At this point we all knew it was coming, and coming soon. But now that it’s happened, it’s nonetheless striking. The January 6th Committee has sent a letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, spelling out the numerous ways in which he’s a material witness and a potential suspect the January 6th insurrection, and demanding his cooperation. In response McCarthy has made the predictable yet still stunning move of announcing that he won’t cooperate.
Let’s be clear here. Earlier this week Steny Hoyer, the second highest ranking House Democrat, emphatically announced that he believes the January 6th Committee should make criminal contempt referrals against members of Congress who refuse to cooperate. Hoyer isn’t on the committee, but he outranks every Democrat on the committee, and he wouldn’t have said this unless Speaker Nancy Pelosi was also on board. This means House Democratic leadership has instructed the committee to make criminal referrals against non-cooperating House Republicans. Given the timing, it’s now pretty clear that Hoyer was specifically including Kevin McCarthy when he made his announcement.
In other words, unless McCarthy changes his mind and cooperates, the committee will now subpoena him and then criminally refer him. Given that the Department of Justice has already established precedent in this matter by indicting and arresting Steve Bannon in response to his contempt referral, it’s now overwhelmingly likely that Kevin McCarthy will end up indicted and arrested and stand criminal trial.
Of course the “I’ll believe it when I see it” and “it’ll never happen no matter what” types are surely already lining up to insist that Kevin McCarthy will somehow just magically get away with it all. But these are the same folks who were certain that the DOJ would never indict Steve Bannon for criminal contempt. These types always end up being proven wrong in the end, with no loss of enthusiasm.
The reality is that Kevin McCarthy is now on a clear path to face criminal charges, and end up standing criminal trial at perhaps right around the time the 2022 midterms are taking place. We are now on a stunning path forward. In fact this is now set to end so extraordinarily poorly for McCarthy, we’re left to wonder if he might end up changing his mind and cooperating. Then again he is, objectively speaking, an idiot.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report