Trump’s Republican Party aims its election disaster finger-pointing at … Trump

There’s plenty of blame to go around among Republicans following their election flop, and Donald Trump is coming in for his share. As we know, he usually takes that well.

“It was a Trump problem,” an unnamed Republican operative told NBC News. “Independents didn’t vote for candidates they viewed as extreme and too closely linked with Donald J. Trump.”

Rep. Jim Banks, who over the summer said he would support a 2024 Trump presidential run, said this weekend, “I’ll save my endorsement for another place and time for the 2024 race.”

RELATED STORY: Trump melts down bigly on Truth Social as Republican vultures circle the wreckage

“Those who are most closely aligned with the former president under-performed,” Sen. Bill Cassidy said on Meet the Press Sunday, going on to describe the under-performers as those “closely aligned with the past.” Cassidy voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment, but he also cheered the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision, so he’s not at all exempt from embracing extremely unpopular Republican positions.

“It’s basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said on CNN. “And it’s like, three strikes, you’re out.”

Explaining why Republicans shouldn’t nominate Trump in 2024, Hogan, a moderate Republican who won election twice in a blue state, said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Donald Trump kept saying we’re gonna be winning so much we’re gonna get tired of winning. I’m tired of losing. That’s all he’s done.” So Hogan’s problem is less with the ugliness and hate and more with the losing. Got it.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu got it weirdly close to right in his attempts to avoid overtly blaming Trump. “And the, obviously, you have all this other national stuff happening that, I think, scared a lot of folks, this extremism that's out there. And that's what this was. This was just a rejection of that extremism,” he said on ABC’s This Week.

Pressed by George Stephanopoulos on whether he was blaming Trump, Sununu responded, “You know, I know the media likes to do the pro- and anti-Trump stuff. It's not just about Donald Trump, right? There's a whole stream of things out there that can be deemed extreme, on one side and the other.” Sununu went on to briefly mention abortion and talk that “scared people.”

In other words, sure, it’s Trump, but it’s not just Trump. Republicans more broadly are scaring voters with their extremism, says this Republican governor just reelected in a state that simultaneously reelected a Democratic senator and two Democratic House members.

Sununu still wants some noxious stuff, but he got it right that Republicans can’t just blame Trump for their own extremism turning voters off. Trump may have made it popular to say the ugliest things out loud, he may have helped create the Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade, he may have set the stage for a large number of Republicans to reject the results of the 2020 election, but Republican lawmakers and candidates are adults. They took that stuff and ran with it, and they did so in large part because they thought it would help them win power. Now that it didn’t, suddenly, Trump is—at least temporarily—getting some blame. But we’ve also seen this before, so we know that most prominent Republicans will be back on board with Trump before too long.

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The Trump-DeSantis clash has begun in earnest. May the worst man win

Republicans in disarray as calls grow to postpone Senate and House leadership elections

House Judiciary Republicans release lie-packed, inflated ‘report.’ Will the media bite?

With four days to go before Election Day, the Republicans of the House Judiciary Committee have released a very serious report that is in no way a stunt. Now we get to see how much the media bites.

The report is supposedly about “FBI & DOJ politicization.” In translation: “The FBI and Department of Justice dared investigate Republicans, which can never be a legitimate thing to do.” For instance, it characterizes the FBI’s seizure of Rep. Scott Perry’s cell phone, which was backed by a court-authorized warrant, as the FBI having “stalked a Republican Congressman while on a family vacation to seize his cell phone.” Basically, if the FBI does its job and that is inconvenient for a Republican, it becomes evidence of politicization, according to the report from the Jim Jordan-led Republican committee members.

RELATED STORY: As DOJ reveals Trump concealing national security documents, GOP response is ... pathetic

The document also dedicates space to complaints about the Justice Department investigating threats against school board members (portrayed by Republicans as the Justice Department investigating parents simply for speaking in nonthreatening ways at school board meetings), accuses the FBI and Justice Department of “Artificially inflating statistics about domestic violent extremism” (while Republicans desperately need statistics about domestic violent extremism artificially deflated since it’s their people mostly committing this form of terrorism), and “Clearing the Bureau of employees who dissent from its woke, leftist agenda.” Haha, yes, the FBI is well known for its woke leftist agenda. Bunch of wild-eyed dope-smoking antifa hippies over there. (Fewer than 5% of FBI agents are Black, by the way.)

