GOP senators demand impeachment trial as government shutdown looms

With a government shutdown looming, 13 Republican senators, led by Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas’ pretend cowboy Sen. Ted Cruz, released a letter they said they sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell demanding he make a big stink about holding an impeachment trial for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Lee even posted a copy of the letter with some vaguely legible signatures to his X (formerly Twitter) account. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to dismiss the bogus bit of political theater.

The Republican-led House was able to impeach Mayorkas after one embarrassing failure of an attempt, making it the first time a Cabinet official has been impeached in 150 years. The Senate GOP members making hay out of the impeachment process continue to remind the public how Democratic officials proved (and Republican officials admitted) the entire exercise was disingenuous.

The letter, which was signed by Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Eric Schmitt, Rick Scott, Ron Johnson, J.D. Vance, Roger Marshall, Josh Hawley, Mike Braun, Tommy Tuberville, Ted Budd, Cynthia Lummis, and Marsha Blackburn, contains a lot of what we have come to expect from the do-nothing Republican Party. The general pantomime of the GOP around the impeachment of Mayorkas involves an imaginary belief that the GOP is strong on border security. It is fitting that conservative senators like Lee, who voted against the bipartisan border security deal, would also spend their time trying to create a political theater production of impeachment instead of making the hard compromises and decisions needed to get things done.

Senators like Cruz have used their party’s disarray to take shots at current leaders like McConnell. On Sunday, Cruz told Fox News that “if Republican leadership in the Senate doesn’t like the criticism, here’s an opportunity to demonstrate some backbone.” Cruz and Lee are joined by self-promoters like Sen. Josh Hawley, who has had his own public spats with Republican leadership in recent months.

The government is set to shut down on March 1. House Republicans seem unable to chew gum and … chew gum. Senate Republicans who spent many decades in lockstep with McConnell’s leadership seem to have lost the ability to tie their shoes. The Senate is coming off of an 11-day recess. McConnell has not responded to inquiries from media outlets for his response to the letter as of the writing of this story.

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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.

Trump’s attacking a military family because that’s who he is

Donald Trump continues to go low in his attacks against primary opponent Nikki Haley. During a rally in Conway, South Carolina, over the weekend, Trump mocked Haley’s husband’s absence from her campaign appearances. On the one hand, these attacks are strange considering Haley’s husband, Maj. Michael Haley, is serving our country on a yearlong assignment in Africa. Something that was well-covered as his deployment came at the beginning of his wife’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

On the other hand, Trump has a long history of being dismissive and disrespectful of military servicemembers and their families. Trump famously received a medical exemption from serving in Vietnam in 1968 due to “bone spurs.” According to Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, Trump could not provide any evidence of having the malady, telling Cohen, “You think I'm stupid, I wasn't going to Vietnam.”

But Trump’s chicken-hawk bonafides haven’t stopped him from disrespecting other Americans’ service to our country. Back in 2015, Trump spewed this repulsive statement about the late Sen. John McCain: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured.” Trump followed up his disapproval of McCain’s military service by refusing to lower the flags at the White House to half-staff after the senator passed away—finally relenting after hours of pressure from members of Congress, veterans, and staff.

When retired four-star-Gen. John Allen endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump called him “a failed general.” He followed that up by attacking Gold Star father Khizr Khan, whose son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, died while serving in Iraq. Trump followed that up by implying Khan was a radical Islamic terrorist sympathizer. 

In 2017, Trump told the widow of slain Army Sgt. La David Johnson that “he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.” To add to Trump’s general cowardice in the face of facts, Trump denied the conversation had happened the way it was reported, including him forgetting Johnson’s name during the conversation with his widow. Johnson’s widow confirmed the account to CNN. 

According to The Atlantic, Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018 because he worried the rainy weather would mess up his hair. Trump’s cavalier attitude towards fallen soldiers included him describing the cemetery as being “filled with losers.” That account was confirmed by Trump’s longest-serving former chief of staff, John Kelly, who added:

“A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them.’ A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me.’ A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family – for all Gold Star families – on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in A  merica’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.”

