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On the Hill
Jim Jordan, Scott Perry declined to meet with the Jan 6. committee. Here's how subpoenas could play out:
To subpoena or not to subpoena?
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is weighing next steps after Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) declined to comply with committee requests to meet with the panel.
Jordan rejected a request to discuss his communications with former president Trump on the day of the insurrection and Perry also said he would not cooperate with the committee's ask to discuss information it said tied him “to events surrounding January 6, including his involvement in efforts to install former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark as acting Attorney General.”
While the committee has not been shy about using its subpoena power with recalcitrant witnesses — and Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has told us there would be “no reluctance to subpoena” members of Congress — there are some political and legal ramifications the committee may seek to avoid when it comes to subpoenaing a sitting member of Congress.
The boomerang effect: One consideration for Democrats is the possibility of political retribution in the case Republicans win back the majority in the House and/or the Senate in November. “With all of these debates on the constitution issue of first impression, the question is about whether it would boomerang,” Kim Wehle, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, told The Early. “If Republicans take over the House in November, then it's full out war on House Democrats.”
Case in point: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) last week accused Democrats of weaponizing impeachment and said that there's “a chance” that Republicans will impeach President Biden “whether it's justified or not” if the GOP retakes the House in this year's midterm elections.
The speech-or-debate clause: If lawmakers go to court to fight a subpoena, there are few legal arguments at their disposal. One of those might be the speech-or-debate which states that “for any Speech or Debate in either House,” lawmakers in Congress “shall not be questioned in any other Place.” The clause was designed to protect members from having to worry about what they say in the course of legislating that could implicate them in a lawsuit.
Committee Chairman Thompson referenced the issue of the speech-or-debate clause during an interview with The Post's Jonathan Capehart last week as an issue the committee was currently grappling with: “As members, we have a Speech and Debate Clause that protects us from a lot of things…Obviously, if we can get around it, we will.”
But Former Justice Department official John Yoo told The Early that the clause clearly does not extend immunity to lawmakers in this case. The clause was designed to protect the independence of the legislature but “not to protect the legislature from itself,” said Yoo. The work of lawmakers in Congress “can be questioned in Congress…It's a pretty easy answer and there's a lot of practice,” Yoo added.
Then there's also the issue of timing: A subpoena fight between the committee and GOP lawmakers, resulting in civil or criminal action, could tie things up in the courts and delay the committee's work. The good news for the committee, according to Wehle, is that the Supreme Court could grant an expedited review — like the court's recent agreement to an expedited review of legal challenges to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's coronavirus mandates.
“So it's conceivable [the committee] could get an order compelling Jordan to testify between now and November,” Wehle added.
While Charles Tiefer, a former solicitor and deputy general counsel of the House and law professor at the University of Baltimore, maintains that the most “potent weapon in a committee's arsenal” is a criminal referral (see Stephen K. Bannon and Mark Meadows), he said he'd recommend the committee strike a more balanced approach with a censure or suspension.
“If I were the committee, I'd give serious consideration to just pursuing the member ethically — for a censure or suspension — and not bringing down the heavy club of criminal contempt on one of their own,” Tiefer told The Early.
Perry and Jordan “are senior so they would have a lot to lose,” Tiefer added.
Whatever recourse Thompson and the committee ultimately decide to pursue with Perry and Jordan could determine the road map for ensuring compliance with other lawmakers investigators have expressed interest in interviewing.
“That possibility exists,” Thompson said of whether the committee might ask Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to appear before the committee, later adding that he was “certain there probably will be” more requests for other lawmakers to appear before the committee.
Jerome Powell to address inflation, rate hikes in Senate testimony
Happening today: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell will appear before the Senate Banking Committee after being nominated to lead the Fed for a consecutive term. “He’s expected to win enough support to secure another four years running the central bank,” our colleague Rachel Siegel writes.
- “Powell is expected to face questions about the Fed’s three anticipated interest rate hikes in 2022 and the broader economic outlook, especially on inflation and the job market.”
