The Supreme Court has gone rogue. Now is the time to start fixing it

The conservative Supreme Court has gone rogue. It has “cemented its place in history as the most radical Supreme Court ever,” in the words of historian Kevin Kruse. It handcuffed all federal regulatory agencies last week, and elevated the president to king on Monday. They’ve done so on behalf of the American oligarchs who have bankrolled the lavish lifestyle of at least two of the justices. They have also done so on behalf of twice-impeached convicted felon Donald Trump.

If there is any hope of salvaging our republic out of this mess, President Joe Biden and Democrats have to fight back, immediately, in the campaign and in action. That means setting aside the trust institutionalists like Biden and Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin have in the system and in the basic decency of people like Chief Justice John Roberts. It means directly taking on the corrupt court and making the case to the American people that it has to be stopped.

Biden made a start Monday evening, giving a short prime-time address to the nation to point out the “dangerous precedent” of placing “virtually no limits on what a president can do.”

“This decision,” Biden said, “has continued the court’s attack in recent years on a wide range of long-established legal principles in our nation, from gutting voting rights and civil rights to taking away a woman’s right to choose to today’s decision that undermines the rule of law of this nation.”

In perhaps the most chilling words a president has uttered since the Civil War, Biden starkly defined where we’re at as a nation. 

“[I]t will depend on the character of the men and women who hold that presidency that are going to define the limits of the power of the presidency,” he said, “because the law will no longer do it.” 

That’s Biden declaring that, as of Monday, we are no longer a nation under the rule of law because of a decision made by a court that is fundamentally corrupt—the essential backdrop to this momentously, historically awful term.

Start with Justice Clarence Thomas, whose corruption has been detailed in months of reporting from ProPublica: the undeclared luxury trips, gifts, and real estate deals; the cozying up to the Koch machine; his own extortion of the court and the oligarchs insisting that if he didn’t benefit financially, he would leave the court. There’s also his wife, Ginni, who not only plotted in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, but was rewarded by another billionaire—Leonard Leo—who funneled tens of thousands to her for consulting work. 

Not to be outdone in either the grift or the partisanship game, there’s Justice Samuel Alito. He was there for the luxury trips from hedge fund billionaires and the lavish trip to Rome to be feted for writing the decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Like Thomas, Alito lets his spouse do his partisanship talk for him, or rather the flag-flying.

Then there’s Roberts refusing to even answer questions from the Senate about how these bought-and-paid for ideologues have tarnished the institution or to consider implementing a binding ethics reform to attempt to redeem the court.

And voters know it. Trust in the court plummeted after it overturned Roe to record lows, and it is not recovering.

So here we are. The only thing that can forestall the end of the republic is our vote and the hope that democrats—and Democrats—prevail in November in numbers that can’t be denied. Maybe then elected Democrats will fix this mess.

There are plenty of good ideas for reshaping the court from expanding it to imposing term limits to create a stable of justices that rotate in and out of the court. The solutions are there—Democrats need to embrace them. And run on them.

That can start with rallying around Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s impeachment resolution against the justices who perpetrated this “assault on American democracy.” No, it won’t move forward in a Republican-controlled House, but it can help unite Democrats for an immediate course of action should they regain the House.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries echoed that, saying Democrats plan to “engage in aggressive oversight and legislative activity” to determine that “extreme, far-right justices in the [Supreme Court] majority are brought into compliance with the Constitution.”

The Senate has to take the lead in the coming months, and it has to come from Durbin, who failed in his first task of responding to the devastating ruling. He complained over spilled milk, that Thomas and Alito “brazenly refused to recuse themselves from this case.” He scolded Roberts for not using “his existing authority to enact an enforceable code of conduct.”

It’s a lot too late for that. Durbin and his colleagues need to get on the same page as House Democrats, because they actually are in an oversight position and need to start using it. No, they can’t fix the Supreme Court now, but they can start building the case for it. 

They have to win back the two elected branches, and one of the best ways to do it will be to put aside the niceties of institutionalism and comity and declare war on the unelected branch—the one that would make Trump king.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's Bloody Monday, every single Democrat should be talking about that—exclusively that. Enough hand-wringing over Biden’s debate performance. Enough speculation about replacing the top of the ticket. Enough Democrats in disarray. Too much is at stake now.

