Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report — Showdown: Five GOP lawmakers get subpoenas

Kevin McCarthy gestures while walking down a hall talking to reporters
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., heads to his office surrounded by reporters after House investigators issued a subpoena to McCarthy and four other GOP lawmakers as part of their probe into the violent Jan. 6 insurrection, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, May 12, 2022. The House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has been investigating McCarthy’s conversations with then-President Donald Trump the day of the attack and meetings that the four other lawmakers had with the White House as Trump and his aides conspired how to overturn his defeat.

Members of the House special committee investigating Jan. 6 subpoenaed five of their colleagues on Thursday in advance of public hearings next month that will begin to lay out the committee’s narrative of who allegedly assisted, advised and perhaps funded the key players before and during the attacks on the Capitol in 2021.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the Jan. 6 panel, said the committee decided to issue subpoenas after the GOP lawmakers refused the opportunity to speak with the lawmakers voluntarily, noting that some of them talked with former President Trump on Jan. 6. 

“The Select Committee has learned that several of our colleagues have information relevant to our investigation into the attack on January 6th and the events leading up to it. Before we hold our hearings next month, we wished to provide members the opportunity to discuss these matters with the committee voluntarily,” Thompson said in a statement. “Regrettably, the individuals receiving subpoenas today have refused and we’re forced to take this step to help ensure the committee uncovers facts concerning January 6th.”

The panel subpoenaed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

Where the lawmakers go from here isn’t entirely clear. McCarthy told reporters that he had not seen the subpoena and did not indicate if he would comply. He has acknowledged that he spoke with the former president while pro-Trump supporters were breaking into the Capitol.

“My view on the committee has not changed,” he said. “They’re not conducting a legitimate investigation. It seems as though they just want to go after their political opponents.”

In total, the move marks an escalation in the fight with House Republicans, who have refused to cooperate with what they view as an illegitimate investigatory panel at best, and a straight-up witch hunt at worst. The committee’s decision also represents a rare one, as they usually do not target sitting lawmakers. There is little precedent for committees issuing subpoenas for conference leaders.  

“We recognize this is fairly unprecedented,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), one of two Republicans on the committee. “But the Jan. 6 attack was very unprecedented” (The Associated Press).

Not unlike McCarthy, Perry told reporters that the subpoena is “all about headlines” and argued the probe is a “charade.” The House Freedom Caucus stalwart is being targeted after he attempted to implement a plan to replace the acting attorney general (The New York Times).

As The Hill’s Mychael Schnell and Harper Neidig write, the group of five lawmakers could try to challenge the subpoenas in court. At least a dozen other potential witnesses have chosen that tact, increasing the chances that the partisan battle over the select committee’s work will spill into the legal system.

Thus far, the House has voted to hold two individuals — former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Stephen Bannon — in contempt and has referred their cases to the Justice Department. 

The hearings are set to begin on June 9 (CNN).

Axios: The Jan. 6 committee opens a Pandora’s box of retaliation.

The Hill: Republicans tread carefully after Jan. 6 subpoenas.

The Washington Post: Can the Jan. 6 committee get Republicans to talk using subpoenas?

© Associated Press / Shawn Thew | Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in 2021. 

  UKRAINE & CONGRESS

Bipartisan legislation that blitzed through the House this week to provide another $40 billion in weapons and aid to Ukraine ran aground in the Senate on Thursday, despite efforts by leaders of both parties to get the measure to the president’s desk for his signature this week (The Hill and The Washington Post).

The stalemate will delay the Senate’s passage of the Ukraine package until at least next week, and potentially beyond. 

The objections came from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who suggested that international aid for Ukraine comes at the expense of needs at home. Specifically, he sought language in the text of the pending measure to require a special inspector general to oversee the details of the new assistance. 

“We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy,” he said as senators and staff members drifted out of the Capitol as the blockade appeared immovable while Thursday wore on. “Americans are feeling the pain [from inflation] and Congress seems intent only on adding to that pain by shoveling more money out the door as fast as they can,” Paul added. 

