Mitch McConnell tries to cling to power by bending the knee to Trump

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump have a long-standing mutual loathing, but that apparently won’t stop McConnell from bowing to Trump. The two men’s political teams have been in talks for McConnell’s endorsement, a reflection of just how desperate McConnell is to keep his weakening hold on his leadership position.

This is the same McConnell who blistered Trump in a floor speech after the Kentucky senator voted to acquit Trump in the impeachment proceedings after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He accused Trump of “a disgraceful dereliction of duty” and said, “There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of [Jan. 6].” McConnell accurately said the crowd was worked up with “an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters' decision or else torch our institutions on the way out.”

The attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, he said, “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.” 

So let’s just give him another shot at it, McConnell has apparently decided. 

Sources involved in the negotiations give a weak explanation. “We’ve reached the part of the primary where the party is coming together,” one source told The Hill. “The absolute worst thing that can happen to this country is electing Joe Biden for four more years, and you can expect to coalesce around that point over the next nine months,” the source continued. So much for protecting our institutions from the guy who tried to “torch” them.

The likelier explanation is that McConnell’s grasp on his leadership position is weakening as the MAGA contingent in the Senate chips away at him. They have blocked his No. 1 priority—Ukraine funding—for months. They rebelled against him to kill the border deal that would have secured that funding.

Earlier this month, the Senate’s answer to the House Freedom Caucus held a press conference during which Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was asked if he thought it was time for McConnell to step aside. “I think it is,” Cruz replied.

“Everyone here also supported to the leadership challenge to Mitch McConnell in November [2022,]” he continued. By “everyone,” he meant Sens. Rick Scott of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, J.D. Vance of Ohio, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Eric Schmitt of Missouri. “I think a Republican leader should actually lead this conference and should advance the priorities of Republicans,” Cruz continued. 

Chances are pretty good that a Trump endorsement won’t be good enough to stop them. After all, House Speaker Mike Johnson has been in Trump’s pocket since he was elected to the position, and that hasn’t smoothed his way with the MAGA contingent of the GOP conference. 

Trump is relishing the chance to humiliate his old foe McConnell, gloating, “I don’t know if he’s going to endorse me, I just heard he wants to endorse me. … Everybody’s getting in line, they’re all getting on board.”


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House GOP can’t wait to have hearings on how old Biden really is

House Republicans aren’t even waiting for the Justice Department to respond to their demand for the transcripts of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur. They are already planning the hearing with Hur probing into how old Biden really is. Hur has been preparing for his starring role.

Hur found no evidence against Biden in the documents-handling case he was investigating, which rose to a prosecutable level. But the former Trump official needed to do a solid for Republicans, so he added in a lot of gratuitous hits on Biden’s age in his report, which legal experts have called “a partisan hit job.”

According to Axios, Hur has been consulting with fellow former Trump official Sarah Isgur, who was Trump’s Department of Justice PR flak. Isgur has been helping him prepare to “navigate a congressional hearing.” Isgur has also been making the rounds of the Sunday shows and lying about Hur’s findings. Isgur said on ABC’s “This Week,” "They found evidence that (Biden) willfully retained national security information. And even probably beyond a reasonable doubt." The report actually said "we conclude that the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," hinting at just how much of a set-up for the GOP his report was.

Biden’s team was quick to respond to Axios: “As Hur mounts his campaign, there will be another story to tell—of Hur and his deputy being two aggressive political prosecutors from the Trump administration who decided to gun for Biden in an election year for their own political futures as Republicans.”

That will be an easy case for Biden and the Democrats to make since the hearings are going to be spearheaded by two of the Republicans’ most rabid and buffoonish characters, Reps. Jim Jordan and James Comer. The chairs of the Judiciary and Oversight committees, respectively, will fight it out to see who can be the most outrageous and ridiculous in their probes to find out just how old Biden is.

The honed and smart team of Democrats led by Rep. Jamie Raskin will continue to make a mockery of the Republicans. Their “Truth Squad,” which includes Reps. Greg Casar, Jasmine Crockett, Maxwell Frost, Daniel Goldman, and Jared Moskowitz, has perfected their tactics to derail hearings and flummox Republicans. On these hearings, it’ll be a piece of cake.