Here’s a measure of how seriously this report should be taken: The House Judiciary Republicans are promoting it as a “1,000 Page Report.”

1,000 of the 1,050 pages are copies of letters Rs have sent to the Biden administration — including 94 copies of the same five page letter to all US attorneys.

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) November 4, 2022

That’s 470 pages of the same letter out of the 1,000 pages that Republicans are bragging about to make this sound like a detailed, meaty report.

They got their headline from Axios, which ran with “Scoop: House GOP to release 1,000-page road map for Biden FBI probe,” although they also got an Axios “reality check” noting that “Trump himself sought to exert pressure on his own Justice Department throughout his presidency, beginning with his demands for ‘loyalty’ from former FBI director James Comey and culminating in his attempts to use the agency to remain in power after the 2020 election” and quoting former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman: “Throughout my tenure as U.S. attorney, Trump’s Justice Department kept demanding that I use my office to aid them politically, and I kept declining — in ways just tactful enough to keep me from being fired.”

But to House Republicans like Jordan, it’s justified and righteous if a Republican fires an FBI director for refusing to offer loyalty and politicized and corrupt if the FBI executes a search based on a court warrant on a Republican. Their position is really that simple.

Even given all the repetition, the document still contains a large number of falsehoods. Check this out:

The House Judiciary GOP's new report features a ... very charitable summary of Trump's level of cooperation in the MAL documents case

— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) November 4, 2022

In this account, the FBI and Justice Department’s efforts to get Donald Trump to give back the documents he stole become Trump graciously allowing them to try, and every so often coughing up a few more documents or adding security to the storage room where he was keeping the stolen documents.

This is the best part of that passage, though: “On September 13, a federal judge unsealed additional portions of the affidavit—although still largely redacted—that showed President Trump had returned even more documents to the Department than previously known.” So generous of him, right?

But! “Despite the publicly available level of cooperation, Attorney General Garland personally approved the decision to seek a warrant for excessive and unprecedented access to President Trump’s private residence. FBI agents spent approximately nine hours rummaging through President Trump’s personal belongings. They collected more than 11,000 documents, more than 1,600 press articles and printed materials, 19 items of clothing or gifts, and 33 books. They also collected about 100 documents with classification markings.”

I don’t know about you, but to me, following “Trump had returned even more documents to the Department than previously known” with a long list of the things he still had is not exculpatory. Sure, he had more than 11,000 government documents (because that’s a key word missing from their “more than 11,000 documents”—more than 11,000 government documents) in addition to the classified ones, but let’s give the man credit for having returned anything at all, eh? What this shows is that Trump took a damn lot of government documents. And about the “gifts” the FBI seized: Presidents and other government officials are not allowed to keep gifts they are given in their official capacity unless they buy them from the government. Otherwise, gifts are to go to the National Archives. It’s not like we’re talking about Valentine’s Day gifts from Melania and Ivanka.

This report is a political stunt intended to whip up the Republican base with days to go before the election. It’s more than that, though. If Republicans get control of the House and Jordan is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, “This report is a road map of where [Jordan] will go,” a Republican staffer told Axios. It’s a message about how Republicans will govern—through inflated claims about things as basic as how many pages a report has, baseless accusations, and insistence that any attempt to put limits on Republican wrongdoing is illegitimate.


Jordan is pushing for Mayorkas impeachment based on ridiculous lie that 'we no longer have a border'

House Republicans sought to scapegoat Pelosi for Trump's coup. It was always absurd—even more so now

How should we be reading the 2022 polls, in light of shifting margins and past misses? In this episode of The Downballot, Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen joins us to explain how his firm weights polls to reflect the likely electorate; why Democratic leads in most surveys this year should be treated as smaller than they appear because undecided voters lean heavily anti-Biden; and the surprisingly potent impact abortion has had on moving the needle with voters despite our deep polarization.

Trump’s cruelty has taken over the Republican Party, but his own base is increasingly cult-like

Can we talk about how creepy and cult-like Donald Trump’s following is getting?

I mean, yes, it has been creepy and cult-like all along, what with the people traveling around to rally after rally like Grateful Dead fans and the over-the-top merchandizing and painter Jon McNaughton’s portrayals of Trump as both a towering moral figure and a physically dominant one, to say nothing of the unwavering approval through scandal after scandal, plus an impeachment, a coup attempt, and another impeachment. It’s long been clear that Trump was barely exaggerating when he said, in 2016, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, okay?”

