Live coverage: The government shutdown clock is ticking

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy blinked Saturday morning, doing an about-face on government funding. He abandoned the hard-right provisions in his last government funding bill and offered a stripped-down version of the Senate’s proposed continuing resolution. The new CR includes 45 days of continued funding, but strips out Ukraine funding.

That all sounds fine, except that McCarthy dropped this bill on House Democrats and told them the vote would be held immediately, and Democrats have found multiple issues in the short bill during a delay they created by asking for the House to adjourn. Democrats continue to object to being jammed by McCarthy, and the House is now delaying a vote, with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries holding the floor using his “magic minute,” the unlimited debate time afforded to leadership. The Senate was supposed to have started work on its CR at 1 p.m. ET, but is also in a holding pattern, waiting to see what the House does.

As a matter of tactics, Senate and House Democrats should defeat this continuing resolution. McCarthy has already blinked, deciding a government shutdown is more damaging than a vote on his leadership. They should push their advantage.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 7:00:13 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Democrats just saved McCarthy’s butt, by the way. The vote was 335-91, with 209 Dems and 126 Republicans voting for it, 90 GOP noes. Now comes the fight over McCarthy’s speakership, and Democrats need to use this to get some concessions from him before they help. First, he has abide by the debt ceiling agreement on appropriations and  a mechanism to avoid another shutdown fight next year. Second, no more impeachment crap.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:47:44 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

The emerging Dem narrative. It’s true as far as it goes, and the defeat of the draconian cuts and racist border policies the GOP pushed yesterday is significant. The Senate could still fight for Ukraine.

MAGA Republicans have surrendered. All extreme right-wing policies have been removed from the House spending bill. The American people have won.

— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) September 30, 2023

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:43:50 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Smattering of applause on the floor as it hit the 2/3rds threshold of 290. So the question now is whether the Senate will prioritize Ukraine over having the rest of their weekend free, and swallow it. Judging by the response there so far, they’ll vote for their weekend. We’ll see if they have any objections to the other stuff the House stripped out from/snuck into their bill.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:35:03 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

And that’s that. This is bad news for Ukraine.

NEWS: Jeffries telling Dems to vote for the CR

— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) September 30, 2023

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:33:32 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

McConnell reportedly pushed his conference to hold out for their bill, with Ukraine aid. He was overruled.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:31:15 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

The House is voting now on the new funding bill. It needs 2/3rds to pass. Expect the majority of Dems to hold out on voting until they see how many Republicans oppose it. 

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:25:57 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

One hangup here for everyone, a provision regarding member pay that looks like a really sneaky move by the GOP to get a raise.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:23:02 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Senate GOP is now saying they won’t vote for the CR they negotiated, because they want to give McCarthy a chance to get this through. Majority Leader Schumer is reportedly postponing the next procedural vote to see what happens in the House.

UPDATE: Saturday, Sep 30, 2023 · 6:19:01 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Jeffries wrapped, after an impassioned speech. “You dropped this bill at the eleventh hour today and gave  the American people minutes to evaluate it. That's unacceptable,” he told Republicans. General debate is now continuing. It’s under suspension of the rules, so it needs 2/3rds to pass. It’s not at all clear right now what the majority of Democrats will do.

Lawsuit by Attorney General Ken Paxton’s accusers can continue, Texas Supreme Court rules

Lawsuit by Attorney General Ken Paxton’s accusers can continue, Texas Supreme Court rules

By Patrick Svitek 

The Texas Tribune

Sign up for The Brief, The Texas Tribune’s daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

The Texas Supreme Court has sided with former top deputies of Attorney General Ken Paxton and cleared the way for their whistleblower lawsuit to move forward.

The all-Republican Supreme Court on Friday rejected Paxton’s request to dismiss the lawsuit after the case had been on pause pending a possible settlement with the whistleblowers. The decisions came four days after the whistleblowers asked the court to reinstate the case — and about two weeks after Paxton was acquitted in his impeachment trial before the Texas Senate.

The lawsuit will return to a Travis County trial court.

"We are looking forward to obtaining a trial setting and to preparing this case for trial as soon as possible,” the whistleblowers' lawyers said in a statement.

