Republicans asked for January 6 pardons. What will Democrats do about it? Absolutely nothing

This week, we found out that GOP members like Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks and Marjorie Taylor Greene had requested pardons from Trump after the insurrection. I asked Democrats if they’d politically censure such people — and the answer wasn’t encouraging

The fifth public hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot revealed this week which Republican members of Congress sought a pardon from Donald Trump for their actions related to the insurrection.

Along with Scott Perry, whose request had already become public, we found out that congressmen Mo Brooks of Alabama, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Andy Biggs of Arizona all sought a pardon. Similarly, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former special assistant to the president, said Ohio’s Jim Jordan had talked about pardons but didn’t request one for himself, while reporting that Marjorie Taylor Greene “had asked the White House Counsel Office” for one.

The fact that members of Congress actively sought pardons for their conduct indicates they likely knew that their actions not only subverted the law, but also made the Capitol substantially less safe.

I have already written about how the insurrection turned the House into a hostile work environment, with Democrats mistrustful of Republican colleagues on a whole new level. The latest news will likely not lower the temperature in the People’s House. But don’t expect the Republicans who asked for pardons to face any consequences.

During the first prime-time hearing, progressive congresswoman Cori Bush told your reporter that members of Congress involved in the riot should be expelled under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. But expulsion requires a two-thirds majority, and the House Ethics committee – whose membership is evenly divided between the two parties – is unlikely to enforce any consequences.

Similarly, outside yesterday’s hearing room, some Democratic House members were squeamish about punishing their colleagues. Jackie Speier of California, for one, deferred to the Department of Justice. “I think the Attorney General should make that evaluation,” she told me, while walking out of the hearing room during the recess. Her party colleague Abigail Spanberger gave a noncommittal answer, while Mikie Sherril of New Jersey – who alleged back in January 2021 that she saw members of Congress giving tours before the riot – spoke with your reporter in between the hearing’s first and second halves.

“You know, we haven’t gotten to that part yet,” she said. “This is focused on the DOJ.” It’s true that at the time, the names hadn’t been revealed, but the fact that she wouldn’t even talk about consequences at all shows how skittish Democrats are.

The party seems to be all but done with trying to hold Republican members of Congress responsible for their actions. Certainly, the GOP leadership refuses to do so. When Democrats voted to remove Greene from her committee assignments, only 11 Republicans joined them. And when they censured far-right Arizona representative Paul Gosar for tweeting a cartoon of himself killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they only had two Republicans on board: Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, both of whom are now on the select committee.

Since then, Democrats have effectively thrown up their hands. When Lauren Boebert joked about Ilhan Omar potentially conducting a suicide bombing, House Democrats took no action, despite the death threats Omar received afterwards. House Majority Whip James Clyburn told Axios at the time that it was Republicans’ responsibility to hold Boebert to account.

In the same respect, Democrats likely don’t want to hold a doomed vote to expel other members altogether, least of all at a time when House Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy seems prepared to strip some Democrats of their committees.

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