Trump’s disregard for service to one’s country led to hundreds of government workers being dismissed or resigning from their positions–people like Army Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, who Trump attacked relentlessly for testifying before Congress during Trump’s impeachment trial. The attacks on Vindman were as low as it gets, pushing an idea that he was somehow less patriotic or American because he had immigrated to the United States.

Trump’s attacks on military members’ and their families have always been frowned upon by most Americans. But the grotesque nature of Trump’s attacks have not seemed to have made a dent in the MAGA-cult’s confidence in him. Hopefully it helps to remind the rest of the electorate how bad a Trump presidency tastes.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene asks if Republicans are ‘being bribed’ to oppose impeachment

Marjorie Taylor Greene gave a doozy of an interview with right-wing podcast host Charlie Kirk on Wednesday to commiserate about House Republicans’ failed impeachment vote Tuesday of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

Greene has been big mad about the failed vote and, like many of her pro-impeachment colleagues, is looking for someone—anyone—to blame, including Democrats for trying “to throw us off on the numbers.” 

But Greene has plenty of disdain for the Republicans who voted against the bill too. When Kirk asked why Ken Buck of Colorado, Tom McClintock of California, and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin voted against impeachment, Greene seemed flabbergasted—but didn’t rule out the possibility that “they’re being bribed.”

Kirk fed the Georgia congresswoman the utterly baseless idea, asking, “Do you think these people are being blackmailed by the intel agencies? They might have had relations with certain  people and pictures and compromised. Do you think that they're currently being blackmailed?”

And Greene took the bait.

You know, I have no proof of that, but again, I can't understand the vote. So, nothing surprises me in Washington, D.C. anymore, Charlie. Literally, nothing surprises me because—it doesn't make sense to anyone, right? Why would anyone vote no? Why would anyone protect Mayorkas unless they're being bribed, unless there's something going on, unless they're making a deal. You know, because you can't understand it. It makes no sense. And it's completely wrong to vote no on impeachment.

Greene also speculated that Buck, who is retiring, is “trying to get a job working for CNN like Adam Kinzinger.” She insisted that McClintock is clearly not a real “constitutionalist.” And after listing off all of Gallagher’s military intelligence and military bonafides, she concluded, “I can't understand why he made that vote. But he did.” 

Greene might not understand it, but that doesn’t mean these Republican congressmen haven’t been clear and open about their reasons for voting against the impeachment stunt. 

Gallagher explained his opposition in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Why I Voted Against the Alejandro Mayorkas Impeachment.” 

“Creating a new, lower standard for impeachment, one without any clear limiting principle, wouldn’t secure the border or hold Mr. Biden accountable,” he wrote. “It would only pry open the Pandora’s box of perpetual impeachment.”

McClintock also explained his opposition in a speech on the House floor before Tuesday’s vote.

“Cabinet secretaries can't serve two masters. They can be impeached for committing a crime related to their office but not for carrying out presidential policy,” he said. “I'm afraid that stunts like this don't help."

On Wednesday, McClintock appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” to again defend his vote, and responded to Greene saying McClintock needs to “read the room.

“I suggest she read the Constitution that she took an oath to support and defend,” he said. “That Constitution very clearly lays out the grounds for impeachment,” he said. “This dumbs down those grounds dramatically and would set a precedent that could be turned against the conservatives on the Supreme Court or a future Republican administration the moment the Democrats take control of the Congress.”

Nevertheless, Greene “can’t understand” why her Republican colleagues weren’t on board with her impeachment aspirations. It must be a conspiracy.  

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Rep. Matt Gaetz wants to force House GOP to take a Trump loyalty test

On Tuesday, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz and honorary “Florida man” Rep. Elise Stefanik, and 64 House Republicans presented a resolution to declare that Donald Trump “did not engage in insurrection or rebellion” related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Gaetz began the press conference by saying “We are here today to authoritatively express that President Trump did not commit an insurrection,”

More importantly, Gaetz made it clear that he plans to use this as a MAGA purity test. After thanking Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio for filing a companion bill in the Senate, Gaetz said, “And now it's time for members of the House and Senate to show where they stand on this question.” And just like that, Gaetz’s remarks were followed by a series of Republicans praising dear leader Trump and saying how the insurrection on Jan. 6 was a concoction by “leftists.” 

