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How This Impeachment Mattered – POLITICO

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How This Impeachment Mattered - POLITICO

It will permanently shape Trump’s reputation, said historians—as well as the reputations of the individual senators who voted to acquit. Others warned of a backlash against Democrats, or a violent anti-government movement emboldened by Trump being let off the hook. Some were more optimistic about its importance: The historian Mary Frances Berry, for instance, said Trump’s two-time acquittal would keep impeachment “rare and principled.” And quite possibly the final outcome is entirely outside the hands of Congress, or Washington: Geoffrey Kabaservice, the historian of conservative politics, thinks the final meaning depends less on what happened this week and more on the course American voters finally choose.

Their full responses are below.

‘The brilliant impeachment presentation will indelibly shape Trump’s image’

Ron Chernow is the author of Alexander Hamilton (2004) and several other books. He won the Pulitzer Prize in biography in 2011 for his biography of George Washington, Washington: A Life.

Perhaps too much attention was paid to whether House impeachment managers would persuade Republican senators to join them. Since it was always a foregone conclusion that those senators would rush to acquit, why did Democrats bother with this elaborate exercise? The answer is simple: The House managers addressed the court of public opinion and the court of history as well as the Senate. The disgraceful sacking of the Capitol was, like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, a seminal day in American history and, like them, it can be easily distorted in the future, spawning a thousand conspiracy theories. The House managers laid down an ironclad narrative, well documented and crisply reasoned, that will forever guide discussion of this event and prevent later, self-serving distortions of what happened. They worked to engrave the story in our national memory.

The single most important decision made by Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and his colleagues was to broaden their indictment from the events of January 6, narrowly cast, and convert it into an indictment of the whole Donald Trump presidency. The storming of the Capitol culminated years of Trump fomenting violence at his rallies and scoffing at democratic procedures in the White House. The House managers crafted a coherent vision of a president whose lawless, bullying style was inevitably aped by his followers and led straight to January 6. Whether he runs for office again or not, the brilliant impeachment presentation will shape indelibly Trump’s image for years to come.

‘The lack of a conviction for Trump sends a chilling message’

Keisha N. Blain is an associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, a 2020-21 Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, and author of Set the World on Fire and Until I Am Free.

The failure to convict former President Donald Trump is unfortunate but not surprising. In effect, it reveals that violence and white supremacy will continue to shape American politics—as they have since the nation’s founding. The invasion of the Capitol on January 6 connects to a long history of white supremacist violence and terror. Throughout the nation’s history, white people have often used violence and intimidation to retain power—the list is long and includes white militias in the Antebellum South, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War and the Wilmington massacre of 1898. The insurrection of January 6 is only the most recent iteration of white supremacist violence cloaked under the guise of “political dissent.” The presence of racist symbols such as the Confederate flag and the noose underscore this point.

The Senate’s failure to hold Trump accountable—and in so doing, their failure to prevent him from running for office again—will have lasting, terrible consequences. The lack of a conviction for Trump sends a chilling message: Future presidents will face no accountability for inciting violence during and after an election. This outcome has now set a new and dangerous precedent, and aspiring Republican presidential candidates will likely attempt to follow in Trump’s footsteps.

‘We were left with a show trial’

Josh Blackman is a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, and the author of An Introduction to Constitutional Law: 100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should Know.

The impeachment largely didn’t matter to history. We were left with a show trial, which amounted to little more than political theater.

This proceeding could have made a definitive case that Donald Trump incited an insurrection. And I think that evidence could have shown conviction was warranted—especially concerning the official actions Trump took before and after the speech he made on January 6, the same day as the Capitol riot.

But this impeachment was rushed through, which ultimately made it ineffectual. The House approved a single article of impeachment one week after the incursion without developing any evidentiary record. The House did not hold any hearings, accept any sworn statements, subpoena former administration officials or request official documents. At the time, haste was understandable. The House insisted that Trump posed an existential threat, and he had to be removed immediately. But once January 20 passed, that existential threat disappeared.

Perhaps Trump may seek some future office in two or four years. But until then, there was no need to jam through a one-week hearing without any fact finding or oversight. After January 6, the House could have spent some time collecting testimony, documents and other evidence to build a case. But the House chose not to. Instead, it sent its managers to try Trump armed with newspaper clippings, surveillance footage, presidential tweets and Parler posts.