Tell the people—show the people—the danger the republic is in. How Democrats react now to what this court has done could make all the difference in November.

If you want to help make America the place it ought to be, it starts by electing more and better Democrats. And you can do your part right here. Please give $10 to each of these Daily Kos-endorsed candidates today!

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GOP House speaker finally finds a reason to remove a president from office

House Speaker Mike Johnson—an architect of Donald Trump’s plan to overturn the 2020 election who had to be evacuated from the Capitol as the mob descended on Jan. 6, 2021, and who stood with Trump as a New York jury convicted the former president on 34 felony charges—says President Joe Biden should be removed from office because he had a bad debate night.

“I would ask the Cabinet members to search their hearts. … And we hope that they will do their duty, as we all seek to do our duty to do best by the American people. These are fateful moments,” Johnson told reporters Friday. “If I were in the Cabinet … I would be having that discussion with my colleagues at the Cabinet level. I would. … We'll see what action they take. It’s a serious situation.”

This is the same Mike Johnson who voted against removing Trump from office after the Capitol insurrection. He’s for removing a president because he’s old, and he’s against removing a president who is old and who tried to overthrow the government. Good to know.

Meanwhile, Johnson’s guy stood on a debate stage and lied more than 30 times, according to CNN’s fact-checking guru Daniel Dale, including:

Democratic-led states allow babies to be executed after birth, that every legal scholar and everybody in general wanted Roe v. Wade overturned, that there were no terror attacks during his presidency, that Iran didn’t fund terror groups during his presidency, that the US has provided more aid to Ukraine than Europe has, that Biden for years referred to Black people as “super predators,” that Biden is planning to quadruple people’s taxes, that then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned down 10,000 National Guard troops for the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, that Americans don’t pay the cost of his tariffs on China and other countries, that Europe accepts no American cars, that he is the president who got the Veterans Choice program through Congress, and that fraud marred the results of the 2020 election.

Trump stood on that debate stage and refused—three times—to say he will accept the results of the next election. That’s the guy Johnson wants to see back in the White House. 

And what was Trump’s main takeaway from the debate? He’s a great golfer. So please spare us your thoughts on who is fit to be president, Mr. Johnson. Oh, and fuck you. 

Don’t let either Johnson or Trump stay in power. Please give $10 to each of these Daily Kos-endorsed candidates to take back the House and defeat Trump!

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Hunter Biden is convicted, but the GOP is still big mad

You might think that Republicans would be thrilled that there’s now a convicted felon in the Biden family, but it’s still not enough for them. From wanting to take down the rest of the “Biden crime family” to calling Hunter’s conviction a Justice Department ploy to make it look like there’s not a “two-tiered system of justice,” the GOP is still angry and thirsting for revenge for Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 felonies.

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, who can’t stop hilariously failing to impeach President Joe Biden, kicks it off with a tweet:

🚨STATEMENT🚨 Hunter Biden’s sweetheart plea deal was smoked out after scrutiny by a federal judge. Today’s verdict is a step toward accountability but until the Department of Justice investigates everyone involved in the Bidens’ corrupt influence peddling schemes that generated…

— Rep. James Comer (@RepJamesComer) June 11, 2024

Comer’s commentary reflects the sentiments of the Trump campaign

“Crooked Joe Biden’s reign over the Biden Family Criminal Empire is all coming to an end on November 5th, and never again will a Biden sell government access for personal profit. As for Hunter, we wish him well in his recovery and legal affairs,” a Trump campaign spokesperson said in a statement

But it wasn’t long until the campaign retracted its statement and reissued it without the well wishes for Hunter.

The “Biden crime family” and demands for prosecutions are a major theme among the GOP. 

“Now, it’s time to bring Hunter and the Biden Crime Family to justice for the allegations of influence peddling,” Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina tweeted.

“Hunter Biden’s firearm conviction is simply a smokescreen,” says Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana. “What I'm concerned about is how Joe, Hunter, and James Biden have been enriching themselves by trading away America's interests to our enemies.”

On the other hand, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri is accusing the DOJ for not prosecuting Hunter hard enough. 

