Pulling back from the ‘appalling descent’: An interview with Jan. 6 investigator Jamie Raskin

Jan. 6, 2021, was madness. Without a proper account of that day, the stain of its violence and betrayal, already indelibly etched into the national history, could continue to spread, shading and infiltrating every institution low and high until finally, this ‘great experiment’ collapses in on itself in a heap of dingy authoritarianism. 

For the last several weeks, the Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol presented its findings on the insurrection incited by former President Donald Trump now more than a year ago.

He is the only American president ever impeached for this betrayal, making him uniquely offensive since his actions obliterated the core of what the Constitution demands of presidents above all else when they take the oath: its faithful preservation and defense.

Campaign Action

So much of what happened on the way to Jan. 6 unfolded in public. 

Trump said long before Election Day if he lost, it was because the election was rigged. Many of his personal attorneys and members of his administration spent weeks promoting or defending wild conspiracy theories of voter fraud at press conferences, on podcasts, on the radio, or on television. This continued unabated even after the nation’s Attorney General and heads of the nation’s intelligence networks confirmed to Trump in public—and in private, as the committee showed at length this summer—that his fraud claims lacked credibility entirely. 

It was an all-out assault of disinformation and propaganda aimed at convincing the American public he was not defeated after a single term in the White House where his tenure and popularity were regularly marred by the cruelty of his policies and the consequences of his own actions, like impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Trump’s speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 was a tirade but it was also an open invitation to his most devoted followers to help him retain power by force despite losing the 2020 election popularly and by way of the Electoral College. And when the debris, blood, sweat, urine, and feces were finally cleared away from the Capitol after the mob stormed it, Trump’s second impeachment followed.

The case was, as Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told Daily Kos during an interview this week, “made almost completely with facts from the public record, and the statements and actions Trump made.”

“It was overwhelming,” Raskin said. “Although the incitement was plain to see and the violence was bloody and fresh on people’s minds, what we did not have was the detailed account of the president’s step-by-step effort to orchestrate a political coup against the election and essentially set aside Joe Biden’s seven-million-vote victory.” 

Kevin Seefried of Delaware, pictured here, was found guilty of obstruction of Congress among several other charges in June. He used the Confederate flag to jab at U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman. Goodman was the officer responsible for luring rioters away from lawmakers by mere seconds and inches. Seefried is sentenced in September.

Now, that “detailed account” has been presented to millions of Americans.

An average of 13 million broadcast viewers watched per hearing day, according to Nielsen, hearing evidence at each juncture about how Trump: 1) worked to overturn the election results by promoting a lie; 2) attempted to install his allies at the Justice Department when legal avenues to assert his victory were defeated; 3) advanced a fake elector strategy to pressure the vice president to stop Congress from certifying the count; 4) invited a crowd he understood to be armed to march to the Capitol with him during the Joint Session of Congress; and 5) abandoned his sworn duty to protect the United States by sitting idly for nearly three hours while ignoring pleas for help as a mob erected a gallows, issued calls to hang the vice president and Speaker of the House, stormed the halls of Congress and attacked hundreds of outnumbered police officers with a barrage of lethal weapons. 

During its two primetime sessions alone, a cumulative 30 million (or more) broadcast viewers heard this evidence—and then some.

Raskin told Daily Kos in April he hoped the hearings would become a way of arming the American public with the tools of “intellectual self-defense against the authoritarian and fascistic policies that have been unleashed in this country.”

”These hearings have been so devastating for Trump and his followers because they have shown everyone exactly every effort he undertook to overturn the election and the Constitutional order. And almost all of it was based on evidence brought forth by Republican witnesses,” Raskin said by phone this week.

That is true, despite what disinformation may be flowing out from right-wing platforms. 

The testimony during the hearings overwhelmingly featured Republican lawyers, judges, political commentators, election attorneys, Trump-appointed U.S. Attorneys, a Republican city commissioner, and a Trump campaign manager, to name but a few. 

”I think [the hearings] have moved the whole spectrum of public opinion closer to the facts of what actually happened. These people who were already convinced of Donald Trump’s culpability now have a lot more evidence to corroborate their initial convictions,” Raskin reflected.

“Those who were on the fence have been moved to reject the ‘Big Lie’ and to doubt the continuing efforts to undermine the reality of Biden’s victory. Those who were in Trump’s camp as true believers have begun to melt away at the margins even though many of them are still holding firm. It does not look like a promising scenario for those who continue to want Donald Trump to be the central figure of American politics,” he said.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll released this week found that the hearings may not have shaken loose many of Trump’s most fundamental supporters, but the share of unaffiliated or independent voters in the U.S. that believe the former president is responsible for the insurrection has increased significantly. And almost more importantly, those independents who held “favorable views” of Trump have continued to dip, too. Many independents are indicating they will vote for a Democrat in November.

If the Justice Department will not make it so that Trump is unable to hold office, at the least, this should be a small comfort: the hearings have manifested an even greater number of Americans who believe there is good reason to vote against a person, or persons, who would incite a deadly insurrection. 

Raskin would like to see the Justice Department take action publicly and more definitively before the midterms. He also knows that the timing of that announcement could draw ire, and that screeches of political impropiety are likely to come.  

“But the Constitution itself regards this matter with the utmost gravity,” Raskin said. “Section III of the 14th Amendment said that people who have sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and betray it by engaging in an insurrection shall never hold federal or state office again. That is a constitutional principle.”

He continued: “It’s obviously a legitimate thing for us to be talking about. But the Department of Justice and prosecutors at other levels have to make their decisions without regard to anyone’s political plans. If people had immunity from prosecution just because they were running for office, then anybody who was suspected of a crime, any crime at all, could simply announce for political office, and then they would have legal immunity. That can’t be right,” he said.”

The committee’s debut session was a year ago this month. Police who defended the Capitol testified for the first time publicly and put a personal face on the raw, frenzied violence that most Americans only witnessed from afar.  

As the months have marched on, the committee has unearthed hundreds of thousands of pages of records from the White House and elsewhere and has interviewed over 1,000 people who were directly or indirectly involved with Jan. 6. Those interviews continue. Raskin said this week the number of former Trump aides who have come forward recently are producing a “waterfall of truth.”

Attempts to stop the committee from airing its evidence have been unceasing, yet mostly unsuccessful. Those caught in the committee’s scrutiny have been unable to cast the panel as illegitimate when fighting subpoenas in court.

The committee’s work has been overwhelmingly bolstered through judicial opinions, providing an outcome that offers benefits twice over. When Judge David Carter ruled that Trump and John Eastman, the attorney who developed a six-point strategy to overturn the election, had likely engaged in a criminal conspiracy—and further that they “engaged in a coup in search of legal theory”—it set a strong precedent for Congress and upped the ante for investigations at the Justice Department. 

Carter Ruling by The Western Journal

In fact, this week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom revealed in court that the Department obtained a new search warrant to access records on John Eastman’s phone. This process has been unfolding for the last month. The home of Jeffrey Clark was also searched. Clark is the former DOJ attorney who Trump tried to install as attorney general after existing senior officials at the department refused his scheme to declare the election as false. And Clark’s underling, Ken Klukowski, is now cooperating with the DOJ’s probe into Jan. 6 in full, according to Klukowski’s lawyer, Ed Greim.  

Cassidy Hutchinson, who provided some of the most shocking public testimony this summer is cooperating with the department. During the hearings, she testified under oath that Trump knew the mob was armed—“I don’t fucking care that they have weapons, they’re not here to hurt me,’” she recalled him saying—and she disclosed that her boss, Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, sought pardons in the aftermath of the insurrection. She also disclosed information about a small battery of Republican lawmakers who sought pardons in the wake of Jan. 6.

She also divulged how the president wished to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6 after his speech, offering insight into his mindset that day. When this request was rejected, his outrage was so severe, Hutchinson said, that the former president lunged at the arm and neck of a Secret Service agent driving him.

Other witnesses have refused to cooperate under subpoena, courting contempt of Congress charges and indictments like Trump ally and strategist Steve Bannon and former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro. Bannon was found guilty on two counts and faces sentencing in October. Others, like Meadows or onetime adviser Dan Scavino, have cooperated to varying degrees and managed to evade prosecution. Other Trump-world officials have invoked their Fifth Amendment rights after being subpoenaed. Committee vice chair Liz Cheney said last month, more than 30 witnesses called before the committee invoked their right against self-incrimination. 

The most high profile of those figures are Eastman; Clark; longtime GOP operative Roger Stone; conspiracy theory hack and right-wing podcaster Alex Jones; and Michael Flynn, Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser.

In December 2020, Flynn publicly advocated for Trump to invoke martial law to rerun the 2020 election. He was also part of discussions with Trump and his attorneys where there was talk of the military seizing voting machines. He did not ultimately cooperate with the select committee, but in airing a five-minute clip of Flynn’s deposition, the committee allowed his silence to speak volumes.

When Cheney asked Flynn if he felt the violence on Jan. 6 was legally justified, he pleaded the Fifth. When she asked if he believed it was morally justified, he pleaded the Fifth. When she asked him if he believed in the peaceful transition of power in the United States, the retired three-star Army general pleaded the Fifth. 

A Capitol Police officer walks past a worker cleaning damage a day after a pro-Trump mob broke into the US Capitol.

With each day that has passed since the committee’s first-ever hearing last July, the truth continues to pour out. 

”The defense of the constitutional order and the rule of law should be something that unifies Americans across the political spectrum,” Raskin said. “Trump convinced millions of people that if your team does it, if they break the law or upend the Constitutional order, you embrace it or defend it regardless of how unlawful or criminal it is.”

“But that’s just an appalling descent for intellectual and ethical standards in American life,” Raskin said.

“When the people [who believed the Big Lie] called for ‘Justice for Trump’ they said ‘let the people decide.’ The people voted for Biden. But Trump tried to overthrow the election, so he was impeached for doing that. And we took it to trial, and at trial, they told us then, ‘don’t deal with this through impeachment, you could prosecute him if there was a crime.’ “

“Now the Department of Justice is investigating whether there is a crime, and these same people are saying, ‘you can’t prosecute him, it’s too political!’ No matter what is done, they essentially assert that Donald Trump is beyond the reach of the law and that is a profoundly anti-democratic attitude,” he said. 

One of the last battles to be waged between Trump and the truth about January 6 will very likely play out on the field of executive privilege disputes and crime-fraud exceptions where the Department of Justice, not the select committee, will lead the charge of a criminal investigation into the former president and his associates.

The Justice Department is moving at its own pace and operating mostly in stealth, but the dam seems to be breaking as more reporting now suggests the DOJ has its Jan. 6 prosecutors focused on two principal tracks: Trump’s possible orchestration of a seditious conspiracy and obstruction of a congressional proceeding and fraud.

The fraud track would stem from the fake-elector scheme and is believed to encompass the pressure campaign Trump and his allies put on officials at the DOJ to say the election was rigged and votes were fraudulently cast. 

The committee’s investigation, meanwhile, is still humming as members maneuver their way through new challenges—like what to do about a batch of deleted Secret Service text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 as well as deleted texts from the same period at the Department of Homeland Security. 

That department’s inspector general, Joseph Cuffari, the Washington Post was first to report on Friday, “scrapped” an effort to recover agency phones. In February, after learning that messages had been erased during a “planned” device reset, Cuffari reportedly decided to stop further review and collection of phones. He only this month notified the House and Senate Homeland Security committees of the “erased” texts. He was asked by the head of that committee, and various others 10 days after the insurrection to ensure all records and devices were preserved. 

Committee chairman Bennie Thompson, as well as Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who sits on a committee that oversees offices of the inspectors general, have called on Cuffari to recuse himself from the investigation. The director of the Secret Service, James Murray, announced late Friday he would waylay his planned July 31 retirement to “ensure our agency's continued cooperation, responsiveness, and full support with respect to ongoing congressional and other inquiries.” 

This is an unsettling series of developments, Raskin admits.

“This profound mystery of the Secret Service texts and what information is being masked by their disappearance is something we are all pursuing. We are invested in finding out the truth there,” he said.

The next hearing is expected in September and the committee plans to produce an interim report around the same time. A final report will follow, but meanwhile, over the next month, he said, “everyone has loose ends that they want to follow up on.”

During the course of its probe, every member of the committee has specialized in a different facet of the investigation.

Raskin’s focus was Trump’s mobilization of the mob as well as domestic violent extremist groups like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers. and Three Percenters. 

“There are still significant things that we are finding out that I want to pursue there,” Raskin said. “The same goes for the shakedown of the Justice Department, the attempt to coerce state election officials, and so forth. I would say each member has his or her continuing research agenda and then we have some things we consider major to the whole of the investigation we are pursuing.” 

