This is so plainly nutty and self-destructive that had it come from any other committee I’d assume a source had made it up to make Democrats look bad. But the January 6 committee is a truly bipartisan body, unlike any other in that regard in modern U.S. history. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and the Republican staff working with them have no motive to lie to discredit the Democratic members of the panel.
So this is probably true, and someone inside the committee who shares the opinion that it’s nutty is leaking it in order to show proponents of the idea how badly received it’ll be if they go public with it.
Everyone knows that the committee is about to begin holding public hearings but less well-known is the fact that they’re tasked with making legislative recommendations to Congress after the probe concludes. Some of those recommendations are obvious and already in motion, like reforming the Electoral Count Act. Others haven’t been taken up yet but are worth considering, like making “supreme dereliction of duty” a criminal offense, as Cheney reportedly wants to do. But others are radical go-nowhere propositions without a prayer of drawing 60 votes in the Senate and which can only sidetrack media coverage of the committee’s findings if they’re adopted.
Like, say, abolishing the electoral college.
According to Axios, at least one Democrat on the committee — although maybe only one — is ready for that.
In multiple conversations among committee members, [Jamie] Raskin has argued that the Electoral College should be abolished — that if presidents were elected by a popular vote, this would protect future presidential elections against the subversion that Trump and his allies tried to pull off in 2020…
Cheney thinks the committee will burn its credibility if it pushes for radical changes like abolishing the Electoral College, according to a source with direct knowledge.
She also has joked to her colleagues on the committee that there’s no way the single at-large representative for the tiny state of Wyoming would support abolishing the Electoral College, according to another source with direct knowledge of the internal committee deliberations.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has spoken up in the committee to concur with Raskin on the problems with the Electoral College, that same source added. However, Schiff is far more focused on changes to the Electoral Count Act — a reform that is much more likely for the committee members to agree upon.
If you’re looking to solve the problem of shenanigans involving alternate slates of electors on January 6 and you’re willing to do literally anything to prevent it, abolishing the electoral college does make a certain amount of sense. And the good news for Raskin is that technically he doesn’t need Congress to act: There have been efforts afoot at the state level for years to forge an interstate compact in which the national popular vote winner would receive each state’s electoral votes irrespective of how the voters of that state voted. If the proponents of that compact ever convince the legislatures of states commanding a combined 270 EVs to adopt it, the electoral college would be effectively abolished.
But needless to say, the party that’s lost every national popular vote since 1992 save one isn’t going to receive Raskin’s recommendation fondly. On the contrary, Republican voters will conclude that the January 6 committee was never really about accountability for the 2020 coup attempt but just a trojan horse for advancing Democrats’ preexisting voting-reform priorities. The congressional GOP is already set to spend the next month grasping for ways to discredit and distract from the committee’s hearings; Raskin chattering about abolishing the electoral college is a gift-wrapped opportunity for them to change the subject.
It’s such an obvious mistake that I’m tempted believe no one in Congress could possibly be that bad at politics but this is the same party that wasted months pushing a bloated, unrealistic, unpassable voting bill in the form of H.R. 1 instead of listening to Joe Manchin and focusing on something he might be comfortable with. Never underestimate Democrats’ willingness to shoot themselves in the foot by trying to go big and failing miserably, pissing off Republicans and demoralizing their own base, even though basic logic counsels otherwise.
The only good news if you support the committee’s work is that “in internal committee conversations, Raskin’s colleagues haven’t been as vocal as he has in advocating for the most sweeping reforms,” per Axios. The other Democrats may still retain enough common sense to recognize that calling on Americans to ditch the electoral college is an self-sabotaging non sequitur, particularly in this context. Which means it’s unlikely to end up among the formal legislative recommendations made by the committee.
Still, the Axios scoop is heaven-sent for Trump and other Republicans looking to diminish the committee. “Trump’s team has communicated to some of his most loyal acolytes on Capitol Hill that the former President wants people vigorously defending him and pushing back on the select committee while the public hearings play out, according to GOP sources familiar with the request,” CNN reported yesterday. That reminded me of a famous quote from Steve Bannon about how to handle unflattering media coverage:
Steve Bannon to Michael Lewis: “The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.” https://t.co/YuCqFJZ6M5
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 12, 2018
Lots of sh*t will be flooding into the zone courtesy of MAGA stalwarts over the next month. According to CNN, the point man for Trump in the effort will be Elise Stefanik, further evidence that she’s willing to sacrifice any amount of dignity to get a leg up on her Republican rivals for power.
I’ll leave you with this interview with GOP Rep. Tom Rice, the closest thing to a Cheney and Kinzinger figure in the GOP apart from Cheney and Kinzinger themselves. Rice was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment last year but has remained outspoken in defense of his vote, unlike most of the others. “I did it then. And I would do it again tomorrow,” he told ABC about supporting impeachment. Interestingly, he may win his primary in South Carolina: Some polls show him trailing his Trump-backed challenger but others show him ahead.
EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Tom Rice was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former Pres. Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 6, 2022