Four whistleblowers sued the attorney general's office in 2020 for wrongful termination and retaliation after they reported Paxton to the FBI, alleging he abused his office to help a friend and donor, Nate Paul. They almost settled with the attorney general’s office for $3.3 million earlier this year — until Texas House investigators, concerned about using taxpayer dollars for the settlement, started probing the lawsuit’s claims and recommended Paxton’s impeachment.

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The series of events effectively froze the case at the Texas Supreme Court. But on Monday, the whistleblowers held a news conference to announce that they were asking the high court to jump start their case in light of Paxton’s acquittal.

“The political trial is over, and it’s time for the case to return to a real court,” whistleblower Blake Brickman said Monday.

Paxton’s office declined to comment on the news conference, saying only that its lawyers would respond in court. But it appears they did not file a reply prior to Friday’s ruling.

Brickman is a plaintiff in the lawsuit with three other former Paxton deputies: Ryan Vassar, David Maxwell and Mark Penley. The four fired deputies testified as prosecution witnesses at Paxton’s impeachment trial.

The Supreme Court provided no explanation for its decision Friday, noting only that Paxton’s petition for review was denied with Justice Evan Young not participating.

The case reached the Texas Supreme Court in early 2022, after a state appeals court and the trial judge rejected pretrial attempts by Paxton’s agency to dismiss the lawsuit.

The Texas Whistleblower Act protects state workers from retaliation by other employees for reporting potential crimes to law enforcement. Paxton has argued his agency acted properly because it has the right to fire employees “at will” and because the whistleblower law does not apply to Paxton because he is an elected official, not a “public employee.”

“Like the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and members of this Court, he is an elected officer, chosen by the people of Texas to exercise sovereign authority on their behalf,” Paxton’s office said in its petition for review to the Supreme Court.

Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday’s ruling.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The impeachment hearing fiasco gets noticed amid factual court findings

Alex Kingsbury/New York Times:

Trump’s Promise of Lawlessness

Mr. Trump, as General Milley discovered and many Americans already knew, is a man unencumbered by any moral compass. He goes the way he wants to go, legalities and niceties be damned. Last week in a post on his social network, Mr. Trump argued that General Milley’s actions would have once been punishable by death.

Most Americans probably didn’t notice his screed. Of those who did and were not alarmed, far too many nodded along in agreement. As Josh Barro said in a Times Opinion round table this week about the former president’s recent comments, “Trump is and has been unhinged, and that’s priced in” to the views that many voters have of him.

Everyone’s focused on Trump’s insane blathering, but we should be equally disturbed by the crowd’s raucous laughter. That’s what this country is up against.

— Bill Grueskin (@BGrueskin) September 29, 2023

Joe Perticone/The Bulwark:

The Biden Impeachment Inquiry Starts With a Flop

“These witnesses aren’t giving any answers. They’re just asking more questions.”

The House Oversight Committee held the first hearing in its impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden today. At least at the start, reporters and onlookers packed the hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building. But the room was equally packed with skepticism and doubt regarding Republicans’ claims that the president is somehow implicated through his son Hunter in a pay-to-play influence-peddling scheme…

CNN reports one Republican called it an “unmitigated disaster” and lamented the lack of performative “outbursts.” Toward the end of the hearing, there were empty seats in both the audience and on the dais, a rare scene for such a consequential hearing. Even Fitton departed with a few remaining lawmakers to go.

Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) summed up the overall mood of the hearing:

These witnesses aren’t giving any answers. They’re just asking more questions.

Aaron Fritschner/X via Threadreader:

This hearing was a major tactical mistake by Comer, Jordan, and McCarthy. The whole point is to damage the President politically, but the first hearing totally backfired. Having started this it's hard to stop, and it will get harder as they go, for all of them. Real risk here imo

Meanwhile, actual fact finding rolls on:

MORE: A federal judge has denied efforts by three false GOP electors in Georgia — charged alongside Trump in the alleged racketeering conspiracy — to transfer their cases to federal court.