It has been a long year already and it is not quite yet over. As for the man at the center of the probe, former President Trump, he has yet to stop his incessant spread of disinformation about the 2020 election and is poised to take another run for the White House. 

But Raskin is optimistic. 

“I’m most optimistic about the fact that the vast majority of the American people do not believe in coups, insurrections, and political violence to usurp the will of the people. There is still a profound allegiance to constitutional democracy in the country,” he said.

He is not cynical, but “sobered” around other facts.

What “sobers him,” he said, is that Republican Party, even now “remains under the spell and stranglehold of Donald Trump.” 

He continued: “They are using every anti-democratic device in the book to thwart majority rule; from voter suppression statutes to gerrymandering of our districts to the weaponization of the filibuster to the manipulation of the Electoral College.”

“We are in a race between the clear majority’s will and preference for democratic institutions and progress and the efforts to drag us back into some kind of anti-democratic past,” Raskin remarked. 

So, then, are the people now armed with the tools of “intellectual defense” they need to resist this and other aspiring tyrants to come? 

“I don't think people will fall for any more ‘Big Lies’ or disinformation for the most part,” he said.

The lawmaker reflected: “People who have been disabused of all these notions aren’t going back. But there is an important question being tested here: whether the new propaganda systems that have grown up in the internet age can actually operate like an intellectual straight-jacket? Will millions of people really be locked into a system of lies? That’s a question that is closely connected to the future of our democracy. Democracy needs a ground to stand on, and that foundation has got to be the truth.”

Cases containing electoral votes are opened during a joint session of Congress after the session resumed following protests at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, early on January 7, 2021.

RELATED STORY: Jan. 6 committee probes depths of Trump’s dishonor in wildly revealing hearing

RELATED STORY: Witness tampering, carnage, screaming matches: Jan. 6 probe ties Trump, extremists to insurrection

RELATED STORY: Trump’s push to upend transfer of power on Jan. 6 put into staggering relief by White House witness

RELATED STORY: Pardons and a whole lot of pressure: An explosive day of testimony from Jan. 6 probe

RELATED STORY: Witnesses help tie Trump directly to bogus elector scheme during day of intense testimony

RELATED STORY: Bombshells galore as Jan. 6 probe reveals new details behind key overturn strategy pushed by Trump

RELATED STORY: Day of damning evidence from Jan. 6 committee as they pathway to possible prosecution for Trump

Trump-backed Washington GOP House candidates to take on pro-impeachment Republicans

Two Washington GOP House candidates, both endorsed by former President Trump, aim to defeat two incumbent Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year.

The Downballot: My Big Fat August Primary Preview, with Jeff Singer (transcript)

Whoa, mama! August has so, so many juicy primaries on tap, which is why we've brought Daily Kos Elections Editor Jeff Singer back to discuss all the best races for this week's edition of The Downballot. There's the GOP battle for Arizona's governorship, where Trump's pick has been absolutely slain by her drag queen ex-friend; two pro-impeachment Republicans in Washington state trying to keep their political careers alive; a heavyweight rumble between two 30-year veteran incumbents in New York City; and lots, lots more.

Co-host David Nir recaps the back-to-back dropouts in Wisconsin's Democratic primary for Senate that have solidified Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes as the undisputed frontrunner. He also criticizes the handwringing over Democrats' meddling in a Michigan primary, saying it's not the Democratic Party's responsibility to make sure Republicans nominate sensible candidates—that's the GOP's job (if it even cares to). David Beard, meanwhile, previews the snap election just called in Italy, where the right looks set to perform well.

Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

David Beard:

Hello and welcome. I'm David Beard, contributing editor for Daily Kos Elections.

David Nir:

And I'm David Nir, political director of Daily Kos. The Downballot is a weekly podcast dedicated to the many elections that take place below the presidency from senate to city council. You can subscribe to The Downballot wherever you listen to podcasts, and we would be particularly grateful if you would leave us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts.

David Beard:

We have got an extremely busy month of August coming up for politics. So, what do we have in today's episode?

David Nir:

We are going to be discussing some big developments in the Democratic primary for Wisconsin's extremely competitive Senate race this week, and a controversial move by the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] DCCC to meddle in a GOP primary for a key House seat in Michigan. A snap election has also been called in Italy, so we are going to preview what that looks like. But most importantly of all, we are bringing on Daily Kos Elections editor, Jeff Singer, once more to do a deep dive into the many, many races that we have on the docket in the month of August. There is a ton of ground to cover, so please stick with us for this terrific episode.

David Beard:

To start off our weekly hits, we've got the Wisconsin Senate Democratic primary, where some really surprising developments have taken place over the last week. So tell us what's going on there, Nir.

David Nir:

Yeah. So on Monday, one of the Democrats running to take on Ron Johnson, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, dropped out of the race and endorsed Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, who has led in most polling and in fundraising. And then on Wednesday, former Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, who had been heavily self-funding his own campaign, also dropped out and also endorsed Mandela Barnes. So obviously a really good week for Barnes, who to my mind is the most electrifying and interesting candidate running in that race. He would be the state's first black Senator, among other achievements. He doesn't have the primary completely sewn up. There is still one other notable candidate in the race, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. But again, she has generally trailed Barnes on most metrics. And the overall theme of this week is the state Democratic party consolidating behind Barnes. I think he'll probably be very tough to beat.

David Nir:

Honestly, the only frustrating thing is it would've been nice to have had the past year to all rally around Barnes. Obviously, Ron Johnson is one of the most-hated Republican senators among progressives in this country. But at the same time, I'm not worried about Barnes having the resources he'll need for this race. We have seen it time and time again; Democrats in competitive senate primaries in recent years have seen their fundraising explode after they win their primaries. Certainly, this was true of John Fetterman in Pennsylvania just a few months ago, and I think the same thing will happen with Barnes. People are really geared up to help give Johnson the boot, especially with this being one of the most important Senate races this year. Again, Barnes still has to actually win this primary, but I am feeling good about his chances now.

David Beard:

It's definitely interesting to see these two candidates drop out so close to the primary. It's certainly not unheard of, particularly in races where there's one candidate of sort of one ideological stripe or there's a distinction and the other candidates sort of need to consolidate to defeat that candidate. But that wasn't really the situation here. There wasn't like a clear progressive/moderate division. There just seemed to be some acceptance that Barnes was comfortably ahead and was probably going to win, and these two candidates decided to just sort of get out in front of that, which is not something you see very often, but hopefully will sort of help jumpstart Barnes ahead of the primary.

David Nir:

It's something that we certainly wish we might see more often. The amazing thing is that Lasry spent more than $12 million of his own money on the race. So, a little bit late to come to this realization, but certainly better late than never. We are going to move over to another Midwestern state to talk about a House race in the 3rd congressional district, which is based in the Grand Rapids area. And thanks to Michigan's new nonpartisan redistricting commission, it just became considerably bluer. This seat is held by Republican freshman Peter Meijer, who was one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. Of course, that earned him a primary from a far-right candidate endorsed by Trump, named John Gibbs. And with just a little bit of time left before the primary, the DCCC went in and started spending money to boost Gibbs. They're doing this with the now very standard line that he's too conservative and handpicked by Trump. So, it's a very thinly veiled “attack.”

David Nir:

The difference here is that we have seen a huge outpouring of hand-wringing and pearl clutching in response to this. And I know that Democratic meddling in GOP primaries is often a divisive issue, but really, I think that a lot of the complaints are just total garbage here. It is not the Democratic Party's responsibility to make sure that the Republican Party runs sane, sensible pro-democracy candidates. That is the Republican Party's job. And to say that it is somehow hypocritical for Democrats to do everything in their power to try to flip this seat and ensure that Democrats retain control of the House of Representatives is absurd to me. Yes, Peter Meijer has very occasionally sided against the GOP and Donald Trump. But if he's reelected, he is going to vote for Kevin McCarthy or whoever Republicans put up for Speaker of the House. He is not going to vote for the Democratic candidate for Speaker. He won't even abstain. He is opposed to letting Democrats control the House, as well he should be. He is a Republican.

David Nir:

Yes, John Gibbs is crazier. He is further to the right. As an individual, he is certainly a more dangerous candidate. Should he win? But the Republican Party itself is an incredibly dangerous political party, and Peter Meijer winning renomination makes it more likely that he'll defeat the Democrat, Hillary Scholten, rather than John Gibbs. And if Peter Meijer wins, that makes it more likely that Republicans will pick up the House of Representatives, and that puts us much closer to a crisis of democracy. I am adamantly in favor of Democrats doing what they need to do and being aggressive to ensure that the party retains control of the house. Parties govern Congress, not people. Don't get hung up on who John Gibbs is. Get hung up on who the Republican Party is. They are scary and they must be defeated, and this is one of the tools that we have in our arsenal.

David Nir:

And let's also be clear; Republicans do the same thing. They just have fewer opportunities because Democrats put up far, far fewer unelectable candidates, but Republicans did try this in North Carolina in the Senate race in 2020. It didn't work for them, but they would certainly try it all the time if they could. So I am absolutely tired of this pearl clutching. I am tired of the concern trolling. I am tired of scolding reporters who claim that this undermines the Democrats' message about democracy. Regular voters are never going to hear about these kind of campaign tactics. It's only reporters who think that Democrats are somehow undermining their own message. But the fact of the matter is that, if Republicans do not want crazy candidates to represent them on the ballot, then they should run better candidates and help those candidates. That is their duty.

David Beard:

And I think if you want to question the effectiveness of playing in the other party’s primaries, that's one question I've often wondered how effective this actually is often, but that's totally separate from whether or not you should be able to do it. And then I also think that there were other options, like if the idea is that we need to protect Peter Meijer because he voted to impeach Trump, he could have run as independent. He could have said that he wasn't going to vote for Kevin McCarthy for a leader. He would only vote for somebody who denounced the Big Lie. Those were options that he could have taken if he wanted to separate himself from the Republican Party. But he didn't choose to do any of that. Did he take a courageous vote to impeach Donald Trump? Sure. Does that mean that we have to give him a free pass to be congressman for life until somehow the Republican Party has reformed himself? Of course not. So that's just the reality of politics. And if you don't like it, you're just going to have to deal with it.

David Beard:

Lastly, I want to take us across the Atlantic to Italy, where snap elections have been called after incumbent Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who led a government of national unity, resigned soon after the populist Five Star Movement, and then the right-wing parties League and Forza Italia, all subsequently left the national unity coalition.

David Beard:

So the elections are going to be on September 25th. And right now the right-wing coalition of the League, which you may know as its former name, which was the Northern League as it started out in Northern Italy and then rebranded itself as it became more popular throughout the country. But as the League, Forza Italia, and Brothers of Italy are currently the favorites to win the election and form the next government. If they do, Brothers of Italy leader, Giorgia Meloni is the favorite to become the first female prime minister of Italy.

David Beard:

The Brothers of Italy are polling neck and neck with the center-left Democratic Party for first place. But the other two right-wing parties are polling significantly stronger than any potential allies for the Democratic Party, which makes it hard for the center-left to form any sort of coalition to actually win the election and govern the country moving forward. Particularly the Five Star Movement, which got 32% back in 2018, is expected to fall to around 10%. Now, they're a populist anti-establishment movement that had really done very well in recent years, but it sort of collapsed among divisions within itself as these populist movements also often do. They sort of stood for a lot of different things that were anti-establishment, like some were pro the European Union and some were anti, and various issues like that. And then the longer they were sort of in power, the more that the infighting sort of caused the party to collapse. There's been a split in the party. And so it's sort of led to sort of a bit of a collapse for it, which really hurts the non-right-wing parties.

David Nir:

Well, that does it for our weekly hits. We have Daily Kos Elections Editor Jeff Singer joining us to do a preview of a very, very big month of primaries coming up in August. So please stay with us after the break.

David Nir:

We are about to flip the calendar on the month of August, and that means we have another huge ton of primaries in store for us. And so we're welcoming back Daily Kos Elections Editor Jeff Singer to preview all the big races with us. Jeff, thank you so much for coming on again.

Jeff Singer:

Thank you. It's great to be back.

David Nir:

Coming up this Tuesday, August 2nd, we have primaries in five states: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. A lot of very big states. In Kansas, in particular, we have already mentioned a race that's on the ballot that is not a primary, but rather the constitutional amendment that Republicans have put before voters to amend the state constitution to say that it does not include a right to an abortion. We have discussed that one a bunch. The one poll we've seen shows that race very close. But there are so many other primaries that we do want to hit. And you know what? Jeff, why don't you start off with the big statewide races in Arizona?