The Hill: Finland announced on Thursday that it intends to apply for NATO membership, and Sweden is expected to follow. The United States and allies want to fast-track Finland’s application in what would be a remarkable diplomatic and security defeat for Russia. 

The Washington Post: Moscow raged against the Western alliance’s potential enlargement. Russian officials vowed “retaliatory steps” to “balance the situation.”

The Economist: Great Britain’s security discussions with Finland and Sweden shine a light on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who just returned this week from both countries, talking publicly about a new international era. “I think the fact that two traditionally proud, neutral countries, are moving as they so clearly are in the direction of a much clearer alignment is a sign of how fatally badly Vladimir Putin has miscalculated about Ukraine,” Johnson said during an Economist interview. “The invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin was a massive punctuation point in post-war history. It’s the end of the easy assumptions of the post-Cold-War period. We are now in a new era.”

Related Articles


The Hill: First lady Jill Biden’s recent trip to Ukraine threw a spotlight on the president’s decision not to visit there last month. Security is a consideration, the White House has said. (BTW, President Biden will travel to Asia this month.)

■ The Hill’s Niall Stanage, The Memo: Peace in Ukraine? Not anytime soon, experts say. 

The Hill: Five risks if Congress does not pass new COVID-19 funding.

The Associated Press: White House COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha said in an interview that he’s made a case to lawmakers for additional COVID-19 funding for weeks, calling it a “very pared down request” and “the bare minimum that we need to get through this fall and winter without large loss of life.”

The Boston Globe: Biden urges world leaders to add financial fire to the COVID-19 fight as Congress stalls aid.


LEADING THE DAY

  POLITICS

Former President Trump knows an iffy Republican candidate when he hears one. Pennsylvania Senate primary candidate Kathy Barnette has tweeted a collection of ideas that have Trump and others in the party out-and-out denouncing her chances in a general election (The Hill). 

Barnette for months was considered a nonfactor. But those days are far in the rearview, as she currently has Pennsylvania and national Republicans on edge, shooting to the top of the state’s GOP Senate primary race alongside Mehmet Oz and David McCormick.

In recent days, national Republicans have likened Barnette to the number of candidates (see: Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle and former Rep. Todd Akin) who emerged in primaries before Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) altered the plan to intervene in intraparty fights. 

Trump on Thursday issued a statement arguing that Barnette is incapable of winning in November and essentially described her as opposition researchers’ dream opponent. 

“Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the General Election against the Radical Left Democrats. She has many things in her past which have not been properly explained or vetted, but if she is able to do so, she will have a wonderful future in the Republican Party—and I will be behind her all the way,” the former president said in a statement. “Dr. Oz is the only one who will be able to easily defeat the Crazed, Lunatic Democrat in Pennsylvania. A vote for anyone else in the Primary is a vote against Victory in the Fall!”

 

© Associated Press / Matt Rourke | Kathy Barnette on Wednesday in Newtown, Pa.

In recent days, multiple outlets have reported on a trove of tweets and public statements Barnette has made over the past decade, including calls to ban Islam in the U.S., repeatedly criticizing former President Obama as a Muslim and a terrorist sympathizer, and saying that the “homosexual AGENDA” was after “domination!” 

State Republicans are struggling to react and are worrying that anything done at this point is too little, too late, one Pennsylvania GOP source told the Morning Report. 

“An absolute freakout. Everyone has lost their minds. … It’s rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic,” the source said. “People have seen this coming for months. We should be embarrassed that it took until this week to realize it.”

Gabby Orr, CNN: “Nervous about Oz’s prospects”: Trump and his allies worry about a Barnette victory in Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia Inquirer: The “knives are coming out” for Kathy Barnette as Republicans, and Trump, scramble to stop her.

Politico: GOP launches Operation Stop Barnette

Meanwhile, abortion politics kept up their steady pace on Thursday as McConnell offered up a defense of the court after the leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade emerged last week. Speaking to NPR, the GOP leader indicated that he wasn’t overly concerned about the impact of the potential overturning of the landmark 1973 ruling. 

“My guess is in terms of the impact on federal races, I think it’s probably going to be a wash,” McConnell said, adding that it will have a bigger role in gubernatorial and state legislative contests. 