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House speaker takes early vacation before he can humiliate himself even more

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson might have wanted to take a victory lap after finally getting Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas impeached on Tuesday. Instead, the House descended into chaos again on Wednesday, and Johnson decided to call it quits on the week. Key votes scheduled for Thursday and Friday were canceled, and the House left midday Thursday for almost two weeks. It’s so bad that Republicans, including some in leadership, are running to the Capitol Hill press to complain about him and openly questioning his competence.

Wednesday hadn’t even ended before the headlines like “Republicans admit it. Kevin McCarthy has never looked so good” started appearing. It started off badly the night before, when Democrats flipped the seat of expelled New York Republican George Santos, further chipping away at the GOP’s already tiny House majority. A series of leadership missteps and acts of defiance against Johnson followed.

  • Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee—the committee chair responsible for the Mayorkas impeachment—announced on Wednesday that he was retiring at the end of his term because, as he told Axios, “This place is so broken.” He’s the fifth powerful committee chair to call it quits.

  • Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, who heads up the Intelligence Committee, went rogue on Wednesday, issuing an alarmist and vague warning about "a serious national security threat," and forcing Johnson to assure reporters that "there is no need for public alarm."

  • Johnson suffered another embarrassing failure on the floor on Wednesday as well, when the usual crowd of Freedom Caucus maniacs tanked another procedural vote. This is the sixth time in this Republican majority that a rule vote was defeated. This used to be rare—the last time it happened was more than 20 years ago.

  • And finally, also on Wednesday, Johnson pulled (for the second time in three months) a scheduled vote on a bill to overhaul FISA because he hasn’t been able to unify the conference behind one bill. Johnson’s team failed the basics of counting, announcing the vote before the votes got locked down.

All of this has Republicans, including some in leadership, anonymously telling reporters that they’re running out of patience with him. And some are going on the record. 

“Watching Speaker Johnson, who I have great respect for, grow up has been really fascinating. I just hope he has the time to finish growing up,” Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma told Punchbowl News. One senior Republican said that Johnson’s leadership “feels like chaos. Rudderless.”

“I’m as confused as ever about what he wants,” a House Republican insider told Politico. “He hasn’t given us any direction. … I think right now he’s in survival mode.” Another senior GOP member said, “[Former Speaker] Kevin [McCarthy] would have a strategy, he’d shop it around, then he’d make a play call… The more I’m around Johnson, the more it’s clear to me he doesn’t have a plan.” And yet another aide told Politico, “Not sure what the speaker wants to do on that—as with most things, he’s all over the place.”

“We’re in a bad spot, and that’s the understatement of the century.” That’s a leadership source talking to Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman. 

So Johnson’s House is packing up and leaving midday Thursday, a day earlier than scheduled, for a nearly two-week Presidents’ Day break. They’ll return on Feb. 28, just two days before the first government shutdown deadline, on March 1. Wheeeee!


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Ohhhhh yeah! Democrats kicked ass and then some in Tuesday's special election in New York, so of course we're talking all about it on this week's episode of "The Downballot." Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard explain how Tom Suozzi's win affects the math for Democrats' plan to take back the House, then dive into the seemingly bottomless list of excuses Republicans have been making to handwave their defeat away. The bottom line: Suozzi effectively neutralized attacks on immigration—and abortion is still a huge loser for the GOP.

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Speaker Mike Johnson finds time for impeachment stunt, but not to help Ukraine

House Speaker Mike Johnson has plenty of excuses for not taking up the Ukraine aid package the Senate passed early this week, saying that he’s just got too many serious issues on his plate to help in the fight for democracy against Russian totalitarianism. He told reporters Wednesday morning that “we have to address this seriously, to actually solve the problems and not just take political posturing as has happened in some of these other corners.”

Reporter: You yourself were part of killing the senate compromise bill. You say there need to be solutions, what are house Republicans doing to get to a solution on the border and on Ukraine? Or are you going to actually do nothing?

— Acyn (@Acyn) February 14, 2024

Yes, he seriously accused Ukraine aid proponents of “political posturing” just hours after he led House Republicans in their second—barely successful—sham impeachment vote of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. By the way, that reporter’s question was spot on. Johnson effectively killed the original Senate bill that included a border security package by saying it would be dead on arrival in the House. Now he complains that the aid bill “has not one word about the border.”

