That Garbage Report of Capitol Police Letter Slamming Republicans Gets Even Worse

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The circulating of the false Capitol Police letter showed the collective state of our political media, and it is shameful.

Yesterday, as our own Nick Arama reported, Capitol Hill was abuzz, as a letter circulated that the United States Capitol Police (USCP) was harshly critical of the Republican members and senators opposing the forming of a commission to look into the Capitol riot in January. It was a scathing rebuke against political posturing, and perfectly illuminated the GOP as hypocritical and dodging the inflammatory issue.

Problem — it was a little too perfect.

As Nick showed, this letter emerged from the offices of Rep. Jamie Raskin, and it was distributed and broadcast by the press. Politico’s Olivia Beavers was one who — early on — got the letter spread around, but by 5:00 pm, trouble began to emerge. Some intrepid reporters actually decided to act like journalists and thought to contact the USCP about the letter. They received an official statement from the group declaring by practice they never make official comments on political activity.

At CNN, it takes on comical proportions, as they covered what was initially a straightforward news item that became an amoebic mess by the end of the night. As of now, their story — which barely comprises 500 words —  sports the byline of no fewer than six reporters, and an additional contributor. This is the sign of a mess requiring numerous revisions. We get a sense of the scrambling taking place in the thread that was delivered by one of those reporters, Zachary Cohen. 

Throughout the afternoon and into the night, through Cohen, we see the evolution of the story, beginning with the disavowal from the USCP until, into the evening, when the origination of this letter has dwindled down to just a solitary police officer — who remains anonymous and has no way of being verified as a legitimate source.

But even by this point, when this story should be completely laughed out of the Beltway, Cohen still tells us as a conclusion, “It’s also important that this officer’s view be taken seriously.”

They behave like professional clowns all afternoon, but then tell us to take their reporting seriously. That — is a no sale. But, there could be even more behind this woeful tale.

Considering this was a letter written and distributed on the official letterhead of the USCP, from where did it originate? The letter was clearly not an official dispatch as it is un-dated, signed merely with “Proud Members Of The United States Capitol Police,”; it bears no official names or offices, and is attributed to a lone individual who is being kept off the record. Pretty much everything surrounding this letter is suspect, and there should be an investigation into the involvement of Rep. Raskin to find out who was trying to pass off this note as an official, USCP. document.

Sean Davis, of The Federalist, dug into the metadata of the letter being circulated — well, what remained of it — and it indicates only more opaque originations. It appears that in the distribution the letter had been printed out and then rescanned before it was distributed. This is not a common practice for such, and many believe this is done to remove the source data. 

All the elements to this event point to one of two results, and a possibility of both; either the journalists on The Hill were reckless and rushed the story out, or they were complicit with distributing a false narrative ahead of the House vote on the commission. In either case, these journalists look remarkably inept as a result.