Nice Telecom You Got Here -- Be A Shame If Anything Happened To It

[ Posted Wednesday, September 1st, 2021 – 15:23 UTC ]

The lead Republican in the House of Representatives just channelled his inner mob thug. Publicly. This is what the party has sunk to, folks. Overt threats of retaliation, should Republicans take back control of the chamber.

Kevin McCarthy recently responded in an awfully threatening manner to the news that the House January 6th Select Committee has asked dozens of telecommunications companies to preserve some specific records which might pertain to the insurrection and riot at the U.S. Capitol. There is nothing unusual in such a request -- again, all the companies are being asked to do at this point is to make sure any pertinent data does not get erased. That's it. Entirely legal, and perhaps a precursor to the committee issuing subpoenas for any or all of these records. Which would also be perfectly legal, under federal law. In fact, the subpoenas would be an exercise of federal law.

Which McCarthy somehow doesn't seem to understand. He threw an epic tantrum, on Twitter:

Adam Schiff, Bennie Thompson, and Nancy Pelosi's attempts to strong-arm private companies to turn over individuals' private data would put every American with a phone or computer in the crosshairs of a surveillance state run by Democrat [sic] politicians. If these companies comply with the Democrat [sic] order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States. If companies still choose to violate a federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.

It's tough to even add up all the lies and misstatements contained in this short piece. Nobody's "strong-arming" anybody, at this point it is just a request, not even a subpoena. No private individuals' data has yet even been requested by the committee. It's not "every American with a phone or computer," it is just a specific list of people who may have participated in or abetted the illegal attempt to overthrow the American government. Which includes some Republican members of Congress, who are under suspicion. This is not a "surveillance state" by any stretch of the imagination. I'd be willing to bet McCarthy either voted for or supports the PATRIOT Act, which is a much larger step towards a surveillance state than this. It's not a Democratic (or "Democrat") order, it is the select committee's request -- which has two Republican members on it. You'll note McCarthy doesn't specify any particular "federal law" he says would somehow be violated by complying with the request (or even by complying with an eventual subpoena), because there isn't any. Again, such a subpoena would itself be federal law. Also, companies rarely lose their ability to operate in the United States, no matter how egregious their actions. And it certainly wouldn't be up to Kevin McCarthy to decide, even if his dream does come true and he becomes speaker of the House.

As I said, it's tough to even keep track of how wrong McCarthy is -- which is about par for the course, for him. What was notable was the open threat to the telecoms -- that should Republicans retake the House, they will somehow wreak vengeance upon the telecoms. This is both laughable and very dangerous at the same time.

It's laughable because his threat is an empty one for multiple reasons. First, how exactly would "a Republican majority... stand with Americans to hold [the telecoms] fully accountable under the law"? How would that even work? There is no law that they would have broken, so there is no statutory punishment at all. Even if there were, can you really picture a Republican House trying to take down AT&T and Verizon? Trustbusting really went out of style for Republicans over a century ago, but now all of a sudden they're going to attack some of the biggest corporations in the country? I'm not sure what their donors might have to say about that one, to put it as politely as possible.

But the threat is a dangerous one as well. McCarthy saying, essentially: "You got a nice telecom here... be a real shame if anything happened to it..." is the height of government thuggery. And that's precisely what this is. A threat to totally destroy their business ("subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States" is about as clear a message as it gets, really -- the equivalent to a mobster saying: "Who knows? Maybe a fire might break out and burn this place down... anything can happen, right?").

I am not the first one to point this out. Representative Eric Swalwell didn't mince words responding:

McCarthy just made the Congressional equivalent of a "Snitches Get Stitches" threat. When people do that in our communities we hold them accountable. If we have no law and order we've lost everything.

He wasn't the only one:

Norman Eisen, former White House ethics counsel in the Obama administration, argued that McCarthy's action "meets the elements of obstruction."

"It's Orwellian. If these telecom companies fail to comply with the requirement to preserve these records, if they did what Kevin McCarthy wants... that would be a violation of law," Eisen, the executive chairman of the States United Democracy Center and a senior fellow at Brookings, said during an interview on CNN.

"So this is absolutely unjustified by law, and it raises serious questions under the House ethics rules and other laws for Kevin McCarthy himself."

Others were a little more direct:

"His threats are treasonous," Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said Wednesday. "Moreover, this is cut-and-dried felony obstruction by Kevin McCarthy that the Justice Department would do well to look into."

Kevin McCarthy is plainly trying to tamper with possible witnesses and/or evidence in a congressional investigation, and by doing so is actively obstructing justice. He is the one skirting right up to the edge of "violating federal law," not the telecoms. He is openly threatening the companies with political retribution. And that is indeed a dangerous concept. And about as un-American as you can get. Or, at least, it should be seen as such.