“Never forget DOJ tried to avoid this trial & verdict by giving Hunter a sweetheart plea deal. Until the judge exposed them,” he tweeted.

Then there’s the conspiracy theorists, like Stephen Miller, who accused the DOJ of “running election interference for Joe Biden.”

“That’s why DOJ did NOT charge Hunter with being an unregistered foreign agent (FARA) or any crime connected with foreign corruption. Why? Because all the evidence would lead back to JOE,” he tweeted.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, added to that, tweeting: “And yet Dems will now point to Hunter’s conviction as evidence that ‘there’s no lawfare.’” 

But Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia takes the cake for political paranoia: 

Hunter Biden’s guilty verdict is nothing more than the Left’s attempt to create the illusion of equal justice. Don’t fall for it.

— Rep. Andrew Clyde (@Rep_Clyde) June 11, 2024

There’s no small amount of cognitive dissonance about the rule of law in this crowd. Like Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, who intoned that “today’s verdict is a step towards ensuring equal application of the law, regardless of one's last name.”

Except, of course, for the equal application of the law to someone named Trump. 

“The fix was in for this fake ‘trial’ - the George Soros-backed DA and a leftist judge worked to tilt the scales of justice against President Trump,” Smith tweeted

Then there’s the pathetic toadying for Trump from Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good. 

“Hunter Biden is convicted of an actual crime. Donald Trump was railroaded by a political prosecutor and a biased judge,” Good tweeted

Trump has endorsed Good’s primary opponent. 

Yet no one in the GOP is complaining about a "rigged jury" or a “corrupt judge” in Hunter’s conviction. And neither are the Democrats.

“I've not heard a single Democrat anywhere in the country cry fraud, cry, fixed, cry, rigged, cry, kangaroo court or any of the many epithets that our colleagues have mobilized against the U.S. Department of Justice and our federal court system,” Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said

Similarly, Biden has responded to the conviction with a dignified and loving statement in support of his son. 

"Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today,” Biden said. “So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery.”

As for the verdict? 

“I will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal,” Biden said.

Donald Trump was convicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records on May 30. What are potential voters saying about this historic news? And what is the Biden-Harris campaign doing now that the “teflon Don" is no more?

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House GOP amps up its revenge against Attorney General Merrick Garland

The House is going to spend half of this week on their revenge agenda for convicted felon Donald Trump, this time voting to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. This is part of the mounting campaign among Republicans to enact retribution on President Joe Biden, his administration officials, congressional Democrats and anyone else Trump puts on his enemies list. It’s a precursor to what they’ll do if they maintain the House, win the Senate, and Trump wins.

The House will send the resolution against Garland to the Justice Department for criminal referral if it passes later this week. Which essentially means it’s going nowhere. The referral would go to the U.S. attorney who would be tasked with determining whether a crime was committed by Garland in refusing to turn over audio recordings of the interviews special counsel Robert Hur conducted with Biden in a classified documents inquiry, and if charges should be brought.

The U.S. attorney for D.C. is highly unlikely to find criminal action on Garland’s part, which would likely send the case to federal courts, and there wouldn’t be an outcome before the election. But if the election favors Republicans, Garland is going to be high on their list for locking up.

House Democrats have done a bang-up job of humiliating Republicans on this goose chase and are continuing to do so, but a little humiliation isn’t enough to deter them from doing Trump’s bidding.

“Desperate to blame someone—anyone—for the utter failure of this impeachment inquiry, Republicans have contrived an allegation that Attorney General Merrick Garland has impeded their impeachment inquiry by preventing them from hearing President Biden’s interview with Special Counsel Hur by withholding the audio recording,” Democrats on the Oversight Committee said in a statement.

“In fact, Republicans, and the American public, can already read the full content of that interview.”

That’s absolutely true—Garland released the transcripts when Hur testified before Congress, a hearing that turned out to be a flop for Republicans. They want that audio, though, to use to show Biden unfavorably in their televised hearings. This is why the Justice Department is refusing to cede to the demand. It’s also why Biden claimed executive privilege to block release of the tapes.

White House Counsel Ed Siskel blasted GOP lawmakers' attempts to get the tapes, insisting that they have no legitimate purpose for acquiring them, only a political one "to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes.”