It’s no wonder the managers couldn’t prove Trump intended to incite an insurrection. They had no actual evidence that proved Trump’s state of mind. When the managers tried to introduce a second-hand account of Trump’s intent based on a conversation he had with Senator Mike Lee of Utah, Lee claimed it was inaccurate—and the managers ultimately had to withdraw the evidence. Still, the House managers could have called witnesses to build a record during the Senate trial, and even threatened to do so on Saturday. But they didn’t.

It seems the focus now will turn to President Biden’s agenda. So be it. Priorities matter.

‘An act of rage and vengeance rather than sober deliberation.’

Ken Blackwell is senior fellow for human rights and constitutional governance at the Family Research Council. He has served as mayor of Cincinnati, secretary of state and treasurer for Ohio, and undersecretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among other offices.

This impeachment matters, but not in the ways many people would think. First, rushing through an impeachment with no due process, no witnesses, no hearings and no evidence of the crime alleged—incitement, which would require Donald Trump’s directly calling for physical violence, among other elements—will damage the impeachment process.

Second, this marks a new low in American politics, an act of rage and vengeance rather than sober deliberation.

Third, it illustrates how deeply cynical hypocrisy has become, in that Democrats cheered and laughed along with much more violent language coming from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Fourth, it shows that the cancel culture is infecting even our constitutional framework. And finally, the headline will be “Trump Acquitted”—which means that while Democrats might hate Donald Trump, he did not commit an impeachable offense.

‘Impeachment will almost inevitably produce a backlash’

Douglas E. Schoen is a Democratic pollster and strategist. He is the author of The Political Fix: Changing the Game of American Democracy, From the Grass Roots to the White House.

The second impeachment of Donald Trump has the potential to lead to a number of unintended, adverse consequences. Though Trump deserves to be held accountable for his behavior and speech on January 6th—and I support impeachment—the political impact of the Democrats doing so could well be deleterious to Democratic chances in 2022, and will likely carry other long-term consequences.

First, we can expect that the impeachment trial will further polarize an already divided electorate. To that end, voters are relatively split on the question of whether Trump should be convicted. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found that 50 percent of Americans said the Senate should convict Trump, while 45 percent said they should acquit. To be sure, the first midterm for a presidential administration is always a difficult one for the incumbent party. Thus, coming out of the box initially with impeachment will make it more difficult rather than less difficult for Democrats to court Republican voters in 2022, and it will certainly make bipartisan cooperation in the legislature more challenging to achieve over the next few years.

In the long term, impeachment will almost inevitably produce a backlash that will continue long after the process is completed. In turn, the process will strengthen Trump’s standing with his already loyal base, and will further alienate these voters from the political mainstream, given that a number of more moderate Republicans have voiced their support for the process. Furthermore, in the long term, this second impeachment may also facilitate a greater likelihood that Republicans use impeachment against Democratic presidents, making it a more common tool, and less of an extraordinary option to express political opposition.

‘Trump was not exonerated’

Allan J. Lichtman is a history professor and author of The Case for Impeachment.

The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump has three distinct audiences: the senators, the American people and the incoming Attorney General Merrick Garland. The first audience was never the most important. The impeachment managers realized that no matter how powerful and compelling their case, most Republican senators had closed minds and would put party and personal political advantage above loyalty to country. Nonetheless, it is notable that for the first time in history, a bipartisan majority of both parties voted to convict an American president, even if the vote fell short of the two-thirds needed for conviction. Trump was not exonerated.

The managers pitched their presentation to the American people. If, as appears certain, Trump emerges diminished in the eyes of most Americans, his political career is over in practice, even if not formally in law. Already, a poll taken on the eve of the trial found that 53 percent of respondents opposed the idea of Trump running again, compared to just 37 percent who said they would support it. Trump also has much to deal with between now and 2024. His businesses, brand and approval ratings are tanking. He has $400+ million in loans coming due and faces an IRS audit. He has lost his Twitter account. He is under criminal investigation by district attorneys in New York and Georgia. He faces civil suits, including one by journalist E. Jean Carroll who claims that Trump raped her in the 1990s and that she has DNA evidence.

