There is a deepening division on the J6 Committee as staffers turn on Liz Cheney over the final report on the January 6th riot. Angry rhetoric is flying with staffers accusing the Committee of becoming a “Cheney 2024 campaign” while both the Cheney spokesperson and Committee spokesperson lashed out at the staff members as “disgruntled” and producing shoddy or biased work. The underlying issue, however, is important and revealing. The Committee’s color coated teams include a “Blue Team” on the failure to prepare adequately for the riot. That part of the investigation is reportedly being dumped or reduced. Members of the “Green” and “Purple” teams are also reportedly irate.
Cheney was soundly defeated in her primary in Wyoming and will soon leave Congress. She is being pushed by some Democrats as a possible surprise candidate for House Speaker if they could get a few Republican votes. That seems highly unlikely. The Republicans are likely to end up with the identical margin held by the Democrats for the past two years. Alternatively, some Democrats want Cheney to run for president either to dog Donald Trump in the primary debates or to run as an independent to siphon off votes in the general election.
That seems to be the suspicion for some staffers in the Washington Post story.
Fifteen former and current staffers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, expressed concerns that important findings unrelated to Trump will not become available to the American public…
Several committee staff members were floored earlier this month when they were told that a draft report would focus almost entirely on Trump and the work of the committee’s “Gold Team,” excluding reams of other investigative work.
Potentially left on the cutting room floor, or relegated to an appendix, were many revelations from the “Blue Team” — the group that dug into the law enforcement and intelligence community’s failure to assess the looming threat and prepare for the well-forecast attack on the Capitol. The proposed report would also cut back on much of the work of the Green Team, which looked at financing for the Jan. 6 attack, and the Purple Team, which examined militia groups and extremism.
“We all came from prestigious jobs, dropping what we were doing because we were told this would be an important fact-finding investigation that would inform the public,” said one former committee staffer. “But when [the committee] became a Cheney 2024 campaign, many of us became discouraged.”
If true, the report will largely track the virtual exclusive focus of the hearings with open references to the 2024 election as an overriding concern.
Some of us have lamented that the J6 Committee could have been so much more than a one-sided, highly partisan investigation. House Democrats barred two Republican members originally selected by GOP leaders, who then boycotted the panel in response.
Even with the GOP boycott, the Committee could have followed the type of balanced inquiry that pursued allegations tied to the Pearl Harbor attack or Watergate. It could have insisted on balanced hearings with witnesses and dissenting views.
Nevertheless, the committee revealed important, often disturbing details. It was important for Americans to hear from figures like former attorney general Bill Barr and White House lawyers who struggled to counter unfounded advice given to Trump by outside lawyers on challenging the 2020 election. There were painful scenes of Capitol police overwhelmed at barricades and members of Congress hunkered down in offices.
Yet, the focus on a single approved narrative gave the hearings the feel of an infomercial selling a product that most of us bought two years earlier.
Now, staffers are turning on Cheney who appears to have objected to parts of the final report and wants the report to focus on Trump. Cheney’s spokesman Jeremy Adler said that the staffers in the other teams produced “subpar material” full of “liberal biases.”
Tim Mulvey, the spokesperson for the committee, criticized the staffers speaking to the media as “disgruntled” and added that “they’ve forgotten their duties as public servants and their cowardice is helping Donald Trump and others responsible for the violence of January 6th.”
It is obviously hard to address the alleged shoddy work on these other teams or claims of liberal bias. However, the “Blue Team” was a particular interest for some of us. The J6 Committee virtually ignored the issue despite ample questions over decisions by Congress leading to the riot.
The Democrats in the final hearing hammered away at documents showing that the agency knew about violent threats in the days leading up to Jan. 6th. However, the Democrats have refused to pursue the lack of preparations on Capitol Hill as a focus of the hearing. On the day of the riot, many of us noted (before the breach of security) that there was a relatively light police presence around the Capitol despite the obvious risk of a riot. Once the crowd surged, they quickly were able to gain access to the building. Conservative media have featured a video showing an officer standing by as crowds poured into the building.
That obviously does not mean that there was not violence or that Capitol police did not bravely fight to protect the building. Most of us have denounced the riot as a desecration of our constitutional process.
Moreover, at some point, officers may have shifted to deescalating as crowds surged into the building. The question is why there were not more substantial barriers, like those used at the White House. Instead, some barriers were composed of a few officers using their bikes.
The available evidence indicates that the House was warned and that the need for National Guard deployments were discussed. There is a concern that, after criticizing such deployment and fencing around the White House in the earlier riots, the Democrats did not want to be seen following the same course.
An Inspector General report indicated that police were restricted by Congress in what they could use on that day. Previously, it was disclosed that offers of National Guard support were not accepted prior to the protests. The D.C. government under Mayor Muriel Bowser used only a small number of guardsmen in traffic positions.
That focus was rejected by the Committee members and there were no dissenting views voiced on the Committee as well as a virtual bar on opposing explanations or interpretations of evidence.
The GOP is now expected to fully investigate what the Congress knew and what it did in the days leading to the breach of the Capitol. Clearly, Cheney and others did not believe that the Blue Team full findings were ready to be released. However, those findings could be reviewed by the new GOP majority as it seeks full disclosure on why the Capitol was so quickly overrun on January 6th.