CNN: McConnell asking GOP senators to tank the January 6 commission as a "personal favor"

Lotta buzz about this on political Twitter this afternoon. I’m trying to decide whether to believe it or not.

McConnell is openly opposed to the commission. There’d be nothing odd about him lobbying his members to oppose it too. But going to the extreme of asking waverers to do it as a “personal favor,” particularly on a matter as grave as investigating the insurrection, is suspicious.

One possibility is … it’s just not true. Maybe one of CNN’s Republican sources who supports the commission is smearing McConnell for opposing it. “[John Bresnahan] and I have been in the Capitol covering this issue for weeks — we’ve spoken to the majority of Republican senators about this — they didn’t need convincing. Most of them were against it. Haven’t heard of any favor asking at all,” tweeted Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman in response to the CNN clip.

Another entertaining possibility suggested by a Twitter pal is that, whether the substance is true or not, McConnell himself ordered the leak to CNN. Why? Because Trump keeps ripping on him and it might soothe him to know that Cocaine Mitch has been pulling out all the stops to nuke the commission, as the former president prefers. A pacified Trump is a quiet Trump.

The third possibility is that it really is true, that McConnell’s now reduced to all but begging his caucus to filibuster. Which would raise the question of why. Why is Cocaine Mitch allegedly desperate to see the commission go down, especially when he knows that Pelosi will create a House select committee to investigate instead if that happens? The insurrection doesn’t go away if Republicans block the commission. On the contrary, we may end up with a House panel that includes Republicans like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

I can think of only two possibilities, which aren’t mutually exclusive. One: McConnell thinks the politics of having an “impartial” commission airing Republican dirty laundry from January 6 is potentially ruinous politically. I have a hard time believing that voters will cast their votes next fall based on what happened two years earlier, although daily news reports on the commission’s work will probably successfully bait Trump into popping off regularly about how he was cheated, how the riot at the Capitol was all “hugs and kisses” for police, and so on. The insurrection might not hurt Republicans at the polls but swing voters being reminded every day how much they dislike Trump could.

Of course, a House select committee will also bait Trump into commenting. But Pelosi and House Dems are a much better foil for him than 10 commissioners from outside politics.

Two: McConnell has reason to believe that an investigation into the insurrection will reveal some sort of complicity by congressional Republicans, whether from the Senate or (more likely) the House. That would be a bombshell and the political fallout would be unpredictable. Again, having a Dem-run House committee make that allegation would be more politically palatable for the GOP than having an impartial commission make it, as it can be dismissed as a partisan smear campaign in the former case but not the latter.

Does McConnell know something about certain Republicans in Congress having been involved in the planning for what turned into a riot at the Capitol?

Either way, =Politico is reporting that he’s now locked down the votes he needs to guarantee that the commission is filibustered. Red-state Dem Jon Tester is irate. “We’ve got to get to the bottom of this sh*t,” he told Politico. “Jesus. It’s a nonpartisan investigation of what happened. And if it’s because they’re afraid of Trump then they need to get out of office. It’s bullsh*t. You make tough decisions in this office or you shouldn’t be here.” Even so, Manchin reiterated again today that he won’t nuke the filibuster to get the commission through:

Expect a lot of ineffectual moping from him later after McConnell tosses the commission in the trash.

Watch below as McConnell made his case earlier, claiming that Trump’s role in the insurrection — which won’t be uncovered by any DOJ criminal probes — was “exhaustively” litigated at his impeachment trial. It was? They didn’t even call witnesses at the impeachment trial. Kevin McCarthy has yet to answer to any authority about what Trump said to him on the phone while the Capitol was under siege. Which, of course, is why McConnell wants House committees to handle the investigation going forward rather than a commission: He knows that Republicans like McCarthy and Paul Gosar will find it easier to resist subpoenas issued by a Pelosi committee than by a nonpartisan commission. Contra his point about “exhaustive” examination of what happened, the whole point of this gambit is to make it as politically difficult as possible to get to the truth.