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 29, 2023

Joyce Vance/”Civil Discourse” on Substack:

That brings us to today and Scott Hall, an Atlanta-area bail bondsman who was facing seven charges in the Fulton County case, including a RICO violation and conspiring to steal sensitive election data in Coffee County. This afternoon, with little advance notice, Hall pled guilty to five misdemeanors, will serve five years of probation, pay a $5,000 fine, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. It’s the sort of deal that is so beneficial to a defendant that it suggests prosecutors believe his cooperation is valuable enough to merit the bargain.

So what might Hall be able to do? It’s not clear how important of a role he played in the overall scheme, and who he might have had direct communications with. But Hall was in the thick of things with Sidney Powell when she went to Coffee County, Georgia on January 7, the day after the insurrection, to carry out her scheme to illegally access voting machines. Hall’s cooperation is a bad sign for Powell. And Powell, in turn, had conversations about pursuing the Big Lie with others in the group and was in the room with Trump during some of the key conversations.

Sidney Powell isn't the only Trump co-defendant who should be concerned by Hall’s plea deal. Hall reportedly had an hour long call with Jeff Clark on January 2nd. That’s a long time for the Georgia bail bondsman to have been on the line with the Attorney General-wannabe who wanted to push states Biden won to call those results into question based on untrue allegations of fraud to try and swing the electoral vote call to Trump. It’s unlikely the call was just an hour of pleasantries. Precisely what was said and how good Hall’s recollection is—and whether or not he has contemporaneous notes or other verification of what took place during the call—remains to be seen.

Charlie Sykes/The Bulwark:

Comer’s Fiasco

“An unmitigated disaster”

Fresh off a chaotic and embarrassing presidential debate, and slouching toward a government shutdown, congressional Republicans took time out Thursday to roll out the Biden impeachment inquiry. The charitable view is that the first hearing was a dumpster fire inside a clown car wrapped in a fiasco. To put it mildly, the GOP did not bring their best. Here’s the WaPo’s Jackie Alemany:

"It is shocking that House Oversight would tap witnesses that don’t enforce your narrative," source adds.

— Jacqueline Alemany (@JaxAlemany) September 28, 2023

Damn. Outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley just took aim directly at Donald Trump at a retirement ceremony, saying, "We don't take an oath to a wannabe dictator. we take an oath to the Constitution ...and we're willing to die to protect it."

— Victor Shi (@Victorshi2020) September 29, 2023

John Halpin/The Liberal Patriot:

TLP/YouGov 2024 Presidential Election Project—Wave 2

President Biden continues to hold a narrow lead over Donald Trump, but inflation concerns and doubts about his economic agenda weigh him down.

The Liberal Patriot will release the results in a series of posts over the next two weeks and the full data can be found here.

Initial findings include:

President Biden maintains a small lead over likely Republican nominee Donald Trump. Our first wave of research released earlier this summer showed Biden with a 6-point lead over Trump, a result that is essentially unchanged in our September polling. Currently, 47 percent of registered voters say they would choose Biden if the election were held today compared to 41 percent who would choose Trump; 9 percent would choose someone else or are unsure and 3 percent say they would not vote.

Polls this early are to set narrative, and they are certainly being used for same. TLP’s schtick is to tack towards the middle (Third Way neo-Clinton style) and they read everything as such, in my opinion.

Fiery comments from Biden this morning on the shutdown, calling it “an absolute dereliction of duty” “Our service members will keep upholding their oath, showing up for work, standing sentinel around the world, keeping our country secure but they won't get paid. It’s a disgrace”

— Matt Viser (@mviser) September 29, 2023

Brandi Buchman/Law and Crime:

Trump’s fight to stay on 2024 election ballot threatens to turn Constitution’s insurrection clause into ‘historical ornament,’ experts say

The litigation invoking Section III isn’t unprecedented or hallowed ground, though [Praveen Fernandes, constitutional expert and vice president of the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington, D.C.] acknowledged that this situation is unique since this is the first time it is being invoked against a person running for president. The U.S. has been “somewhat fortunate,” Fernandes said, that it has not had insurrections disturbing its stability the way many other nations have.

“I think the Framers were wise to establish this provision and not hem it in with language that was specific to the Civil War or Confederate officers,” he said. “They forged this language in the historical crucible of the Civil War but made a choice, a drafting choice, to be more expansive about officers who violated their oaths not being trusted again to serve the public.”

