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Happy Wednesday morning.
News: The Jan. 6 select committee is in possession of documentary footage showing a man who took part in a Jan. 5 tour of the Capitol complex with Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) outside the Capitol the following day, yelling threats at members of Congress – including Speaker Nancy Pelosi – as the insurrection raged, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
The select committee has video of this person taking part in the Loudermilk tour on Jan. 5, as well as documentary footage of the same man outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, these sources told us.
The individual in question has been interviewed by select committee investigators, the sources added. It doesn’t appear that he’s been charged with any wrongdoing stemming from the insurrection.
What to do with this evidence has been debated inside the select committee. It was discussed during an intense huddle on the House floor Tuesday involving Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.). Thompson is chair of the select committee.
The panel is considering releasing the footage publicly, using it in a hearing or sending a letter to Loudermilk laying out their evidence.
The select committee declined to comment on the matter Tuesday night.
In response to our questions on this incident, Loudermilk issued this statement:
“The select committee has already accused me of giving reconnaissance tours, which has been verified as false. To my knowledge, no one that visited my office on January 5 was involved in any illegal activity on January 6; so if the committee has evidence, they should release it, not just make accusations. As a result of the committee’s irresponsible behavior in making false accusations, I have had multiple threats against my life over the past few weeks. I was also at a Republican baseball practice a few years ago, on the receiving end of politically motivated violence, so I would be the first to condemn anyone making threats against others or engaging in criminal actions.”
The Georgia Republican has long been under scrutiny over the Jan. 5 tour, and that’s only going to get more intense with this latest revelation.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection, a number of House Democrats were concerned that GOP lawmakers may have provided information on the layout of the Capitol or House office buildings to supporters of former President Donald Trump who took part in the attack. This included tours of the Capitol, which had been largely closed to tourists for months due to the pandemic.
On Jan. 13, 2021, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) and more than 30 House Democrats sent a letter to the U.S. Capitol Police and other congressional security officials requesting an investigation “into the suspicious behavior and access given to visitors to the Capitol Complex on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 – the day before the attacks on the Capitol.”
Loudermilk was not named in this letter.
However, in May 2021, Loudermilk sought an ethics investigation into Sherrill and the other Democrats for smearing Republican lawmakers with unfounded allegations of collaborating with individuals or groups that took part in the insurrection.
“A Member of Congress accusing another Member of committing a crime, without evidence, is morally reprehensible and a stain on this institution. No Republican Member of Congress led any kind of ‘reconnaissance’ tours through the Capitol, proven by security footage captured by the U.S. Capitol Police.”
There didn’t appear to be any action by the Ethics Committee on Loudermilk’s complaint, and the issue seemed to go away until this spring, when the select committee got involved.
Thompson and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the select committee’s chair and vice chair, wrote to Loudermilk on May 19 seeking information on the Jan. 5 tour. Here’s Thompson and Cheney:
“Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021. For example, in the week following January 6th, Members urged law enforcement leaders to investigate sightings of ‘outside groups in the complex’ on January 5th that ‘appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day.’”
However, on Tuesday, Loudermilk posted a letter from U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger stating that no one from this tour group entered the Capitol, or the House-side tunnels leading to the Capitol. The Loudermilk group toured areas in the Rayburn, Longworth and Cannon buildings, including the basements of Longworth and Cannon, according to Manger. Loudermilk was with the group for part of the tour and left.
“There is no evidence that Representative Loudermilk entered the U.S. Capitol with this group on Jan. 5, 2021. We train our officers on being alert for surveillance or reconnaissance, and we do not consider any activities we observed as suspicious.”
We expect to hear more on this issue today and we’ll keep you posted.
– Heather Caygle, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
Also: The Jan. 6 committee has altered its hearing schedule. The next three hearings will be this Thursday, next Tuesday (June 21) and Thursday (June 23). All of the hearings will start at 1 p.m.
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INSIDE THE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS
News: Schiff to barnstorm the country this summer as he mulls leadership run
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, will visit the districts of more than 10 Frontliners and Democratic candidates in June and July, an attempt to continue to build support for a potential leadership run and help keep seats in Democrats’ hands.
Schiff’s travel plans, which hasn’t been reported previously, are just one piece of evidence that the longtime California Democrat is seriously mulling a run for the top slot in the party’s leadership. Schiff has also been conducting meetings with members of the House Democratic Caucus to hear what they think the next generation of the party’s leadership should look like.
