As the House’s January 6 committee continues its work to get to the bottom of what happened before, during and after the riot at the US Capitol, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has a warning for them: If Republicans take over the House, you could well be arrested.
“I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all going to come crashing down,” Gingrich told Fox’s Maria Bartiromo. “And the wolves are going to find out that they’re now sheep and they’re the ones who are in fact, I think, face a real risk of jail for the kinds of laws they’re breaking.”
Which raises a simple question: What laws does Gingrich believe the members of the committee — which includes two Republican House members — are violating exactly?
It will surprise you not at all that a) Gingrich didn’t say and b) Bartiromo didn’t ask. (What did she say? “Well, this is such great analysis.”)
The closest Gingrich got to actually explaining himself was when he told Bartiromo that the members of the House committee were “literally just running over the law, pursuing innocent people,” adding that “it’s basically a lynch mob.”
I went searching for what the heck Gingrich was actually talking about and came across an op-ed he wrote last Thursday entitled “The Wolves Will Become Sheep.” The piece reads like a longer version of his riff with Bartiromo. In one section, Gingrich writes:
“The January 6 Select Committee is in the process of potentially bankrupting scores of Americans who worked for or supported President Trump. They face financial ruin defending themselves against the committee’s attack. The legal costs of fighting subpoenas and the further cost of legal counsel if put under oath by a hostile congressional committee creates a real burden. That financial burden is compounded by the psychological stress of being under assault by the House Democrats — and potentially also the FBI.”
His solution? A new Republican majority should form a “Select Committee on Congressional Dishonesty and Abuse of Power” to examine the work of the January 6 committee. (Sidebar: A committee to investigate a committee is the most Congress thing ever.)
Again, though, what is the crime that these House members have committed that will mean the “real risk of jail”? Is it, as Gingrich writes, abuse of power?
I did a quick search for “is abuse of power a crime” and pulled up this language from the Department of Justice: “A simple definition of the abuse of power is the misuse of a position of power to take unjust advantage of individuals, organizations, or governments. Abuses of power have been variously described as white-collar crime, economic crime, organizational crime, occupational crime, public corruption, organized crime, and governmental and corporate deviance.”
So, it appears as though Gingrich is alleging that the committee is taking “unjust advantage of individuals” in their probe. But, how? By subpoenaing individuals close to Donald Trump to find out what they said, what he said and when? By asking them to come testify under oath and, in a few rare instances where they refuse, by filing contempt of Congress charges?
That feels like very thin gruel. Gingrich, no dummy, knows that. He’s just throwing red meat to the Trump base — consequences be damned.
But suggesting that members of Congress will be jailed for doing their job is a little much even for someone like Gingrich, who has made his name in recent years for making outlandish and unverifiable claims about opposition to Trump.