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‘Little maggot-infested man’ Tom Cotton rises to top of Trump VP list

A new name has popped up in the chatter about Donald Trump’s potential pick for vice president: Sen. Tom Cotton. He’s reportedly high on the list because of his “experience and the ability to run a disciplined campaign.” As a running mate, the Arkansas senator “would carry relatively little risk of creating unwanted distractions for a presidential campaign already facing multiple legal threats,” according to The New York Times.

But it sure seems risky to put a no-holds barred racist, sexist creep on a debate stage with Vice President Kamala Harris. Cotton traded in his dog whistle for a racist bullhorn years ago, and has made headlines with his outrageous statements and behavior.

Here is a mere sampling of Cotton’s lowlights:

Attacking Ketanji Brown Jackson

During the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, Cotton teamed up with the other deplorables on the Senate Judiciary Committee to harangue the nominee about everything from QAnon theories to her history as a public defender, attempting to paint her as an adherent of “critical race theory,” as if that’s a bad thing.

Cotton really sunk to the bottom, however, when he all but called Jackson a Nazi sympathizer during a floor speech. “You know, the last Judge Jackson left the Supreme Court to go to Nuremberg and prosecute the case against the Nazis,” he said. “This Judge Jackson might’ve gone there to defend them.”

“Judge Jackson voluntarily represented three terrorists in three cases,” Cotton complained to CNN. “And she called American soldiers war criminals. I have no patience for it.” Jackson, of course, did not call U.S. troops war criminals.

Those were the accusations that prompted Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison to call Cotton the “lowest of the low” and a “little maggot-infested man.”

Attacking the first Muslim American appeals court nominee

Cotton’s recent bigoted attacks on Adeel A. Mangi, the first-ever Muslim American federal appeals court nominee, also made headlines when he subjected the Pakistani-born attorney to a barrage of Islamophobic questions about the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, al-Qaida’s 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, policy issues regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, and antisemitism in general.

Cotton bragged about his harassment of Mangi on X (formerly Twitter), crowing about his “gotcha” question trying to paint Mangi as antisemitic. Which is ironic, given Cotton’s previous antisemitic tweet history.

Blocking nominees of color

Cotton has a history of opposing Democratic presidents’ Black and brown nominees. From 2014 through 2016, Cotton blocked President Barack Obama’s friend and nominee Cassandra Butts—a Black woman—from an ambassador job. Why? When Butts met with him about his block, she told The New York Times’ Frank Bruni, Cotton admitted it was because “he knew that she was a close friend of Obama’s … and that blocking her was a way to inflict special pain on the president.” Butts died of cancer more than 800 days after her nomination.

Smearing a Singapore national

The senator proved himself an equal opportunity bigot in a recent Senate hearing on child safety and social media, repeatedly attacking TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew—a Singapore national—about his supposed personal connections to “the Chinese Communist Party.” Chew repeatedly denied Cotton’s obnoxious assertions, reiterating again and again, “I served my nation of Singapore.”

That didn’t stop Cotton from running to Fox News to smear Chew. “Singapore, unfortunately, is one of the places in the world that has the highest degree of infiltration and influence by the Chinese Communist Party,” he said. “So, Mr. Chew has a lot to answer for, for what his app is doing in America and why it’s doing it.”

Defending slavery

Of course, Cotton’s racist theatrics haven’t been confined to Senate hearings. He authored legislation in 2020 to ban public schools from using a curriculum based on The New York Times’ 1619 Project, which dissected slavery’s impact on our country’s founding. He justified his bill by calling The 1619 Project “left-wing propaganda” and revisionist history at its worst.”

Cotton added that children should instead be taught that slavery “was the necessary evil upon which the union was built.”

National security sabotoge

When he wasn’t harassing people of color during hearings, Cotton also dabbled in national security sabotage, interfering in Obama’s negotiations with Iran on their nuclear capabilities. Cotton spearheaded a letter from GOP senators to Iranian leaders telling them that even if they came to an agreement with the U.S., future administrations and/or Congress could renege on it. 