Trump’s attorney Bruce Castor suggested, astonishingly, that the remedy for Trump’s alleged incitement is not impeachment, but prosecution. “After he’s out of office, you go and arrest him,” Castor said. “There is no opportunity where the president of the United States can run rampant in January at the end of his term and go away scot-free.” Garland will have before him a consequential decision about whether to take up Castor’s challenge and indict the former president on incitement or possible conspiracy charges. He will have to carefully weigh the strength of a potential criminal case against the distraction and uproar that would follow from the charging of a former president.

‘Congress must immediately pass legislation to shore up accountability’

Kimberly Wehle is a professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

The Democrats had no choice but to pursue impeachment to properly condemn and hold leaders accountable for the horrors of January 6. It would have been much, much worse to walk away as if nothing happened. But there is now no question that the six references to impeachment in the Constitution—a whopping number that underscores how important the Framers considered this lever of accountability—are not going to produce real consequences absent a voting populace that demands fidelity to the rule of law from its lawmakers. For that, we need civic education and moral responsibility at all levels of our social order.

We also need new laws. What these two failed impeachments have shown is that Congress must immediately pass clarifying legislation to shore up accountability for the office of the presidency. Trump smashed a range of norms over the past four years, with complicity from Congress. America dodged a bullet to the heart of democracy on November 4, and again on January 6, but we are far from out of the woods. We are already seeing voter suppression efforts raging back across the country on the false myth that voter fraud justifies politicians passing laws to keep people from being able to exercise their constitutional right to vote. That is the sad legacy of Trump, and it’s the regular American—not the politicians in Washington—who will pay the price with the right to self-governance.

‘Impeachment has a chance of remaining rare and principled’

Mary Frances Berry is professor of American social thought, history and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

The two Donald Trump impeachments portray what appears to be a running battle between the congressional and executive branches. Unable to find ways to enact legislation to stop Trump’s policies, the House used its impeachment power to hobble the administration. Impeachment substituted for congressional action and helped to generate media coverage undermining Trump’s initiatives.

The second impeachment of Trump matters not just because we may be relieved of focusing on Trump. It also makes it unlikely that another president will be impeached after he has already left office and can no longer undermine government and policy, which the impeachment provisions served to prevent. Impeachment then has a chance of remaining rare and principled when it seems absolutely necessary to remove a president or other official from power, and not just another political exercise.

‘He exposed the fragility of the norms that undergird our political life.’

Geoffrey Kabaservice is the director of political studies at the Niskanen Center in Washington, DC as well as the author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party.

Donald Trump’s second impeachment may, in the short term, seem to have had little practical effect, since no more than a handful of Senate Republicans voted to convict. Trump’s supporters predictably will dismiss the entire proceedings as a partisan circus and witch hunt. But the case that Trump did in fact incite and inflame the mob he had assembled, and that he bears principal responsibility for the desecration of American democracy that occurred on January 6, carries much greater moral and emotional resonance than any of his defenders’ excuses. Over time, the reputational stain of the second impeachment will deepen Trump’s exclusion from mainstream American politics. He will not be included in any of the symbolic or substantive or redemptive activities in which past ex-presidents (even Richard Nixon) participated. Growing numbers of Americans will view his entire presidency as a historical aberration.

That will be an excessively self-flattering verdict. Trump may not have known much about American history, but he authentically channeled many of the country’s darker impulses into his populism. These included not only McCarthyism’s conspiracy-minded hatred of elites as well as the isolationism and nativism of the America First Committee, but even reached back to the anti-government animus of the 18th-century Shays’ and Whiskey Rebellions. He exposed the fragility of the norms that undergird our political life (most derived from the worldview of long-dead gentlemanly elites) and the ricketiness of our obsolete constitutional-political structures. He also accelerated the decline of the country’s international power and prestige. The significance of Trump’s second impeachment ultimately will be determined by the future trajectory of the country, and whether we collectively choose the division and dysfunction that Trump personified or the pragmatism and progress that characterized much of what once was called the American Century.

‘This acquittal sends three dangerous messages to future presidents’

Catherine J. Ross is professor of law and Fred C. Stevenson research professor at the George Washington University Law School. She is also the author of the forthcoming A Right to Lie? Presidents, Other Liars, and the First Amendment, expected in 2021.

