The January 6 Select Committee and the Westminsterization of Congress
by Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB
I am old enough to remember when no one could predict the outcome of Congressional votes merely by knowing how many Democrats or Republicans sat in each chamber. Today, you can easily predict. I hope that will soon change. it bespeaks a kind of submission to one's group and it certainly indicates lack of reasoned argument.
I left the United States in 1980 and returned in 2018. Except for 5 years in the United Arab Emirates and a semester of law school in Germany, my time was spent in Australia whose government is Britain's Westminster-style. Queen Elizabeth II is Australia's head of State. A prime minister "wins" an election when members of his/her Party gets the most seats in Parliament and those Party colleagues choose him/her.
It was shocking for me, as an American, to see how the PM could decide to do what he wants, knowing it would be a breeze to get it through the legislature where he controlled a majority of votes. Except for an occasional announced "conscience vote," members of the Labor Party are not even allowed to vote "against their Party's call." Talk about obsequious!
Upon returning to the US, I have noticed that our non-Westminster system has started to look very westminster-ish. So let me get right to the matter of the January 6 invasion, which was completely predictable along Party lines.
Since 2008, I have published many articles about the Electoral college. In my reportage of the official counting of the votes of January 6, 2021, by Mike Pence, I failed to consult The Bible -- i.e., The Congressional Record. Going on hearsay, I made six mistakes. I have now read The Congressional Record and hasten to correct those six errors:
I claimed that the first objection was raised by Rep Marjorie Greene, regarding Arizona, on her third day in office. No. It was Rep Gosar who raised the first objection, regarding Arizona. And Greene was enjoying her fourth day, not her third day, having been sworn in, with all other Congresspersons, on January 3rd, 2021. I also had said that it was during the Arizona objection that the invasion began (correct) and that the invasion began around 1:30 -- incorrect; it was after 2pm.
I said that after the invasion, no other state had its votes questioned. Not true: Michigan and Pennsylvania received challenges. I also said that the meeting resumed at 8pm (after the crisis), but now I see it was 9:02pm. Apologies all around.
How the Famous Day Went, Per The Congressional Record of the House:
At noon, on Tuesday January 6th, the House convened. Then at 12:06pm, it recessed; then it reconvened as a joint session with the Senate, at 12:55pm. A total of 44 persons took their seat in the House's chamber -- 11 Democrat senators, 11 Republican senators, 11 Democrat reps, and 11 Republican reps.
All other members participated from the gallery or their office by remote. (This had to do with social distancing.)
As overseer of this ceremony, Vice President Pence did exactly as the law requires, at 3 USC 15: He asked the four pre-appointed "tellers" to open the envelopes from the States and announce if they perceived each item to be authentic. In all cases the bipartisan tellers did say it was authentic.
Alphabetically, Alabama and Alaska came first, and no Congressperson rose to object. When it was Arizona's turn, Rep Gosar rose to object. Pence asked him if a senator had co-signed -- yes, Sen Cruz. Thus, it was required that each chamber debate the objection for a maximum of two hours.
All senators retired to their chamber to start debating. I have read only the debates that went on in the House. There, the Speaker arranged that 5-minute pro-objection reps would alternate with anti-objection reps. The limit per state is 2 hours (Gosh, if 50 states' Electoral votes were objected to, the procedure would run for 100 hours!). However, as everyone knows, the debate was interrupted by the Invasion. The House recessed at 2:29pm.
After the Invasion
The House reconvened at 9:02pm, and its debate on Arizona continued. Nothing in the Congressional Record of that day describes the physical aspects of the Invasion, but many of the reps used their 5-minute allowance to comment on the meaning of what had happened, usually in rather pietistic terms.
By around 11pm (shown in the record as 23:00 hours), the House's vote on the objections to Arizona's count totaled 121 Yeas, 303 Nays, and 11 Not Voting. The Senate rejoined the session and announced 6 Ayes and 93 Nays. (All names are posted.)
An aside: Had the Senate gone 50/50, I wonder if US Vice President Mike Pence who, as President of the Senate, has the casting vote, would have recused himself!
Alphabetically, then, the count continued, with tellers reading the states' certificates and no one objecting until the letter M, when Rep Greene offered an objection to Michigan's Electoral count. She had no senatorial co-signature, so the Michigan results were accepted.
Then it continued until the letter P, when an objection regarding Pennsylvania was made by Rep Perry, co-signed by Sen Hawley. The Senate therefore had to retire to its chamber.
The time shown is "0020" which I take to mean 20 after midnight, 12:20am, January 7, 2021. At some point after 2:20am, the House gave its count for Pennsylvania: 138 Nays, 282 Yeas, and 11 Not Voting.
I can't discern what went on between 2:30am and 3:20am, but at 3:22am, the House's Sergeant at Arms, Paul D. Irving, announced the Vice President and the Senate of the United States.
"The Senate entered the Hall of the House of Representatives, headed by the Vice President and the Secretary of the Senate, the Members and officers of the House rising to receive them."
Well, that shows that people were still awake. The Senate came bearing 7 Ayes and 93 Nays, for Pennsylvania. After that, all remaining states' ballots were accepted. Pence formally announced that the law requires 270 votes (to win the White House, so to speak) and that the final tally was 306 Electoral votes for Joe Biden as president and 306 for Kamala Harris as VP; 232 for Donald Trump as president and 232 for Michael Pence as VP.
The Select Committee Hearings on the Invasion
At GumshoeNews.com, I have written a lengthy article about the Select Committee hearings and the unseemly enmity between Parties -- it is appended below. The presentation by Rep Adam Kitzinger at the end of the hearings painted a picture of President Trump wanting the invaders to make the election go his way.
If I were forced to bet on it, I would bet that Trump won the electoral count, had all votes been properly counted and all electronic votes untampered with by software. But I sure as heck can't confirm that to be the case. How can anyone know?
I also have no idea what Trump was hoping to accomplish that day, via "citizen support." He has every right to recruit supporters, but for what activity? It is a mystery to me. Maybe he wanted Pence to set aside the electoral votes of all the questionable states -- Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia. But Congress wouldn't have allowed that, would it?
What did the invaders suppose they were entering the Capitol to do? Seriously, think about it. Did they believe they could force their will on Mike Pence? They do not appear to have scheduled a battle of that sort. Surely -- SURELY -- they were not going to kill the US Vice President. I mention this because Rep Kitzinger adroitly displayed a photo of the Invaders' mocked-up gallows-with-noose while the narrator described the danger Pence was in.
My best guess is that a core of the invaders consisted of hirelings or Manchurian candidates or paid actors -- the woman seen chipping away at glass being a give-away as to Jan 6 "theatre." The day ended with an innocent person dead, many injured, and now many in prison. On the outside is a nation with less pride and reputation, and more apprehension among its citizens.
If you want this not to continue, you had better exercise your thinking muscles. Simply do not adopt, automatically, the position of your Party. Americans do not have a Westminster system and should not imagine themselves constricted in that way.
-- Mary Maxwell is currently on the ballot for the September 13th Republican primary in New Hampshire, for US House of Reps. Her latest book, Keep the Republic, is a free download at her website www.ConstitutionAndTruth.com. If you have ideas for reducing the Westminster factor in our legislature, she is keen to hear from you at MaxwellMaryLLB@gmail.com.