Press: Newt says lock ’em up – for doing their job!
Given their inability to come to any agreement on voting rights or the Build Back Better bill, members of Congress might as well go home and tend their gardens. Nobody’s getting anything done on Capitol Hill today. With one big exception: the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.
Which must be making Donald Trump nervous. On Sunday, he sent favorite attack dog Newt Gingrich out to brand committee members a “lynch mob” and warn them to stop picking on Donald Trump – or else! Predicting a Republican takeover of the House in November, Gingrich told “Sunday Morning Futures”: “I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all going to come crashing down, and the wolves are going to find out that they’re now sheep. And they’re the ones who are, in fact, going to, I think, face a real risk of jail for the kind of laws they’re breaking.”
You must admit, even for a political hack like Gingrich, that is over-the-top, irresponsible rhetoric. What laws are committee members breaking? Gingrich doesn’t, and can’t, say. Go to jail for what? Doing their jobs? And this warning, I remind you, comes from a former Speaker of the House.
Before rushing onto Fox and again making a fool of himself, Gingrich should have taken time to reveal the facts: both about the events of Jan. 6 and his own personal history. The actual “lynch mob” assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6, erected a scaffold and chanted “Hang Mike Pence.” To date, 753 people have been charged with crimes for destroying federal property and assaulting federal law enforcement officers. Of whom 175 have pleaded guilty. Which means Jan. 6 was not a walk in the park. It was treason, an armed insurrection against the United States government.
For Congress NOT to investigate how it happened and who was responsible would be a gross dereliction of duty. And surely Gingrich must know that the only reason there’s not a full-scale 9/11-type bipartisan commission investigating Jan. 6 – the only reason the Select Committee exists – is because GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), deathly afraid of doing anything to upset Donald Trump, rejected its formation.
It’s tempting to dismiss Gingrich’s jail-time threat as the meaningless rant of a disgraced, has-been politician who was forced to resign as Speaker 25 years ago because of ethics problems. But that would be a mistake. Even more than Donald Trump, Gingrich is responsible for the hostility and divisiveness of American politics today. Several Congress members have told me that it was Gingrich, not Trump, who changed Congress from a place where members of both parties worked together to solve problems into a pit of open warfare. In 1990, Gingrich even published a list of words – like “traitor, sick, incompetent, radical, shallow” – that Republicans should use when talking about Democrats.
But now Gingrich is back, resurrected by both Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy to develop the GOP’s message for the 2022 midterms. And you thought politics couldn’t get any more nasty? With Newt in charge, it will.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”