The Associated Press: Fairfax County, Va., and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) spar over protests at justices’ homes.

The Washington Post: Justice Samuel Alito reluctant to discuss state of Supreme Court after Roe leak.

Finally, the Senate on Thursday confirmed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to a second four-year term in the role. The upper chamber voted 80-19 on his nomination as Powell and the Fed look to quell the highest inflation the country has experienced in four decades.

Powell is attempting to drive down inflation through a series of interest rate hikes that are expected to last through the year. As The Hill’s Sylvan Lane notes, the Fed has increased rates by a combined 0.75 percentage points in two meetings since March as it looks to find the middle ground between lowering inflation and avoiding a recession.

Of the 19 senators who voted against the Fed chair, a number are considered prime 2024 candidates if Biden and Trump do not run again, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.). Cotton and Rubio supported Powell in 2018 when he was first confirmed. 

The Hill: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) votes to confirm Powell for second term after opposing renomination.

The Associated Press: Trump-backed candidate in Washington state House race appears to stall.

The New York Times: Prosecutors pursue inquiry into Trump’s handling of classified material.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

  ADMINISTRATION

Biden spoke Thursday with manufacturers of infant formula amid a U.S. supply shortage that caught the White House flat-footed and has families scouring stores and the internet and reaching out to pediatricians and relatives in other states, in search of available products or safe substitutions.

Nationwide, about 40 percent of large retail stores are out of stock, up from 31 percent in mid-April, according to Datasembly, a data analytics firm. More than half of U.S. states are seeing out-of-stock rates between 40 percent and 50 percent, according to the firm, which collects data from 11,000 locations.

The Associated Press: Parents swap, sell baby formula as Biden focuses on a shortage.

The White House, working with the Food and Drug Administration, outlined steps the government is taking to try to alleviate the problems, including speeding up the manufacturing process, cracking down on price gouging and increasing baby formula supplies through additional imports (The Hill and Politico).

The New York Times explains the shortage in six easy slides.

The infant formula scarcity is experienced by many families as a critical infant health challenge, and yet another in a series of stressful situations American households are navigating, seemingly without quick remedies. Inflation — as in, higher prices for food, meat, gasoline, rent (just about everything) — is a big one. COVID-19 is another.

The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and Sylvan Lane report on how Biden got boxed in by record-setting U.S. inflation not seen since 1981.

Seven-in-10 Americans view inflation as a very big problem for the country, followed by the affordability of healthcare (55 percent) and violent crime (54 percent), according to the a Pew Research Center report released on Thursday: “The public views inflation as the top problem facing the United States – and no other concern comes close.”


📝 Introducing NotedDC, The Hill’s curated commentary on the beat of the Beltway. Click here to subscribe to our latest newsletter


OPINION

■  Republicans need a new leader. They’re looking to Florida, by Rich Lowry, guest essayist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3FJW2oU

■  A message from Black male Florida lawmakers: Black men must step up on abortion rights, by Shevrin Jones, Kevin Chambliss, Daryl Campbell and Travaris McCurdy, opinion contributors, Miami Herald.

WHERE AND WHEN

👀 It’s Friday the 13th. What could go wrong?

The House meets at 9 a.m.

The Senate convenes Monday at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to a vote on the Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act 2022.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will welcome King Abdullah II of Jordan and Crown Prince Hussein to the White House at 10:45 a.m. The president at 2:30 p.m. will meet with local elected officials, chiefs of police and others to discuss American Rescue Plan funding for community policing and public safety programs and give remarks. Biden at 3:30 p.m. will participate in the special summit among leaders of the U.S. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held at the State Department. The president will depart the White House at 6 p.m. for Delaware.

Vice President Harris will host a working lunch at the State Department with the leaders of ASEAN countries at 11:30 a.m. and discuss maritime security and global health. Harris will host a meeting at 1:30 p.m. with ASEAN leaders, Cabinet members and other administration officials to discuss climate action, clean energy and sustainable infrastructure, according to her schedule.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken helps host the U.S.-ASEAN special summit today. He will travel Saturday through Monday to Germany and France to attend the informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin and join the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council meeting in Paris.

