Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday left open the possibility of House action to punish Rep. Steve King over his history of inflammatory remarks as the Iowa Republican’s recent defense of white nationalism created a firestorm.
King, who won a ninth term in Congress in November, lamented in an interview with the New York Times that the term had become a pejorative one.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said in the interview, which was published Thursday.
King later issued a statement and addressed the issue in a speech on the House floor Friday in which he sought to walk back his remarks. He said he rejects “those labels and the evil ideology that they define” and proclaimed himself “simply a Nationalist.”
A number of Democrats are calling on House leaders to consider a resolution to censure King, a vote that would put Republicans on record.
.. King’s interview prompted a rebuke from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the House, who said in a tweet Thursday morning, “These comments are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse.”
She was soon followed by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who told reporters in a pen-and-pad that it was “offensive to try to legitimize those terms.” But Scalise also praised King’s later statement.
“I think it was important that he rejected that kind of evil, because that’s what it is. It’s evil ideology,” Scalise said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also issued a statement Thursday evening in which he sharply criticized King’s comments to the Times.
“Everything about white supremacy and white nationalism goes against who we are as a nation,” McCarthy said. “Steve’s language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society. The Declaration of Independence states that ‘all men are created equal.’ That is a fact. It is self-evident.”
Both McCarthy and Scalise were silent in October when asked for comment on incendiary remarks King had made then. At the time, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), then the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was the only member of House GOP leadership to rebuke King. (Cheney had not yet been elected to her position as conference chair.)
House Republicans are about to discover the pain of irrelevance.
Mr. McCarthy is no policy wonk, preferring to focus on the electoral details of winning seats. That’s more important than policy when you’re in the minority since the media won’t report what the GOP proposes in any case. House Republicans can play important roles in defending Trump Administration officials, when warranted, against Democratic excess.
But the first—the only—job of a House minority is to become a majority. Their best chance will be 2020 when freshman Democrats are most vulnerable as they run for re-election the first time. Defeat enough of them and Mr. McCarthy could be Mr. Speaker.
.. The irony is that Mr. Ryan has become a target of the populist and Trump right though few in Congress have fought harder or longer for conservative reform.
.. They have railed against Mr. Ryan as a totem of “the establishment,” which was always more epithet than argument. Mr. Ryan knows that the point of politics is to win power to pass your agenda, not remain in feckless opposition to the supposedly unreformable entitlement state.
.. Mr. Ryan has already raised $54 million in campaign cash for his fellow Members this Congress, and their fate is tied far more to Donald Trump’s approval rating than to Mr. Ryan’s candidacy.
Mueller’s tactic of charging sensational offenses and pleading them down to comparatively trivial crimes flouts guidelines that are prescribed in the U.S. Attorney’s Manual and that are followed by responsible U.S. attorneys’ offices.
.. the plea deal of Richard Gates, who faced two indictments alleging financial-fraud felonies involving over $100 million in the aggregate, but was permitted to plead guilty to minor charges
.. Kerr’s description of my claim that Mueller is “breaking the rules” suggests that I’ve accused the special counsel of violating the law. No, I’ve accused him of abusing his discretion.
That this is not actionable does not make it right.
.. A defendant should be required to plead guilty to “the most serious readily provable” offense charged
.. The “most serious readily provable” standard applies to plea agreements regardless of whether cooperation is in the mix.
.. Requiring such a guilty plea not only ensures that the defendant is held appropriately accountable and is not given favorable treatment in comparison to others similarly situated; a plea to “the most serious readily provable charge” also makes the defendant a more compelling cooperating witness. By contrast, failing to require a plea to the most serious offense degrades the defendant’s testimony, which is usually offered to prove against other defendants the same serious offense on which the cooperating defendant has been given a pass.