Jeff Singer:

Yes. So probably the biggest race to watch is the race for governor, where Republican incumbent, Doug Ducey, has termed out. And originally it looks like there'd be this big crowded Republican primary to succeed him, but the field has narrowed dramatically. And it's turned into yet another proxy battle between Donald Trump and a governor he once loved and now hates. Trump's candidate here is Kari Lake. She's a former TV news anchor who has fallen very, very, very deep in the far-right conspiracy rabbit hole. Ducey, meanwhile, is backing Karrin Taylor Robson, who's a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, which governs higher education. Robson is very wealthy. She's been using her money to outspend Lake, but most polls still have Lake up by varying margins.

Jeff Singer:

Even though Lake is in the lead, or maybe because she's in the lead, she's already laying the groundwork to cry foul for a loss. She said, "We're already detecting some stealing going on." And this is a Republican primary she's talking about. But Lake's opponents will remind everyone that she was an Obama and Hillary Clinton supporter just a few years ago. And to make things even more complicated, a prominent Phoenix drag queen named Richard Stevens recently responded when Lake targeted drag performers as "grooming and child abuse." He posted images of the two together during their now-severed friendship, and revealed he performed for Lake in drag multiple times. Not the image most far-right candidates have. That has made it into an ad starring a different drag queen, who's called Lake a phony. So this is quite the race we have here.

David Nir:

And what's going on on the Democratic side, who is most likely to take on the GOP nominee?

Jeff Singer:

The Democratic side has become a duel between Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who's one of the few Democratics who hold statewide office, and the former mayor of Nogales, Marco Lopez. There have been far fewer polls here. But Hobbs has led in what we've seen. And she's enjoyed this huge financial edge. So it would be a surprise if she's not the Democratic nominee.

David Nir:

So we also of course have to talk about the senate race. This is a key target that Republicans are hoping to flip just two years after Democrat, Mark Kelly flipped this seat from the GOP in a special election in 2020. So what's the deal here?

Jeff Singer:

There are five Republicans competing here. The front runner is Blake Masters, who is the protégé of Republican mega donor, Peter Thiel. Trump's also for Masters. It looks like Masters' main opponent is wealthy businessman Jim Lamon, who's been spending plenty of his own money on ads, portraying Masters as a California transplant who isn't a real conservative. One Lamon ad even showed Masters call the Unabomber "a subversive thinker that's underrated," which Masters himself admitted "probably isn't the best thing to say during a campaign."

Jeff Singer:

There are three other candidates here. One of them is Attorney General Mark Brnovich, but he's struggled with fundraising. Trump hates him because he didn't do enough to advance the Big Lie. He's been in third in most of the numbers we've seen. So it really looks like the question will be whether Masters can keep his lead against Lamon.

David Beard:

So let's move to Missouri, a race that we talked about a little bit last week, where Senator Roy Blunt is retiring. And there's a number of Republicans running in that primary. Obviously, most notably Eric Greitens, who's attempting a comeback. So tell us about that race.

Jeff Singer:

So Greitens looked like the front-runner at the beginning, mostly because of name recognition, even though he resigned in 2018 because of multiple scandals. He has several opponents, but the two main ones look like Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler. Hartzler has endorsement from Missouri's other senator, Josh Hawley, who the internet has had some fun with over the last week or so. But Trump's not so keen on the Congresswoman. He recently said, "She sought my endorsement, I told her no." Which as far as Trump goes, that's actually pretty nice, but not what she wanted. Greitens meanwhile has been on the receiving end of a very well financed super PAC, that's one ad's quoting testimony from his ex-wife alleging that he abused one of their sons and Schmidt has... He's taken his share of attack ads from Greitens's and Hertzler, but nothing to the same degree and some recent polls show him ahead.

David Beard:

Moving up to Michigan, we've got the governor's race where a number of Republicans are competing to take on democratic incumbent, Gretchen Whitmer, so what's the state of play there?

Jeff Singer:

If you asked me about this race in May, I would've given you a very different answer than I'm giving now, because that month two major candidates, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, and wealthy businessman Perry Johnson were thrown off their Republican primary ballot after too many of their signatures ruled fraudulent. Craig, who was the front runner until then, is running a write-in campaign, but he struggled to get traction. So now candidates who were the underdogs are suddenly getting some second life.

Jeff Singer:

There are five of them. The front runner now looks like Tudor Dixon, who's a conservative radio host. She is the backing of some very influential Republicans, including the DeVos family, including Betsy DeVos. Dixon herself has been running quite far to the right. She says she wants to outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. Her main opponent looks like wealthy businessman Kevin Rinke. He's been running ads suggesting that because DeVos resigned from Trump's cabinet riot for January 6th, Dixon is being controlled by never-Trumpers. There are a few other candidates, real estate agent Ryan Kelley, who made the news last month when he was arrested for his alleged role in the January 6th riot. Most polls have shown Dixon ahead by varying margins. Rinke looks like her main opponent.

David Beard:

And briefly, when news about Kelley came out, it seemed to briefly actually give him a boost in the Republican primary. But fortunately that is faded. So hopefully people getting arrested does not help them in winning elections, but we'll have to see. Then finally in Washington where they have a top two primary, so all of the candidates run on one primary ballot. And like in California, the top two candidates advance to the general election; we've got two congressional races we want to talk about, so tell us about those.

Jeff Singer:

So these are the races in two seats that Trump carried. Washington's 3rddistrict in the southern part of the state, and the 4th, just to the east. It has two Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, each running for reelection. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the 3rd, and Dan Newhouse in the 4th, against candidates Trump is endorsing. Herrera Beutler's main opponent is Army veteran Joe Kent, who has Trump's endorsement. Kent has ties to far-right figures, and he's defended Putin's invasion of Ukraine, but this is a top two primary, so all sorts of weird shenanigans happen. One of them is that an outside group has started airing ads to promote a third Republican, evangelical author Heidi St. John, who really hadn't been getting much attention beforehand. Kent said that this was an effort to try to split the far-right vote and help Herre Butler advance to the general election.

Jeff Singer:

And he probably is right about this. Kent is trying his own maneuvers though. He sent mailers out to Democrats, arguing that one of the Democratic candidates, auto repair shop owner, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, is the only pro-choice candidate, which seems to be his effort to try to get Democrats to vote for her instead of Herrera Beutler, and thus keep Herrera Beutler out of the general election, so this is a volatile one. Lots of maneuvers and counter maneuvers are happening. This one could get messy.

Jeff Singer:

Similar situation in the Fourth District, where Newhouse's main opponent is Loren Culp, who's a former small town police chief, and he was the 2020 nominee for governor. Culp lost that last contest to Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee by a wide 57 to 43 margin, but Culp refused to concede that obvious loss, which helps explain why Trump's for him. But Culp has struggled with fundraising. He's got some little outside support beyond the Trump endorsement. There are also five other Republicans and just one Democrat, so even though Trump carried the seat by a very wide margin, it's quite possible that, that one Democrat will advance and the fight is just over which Republican will join them.

David Nir:

Moving on later that same week, believe it or not. We have the Tennessee Primaries. We are not going to dive into any of those races right now, though keep an eye on the open, and heavily gerrymandered, 5th District. The weird thing you'll notice, though, is that Tennessee's primary is on a Thursday. This always happens, and every two years everyone asks, "Why is Tennessee's primary on a Thursday?" And the answer that researchers have come up with is absolutely nobody knows. So moving on to the following week, August 9th, we have four more states, Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin. The top of the list here for sure is Wisconsin: perennial swing state, always home to close elections. And here we have huge races for Senate and Governor. At the top of the show, we discussed the developments in the Senate race. So Singer, why don't you tell us about what's happening in the race to take on Democratic Governor, Tony Evers. What's going on the Republican side?

Jeff Singer:

So Evers in 2018, narrowly ousted Scott Walker. Republicans want that seat back very badly. Until April, the front runner was Walker's former Lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, but things got very complicated then when seemingly out of nowhere, wealthy businessman Tim Michels, who lost a 2004 Senate race to Russ Feingold, and really hadn't been seen since suddenly got in, started spending his own money heavily on ads to reintroduce himself, and then the polls showed him in a very close race with Kleefisch. Trump then endorsed Michels, and what's very interesting is just over the last few days, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel dived as far into Trump's psyche, as you'd really like to go.

Jeff Singer:

And what the paper said was that Trump had told Michels how in 2019 Kleefisch's daughter had gone to her high school prom with the son of state Supreme Court justice, Brian Hagedorn, who is a conservative who's ruled against Trump on some attempts to steal the election. That did not sit well with Trump, so even though these are the kids of these two people, not either of them themselves. The two kids went to prom. That's enough to get Trump to say, "Ooh, I don't like that." It's Trump, so we'll never know why he does what he does, but it's possible when the story of this race is written, we'll say that if that prom date hadn't happened, Trump would've stayed out of it.

David Nir:

I mean, that story is both totally disgusting, totally hilarious, and totally believable when it comes to Donald Trump. So we're going to keep marching right along. The following week, August 16th, we have two more states, Alaska and Wyoming. Now, Alaska definitely requires a bit of extra background here because they radically overhauled their primary system. So why don't you tell us about the system they're using now and what's going on in the race for the seat that was once held by the late Don Young, the former Dean of the House.

Jeff Singer:

In 2020, Alaska voters narrowly voted to just do away with the primary system altogether. No more Democratic or Republican primaries, everyone runs on one ballot, and the four candidates with the most votes, the four, they advance to a general election. And in the general election, there's an instant runoff or rank choice ballot. So two big changes to the system.

Jeff Singer:

Everyone expected that the first time the system would get a workout would be for the August primaries, but everything changed when Don Young died suddenly. They had their top four primary in June. Four candidates advanced. One very, very well known: Sarah Palin. Another with a very familiar name, Nick Begich III. He's the rare Republican of what's been a very prominent Alaska Democratic family. Another, Al Gross, who's an independent. He was the Democratic nominee for Senate in 2020, and the fourth is Democratic former State Representative, Mary Peltola, but this four-way matchup isn't happening, because Gross, just after the primary, dropped out and endorsed Peltola. So because of when Gross made his departure, it was too late to substitute him on the ballot, so now there are three candidates instead of four facing off. So on August 16, three candidates, Palin, Begich, and Peltola will run against one another with a rank choice ballot. But at that same time, there will also be a different top four primary for the next term in Congress. So at the same time, if they're facing off, they'll be going up against over two dozen other candidates. And the four candidates who get the most votes will be facing off again in November for a regular two-year term.

Jeff Singer:

So quite a lot, quite complicated. Because Palin, Begich and Peltola are facing off in the specials, it's a pretty good bet all three of them are going to advance to November for the regular term. The question is who's going to be number four. That might be Tara Sweeney. She's a former Trump administration official who came in a close fifth in June. But things can get complicated here.

David Nir:

Also on that same day, we have Wyoming's primary, which has been watched with intense closeness. Of course, this is Congresswoman Liz Cheney in her fight for survival. Does she have any chance?

Jeff Singer:

If you believe the polls, no. It's looking very bad for her. Cheney knew she was taking a huge risk when she voted to impeach Trump, and kept trashing him afterwards, and joined the January 6th committee. That was a huge, huge risk in one of the most Republican states in the country. Cheney's hoping that she can encourage Democrats to cross over and vote for her in the Republican primary against Trump's candidate. But certainly, Harriet Hageman, who ran for governor in 2018, but the polls show Cheney far behind. If she wins, she's earned an upset for the ages.

David Beard:

And then finally on August 23rd, we have two more primaries, but they're pretty big ones. We've got Florida. And importantly, we've got the New York congressional races, which were delayed from New York's regular primary due to redistricting fallout from the New York courts. And so we've got a couple of really important congressional races taking place.

David Beard:

Then let's start with New York's 12th district where we've got two Democratic incumbents facing off.

Jeff Singer:

It's not unusual in a redistricting year to see two incumbents running against each other in a primary. We've seen that happen a few times this cycle already. But what's rare is that they're both 30-year incumbents, Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler. I don't think we've ever seen an incumbent versus incumbent race with two people who have so much seniority between them.

Jeff Singer:

This remains a safely Democratic district, but it's been transformed. It combines Manhattan's Upper East and Upper West Sides for the first time in over a century. Maloney represents about 60% of the seat. Nadler represents most of the remaining 40%. But, there's another complication. Attorney Suraj Patel, who lost to Maloney by a close 43 of 39 margin in 2020, is also running. There aren't many policy differences between the three candidates, but they're emphasizing different things.

Jeff Singer:

Maloney's talking about how important it's to keep a woman in office, especially in this day and age. She ran an ad saying, "You cannot send a man to do a woman's job." Nadler has been highlighting that he's the only remaining Jewish member of New York's delegation. Patel, who would be the first Indian American to represent New York in Congress, has also been positioning himself as an alternative between the two. We don't have any recent polls to go off of, so this could be anyone's race.