That infamous New York Times op-ed

And don’t forget Cotton’s gross New York Times op-ed titled “Send In The Troops,” which called for Donald Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and use “an overwhelming show of force” against protesters who took to the streets nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police. The column incited fierce backlash, which led to backpedaling from The New York Times and the opinion page editor’s resignation.

None of this will diminish Cotton’s prospects with Trump, who likes him because he’s a smart guy with an elite education. Also, he’s a reliable sycophant.

Cotton has refused to condemn Trump’s love of Vladimir Putin, and has bragged about how he ignored the evidence and arguments in Trump’s first impeachment. 

“My aides delivered a steady flow of papers and photocopied books, hidden underneath a fancy cover sheet labeled ‘Supplementary Impeachment Materials’, so nosy reporters sitting above us in the Senate gallery couldn’t see what I was reading,” Cotton wrote in his 2022 memoir.

Everything about Cotton appeals to Trump—and everything about him will revolt voters.

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We're heading across the pond for this week's episode of "The Downballot" after the UK just announced it would hold snap elections—on July 4, no less. Co-host David Beard gives us Yanks a full run-down, including how the elections will work, what the polls are predicting, and what Labour plans to do if it finally ends 14 years of Conservative rule. We also take detours into Scotland and Rwanda (believe it or not) and bear down on a small far-right party that could cost the Tories dearly.

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The pressure is building for the Senate to do something about Alito

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s insurrectionist flag flying was bad enough the first time around. The second instance demands action. Congress, Chief Justice John Roberts, and the third branch body that oversees the judiciary—the Judicial Conference—have to act, but it’s not going to happen unless the Senate Judiciary Committee raises some hell. 

The problem is the chair of that committee, who is also the No. 2 leader of the Senate Democrats, is dithering. Dick Durbin of Illinois, told reporters “I don't think there's much to be gained with a hearing at this point” when news broke that Alito flew an upside-down American flag at his home days after the violent insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, as well as while the court was still considering whether to take up cases over the 2020 election.

“I think he should recuse himself from cases involving Trump and his administration,” Durbin continued.

After the second flag scandal, Durbin is still just calling for Alito’s recusal on cases the court is deciding right now: Donald Trump’s immunity in criminal cases in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and on the prosecution of Jan. 6 riot participants. He’s still not sure whether his committee should investigate; He wants more time to think about it.

“Justice Alito is not taking care to avoid political identity,” he told The Washington Post. “He is identifying the right-wing elements in our political system. And that’s unfortunate. It’s further evidence of the need for him to recuse himself from cases that involve the Trump administration.”

“[Chief] Justice Roberts has to step back and realize the damage that’s being done to the reputation of the court,” Durbin added.

Roberts might realize that, but the chances that he’s going to do something about it are about as unlikely as Alito’s recusal.

Outside groups, including Indivisible and Demand Justice, as well as legal experts are pressuring Durbin to act by launching an investigation into Alito’s insurrectionist leanings. “Chief Justice Roberts must demand that Justices Thomas and Alito not be allowed to participate in deciding the immunity case or any other decision related to Jan. 6,” Norman Eisen, former impeachment counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, and Michael Podhorzer, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, wrote this week for MSNBC.  

“And the Senate should hold hearings immediately investigating their conduct. Any other course risks the court’s legitimacy, Americans’ rights and the rule of law,” they concluded.

Durbin is facing pressure inside the Senate as well. Two Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, both nipping at Durbin’s heels to succeed him as chair, want more. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island told MSNBC’s Lawrence O'Donnell that what Alito is doing by refusing to recuse on these cases is breaking a "law passed by Congress, specifically applicable to Supreme Court Justices. When they pay no attention to it, they are actually violating statutory law."

Whitehouse went on to say that “it has gotten to the point where the Chief Justice has to engage, and I think you will see more action on that shortly out of the Judiciary Committee.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Tuesday that “Chief Justice Roberts ought to be summoned to a hearing before the Judiciary Committee of the Senate. He ought to show some leadership and be held accountable.”

“Of course, Justice Alito ought to be subpoenaed as well in my view, but likely he is not going to appear and I think it is a time of reckoning for the Congress,” Blumenthal continued.

