The big idea
Sorry not sorry: A tale of the ‘Q-Anon Shaman’ and Paul Gosar
In the months since the Jan. 6 riot that interrupted the formal certification of President Biden’s victory, the GOP has increasingly played down the unprecedented attack on the Republic or even, as former president Donald Trump has done, justified it as a natural response to the election.
There have always been toxic elements in politics, but the climate feels especially poisonous right now. Threats against members of Congress have soared. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) got death threats for voting in favor of Biden’s infrastructure bill. The GOP seems to be mainstreaming threats of violence in public life, egged on by Trump’s increasingly belligerent statements.
And Republican whitewashing of Jan. 6 is redolent of the sentiment, prevalent among Democrats, that the GOP might consider an encore if 2022 or 2024 goes against them.
‘I will never reoffend again’
On Wednesday, one of the most recognizable faces of the insurrection — the so-called Q-Anon Shaman — earned a 41-month prison sentence. And one of the riot’s most determined apologists — Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) — earned censure in a largely party-line House vote that also stripped him of his committee assignments.
My colleague Tom Jackman reported: “Jacob Chansley, whose brightly painted face, tattooed torso and horned cap became a visual icon of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in prison by a federal judge in Washington. His lawyer had asked the judge to impose a sentence of time already served, basically the entire 10 months since the insurrection, during which Chansley attracted more attention for demanding an organic diet while in jail and giving an interview to ‘60 Minutes.’ ”
“The sentence of roughly 3½ years is equal to the longest yet handed down to a Capitol rioter. Of the roughly 130 people who have pleaded guilty so far, only 16 have admitted to felonies, and Chansley is the fourth felon to be sentenced. The other three received terms of eight months, 14 months and, last week, 41 months, to a man who punched a Capitol Police officer.”
Chansley expressed remorse for his actions on Jan. 6, when he riled up the crowd, toted a six-foot spear in the Capitol, occupied Vice President Mike Pence’s seat in the Senate chamber, declared him a traitor, and scrawled “[i]t’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming!” on a paper at Pence’s desk.
“Gandhi would allow his loyalty to God and truth to guide him to accepting responsibility,” Chansley said. “I was wrong for entering the Capitol. I have no excuse. No excuse whatsoever. My behavior was indefensible.”
“I will never reoffend again,” he also promised. “And I will always, from here on forward, think about the ramifications of everything that I do and what it is I say and how it will be perceived.”
Gosar chose a decidedly different course, my colleagues Felicia Sonmez, Amy B Wang and Marianna Sotomayor reported.
“The House voted Wednesday to censure [Gosar] for tweeting an anime video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging swords at [Biden] — a move that comes amid growing worries about violent political rhetoric 10 months after a mob of former president Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol.
The 223-to-207 vote, with one member voting present, marks the first time in more than a decade that the House has censured one of its members. The resolution also removes Gosar from his assignments on the House Oversight and Natural Resources committees.”
Just two Republican lawmakers joined Democrats. Most Republicans accused the president’s party of overreach or overreaction. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the GOP would retaliate in like fashion if they retake the House.
As for the censured one himself: “In remarks on the House floor ahead of the vote, Gosar rebuffed calls to apologize. Instead he struck a defiant tone, denouncing what he described as a ‘false narrative’ that the video was ‘dangerous or threatening.’”
“‘It was not,’ Gosar said. He compared himself to one of the country’s founders, Alexander Hamilton, ‘the first person attempted to be censured by this House,’ and insisted that the video was a symbolic rebuke of Biden’s immigration policy. Hamilton was accused of mishandling two government loans as treasury secretary. The censure vote against him failed.”
Felicia, Amy, and Marianna also noted the lawmaker’s troubled past: “Gosar has long drawn criticism for his extremist views, including his spreading of the false claim that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017 were part of a left-wing plot. In February, he appeared at an event whose organizer called for white supremacy. Gosar later distanced himself from the organizer’s remarks.”
Whether censure and expulsion from committees were the right response can be debated. As for Gosar, following the vote, he retweeted the video.
What's happening now
Dozens of health groups urge businesses to voluntarily adopt Biden’s vaccine rule
“The American Medical Association and more than 60 other health care associations on Thursday called on employers to voluntarily implement President Biden’s contested vaccine-or-testing mandate, saying businesses had no time to waste ahead of the busy holiday season,” Dan Diamond reports.
House begins final debate on $2 trillion spending plan backed by Biden
“The House on Thursday opened debate on a sprawling, roughly $2 trillion package to overhaul the country’s health care, education, climate, immigration and tax laws, hoping to advance the next piece of President Biden’s economic agenda before the end of the week,” Tony Romm reports.
- Even though Democratic hope sare high of passage, as soon as tomorrow, the Congressional Budget Office has yet to issue its score of the bill's cost. Then there's the Senate.
U.S. jobless claims drop for seventh straight week to 268,000
“The applications for unemployment aid are a proxy for layoffs, and their steady decline this year — after topping 900,000 one week in early January — reflects the labor market’s strong recovery from last year’s brief but intense coronavirus recession,” the Associated Press’s Paul Wiseman reports.
Rupert Murdoch says Trump should move on: ‘The past is the past’
“The current American political debate is profound, whether about education or welfare or economic opportunity,” said Murdoch, Adela Suliman reports. “It is crucial that conservatives play an active, forceful role in that debate, but that will not happen if President Trump stays focused on the past.”
Harris: I don't feel misused by White House
“Vice President Kamala Harris denied Thursday that she felt her political potential and policy expertise were being wasted by the White House, rebutting several days of negative media reports about her office and broader role in the Biden administration,” Politico's Quint Forgey reports.