David Beard:

And then we have a special election in New York's 19th district. What's happening there?

Jeff Singer:

This seat in the Hudson Valley is open because representative Antonio Delgado, a Democrat, was picked to become Lieutenant Governor by Kathy Hochul, after her first choice was arrested in a campaign finance scandal. The fact that Delgado resigned from his swing district to become Lieutenant Governor of New York, which is not usually a very powerful position, surprised a lot of people. But it's off a special election.

Jeff Singer:

And because it's for the final months of Delgado's term, it's going to happen using the map that's been in place since 2012, instead of the new one. This is New York's 19th, which has been a swing district for a long time. Biden won it by a narrow 50 to 48 margin, four years after Trump won it 51 to 44, so quite competitive here.

Jeff Singer:

The Republicans nominated Dutchess County Executive Mark Molinaro, who was running against Delgado before he resigned. Molinaro was the party's 2018 nominee for governor against Andrew Cuomo. He badly lost statewide by a 60 to 36 margin. But he won this district 53 to 42. So quite a huge difference. Some of that was likely to this area having problems with Andrew Cuomo, but Molinaro leads a large county. He's a well-known guy, and he's had a huge head start running here.

Jeff Singer:

The Democrats are feeling a different County Executive, Ulster County's Pat Ryan, who ran against Delgado in the 2018 primary before he was elected county wide. This is a swing district; it can be very hard for Democrats to hold in a midterm. That's not looking too great. And even Ryan's poll recently showed Molinaro ahead by a few points. Ryan though, he's hoping that by focusing on abortion rights, he can pull ahead.

Jeff Singer:

To add to the complications, the two candidates are going to be running again in November, but under the new map in separate districts. Ryan's going to be running for the new 18th district while Molinaro is going to be running for the new 19th. So there's a chance that no matter how things go in August, the two are going to be serving together in January.

David Nir:

There are, of course, a ton of other races throughout the month of August. And if you want to stay on top of all of them, you have to sign up for our daily newsletter. It's free. It's called The Morning Digest. Go to dailykos.com/morningdigest. And before each big primary week, Jeff Singer puts together the most fantastic preview you could possibly imagine of every race, not just the ones that we've had time to mention on this podcast. Jeff, thank you once again for joining us and for illuminating all of these many, many races and candidates for us and all of our listeners.

Jeff Singer:

Thank you. It was great to be here.

David Beard:

That's all from us this week. Thanks to you Jeff Singer for joining us. The Downballot comes out everywhere. You listen to podcasts every Thursday. You can reach us by email at thedownballot@dailycoast.com. And if you haven't already, please like and subscribe to The Downballot and consider leaving us a five star rating and review. Thanks to our producer, Cara Zelaya and editor, Tim Einenkel. We'll be back next week with a new episode.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Trump’s plot to overthrow the election in full focus this week

Sarah Longwell/Atlantic:

The January 6 Hearings Are Changing Republicans’ Minds

GOP voters want political power. And they’re no longer sure Donald Trump is the best way to get it.

I conducted dozens of focus groups of Trump 2020 voters in the 17 months between the storming of the Capitol on January 6 and when the hearings began in June. One measure was consistent: At least half of the respondents in each group wanted Trump to run again in 2024. The prevailing belief was that the 2020 election was stolen—or at least unfair in some way—and Trump should get another shot.

But since June, I’ve observed a shift. I’ve conducted nine focus groups during this period, and found that only 14 percent of Trump 2020 voters wanted him to run in 2024, with a few others on the fence. In four of the groups, zero people wanted Trump to run again. Their reasoning is clear: They’re now uncertain that Trump can win again.

“He’s just too divisive and controversial,” a participant in Washington State said about Trump. “There are good candidates out there waiting to shine.”

Between the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS+ bill, it's pretty amazing what's being kicked around in production support and/or cost constraints around energy, pharmaceuticals, and tech. Just real cause for hope for the US's long termhttps://t.co/MjgC6ATLv2 https://t.co/L98bs2dgmF

— Matt Singer (he/him) (@mattsinger7) July 28, 2022

Robinson Meyer/Atlantic:

Manchin and Schumer’s Astonishing Climate Deal

If passed, the energy provisions of the senators’ new bill would represent the most significant climate action in a generation.

But on climate and energy in particular, the bill is a landmark. It authorizes $369 billion of new climate spending, the largest investment in emissions reduction in American history—and, more important, the biggest blow against climate change ever struck by the U.S. government. “This is it. This is the real victory,” Sam Ricketts, a co-founder of Evergreen Action, a climate think tank, and a former adviser to Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, told me. “I struggle to find enough superlatives to describe this deal.”

The legislation is so big, so multifaceted, that I don’t think it’s possible to summarize in this narrow space. But I will hit a few highlights that are crucial to understanding how the bill’s energy provisions work and what they could mean for the country and the world:

"I will oppose an overwhelmingly popular bill to protect gay marriage that I would otherwise support because I'm mad that the Democrats held a vote on a microchip bill that I also supported" has got to be the best example of DC brain worms I have ever encountered https://t.co/rqXdHXidTZ

— Tim Miller (@Timodc) July 28, 2022

Adam Serwer/Atlantic:

Republicans’ Cowardly Excuses for Not Protecting Marriage Equality

There is absolutely no reason to believe that fundamental rights of same-sex couples are safe.

Republican senators such as Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse, as well as conservative outlets such as National Review, have insisted that the Respect for Marriage Act is unnecessary because there is no case currently on its way to the Supreme Court that has the potential to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision that recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry. Rubio said he would vote against the bill because it was a “waste of our time on a non-issue.” Sasse told reporters that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “trying to divide America with culture wars. I think it’s just the same bullshit. She’s not an adult.”

This is nonsense. The majority reasoning in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade, is one that would invalidate Obergefell and allow states to destroy hundreds of thousands of families, notwithstanding the majority’s weak and insincere disclaimer that the decision applied only to abortion. In his concurrence, Justice Clarence Thomas took aim at Obergefell among other decisions as one granting rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution, and therefore a decision that should be overturned. There is absolutely no reason to believe that fundamental rights of same-sex couples are safe. Conservative activists want Obergefell overturned, and will try to make it happen at the first opportunity, because they do not believe that same-sex couples should have the right to marry. Reassurances to the contrary are meaningless, because the same sources that say these rights are not now at risk said similar things about Roe. It is also political strategy: Because they know that repealing marriage equality is an unpopular position, they wish to deny what they are doing right up until the moment it becomes possible. Although no one can predict what the justices themselves will do with complete certainty, Republicans in Congress are now on record as overwhelmingly supportive of the agenda Thomas outlined and the society it would impose.

This is astonishing, yet not surprising. If it feels like you're far less safe in NYC than ever before, it's not bc shootings are up. It's because the media (fueled by lies & fearmongering by NYC Mayor Eric Adams) is up. Look at this chart. Red line is shootings. Grey is media. pic.twitter.com/taPoGWGHKv

— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) July 29, 2022

Liz Sly/WaPo:

Ukraine could be turning the tide of war again as Russian advances stall

The lack of progress may be explained at least in part by the “operational pause” declared by Russia’s Defense Ministry after the seizure of Lysychansk — to allow Russian troops a chance to “rest and develop their combat capabilities,” in the words of President Vladimir Putin.

But the so-called pause did not halt Russian attempts to probe and penetrate Ukrainian lines — and the official end of the pause, announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on July 16, has brought no noticeable increase in the intensity of Russia’s assaults, said George Barros, a geospatial and Russia analyst with the Institute for the Study of War.


What It Will Take For Lisa Murkowski To Win Reelection In Alaska

First, Murkowski’s approval rating has improved more than almost any other senator since President Biden took office. New survey data from Morning Consult found that 46 percent of Alaska registered voters approved of Murkowski in the second quarter of 2022, while 39 percent disapproved. This marked the first time Morning Consult had found Murkowski in net-positive territory during Biden’s presidency. The data also showed how Murkowski is an atypical politician: She had better ratings among those who identify with the opposing party than among her own. The survey found that 62 percent of Democrats approved of her, while 23 percent disapproved. By comparison, 41 percent of Republicans approved of her versus 46 percent who disapproved (she ran about even among independents). However, Murkowski still needs some GOP support in red-leaning Alaska to win, and she might be able to retain it: Those numbers among Republicans were much better than in the first quarter of 2021, when 76 percent of them disapproved of her.

Still, it’s not hard to see why Democrats now have a better opinion of Murkowski than Republicans do. Murkowski supports abortion rights, and she’s tallied a number of conservative apostasies in recent years, including her 2017 vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act and her vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The latter vote even led the Alaska GOP to censure her. Going back to 2010, her tea party-backed primary challenger, Joe Miller, cast her as a RINO — “Republican in name only” — and narrowly defeated her for renomination. But Murkowski bucked her party to mount a write-in campaign and, remarkably, won that November. (She also beat Miller in 2016, when he ran as a Libertarian.) So she’s overcome a stern intraparty challenge before, although it took an extraordinarily unusual campaign.

I once worked in a (winning) presidential campaign. You would kiss the ground in thanks for oppo self-own material like this. The Oz campaign will be studied for a long time. (And the Fetterman campaign.) https://t.co/l1ow0dHCpP

— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) July 28, 2022

Caitlin Rivers, PhD/Substack:

A look at the CDC monkeypox technical report

Detailed epidemiological data now available!

I encourage a full review of the new U.S. report. The following highlights stood out to me:

  • Over 99% of cases are in men (or assigned male sex at birth), and 99% of cases are in men who have sex with men. This confirms that men who have sex with men are currently the primary population at risk, and that public health interventions (e.g., outreach, education, vaccination, treatment) should be tailored to them.

  • The mean incubation period was estimated at 7.6 days (CrI 6.2-9.7). with 95% of cases developing symptoms within 17.1 days. The time from exposure to rash onset is slightly longer, at 8.7 days (CrI 6.9-11.7). CDC has previously said that fever, lymphadenopathy and malaise are commonly reported before rash onset, so those may be the symptoms that patients are experiencing in the 2 days before the rash becomes apparent.

  • The median number of days between symptom onset and a positive test result was 8 days, which has remained stable or declined slightly over time. In my opinion, this is one of the most important findings of the report. Rapid diagnosis is critical for enabling public health interventions which are needed to break chains of transmission. A diagnosis is also what enables people who are affected to receive proper treatment. I am glad that CDC chose to report this important metric week by week so that trends can be assessed. Time to diagnosis can and should be reduced through education, case finding, accessible diagnostic testing, and quick turnaround times for lab results.

Sarah Gollust/Twitter:

New study in @JAMANetworkOpen led by @rtopazian @colleenlbarry & colleagues reports concerning finding that a growing percentage of U.S. adults said harassing or threatening public health officials over COVID-19 business closures was justified {thread}

This really is the ‘most important election in our lifetime,’ and Democrats need to explain why

The next two national elections will probably decide the fate of the American republic. And that means specifically whether our country continues to operate as a democracy dedicated to the preservation and expansion of human rights, or whether it descends into a quasi-fascist autocracy, seeking to limit and curtail those same rights and freedoms under the thumb of white, evangelical-oriented, right-wing minority rule. Whether one result or the other prevails will obviously depend on which party does a better job at motivating its voters to get to the polls. 

Donald Trump has made it clear that he will soon announce his 2024 candidacy. His campaign, modeled on the likes of Hungarian fascist Viktor Orban, will be premised on racism and fear of the LGBTQ population, with a heavy focus on “law and order.” Trumps intends to use the police, the military, and white supremacist groups to intimidate and suppress voters who might be disinclined to support him. Assuming Trump is not prosecuted and imprisoned by the Department of Justice for his actions relating to the Jan. 6 coup attempt, Republicans will once again fall in line behind him. (And neither Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis nor any other Trump clone wannabe will be able to mount a credible challenge to him, for whatever negligible difference in policy that might make.)

Whether President Joe Biden will run for reelection in 2024 is unknown, so there is little use speculating on the outcome of that election at this time. But Republicans have already confirmed that if they obtain control of the House of Representatives in 2022, they will immediately pursue bogus impeachment show trials and pointless, theatrical Benghazi-style “investigations” nonstop through 2024. The investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection will be shut down and there will be no further inquiry into either Trump’s wrongdoing or the enabling actions of any of their own caucus’ members.

In that event, the face of the GOP will be the current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but its primary movers will be the Trump-loyal faction led by the likes of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, and the plethora of other racists and “Christian” white supremacists on the Republican side. While their actual power may be limited by the (hopefully) continued Democratic control of the Senate, their role is essentially to pave the way for Trump’s reelection, not to actually pass legislation.