We reported in April that Schiff was eyeing a run for leadership in a post-Nancy Pelosi world. But the chatter about Schiff’s ambitions have gotten louder in recent weeks as he continues to talk to House Democrats about the composition of the top rung of the caucus next Congress. We’re told that Schiff isn’t asking lawmakers for their support, but he seems interested in the top job in the Democratic Caucus.
Schiff garnered a national profile for his frequent and vocal criticism of former President Donald Trump. He spearheaded the first Trump impeachment proceedings, including being the lead manager during the Senate trial. He won widespread accolades for his final floor speech urging senators to convict Trump.
Schiff is also a prolific fundraiser, which is a huge plus in a party leadership race. He’s second in House Democratic fundraising, trailing only Pelosi.
The House Democratic leadership contest in 2023 will be a crowded one – if Pelosi leaves. Republicans are heavily favored to win the House in November, making these calculations even more complex.
House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries is the odds on favorite to be the next party leader if the leadership turns over. It’s not clear whether House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer or House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn will make a run for the top job. Again, this is only if Pelosi leaves the post.
It’s also not entirely clear what Schiff’s natural constituency would be in a leadership race. If Schiff were to lock up a large chunk of the California delegation, as well as some of the New Dems and Congressional Progressive Caucus, there could be a path to the top.
However – and any House Democrat will tell you this – as a white man in a caucus where the majority is made up of women and people of color, Schiff faces a serious challenge in convincing his colleagues that he’s the party’s future.
In addition, leadership races are notoriously difficult to predict until the full field is public. It’s very early in the process, however, and Schiff’s moves are noteworthy.
We caught up with Schiff and asked him about his meetings with fellow House Democrats over a future leadership post.
“I keep my conversations with my colleagues private,” Schiff told us.
Lauren French, Schiff’s spokesperson, sent us this statement:
“Chairman Schiff is focused on his constituents’ needs, his intelligence committee responsibilities, and making sure that the public learns the full truth of January 6th. Apart from the day job, he continues to help his colleagues and candidates around the country, so that Democrats can maintain the majority in the midterm elections. We’re focused on the election in November at the moment.”
Schiff’s office declined to discuss his travel plans.
– Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle
What you need to know about last night’s primary results
Here are our takeaways from Tuesday’s contests, featuring major races in South Carolina and Texas.
→ Rep. Tom Rice’s (R-S.C.) impeachment vote cost him big time. The South Carolina Republican was unseated by Donald Trump-endorsed Russell Fry in the 7th District’s GOP primary. Rice got trounced. Fry had better than 51% of the vote compared to Rice’s 24.5%. So it wasn’t close.
Fry made the race about Rice’s vote to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection. Rice had earlier – oddly enough – voted against certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Even former Speaker Paul Ryan, who swooped in for a fundraiser, couldn’t stop Rice’s defeat.
→ It wasn’t all good news for the MAGA wing of the party. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) easily survived a Trump-backed challenge. Mace, who condemned Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection but didn’t vote to impeach him, dispatched Katie Arrington in the 1st District primary. Mace received 53% of the vote compared to Arrington’s 45%.
→The Republican wave in south Texas is real. In the special election for Texas’ 34th District, Republican Mayra Flores narrowly avoided a runoff and beat Democrat Dan Sanchez, flipping former Rep. Filemon Vela’s (D-Texas) seat red. The Congressional Leadership Fund spent heavily in the district over the last month, helping bring Flores from 34% to victory, according to the super PAC. Flores won with 51% compared to Sanchez’s 43%.
However, national Democrats didn’t pour resources into the race at the same rate as Republicans. Flores will face off against Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) in November in the newly redrawn 34th District. Tuesday’s election took place under the old lines. And with Sanchez not running for federal office in November, Democrats decided against putting money into the race to hold a seat for just a matter of months.
→ Former Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) will face off against Rep. Jared Golden (R-Maine) in a 2018 rematch. Poliquin beat a more right-wing primary challenger and will now try to reclaim a seat he held from 2015 to 2019.
→ In Nevada. Adam Laxalt easily won the GOP nomination to take on Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). He beat Sam Brown, 55% to 36%. Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) beat the Bernie Sanders-endorsed Amy Vilela, 84% to just under 16%.
— Max Cohen and Jake Sherman
Biden presses oil refiners on soaring prices
With the price of gas soaring to more than $5 per gallon – crushing both American car owners and Democrats’ political fortunes – President Joe Biden is calling on top oil companies to account for the surge.
