin reports. “Perhaps that made her gold medal in the 1,500 free — the sixth of her career but first of these Tokyo Olympics — that much sweeter. Those things aren’t handed out like candy ... On Wednesday, she gruelingly earned it.”

American athlete Katie Ledecky was awarded gold for her performance in the 1,500-meter freestyle event. (AP)