The corrupt conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has already clearly signaled its intent to operate as an arm of Republican policy. The court will continue to do this by curtailing the power of the executive (when in Democratic hands) to work on behalf of Americans’ interests; countenancing the gerrymandering of continued white minority rule, eliminating protections previously provided in the Voting Rights Act; and, most recently, signaling its willingness to abide by the overthrow of legitimate elections when that overthrow favors the Republican Party. Fortunately the pointed and visible abandonment of its own legitimacy by that court (through its repeal of Roe v. Wade, through its arbitrary extension of access to deadly firearms, and through its hobbling of the Environmental Protection Agency, all of which were accomplished within a period of one week) has alerted millions of Americans to the fact that not only their form of government, but the way they actually want to live their lives is now in serious peril.

As noted by Josh Marshall writing for TalkingPointsMemo, three “generic ballot” polls released in the last two days have shown a remarkable upswing for Democrats since the Supreme Court’s blunt and ham-handed assertion of its political biases last June.

[T]hree new congressional generic polls have come out over the last 24 hours, two of which give the Democrats a six point advantage and one of which gives a 4 point margin. One of those 6 point margins is actually a Republican Party poll.

Various other midterm metrics continue to move slowly but perceptibly in Democrats’ direction. As we’ve discussed at various points over the last few weeks, the House especially is still very much an uphill battle for Democrats. But this trend makes me think Democrats holding the House in November is definitely possible and getting more likely. Not remotely a lost cause.

Marshall notes that the polling signifies an unusual disconnect with the electorate; despite their fairly sour feelings about inflation, the economy, and President Biden’s performance, they are apparently equating the Republican alternative to the (thus far) very unwelcome return of a Donald Trump, whose star has been substantially dimmed by the findings of the Jan. 6 investigation.

… And that’s definitely not the norm. The new Morning Consult poll suggests that the January 6th hearings are seriously souring independents on Donald Trump. And that shift is, in turn, showing up in the generic ballots numbers.

At least according to this one poll, the weight of the January 6th hearings is pushing voters to see the midterms more as a choice between Republicans and Democrats than a referendum on the President or the state of the country generally.

So Americans, despite their famous disconnect from politics (particularly during the summer months), have been paying attention. At least enough Americans to potentially make a difference in what originally looked to be an imminent Democratic wipeout in 2022, although it is still early for such predictions.

Along those lines, professor and author Mark Danner, writing for the New York Review of Books, has some sage advice for Democrats: If 2022 indeed represents the most critical election in our nation’’s history (as it seems to be by just about any objective assessment), then the Democrats need to explain that to voters, clearly and loudly.

As Danner writes in an essay appropriately titled We’re in an Emergency—Act Like It!a confluence of factors, all ultimately traceable to Donald Trump, make the coming election unique.

The 2022 election will be the first held in the shadow of an attempted coup d’étata nearly successful and still-unpunished crime against the state. It will be the first held after a Supreme Court decision that not only uprooted a half-century-old established right but that threatens the rescinding of other rights as well. And it will be the first in which it is clear that, from Republican legislators’ relentless efforts to change who counts the votes, the very character of American governance is on the ballot.

Danner acknowledges the obvious: Every recent election seems to warrant the cliche of “the most important of our lifetime.” But there is more than enough evidence, he believes, that in the case of 2022 this characterization is not hyperbole in terms of its potential impact on American lives and those of their children and grandchildren.

American voters have not confronted so grave a choice since 1860. Now as then, two dramatically different futures are on offer. By undermining the right to privacy, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision not only allows government to force women to carry pregnancies to term—as more than half the states will likely soon do—but foreshadows a country in which a state or the federal government can deny people contraception or indeed the right to love or marry whom they choose. By limiting the regulation of firearms, the Bruen decision ensures that increasing numbers of Americans, including children in classrooms, worshipers in churches, and marchers on the Fourth of July, will die in shootings. By calling into question how votes are counted—or whether they should matter at all—the January 6 coup and the persistent “Big Lie” behind it augur a country where the candidate fewer Americans voted for not only can become president (as he did in 2000 and 2016) but can be awarded the electoral votes of a state not as the choice of its people but as a diktat of its legislature.

Danner’s point is that 2022 will be the election that either ushers in and validates a new era of Republican racist autocracy in this country or substantially slows that trend down: “If any election cried out to be nationalized—to be fought not only on the kitchen-table issues of inflation and unemployment but on the defining principles of what the country is and what it should be—it is this November’s.” His advice to Democrats is to make this point crystal clear to voters, again and again.

Danner emphasizes that this is how Democrats should be framing these midterms:

If you don’t want a government that can force you to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term—vote! If you don’t want a government that can deny you contraceptives—vote!! If you don’t want a government that can tell you with whom you can make love and whom you can marry—vote!! If you don’t want a government that will do nothing to protect your child from a troubled teenager with an assault rifle—vote!! If you don’t want a government that can ignore the people’s voice at the polling place—vote!! If you don’t want a government that will do nothing about rising temperatures and the danger they pose to all of us—vote!

But beyond this “negative framing,” Danner stresses that the Democratic Party must put itself on the line with exactly what it will do for Americans in order to turn back the Republican assault on their rights: Not only that they will do these things, but how they will do them. That involves a bold, no-nonsense—however scary for some—commitment to eliminating the filibuster with the addition of at least two Democratic senators. It also involves holding the House to continue passing legislation that is so fundamentally important it cannot morally be subject to any arcane Senate procedure designed in an era of comity that no longer exists and never will again.

And every Democratic candidate needs to repeat, over and over, whether they’re running for the House, the Senate or anything else, that when Republicans are taking away our basic rights—such as the right to be protected from mass shooters, the right to control our bodies, buy contraceptives and marry who we want—voting Democratic is the only way to stop them.

Danner wrote his essay before the surprise announcement of a deal on climate and budgetary matters between Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the Biden administration. Assuming that deal goes forward, it will restore some of the credibility with their base the Democrats have lost due to Manchin’s (and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s) past obstruction, and that is helpful. But it is one thing to point out some modest Democratic success, and another to point to the bare fact that if Republicans take over either legislative branch the future is going to be a lot different than the one most Americans want for themselves, their children, and their country.

And yes, Americans may reject that. As a country we may go right on staring into our smartphones, willing to sacrifice our democracy while complaining mightily about the cost of a gallon of gas. That’s certainly our right. But we won’t be able to say we weren’t warned.

For DOJ to complete investigation into Jan. 6, it needs to destroy Trump’s privilege claims

As Kerry Eleveld reported last Friday, Steve Bannon has been found guilty on two charges of contempt of Congress and can now expect to spend some time in federal prison for his refusal to cooperate with the House select committee on Jan. 6. However, Bannon is far from the only member of Donald Trump’s White House team who has failed to show up before the committee or provide requested documents. Most of those who have so far refused are likely to avoid paying any price for hiding information behind claims of “executive privilege.”

The Department of Justice may not be all that anxious to take up these contempt cases in the name of a House committee, but that doesn’t mean the department doesn’t want those Trump officials to testify. Those same figures are critical to the Department of Justice’s own investigation into the conspiracy behind events on Jan. 6, 2021. 

To clear the way for testimony from everyone up to and including Trump, the Department of Justice first has to clear the privilege issue off the board. Trump has made extensive use of the privilege card ever since entering the White House, and that certainly didn’t stop when he left. So far, the Justice Department has been careful to navigate around privilege issues in its interviews with former members of Team Trump, but for the investigation to get serious, that has to end.

As CNN reports, the Department of Justice is “confronting the privilege issue with care.” Attorney General Merrick Garland made a very welcome statement last week in which he finally made it clear that no one, including Trump, was clear of potential charges related to the attempted coup. But so far the department doesn’t seem to have pressed witnesses to provide what they consider to be privileged information, which in this case appears to be any direct communication with Trump. 

This is not how executive privilege is supposed to work. In past cases, claims of privilege have required just that: a claim from the White House asserting privilege over specific written or spoken communications. But throughout his time in Washington, Trump made extensive and expansive claims of privilege, not only refusing to cooperate in matters related to his two impeachments, but instructing officials to refuse to release even routine information. In almost all cases, White House officials refused to say that Trump was officially asserting privilege, and Trump refused to comment. There was just a broad claim of undefined privilege, which in some cases was extended to junior officials who never came close to talking with Trump. 

Such blanket claims of privilege leave the Department of Justice facing a dilemma when it comes to investigating the events of Jan. 6 and the other ways in which Trump attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

There’s no doubt now that the Department of Justice is deep into an investigation of actions by many members of the White House, including former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, attorney John Eastman, and attorney Rudy Giuliani. In recent days, a federal grand jury has heard testimony from false electors who were encouraged to take part in Trump’s scheme, as well as Marc Short and Greg Jacob who were, respectively, chief of staff and lead counsel to Mike Pence. 

Trump’s efforts to extend privilege to new levels have already met with some defeats in court, most notably when he was forced to hand over a large tranche of documents that he had sought to protect at Mar-a-Lago and was required to release other documents held by the National Archives. But the broader case of exactly how much right Trump has to protect his conversations after he has left office remains unsettled law. 

There are good reasons to believe that the answer to how much privilege Trump now enjoys is none, and that practically every conversation that Trump had regarding Jan. 6, even those with his personal attorneys, would fail any reasonable test of privilege because these statements were directly related to a conspiracy to commit a serious crime. That would be completely in line with how courts ruled during Ken Starr’s prolonged investigation into the Clinton White House. 

But if the Department of Justice plans to cut through Trump’s privilege claims, it had better get cracking. A Department of Justice inquiry into a member of Clinton’s Cabinet took two years to obtain a final ruling. 

Jan. 6 committee conducting interviews with Trump Cabinet officials

In the wake of the insurrection, there was a reported flurry of conversation among members of former President Donald Trump’s Cabinet about whether he should be removed from office by way of the 25th Amendment. Now the Jan. 6 committee is conducting interviews with some of those officials as investigators pursue more information about what unfolded around Trump after the attack.

According to reporting first from ABC, the committee has now interviewed former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and plans to interview former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before the week is out.

Mick Mulvaney, who parlayed his job as Trump’s acting chief of staff to become the special envoy for Ireland, is also reportedly meeting with the panel on Thursday. 

Exactly six days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the House of Representatives passed a resolution 223-205 urging then-Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

At the time, Pence said he did not believe this course of action was “in the best interest of our nation or consistent with the Constitution,” and he dubbed the resolution a “political game.” He also issued his refusal to invoke the 25th Amendment before the House had even completed its vote. 

That “game” Pence worried about, however, was reportedly one that some members of Trump’s inner circle had already considered playing. 

In ABC reporter Jonathan Karl’s book, Betrayal, he described a conversation between then-Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and then-Secretary of State Pompeo. Pompeo, Karl reported, sought out “legal analysis” on how the 25th Amendment could be applied and how fast it might work. 

Washington, D.C., was heavily reeling from the Capitol assault. Yet during an appearance on MSNBC last November, Karl said the 25th Amendment talks were quickly nipped in the bud once officials learned the process could be a lengthy one and potentially complicated by the fact that members of Trump’s Cabinet had resigned after Jan. 6, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. 

It was reported Thursday that both DeVos and Chao are figures of interest to Jan. 6 investigators, too, and that they may also be asked to cooperate. 

DeVos stepped down 24 hours after the attack and told USA Today this June that she was part of conversations where the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment with other members of Trump’s Cabinet was discussed. 

In a portion of his testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, former White House attorney Pat Cipollone told investigators that former Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia wanted members of the Cabinet to meet 24 hours after the insurrection. Scalia said he asked for the meeting because he felt “trying to work within the administration to steady the ship” would be better than watching more resignations roll in. 

Pompeo has historically denied that he was part of any conversation after Jan. 6 where invoking the 25th Amendment came up.  

DeVos’ recent interview undercuts that claim. 

“I spoke with the vice president and just let him know I was there to do whatever he wanted and needed me to do or help with, and he made it very clear that he was not going to go in that direction or that path,” DeVos said of Pence on June 9. “I spoke with colleagues. I wanted to get a better understanding of the law itself and see if it was applicable in this case. There were more than a few people who had those conversations internally.”

DeVos said when she realized invoking the 25th Amendment against Trump was not a viable path forward, she tendered her resignation. She has not outwardly blamed Trump for Jan. 6, but she told USA Today she “didn’t see the president step in and do what he could have done to turn it back or slow it down or really address the situation.” 

Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified to the Jan. 6 committee that discussions of removing Trump with the 25th Amendment were flowing after the mob laid siege to the Capitol. Trump had spent three hours watching the mob attack without strongly condemning the violence or taking concerted action to stop it. When he finally delivered a speech in the Rose Garden that afternoon, and only after multiple people had died and much blood had been shed, he proclaimed “we love you” to his supporters before asking them to go home. 