This acquittal sends at least three dangerous messages to future presidents. First, you can with impunity use every weapon in a relentless effort to overturn the results of a free and fair election. Some of these weapons are more legitimate, such as recounts and lawsuits, than others, such as pressuring state officials, ignoring 62 losses in court and seeking intervention by government officials. The acquittal also shows that a president can incite a violent, armed mob to overtake and ransack the Capitol in order to cut short the constitutionally mandated vote certification without accountability. And third, it is now almost impossible to imagine a presidential offense that would lead to conviction in the Senate.

The Supreme Court explained in Nixon v. Fitzgerald that congressional oversight backed by the “threat of impeachment” is the sole means the Constitution provides to “deter presidential abuses of office.” Because they had the aftermath of Watergate in mind—where Republican leaders prevailed on President Richard Nixon to resign—the justices, like the Founders, did not envision the hyper-partisanship that has undermined the impeachment process. For all practical purposes, the majority of Republican senators have vitiated the impeachment, conviction and removal mechanism, throwing our government of co-equal branches completely out of balance. Disabling the fail-safe remedy the Founders bequeathed to us puts the country at grave risk.

‘The exoneration of Trump will inevitably embolden those and their ilk who stormed the Capitol’

Alan I. Baron is former special impeachment counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Donald Trump was not convicted as a result of his unprecedented second impeachment, but neither was he exonerated. The shameless behavior of this grotesque narcissist is now an indelible part of our country’s history. That is no small achievement by the House impeachment managers who did a superb job presenting the facts.

A second outcome of these proceedings was for all to see, for all times, the craven abdication by Republican senators who voted “not guilty” when called upon to judge Trump’s role in the insurrection. For them to hide behind an absurd interpretation of the Constitution that a former president can’t be impeached, rejected by constitutional scholars, was a cynical repudiation of their oath. If Diogenes, holding his lamp, were to seek an honest person in that group, the oil would be consumed before he succeeded.

Finally, the exoneration of Trump will inevitably embolden those and their ilk who stormed the Capitol. They are the point of the spear. It remains to be seen whether American democracy gets the shaft.

‘The fact that these impeachments happened is vitally important’

Beth Myers is principal at Buckminster Strategies, a public affairs and campaign consulting firm. She served as chief of staff to former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, and as campaign manager and senior advisor of Romney’s presidential campaigns.

The first impeachment trial of Donald Trump was about corrupting an election; the second about the attempt to thwart the peaceful transfer of power after an election. The fact that these impeachments happened is vitally important: Alleged crimes by a president in violation of the most fundamental acts necessary for a functioning American democracy can never be ignored. Poet Amanda Gorman brought that home in her Inauguration Day 2021 poem: “History has its eyes on us.”

The Senate failed to convict in either trial—despite the overwhelming evidence presented by the House impeachment managers in the second trial. But the actions of Trump, the cases made by his accusers and defenders, and the votes taken under oath by the senators to convict or acquit, are now a record for consideration by future historians. And that matters very much.

‘Trump owns the GOP still’

Rick Wilson is a Republican political strategist, media consultant and author of Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever.

The impeachment of Donald J. Trump, Part 2, ended with exoneration by a craven Senate GOP. Trump owns the GOP still, and even the party members who think he’s never going to run again. A Senate staffer told me, “If this was a secret vote it would be 80-20,” and they were right. Does it matter to Trump or the GOP? Of course not.

It does matter to history. It shows that the country lacks a functioning political party that can stand up against a man who attempted to subvert an election through violence. It’s a sad coda for a grim era.

‘Every senator who voted to acquit will be stained in history’

Norman Ornstein is an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Ten House Republicans, including a party leader, voted to impeach, and this impeachment trial will be the most bipartisan in American history. It is a hugely important step, even with acquittal. This impeachment and trial highlight the grossest and gravest abuse of power by a president in all of American history. And the process, with the House managers methodically and powerfully laying out the long history of Donald Trump lying about the election, exulting in violence, inciting Proud Boys and others, targeting his own vice president and trying to subvert the outcome of a free and fair election, will be a part of history. These examples were there for tens of millions of Americans to see what happened, and to realize we came within an eyelash of a violent coup that could easily have resulted in the assassination of our top national political leaders.