“Justice Alito says the Congress can't regulate, to use his term, the Supreme Court. But the Congress set salaries. It sets rules of procedure. It sets the numbers of justices. The founders didn't want the United States Supreme Court to be above the law.”

Alito famously declared himself and the rest of the justices just that in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last year, in which he made a startling assertion of constitutional power: “No provision in the Constitution gives [Congress] the authority to regulate the Supreme Court—period.”

That interview was with David Rivkin Jr., a regular contributor to the WSJ who also happens to be a lawyer who was about to argue a major tax case before the court. Durbin once again called on Alito to recuse from that case, as well as on Roberts to do something about Alito, for all the good it did.

This is not so subtle pressure on Durbin to do more than tweet sternly worded statements from two of his senior committee members. They see what all of us see: Asking nicely for Alito to recuse—which Durbin and House Democrats have done—is weak sauce.

It’s time to act. House Democratic leadership should be talking impeachment instead of issuing empty demands to Alito. No, Speaker Mike Johnson won’t go along with it, but Democrats are a hair's breadth from having control of the House and they should act like it. They are also likely to take the House back in November, which gives an impeachment threat now more weight.

The Senate Judiciary, led by Durbin, has to investigate. They have to put maximum pressure on Roberts starting right now, before the court issues its rulings on Trump immunity. 

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We're heading across the pond for this week's episode of "The Downballot" after the UK just announced it would hold snap elections—on July 4, no less. Co-host David Beard gives us Yanks a full run-down, including how the elections will work, what the polls are predicting, and what Labour plans to do if it finally ends 14 years of Conservative rule. We also take detours into Scotland and Rwanda (believe it or not) and bear down on a small far-right party that could cost the Tories dearly.

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House GOP targets attorney general after failing to dig up dirt on Biden

The House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Accountability Committee are holding hearings Thursday to consider holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The Department of Justice has refused to provide recordings of special counsel Robert Hur’s interviews with President Joe Biden and his ghostwriter in the classified documents probe, having already provided the transcripts of those interviews. 

The outcome of these meetings isn’t in question; committee chairs Jim Jordan and James Comer will push the contempt vote to the House floor. They remain intent on finding anything that they can use to impeach Biden and/or members of his administration, and they won’t let the fact that their efforts so far have been ridiculous stop them. 

It took them two tries to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, only for the Senate to swat it away. The star witness in their Biden impeachment case turned out to be a Russian mole. And they’ve already been down the road of trying to use Hur’s report to prove Biden unfit for office—a game that Hur refused to play in Jordan’s disastrous hearing. But no embarrassing defeat is going to stop them.

“These audio recordings are important to our investigation of President Biden’s willful retention of classified documents and his fitness to be President of the United States,” Comer said in a press release. 

The DOJ has in fact been providing information to Comer and Jordan. In February, it even gave them access to two of the classified documents Biden had from his time as vice president, which Comer insisted were critical to his investigations. 

But Comer “has not yet taken us up on our offer,” DOJ Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote in refusing the team’s subpoena for more information. 

Uriarte detailed all of the information they had provided in response to their demands and subpoenas in his initial letter to Jordan and Comer in April and concluded “we are therefore concerned that the Committees are disappointed not because you didn’t receive information, but because you did.”

In his second letter to the chairs, Uriarte reiterated that point.

“It seems that the more information you receive, the less satisfied you are, and the less justification you have for contempt, the more you rush towards it,” he wrote. “[T]he Committees’ inability to identify a need for these audio files grounded in legislative or impeachment purposes raises concerns about what other purposes they might serve.”

The purpose, of course, is having audio and video that they can chop up to show Biden unfavorably in their televised hearings. They got the transcripts for their hearing with Hur, but they didn’t find anything, so of course they’re doubling down. It’s Jordan and Comer—what else are they going to do?

But this latest sham does at least give Democrats on the committees yet another opportunity to own Republicans in the hearings.

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Ian Bassin is the former associate White House counsel and co-founder and executive director of Protect Democracy. Protect Democracy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group focused on anti-authoritarianism, how to protect our democracy, and safeguarding our free and fair elections.

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GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson is kidding himself about his leadership

House Speaker Mike Johnson insisted Tuesday morning that he has the House under control and a rosy future ahead of him. “I plan to lead this conference in the future,” Johnson told reporters, adding that he has “plans for the next Congress.” 

