A mysterious letter appeared on Capitol Hill this week. It was addressed to every member of the United States Congress. The letter arrived on the official letterhead of the U.S. Capitol Police. But it wasn’t from the chief, or from any individual officer.
Instead, the letter was signed: “Proud Members of the United States Capitol Police.” So, it was anonymous. That was the first tip this wasn’t your average security bulletin. And in fact it wasn’t. It was instead a political demand. The letter instructed members of Congress to vote “yes” to establish a “January 6th insurrection commission.” Police officers anonymously demanding that the people they protect vote a certain way on a specific piece of legislation? Haven’t seen that before.
Most people assumed the Capitol Hill police department was a law enforcement agency. Members of Congress certainly believe that. They trust their lives to Capitol Hill police. That’s why Capitol Hill police officers don’t lobby congress. That would be a dangerous conflict of interest, backed by an implied threat: do what we say, or watch your back. In this case, that’s exactly what they were saying to Republicans.
“We members of the United States Capitol Police write this letter to express our profound disappointment with the recent comments from both chambers’ minority leaders [Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell] expressing no need for a January 6 commission.”
“We are expected to remain neutral and do our jobs with honor and integrity,” the letter continued. “It’s unfortunate that our ‘bosses’ [Congress] are not held to the same standard that we, the USCP are.” Well, that’s a ransom note. Imagine getting it from one of your own bodyguards. It might be enough to make you rethink your position, which was, of course, the point of it.
The Capitol Hill police are now effectively an armed political action committee, so you have to ask, what other partisan demands will they make in the future? Do Capitol Hill cops have strong views on voter ID laws? How about taxpayer-funded abortions, or our next trade deal with China? If so, they’ve got the muscle to make their voices heard. You can see why this is setting a very bad precedent. But it didn’t bother Democrats. It helped them in the short term. So they immediately put that letter to use.
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland passed it around. His chief of staff sent the letter to every other chief of staff on Capitol Hill, along with this note: “Mr. Raskin is hoping your bosses will read this letter before the vote.”
Today, CNN announced it has discovered who wrote the letter. Who was it? They’re not going to tell you. Because CNN agrees with the content of the letter, they’ve decided to keep that information from the public. Sorry. You can’t know. It’s not like the Capitol Hill police are catholic school kids from Kentucky. No, they’re allies of CNN, and CNN has an obligation to protect them. And, of course, in this case, the stakes are too high.
As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reminded us yesterday, what happened on January 6 is comparable to the American Civil War:
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: What the Republicans are doing is beyond crazy to be so far under the thumb of Donald J Trump. Letting the most dishonest president in American history dictate the prerogatives of the Republican Party will be its demise … we all know there needs to be a thorough and honest accounting of what took place on January 6th, the greatest attempted insurrection since the Civil War.
Oh, it was an insurrection. So how many of the participants in that insurrection have been charged with insurrection, with sedition, with treason? Zero. By the Biden Justice Department. Instead, they’ve been charged with effectively trespassing.
But you can still see the similarities. During the civil war, more than half a million people were shot to death. On January 6th, one person was shot to death, and she turned out to be an unarmed Trump voter gunned down without explanation by the Capitol Hill Police. But other than that, basically the same thing.
Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio made a similarly sweeping point. He didn’t mention Gettysburg or Shiloh, but he did point out that anyone who votes against this commission is responsible for climate change:
TIM RYAN: We have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol police with lead pipes across the head and we can’t get bipartisanship … If we’re gonna take on China, if we’re gonna rebuild the country, if we’re gonna reverse climate change, we need two political parties in this country that are both living in reality and you ain’t one of ’em!
Apparently, he made a compelling argument. Thirty-five Republicans in the House voted for the commission yesterday — they joining what Tim Ryan described as the party that’s “living in reality” — the party that wears surgical masks outside and thinks it’s possible to change your sex. The reality party.
One of the Republicans who voted with the reality party is Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
“I support a bipartisan January 6 commission,” he wrote on Twitter. “This should not be about party politics or become a partisan fight.” Well of course not. You wouldn’t expect partisanship or party politics from Democrats in the House of Representatives. Pretty funny.
To be fair, Adam Kinzinger is widely understood to be among the slowest members of Congress — Mazie Hirono slow. So, it’s entirely possible he had no idea what he was saying. Maybe he didn’t even write it.
What’s harder to explain are the several Republicans in the Senate, including Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine, who’ve suggested they, too, will support the commission too.
Unlike Adam Kinzinger, Collins and Cassidy can read without moving their lips. They know what’s in the legislation. The bill the House passed yesterday was taken directly from the law that established the 9/11 commission almost 20 years ago. That legislation instructed Congress to, “investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures that can be taken to prevent acts of terrorism.”
That was the 9/11 law.
The new legislation behind a January 6 commission demands the same. Congress must, “investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures … that could be taken to prevent future acts of targeted violence and domestic terrorism.”
Virtually identical language. That’s not accidental.
This is the new war on terror. But this war is not aimed at al Qaeda or ISIS. This war is aimed at you, and anyone else who stands in the way of the Democratic Party’s agenda.