Trump is stained in history, even if acquitted. And every senator who votes to acquit will also be stained in history. And other vehicles, including applying the 14th Amendment to disqualify Trump from future office and censure, remain. As do criminal charges. The failure to move forward with this process would have been dereliction of duty by Congress.

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Your All-Purpose Wonk’s Guide to Why D.C. Statehood Is So Hard

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D.C. Guy going into the cavern

But as the New York Times reported Thursday, the Biden White House is now looking at S. 51 much as a parent, working to put a holiday toy together, who discovers that there are missing nuts, screws that don’t fit the holes and pieces of the gift that simply do no align with each other.

If you want to know why statehood for the District of Columbia isn’t going to happen anytime soon, think of an old children’s board game called “Chutes and Ladders”—except the board is only chutes. Because of its peculiar status, turning D.C. into a state is technically much harder than admitting the previous 37—and each problem solved presents a new obstacle, either legal or political.

What do those obstacles look like? To understand, follow me down the path to a brick wall.

The federal district was established in 1790 in accordance with the constitutional imperative that the seat of the federal government be under the control of the Congress, rather than any other entity. (It’s right there in Article I, Section 8.) The reason, as James Madison explained in Federalist 43, was that the federal government had to be independent of any one state’s supervision. The district—to be no more than 10 square miles—was situated on its spot on the Potomac River as a compromise between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, with George Washington himself surveying the territory.

Over the years, D.C. has been given dollops of political power in the form of its own mayor and City Council. Most significantly, in 1961, the ratification of the 23rd Amendment granted the district votes in the Electoral College, equal to the number accorded the least populous state. But the idea of simply turning the District of Columbia into a state by statute, the way every other new state joined, has often been seen as a constitutional impossibility. Attorneys general ranging ideologically from Robert F. Kennedy to Ed Meese have weighed in on the same side of this argument: Because the federal district was created by the Constitution, only an amendment to the Constitution could turn it into a state; and only an amendment could grant D.C. votes in the House and Senate. (That latter idea was proposed in 1978 but fell short of state ratification.)

“Aha!” proponents said. “We’ve figured out how to remove this obstacle.” The idea, which seems to have emerged around 1980, was to create a new “federal enclave” by carving out a tiny portion of the city—Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, the National Mall, the White House—to remain as the constitutional capital. There have long been arguments to make the federal district smaller, dating as far back as 1803, through “retrocession,” the returning of parts of Washington to Virginia (which happened in 1847) and to Maryland (which Sen. Mitt Romney is currently proposing as an alternative to statehood). But rather than be absorbed by a neighboring state, the rest of D.C., the residential and commercial swaths of a big and vibrant city, would become a new state, renamed “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth,” keeping its acronym but replacing the name of a European explorer with that of a famed abolitionist whose house still sits within the city limits.

That’s what the House of Representative approved on a party-line vote last month.

As this nifty solution was moving through the House, a number of people began to notice a pesky complication. The 23rd Amendment says “the district constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint” presidential electors in a manner requiring ultimate congressional approval. Under the statehood bill just passed, the new city of “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth” would get three electors, just like the other low-population states—but according to the 23rd Amendment, that tiny strip of land designated as the new “federal district” would also have three electoral votes. And depending on how specifically the lines of this remnant are drawn, it’s possible that the only residents of that zone would be the First Family. By tradition, the presidential family votes back home, so these electors would either be chosen personally by the president, or perhaps the homeless people claiming this zone as their residence, or perhaps by opportunistic partisans camping on the mall simply to pull the electors one way or the other.

Depending how the lines were drawn, it’s possible that a few current Washingtonians would find themselves living in this new district, in which case three electors would be chosen by the residents of a handful of apartment buildings. But the essential point is that these electoral votes would be cast by more or less nobody. It would turn the federal district into a modern-day equivalent of the old “rotten boroughs” of British Parliamentary infamy, with so few voters that the seat was effectively filled at the pleasure of the local lord.

For Democrats who have long fumed at the way the Constitution gives outsize power to smaller states, this would be the ultimate irony: They’d be creating the single most outrageous case in the country. It’s one thing to point out that Wyoming has one elector for every 150,000 voters, while California has one for every 540,000. But the idea that three people, or 20, or a few hundred, would control three electoral votes is absurd.