Johnson also insists that he’s too busy figuring out how to avoid a government shutdown on March 1 and that it will take time for his team to “process” the Senate’s package. Guess what’s not on the House schedule this week? That’s right: Any appropriations bills to fund the government ahead of the looming deadline. Again, he was able to carve out more time to impeach Mayorkas and to force the Senate to deal with that just days before the government funding deadline.

The Senate is out until Feb. 26 and is going to have to deal with the Mayorkas impeachment as soon as they return. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined the process in a statement, indicating that the House impeachment managers will “present the articles of impeachment to the Senate” as soon as they’re back in, and “[s]enators will be sworn in as jurors in the trial the next day.”

Which means two days of valuable Senate time will be wasted on this because the Senate will never vote to convict Mayorkas, but they have to deal with it anyway. They’ll dispense with it as quickly as the Senate can do anything, but they need every hour for the long process of passing the bills to keep the government from shutting down.

That process between the House and Senate is going nowhere fast because of all the poison-pill riders about abortion, contraception, and trans issues the House Republicans crammed into their spending bills.

On top of all that, Johnson—who just spent an embarrassing week and a half of floor time impeaching one of Biden’s cabinet members—is now demanding that Biden take him seriously and have a face-to-face meeting with him on the Ukraine bill. A White House spokesperson told NBC that Johnson “needed to wrap the negotiations he has having with himself and stop delaying national security needs in the name of politics.” Biden is not included to help Johnson out of this one.

“That body language says: ‘I know I’m in a tough spot. Please bail me out,’” one Democrat involved with the supplemental aid package told NBC.


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Kevin McCarthy sucked as speaker, but he’s good at revenge

From primary challenges to getting blackballed from House Republicans caucuses, the eight Republicans who ousted former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are feeling the blowback. His allies—and he has many of them—are making sure of that.

The Republican Main Street Caucus and Republican Governance Group have quietly booted Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, whose attention-getting stunts seem to be wearing thin with her colleagues. “She really wants to be a caucus of one. So we obliged her,” one House Republican told CNN

Mace is facing a serious primary challenger, as is Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, the new chair of the Freedom Caucus and one of the anti-McCarthy eight. “A well-connected GOP outside spending group is planning to play in the [primary] races,” CNN reports, and McCarthy is likely to be directly involved on behalf of the challengers as well.

Where the real hammer is falling on this eight is in their fundraising. Others, including Reps. Tim Burchett of Tennessee, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Eli Crane, acknowledge that the big donors aren’t taking their calls anymore. Burchett told CNN’s Manu Raju that he “absolutely” had seen his donations dry up. “Some very wealthy folks, and they’ve been very kind to me in the past,” Burchett said of donors who had dropped him. “And I hope that we can mend the fences,” he added. Good luck to him on that one.

Crane of Arizona told Raju he was feeling a fundraising hit. “Yeah, that’s definitely a reality,” he said. “And I think anybody that participated in that knew that going forward.” 

He’s right. They knew what they were doing, and they asked for this. Booting McCarthy meant ousting their most effective fundraiser. Ousting him meant pissing off all those big donors he’s been cultivating all these years. They’re friends of Kev, and they are happy to help him get his revenge.

Speaking of revenge, that’s what the ouster was all about. The spearhead of the chaos, Rep. Matt Gaetz, admitted it to a colleague in private correspondence obtained by The Daily Beast. According to the outlet, “Gaetz indicated to a friend that his effort to undercut, isolate, and ultimately remove McCarthy was, indeed, payback for the ethics probe.” That would be the House Ethics Committee investigation into Gaetz for alleged sex crimes, drug use, and campaign finance violations, to name a few.

Do any of Gaetz’s pals blame him for putting them in this position? Of course not. “I’m too busy working for the Lowcountry and helping elect President Trump to worry about Kevin McCarthy’s puppet,” Mace told CNN. “The DC swamp doesn’t want me back—too bad. I don’t work for them, I work for the people of the 1st Congressional District and no one else.”

The rest of the GOP conference loves to see McCarthy’s revenge. “If I’m those folks, one of the things that would scare the crap out of me more than anything else is an unhinged McCarthy,” a Republican lawmaker told CNN. “The guy’s the most prolific fundraiser, you’ve got a massive group of donors across the country that are pissed off about what’s happening, and you’ve got these boneheads that have caused it.”


