Before the vote, Nearman, who refused the call of every single one of his colleagues to resign, wrapped himself up in the deluded snowflake MAGA blanket of crybaby persecution, telling the chamber sarcastically, “The party in power doesn’t have to be fair—might makes right.” His argument being that the building being closed to the public at the time was the real problem, not Nearman colluding to break the law. “So, if that’s what you want to do, let’s do what the people have sent us here to do. Let’s decide.” They did decide and both might and democracy made right. Democratic state Rep. Julie Fahey spoke during the debate before the vote, saying “This is potentially the most serious and historic vote any of us will ever take in our career as legislators.”
Let us all be clear on Nearman’s defense here. Nearman is positing that he himself was being some kind of courageous patriot … by pretending to just happen to walk out and let in body-armor wearing protesters while his colleagues were doing their jobs. He was clearly trying to give himself some plausible deniability, by walking out, letting in insurgents and disappearing from the building. The only people who search for plausible deniability in things are people doing shit they know they aren’t supposed to do, but are also too chickenshit to actually, full-throatedly admit they did it.
Important to note: Nearman’s pantomime defense—that he just happened to be going outside to take a breather when these folks came through the door he was leaving—was accepted by his GOP colleagues enough that they stayed mum on calls for his resignation for weeks. As fellow Republican state Rep. Bill Post crocodile-teared in a post on his blog, “Mike told us that there is NO further evidence and certainly not any that would show premeditation. In fact, about five weeks ago, as his friend and one of the closest colleagues he has in the Capitol, I asked “is there ANY further video or other evidence?” He said “no.” That is the crux of the problem: he lied. To me personally and to the House Republican caucus. This pains me to no end to reveal. He is my friend.”
The problem was that he lied to fellow Republicans about there being evidence that he planned some kind of criminal action that might put his fellow colleagues in harm’s way, to thwart the democratic process of our country. The problem was the lie, not the actual action? Luckily for America and Oregon, there was video showing Nearman actually planned to break the law. You know, like how if someone had died because of Nearman’s actions it would have been considered second-degree murder as opposed to first-degree.
But video did appear, showing state Rep. Nearman speaking with a group of constituents, about something he jokingly said he didn’t know about called “Operation Hall Pass,” then giving out his cell phone number and saying if he was texted at a certain section of the building he might be able to let people in, that Republicans finally realized it was time to pretend they understood the magnitude of Nearman’s betrayal to Democracy.
“We’re talking about setting up Operation Hall Pass, which I don’t know anything about and if you accuse me of knowing something about, I’ll deny it. But there would be some person’s cell phone which might be” and he recites a phone number beginning with 971.
“But,” he continues, “that was just random numbers that I screened up. That’s not anybody’s actual cell phone. And if you say ‘I am at the west entrance’ during a session in text to that number there, that somebody might exit that door while you’re standing there.
Nearman remained delusional to the end. On Monday, with the reality that Nearman would likely become the first Oregon legislator to be expelled, he reportedly told right-wing radio host Lars Larson that “Someday you’re gonna be watching Jeopardy and somebody’s gonna say, ‘Who is Mike Nearman?’ And that’s gonna be the right answer.” You mean like a question about, say Ted Kaczynski?
Here’s him talking about “Operation Hall Pass”:
And here’s the yellow-bellied patriot letting in guys wearing American flag boots.