It also raises one of the many political friction points around D.C. statehood. Small-state Republicans already hate the idea of giving any electoral power to such a Democratic-leaning city. Would you like to be, say, Montana Sen. Jon Tester, facing a difficult reelection, defending a vote that would grant a new state of Washington, Douglas Commonwealth, plus the new sliver of a federal district a total of six electoral votes—twice the number of his own state?

“No problem!” say proponents like Eleanor Holmes Norton, who serves as D.C.’s nonvoting representative in the House. All you need to do is repeal the 23rd Amendment; state legislatures will be eager to eliminate those three (likely Democratic) electoral votes. A provision in the statehood bill includes “fast-tracking” repeal.

Let’s come back to planet Earth. Is it likely that three-fourths of the state legislatures—more than half of which are controlled by Republicans—would be eager to ease the way to statehood for the District of Columbia, with its virtually automatic two new Democratic senators? Or would Republicans be more likely to point to the 23rd Amendment as a powerful case against moving forward on the House-passed bill? (It’s a lot better argument than the spurious notions that D.C. can’t be a state because it doesn’t have farms or factories.)

As for the ideas floating around the White House—automatically delivering the new seat of government’s three votes to the national popular vote winner, or to the Electoral College winner—the courts might have something to say about constitutionally stripping even a handful of voters of the power to direct their electoral votes to the candidate of their choice.

Indeed, when I asked one strong advocates of statehood if there were serious constitutional roadblocks, he said, “Yes—but don’t tell anybody!”

It’s too late for that, of course. People know. And what it looks like is that any “solution” to D.C. statehood, like other progressive wishes (passing voting rights by killing the filibuster) requires the same kind of solution that economists use to fix a leak: “First, assume a wrench.”

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‘I have reassessed’: Former Pentagon official now says Trump may not have incited riot

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‘I have reassessed’: Former Pentagon official now says Trump may not have incited riot

Miller echoed the same message.

“I had all the authority I needed, and I knew what had to happen,” the former defense official said, adding that Trump had given him that authority in the days before the riot.

“I think that the lack of direct communication from President Trump speaks volumes,” Maloney said.

Sparks flew between Democrats on the panel and the Trump appointees as lawmakers accused Miller of changing his account to sound more favorable to Trump and faulted Rosen for refusing to discuss his conversations with the president, as well as for dramatic events at the Justice Department in the days leading up to the riot.

While Miller said in a media interview and in his prepared statement for Wednesday’s hearing that Trump encouraged the protesters on Jan. 6, he took a different tack in his live testimony.

“I think now I would say that is not the unitary factor at all…I have reassessed,” Miller said. “It seems clear there was an organized assault element in place that was going to assault regardless of what the president said.”

Miller also went further than Rosen, seemingly defending Trump by insisting that the former president fulfilled his constitutional duties in connection with the storming of the Capitol, which took place as Congress was scheduled to certify the electoral vote.

When asked to assess whether heated political rhetoric was to blame for the riot, Miller painted in very broad strokes and didn’t point a finger at Trump. “I think the entire entertainment, media, political complex is culpable in creating this environment that is just intolerable and needs to change,” the former defense chief said.

When Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) said Miller had reversed himself, Miller replied: “Absolutely not. That’s ridiculous.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Lynch shot back.

“Thank you for your thoughts,” Miller responded.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) also lambasted Miller over his claims that he is proud of “every decision” he made on Jan. 6.

“I have never been more offended on this committee by a witness statement than yours. You were more concerned about defending your own reputation and justifying your own actions than the sanctity of this Capitol and the sanctity of our democracy,” Khanna said.

When Miller began his answer by praising the service of the troops at the Capitol, Khanna cut him off: “Your pugnacious style is not going to override the democratic process. Learn to respect it.”

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) seemed angry about Miller‘s stance.