While some may argue that it is “undemocratic” for voters to use Section III to challenge someone’s ability to be on the ballot, Fernandes noted that the Constitution itself was a democratically enacted instrument, agreed upon by the people to serve as the governing document for a nation, and there was a reason the framers included the clause in the document.

Cliff Schecter:

but the major media run story after story that Biden is old. OK, Trump 3 years younger and mentally, morally and emotionally broken. They cannot say so unless they subscribe to "truthfulness, not neutrality." But they won't.

— Jennifer Truthful, Not Neutral Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) September 30, 2023

‘It’s crazy’: Shutdown caps Congress’ week from hell

Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman has never seen a scenario like this week: “Not in real life — in movies. It’s crazy.”

It’s practically a national adage to say that Congress is wracked by dysfunction. Yet in the days leading up to Sunday’s potential shutdown, the House and the Senate are witnessing a cinematic parade of horribles.

The GOP-controlled House has failed to pass a spending plan. At the helm, Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces daily threats to his job from the right and recently launched an impeachment inquiry that some of its own members believe botched its inaugural hearing.

The Democratic Senate has its own troubles, well beyond a military promotion blockade: The death of one member, Dianne Feinstein, and the indictment of another, Bob Menendez. With two more Democrats sidelined by Covid, the chamber is laboring to pass a spending bill as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) threatens to use the rules to force his very own brief government shutdown (again).

“The dark part is losing Sen. Feinstein. I just saw her yesterday morning. Life is precious,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). A shutdown on top of that, he added, would be “horrible. How do you face people and tell them we couldn't do our job?”

A tablet counting down the time to a potential government shutdown is displayed by Democrats during a House Oversight and Accountability Committee on Capitol Hill Sept. 28, 2023.

While the increasingly likely shutdown is consuming Capitol Hill, it could be only a preview of lawmakers’ problems for the next 13 months. With plenty still to do, the House is essentially paralyzed as McCarthy faces his most serious threat yet to his gavel.

That leaves Congress unable to get almost anything done through the 2024 elections, even if it can find a path out of the shutdown — one that lawmakers are nowhere near agreement on right now. Members old enough to remember the 1990s are now looking to that era’s nasty stalemate between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich as the most apt comparison to their current predicament.

Even former Speaker Gingrich acknowledged to POLITICO that it's tougher in today's tiny GOP majority, compared to his comfortable control decades ago. Then, as he put it, he could "afford to have five or six people be idiots."

A current House Republican, Rep. John James of Michigan, had another phrase for those hardliners in his own party: “Clown caucus.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who’s seen his party endure two lengthy funding lapses under GOP control since the Clinton years, summed up the existential dread: “All shutdowns begin with people confident that the shutdown is a good thing,” he said. “And end with people knowing that it wasn't.”

The immediate crisis isn’t just government funding. Congress will soon be shirking its duty on expiring programs like authorizing federal aviation safety enforcement — which hasn’t lapsed since 2011 — as well as flood insurance that serves millions of people.

Perhaps the most politically painful part of any shutdown, though, will be the potential for missed checks in mid-October for millions of active-duty service members — which could make this shutdown the first in recent memory to adversely affect all military pay. Congress avoided that nightmare scenario in past shutdowns but hasn't yet this time.

“As soon as that mother out there with her two kids can't pay the rent, and her husband is in some foreign country fighting for us, that's when the heat starts to build,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), one of many in his party who's resigned to a shutdown.

In an altercation on the Senate floor, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) mocked Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) for arguing that, rather than pass a bill to pay the military, senators should pay all federal workers with a stopgap. It was one of several tense exchanges on the floor this past week, tangles that often foreshadow a shutdown.

The back-and-forth with Murray “brought me back to Saturday morning cartoons and watching Peanuts with the teacher going ‘wha, wha, wha.’ Because they were words, but they didn’t mean anything,” Cruz fumed afterward.

The Senate is growing more frenetic by the minute. Republicans are flailing to negotiate a border enforcement amendment for funding the government, to no avail so far. Two GOP senators, Paul and John Kennedy of Louisiana, duked it out over flood insurance policy. Murray stopped Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) from passing a two-week stopgap because it lacked extensions of other key programs and didn’t give Congress enough time to dig out of its hole.