The next day, officials at the White House pushed to have Trump deliver a speech. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the committee under oath that the plan for the Jan. 7 speech mostly went into effect because people inside the White House were terrified of two things: the mounting criticism that Trump didn’t do enough and that the 25th Amendment would be invoked.

“The secondary reason to that [speech] was that, ‘think about what might happen in the final 15 days of your presidency if we don’t do this, there’s already talks about invoking the 25th Amendment, you need this as cover,’” Hutchinson said. 

According to CNN, the committee is also seeking testimony from John Ratcliffe, a former Republican congressman from Texas who vehemently defended Trump during Trump’s first impeachment inquiry for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power as well as during special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference of the 2016 election.

Ratcliffe, despite a woeful lack of experience, ended up confirmed by the GOP-majority Senate to serve as Director of National Intelligence. His appointment was a rollercoaster. Trump first nominated him to serve in the role in August 2019, but Ratcliffe didn’t have support in the Senate. He also didn’t have widespread support in the intelligence community. A review of his record by investigative reporters at ABC revealed that Ratcliffe had exaggerated claims of his involvement in anti-terrorism efforts as well as illegal immigration crackdowns.

Chad Wolf, once the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, and his former deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, are in reported talks to meet with investigators, as well. 

Both Wolf and Cuccinneli were asked to cooperate with the probe voluntarily last October.

Wolf was once much adored by Trump. He began to lead the Department of Homeland Security after then-Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in April 2019. Despite Nielsen’s overt willingness to enforce any number of Trump’s cruel immigration policies during her tenure, she wasn’t enough of a toady for the 45th president, and he slammed her in the press as an ineffectual before she resigned. When she finally stepped down, Kevin McAleenan, then the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, filled her slot. McAleenan resigned in November 2019. 

Those transitions were riddled with problems, however.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would later reveal, after its own independent assessment of DHS, that both Nielsen and McAleenan altered or amended internal policies on lines of succession at the department. DHS pushed back on the report when it went public but Wolf ultimately stayed in place with Trump’s full support. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee as well as the Jan. 6 committee, said the succession rules were altered in haste so Trump’s “ideologues” could bypass typical Senate confirmation procedure. 

Thompson had good reason to feel this way. In a February 2019 interview with CBS’ Face the Nation, Trump acknowledged that he enjoyed lording over acting officials versus those who had to go through more rigorous congressional approval.

"I like acting because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility," @realDonaldTrump told @margbrennan, asked about the several acting secretaries in his cabinet https://t.co/sdD5GWRNvo pic.twitter.com/87DX97JMe2

— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) February 3, 2019

Mulvaney, who meets with the committee Thursday, should cooperate without much trouble, if history is any indicator. Though he was a fierce defender of Trump’s during his tenure with the administration, after Jan. 6, Mulvaney became a more vocal critic. 

“You don't get to where you got to yesterday with something that's normal. That's not normal for any citizen, let alone a president of the United States,” Mulvaney said on Jan. 7 when facing questions about whether Trump should be removed through the 25th Amendment.

Since then, Mulvaney has thrown his support behind those Trump officials who have come forward to testify, including Hutchinson. 

The Jan. 6 committee is expected to continue its probe in the weeks ahead, and chairman Thompson has said that additional hearings will be held in September.  

Morning Digest: Why an attack ad is sometimes just an attack ad

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Cara Zelaya, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

MI-Gov: With less than a week to go before the primary, a DGA-backed group is spending a reported $2 million to attack Republican Tudor Dixon, but the effort doesn't appear to be the sort of now-common Democratic meddling in GOP nominating contests for a few reasons.

For starters, the ads that Put Michigan First is running are legit attacks—they hammer Dixon for a plan to cut the state's income tax that would mean "less cops on the street"—not the "Joe Schmendrick is too conservative!" subterfuge you typically see. There's also nothing to suggest that Dixon's chief rival, businessman Kevin Rinke, is more problematic and less electable. In fact, he's the only Republican candidate who hasn't fully embraced the Big Lie, and an independent survey earlier this month showed Rinke and Dixon turning in virtually identical—and equally poor—performances against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Put Michigan First has also hit Dixon before, as part of an ad savaging every candidate in the field, Rinke included: Dixon was dinged as "an actress in low-budget horror movies"—one film "featured two people having sex in a bathroom stall and a zombie biting a man's genitals"—while Rinke was branded "a car salesman sued for harassment"; more on that here.

The DGA ran a similar campaign in Nevada tagging frontrunner Joe Lombardo as weak on crime before his primary, a move that was widely interpreted at the time as Democrats once again trying to pick their opponent. But as in Michigan, the DGA didn't try to elevate a specific alternative. One unnamed insider said of Lombardo, "If he doesn't make it through the primary, then we've knocked out what is seen as the front-runner," suggesting that there was still a benefit to the gambit even if Lombardo prevailed—by weakening the ultimate nominee with an attack that would speak to a broad range of the political spectrum.

So too with Dixon, who's the closest thing Michigan Republicans have to a frontrunner of their own after an extremely messy race that saw multiple major contenders booted off the ballot for petition fraud. Recent polls have given Dixon a small lead over Rinke, including a brand new one from Republican pollster Mitchell Research for MIRS News that has her up 28-22, and the powerful DeVos family is in her corner. Donald Trump has also praised her in the past, and the Detroit News recently reported that she's "viewed as the top contender for Trump's possible endorsement," though he hasn't backed her yet.

Democrats may therefore be seeking to bang up Dixon chiefly to wound her if she does win the primary, but if they cause her to stumble and hand the nomination to Rinke or another wannabe, so much the better.

The Downballot

 Whoa, mama! August has so, so many juicy primaries on tap, which is why we've brought Daily Kos Elections Editor Jeff Singer back to discuss all the best races for this week's edition of The Downballot. There's the GOP battle for Arizona's governorship, where Trump's pick has been absolutely slayed by her drag queen ex-friend; two pro-impeachment Republicans in Washington state trying to keep their political careers alive; a heavyweight battle between two 30-year veteran incumbents in New York City; and lots, lots more.

Co-host David Nir recaps the back-to-back dropouts in Wisconsin's Democratic primary for Senate that have solidified Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes as the undisputed frontrunner. He also criticizes the handwringing over Democrats' meddling in a Michigan primary, saying it's not the Democratic Party's responsibility to make sure Republicans nominate sensible candidates—that's the GOP's job (if it even cares to). David Beard, meanwhile, previews the snap election just called in Italy, where the right looks set to perform well.

Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time.


GA-Sen, GA-Gov: The University of Georgia and SurveyUSA each find Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp ahead, though they very much disagree how close the two contests are. UGA’s poll for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows Warnock edging out Republican Herschel Walker 46-43, while Kemp defeats Democrat Stacey Abrams 48-43. SurveyUSA’s numbers for WXIA-TV, though, are far better for Democrats: Warnock leads 48-39, while Kemp is only up 45-44.

Other polls taken in July have universally agreed that Warnock is running ahead of Abrams, but they’ve also painted very different pictures on the state of the two races. Numbers from early in the month from the Democratic firm Data for Progress had Walker and Kemp up 49-47 and 53-44, respectively. A short time later, AARP dropped a survey from a bipartisan pair of pollsters that put Warnock ahead 50-47 as Kemp posted a wider 52-45 advantage. A Kemp internal from Cygnal, which did not include Senate numbers, also gave the governor a 50-45 edge.

OK-Sen-B: Former Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn is airing her first TV ad of the race, and despite running in dark-red Oklahoma, she makes abortion the centerpiece. She says that the state "now has the most extreme abortion ban in the country, which puts all of us at risk" and warns that the likely GOP nominee, Rep. Markwayne Mullin, "promises to make this ban federal law." Horn also notes that Oklahoma "has never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate," making it one of 17 states in this ignominious club. Mullin still faces a runoff with former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon on Aug. 23, but he's the heavy favorite after leading the first round by a 44-18 margin last month.

WI-Sen: In an unexpected development two weeks ahead of Wisconsin's primary, former Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry abandoned his bid for Senate and endorsed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes to take on Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, saying "it was clear there was no path forward for us to be able to win." The move came two days after Outagamie Executive Tom Nelson did the same thing, making Barnes the undisputed frontrunner for the nomination.

One other notable Democrat, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, remains in the race, and she insisted on Wednesday that would not quit. But Barnes also released a poll from Impact Research taken before both Nelson and Lasry dropped out showing him with a 39-25 lead on Lasry, with Godlewski far back at 12 and Nelson at 5. Every other public poll of the race has likewise found Barnes in front while Godlewski has never rated higher than third place.


IL-Gov: Politico reports that conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein, who helped bankroll far-right state Sen. Darren Bailey's June victory in the Republican primary, has contributed another $5 million to the candidate this month. Uihlein has also made a larger $15 million donation to Bailey's allied PAC, People Who Play By The Rules.

MA-Gov: Suffolk University's newest survey for the Boston Globe shows Attorney General Maura Healey, who has the Democratic primary to herself, posting huge leads over both of her prospective Republican foes. Healey beats out former state Rep. Geoff Diehl 54-23, while she enjoys a nearly-identical 54-22 advantage over self-funding businessman Chris Doughty.

ME-Gov: Democratic Gov. Janet Mills continues to maintain a large financial edge ahead of her general election battle with her predecessor, Paul LePage. Mills outraised the Republican $600,000 to $310,000 during the period covering June 1 to July 19, and she finished with a $2.7 million to $1.1 million cash-on-hand lead.

Several past Maine statewide contests, including LePage's 2010 and 2014 victories, featured at least one prominent independent or third-party candidate, but that won't be the case this time. The only other contender on the ballot is independent Sam Hunkler, who had just over $600 to spend.

WI-Gov: While the Club for Growth has not endorsed anyone in the Aug. 9 Republican primary, NBC reports that the anti-tax group has dropped $1.1 million into a TV and radio campaign to defeat former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. The TV spot argues that in office, Kleefisch "used taxpayer resources, traveling across the globe on junkets hosted by foreign interests," a statement that's accompanied by a huge flag of China.


CA-40: Republican Rep. Young Kim and the NRCC have jointly released a mid-July poll from Public Opinion Strategies that shows the congresswoman beating her Democratic opponent, physician Asif Mahmood, by a 51-35 margin. This is the first poll of the race, but its 16-point spread is similar to the overall margins of June's top-two primary, when a trio of Republican candidates, including Kim, combined for 59% while Mahmood took 41%. Joe Biden would have carried this redrawn district in eastern Orange County by a 50-48 margin, according to Dave's Redistricting App.

VT-AL: The University of New Hampshire, polling on behalf of WCAX, finds state Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint beating Lt. Gov. Molly Gray by a lopsided 63-21 in the first survey we’ve seen of the Aug. 9 Democratic primary since filing closed in the spring. Either candidate would end Vermont’s status as the only state to never elect a woman to Congress, while Balint would also be the first gay person to represent the Green Mountain State in D.C.

Balint, who has Sen. Bernie Sanders’ endorsement, and Gray have each raised comparable amounts in the contest to succeed Rep. Peter Welch, who is running for Vermont’s other Senate seat. However, a trio of organizations―the LGBTQ Victory Fund, Equality PAC, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC―have spent a total of just under $850,000 to promote Balint, while there have been no independent expenditures for Gray. VTDigger notes that this sort of outside spending is rare in state politics, though not unheard of: In 2016, notably, the RGA spent $3 million on the successful effort to elect Phil Scott governor.

WA-03, WA-04: Outside groups are continuing to spend serious money ahead of Tuesday's top-two primary on separate efforts to boost a pair of Republicans who voted for impeachment, 3rd District Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and 4th District Rep. Dan Newhouse, against their Trump-backed rivals.

In the 3rd in southwest Washington, a group called Conservatives for A Stronger America has deployed close to $400,000 on a TV buy that argues Army veteran Joe Kent wants to defund the police. The commercial features clips of the candidate saying, "Federal law enforcement grants, I would cut that off cold," and, "Also, cutting off federal law enforcement funding." Kent himself has made news for his ties to far-right extremists, though the ad unsurprisingly doesn't mention that.

This PAC made news a little while ago when it dropped another $740,000 into efforts to promote a different Republican, evangelical author Heidi St. John, a move Kent argued was intended to "prop up a spoiler candidate and split the vote so they can re-elect the Establishment's RINO incumbent, Jaime Herrera Beutler."

Kent himself, though, has also tried a similar maneuver, though on a much smaller scale. Last week, the Washington Observer's Paul Queary reported that Kent sent out mailers ostensibly attacking one of the two Democratic candidates, auto repair shop owner Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, for being the one "pro-choice candidate for Congress."