Yet somehow it’s gotten creepier and more cult-like. That’s probably in part because some fraction of the Republican base has moved on from Trump, leaving the most die-hard core there to show up for events like, say, Trump’s rally in Ohio on Saturday, which was far from full.

RELATED STORY: 'This is the week when Trump became Qanon': Crowd responds with bizarre hand sign at Trump rally

That rally solidified a recent trend of Trump embracing QAnon imagery and messages more openly than in the past, with a recent Truth Social post showing himself in a Q pin along with the QAnon slogan, “The storm is coming.” (Where “the storm” is Trump arresting and even executing his political opponents.) In attendance at the rally was Vincent Fusca, the man QAnon adherents believe is John F. Kennedy Jr.

And, at the end of the rally, many in the crowd raised their arms and extended a single finger in what looked all too much like a Nazi salute as a song played that either was the QAnon anthem “Wwg1wga” or was a "virtually identical" or possibly fully identical song called “Mirrors.”

Trump's rally in Youngstown, Ohio, ends with the dramatic music playing. Strange vibes.

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 18, 2022

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The people who showed up had come for the usual menu of Trump lies and bragging and hate speech and more lies. Here in late 2022, Republicans can get the hateful policies and more polished versions of the lies from lots of other politicians. Trump is jealous that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis got to get the headlines from grabbing migrants in Texas and dropping them on Martha’s Vineyard. He can claim credit for the Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade, but he’s not the most relevant factor in Republican-controlled states instituting harsh abortion bans. He’s not personally harming trans kids through exclusionary and abusive policies. Trump may have set the tone, but the Republicans currently in office have been ready and willing to continue carrying out the cruelty while he golfs and fumes about being under investigation.

So the audience that’s there for Trump is there because of his cult of personality. That remains frighteningly strong—he was able to drag J.D. Vance and Mehmet Oz over the Republican primary finish lines in Ohio and Pennsylvania despite their weakness as candidates, for instance, and he’s still the strongest fundraiser among Republicans (sometimes to their regret, since he doesn’t share). Trump is far from irrelevant, and not just because so many Republican leaders are competing to be more hateful than him. But the fact that so many of the people willing to show up for him on a Saturday during a major local college football game are now visibly Q-affiliated is a sign of Trump’s shifting status in his party. The thing about cult leaders, though, is they don’t get less scary when they feel their power waning.

Trump and his followers proved on Jan. 6 how dangerously close they came to overturning our democracy. Help cancel Republican voter suppression with the power of your pen by clicking here and signing up to volunteer with Vote Forward, writing personalized letters to targeted voters urging them to exercise their right to vote this year.

Viral tweet about MyPillow man’s subpoena is a window into the career of a far-right influencer

On Tuesday, the FBI served MyPillow Man Mike Lindell with a search warrant and seized his cellphone at a Hardee’s in Minnesota. That move came as the FBI investigates Tina Peters, the Mesa, Colorado, county clerk under indictment for tampering with voting machines after the 2020 election. Lindell is a prominent election denier who has poured money into trying to overturn Donald Trump’s big loss. 

The MyPillow guy being arrested at a Hardee’s is a fun enough story, but then Millie Weaver, aka Millennial Millie, went and made it better. Weaver is a former Infowars correspondent and minor-league far-right influencer whose Millennial Millie show has recently been airing on “Lindell TV,” and you cannot make me take the scare quotes off those things. Weaver was feeling a little dramatic about the seizure of Lindell’s cellphone, so she reached for the often-quoted words of German pastor Martin Niemöller, written in 1946 about the rise of the Nazis.

Yes, she is comparing cases of people being subpoenaed and searched for evidence of crimes to the Holocaust. She’s doing that. People receiving due process and their day in court are, to Weaver, akin to people being transported to Nazi death camps and concentration camps. The far-right’s victim complex knows no bounds whatsoever.

It would be understandable to read this and think it was a parody. I’m pretty sure there have been parody tweets along these exact lines about earlier cases of far-right figures being served with subpoenas or investigated for lawbreaking. But friends, this is no parody. Not unless it’s an extremely long con, dating back at least to late 2015. Because that’s how long Weaver has been building her Trump babe (more on that in a bit) influencer persona. 