“There’s a lot of stuff swirling around. It’s never dull,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the perpetually upbeat minority whip.

Yet there’s no hint of an agreement between the House and Senate to fund the government, even for a few days. Amid all that, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) invoked a higher power: “I’m just hoping and praying as a pastor that we'll get it right.”

“Politics is so choreographed and contrived because sometimes humanity gets lost," Warnock said.

Another pastor across the Capitol, Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), offered a lighter approach: “I’m trying to raise some money to bring the Temptations in. They had a song called ‘Ball of Confusion’ — let’s see if we can get permission for them to come out onto the floor, right after the national anthem.”

Still, the mood in the House is particularly bleak for Republicans, who are watching dozens of their colleagues tank bills that the party painstakingly negotiated specifically to earn consensus support. That’s all with their embattled leader in the most obvious peril he’s faced since January — with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) name-dropping speaker replacements on the floor, feet away from McCarthy.

Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), a founding member of the Freedom Caucus who’s since left the group, described the Capitol as “more broken” by the minute as his colleagues call for the speaker's head largely for the purpose of a “fundraising text message.”

“Now you're incentivized, for your political survival, to burn the place down,” Schweikert said.

From left, House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.), House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.), and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) confer during a hearing on the basis for an impeachment inquiry into President Biden on Capitol Hill Sept. 28, 2023.

As House Republicans look for a way out of this weekend’s shutdown, they know they’ll need to ask for help from Democrats — no easy task after their vows to dig up dirt on President Joe Biden. Although Democrats are not exactly cowed after the GOP's big, shaky step toward impeachment this week.

During an awkward elevator ride in the Capitol with a half-dozen Democrats on Friday, Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) got some unexpected, and wry, sympathy after a testy exchange with a reporter over the GOP’s investigation of Hunter Biden.

After Smith exited the elevator, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) quipped to his colleagues: “That dude had a rough week. I feel bad for him.” Some of the Democrats riding along with him busted out laughing.

Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.

Posted in Uncategorized

Media buries the lede (again) on Biden’s urgent address on dangers of Trump, fascism

On Thursday, Joe Biden gave one of the most important speeches of his presidency. But because it didn’t include bitter complaints about low-flow toilets, his secret plan to avoid World War II, or stream-of-consciousness musings on perennial kitchen table issues like whale-murdering windmills, the legacy media largely gave it a pass.

And though the speech at times focused on the honor and heroism of Biden’s late friend, Arizona Sen. John McCain, at no point did Biden get confused and forget that he never ran against him

What Biden did do was give a fierce defense of democracy, the Constitution, and American values—all while name-checking Donald Trump and the extreme MAGA movement that threatens the basic foundations of our republic. Unfortunately, he didn’t do it while falling over on his bike, so most Americans still don’t know about it.

RELATED STORY: Biden warns Trump is an existential threat to democracy. The media whiffs it

You’d think the current president (rightly) calling out his top political rival for being a power-mad, wannabe tinpot dictator who disdains the Constitution would merit searing, front-page coverage across the legacy media. But you’d be wrong.

Biden’s speech failed to make the front page of either The Washington Post or The New York Times, proving once again that these venerable leading lights of our fourth estate—and the herds of pundits and reporters who follow their lead—are still not taking the clear and present danger a plainly fascist Trump poses seriously enough. On the bright side, there's nothing on the Times’ front page about Hillary's emails today.

Yes, @washingtonpost, “Democracy Dies in the Darkness.” You know where else it can wither? A3, inside, which is where you buried the fiercest, highest stakes pro-democracy speech I’ve heard from a president in my lifetime.

— Jeff Sharlet (@JeffSharlet) September 29, 2023

So because American newspapers are tending to shoehorn Biden’s rhetorical triumphs somewhere between The Jumble and “Marmaduke”—if not in “Marmaduke”—these days, we in the non-legacy media are forced to take up the slack.

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You can watch the speech yourself or read the full transcript, but there are some takeaways that simply need to be repeated here verbatim, because to quote the guy who’s doing his level best to save democracy from a largely somnambulant media, “This is a big fucking deal.” 

