Senate Moves Jan. 6 Reforms as House Democrats Obsess on Trump Role

By Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times.
December 15, 2021 Updated: December 15, 2021

News Analysis

When the Capitol Police Emergency Assistance Act (CPEAA) was approved by the House of Representatives without objection late on Dec. 14, it provided a marked contrast with the raucous and angry debate earlier in the day in the lower chamber.

The CPEAA was a bipartisan measure initiated in the Senate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.

The measure was introduced on Dec. 13 and approved in the Senate the same day by unanimous consent.

Co-sponsors of the CDEAA included Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

“Our bipartisan investigation into the response failures on January 6th clearly demonstrated the need for the Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police to have more unilateral flexibility to quickly request assistance in an emergency,” Blunt said in a joint statement with Klobuchar. “This bipartisan bill addresses a major security challenge that was evident on January 6th, and is part of our ongoing effort to strengthen Capitol security moving forward.”

The measure provides USCP clear authority to go directly to the District of Columbia National Guard to seek assistance in an emergency without having to obtain prior approval of congressional authorities.

The reform was one of dozens recommended in the joint, bipartisan report on events leading up to and including the Jan. 6 incursion at the U.S. Capitol. President Donald Trump offered National Guard assistance on Jan. 5, and it was requested by the USCP early in the afternoon of Jan. 6. The troops didn’t arrive, however, until nearly 6 p.m., after much of the violence had ended.

Earlier in the day on Dec. 14, the House chamber reverberated with demands for the prosecution of former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for contempt of Congress.

Meadows, who is also a former Republican member of the House, was cooperating with the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, but he was charged with contempt after refusing to appear before the panel, claiming executive privilege barred his answering queries about advice he and others gave Trump on the Jan. 6 event.

Meadows is the second former Trump administration official to be charged with contempt, including former political strategist Stephen Bannon. Trump and Meadows are challenging the panel in federal court, citing executive privilege.

Early in the debate on holding Meadows in contempt and recommending him for prosecution by the Department of Justice, House Administration Committee Chairman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who is also a member of the Jan. 6 panel, suggested Meadows and his former boss were part of a “plot” behind the riot.

“Now, the select committee needs to speak with [Meadows] about the plot leading up to Jan. 6. For example, it’s been reported that the White House was directing the Department of Justice to investigate outrageous and really crazy conspiracy theories to benefit Mr. Trump politically, as well as to orchestrate the dissemination of misinformation about the election,” Lofgren told the House.

At another point during the debate, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) accused Republicans of opposing the contempt action because they “fear the truth” that would be revealed if Meadows submits to cross-examination by the select panel. Hoyer’s accusation prompted House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) to demand the majority leader be sanctioned, but he was overruled.

The central flashpoint issue at the center of the debate was the executive privilege claim of Trump and Meadows. Democrats, and their sole Republican supporters, Rep, Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), argued that Trump and Meadows are no longer covered by executive privilege.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pointed out, however, that the Supreme Court in the landmark Watergate case of U.S. v. Nixon held that executive privilege is based on the fact that “a president and those who assist him must be free to explore alternatives in the process of shaping policies and making decisions, and to do so in a way many would be unwilling to express except privately.”

A federal appeals court rejected Trump’s claim last week, so the high court will almost certainly have to resolve the issue. The justices said in the 1974 case that there is no absolute executive privilege.

But there was another flashpoint issue lurking in the debate—the role of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the response to the events on Jan. 6—and it was broached by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the ranking Republican member of the House Administration Committee.

Davis told the House that “a number of questions from that day still remain unanswered. I’m still waiting on the Speaker of the House to answer a letter I sent her back in February that asks why the National Guard requests by the then-[USCP] police chief were denied, why the Speaker was involved in eventually approving the request, why the House SAA [Sergeant at Arms] has refused to comply with preservation and production requests from my office.”

Davis added that “with these questions still unanswered and another purely political contempt resolution on the floor today, it makes you ask yourself: What is the majority hiding and why are their priorities not the men and women serving in the Capitol Police and making this Capitol more secure for everyone? We need these reforms and they should have been done months ago.”

The letter to Pelosi also was signed by Jordan as the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the top Republican member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the highest-ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

Two spokesmen for Pelosi (D-Calif.) declined to respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times.