Posts tagged with "U.S. Capitol riot"

Michelle Obama delivers urgent message about this year’s midterm elections

January 13, 2022

Former First Lady Michelle Obama has a message for Americans ahead of the 2022 midterm elections: “We’ve got to vote like the future of our democracy depends on it.”

In a letter titled “Fight For Our Vote,” which was published on Sunday, January 9, as an ad in The New York Times, Obama and her voting rights organization, When We All Vote, called on Americans to continue engaging in democracy amid a historic attack on voting rights.

CNN reports that Obama’s letter—which comes as Congress has yet to move on voting rights legislation at the federal level—was signed by 30 other civic engagement, voting rights and voter mobilization organizations including the NAACP, Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight Action, Voto Latino Foundation, NextGen America, LeBron James’ More Than A Vote, and Rock the Vote.

“We stand united in our conviction to organize and turn out voters in the 2022 midterm elections, and make our democracy work for all of us,” Obama wrote in the letter.

The former FLOTUS laid out a plan of action and said, within the next year, When We All Vote and the coalition of other organizations will work to “recruit and train at least 100,000 volunteers” and “register more than a million new voters.”

Obama said the coalition will also enlist thousands of lawyers to protect American voters, work to educate Americans on how to ensure their vote is safe, and encourage at least 100,000 Americans to call on their Senators in support of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—two proposed pieces of legislation that have stalled in the Senate as a result of the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to overcome.

Obama’s letter—published days after the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riot—referenced the insurrection and the slew of voting restrictions passed at the state level across the country in its wake. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed the chamber will vote on whether to change the Senate’s legislative filibuster rules by Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 17, if Republicans block Democrats’ latest effort to advance voting rights legislation.

Citing obstacles to voting access throughout history, Obama wrote that in 2022, Americans must continue to fight for their rights.

“Generations of Americans have persevered through poll taxes, literacy tests, and laws designed to strip away their power—and they’ve done it by organizing, by protesting, and, most importantly, by overcoming the barriers in front of them in order to vote. And now, we’ve got to do the same,” Obama wrote.

Obama added: “We must give Congress no choice but to act decisively to protect the right to vote and make the ballot box more accessible for everyone.”

Research contact: @CNN

Why is Mitch McConnell suddenly legitimizing the January 6 committee?

December 20, 2021

It’s difficult to dismiss even one comment by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) as anything other than part of a concerted and deliberate political strategy. It’s virtually impossible to dismiss two, reports The Washington Post.

All of which makes twin comments this week by McConnell legitimizing the House’s January 6 committee quite compelling

As the committee continues to uncover significant new information—including facts about what the Post describes as “the desperate and anti-democratic efforts to overturn the 2020 electionthat preceded January 6 and about how much allies who went on to downplay Trump’s role initially said something quite different privately—Republicans and their allies have been put on the defensive.

And they’ve become defensive. They’ve accused the committee of being partisan and of overstepping.

But McConnell has struck a very different tone this week—in ways that he must know legitimize the committee’s mandate and its work.

On Tuesday, December 14, CNN’s Manu Raju asked McConnell about the revelation that Trump allies—including Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News hosts who went on almost immediately to downplay Trump’s role — had pleaded with Meadows during the riot to get Trump to stop it. The text messages showed those people recognized Trump was the catalyst for the events, despite their later comments.

McConnell raised some eyebrows when he responded: “I do think we’re all watching, as you are, what is unfolding on the House side, and it will be interesting to reveal all of the participants who were involved.”

Okay, maybe a little generic and noncommittal, the Post comments. But he certainly wasn’t suggesting that the committee comprises a bunch of partisan hacks out for political gain, as other Republicans have. Rather, he suggested that it was worth knowing who might have pushed the efforts to overturn the election—efforts that McConnell is on the record sharply criticizing. And McConnell well knows that the people he’s talking about are political allies.

Things got more interesting on Thursday, December 16, when McConnell was asked again about the committee’s work. And he reinforced that he views it as important. The premise of the question even cited his comments Tuesday, inviting McConnell to walk them back if he wanted to.

But he didn’t just double down; he arguably went further.

“I think the fact-finding is interesting; we’re all going to be watching it,” McConnell said. “It was a horrendous event, and I think what they are seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.”

McConnell’s comments are particularly interesting in that, while he strongly criticized Trump’s role in the January 6 revolt (while voting against impeachment), he was a leading force behind blocking a separate proposed effort to probe the Capitol riot: A bipartisan commission modeled on the 9/11 Commission.

What seemed clear at the time—not just from McConnell’s comments but from many other Republicans—was that he and his party weren’t terribly interested in reliving that day and the factors that contributed to it for one main reason: political considerations. It would be nothing but bad news for a party bent on regaining power in 2022, when McConnell has a great shot at regaining his perch as Senate majority leader.

Exactly why McConnell has reversed himself is a valid question. Perhaps he is sending a message to Trump, as Trump continues to attack him and to (unsuccessfully) push for Senate Republicans to cast McConnell aside as their leader.

Perhaps he truly believes that anti-democratic efforts to overturn the election were just that bad and would very much like for those involved to be publicly exposed, believing it won’t necessarily harm Republicans in general.

But in either case, that skates past the plain political calculus that McConnell has demonstrated is central to virtually everything he does. Legitimizing the congressional January 6 investigation in any way, even subtly—which Republicans have been loath to do and which McConnell, himself, once joined in fighting—diminishes efforts to cast that work as hackery and seemingly could hurt McConnell’s chances of becoming Senate majority leader again.

That brings up another potential read on the situation, the Post notes, which would seem to be validated by the revelations of recent days: This is all going to reflect quite poorly on those involved, and McConnell recognizes it will be difficult to dispute that. Maybe it’s better to express openness to the committee’s findings and then dispute the specifics and pin this on ne’er-do-well individuals later.

Whatever the case—and with the acknowledgment that McConnell has hardly given the committee a full “Good Housekeeping seal of approval”—what he’s saying is a departure from his party that significantly hamstrings efforts to undermine the committee. And it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Research contact: @washingtonpost