Democratic Member Accuses Colleagues Of Conducting “Surveillance” For Capitol Rioters

As reported by Newsweek, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D., N.J.) has gone public with an extraordinary allegation against some of her colleagues that they conducted secret surveillance in a conspiracy with rioters at the Capitol. If true, those members could be criminally charged and expelled from the House. Conversely, if Sherrill has no such evidence, she could (and should) face a resolution of censure or resolution.

Sherrill said in a Tuesday night Facebook live address to her constituents that she witnessed the surveillance personally. She said unidentified members of Congress “had groups coming through the Capitol” in “a reconnaissance for the next day.” Sherrill pledged to see those lawmakers “are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress.”

You can watch the whole taped discussion here and the statement comes near the end around 1215 mark.

That is an unambiguous allegation of criminal conduct against colleagues.  Once she names a member, she could also be the subject of a defamation action. This was a statement made off of the floor and not protected under the Speech and Debate Clause.  It is coming from a member who was a former Navy pilot and a federal prosecutor.  In fairness to Sherrill the reference to helping do “reconnaissance” came in a list of pledges. She could clarify that she was not alleging that these members helped in such reconnaissance. She she stands by the apparent allegation, it could leave Congress to two and equally unpleasant inquiries.

Article I, Section 5, the Constitution says, “Each House (of Congress) may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”  The House may discipline members for violations of both unlawful conduct as well as any conduct which the House of Representatives finds has reflected discredit upon the institution. In re Chapman, 166 U.S. 661, 669-670 (1897). A House Select Committee in 1967 stated:

Censure of a Member has been deemed appropriate in cases of a breach of the privileges of the House. There are two classes of privilege, the one, affecting the rights of the House collectively, its safety, dignity, and the integrity of its proceedings; and the other, affecting the rights, reputation, and conduct of Members, individually. Most cases of censure have involved the use of unparliamentary language, assaults upon a Member or insults to the House by introductions of offensive resolutions, but in five cases in the House and one in the Senate [as of 1967] censure was based on corrupt acts by a Member, and in another Senate case censure was based upon noncooperation with and abuse of Senate committees.

Censure or reprimand is not the only possible response if this allegation is found to be without basis.  The standard for defamation for public figures and officials in the United States is the product of a decision decades ago in New York Times v. Sullivan. The Supreme Court ruled that tort law could not be used to overcome First Amendment protections for free speech or the free press. The Court sought to create “breathing space” for the media by articulating that standard that now applies to both public officials and public figures. In order to prevail, they must show actual knowledge or reckless disregard of the alleged falsity.  Obviously, truth remains a defense. Under Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 352 (1974) and its progeny of cases, the Supreme Court has held that public figure status applies when someone “thrust[s] himself into the vortex of [the] public issue [and] engage[s] the public’s attention in an attempt to influence its outcome.”

If members did conspire as alleged by Rep. Sherrill, they could be expelled for that criminal act.  They would also face prosecution.  It would be a betrayal of not just Congress but the country.

Thus far, Sherrill has not named names but pledged to seek accountability. The question is whether she will now identify members who she has accused of a criminal conspiracy.  Indeed, one would think that she would have already gone to the FBI and filed a criminal complaint.  Absent naming the members, any defamation action would have to be based on the highly difficult basis for a group libel claim of all Republican members. Such an action would be highly unlikely to succeed.  In Neiman-Marcus v. Lait (1952), a New York federal district court addressed a defamation claim arising from the publication of the book “U.S.A. Confidential.” The author wrote that “some” models and “all” saleswomen at the Neiman-Marcus department store in Dallas were “call girls.” It also claimed that “most” of the salesmen in the men’s store were “faggots.” The store had nine models, 382 saleswomen and 25 salesmen. The court found the size of the group of women was too big to satisfy a group libel standard. However, the size of the group of salesmen was viewed as sufficiently small to go to trial.