“[What] we have seen is mass hysteria caused by you, the reckless leftist media,” said Rep. Andy Biggs. “That's what we've seen.”

Stefanik flanked Gaetz during the press conference, suggesting they’ve patched things up since the two spent October bickering at one another’s expense. Gaetz’s resolution reads in its entirety

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that former President Donald J. Trump did not engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or give aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

You can flip the paper over if you don’t believe me.

The idea that after hundreds of arrests, convictions, and prison sentences—as well as a congressional investigation that left very little to the imagination about how very much Trump and his allies orchestrated the insurrection—the horrors of Jan. 6 should be forgotten with a single-sentence resolution is almost hallucinogenic! It also signals how Trump and his supporters expect the GOP to fall in line. Those who sign on to Gaetz’s resolution will be on a list that Trump can point to and threaten Republican officials with for however long he lives.

As of now, two names are conspicuously absent from the list of sponsors of the bill: Reps. Jim Jordan and James Comer, both of whom have been doing Trump’s dirty work as chairs of House oversight committees.

Maybe they are too busy not finding evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden to sign on to a bill as ludicrous as this one. But as former Rep. Liz Cheney knows, Jordan will surely sign on to any bill pretending that Jan. 6, 2021, never happened.

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Even Lou Dobbs seems tired of the Hunter Biden investigation

The Republican Party’s evidence-less investigation of Hunter Biden’s business affairs continues to reveal … nothing new or criminal on the part of President Joe Biden. Rep. Andy Biggs is on the Republican Hunter Biden fishing expedition committee, which is chaired by Rep. James Comer. Biggs went on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” to discuss all of the nothing he has been able to find on Joe and Hunter Biden.

Biggs tells Dobbs that while they think Hunter Biden is guilty of something, they clearly do not have enough evidence to do anything legal about it. Dobbs, whose painting of Howdy Doody in the attic must look ancient by now, seems pretty fed up with it all.

Congressman, I have to say to you, it sounds to me like we're right where we were six months ago. It really does. I don't see any advancement in this, and a progress toward incriminating evidence for the president. I mean, what we're talking about is a stasis. It's as if everything is frozen right there in time, waiting for either contradiction, invalidation of these statements by people, that I think everyone would assume common sense tells you that they're lying through their teeth and trying to protect someone. But that's insufficient.

It’s hard to argue against the fact that every witness Comer and others have claimed would provide the smoking gun evidence against President Joe Biden has fallen flat or had it blow up in their faces. In fact, these witnesses have ended up supporting the idea that Biden didn’t do anything wrong in regards to supporting his wayward son. 

Oversight Democrats, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, have continued to point out that real issues of oversight remain untouched by the Republican-led committees in the House. Issues like the catastrophic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, last year. GOP leaders like Donald Trump were quick to blame Joe Biden and fundraise a lot of cash on the tragedy, but were unwilling to lift a finger to investigate what could be done to mitigate such disasters in the future. 

Republicans and their propaganda outlets have been screeching about how much of a crisis there is on the border, and how badly we need security. Instead of working out a deal, House Republicans begin a constitutionally dubious impeachment stunt against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Then when Senate Democrats worked out a deal with Senate Republicans—a deal that is in no way progressive but might at least help fulfill some of our promised foreign aid obligations—Republicans turned around and tried to kill it.

The Republican Party is a depressingly dangerous political theater troupe at this point. The only thing they seem able to do now is demand action, create committee witch hunts, and when Democratic lawmakers and Joe Biden call them on their bluster, become impotently angry. Whether Dobbs’ seeming exhaustion is indicative of a meaningful trend among any of the people who still pay attention to him remains to be seen.

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It is primary season, and Donald Trump seems pretty low energy these days. Kerry and Markos talk about the chances of Trump stumbling through the election season and the need to press our advantage and make gains in the House and Senate. Meanwhile, the right-wing media world is losing its collective minds about Taylor Swift registering younger Americans to vote!

Nikki Haley suddenly has a problem with Trump’s love of dictators

With the South Carolina Republican primary approaching, Nikki Haley is revving up her attacks on presumptive nominee Donald Trump. 