Senate Banking Committee to hold likely-contentious meeting on Saule Omarova's nomination
“Salue Omarova, a law professor at Cornell University, [was nominated] to be the next head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which is responsible for regulating the assets held by more than 1,000 banks,” NPR’s David Gura reports.
- "Omarova has attracted unusually personal criticism from some of her critics. They have brought up her birth in Kazakhstan, and an academic paper she recently wrote proposing a reinvention of the U.S. financial system as proof that she hasn't "repudiated her Soviet-era views," as The Wall Street Journal's editorial board put it."
Matt Gaetz says he might offer Kyle Rittenhouse a job as a congressional intern
“Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a pretty good congressional intern,” Gaetz said during a Wednesday night appearance on Newsmax, Gina Harkins reports. “We may reach out to him and see if he’d be interested in helping the country in additional ways.”
Justice Department awards $139 million to hire 1,000 new officers
“The grant funding comes through the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and will be awarded to 183 law enforcement agencies across the country and in U.S. territories. The funding is meant to help police departments reduce crime and to encourage community policing,” the AP's Michael Balsamo reports.
Lunchtime reads from The Post
Trump’s Bureau of Land Management HQ move reduced Black employees, created mass vacancies, report says
“As Trump officials were moving the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management from Washington, D.C., to Colorado two years ago, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, issued a stark warning to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt: The department risked a ‘significant legal liability’ by driving Black employees from an agency that was overwhelmingly White,” Joshua Partlow reports.
- “A new Government Accountability Office report found that its relocation reduced the number of Black employees, as The Post reported last month. Dismantling the D.C. office also drove out the bureau’s most experienced employees and created widespread staffing shortages, investigators concluded.”
- “The move did dramatically worsen diversity, with more than half the Black employees at the headquarters retiring or quitting rather than accepting the move to Colorado.”
… and beyond
Dems agonize over tax cuts for rich: 'Bad policy, bad politics’
“After spending several election cycles campaigning against the GOP’s tax cuts as a boon for the wealthy, House Democrats are on the verge of passing a massive tax break for high-income earners — raising a cap on local and state tax deductions that primarily affects high-cost states. Though it’s good politics for many coastal-area members to include that tax relief in President Joe Biden’s social spending and climate bill, it’s a move that Democrats say threatens to become a national liability ahead of next year’s midterms,” Politico's Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle report.
- Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said he’d “just as soon have it out. Not a big fan because I think it gives tax breaks to the wrong people: Rich people.”
- “You can’t be a political party that talks about demanding the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes and then end up with a bill that gives large tax breaks to many millionaires,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “You can’t do that. The hypocrisy is too strong. It’s bad policy, it’s bad politics.”
States are redrawing every congressional district in the U.S. Here is where we stand.
As we near the 2022 midterms and maps across the nation are drawn and redrawn, Politico has built a tool to help you keep up.
The Biden agenda
Summit of allies at White House
At summit, U.S., Canada and Mexico will address migration
“President Biden will host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico at the White House on Thursday, a diplomatic mission that seeks to find accord amid trade scuffles, accusations of American protectionism and ongoing concerns over a surge of migration toward the U.S.-Mexico border,” the New York Times’s Katie Rogers and Natalie Kitroeff report.
White House offering more aid for winter heat, utility bills
“Electricity and natural gas prices are roughly 11% higher than a year ago, according to the Labor Department’s consumer price index. Heating oil prices have more than doubled over the past year, according to the Energy Information Administration,” the AP’s Josh Boak reports.
Biden’s war on inflation is a battle to change human behavior
“Biden’s challenge is that he can highlight how consumer demand for goods is driving much of the inflation problem. But getting consumers to change their behavior is a lot harder,” Politico’s Lorraine Woellert reports.
“How do you change economic reality? You don’t,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economics, a strategic consulting firm. “If you tell people 'stop buying,' they’re going to give you the single-finger wave. There’s nothing the guy can do about it. But it is a political problem for him.”
Job growth, visualized
“The government sharply underestimated job gains for most of 2021, including four months this summer in which it missed more job growth than at any other time on record,” our colleague Andrew Van Dam reports.
Hot on the left
Opinion: IRS reform will generate a lot more revenue than the CBO thinks
“In general, I believe policy should be set on the basis of official scorekeeping by nonpartisan scorekeepers. But, in this case, it would be irresponsible to not recognize that the CBO estimate for tax-compliance efforts is conservative to the point of implausibility. Assuming the administration is successfully able to develop and implement sound plans for the IRS — which will require substantial management and strategic planning to go with the new resources — I am confident that the proposed investments can generate much more revenue than the CBO assumes,” former treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers writes.
Hot on the right
GOP can't escape 'self-inflicted injuries' as it fights to reclaim House
“Ahead of a vote on Democrats’ biggest agenda item, the GOP conference is embroiled in messy internal spats that have spilled into public view, including the censure Wednesday of a far-right House member, the first such vote in more than a decade. At the same time, some rank-and-file Republicans are still pushing to punish their own colleagues for backing a bipartisan bill reviled by former President Donald Trump,” Politico's Olivia Beavers and Sarah Ferris report.
“That turmoil is no longer an anomaly for the GOP.”
Today in Washington
At 1:15 p.m., Biden will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The president will then meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at 3 p.m.
At 4:45 p.m., Biden will host Trudeau and López Obrador for the North American Leaders’ Summit.
Nature is healing. D.C. school trips are back.
“Tourism is gradually returning to D.C., a destination for visitors who come to sample the city’s history, architecture and network of free museums. The sight of Godzilla hoodies and neon lanyards on the National Mall spoke to another comeback: the return of the D.C. school trip,” Natalie B. Compton reports.
Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.