Good luck with that, Mr. Speaker. 

Johnson hopes hinge on the continued support of Donald Trump, and we all know how that goes.

The harsh reality for Johnson is that he has failed at everything the speaker is supposed to do—raise money, hold the majority, pass legislation, and keep the caucus focused on the party’s agenda. Instead, he delivered a failed impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The months-long effort to impeach President Joe Biden is in shambles. The only way Johnson has been able to pass critical legislation is by relying on Democrats, and he’s overseen an ever-shrinking Republican majority. He’s also far behind his immediate predecessor Kevin McCarthy in fundraising. The odds of Republicans holding the majority after November’s election are vanishingly small.

To top it all off, Johnson is continuing to negotiate with terrorists, holding a second meeting in two days with GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Thomas Massie, the agitators behind a motion to oust him. Johnson insists that “it’s not a negotiation … I hear suggestions and ideas and thoughts from members. My door has been open from Day One.” 

But that’s not what Greene believes. 

“I have high expectations, and they have to be met in full,” she said Tuesday. “There is no middle ground. There is no compromise.”

Greene is demanding an end to aid for Ukraine; a promise that Johnson will abide by the “Hastert Rule,” requiring he get the support from a majority of the House GOP on any legislation before bringing it to the floor; a promise that he’ll defund the special counsel probes into Trump in the appropriations for next year; and that he abides by the so-called “Massie Rule,” to make automatic across-the-board cuts if Congress doesn’t come to a funding agreement before a set deadline.

That’s setting the stage for yet another government shutdown fight in September, just weeks ahead of the election. The Senate and the White House certainly won’t agree to defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith, much less the funding cuts she’s insisting upon.

Nevertheless, Johnson told reporters Tuesday he’s considering defunding the Justice Department’s probe into Trump. 

“We're looking very intently at it because I think the problem has reached a crescendo,” he said. 

Of course he is. He has to if he’s going to keep Trump on his side.

All of this is giving other Republicans bad flashbacks to the fiasco McCarthy created by giving in to the demands of the maniacs. 

“We got in trouble [in] January 2023, right? And we may have paid way too much, and I think for right now I would be very careful,” Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska told reporters after Tuesday’s GOP conference meeting. 

“I don’t have a problem with him listening. What I will have a problem with … is when you start making special deals, side deals, hidden deals, behind-the closed-door deals. And then not just conservatives but moderates, say: ‘Well, what about my deal,’” Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern of Oklahoma added.

Johnson should be taking the McCarthy warning to heart. He might also benefit from looking back to former Speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner, who were essentially chased out after trying and failing to meet Freedom Caucus demands. 

He might think he’s the anointed one who can navigate this path to victory, but Johnson is setting himself up for a humiliating fall.

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House Speaker Mike Johnson just can’t win

Big Republican donors might note Monday that after Speaker Mike Johnson talked tough to them this weekend about cracking down on the rebels who have derailed the House, he chose to kowtow to the current chaos agent; Johnson will have a one-on-one meeting with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to air her grievances. 

Johnson and Greene will meet Monday afternoon, following days of Greene abusing him on social media and with her promise of forcing a vote to oust Johnson some time this week. She and her ally, GOP Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, are ready to go. “If you’re happy with what he’s done this year and if you’re looking forward to what he will do the remainder of the year, you should join the Democrat leader Hakeem Jeffries in supporting Mike Johnson. #uniparty” Massie tweeted Sunday.

That’s in response to the Democratic leadership team’s announcement last week that they’ll ride to Johnson’s rescue and allow members to block his ouster. That move ensures Johnson owes his future as speaker to Democrats and guarantees that his GOP detractors are only going to be more enraged at him because of it. There's just no winning for him no matter what.

Meanwhile, Johnson tried to placate big GOP donors by telling them he wants to crack down on the rebels if the Republicans retain the House next year. In a two-day donor retreat that started Sunday evening, Johnson said that he’d support new rules that would kick members off of their committees if they don’t toe the line on party-line procedural votes. Members of the Freedom Caucus have been regularly grinding the House’s business to a halt this session by blocking bills from moving to the floor either in the Rules Committee or on the floor.