Queary noted that Kent was trying to influence Democrats to support Perez instead of Herrera Beutler, whose own messaging has been aimed at winning over middle-of-the-road voters, in an attempt to stop the incumbent from advancing to the general election. Trump would have carried this district 51-46, so it's quite possible Perez will reach the second round instead of Herrera Beutler or Kent. (The other Democrat on the ballot, 2020 candidate Davy Ray, hasn't reported bringing in any money.)

And while Kent sports Trump's backing, he's raised far less cash than Herrera Beutler and doesn't have any major outside groups spending on his behalf. The congresswoman, by contrast, has benefited from $1 million in support from Winning For Women Action Fund, a super PAC funded in part by the Congressional Leadership Fund.

The dynamics are similar one seat to the east in the 4th, where Defending Main Street has so far deployed $1.2 million to support Newhouse or attack Trump's choice, 2020 gubernatorial nominee Loren Culp. One of the establishment-aligned PAC's new spots accuses Culp of being a tax dodger who was "caught enriching himself with tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations," while others praise the congressman for "standing up to China" and fighting to protect the Snake River dams.

Culp has badly struggled with fundraising, and like Kent, he's also received no serious outside support. Five other Republicans are campaigning here including self-funding businessman Jerrod Sessler and state Rep. Brad Klippert, while businessman Doug White is the one Democrat running for this 57-40 Trump constituency.

Secretaries of State

GA-SoS, GA-AG: The University of Georgia finds Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger beating Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen by a wide 46-32 margin, while SurveyUSA gives the Republican a smaller 40-33 edge. SurveyUSA also checked out the race for attorney general and found GOP incumbent Chris Carr turning back Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan only 38-34

Ad Roundup

Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The economy

We begin today with Rachel Siegel of The Washington Post writing about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point to stave off inflation.

The Fed hiked interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point, following a similarly aggressive rate hike in June, even as Chair Jerome H. Powell acknowledged that the Federal Reserve sees previous hikes as already weighing on housing, business investment and consumer demand.[...]

Inflation has plagued policymakers for months, becoming the economy’s biggest problem and weighing on families nationwide, but especially the most vulnerable lower-income families. Higher prices for milk, gas and clothing have soured people’s sense of how the economy is working for them, dampening consumer sentiment and influencing families to change their own spending behavior, which can worsen inflation.

The glum economic mood has also become a major political problem for the Biden administration going into the midterm elections. Republicans continue to blame Democrats’ stimulus efforts from earlier in the pandemic for supercharging the economy and have resisted more federal spending.

Paul Krugman of The New York Times says that even if the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows a shrinking in real G.D.P. for the second quarter, that does not necessarily mean that the economy is in recession.

There’s a pretty good chance the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which produces the numbers on gross domestic product and other macroeconomic data, will declare on Thursday, preliminarily, that real G.D.P. shrank in the second quarter of 2022. Since it has already announced that real G.D.P. shrank in the first quarter, there will be a lot of breathless commentary to the effect that we’re officially in a recession.

But we won’t be. That’s not how recessions are defined; more important, it’s not how they should be defined. It’s possible that the people who actually decide whether we’re in a recession — more about them in a minute — will eventually declare that a recession began in the United States in the first half of this year, although that’s unlikely given other economic data. But they won’t base their decision solely on whether we’ve had two successive quarters of falling real G.D.P.

To understand why, it helps to know a bit about the history of what is known as business cycle dating.

William Danvers writes for The Hill that the American economy is still going through economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supply and demand, which is fundamental to the cost of goods and services, were affected dramatically by the pandemic. People largely stayed at home. Jobs were lost and businesses were closed. Supply chains were disrupted. The nature of work and education changed. How people viewed their jobs and their future in the workforce was altered.

Lockdowns meant that the home became central to day-to-day lives, which altered patterns of consumption and how the economy functioned. For example, going to movies and restaurants was drastically curtailed, even halted. The restrictions of everyday life during the height of the pandemic had an impact on how people viewed their day-to-day activities. Working from home, another pandemic-related change, affects issues such as office space, public transportation and the functioning of businesses that no longer connect to the pre-pandemic economic reality of going into the office regularly.

Understanding the role that the pandemic has played in determining the present economic state in the U.S. and globally, as well as the economic future, is key to determining responses to present crises. Biden has been criticized for putting too much money into the economy and thereby increasing the likelihood of inflationary pressure with his American Rescue Plan, but the plan was literally a lifeline for millions of Americans — who, in turn, helped stabilize the economy.  

Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine of POLITICO report on the deal that Senator Joe Manchin struck with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on a financial package that includes energy and climate spending as well as ACA premiums.

Moreover, Manchin’s announcement came hours after final passage of semiconductor legislation, a bill Republicans threatened to block mere weeks ago in an effort to stop Democrats from pursuing a party-line tax, climate and health care package.

The Manchin-Schumer deal includes roughly $370 billion in energy and climate spending, $300 billion in deficit reduction, three years of subsidies for Affordable Care Act premiums, prescription drug reform and significant tax changes. Manchin said the bill was at one point “bigger than that” but that’s where the two Democrats settled.

As part of the agreement announced Wednesday, Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to pass legislation governing energy permits. Manchin said he spoke to Schumer, Pelosi and President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Paul M. Krawzak of Roll Call  lays out the possibilities for the “vote-a-rama” to come.

A full CBO score wasn’t yet available for the not-yet-released Senate substitute text. But under the publicly unveiled parameters of a deal struck between Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., it will contain drug pricing provisions that will reduce “on-budget” deficits — the part that counts toward meeting reconciliation directives — by $277 billion over a decade.

Adding two years of expanded health insurance premium subsidies would be expected to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $40 billion, reducing the net deficit reduction.

Still, that leaves plenty of room for senators to offer amendments, including on things like extending expiring Trump-era tax cuts, provided they don’t go below $1 billion in Finance Committee deficit reduction. GOP senators could offer other amendments, including on energy policy, to try and put Democrats in a tough spot ahead of midterm elections this November.

Alternatively, there’d be room for Democrats to try to expand spending within Finance’s jurisdiction. They could seek to add a paid leave program, expanded child tax credits, funding for home- and community-based care under Medicaid, or Medicare hearing benefits that were in earlier versions — as well as tax increases to pay for it all.

Gabriel R. Sanchez, Keesha Middlemass, and Alla Rodriguez of The Brookings institution look at the effects of misinformation on the American electorate.

One of the drivers of decreased confidence in the political system has been the explosion of misinformation deliberately aimed at disrupting the democratic process. This confuses and overwhelms voters. Throughout the 2020 election cycle, Russia’s cyber efforts and online actors were able to influence public perceptions and sought to amplify mistrust in the electoral process by denigrating mail-in voting, highlighting alleged irregularities, and accusing the Democratic Party of engaging in voter fraud. The “big lie” reinforced by President Trump about the 2020 election results amplified the Russian efforts and has lasting implications on voters’ trust in election outcomes.

The Collaborative Multi-Racial Political Study reveals that a robust 57% of white Americans believes there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, including 26% of whom believe there was definitely fraud in 2020. This survey also reveals that racial and ethnic minorities are highly susceptible to misinformation regarding voter fraud, as 38% of Latinos and 30% of African Americans think there might have been at least some fraud in 2020. Furthermore, in a 2021 survey by Howard University Digital Informers, a slim majority (51.5%) of respondents believe that “Black Americans are targets of fake news”.

In conjunction with the circulation of claims of election fraud and misinformation throughout the country, the public’s trust in our democratic system subsequently declined as well. An ABC NEWS/Washington Post survey found that only 20% feel “very confident” in the integrity of the U.S. election system. Furthermore, 56% of respondents of a recent CNN poll said that they have “little or no confidence” that the elections represent the will of the people. This pessimism is shared by the America youth as well, as 42% of the Harvard Youth Poll participants believe that their vote does not make a difference.

Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post writes that the deluge from DOJ investigations of Trump and his acolytes for the Jan. 6 attempt to overthrow the duly elected American government are just beginning.

It might have been hard for jaded Beltway reporters to imagine, but powerful evidence presented dramatically in a easily accessible way — along with steady amplification by the media — may well be draining Trump of his support and encouraging Republicans to look elsewhere for a leader. No wonder the right-wing editorial pages of the New York Post and Wall Street Journal, both Rupert Murdoch publications, have broken sharply with Trump. Trump of all people should understand how the aura of being a “loser” turns people off.

If you feel as though the pace of revelations has picked up, you’re not alone. On Tuesday, the New York Times published another blockbuster report regarding Trump’s phony elector scheme. The Times reviewed emails that show one lawyer involved in the scheme “repeatedly used the word ‘fake’ to refer to the so-called electors, who were intended to provide Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Trump’s allies in Congress a rationale for derailing the congressional process of certifying the outcome.” That’s classic “admissions against interest” — the sort of self-incriminating statements that light up prosecutors’ eyes. Plus, with more names popping up in emails, the pool of witnesses grows. The Post’s report also revealed that the Justice Department has the phone logs of senior Trump aides.[...]

The question now is not whether Trump will be exposed to criminal investigations but how far along and how fast they are moving. Meanwhile, the public’s view of his conduct grows ever more negative, with possible consequences for his party. If Trump feels a tad claustrophobic, it’s because the walls are closing in.

Renée Graham of The Boston Globe writes that Trump’s base will not abandon him because of white supremacy, not in spite of it.

With a historic 81 million votes Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. But Trump got 74 million votes, 11 million more than he garnered in 2016. That means millions more people heard Trump’s lies, witnessed his racism, and saw him impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress and thought, “Yup, I want some of that for four more years.”

Now, even after a second impeachment and an ongoing House investigation revealing Trump’s culpability in the deadly insurrection that defiled the Capitol and wounded our democracy, Republicans have remade themselves in his graven image, their would-be autocrat a half-century in the making. Election deniers who’ve swallowed whole Trump’s Big Lie are vying for seats in the Senate and House, and as governors and secretaries of state who will certify future elections.

Despite not even a scintilla of evidence to the contrary, nearly 70 percent of Republicans do not believe that Biden is the legitimately elected president. More than 60 percent of Republicans say Jan. 6 was not an insurrection, but a “legitimate protest.” Reacting to Trump’s crimes alone is like treating the wound, but not an infection that continues to spread.

Trump’s minions carry their support and what he emboldened not as a millstone, but as a badge of honor. Time won’t change that.

Charles Blow of The New York Times writes that Trump doesn’t care one bit about law and order and neither do the MAGA folks.

This week, Trump returned to Washington for the first time since he left office. And the speech he gave was another law and order speech, returning to the theme of empowering the police, calling for the execution of drug dealers, and describing the country as a “cesspool of crime.”

In all this, he encouraged cities to reinstate racialized stop-and-frisk policies, because “it works,” and called on them to flood the streets with more officers and pull back on accountability for those officers’ actions.

Trump said, “There is no longer respect for the law, and there certainly is no order.”

Clearly, irony escapes the man.

But his remarks underscore another reality, beyond the fact that his support for the police is opportunistic at best, and it is this: In societies that prize grotesque imbalance, you will reap grotesque resistance and violent expressions. And when you add stressors like a pandemic and surging inflation, the problem will only get worse.

Elizabeth Wellington of The Philadelphia Inquirer says that The Sesame Place staff needs are even simpler than DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) training; that staff needs basic couth and “home training.”

Real talk: DEI alone won’t solve this problem, because DEI doesn’t teach common decency and manners. A mean person, dressed up as a friendly Sesame Street monster, decided it was OK to behave nastily toward two Black children. Instead of greeting the little girls with outstretched arms — or at the very least offering them high fives — this cretin, disguised as a muppet, shooed them away after giving other children — white children — mad love. And more videos have surfaced of Black children being ignored by Sesame Place characters, demonstrating a pattern of mistreatment. [...]

Let’s be clear: This column isn’t knocking the need for DEI training, so the people whining about being forced to acknowledge Black history as American history can cool their racist heels. Diversity, equity, and inclusion training in workplaces is meant to teach people how to recognize unconscious biases that result in them treating their Black colleagues like servants. DEI also helps institutions raise employees’ awareness of systemic racism that results in unequal housing, pay, education, transportation, and food access.

DEI training doesn’t, however, teach basic manners. It doesn’t instill kindness. It doesn’t cure a bitter heart. Call me crazy, but a person should not need DEI training to know they should treat Black children with the same compassion they treat white children. That’s the job of home training. Sesame Place needs to do a better job making sure they hire employees who have home training. DEI training helps employers spot racists and reject them because racists are not good people.