At one point, Biden lends some outside perspective to the MAGA stew we currently find ourselves swimming in. As frogs in boiling water, we may no longer experience the right’s resurgent fascism as the four-alarm fire it is, but the rest of the world sees what’s happening in America very clearly.

For centuries, the American Constitution has been a model for the world, with other countries adopting “We the People” as their North Star as well. But as we know, we know how damaged our institutions of democracy—the judiciary, the legislature, the executive—have become in the eyes of the American people, even the world, from attacks from within the past few years.

I know virtually every major world leader. That’s what I did when I was a senator, as vice president, and now. Everywhere I go in the world—I’ve met now with over a hundred heads of state of the nations of the world—everywhere I go, they look and they ask the question, “Is it going to be okay?”

Think about this: The first meeting I attended of the G7—the seven wealthiest nations in the world—in Europe, the NATO meeting, I sat down—it was in ... January, after being elected—so late January, early February—and it was in England. And I sat down, and I said, “America is back.” And Macron looked at me, and he said, “Mr. President, for how long—for how long?”

And then, the chancellor of Germany said, “Mr. President, what would you think if you picked up the paper tomorrow—tomorrow, the London Times—and it said a thousand people broke down the doors of Parliament, marched, and killed two bobbies in order to overthrow an election of the new prime minister? What would you think then? What would America think?”

What would America think? We’d think the fish and chip shops were using lead-based newsprint to wrap their wares again. But beyond that, we’d rightly be horrified.

But that wasn’t even the biggest takeaway from the speech. Our current president also directly confronted his predecessor—and, by extension, the entire MAGA movement—over his ongoing attempts to remake this country into something more like Vladimir Putin’s Russia than LBJ’s Great Society or Ronald Reagan’s shining city on a hill.

They’re pushing a notion the defeated former President expressed when he was in office and believes applies only to him. And this is a dangerous notion: This president is above the law, with no limits on power.

Trump says the Constitution gave him, quote, “the right to do whatever he wants as President,” end of quote. I’ve never even heard a president say that in jest. Not guided by the Constitution or by common service and decency toward our fellow Americans but by vengeance and vindictiveness.

We see the headlines. Quote, “sweeping expansion of presidential power.” Their goal to, quote, “alter the balance of power by increasing the president’s authority over every part of the federal government,” end of quote.

What do they intend to do once they erode the constitutional order of checks and balances and separation of powers? Limit the independence of federal agencies and put them under the thumb of a president? Give the President the power to refuse to spend money that Congress has appropriated if he doesn’t like what it’s being spent for? ... Get rid of longstanding protections for civil servants?


Just consider these as actual quotes from MAGA—the MAGA movement. Quote, “I am your retribution.” “Slitting throats” of civil servants, replacing them with extreme political cronies. MAGA extremists proclaim support for law enforcement only to say, “We …”—quote, “We must destroy the FBI.”

It’s not one person. It’s the controlling element of the House Republican Party.

Whitewash attacks of Jan. 6 by calling the spearing and stomping of police a ... quote, a “legitimate political discourse.”

Did you ever think you’d hear leaders of political parties in the United States of America speak like that? Seizing power, concentrating power, attempting to abuse power, purging and packing key institutions, spewing conspiracy theories, spreading lies for profit and power to divide America in every way, inciting violence against those who risk their lives to keep America safe, weaponizing against the very soul of who we are as Americans.

This MAGA threat is the threat to the brick and mortar of our democratic institutions. But it’s also a threat to the character of our nation … that gives our Constitution life, that binds us together as Americans in common cause.

Biden also happened to notice another story that should have generated screaming front-page headlines in every major newspaper in the country as well as blanket condemnations from every sitting lawmaker, regardless of party:

Tomorrow, I have the honor of overseeing the change of responsibilities of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States military from one genuine hero and patriot, Gen. Mark Milley, to another, Gen. CQ Brown—both defining leaders of our time.

And yet, here is what you hear from MAGA extremists about the retiring patriot general honoring his oath to the Constitution: quote, he’s “a traitor,” end of quote. “In times gone by, the punishment…”—quote, “In times gone by, the punishment would’ve been death,” end of quote.

This is the United States of America. This is the United States of America.

