Troubles mount for Pelosi's Jan. 6 commission as photojournalist now sues

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., gives remarks before President Joe Biden signs the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, on the South Lawn of the White House. (Official White House photo by Cameron Smith)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., gives remarks before President Joe Biden signs the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, on the South Lawn of the White House. (Official White House photo by Cameron Smith)

Challenges are mounting now for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s special partisan commission assigned to “investigate” the January 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol last winter, with the latest being a lawsuit by a freelance photojournalist over a subpoena for all her records.

Just the News confirms freelancer Amy Harris is suing the House committee over its “invasive and sweeping subpoena” of her telephone records.

The commission already is facing other legal actions, including one challenging its legitimacy and another move to make public all of its investigative records, including the communications among members.

Harris has worked for the Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and is a member of the National Press Photographers Association.

The report explained on that day Harris interacted with protesters but didn’t enter the Capitol, remaining outside with other photographers and obtaining images of the day’s events.

The committee, which is partisan because Pelosi refused to seat the GOP members selected by the minority party and instead recruited two anti-Trump GOP members, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Kinzinger of Illinois, has demanded all of Harris’ records from Verizon.

Now the photographer’s 23-page lawsuit argues that is in violation of “her First Amendment rights as a journalist, her protection under the D.C. Shield law, and her Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure.”

Just the News reported that committee is trying to “impermissibly intrude on her protected newsgathering activities, deprive her of future opportunities to obtain confidential information from confidential sources, and expose her to possible threats of bodily harm from those whose numbers would be so exposed by disclosure of her call detail records.”

The report noted NPPA officials warn that such attacks on photographers “have a chilling effect upon the core First Amendment values critical to the democratic principles the committee was established to protect.”

Pelosi’s investigators also are facing a lawsuit from Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to President Donald Trump, over the Democrats’ demands for his telephone records.

His arguments include that such action violates executive privilege.

But WND reported that Meadows also has pointed out that the commission failed to follow the rules the House adopted when creating it, so it may be unqualified to issue subpoenas or bring cases.

Those revelations were outlined by Margot Cleveland at The Federalist.

She explains Meadows’ 40-plus page lawsuit “presents a litany of reasons the subpoenas are invalid, but his first argument – that the subpoenas are invalid because they were not ‘issued by a duly authorized committee’ – both presents Meadows with a strong argument to quash the subpoenas and provides Trump fodder in his separate lawsuit and claim of executive privilege.”

The assembly of the committee proved to be political at the outset, as the GOP, in the minority in the House, was to name five members, which it did.

But Pelosi, apparently on nothing more than political grounds, refused to seat Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks. As a result, none of the five nominated Republicans joined the committee, and Pelosi was left to seek out and recruit two virulently anti-Trump members of the GOP, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, to give it the image of bipartisanship.

But Cleveland explained, “House Resolution 503 created the January 6, 2021, Select Committee, Meadows’s argument begins, then stressing that Section 2(a) of that resolution requires House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to ‘appoint 13 Members to the Select Committee, 5 of whom shall be appointed after consultation with the minority leader.’ But ‘Speaker Pelosi has appointed only nine members to the Select Committee: seven Democrats and two Republicans,’ the complaint alleges. ‘None of these members was appointed from the selection of five GOP congressman put forth by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy,’ Meadows’s lawsuit continues.”

The column explains, “Because Speaker Pelosi failed to appoint the requisite number of members, as mandated by House Resolution 503, it was ‘not a duly constituted Select Committee,’ Meadows’s lawsuit argues. Without establishing a duly constituted Select Committee, as mandated in the Resolution, the nine members lack the authority to act under House Resolution 503, the argument continues, including by issuing subpoenas under Section 5(c)(6) of House Resolution 503.”

Cleveland explained, “The problem here is not the number of members participating but the number of congressmen appointed to the committee. Also, because House Resolution 503 requires the appointment of 13 members, Pelosi’s failure to appoint the requisite number of committee members means the select committee was never properly constituted. That failure, Meadows’ lawsuit argues, renders the Select Committee invalid and without the authority to issue subpoenas.”

She pointed out, “Courts readily require Congress and congressional committees to comply with their own rules,” but, “Here, the Democrats didn’t: They failed to appoint five Republicans to the select committee as required by House Resolution 503. Unless there is a properly constituted select committee, the purported committee members should lack the authority provided under the resolution.”

Another target of the committee, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, has been cited with criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to provide information Pelosi’s team wants, but has responded in kind.

He’s launched a fight to obtain access to all of the documentation from, about and used by the committee in his criminal case – and he wants to make it public and as a criminal defendant, he has the right to access those details. One judge already has blocked most of that effort but Bannon is unlikely to give up on his effort to uncover – and reveal – the internal strategies that the committee used in its attack on him.

Interestingly, a coalition of news organizations, including the Washington Post, sided with Bannon in his demand that the court order the release of all documents that are part of the prosecution’s case against Bannon.

Apparently there are more than 1,000 pages of witness testimony, grand-jury proceedings and more information that already have been generated as part of the discovery process.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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