Aaron Bolton and Ellis Juhlin of Kaiser Health News report that increasing numbers of women may be opting for permanent sterilization in response to the Dobbs decision.

The uncertainty around abortion access in Montana and other states where abortion is now or could become illegal, plus the fear of future legal fights over long-term contraception, has seemingly spurred a rise in the number of people seeking surgical sterilization, according to reports from doctors. That includes Marietti, who is having a salpingectomy, a procedure in which the fallopian tubes are removed instead of tied, as in tubal ligation, which can be reversible.

How many people sought permanent sterilization after the fall of Roe won’t become clear until next year, said Megan Kavanaugh, a researcher for the Guttmacher Institute, which gathers data related to reproductive health care across the U.S. and supports abortion rights.

But anecdotal reports indicate that more people have been undergoing permanent birth control procedures since the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which struck down Roe. Dr. Kavita Arora, who chairs the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ ethics committee, said providers across the country are beginning to see an influx of patients into their operating rooms.

Eric Kutscher and Lala Tomnoy Das write for the Los Angeles Times that discrimination in the medical and public health systems against LGBTQ individuals is key to ending the monkeypox outbreak.

It’s no accident that this virus receiving a weak public health response is one that mostly affects men who have sex with men, many of whom self-identify as gay, bisexual and transgender. In fact, WHO advisers declined to declare a monkeypox emergency in June in part because the disease has not moved out of this primary risk group. With cases rising, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus overruled advisers to make the declaration.

To be clear, nothing about LGBTQ individuals makes them more biologically susceptible to monkeypox. The current outbreak is primarily transmitting via close physical and sexual contact, though it can also spread through respiratory secretions and touching infected materials (such as clothing and linens). The reason this virus continues unchecked among men who have sex with men is that public health authorities have been slow to treat the risk to these individuals as an emergency.

To end monkeypox, we must confront the discrimination in the medical and public health systems that has enabled this preventable crisis. Clearly, having a vaccine for monkeypox is not enough in the face of homophobia that hampers public health response. And the steps it will take to end monkeypox will also enhance access to the comprehensive and patient-centered primary care that largely does not reach LGBTQ individuals.

I’ve heard that song before.

Aydali Campa of InsideClimateNews writes that a number of west side residents in Atlanta fear that an EPA investigation of high levels of lead in the area may lead eventually to gentrification.

In 2018, a graduate student found high levels of lead, a powerful neurotoxin, in a few urban gardens across the west side of Atlanta and alerted the Environmental Protection Agency. Since 2019, the EPA has been testing soil in the study area, but mistrust from residents has slowed that process. Many who live in the two historically Black neighborhoods in the study area view the federal government’s efforts with a jaundiced eye. They suspect the remediation is part of an effort to help gentrification flourish by pushing them off the now-valuable land where Black Atlantans have lived with toxins for a long time.

So far, the agency has been cleaning the site under its emergency response program for short-term cleanups, but the projects under this program have time and funding limits. In March of this year, the EPA added the site that spans 627 acres to the Superfund National Priorities List, making it eligible to receive federal funding for the investigation and long-term cleanup. As a Superfund site, the EPA will oversee remediation and evaluate public health and environmental risk associated with the contamination. Under the current scope, EPA officials say the cleanup will take about four more years, and the site will likely grow by as many as hundreds more properties. They estimate the entire cost of the remediation to be upwards of $49 million.

It will take testing of residents’ soil and blood to understand the extent of the contamination and its harm to residents’ health. Despite not doubting that their homes could be polluted with lead, some residents say that the community’s history of racism and displacement makes them wary of allowing the government into their homes to confirm it.

An eight-reporter team for Der Spiegel writes about the end of globalization (!) and what that means for Germany.

These days, even stoic government leaders seem overwhelmed by the barrage of world crises, tremendous upheavals and changing times. The global financial crisis, the refugee crisis, Brexit, the climate collapse, the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine have all happened in succession. It's more than enough to make a person dizzy. And yet, all this now simply feels like a preview for the massive change that is only now starting to role in: The age of globalization is coming to an end.[...]

Globalization has never been a purely economic phenomenon. For three decades, it was the defining world order, the guiding principle informing all political decisions. It determined how and where we work and how well we live and even who is a friend and who is a foe.

Linked to this was a clear vision of the further development of humanity: that the world would become ever more prosperous, and thus necessarily ever more modern, ever more liberal, ever more democratic. And that it would constantly become more Western. That economic ties would also create common values. And, more importantly: peace – at least more than ever before.

But all of these supposed certainties have just been steamrolled by Putin's tanks. These days, everybody who is anybody is proclaiming the death of globalization.

Finally today, Andrew Downie of the Guardian writes about the outrage among a group of Brazilian senators because a prosecutor dropped five criminal charges against Brazilian President Jair Bolosonaro related to his mismanagement of COVID.

A congressional inquiry into Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic ended last October with recommendations that the president face a range of charges, but a senior prosecutor, Lindôra Araujo, shelved five of the nine charges, leading senior lawmakers to request her conduct be examined.

Seven senators also asked the supreme court to ignore her decision as they promised not to let Bolsonaro and his supporters off the hook. “Those who want to halt the investigations into those crimes under investigation by the Covid CPI will not be allowed to rest,” said Humberto Costa, one of the seven senators.

The chief prosecutor’s office said evidence initially presented to the Covid inquiry “did not contain the proper individual proofs” required to meet the legal criteria for criminal charges. It also said relevant documents were missing and that evidence to connect the alleged crimes was lacking.

It called Araujo’s ruling strictly “legal”, while classing last year’s Covid inquiry as “political”.

Have a good day, everyone!

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Writing down a criminal conspiracy isn’t just good television

NY Times:

‘Kind of Wild/Creative’: Emails Shed Light on Trump Fake Electors Plan

Previously undisclosed communications among Trump campaign aides and outside advisers provide new insight into their efforts to overturn the election in the weeks leading to Jan. 6

In emails reviewed by The New York Times and authenticated by people who had worked with the Trump campaign at the time, one lawyer involved in the detailed discussions repeatedly used the word “fake” to refer to the so-called electors, who were intended to provide Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Trump’s allies in Congress a rationale for derailing the congressional process of certifying the outcome. And lawyers working on the proposal made clear they knew that the pro-Trump electors they were putting forward might not hold up to legal scrutiny.


Justice Dept. investigating Trump’s actions in Jan. 6 criminal probe

People familiar with the probe said investigators are examining the former president’s conversations and have seized phone records of top aides

The Justice Department is investigating President Donald Trump’s actions as part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors who are questioning witnesses before a grand jury — including two top aides to Vice President Mike Pence — have asked in recent days about conversations with Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle who sought to substitute Trump allies for certified electors from some states Joe Biden won, according to two people familiar with the matter. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

This confirms what we’ve seen so far during the January 6th Committee hearings—the dishonest lawyers advising Trump (Clark, Eastman, Giuliani, etc) have significant liability and could be charged with straightforward crimes by DOJ. https://t.co/NzeFw8msnk

— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) July 25, 2022


Why Democrats' Midterm Chances Don't Hinge On Biden's Approval Rating

On one hand, President Biden is historically unpopular: As of July 25 at 5 p.m. Eastern, he had an average approval rating of 38 percent and an average disapproval rating of 57 percent — a net approval rating of -19 percentage points. You have to go back to Harry Truman to find a president with a net approval rating that bad at this point in his term.

On the other, generic-congressional-ballot polls are pretty close. As of the same date and time, Republicans had an average lead of 1 point.

Those two numbers feel difficult to reconcile. Biden’s approval rating suggests that the national mood is extremely poor for Democrats, while the generic-ballot polling suggests that the political environment is only slightly Republican-leaning. But in reality, these two types of polls aren’t in opposition as much as you might think. They’re separate metrics, and a look back at past midterm elections shows they don’t always line up. But history also shows that when they do diverge, one is more predictive than the other.

First, it’s kind of an obvious point, but presidential-approval polls and generic-ballot polls are measuring two different things. 

The Uvalde school board is formally urging Gov. Greg Abbott to call state lawmakers back to Austin so they can raise the legal age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21 https://t.co/xEsh9VgihK

— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) July 26, 2022

Washington Examiner:

Republicans blame drop in online GOP grassroots fundraising on inflation and Trump

“As the economy eats away at purchasing power, something has to go by the wayside,” said Zac Moffatt, CEO of Targeted Victory, a Republican consulting firm that specializes in digital fundraising and strategy. Targeted Victory maintains a house file of online donors. The firm discovered through periodic polling that these grassroots Republicans have reduced discretionary budgets for political giving in response to inflation that accelerated to 9.1% in June.

“We do these massive 3,000-person surveys to our donor file,” Moffatt explained. “The verbatim [responses have been:] It’s gas or this donation; it’s vacation with our children or this donation.” Republican insiders interviewed for this story were more guarded when discussing the Trump factor in the second-quarter fundraising downturn experienced by so many GOP candidates and groups, fearing reprisals by the former president. Granted anonymity, they unloaded.

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo:

It’s no wonder right-wing justices didn’t weigh Dobbs’s awful impact on women

With so many disturbing aspects of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade — the shoddy history, the contempt for stare decisis, etc. — it is easy to forget that one of the most heinous came from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

During oral arguments, Julie Rikelman, counsel for Jackson’s Women Health, had the temerity to spell out the ramifications that bans would have on the health and future of women denied an abortion. Roberts cut her off and plunged ahead in his search for justification for a 15-week limit on the procedure.

Do people still think this is an open question? Yes, Republicans will shut out the press in 2024. Virtually the entire presidential primary will be conducted through the right-wing press. Mainstream press will get access only to be used as punching bags. https://t.co/WeM6yulk6m

— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) July 26, 2022

Sarah Posner/TNR:

How Did Maryland Republicans Nominate Two Extremist Screwballs for Statewide Office?

The gubernatorial nominee was at the Capitol on January 6. The attorney general pick says public schools belong to Hitler. What is going on?

Last Tuesday, Republican primary voters in Maryland picked two radical extremists as their nominees in November’s race for governor and attorney general. In electing Dan Cox as their gubernatorial candidate and Michael Peroutka as their nominee for attorney general, Maryland Republicans showed not just that they prefer the Trumpier brand of the GOP. They showed that a long campaign by radical right theocrats to take over the party has borne more fruit in the age of Trump than ever before, coalescing in a toxic merger of white Christian nationalism and the stolen election lie.

Peter Wehner/NY Times:

What in the World Happened to Elise Stefanik?

There was a time in 2016 when Elise Stefanik, now the third-ranking Republican in the House, was so disgusted by Donald Trump, she would barely mention his name. Today he proudly refers to her as “one of my killers.”

She proved that again last month. In an effort to undermine confidence in the select committee investigating the violent assault on the Capitol, Ms. Stefanik said, “This is not a serious investigation. This is a partisan political witch hunt.” The committee, she said, is “illegitimate.” The hearings did not change her mind. In mid-July, before the final session planned for the summer, she referred to the committee as a “sham” and declared that “it is way worse than the impeachment witch hunt parts one and two.”

Maybe Ms. Stefanik was continuing to discredit the House committee because the evidence it has produced from Trump insiders — and the compelling way the evidence has been presented — has inflicted staggering damage on Mr. Trump, even though it might not prevent him from winning the Republican presidential nomination for a third straight time. Ms. Stefanik has failed in her efforts to sabotage the committee, but it’s not for lack of trying.

Doug Mastriano consultant and Gab CEO Andrew Torba has reaffirmed he doesn't want right-wing Jewish commentators like Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin in his movement unless they “repent” and renounce their Jewish faith. https://t.co/R8Y4Gye3ll

— Eric Hananoki (@ehananoki) July 22, 2022

David Rothkopf/Daily Beast:

What Comes Next After Biden’s Foreign Policy Marathon

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan talks about Biden’s recent Middle East trip and the challenges that lie ahead

“You’d be hard-pressed to find another president operating at this pace—and all this in an election year,” said U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. “When you think of the stakes involved with China, Russia, Ukraine, NATO expansion, ensuring affordable energy and food supplies, Israel’s integration with the region, shoring up security partnerships, and major issues of geopolitics—to do all those things in nine weeks and to see how much better off the U.S. is at the end of it whether in terms of short-term or long-term trends, it is hard to argue, especially for anyone who has watched him in action, that he has slowed down or been hindered by domestic politics.”

.@CNN Poll Do you think that Trump's public statements leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol encouraged political violence? % Yes/No Voters 60/40 Dem 94/6 GOP 20/79 Ind 66/34 Lib 91/9 Mod 71/29 Con 21/79 White,College 60/40 White,No degree 44/55https://t.co/TKRrcIydFd

— Aron Goldman (@ArgoJournal) July 26, 2022