And although I don’t believe even a majority of Republicans think that, the silence is deafening.

In case you somehow missed it (you could be forgiven, because the media didn’t cover it with nearly the urgency it deserved), the quote Biden references about Milley deserving the death penalty came from Trump, who was upset that Milley failed to show him the abject loyalty he thought he deserved.

RELATED STORY: Gen. Mark Milley responds to Trump's threats while the press largely looks away

Seems like a really important story, but then the nation’s biggest outlets can’t thoroughly cover all of a fascist presidential candidate’s fascist statements, can they? You need to balance them with horse race coverage about the advanced age of the man who stands as our sole remaining bulwark against the return of an avowedly authoritarian former president. It’s just basic fairness.

In short, Biden’s speech was clear, forceful, urgent, at times funny—Biden is a charming, witty guy, despite all the chatter about his age—and most importantly, grounded in the reality of our current fraught political climate. He also showed genuine emotion when talking about the cancer that claimed the lives of both his friend McCain and his son Beau. And he was funny and gracious when responding to a group of hecklers who tried to interrupt his speech, offering to speak with them after his address instead of, say, urging members of the audience to “knock the crap out of them.”

As Biden stated in his address, “We’re at an inflection point in our history. One of those moments that not only happens once every several generations, it happens once every eight or nine generations, where the decisions made in the short period of time we’re in now are going to determine the course of this country and the world for the next six or seven decades. So you, me, every American who is committed to preserving our democracy and our constitutional protections, we carry a special responsibility. We have to stand up for American values embedded in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, because we know the MAGA extremists have already proven they won’t.”

Clearly, Biden knows what time it is. If only legacy media—which stands to lose the most under a second Trump term—would take a side. It’s okay to take a side if that side is pro-democracy and anti-fascist. No, really. Preserving our ever-fragile democracy is actually that important.

RELATED STORY: Media complicit in Trump's false claims about wooing union members


This recent commentary from MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan on “Donald Trump’s Extremely Fascist Week” is a must-watch. Though maybe you’re not the one who needs to watch it—unless, of course, you happen to be one of the key decision-makers at The Washington Post or The New York Times.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE

Brooks and Capehart on why a government shutdown could last a long time

New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post associate editor Jonathan Capehart join Amna Nawaz to discuss the week in politics, including the country barreling toward a government shutdown and the first hearings in House Republicans' impeachment inquiry of President Biden.

Former WI Supreme Court justice refuses to name those involved in Protasiewicz impeachment push

One of three former Wisconsin Supreme Court justices asked to review possible impeachment of a current justice refused to tell a judge Friday who else was looking into that question.

Former Justice David Prosser called a lawsuit alleging violations of the state open meetings law "frivolous," saying those looking into impeachment met once but are operating independently and not as a governmental body subject to the law.

Prosser and the attorney for Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos both refused to tell the judge during Friday's hearing who else was tabbed by Vos to review impeachment. Vos is looking into possible impeachment of liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz if she does not recuse herself from a pair of redistricting lawsuits.


The liberal watchdog group American Oversight sued Monday, alleging the group of justices was violating the state open meetings law by not letting the public attend its meetings. Prosser is the only former justice to say publicly that he is among the group.

Prosser indicated during the hearing before Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington that three former justices met at least once.

"Three people had lunch together," Prosser said. "We had lunch together because we didn’t know what we were really supposed to do. If other people are going to have input, it’s going to be their input, not my input. I think this is an absolutely frivolous case."

When asked directly by the judge if he would name who the other two former justices were, Prosser said, "No." Likewise, Vos attorney Matthew Fernholz said he would not disclose their names without first consulting with Vos. Vos has repeatedly declined to name who he asked, only saying he tabbed three former justices to look into impeachment.

None of the eight other living former justices, six of whom are conservatives, have said they are a part of the review. The most recently retired justice, conservative Patience Roggensack, hung up when contacted by The Associated Press to ask if she was on the panel.

The judge asked Prosser if the group intended to meet again.

"The people that I had lunch with had the same view of what we might say and we would do it individually," Prosser said. He said the group was not producing a formal report and Vos never told him he was creating a panel.