The Sherrill controversy arises as another member has deleted a tweet calling for the expulsion of a colleague based on her alleged connection to rioters.  Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., called for the expulsion of Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., after a tweet falsely claiming that Boebert was shown in a 2019 photo with people who were among those who rioted in the Capitol.

This is clearly something that the House must investigate.  Either Sherrill has evidence of a criminal conspiracy or has made an outrageous (and defamatory) allegation against her colleagues. Either possibility is unsettling.  Thus, Sherrill should reveal the House members who she believes conspired with rioters, which presumably she has already given to legal authorities.

 

188 thoughts on “Democratic Member Accuses Colleagues Of Conducting “Surveillance” For Capitol Rioters”

  1. Paging Bob Mueller and his flying monkeys! Then again we have a leftist Dim legislator on the make and the presumption of fabrication.

  2. Rep. Mikie Sherrill: “Today I joined with more than 30 of my colleagues in requesting an investigation from the Acting House SAA, Acting Senate SAA, and USCP into the suspicious behavior and access given to visitors to the Capitol Complex on Jan. 5, 2021 – the day before the attacks on the Capitol.”

    letter attached here – https://twitter.com/RepSherrill/status/1349439821060702215

    They note that the visits were inconsistent with public visits since regular tours stopped last March due to Covid, and they ask a number of informational questions.

  3. Young, I am reposting because the post never seemed to appear on the blog.

    Young, what might be of interest to you is Marsh vs the State of Alabama 1946 SCOTUS I think the overall ideas in that decision may pertain to these large companies.

    “We can not accept that contention. Ownership does not always mean absolute dominion. The more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by the statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it.”

    Think of trains

    Among other quite a few other things I like RICO and I think in the past you liked it as well. I would likewise want to see if any charges could be brought against the leaders of these companies though that I believe is more of a stretch.

    I also think we have tipped over to the fascist side of the political spectrum.

  4. Ques to Mr. Turley : are you a honest man or a Pelosi minion? If dems committed no Fraud? Why not do a forensic audit of the five swing states? And a forensic audid of all the Dominion machines. Some 8500 witnesses who all signed afidavits can’t be wrong.

    1. Why not obtain transcripts of Trump’s phone calls and meetings with other state officials, to see whether he tried to pressure others in the same way he tried to pressure Raffensperger.

  5. I wonder at our commentators… all presume that the “colleagues” pointed to; out of some necessity, must be Republicans. Perhaps they are Democrates of whom she speaks.

  6. I guess if Republicans wanted to claim a group libel they would need to be pretty sure none of their 200 plus members did this.

    So, how much do they trust each other that this did not happen? I mean, they know there are crazy wingnuts in their mix; do you think the rest of the Republican caucus wants to vouch for everyone?

  7. In the last couple of weeks, Trump pardoned two Republican Congressmen convicted of serious crimes merely because they were supporters of his.

    So I would hope if this Congresswoman is going to name names of her Republican colleagues she waits until next week when Trump no longer can pardon the perpetrator(s).

  8. “Either Sherrill has evidence of a criminal conspiracy or has made an outrageous (and defamatory) allegation against her colleagues.”

    Are those the only two possibilities? I mean, what if the only evidence she has are her own eyes, and she knows the conspirator will deny it, and she does not want to get into a he said, she said situation by naming a perpetrator unless the FBI can find something to corroborate?

    1. Shorty, then why not just report it to the FBI and allow them to find the incriminating evidence. It is more her motivation to make an attempt to have them tried in the court of public opinion than a court of law. Why didn’t she just trust the FBI. She was willing to trust the FBI in the Russia Gate investigation. Why not now? Give her a little power and she applies it to her thumb on the scales of justice. Now you speak out in her defense. Well she’s on our side isn’t she?

  9. You’ve gone too far this time, Turley. Without even hearing the evidence or obligatory denials, you are tacitly accusing this Congresswoman of slander and setting forth the penalties. Of course, this is to set the stage for those members of Congress she observed colluding with the insurrectionists denying the truth. They’re probably already spoliating the tapes as we speak.

