Jan. 6 commission vote is next referendum on Trumpism: The Note

The vote is another chance for Republicans to stand with former President Trump.

May 19, 2021, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's a little like the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney from leadership -- only this time out in the open and with possible consequences for policy and security.

A vote that might have seemed non-controversial a few months back, establishing a commission to investigate the attempted Capitol insurrection, comes to the House floor on Wednesday with the only question being how many Republicans support it.

The top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee got Democrats to agree to an equal partisan makeup and to require that subpoenas for witnesses have bipartisan support. Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., supports it -- but House leadership, led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, does not, with McCarthy saying among other things that it "ignores the political violence that has struck American cities."

Insurrectionists try to open a door of the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021.
Jose Luis Magana/AP, FILE

That sets up yet another chance for Republicans to stand with former President Donald Trump and his allies who prefer less scrutiny of that awful day. Trump and McCarthy, of course, are two witnesses who would almost certainly be subpoenaed if they don't agree to interviews with any commission that might be set up.

For those who think there's nothing new to learn, McCarthy's own descriptions of Trump's real-time Jan. 6 reactions could use clearing up. For those who think relevant lessons have been internalized, last week's hearing where Republican House members blamed left-wing agitators and even the Capitol Police for clashes is an important reference point.

Late Tuesday, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus formally endorsed it while Trump put out a statement opposing the “Democrat trap” that is “just more partisan unfairness.”

The bill is virtually assured of passing the House, even if only a small group of Republicans support it. Senators will almost certainly want changes, though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says his party is "undecided about the way forward at this point."

It's hard to imagine this being the last legislative matter where Trump has a vested interest in the outcome. If Cheney lost her leadership seat for calling out Trump's lies in public, there are few evident incentives for rank-and-file Republicans to defy the former president or their new leadership team going forward.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

President Joe Biden intended to sell his infrastructure plan during his visit to Michigan Tuesday, but his stop in Dearborn, a community that boasts one of the largest Arab populations outside of the Middle East, highlighted an issue Biden has avoided speaking about publicly -- continued violence in Israel and Palestinian territories.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden arrives to speak after a tour of the Ford Rouge EV Center,  May 18, 2021, in Dearborn, Mich.
President Joe Biden arrives to speak after a tour of the Ford Rouge EV Center, May 18, 2021, in Dearborn, Mich.
Evan Vucci/AP

Biden's visit to a Ford facility was with met with pro-Palestine protests and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress made her case to Biden as he arrived in the Great Lakes State. Tlaib has been critical of Biden's statements on the killings of Palestinians in the conflict.

"If you support a cease-fire, then get out of the way of the U.N. Security Council and join other countries in demanding it," Tlaib tweeted Monday evening. "Apartheid-in-chief Netanyahu will not listen to anyone asking nicely. He commits war crimes and openly violates international law."

During Biden's remarks, he addressed Tlaib and the safety of her family in the region.

"I want to say to you that I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, and I admire your concern for so many other people," said Biden "And it's from my heart that I pray that your grandmom and family are well. I promise you, I'm going to do everything to see that they are in the West Bank."

The White House continues to navigate the conflict in Israel and Palestinian territories delicately. Despite Biden encouraging the protection of civilians in a call Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged airstrikes would continue.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

New Mexico's 1st Congressional District is considered safely blue territory, but that doesn't remove all stakes from the upcoming special election to fill the vacancy left by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

The fourth special election matchup of 2020 will come a month after Democrats were locked out of the runoff election for Texas's 6th Congressional District, where they failed to push enough voters to the polls despite Republicans appearing to have lost steam in the area during the November general election.

PHOTO: Robert Michael Smith casts his ballot at the Bernalillo County Annex located near Downtown Albuquerque, N.M., as Early Voting starts for the special election to replace the 1st Congressional seat  vacated by former Rep. Deb Haaland, May  4, 2021.
Robert Michael Smith casts his ballot at the Bernalillo County Annex located near Downtown Albuquerque, N.M., as Early Voting starts for the special election to replace the 1st Congressional seat vacated by former Rep. Deb Haaland, May 4, 2021.
Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal via ZUMA Press

The situation for Democrats in New Mexico is also shaping up as a test of voter turnout in the Biden era, albeit under different terms. Rather than churning out votes in response to the actions of Trump, Democrats will now be on defense to back the immediate impact on the ongoing efforts of Biden. Expectations are high given that New Mexico heavily favors Democrats, who currently hold all state leadership positions and control both state legislative chambers.

The contest taking place on June 1 will feature Democrat Melanie Stansbury -- a state representative from Bernalillo County where Albuquerque is the county seat -- in a faceoff with Republican state Sen. Mark Moores.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News' Victor Oquendo, who joins us from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where the district attorney announced that charges will not be filed against the police officers who shot and killed Andrew Brown, Jr. ABC News' Jordana Miller brings us the latest on the violence in Israel. And ABC News' Trish Turner explains why House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has come out in opposition to a proposal for a Jan. 6 commission. http://apple.co/2HPocUL


  • President Joe Biden receives the president's daily brief at 9 a.m. He travels to New London, Connecticut, to deliver the keynote address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement at 11 a.m.
  • The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee holds a hearing on the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 10 a.m. with testimony from CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat.
  • Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm appears before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy at 10:30 a.m. for a hearing on the department's budget.
  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson appears before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies at 2 p.m. for a hearing on the agency's budget.
  • IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig appears before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for a hearing at 2 p.m. on narrowing the tax gap and improving taxpayer services.
  • The Committee on House Administration will hold a hearing on reforming the Capitol Police and improving accountability for the Capitol Police board at 3 p.m. Witnesses include Maj. Gen. William Walker, House sergeant at arms, and J. Brett Blanton, architect of the Capitol.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris meets virtually with Guatemalan justice sector leaders at 4:15 p.m. She delivers remarks at the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Unity Summit at 6 p.m.

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