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Disinformation is a growing problem in American politics, but combating it in Latino media poses its own special challenges. Joining us on this week's episode of "The Downballot" is Roberta Braga, founder of the Digital Democracy Institute of the Americas, a new organization devoted to tackling disinformation and building resiliency in Latino communities. Braga explains how disinformation transcends borders but also creates opportunities for people in the U.S. to import new solutions from Latin America. She also underscores the importance of fielding Latino candidates and their unique ability to address the issue.

House GOP to launch critical investigation into just how old Biden is

Who could have predicted that House Republicans would use special counsel Robert Hur’s report on President Joe Biden’s document handling for their political purposes? Hur found that while Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency,” there was not enough evidence to “establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

In the absence of actionable malfeasance on the document handling, Hur—a former United States attorney in Maryland, appointed by Donald Trump—did the next best thing he could for his Republican pals: the gratuitous hits on Biden’s age.

Enter three House committee chairs and a new avenue of investigation: Biden’s fitness as president. Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, and Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland Monday evening demanding both a transcript and any video recordings of Biden’s interview, with a Feb. 19 deadline for a response.

Axios reports that the Republicans are planning hearings starring Hur in which they will focus on Biden’s mental acuity, the national security implications of his document handling (to give “investigations” the gloss of legitimacy), and his fitness to lead. “Someone might ask him if Biden is unfit to lead,” a leadership source told Axios. “Give him a chance to frame it.”

Might? They “might” ask Hur about Biden’s fitness? They “might” take this chance to exploit Biden’s age, his biggest political liability with voters, and run with it? They absolutely will give Hur a microphone and put him in front of cameras and the traditional media will absolutely eat it up.

While Republicans are at it, Axios reports, they plan to go after Garland and how the Justice Department conducted the investigation. Call it Comer and Jordan’s revenge for the fact that they haven’t been able to get anything implicating Biden and his son Hunter from the Department of Justice for their sham impeachment.

Jordan and Comer have the blessing of their leadership to do this. Speaker Mike Johnson, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, GOP Whip Tom Emmer, and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik released a statement last week calling Hur’s remarks on Biden’s age some of the “most disturbing parts” of the report. “A man too incapable of being held accountable for mishandling classified information is certainly unfit for the Oval Office,” they said. 

You might think that those four would have more pressing stuff to deal with, like the fact that there’s another government shutdown looming in a few weeks. Or maybe figuring out how to clean up the horrible messes Johnson has created with his inept leadership. Or just doing anything that would benefit the American people. 

Actually, you probably wouldn’t think that. Why would they change course now?


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Speaker Mike Johnson is getting squeezed from all sides on Ukraine aid

The Senate voted to move forward on the $95 billion aid bill for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan in the first-ever Super Bowl Sunday session. The vote was 67-27, meaning that it will easily pass in the Senate when they finally get to it. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has been up to his usual obstructing tricks, refusing to agree to shortening the debate time on the bill. That means it will likely not pass until Wednesday, when all the pressure will be on House Speaker Mike Johnson to either get this bill done or prove his MAGA mettle and block it.

There’s a threat looming over Johnson from Georgia’s contribution to the dumbing-down of the nation, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has said she will bring a motion to oust him as speaker if he puts Ukraine aid on the floor. In aid of Greene’s MAGA cause, GOP Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio is circulating a conspiracy theory that the bill contains a setup to impeach Donald Trump again if he is reelected in November. The theory goes that because the bill extends aid into 2025, Trump would either be forced to honor it or face another impeachment if he cancels it.

That’s an implicit warning to House Republicans—and Johnson—to stay on Trump’s good side and block the aid. But Johnson is getting plenty of pressure from the pro-Ukraine side, including from a powerful Republican.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican, recently led a delegation of members to Ukraine, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to assure him that he had allies among Republicans in Congress and that U.S. aid would continue. He returned with an urgent message for Johnson and Congress. The situation is so bad, he told Politico, that Ukrainian troops “are already rationing munitions” and “are unable to fully defend themselves on the battlefield.”