“It’s almost like the military saying, ‘Sure, we lost the battle, but we carried out our plan perfectly,’“ Quigley said. “I had colleagues saying, when does the f-ing cavalry get here? You lost and you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to own up to your part of the responsibility.“

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) suggested Miller was shifting his position to curry favor with Trump. “Maybe the wrath of Donald Trump came down upon you,” she said. “That is disgusting.“

Rosen, who has been publicly silent since Jan. 6 except for a couple of written statements and a prerecorded Justice Department video released a week after the riot, said Justice officials he did not name had instructed him not to speak about his conversations with Trump.

“I cannot tell you, consistent with my obligations today, about private conversations with the president one way or another,” Rosen said in response to a question from Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) about whether Trump had pressed him to take action on election fraud claims.

“We had an unprecedented insurrection that led to seven deaths. Five here and two suicides, and you are saying this is a privileged communication?” Connolly replied. “I think the American people are entitled to answer, Mr. Rosen.”

Rosen suggested he might relay his conversations with Trump if he had permission to do so. A Justice Department spokesperson had no immediate comment on what instructions the agency gave to Rosen, who was deputy attorney general in the last two years of the Trump administration and became acting head of the department when Attorney General Bill Barr resigned on Dec. 24, 2020.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) pressed Rosen on whether Black protesters would’ve been treated similarly by law enforcement as the predominantly white crowd that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6

“I think our preparation and our responses would’ve been the same,” Rosen said.

“I’m going to have to disagree with you,” declared Bush, who was a Black Lives Matter organizer before winning election to the House last year. “The contrast is stark.”

The lawmakers who led off questioning for Republicans at the hearing seemed intent on minimizing the gravity of the events at the Capitol. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) argued that the shooting of protester Ashli Babbitt as she sought to breach a lobby outside the House chamber was unwarranted.

“Who executed Ashli Babbitt?” Gosar asked. “The truth is being censored and covered up. As a result, the DOJ is harassing peaceful patriots across the country.”

Gosar argued that the massive Justice Department effort to prosecute those who breached the Capitol and fought with police amounted to overkill aimed at persecuting “Trump voters.”

“The FBI is fishing through the homes of veterans and citizens with no criminal record and restricting the liberties of individuals that have never been accused of a crime,” Gosar said. “The government even enlisted Americans to turn in their own neighbors.”

Gosar also suggested that none of the protesters who entered the Capitol had a weapon. Prosecutors have claimed that firearms were brought into the Capitol, but they have not said that guns were actually seized in the building.

Video of the riot shows some who battled with police wore trademark Trump campaign Make America Great Again caps and waved huge pro-Trump flags. However, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) disputed press reports that those who sought to breach the Capitol were backers of Trump.

“I don’t know who did the poll to say they were Trump supporters,” Norman said.

Several Democrats tried to rebut the Republican stance by citing then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pointed rebuke of Trump in January for fueling the attack on the Capitol.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said Trump’s culpability for the assault was indisputable.

“He pointed them like a loaded pistol at the capitol. Now, we’re getting this outrageous Orwellian revisionist history,” Raskin said.

Despite the sharp criticism Miller took from Democrats, he did seem to break with Republicans seeking to minimize the events of Jan. 6. “I agree it was an act of terrorism,” he said.

Lara Seligman contributed to this report.

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Dozens killed in Mideast conflict that recalls 2014 Gaza war

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Dozens killed in Mideast conflict that recalls 2014 Gaza war

Palls of gray smoke rose in Gaza, as Israeli airstrikes struck apartment towers and blasted multiple Hamas security installations. In Israel, hundreds of rockets fired by Gaza’s Hamas rulers and other militants at times overwhelmed missile defenses and sent air-raid sirens and explosions echoing across Tel Aviv, Israel’s biggest metropolitan area, and other cities.

The death toll in Gaza rose to 53 Palestinians, including 14 children and three women, according to the Health Ministry. At least 320 have been wounded, including 86 children and 39 women. Seven have been killed on the Israeli side by rocket fire, including the first death of an Israeli soldier in this round of conflict. The other deaths have been civilians, including three women and two children, one of them a 6-year-old killed in a rocket strike on an apartment building in city of Sderot. Dozens in Israel have been wounded.

There was no sign that either side is willing to back down. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to expand the offensive, saying it “will take time.” Hamas has called for a full-scale intifada, or uprising. The last such uprising began in 2000 and lasted more than five years.

The latest eruption of violence began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed police tactics during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers ignited protests and clashes with police. A focal point was the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a site sacred to Jews and Muslims.