- “We know that high inflation exacts a toll, particularly for those less able to meet the higher costs of essentials like food, housing, and transportation,” Powell is expected to tell lawmakers, according to prepared remarks released Monday. “We are strongly committed to achieving our statutory goals of maximum employment and price stability. We will use our tools to support the economy and a strong labor market and to prevent higher inflation from becoming entrenched.”
At the White House
President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris visit Atlanta in push for voting rights legislation
Morning flight to Georgia: Biden and Vice President Harris are heading to Atlanta today to rally support for passing a pair of voting rights bills — even if it means changing the Senate’s rules to allow Democrats to send them to his desk with only 51 votes.
Biden is expected to criticize Republicans in Georgia and in other states for passing new limits on voting after the 2020 election, comparing those restrictions to the Jim Crow laws that robbed Black Americans in the South of their right to vote in the decades before the civil rights movement, according to a White House official.
“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation,” Biden is expected to say. “Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch.”
But a coalition of frustrated voter advocacy groups in Georgia are planning to skip the speech, our colleague Seung Min Kim reports.
“If all they are doing is coming to give a speech, then I might have some Republicans to be fighting with at that time,” Nsé Ufot, the chief executive of the New Georgia Project, told The Post. “What we need is a plan. What we need are marching orders. How are we headed into the midterms? What posture will we have to adopt? And is it worth it to continue to seek federal protections for voting rights?”
Top Republicans are stepping up their bid to persuade Hogan to run in 2022 Senate race
Senator … Larry Hogan? “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans are stepping up a personal campaign to persuade Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to run for the Senate and help the party’s chances of regaining control of the chamber,” per AP News’s Steve Peoples.
- “The recruitment effort has included McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who held Cabinet positions in the Trump and George W. Bush administrations. Moderate Senate Republicans, including Susan Collins of Maine, have also been in direct contact with Hogan to note that his centrist brand of politics would be welcome in a chamber riven with partisanship. Several other Washington officials have made financial pledges or shared internal polling to try to convince Hogan that he has a path to victory.”
1,700 slaveholding lawmakers, visualized: “From the founding of the United States until long after the Civil War, hundreds of the elected leaders writing the nation’s laws were current or former slaveowners,” our colleagues Julie Zauzmer Weil, Adrian Blanco and Leo Dominguez write.
- “More than 1,700 people who served in the U.S. Congress in the 18th, 19th and even 20th centuries owned human beings at some point in their lives,” according to a Post investigation of censuses and other historical records.
- “Some were owners of enormous plantations, like Sen. Edward Lloyd V of Maryland, who enslaved 468 people in 1832 on the same estate where abolitionist Frederick Douglass was enslaved as a child. Many exerted great influence on the issue of slavery, like Sen. Elias Kent Kane, who enslaved five people in Illinois in 1820, and tried to formally legalize slavery in the state.”
What we’re reading:
- Florida voters to fill House seat previously held by Alcee L. Hastings. By The Post’s David Weigel .
- Which mask? What test? Covid’s latest surge spreads an epidemic of confusion. By The Post’s Marc Fisher, Christine Spolar and Deborah Lynn Blumberg.
- In 2022, a revived legal fight over the ERA takes shape. By the 19th*’s Barbara Rodriguez.
- Biden administration hits the Hill to lobby Dems against GOP-backed Russia sanctions. By Politico’s Andrew Desiderio.
- Dems’s filibuster conundrum: It’s not just Manchin and Sinema. By Politico’s Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine.
Contestant from ‘that lil’ singing competition’ throws hat in ring
Can you believe it's been almost 20 years since I first got to share my voice with you? That's a long time. A LOT has changed!— Clay Aiken (@clayaiken) January 10, 2022
We need powerful voices more than ever, so I'm running for Congress.
And my voice is even stronger now! ;-) #JoinTheChorushttps://t.co/aQIm8a2xuZ pic.twitter.com/xBtN2CYF30
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