    1. She is a brave one indeed. Why not just name the culprits. She was really trying to paint all of the Republicans with the same brush. Isn’t she the clever one. She is a graduate of the Adam Schiff school of politics. “I have seen the evidence with my very own eyes” he exclaimed. Notice how he has disappeared from the scene. Even the Democrats known he is now seen as a shill by the American people. So Professor Turley quotes case law to prove his position and he is demonized. If his detractors would quote case law in response to his positions they might gain some respectability. Alas they to have been educated at the Adam Schiff school of politics. They have spent all this time being educated in nothing that resembles reality or calls for a recognition of right and wrong. Just shake your head.

  10. Trump has lied approximately 30,000 times in his term in office per the Washington Post count. No Congressional censure.

    Turley is concerned that a Democratic Congresswoman may have lied once, and this cannot pass without a formal censure.

    That seems like an extraordinary double standard.

    1. That’s because it is. Turley’s columns are nothing more than criticisms of democrats for doing things he refuses to criticize republicans of.

      1. I dont get your psychology. Then why show up here every day if you think he’s so bad? Why spend so much time reading and talkin about him?

        Sal Sar

        1. Sal Sar, its probable that they are like the Master Debater who argued the left hand was better than the right, and anyone who thought otherwise were nincompoops’.

          1. You snowflakes that live in the right-wing bubble of misinformation and lies don’t get do you? I’m sure that you’re life would be so much easier if the world you live in is that the earth is flat, Trump is the most honest man of all time, and the sky is green and the grass is blue. “It’s not a lie, if you believe it”

            1. FishBrains, you’ve never known anything other than the “bubble of misinformation and lies” you’ve been fed your entire short life by the MSM.

              Time to go cut the grass, or no allowance and no internet.

            2. Fish wings fancies I am going to fox news for all my information. Well, that’s wrong. But the details don’t matter.

              Fish imagines that I am an ignorant rube. Well, again the details don’t matter, and I definitely a knuckle- dragging, meat-eating, gun-toting hayseed from flyover, but, I was also blessed with the finest education money can buy in America, nonetheless. I was lucky that way Fish. Were you?

              I never stopped reading, and I’ve never confined myself to the “right wing” whatever Fish thinks that is.

              I’m not so special, either. I’ve met a lot of people who voted for Trump, who are also very well educated and very well informed. There’s a self-assuring notion circulating among those who hate him, that all Trump supporters have a certain profile. What did Hillary call us? Yes, “Deplorables,” How cute she thought she was when she said it, too, in her self assured, arrogant way.

              Voting for Trump or supporting some of his polices, or even praising him, does not make one un-American or bad. That seems to be the suggestion coming from certain parts of the chorus right now. Or, rather, for the past 4 years now. It’s a disharmonious chord that poisons nearly ever performance the Democrat choir gives these days.

              Let me ask you something. Do you ever give a care to convincing people, or do you only seek to defame and bully them into silence?

              Some kind of unity moment we are having now, 2021 is off to a swell start!

              Sal Sar

    2. Double Standard. If you do the math Trumps lies equal 20.54 lies per day. Even more if you take out holidays and weekends. In a ten hour day that’s 2 lies per hour if he spoke every hour. You read this drivel from the Wash Post and you lap it up like the little puppy dog they know you are. You tell us from the kennel about how reliable they are because you read the story from the lining on the bottom of the cage. Think for yourself!

      1. Thinkitthrough, you have been called a liar by one of our more stupid posters, Anonymous the Stupid. You have found the best use of the Washington Post. It is perfect lining for the excrement from all animals. After all, what does the Washington Post publish but Sh!t. The New York Times is the same but their ink is different and the glass blowers tell me that they use the Times when they blow and shape glass.

