January 30, 2024

Mass. Rep. Auchincloss duels with ex-Trump aide who called Jan. 6 a ‘peaceful transition of power’

U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss had a testy exchange on Capitol Hill on Tuesday with a former senior Trump administration official who once described the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as a “peaceful transition of power.”

“When the United States degrades its own democracy on the world stage for people all over to witness, it undermines our ability to lead and the power of our example,” Auchincloss, D-4th District, rebuked former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had previously questioned the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

The exchange between Auchincloss and Pompeo came during Tuesday’s meeting of the House’s Select Committee on China, where the panel focused on the threat that authoritarian regimes, such as China, pose to global security and stability.

Pompeo, who served as the nation’s top diplomat from 2018 to 2021, after a year helming the Central Intelligence Agency, was joined at that hearing by former Obama administration Defense Secretary and CIA boss Leon Panetta.

According to a transcript provided by Auchincloss’ office, Pompeo told lawmakers that a “degradation of decency and respect” for institutions was a troubling sign for the nation’s future.

That prompted Auchincloss, a former Marine, to observe that it was a “worthy message undercut by the record of its messenger.”

On Tuesday, Auchincloss told Pompeo that the events of Jan. 6 were Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s “best day in office.”

In early 2023, as he promoted his memoir, “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,” Pompeo told SkyNews that the Trump White House “delivered a peaceful transition on January 6, 2021, exactly as our Constitution requires,” according to NBC News.

On that day, hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump descended on the Capitol as Congress met to certify the election results, breaking into the building, vandalizing congressional offices, and doing battle with law enforcement.

The violence eventually claimed the lives of 10 people, four on the day, and six more later, according to published reports. Hundreds more were injured.

Some 1,265 people eventually were charged in connection with the violence that day, resulting in 718 people pleading guilty, according to U.S. Justice Department data.

Auchincloss continued by asking Pompeo “what kind of example are we setting when former administrations take the side of dictators? What kind of example are we setting when your former boss, the likely presidential nominee of your party, is promising to be a dictator?”

In a Fox News town hall in Iowa last year, Trump asserted that he would not be a dictator if he wins the GOP nomination and beats Biden in a November general election match-up “except for day one,” the Guardian and other news outlets reported at the time.

Speaking to Pompeo, Auchincloss repeated the contention held by Democrats, and some Republicans, that global strongmen such as China’s Xi, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Russian President Vladimir Putin would have an ally in Trump were he to regain power.

However, the Massachusetts Democrat said he and Pompeo agreed on one thing: “Our democracy is stronger when we invest in and celebrate our free society.”

The nation has “the tools to outcompete autocracies at home and abroad — but it’s not just, as you say, a ‘strong military and a strong economy’, as you write, Mr. Pompeo — it is also a strong democracy,” Auchincloss observed.

Turning to Panetta, Auchincloss credited the former Obama-era official with “[making] this clear in your remarks: ‘The greatest threat to national security is if we fail to govern our democracy.’ I agree with you. But, Mr. Pompeo, this cannot happen if we defy reality and rewrite history for political expediency.”

Auchincloss wrapped up his remarks with a challenge to Pompeo: “On behalf of your call for respect for vital institutions, will you here attest, now that you are under oath, that Joe Biden was duly elected in a free & fair election?”

Pompeo’s response was omitted in a statement sent out by Auchincloss’ office. But in a video, the Kansan can be seen taking to his microphone to answer.

“Well so much for bipartisanship on this committee. Well done, sir. You have destroyed that,” he said.

Pressed again on whether Biden’s election was “free and fair,” Pompeo responded, “Of course President Biden is the duly elected president of the United States.”

After a bit more back and forth, Auchincloss said “with the witness unwilling to respond to the question I am going to assume that his answer is ‘no.’”

He then posed the same question to Panetta, asking him “if a Republican were to win in November, would you recognize that individual as the duly elected president of the United States?”

“Of course,” Panetta responded.

‘Of course’ is the right answer,” Auchincloss said.

By:  John L. Micek
Source: MassLive