Early on in her time on Instagram, in 2011 and 2012, Weaver was just another young woman posting duck-lipped thirst traps and pictures with friends. Sometimes she wasn’t even wearing makeup. The pictures from this time have almost no comments, and what comments there are are much more recent, from fans who’ve gone back through her feed. “No wonder you have a couple kids bet your husband can't keep his hands off you he's a lucky man,” a 2020 comment on a 2012 picture of Weaver in a bikini reads.

A little more recently, it’s baby pictures. Sprinkled throughout are occasional pictures of animals and organic foods. Then, in January 2016: a “Millennial Millie game face” selfie, followed directly by two brief videos about why she’s not a feminist. 

“There’s nothing feminine about being a feminist nowadays. They pretty much throw out everything it is to be a feminine woman as a whole. Can’t be a mom, can’t be pretty, can’t be hot, can’t be sexy, can’t have a husband.”

May 2016: A posed studio shot in front of an array of Infowars supplements with the comment, “This is Millie. Millie uses Infowars Life products and is very healthy. Millie is not a mindless trendy. Millie is Smart. Be like Millie. #Infowars #Infowarsgear

July 2016: A selfie in a MAGA hat, with the comment, “Make America Great Again! Trump 2016! If you don't like it...Kiss My Ass! #trump #trumpbabes.” (That #trumpbabes hashtag is a whole world of silicone and Trump bikinis and “Let’s Go Brandon” shirts cropped high enough to show ample underboob.)

From there, Weaver’s identity as an Infowars/Trump wannabe influencer mostly takes over her feed. In front of a “Hillary for Prison” sign. Shooting a gun, apparently off the back porch of a home. Promoting her YouTube channel for the first time in August 2016. Pictures with right-wing luminaries like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Nigel Farage, Rudy Giuliani, James O’Keefe, Milo Yiannopoulos, Mike Cernovich, next to Roger Stone and Alex Jones at an event, and more. Pictures of two White House visits.

By now, Weaver has 452,000 YouTube subscribers. In that first Instagram promotion of her YouTube channel, she had just over 3,500 subscribers. The oldest video on her channel is an entry for an Infowars "Make fun of Hillary" contest. A few months later, she’s putting a wig and makeup on her brother and sending him into a Target to ask people if they’d be comfortable with him using the women’s restroom with their daughters. For a while, she’s all over the map of Infowars-type obsessions: “SJW’s Ban St. Patrick’s Day.” “Is Wind Energy Actually Clean?” “EXCLUSIVE: Inside The Secret Pedophile Marketplace.” “Consensus: CNN is Fake News.” “Unsolved Mysteries of Liberal Logic.”

Weaver was fired from Infowars in 2020 after she was arrested for robbing her mother (the charges were dropped). But by the time of her arrest, Weaver was already working on Shadow Gatea “documentary” claiming to have whistleblowers telling how secret contractors “hired by government officials to frame the Trump campaign, set him up for the Russia collusion investigation, provided witnesses for the impeachment hearings and provided administrative support services to the Department of Justice during the Mueller investigation.” On election night 2020, Weaver's livestream had 300,000 viewers as she spread disinformation, claiming a video of a TV cameraman with his equipment was footage of ballot-stuffing in Detroit, and saying to a guest, “It looks like the election is being stolen.” The top video on her channel, the one that autoplays when you visit, is titled “Election Night Coup D’etat Plot Exposed!”

She has built a career, of sorts, around this persona. Pretty, hot, sexy, mom … for Trump, turned hard-hitting “reporter,” where what’s reported is largely conspiracy theory and trolling. Weaver isn’t alone in this. You've heard of Alex Jones and James O’Keefe and Dinesh D’Souza and Diamond and Silk and Candace Owens, but there’s this whole far-right ecosystem of highly specific influencers. Ones who gain their right-wing currency by deploying their Blackness to help insulate Trump and Republicans from charges of racism. Ones who deploy their exaggerated femininity for culture wars leverage and for sheer pervy page views. But they’re tied together by their willingness to embrace conspiracy theories and undermine democracy.

And when they compare Mike Lindell having his cellphone seized in a Hardee’s to the Holocaust, they are not kidding.

Liz Cheney isn’t the most important thing about her primary loss. It’s about the Republican Party

As expected, Rep. Liz Cheney lost her primary by a large margin Tuesday night, purely for the sin of speaking out against Donald Trump’s coup attempt. That was enough to have her Republican In Good Standing card stripped despite her reliably conservative positions on everything else. It just can’t be said enough: The desire to overturn an election, or at least the willingness to flirt with it, is a requirement for status in the Republican Party in 2022.