    3. “Trump has lied approximately 30,000 times in his term in office per the Washington Post count though admittedly WaPo lies 30,000 times per day

    4. If you can not prove that 30,000 lies number, does that make you a liar? That number of lies seems to be different every time I hear it- sometimes it is higher, sometimes it is lower; therefore, some of the numbers must be lies. And who exactly decides what he says is a lie? What if something that is judged to be a lie is later to be determined to be true? Does the number get adjusted? I’ve often wondered- if the weatherman says it is supposed to reach 70 today, and it only gets to 68, did he lie? I’m assuming using your Trump standard, he is most certainly a liar (maybe even a lying dog-faced pony soldier!)

  11. I do not know if this happened but this certainly seems possible. I mean, there are literal QAnon followers elected to Congress this year.

    It is not really up to a Congresswoman to investigate. The FBI should do that.

    1. Then opening her mouth might prejudice the investigation. Why make any comment at all. Look at me fellow Democrats, Look what I have done for the party. I have earned more money for my next election. Let me throw in the shining of a pair of your boots in addition. Oh looky me! Oh looky me!

  12. Wow, you are saying a Congressperson should be censored if they lie about an unnamed person on the other side?

    That is quite a can of worms. How many Republicans would be censored several times a year?

  13. (music to tune of Leaving On A Jet Train)
    I’m leaving…on a Trump train.
    Don’t know if I’ll come back again!

  14. The communist “Reign of Terror” in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics persisted from 1917 to 1991.

    74 years.
    _______

    “The goal of socialism is communism.”

    – Vladimir Lenin
    ____________

    “Joint Chiefs of Staff warns US troops not to join ‘sedition and insurrection’”

    The Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a rare warning to every member of the US military, damning the Capitol riots as an illegal “assault” on democracy — and forewarning that “violence, sedition and insurrection” will not be tolerated.

    – New York Post

    1. The same General Milley whom questioned President Trump’s order to reduce troops in Afghanistan? Again, do as I say, not as I do. He doesn’t keep his own oath to up hold the Constitution or observe proper chain of command. Self serving generals have existed through out history, I served under one in Vietnam.

  15. Jonathan: Wow! Rep. Mikie Sherrill is alleging that “some of her colleagues conducted secret surveillance in a conspiracy with rioters at the Capitol”. If true I am not surprised. Since the election Republicans in Congress have tried to overturn the election results–voting against certification of the Electoral College votes. “Stop the Steal” was the mantra of Republicans and the mob that stormed and vandalized the Capitol. There is evidence that some members of the Capitol police force were sympathetic to the rioters and allowed them to rampage unopposed. If Sherrill has evidence that Republican members of Congress also cooperated in the trashing of the Capitol no doubt she will give it to the FBI for an investigation. But for you the mere allegation is outrageous. You say: “Either Sherrill has evidence of a criminal conspiracy or has made an outrageous (and defamatory) allegation against her colleagues”. Hold your horses, Jonathan! Let’s wait and see where the evidence leads before we start encouraging defamation lawsuits Just remember, truth is an absolute defense.

    1. Either you have the evidence or you do not.

      Does she or not?

      Why does she not name those she has the evidence on?

      If she is staying mum because the FBI is investigating….then why is she saying what she did?

      At this point she seems very suspect in what and how she is going on about.

      This is the old trick of asking your opponent if they have stop beating their wife or copying a page out of the Adam Schiff Playbook we watched for four years.

  16. Tom Cole T-OK had to relinquish his honorary law degree because they were going to strip him anyway, then he said we are going to “celebrate the peaceful transition of power” so we should not impeach. Using Turley’s BS term “snap judgement” after he voted to overturn the election results. So Turley, how do you like a nutcase like him quoting you? Now today you say democratic member should face investigation for what she has said, but Trump, no calls from Turley. Your name will go down with the Rudy’s Powell’s Wood’s of lawyers that have enabled the soon-to-be twice impeached POTUS.

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