Hamas, claiming to be defending Jerusalem, launched a barrage of rockets at the city late Monday, escalating the ground tensions into a new Israel-Hamas punching match.

Since then, militants have fired more 1,050 rockets from Gaza, according to the Israeli military, and Israel has conducted hundreds of strikes in the tiny territory where 2 million Palestinians have lived under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas took power in 2007. Two infantry brigades were sent to the area, indicating preparations for a possible ground invasion.

On Wednesday, Israel stepped up its targeting of Hamas’ military wing. The military and internal security agency said they carried out a “complex and first-of-its-kind operation” that killed the Hamas commander in charge of Gaza City, the highest-ranking Hamas military figure killed by Israel since 2014, and several other senior militants involved in rocket production.

Israel has struck 350 targets and killed at least 30 militants since Monday night, 14 of them on Wednesday, Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said.

In one of the fiercest attacks, Israeli fighter jets dropped two bombs on a 14-story building in Gaza City, collapsing it. The building, located on the busiest shopping street in the Roman neighborhood, housed businesses in addition to offices for Hamas’ Al-Aqsa satellite channel.

Airstrikes also brought down a 12-story office building that housed Hamas offices as well as other businesses, and heavily damaged a nine-story building with residential apartments, medical companies, a dental clinic and, Israel said, Hamas intelligence offices. In both cases, Israel fired warning shots, allowing people to flee.

Soon after, Hamas fired 100 rockets at the Israeli desert town of Beersheba in what it said was retaliation.

Samah Haboub, a mother of four in Gaza, said she was thrown across her bedroom in a “moment of horror” by an airstrike on an apartment tower next door. She and her children, ages 3 to 14, ran down the stairway of their apartment block along with other residents, many of them screaming and crying.

“There is almost no safe place in Gaza,” she said.

One strike hit a taxi in Gaza City, killing a man, woman and driver insider, and a second strike killed two men nearby on the street, witnesses who brought the bodies told The Associated Press at the hospital. Several other bystanders were wounded.

In the Israeli city of Lod, a 52-year-old Arab Israeli citizen and his 16-year-old daughter were killed when a rocket from Gaza hit the courtyard of their home. An Israeli soldier was killed in a strike by an anti-tank missile from Gaza.

The Jerusalem turmoil and the ensuing battle come at a time when the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process is virtually non-existent, fueling Palestinian frustration.

It has been seven years since the two sides held formal negotiations. Israel’s political scene pays little attention, and the peace process was hardly an issue in the country’s recent elections. Arab nations, including several that recently reached normalization deals with Israel, rarely push for any resolution.

The result has left the nearly 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem living in a limbo.

Now the recent fighting has unleashed protests in Arab communities in Israel.

“An intifada erupted in Lod, you have to bring in the army,” the central Israeli city’s mayor, Yair Revivo, said. Lod saw heavy clashes after thousands of mourners joined a funeral for an Arab man killed the previous night, the suspect a Jewish gunman.

With the deployment of border guards in Lod and the coastal city of Acre, Netanyahu warned that he was prepared to use “an iron fist if necessary,” and urged Arab Israeli leaders to bring calm.

Still unclear is how this new outburst of fighting will effect Netanyahu’s political future. He failed to form a government coalition after inconclusive parliamentary elections in March, and now his political rivals have three weeks to try to form one.

The longer the fighting drags on, the more it could hamper their attempts at a coalition. It could also boost Netanyahu if yet another election is held, since security is his strong suit with the public.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic militant group seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces. The conflicts ended after regional and international powers persuaded both sides to accept an informal truce.

Israel faced heavy criticism over the bombing of residential buildings in Gaza during the 2014 war, one of several tactics that are now the subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court into possible war crimes. Israel is not a member of the court and has rejected the probe.

In a brief statement, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she had noted “with great concern” the escalation of violence and “the possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statute” that established the court.

Conricus, the military spokesman, said Israeli forces have strict rules of engagement, follow international laws on armed conflict and are trying to minimize civilian casualties.

But Israel has said it has no choice because Hamas fires rockets from residential areas. Hamas has also come under international criticism over its indiscriminate rocket fire at Israeli population centers.

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