It’s not just Cheney, though she is the most prominent case. Ten House Republicans voted to impeach Trump in 2021. Just two will remain in Congress after this year, with four having lost primaries and four having decided to retire (before they could lose a primary).

Republicans want to put themselves in a position to overturn the 2024 election. Stop them by donating to Daily Kos-endorsed Democrats.

RELATED STORY: Top Republican candidates in some battleground states are running to overturn the next election

Top Republicans didn’t just fail to support an incumbent in a primary. They didn’t just actively support a primary challenger to an incumbent. They actively and publicly celebrated Cheney’s loss.

“Congratulations to @HagemanforWY on her MASSIVE primary victory to restore the PEOPLE of Wyoming’s voice,” Rep. Elise Stefanik tweeted, noting that she had joined Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in endorsing Harriet Hageman. Stefanik, of course, replaced Cheney as the third-ranking House Republican when Cheney’s ex-communication from the party really got rolling.

”Girl, BYE,” was all Rep. Lauren Boebert had to say. Similarly, Sen. Rand Paul capped his tweet celebrating Hageman’s win with a “Bye Liz.”

This level of venom is spurred not by broad policy disagreement but by Cheney’s disloyalty in refusing to embrace the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, or at least keep her mouth shut about her opposition to that. That’s it. That’s all. It’s a staggering statement about today’s Republican Party.

There’s a lot of debate among Democrats about how to assess Cheney. Is she a hero? Is she just meeting the minimum bar of not supporting coups? But Cheney isn’t the point. The point is that, among Republicans, Cheney’s courage in adhering to the idea that the outcome of elections should be respected stands out, and her willingness to keep talking and name names stands out still more. Yes, everyone in office should be where she is on the basic question of whether the winner of the presidential election should become president, but they’re not. Far from it.

Cheney: Two years ago. I won this primary with 73% of the vote. I could easily have done the same again. The path was clear. But it would've required that I go along with president trump's lie about the 2020 election.. That was a path I could not and would not take.

— Acyn (@Acyn) August 17, 2022

Team Trump continues to fuel conspiracy theories about FBI search of Mar-a-Lago

According to a Fox Business correspondent’s “scoop” Wednesday afternoon, “Donald Trump and his legal team will likely seek a court order to force the @FBI and @TheJusticeDept to turn over a physical copy of the search warrant, the affidavit, and a complete inventory of what was taken in the Mar-a-Lago raid.” That news, however, came well after one of Trump’s attorneys told Dinesh D’Souza that the FBI had already given her a copy of the warrant, with an attachment detailing what they were looking for. Trump has the warrant. The fact that he hasn’t shown it to the public is his decision, and it’s probably in equal measures to hide what it reveals about him and to feed conspiracy theories. 

And those conspiracy theories continue to flourish, fueled in large part by Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle. Trump is aggressively fundraising off the search of his property, which is no surprise since Trump aggressively fundraises off of everything that happens in his general vicinity. In this case, though, it’s not just about the money. It’s about spreading the message that he wants out there: This legal search approved by a federal judge was in fact a nefarious attack on freedom. And as usual, Trump has the entire Republican Party on board with his desired message.

RELATED STORY: Trump’s fanatical supporters ready to ‘lock and load’ for ‘civil war’ after Mar-a-Lago searched

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Appearing on CNN, Republican Sen. Tim Scott responded to questions about threats to the federal judge who signed the search warrant by “asking my friends on the other side, wait, don’t rush to judgment. This is, without question, a very daring and dangerous move on the Department of Justice’s side.” When CNN’s Dana Bash pressed him again on the threats coming from Republicans, Scott again blamed the Justice Department, saying, “every single member of our family, the American family, should be very concerned when you feel like there is a weaponization of the Department of Justice against any individual, much less the former president.”

There’s no acknowledgement here that there was a lawful process in which Trump was treated better than most people on whom search warrants are executed.