Biden asked top oil refiners to explain the “unprecedented disconnect between the price of oil and the price of gas.”
The president is urging the heads of these companies to take part in an “emergency meeting” with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm via the National Petroleum Council to discuss ways to lower those costs.
He’s also demanding information on whether there’s been a loss of oil refining capacity that would explain some of the price increases.
“Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression, and the bipartisan and global effort to counter it, has disrupted the global supply of oil and driven up the global price. But the sharp rise in gasoline prices is not driven only by rising oil prices, but by an unprecedented disconnect between the price of oil and the price of gas. The last time the price of crude oil was about $120 per barrel, in March, the price of gas at the pump was $4.25 per gallon. Today, gas prices are 75 cents higher, and diesel prices are 90 cents higher.”
“Your companies need to work with my Administration to bring forward concrete, near-term solutions that address the crisis and respect the critical equities of energy workers and fence-line communities. I have directed the Secretary of Energy to convene an emergency meeting on this topic and engage the National Petroleum Council in the coming days. In advance of that, I request that you provide the Secretary with an explanation of any reduction in your refining capacity since 2020 and any concrete ideas that would address the immediate inventory, price, and refining capacity issues in the coming months – including transportation measures to get refined product to market.”
The White House is coming under intense pressure to do something – anything – on gas prices, which have hit record highs. Rising gas prices are contributing to inflation rates not seen in four decades, and they’re dooming Democrats’ political outlook in November.
Biden’s newest gambit comes as the Federal Reserve is expected to announce another increase in interest rates today in a bid to temper these inflationary pressures.
The big question is whether Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell and the Federal Open Market Committee go for a 50 basis point increase as Powell has already signaled, or an even larger boost of 75 basis points. Financial markets have tanked as Wall Street awaits the Fed’s announcement this afternoon, with the S&P 500 moving into bear territory.
– John Bresnahan
PRESENTED BY AMERICAN INVESTMENT COUNCIL
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. Private equity invested more than $1 TRILLION into local communities last year.
PUNCHBOWL NEWS X SEN. JOHN BARRASSO
On Tuesday evening we were joined by Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources Ranking Member Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to discuss the future of energy alternatives in Congress.
Following our conversation with Barrasso, we were joined by Tom Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company to discuss the role nuclear energy can play in the clean energy transition.
→ Republic Airways, the large regional carrier for Delta, American and United, has signed up Bose Public Affairs Group to lobby on “pilot training requirements and industry pilot shortages plus other issues that arise.” Former Indiana Rep. Luke Messer (R) is one of the lobbyists on the account.
PRESENTED BY AMERICAN INVESTMENT COUNCIL
74% of PE investment went to small businesses last year.
PREMIUM MEMBERS EVENT
Each month we host the Brown Bag Lunch, a virtual conversation with Anna, Jake, Bres and Heather exclusively for our Premium Community. Join us for the June Brown Bag Lunch today at 1 p.m. We’ll talk about what’s happening in Washington and answer your questions live. Join the conversation by joining Punchbowl News Premium.
9:30 am: President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
12:15 p.m.: Biden will have lunch with Vice President Kamala Harris.
3 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief
4 p.m.: Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host a reception for Pride Month. Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will also attend.
→ “Biden Weighs Tariff Rollback to Ease Inflation, Even a Little Bit,” by Jim Tankersley, Ana Swanson and Alan Rappeport
→ “A Striking Contrast: Trump Officials Then and Now,” by Maggie Haberman and Mike Schmidt
→ “Publix heiress paid Kimberly Guilfoyle’s $60,000 speaking fee on Jan. 6,” by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Beth Reinhard
→ “World’s Central Banks Got It Wrong, and Economies Pay the Price,” by Enda Curran
→ “Keisha Lance Bottoms to join White House,” by Alexi McCammond
→ “Herschel Walker Says He’s a Model Dad. He Has a Secret Son,” by Roger Sollenberger
PRESENTED BY AMERICAN INVESTMENT COUNCIL
From big cities to small towns, private equity continues to invest all across America. In 2021, private equity firms invested over $1 TRILLION into local communities to build better businesses and support jobs.
Three-quarters (74%) of private equity investment in 2021 went to companies with fewer than 500 employees. More than half (56%) went to the smallest businesses, those employing fewer than 100 people.
Private equity provides local business leaders with the capital, resources, and expertise to scale their ideas and help their businesses flourish.
Learn more at InvestmentCouncil.Org
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