This is what the Republican Party has sunk to, these days. McCarthy isn't some backbench bomb-thrower, he is the Republican leader in the House. The fact that his own phone records might be germane to the investigation is also worth pointing out (even though one report said his name wasn't on the list the committee sent out). So perhaps McCarthy has a guilty conscience, or perhaps he's just running cover for others in his caucus who do. Either way, he certainly looks like a guy with something to hide.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


13 Comments on “Nice Telecom You Got Here -- Be A Shame If Anything Happened To It”

  1. [1] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Your final point is the real one. McCarthy and the people he represents are, as this ridiculous performance makes clear, SCARED OUT OF THEIR FREAKING HEADS about what these phone records will reveal. And because they have no power to stop this perfectly legal process, all they can do is channel the Dear Leader and pretend to have some power to stop it that they don't actually have and never will.

    Anyone can see this. I understand some reporters and pundits have even pointed it out, rather than go on about the unlikely or even illegal nature of the so-called threats.

    I await the first leaks of Representatives' calls to active rioters, during the riot, coordinating movements and giving location information, any day now. Ordinarily I would never make such a bold prediction of collaboration - it would seem to be going too far. But not now. Not after McCarthy's CRY OF RAW PANIC.

  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Spot on, but I'd add,

    Always remember that Repugs like McCarthy are
    NOT talking to the real world but rather to the MAGAverse.
    This attempt to Obstruct Congress makes perfect sense in a "reality" where Trump was a great President, he got robbed in 2020 etc.

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    So perhaps McCarthy has a guilty conscience, or perhaps he's just running cover for others in his caucus who do. Either way, he certainly looks like a guy with something to hide.

    One would think McCarthy was smart enough to not be on that list of Republicans, but who knows with these guys.

    I believehis main motive is (and will remain) discrediting the investigation. Thanks to their stupidity Madame Speaker will make sure this inflicts maximum damage on the GOP, just in time for the Midterms!

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    if mccarthy really had coordinated with the domestic terrorists, wouldn't something meaningful have leaked by now?

  5. [5] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Such information will not necessarily leak, especially since we're really only at the beginning of this investigation.

    Remember how Mueller's investigation proved leakproof? Investigating GOP Congress critters who may have aided the insurrection is very politically sensitive and I'd expect a similar level of discression.

  6. [6] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    This hashtag is just too precious,

    #COVIDiots -- thank you for playing the Natural Selection Game

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  8. [8] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    The right punches back,

    I was upset to find out my grandparents voted Democratic. They never would have done that when they were alive.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You're killin' me!

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    From time to time I look at the comments section at Fox News, Newsmax and OANN. I don't troll -- there are legions of Fellow Travelers handling that happy task. But I like to see just how retarded these Repug comments are.

  11. [11] 
    Kick wrote:


    if mccarthy really had coordinated with the domestic terrorists, wouldn't something meaningful have leaked by now?

    Not necessarily. McCarthy has already publicly aided and abetted those who coordinated with the domestic terrorists and continues to do so with this exercise of obstruction of justice of his own legislative body. Obstruction of Congress is a crime:

    18 U.S. Code, Section 1505 - Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees

    Whoever, with intent to avoid, evade, prevent, or obstruct compliance, in whole or in part, with any civil investigative demand duly and properly made under the Antitrust Civil Process Act, willfully withholds, misrepresents, removes from any place, conceals, covers up, destroys, mutilates, alters, or by other means falsifies any documentary material, answers to written interrogatories, or oral testimony, which is the subject of such demand; or attempts to do so or solicits another to do so; or

    Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress—

    Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.

    It's high time we stopped viewing this right-wing behavior as a political issue and start treating them like the criminal offenses they are. Not much is happening in secret these days; it is announced and promoted around the clock throughout the right-wing lying propagandizing echo chamber. Some of us have been warning about Trump and his fascist tendencies for years, and we weren't just saying it to "hear" ourselves talk. Multiple members of the GOP have aided and abetted the attacking of our own government, and it's high time to start taking this seriously and hold them accountable for their crimes.

    The DOJ should do its job and charge McCarthy with multiple crimes for openly obstructing Congress and for threatening United States entities with retribution should they comply with lawfully issued subpoenas because those are crimes.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Have the Taliban won in Texas, too? ;)

  13. [13] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    The Super triple secret law being violated by the democrats is section BS OU812. it reads "laws shall only be enforced against democrats and non Americans."

    The whole context of his remark, not even risking out of context, is Democrats threaten Americans, if you work with Democrats you are unamerican, Only Republicans are Americans, when we take charge we will punish anyone who is not American.

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