And Scott is more careful than many Republicans. His use of “weaponization,” though, was definitely use of an approved party talking point. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican, similarly went with “weaponization” in a statement calling the search “a dark day in American history,” and calling for “an immediate investigation and accountability into Joe Biden and his Administration’s weaponizing this department against their political opponents—the likely 2024 Republican candidate for President of the United States.” As usual, Republicans accuse their opponents of what they’re already doing. Remember that Trump’s first impeachment was for attempting to use the power of the presidency to strong-arm Ukraine into smearing Joe Biden because Trump (correctly) saw him as a formidable challenger in 2020. Turning around and accusing Biden of mimicking Trump is to be expected, even though it was not Biden on a private phone call asking a world leader to “do us a favor” and withholding military aid to get that “favor.”

Like Stefanik, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is threatening an investigation—threats that Attorney General Merrick Garland, the entire Justice Department and FBI, and the judge who signed off on the warrant would absolutely have known were coming. 

Other Republicans have gone further.

“I’m concerned that they may have planted something,” Alina Habba, one of Trump’s attorneys, said on Fox News on Tuesday. “At this point, who knows? I don’t trust the government, and that’s a very frightening thing as an American. This is third world stuff. This is Cuba. This is not our country.”

No, this is you thinking the Biden administration operates the way Trump would like to.

Then there are the conspiracy theories about the date of the search—Aug. 8, the anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation. “There are no coincidences when it comes to the Deep State. They could have done this raid a couple of days before or tomorrow, but they chose August 8 for a reason,” former Trump Treasury Department official Monica Crowley said on the War Room podcast.

Trump could clear some of this up by releasing the warrant, which he has. (The affidavit, which would have more detail, is under seal and, according to former federal prosecutor Elie Honig, Trump wouldn’t get it “unless and until there's a charge.”) But Trump does not want to clear this up. He wants his party once again united around defending him, and his supporters buzzing with conspiracy theories and rage. It’s better for him that way, and it doesn’t matter to him that it’s worse for the concept of equal justice under the law.


Republicans are right: Trump should show America the search warrant delivered to his house

GOP lawmakers out of their minds over search on their leader by Trump-appointed FBI director

McCarthy does damage control with House Republicans over leaked recordings

Despite Tucker Carlson's rant saying he “sounds like an MSNBC contributor” in recently released recordings and is a “puppet of the Democratic Party,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to be hanging on to the support of his fellow House Republicans. 

In January 2021, in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy claimed he was going to pressure Donald Trump to resign. He said Rep. Matt Gaetz was “putting people in jeopardy” and that he would tell Gaetz to “cut this shit out.” He wondered, of some House Republicans, “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?” But apparently, McCarthy has done enough sucking up over the past 15 months to convince the far right, including Trump, that he can be relied on to keep sucking up and supporting assaults on democracy.

RELATED STORY: Awkward recording of Kevin McCarthy emerges hours after his denial. What else do reporters have?

McCarthy reportedly got a standing ovation at a House Republican meeting Wednesday, after he claimed that all those comments were part of a “conversation about scenarios” and worked to focus attention on winning in November.

”McCarthy has explained that his comments about resignation were made only in the context of an anticipated impeachment conviction, and he has argued that he did not really want to kick members off Twitter,” The Washington Post reports, based on an anonymous “person familiar with the comments.” The part about the comments about resignation isn’t too far out of line with the recordings, in which McCarthy said, “This is, this is what I think. We know [the impeachment resolution will] pass the House. I think there’s a good chance it’ll pass the Senate, even when he’s gone. Um, and I think there’s a lot of different ramifications for that,” and speculated about whether Democrats would follow through on impeaching Trump if he resigned first. But the part about not really wanting Republicans kicked off Twitter is a strong case of “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying ears?” Most House Republicans are apparently willing to believe McCarthy, despite the clarity of the recording.

Gaetz remains unhappy, speaking out at the Republican meeting. But while Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly called on Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, to apologize for his comments on the recordings, and said she was hurt by McCarthy’s comments, it seems that McCarthy has done enough to butter her up—Greene isn’t after his head. And all it took was McCarthy coming out of a discussion about her speaking at a white nationalist event and pledging that he’d restore her committee assignments if Republicans control the House, and—as she told her fellow Republicans on Wednesday—working on getting her reinstated on Twitter.

In addition to his Wednesday comments claiming he had just been gaming out scenarios and hadn’t meant what he said and don’t Republicans want to win in November, a large part of McCarthy’s effort to get past his recorded comments has involved further sucking up to Trump. He talked to Trump three times in the 24 hours after the first round of recordings became public, the Post reports, and Trump told The Wall Street Journal the two men’s relationship was good. 