“We have to get this done,” he continued. “This is no longer an issue of, ‘When do we support Ukraine?’ If we do not move, this will be abandoning Ukraine.” He predicts that there will be  “overwhelming support” for the bill in the House, adding, “The speaker will need to bring it to the floor.”

It isn’t an empty threat, because Democrats have the tool to go over Johnson's head to put the bill on the floor with a discharge petition, and House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries is ready to use it. “House Democrats are prepared to use every available legislative tool to make sure we get comprehensive national security legislation over the finish line,” Jeffries said during the annual House Democrats’ strategy retreat last week. He called on Johnson to “move to consider parallel national security legislation immediately.”

The discharge petition needs 218 signatures to be put on the floor. That means as of now, they need six Republicans to join them. That math could change a little depending on the result of tomorrow’s special election in New York to replace expelled Republican George Santos. If Democrat Tom Suozzi wins, Democrats will need just five Republicans, and it sounds like Turner might be willing to be one of them. 

So might Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon. "I know we need to get aid to Israel quickly, and it’s in our national security interests to keep Ukraine independent and help Ukrainians defeat Russia’s barbaric invasion by sending them military weapons,” he told Politico last week. “I’ll work with the likeminded folks and the Speaker to determine what is best way to move forward.”

There is strong support for Ukraine even among House Republicans—101 of them voted for it as recently as September. If this new package makes it to the floor, it will surely pass. Which means the stunningly incompetent Johnson has a tough decision to make: stand with Ukraine or stand with Trump?


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Lindsey Graham was for the border bill before he was against it

Senate Republicans rejected the most conservative immigration policy bill in recent decades Wednesday. Just four of them voted for the combined border security and Ukraine aid package.

And South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham was not one of them. 

Graham had argued in favor of the deal just days before on Fox News. He said it would bring “real change” immigration laws and stem border crossings. 

“I hope people keep an open mind,” Graham said Sunday, before he voted against the bill on Wednesday.

Now the Senate is set up to pass the supplemental aid bill to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan without the border provisions. What does the bill need to include to pass muster with Graham? Border security. You’ll really can’t make this shit up.

Lindsey Graham just told us he plans to vote to block the $95.3 billion package — until he gets an agreement on an amendment for more border security. But Republicans like Rand Paul are warning they will object to a time agreement, effectively denying amendment votes. Graham…

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 8, 2024

Let’s rewind four months, to the initial supplemental request from President Joe Biden—the one they’ve been fighting over all this time. What did it have? Almost $14 billion for border security, which would have paid for an additional 1,300 border patrol agents; 1,600 new asylum officers; 375 new judge teams; and $1.2 billion devoted to counter fentanyl.

But that wasn’t good enough for Graham. 

“This is about securing our border so we can then help our allies,” he said in December. He said he didn’t want to have to “try to explain why I helped Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel and did nothing to secure our own border. I will help all of our allies, but we have got to help ourselves first.” 

As far as Graham is concerned, it’s more like he has to help Donald Trump first.


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Leader Hakeem Jeffries: ‘It’s not our responsibility’ to help GOP count votes

House Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters Wednesday that the debacle of Republicans’ failure to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was merely a “setback,” a numbers game and not a colossal failure on his team’s account. “Sometimes when you’re counting votes and people show up when they’re not expected to be in the building it changes the equation,” he said. Those tricksy Democrats hiding their votes. 

Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries was having none of that when he talked to reporters Wednesday. “It’s not our responsibility to let House Republicans know which members will or will not be present on the House floor on any other day or in connection with any given vote.”

He slammed Republicans for the political distraction:

What does the impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas have to do with the economy? Nothing. What does the impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas have to do with addressing the affordability issues in the United States of America? Nothing. What does the impeachment of Secretary Mayorkas have to do with fixing our broken immigration system and addressing challenges at the border? Absolutely nothing.

It's incredible to me that instead of extreme MAGA Republicans pivoting to working with us in a commonsense way to solve real problems for the American people, their focus is on how do we get Steve Scalise back to Washington so we can continue to do the bidding of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump and impeach Secretary Mayorkas? That tells you everything we need to know about this do-nothing, chaotic, dysfunctional and extreme Republican majority.