"The word ‘panel’ never came up," Prosser said. "Certainly we were not ordered to do anything. ... This is not a governmental body by any stretch of the imagination."

Vos himself called it a panel when he announced its formation Sept. 13.

"I am asking a panel of former members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court to review and advise what the criteria are for impeachment," Vos said on WISN-AM.

Vos said he was asking the group to "come back with an analysis to say whether or not (impeachment) is possible and how it should occur."

Prosser and Fernholz on Friday both asserted that the former justices were like any other constituent that a public official may meet with to gather advice.

"That’s done all the time," Prosser said. "That is not something that is going to require notices and people coming and listening to everything that’s happening. That’s just not realistic at all."

Fernholz took it a step further, saying "The secret panel does not exist."

American Oversight had asked the judge to order the group not to meet. But Judge Remington said he can't consider the case until after the district attorney has 20 days to investigate American Oversight's complaint. That deadline is Oct. 9. Remington set another hearing for Oct. 19.

"It could be very well, Justice Prosser, that this is not a committee that is not subject to public meetings law," Remington said. "We just don’t know because the facts are uncertain."

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said in court Friday that it appeared to him the group may be violating the open meetings law, calling it "astonishing."

"If nothing else they should be meeting in public," Ozanne said.

But he said his investigation hasn’t gotten far, in part, because he doesn’t know who the other former justices working on the issue are.


American Oversight attorney Christa Westerberg said the group of justices is subject to the open meetings law because Vos created it to advise him, it has a defined membership and he asked that it report back to him with recommendations.

"We don’t have secret panels in Wisconsin," she said. "The work of government isn’t secret. I don’t think this is a very heavy lift. ... It just boggles my mind that all of this can be done in secret."

Protasiewicz’s installment in August flipped the high court to liberal control for the first time in 15 years. Vos has called for her to recuse herself in the redistricting cases because of comments she made on the campaign trail calling the state’s heavily gerrymandered, GOP-drawn electoral maps "unfair" and "rigged," as well as the nearly $10 million she accepted from the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

Protasiewicz has yet to decide whether she will recuse herself from the cases. The court has also yet to decide whether it will take up the lawsuits.

Federal investigators floated sex trafficking charges against Hunter Biden, doc shows

Federal investigators floated sex trafficking charges against Hunter Biden, according to a document released by Republican members on the House Ways and Means Committee.

The committee obtained the document as part of its Hunter Biden investigation. It released a large batch on Wednesday to coincide with the House Oversight Committee's first impeachment inquiry hearing against President Biden on Thursday.

According to the document, Jack Morgan, an IRS tax crimes prosecutor, in October 2020 sent nine cases regarding Hunter Biden and prostitutes to Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf.


Morgan highlighted several instances of Hunter Biden paying escorts to journey from New York and Boston to Los Angeles for sex, the Washington Free Beacon reported. Wolf sent the list to her associates, but the matter appears to have concluded there. 

The House Ways and Means Committee included the document within hundreds of IRS whistleblower records it released before the first impeachment inquiry. 

The House Oversight Committee held its first impeachment inquiry hearing Thursday, delving into President Biden and his alleged involvement in his son Hunter's foreign business dealings.


Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer alleged they have a "mountain of evidence" indicating that President Biden had previously leveraged his public office for personal gain for his family.

"The bottom line is that the committee has shown the Bidens alone brought in over $15 million in their foreign influence peddling, over $24 million if you account for their associate's earnings from the schemes," Comer said.

"We have established in the first phase of this investigation where this money has come from: Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Kazakhstan, China; it didn't come from selling anything legitimate," he continued. "It largely went unreported to the IRS. It was funneled through shell companies and third parties to hide the Bidens' fingerprints."

"This deserves investigation," he added. "This deserves accountability. The American people expect this committee to investigate public corruption."


Comer also outlined the committee's next steps in the inquiry.

"Now we know much of the money goes. Hunter Biden, Haley Biden, James Biden, Sarah Biden, other Biden family members and their business entities," Comer said. "What we need to understand is where it goes next. That is the question this committee has to answer. And the evidence supports that next step."

Comer issued subpoenas for the bank records of Hunter Biden and his uncle, James Biden, and their affiliated companies on Thursday.