Johnson needs those big donors for the Republicans to have a prayer of keeping their House majority and those big donors need to know that their investment wouldn’t just go down the toilet. The chaos in the House has been a black eye for Republicans, and the money men are seemingly not happy about that. 

Johnson’s reassurances that he’d crack down on the malcontents if he stays in the job just made Greene more riled up. “Speaker Mike Johnson is talking about kicking Republican members off of committees if we vote against his rules/bills,” she tweeted Monday morning. “It’s not us who is out of line, it’s our Republican elected Speaker!!” It’s unclear if that came before or after Johnson granted her a private audience. 

So far, most of the Freedom Caucus gang seems to be as fed up with Greene as they are with Johnson, so she hasn’t gained much support. But that could change with Johnson’s promise to the money people that he’d crack down on the rebels. That would make Johnson even more reliant on Democrats to save him, which would make the maniacs even angrier. He can’t win.

This was supposed to be a week devoted to messaging bills bashing President Joe Biden and the Democrats, including everyone’s favorite HOOHA bill—Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act—which promises to liberate our refrigerators from the heavy hand of big government. Instead it’s all going to be overshadowed by the soap opera. 

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Mitch McConnell will stop at nothing to regain Senate majority

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Sunday airwaves to pat himself on the back for getting Ukraine aid passed, and promptly reverted back to his old ways. Bipartisanship is in the rear view mirror now and McConnell is still intent on the GOP winning at all costs, no matter what damage is done to the country.

In lengthy interviews on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’s “Face the Nation,” McConnell dodged the most critical issues of the day in furtherance of his primary goal. 

“I think the single most important thing I can do is make sure my successor is the majority leader, no matter how the presidential election comes out,” he told CBS’s Margaret Brennan. "What I want to do and what I'm focused on is not the presidential race, but getting the Senate back. I've been the majority leader, I've been the minority leader. Majority is better."

McConnell said he intends to "get ready for the challenges that we have ahead of us, rather than just looking backward." The nation’s biggest challenge ahead is Donald Trump and his threat to democracy, and that’s what McConnell is refusing to look back on.

When asked about Trump’s claims of immunity from prosecution, McConnell insisted he “stands by what he said” after Jan. 6, namely that “[t]here is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of [Jan. 6]” and the attack on the Capitol “was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.” 

That faux-righteous diatribe came after McConnell voted to acquit Trump in his second impeachment, the one fail-safe opportunity he and his fellow senators had to ensure Trump could never run for office again. He failed then, just like he failed when he gave Trump his endorsement earlier this year. Now he insists that he has to support Trump, telling Brennan “[a]s the Republican leader of the Senate, obviously, I’m gonna support the nominee of our party.” 

And that support doesn’t even really mean anything, he claimed. 

“The issue is, what kind of influence, even if I had chosen to get involved in the presidential election, what kind of influence would I have had?” McConnell mused.

He had enough influence to make sure Trump would not be barred from running again. On top of that, the Supreme Court McConnell stole for Trump seems intent on clearing Trump’s path back to the White House.

Saving democracy wasn’t the only big issue McConnell tried to dodge on Sunday. NBC’s Kristen Welker asked him whether he supports a national abortion ban, and he refused to answer. 

“I don’t think we’ll get 60 votes in the Senate for any kind of national legislation,” McConnell said, not-so-deftly avoiding the question. 

He deflected instead, using the standard GOP rationalization.

“It seems to me views about this issue at the state level vary depending where you are. And we get elected by states,” McConnell said. “And my members are smart enough to figure out how they want to deal with this very divisive issue based upon the people who actually send them here.” 

Welker pushed McConnell, asking him to explain his celebratory remarks in 2022, after the Supreme Court he built overturned Roe v. Wade and he said a “national ban is possible.” Now that the political blowback of that decision has hit Republicans hard when it comes to election results, McConnell once again obfuscated. 

“I said it was possible. I didn’t say that was my view,” he claimed. “I just said it was possible.”

Once again, McConnell’s eye is on that ultimate prize of a Republican Senate majority, no matter what he has to do or lie about. If reclaiming that majority means a second term for Trump, so be it.

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