But it’s Trump, so it’s all transactional. “He will extract something from it. I’m sure of that. He will hold it over McCarthy,” someone who had talked to Trump about the recordings told the Post. Trump understands that he’s dealing with someone weak, someone he can handle:

" 'Inferiority complex,' Trump said."

— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) April 28, 2022

It’s not transactional with only Trump, either—as the explanation for Greene’s muted tone about the recordings shows. McCarthy has spent 15 months making sure that Trump and Greene and everyone else understands that his ambition to be speaker is definitely more important than upholding democracy or ensuring accountability after an insurrection.

Whatever McCarthy really thinks about January 6, or about some of his members’ Twitter accounts … doesn’t matter. Because the only thing that matters for McCarthy is Republican power, and his own power within his party. And since most of his fellow Republicans share the former goal and think he can help deliver it, his barrage of phone calls to Trump and his refusal to discipline Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar for speaking at a white nationalist event, and his help with Greene’s Twitter account are enough for him to hang onto the latter.


Kevin McCarthy is in large trouble with his fellow Republicans after more recordings released

Trump’s Big Lie rules Republicans, and the traditional media is letting them get away with it

Republicans plot a wave of impeachments if they take the House

Republicans are teeing up their next move toward making the U.S. government completely unable to function. If they take control of the House, as they are favored to do, they will come in already having laid the groundwork to begin impeaching Cabinet officials, starting with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandra Mayorkas.

On Monday, 133 Republican House members sent Mayorkas a letter accusing him of “disregard for the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws” and actions that have “willingly endangered American citizens and undermined the rule of law and our nation’s sovereignty.” Basically, Mayorkas has not kept every single one of Donald Trump’s hateful immigration policies in place. 

RELATED STORY: Dear reporters: Please don't parrot back whatever noted liar Kevin McCarthy says at the border today

Though the letter doesn’t use the word “impeach,” it makes a not very veiled threat: “Your failure to secure the border and enforce the laws passed by Congress raises grave questions about your suitability for office.”

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the threat explicit in the Monday border visit he used to try to distract from having been caught in a set of big lies about his attitude toward Trump and Jan. 6. “This is his moment in time to do his job,” McCarthy said of Mayorkas. “But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody.”

Mayorkas is supposedly “derelict,” while Republicans have nothing bad to say about expensive and useless theater conducted at the border by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

But a move to impeach Mayorkas probably wouldn’t be the end of Republican efforts to hobble President Biden's administration and make being a Cabinet official from one party punishable by impeachment if the other party held the House. The reporting at Axios can be faulted on many fronts, but the outlet has excellent Republican sourcing. Here’s what it takes from its sources: “For the first year of President Biden's term, it was mostly the hard right of the GOP who entertained impeaching the president and his Cabinet secretaries. But those deliberations are now happening among a much larger group — even with virtually no precedent or legal justification.”

One Cabinet official has ever been impeached in U.S. history. Republicans are getting ready to make that commonplace, not because Cabinet officials suddenly magically got worse, but because the Republican Party is committed to sabotaging not just a Democratic administration but voters’ faith that the government can function effectively.


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Awkward recording of Kevin McCarthy emerges hours after his denial. What else do reporters have?

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy strongly denied a Thursday report that, in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, he had said he would urge Donald Trump to resign. Then the audio came out of him saying he intended to do just that.


On the recording of a Jan. 10, 2021 House Republican leadership call, which Rachel Maddow played Thursday evening, Rep. Liz Cheney—then a member of House Republican leadership—can be heard referring to “when we were talking about the 25th Amendment resolution,” then asking McCarthy if Trump might resign. 

“I’ve had a few discussions. My gut tells me no,” McCarthy responded. “I am seriously thinking about having that conversation with him tonight. I haven’t talked to him in a couple days.”

RELATED STORY: Kevin McCarthy's failure to act on Gosar and Greene's white nationalist flirtation says it all

Friday, Apr 22, 2022 · 3:06:54 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

CNN just broadcast new audio of McCarthy unambiguously blaming Trump for the January 6 attack during a House Republican Conference call on January 11, 2021. In the audio, McCarthy also claims Trump acknowledged to him that he bears responsibility for January 6.

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 22, 2022

Friday, Apr 22, 2022 · 3:07:54 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Kevin McCarthy swore off Trump after Jan. 6: “I’ve had it with this guy. What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend it, and nobody should defend it.”

— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) April 22, 2022

“From what I know of him, I mean you guys all know him too, do you think he’d ever back away? But what I think I’m going to do is, I’m going to call him,” McCarthy continued. “This is, this is what I think. We know [the impeachment resolution will] pass the House. I think there’s a good chance it’ll pass the Senate, even when he’s gone. Um, and I think there’s a lot of different ramifications for that.”

Listen to Jennifer Fernandez Ancona from Way to Win explain how Democrats must message to win on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld

McCarthy went on to try to game out some of those ramifications, saying, “I haven’t had a discussion with the Dems, that if he did resign, would that happen,” and describing the possibility of a pardon from Pence as “one personal fear that I have.”

Returning to the conversation he planned to have with Trump, McCarthy said, “The only discussion I would have with him is I think it will pass, and it would be my recommendation that you should resign. I mean, that would be my take, but I don't think he would take it. But I don't know.”

This, again, is from the recording of the thing McCarthy called “totally false and wrong” reporting hours before the recording was released.

There’s the interesting question of how New York Times reporters Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin got that recording—and the many more recordings they say they have. It’s a question with one obvious answer, though a spokesperson for Cheney insists, “Representative Cheney did not record or leak the tape and does not know how the reporters got it.” I mean, if you say so, Liz.

McCarthy also reportedly said he wished Twitter would ban some Republican House members, like Rep. Lauren Boebert, another report McCarthy denies and is now presumably wondering if he was recorded saying. 

Within weeks, McCarthy was off at Mar-a-Lago sucking up to Trump, as he has continued to do since. Nothing can match the cravenness on display from Republicans then and now, but listening to this recording, you do have to wonder if swifter, more decisive action from Democrats might have driven the wedge deeper between Trump and congressional Republicans. Either way, McCarthy is an absolutely proven liar and any reporter quoting him from here on should include that caveat. Every single time.

Recording of McCarthy and Cheney

— Acyn (@Acyn) April 22, 2022

Fiona Hill: Trump said he wanted more than two terms in the White House—and he wasn’t joking

Fiona Hill is a longtime Russia expert who has repeatedly distinguished herself as someone willing to speak boldly, from the strong warning she offered about Russia’s efforts to undermine U.S. democracy during her testimony at Donald Trump’s first impeachment hearings to her statement soon after Russia invaded Ukraine that using nuclear weapons would be in character for Vladimir Putin.

Hill’s expertise on Putin—she co-authored a biography of him—inflects her read of Donald Trump, who she was able to observe in detail during her time as senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council in his administration. New York Times Magazine look back at Trump’s treatment of Ukraine highlights an important passage from her recent memoir, There Is Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century: “In the course of his presidency, indeed, Trump would come more to resemble Putin in political practice and predilection than he resembled any of his recent American presidential predecessors.”

RELATED STORY: Fiona Hill: Putin tried to warn Trump he would go nuclear, but Trump didn't understand the warning

In the Times piece, Hill offers more thoughts on that basic assessment, describing how “He would constantly tell world leaders that he deserved a redo of his first two years,” because, “He’d say that his first two years had been taken away from him because of the ‘Russia hoax.’ And he’d say that he wanted more than two terms.”

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When interviewer Robert Draper suggests Trump was joking, Hill responded, “Except that he clearly meant it.”

Hill also heard David Cornstein, Trump’s ambassador to Hungary and a longtime friend, say similar things about Trump’s ambitions. “Ambassador Cornstein openly talked about the fact that Trump wanted the same arrangement as Viktor Orban”—the prime minister of Hungary, one of the autocratic leaders Trump so admires—Hill told Draper, “where he could push the margins and stay in power without any checks and balances.” 

But it was the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that fully clarified for Hill who Trump is and what his ambitions are. “I saw the thread,” she told Draper. “The thread connecting the Zelensky phone call to Jan. 6. And I remembered how, in 2020, Putin had changed Russia’s Constitution to allow him to stay in power longer. This was Trump pulling a Putin.”

Yeah. And U.S. institutions and democracy were strong enough to withstand it once, but we can’t afford a second attempt. Especially since, as Hill also told Draper, “Putin has been there for 22 years. He’s the same guy, with the same people around him. And he’s watching everything”—everything that happens through U.S. elections and changing administrations. 

As Hill warned during her impeachment testimony, “President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a super PAC. They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our institutions, and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.” Donald Trump is at this point Putin’s eager ally in doing that.


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