That is what Johnson is focused on: Getting Rep. Steve Scalise—who is recovering from a stem cell transplant—back to work and bringing the resolution back to the floor just as he’s available. Johnson and his team are not going to address the issue that three of their members are opposed to this impeachment because it’s bullshit.

“People around here should take note of it because they’re losing a group of Republicans that are really important,” Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, one of those “no” votes on Tuesday, told The Hill. “The vote is a matter of numbers always. But I don’t think it’s a matter of numbers when you’re looking at the Constitution and whether it’s the right thing to do.”


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Speaker Mike Johnson had a stunningly awful day—and he did it to himself

House Speaker Mike Johnson is no Nancy Pelosi. In fact, he just put himself in the running for the worst speaker in the modern age, surpassing even ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy with unforced errors. His ineptitude was on full display Tuesday when he plowed ahead with two critical bills, knowing there was a very good chance of defeat. That’s either hubris—believing he could bully his way through—or wishful thinking, but either way, it’s incompetence.

Let’s start with the failed vote on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Impeaching a cabinet secretary is a very big deal. It hasn’t been tried since 1876, when the House impeached Secretary of War William Belknap for blatant corruption, taking kickbacks to fund an extravagant lifestyle. Even then, the Senate voted to acquit (though Belknap had already resigned). So what Johnson was doing with this impeachment resolution would already have been historical, even if it hadn’t been so blatantly unjustified. This is the epitome of the kind of vote you don’t gamble on, but that’s exactly what Johnson did.

He brought the resolution to the floor Tuesday, knowing that three Republicans opposed it. Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, who was supposedly the surprise “no” vote that tanked the resolution, says he had been telling leadership for months that he was against the impeachment. And while Johnson also knew that every Democrat would vote against it, he rolled the dice on Democratic Rep. Al Green not being present—and Johnson lost, which he also knew could happen.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Johnson made his day worse by pushing through a stand-alone Israel assistance bill that needed a two-thirds majority to pass. He knew that a majority of Democrats opposed it. He knew it would fail, and he inexplicably went with it anyway, apparently thinking he could blame the Democrats for defeating it. The end result, however, is that pro-Israel groups are now worried that this sends a message that Congress is divided on support.

Is Johnson feeling any chagrin over this debacle? Nope. It’s not his fault. Asked by reporters why he gambled on the impeachment resolution, he said, “[D]emocracy is messy. … We have a razor-thin margin here, and every vote counts. Sometimes, when you’re counting votes and people show up when they’re not expected to be in the building, it changes the equation.” Those tricky Democrats, all showing up to stand for the principle that you can’t impeach an official over a policy dispute.

Asked about criticism of his leadership and inexperience, including from his fellow Republicans, he said, “I don’t think that this is a reflection on the leader. It’s a reflection on the body itself and the place where we’ve come in this country.” That’s definitely hubris because it is all a reflection on his leadership.

You know who else had a razor-thin majority in a deeply divided Congress? That’s right, Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, who would have never allowed such a humiliating defeat to happen. In the previous session of Congress, with the slimmest Democratic majority in the House in roughly 80 years, Pelosi passed massive legislation, including the Inflation Reduction Act, American Rescue Plan Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act, all of which are helping drive the U.S. economy’s strong comeback.

Johnson’s going to try again on the impeachment resolution when Republican Rep. Steve Scalise returns following medical treatment, and on the Israel funding bill next week, but the outcome isn’t any more certain on either. Scalise might be able to return from his stem cell transplant recovery soon, or he might not. The special election to replace the expelled Rep. George Santos in New York next Tuesday could go to a Republican, or it could reduce the GOP majority by one more vote. And while Johnson is considering putting the Israel bill back on the floor through the rules process so it would just need a simple majority vote, that’s a dicey plan. One of the hard-line GOP Rules Committee members, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, is publicly trashing his leadership, saying replacing McCarthy has “officially turned into an unmitigated disaster.”

Johnson has demonstrated his incompetence and turned far-right members against him multiple times over. This debacle will only make the hard-liners madder and more ungovernable, and everyone else in the GOP conference frustrated. And this is what he has to work with to fund the government in about a month’s time.


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Republicans demanded border security, worked on a compromise deal with Democrats, and now want to blow the whole thing up. Biden is promising to remind Americans every day that the Republican Party is at fault for the lack of solutions to the problems they claim are most important.

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