The White House daily briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m. Today is press secretary Jen Psaki’s final day in her role in the West Wing before venturing to on-air broadcasting with MSNBC. Her deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre, takes the con.


🖥  Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv, on YouTube and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.


ELSEWHERE  

  CORONAVIRUS

In Washington, a weekend projection by the White House coronavirus coordinator during a TV interview that the U.S. could see 100 million new cases of COVID-19 in the fall and winter if Congress does not approve more funding for the pandemic is under scrutiny. The White House as of Thursday had not released its data to support the projection, which took some administration officials by surprise (CNN).

Near the nation’s capital, the Prince George’s County Health Department on Thursday asked local residents ages 2 and older to voluntarily wear masks inside public places because of increasing COVID-19 infections (WUSA9).

North Korea on Friday confirmed six people died from COVID-19 after suffering a fever with one testing positive for omicron, according to state media. Tens of thousands more in the country are experiencing fever symptoms and 187,000 people with a fever were being “isolated and treated.” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has visited a healthcare center and “learned about the nationwide spread of COVID-19,” according to state media. It has been widely believed in the West that COVID-19 has been circulating in North Korea for some time. On Friday, the official KCNA news agency reported that the outbreak extended beyond Pyongyang. “A fever whose cause couldn’t be identified spread explosively nationwide from late April,” KCNA stated. North Korea has poor health care, food shortages and 25 million people are vulnerable in the absence of a COVID-19 vaccination program (BBC).

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 999,128. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 272, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SPACE

Light and matter cannot escape from black holes, making images hard to capture. So the first colorized image of the Milky Way’s relatively placid black hole, first discovered in the 1990s, is considered a triumph by the consortium of astronomers working with the Event Horizon Telescope, a collection of eight synchronized radio telescopes around the world. The image released on Thursday shows space far, far away: Earth is about 27,000 light years from the Milky Way’s black hole. A light year is 5.9 trillion miles (The Associated Press and National Geographic). 

© Associated Press / Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration | Black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

SPORTS

Rich Strike, the longshot winner of last weekend’s Kentucky Derby, will not be making the customary trip to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes and will, therefore, forgo a chance at nabbing the Triple Crown. The horse’s owners on Thursday said that while taking a stab at the Triple Crown, last completed in 2017 by Justify, is tempting, they will stick to the plan and run the late-closing horse at the Belmont Stakes. Part of the calculus is that the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore is 1/16th shorter than Churchill Downs, almost exactly the part of the track where Rich Strike made his last gallop for glory. Belmont Park, by contrast, is a 1 ½ mile course, the longest of the three race tracks (ESPN). 

THE CLOSER

© Associated Press / Jamie Martin | Montgomery, Ala., store in 2006.

And finally … 👏👏👏  Morning Report Quiz champions, unite! We were inspired by what’s new and now in technology innovations and posed a few trivia questions from recent headlines.

Bravo to savvy news consumers (and Googlers) who aced this week’s puzzle: Pam Manges, Harry Strulovici, Terry Pflaumer, Stan Wasser, Patrick Kavanagh, Lori Benso, Robert Bradley, Jaina Mehta and Steve James. 

Apple announced it will stop production of the most recent iPod model it sells because

consumers now get their handheld music elsewhere, such as on iPhones (CNN).

China says that within two years, it will build an entire gigantic dam and a hydropower plant on the Yellow River using 3D printing, AI, robots, automation and driverless vehicles, which made “all of the above” the answer we were looking for (Popular Mechanics and South China Morning Post).

Consumers in a survey a few weeks ago said they oppose U.S. car manufacturers’ plans to reap billions of dollars in revenues from software subscription fees for new-vehicle services and features (such as à la carte remote start, heated seats, etc.) (Yahoo News).

Industry publication Glossy reports that some fashion companies have turned to robotics and 3D to specialize in manufacturing custom fit jeans.


Stay Engaged

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Tags Adam Kinzinger Bennie Thompson Economy house inflation Jan. 6 Jan. 6 House committee Kevin McCarthy Morning Report Rand Paul Subpoenas

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