There is considerable confusion when it comes to seditious members of Congress and it’s time to sort it out so we’re all on the same page.
First, we know there are seditionists in Congress, this is not in dispute. Who they are and what they did, however, needs some clarification. The recent article McCarthy’s Speakership may be One of the Shortest in History lists most of the criminal seditionists though it is not exhaustive. It is missing Josh Hawley of the raised fist fame and Lauren Boebert who led a reconnaissance tour through the Capitol Building in the days before January 6 and used social media to notify her co-conspirators when Speaker Nancy Pelosi left the House chamber. That brings the list to 30.
Another possible is Chuck Grassley who, as Roll Call posted on Twitter, was obviously prepped to stand in for Pence on January 6. It would be enlightening to know what Trump directed Grassley to do as opposed to what Chuck said publicly.
Grassley said he will listen to debate and that "it would be really wrong for me to say I have my mind made up."
— Roll Call (@rollcall) January 5, 2021
Chuck’s staff later claimed that he “misspoke” and that what he meant to explain was what would happen if the VP were to be, for example, whisked away before the end of the session or accidentally hung from the gallows that mysteriously and anonymously appeared outside the Capitol Building.
Grassley's office clarifies that he was meaning to explain what would happen if Pence had to step away during Wednesday's proceedings to count Electoral College votes. "Every indication we have is that the vice president will be there," Grassley's office said.
— Roll Call (@rollcall) January 5, 2021
Little did Grassley’s staff realise how suspicious and transparent their ‘clarification’ (ie cover-up) would appear less than 24 hours later.
In his book The Breach, former Rep Denver Riggleman, who served as a senior staffer to the Jan 6 Committee, said their evidence showed that there were 40 congressional Republicans involved in the Jan 6 insurrection plot and the Fake Electors scheme. If, as seems likely, the above list of deplorables all appear on Riggleman’s list of 40, there are still more names to be added. That surprises no one.
Indeed, I have seen much longer lists posted on social media accompanied by pleas to hold all of them accountable for their seditious acts. These lists comprise the Republicans in the joint session of Congress who objected to certifying the electoral counts of certain states – you know the ones, the states the orange conman claimed were stolen from him. I have that list too; I posted it to Google sheets and you can view it at this link.
The problem with this list is that rejecting states’ electoral counts is not criminal, therefore they cannot be held criminally liable for these particular actions. The reason it’s not criminal is that raising objections and voting “nay” to motions and resolutions are legitimate actions in the congressional process. It’s a process anchored in a democratic foundation requiring that both the for and against sides of every issue must be accommodated. For example, whenever a vote is held, both yea and nay responses must be allowed. Therefore, voting nay to certify the electoral votes of certain states is a legitimate action.
So why are so many viewing these legitimate actions as criminal? It’s because of the motive we know is behind their objections and nay votes. We perceive in their motives an element of criminal intent, a coordinated effort to bring pressure to bear on Mike Pence to use his presiding role over the count to change the outcome.
Though this view is undoubtedly accurate, the 147 Republicans who participated in this egregious action nevertheless used legitimate congressional procedures to do so, thereby shielding themselves from any legal repercussions. This flagrant use of Congress is nothing short of an abuse of the People’s Branch in the People’s House. It is reprehensible, unethical and seditious — but it is not criminal.
So when is sedition criminal? In the relevant passage of 18 US Code §2384 – Seditious Conspiracy, it is a felony when:
…two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States …contrary to the authority thereof
So, if two or more meet to plot the overthrow of a legitimately elected President, and then put that plot into action, they’re not just deplorables, they’re criminally seditious deplorables.
And a group of them certainly did meet. As far as we know, their first session was held on December 21, 2020, at the White House. According to White House visitor logs obtained by the Jan 6 Committee, eight current House members attended that conclave.
The night before January 6, there was a “war room” meeting at the Willard Hotel in DC that included Tommy Tuberville among its infamous attendees (so we can add his name to the list). The New York Times reported
But the Willard was only one hub of Trump activity before the Jan. 6 riot, when members of the former president’s inner circle also congregated at the nearby Trump International and other hotels to plan their bid to invalidate the election results.
There must have been numerous planning meetings conducted between the December 21 and January 5 strategy sessions but while rumours abound, it’s difficult to find reliable sources to confirm venues, times and attendees. We do know that the Jan 6 Committee amassed a great deal of evidence that was never made public. As exasperating as some find this, it is reassuring to know that Jack Smith and his team are now in possession of all that evidence.
So, what is not criminal is what took place in the House chamber during the joint session, notwithstanding that at least 147 of them are obnoxious deplorables.
As for what is criminal, well, we’ll know that for certain when Special Counsel Jack Smith issues indictments to the obnoxiously seditious deplorables.
Finally, a combination prayer and message to Jack Smith: while we will continue to practise patience, we want you to know that today would not be too soon for indictments to drop. Just saying.
You can find and follow Michelle Dale on Twitter as @Mopshell.