On Monday, Haley repeatedly referred to Trump as a “New York City liberal” who donated to Kamala Harris. She followed that up by posting a clip of Trump’s interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartoromo where he effused about China’s President Xi Jinping, with this bold take: “Praising dictators is not normal. Make America normal again.”

Newsflash: Trump has something of a preoccupation with dictators. Maybe you think you didn’t read that right. Yes, the twice-impeached former president goes all fanboy for dictators and his history of praising tyrants like the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte goes way back. 

There was the time Trump described himself as a “big fan” of Turkey’s strongman autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Trump has called Hungarian Prime Minister (and authoritarian racist) Viktor Orban “his friend.” In fact, Trump has been throwing around Orban’s name so much that he’s mixed him up with Erdoğan.

Even when Trump’s Fox News buddy Sean Hannity attempted to help Trump walk back his praise of dictators like Vladimir Putin, Trump couldn’t help but to boast about how well he gets along with authoritarian monsters.

The good news here is that while Haley isn’t going to beat Trump and there is very little in the way of facts or logic that can seemingly penetrate the MAGA-brainscape these days, she can continue to remind independent voters of why they don’t want another round of Trump as president.

Enjoy Trump going gaga over China’s Xi Jinping.

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GOP congressman admits Mayorkas impeachment is bogus

House Republicans caught some friendly fire on Thursday, when Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado went on MSNBC to say that GOP members pushing for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ impeachment would not get his support. Calling the process “wrong,” Buck told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing, “This is not a high crime or misdemeanor. It’s not an impeachable offense. This is a policy difference.”

The Colorado Republican went so far as to admonish his party, saying, “If we go down this path of impeachment with a Cabinet official, we are opening a door, as Republicans, that we don’t want to open.” When asked if he might change his mind, Buck said that unless new evidence materialized, it was unlikely since he has done his “due diligence” and doesn’t see any impeachable actions on the part of the secretary.

Republicans have repeatedly admitted that their attacks on Mayorkas are purely political. The idea that there might be legal reasons for impeachment seems to have escaped them entirely. For their part, House Democrats have been using these circus impeachment proceedings to point out how deleterious this political theater is to our country while also reminding voters about the absurd “solutions” that  Donald Trump and his MAGA lawmakers have for our country’s problems—the same problems Republicans are choosing not to address with policy, in favor of this this stunt impeachment.

Buck, who is retiring and leaving his seat to the wolves, now seems free to point out some of the more egregious actions of his fellow Republicans. He joins the GOP officials who have fallen out of favor with their political party—for not setting the world on fire—and who have become prone to pointing out how crappy their new members are

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It is primary season, and Donald Trump seems pretty low energy these days. Kerry and Markos talk about the chances of Trump stumbling through the election season and the need to press our advantage and make gains in the House and Senate. Meanwhile, the right-wing media world is losing its collective minds about Taylor Swift registering younger Americans to vote!

Congressman shreds Trump’s worst ‘ideas’ for border security

The House Homeland Security Committee convened on Tuesday to discuss and vote on two Republican-led articles of impeachment against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The Democratic members of the committee decided to take a two-pronged approach to managing today’s proceedings.

First, they pointed out how overtly political this impeachment process has been, and second, Democrats stressed how Republicans spend most of their time and energy complaining about border security while fighting tooth and nail to stop anything from actually being done about border security. That obstructionism includes trying to impeach Mayorkas.

Democratic Rep. Robert Garcia of California used his time to detail how “Donald Trump and House Republicans also have their own ideas for the border” and went on to helpfully list these actual proposed solutions. 

So let's review the majority’s border ideas, that they've actually presented. Here they are:

Donald Trump actually has said that he wants to build alligator moats along the border. That's one of his incredible ideas. 

Another idea that Donald Trump has promoted is he actually wants to electrify the border fence, and maybe even put some spikes on the border. That's another Donald Trump and MAGA-majority border idea. 

Another idea, which I'm not sure how well it would go, is he wants to actually bomb northern Mexico with missiles. That's another Trump idea.

And finally, I think one of the ones that I think is the most grotesque, is suggestions that instead we should maybe just shoot migrants in the legs as they cross the border. So once again, the Donald Trump and MAGA plan is alligator moats, bombing northern Mexico, shooting migrants in the legs, and electrifying the fence, and putting spikes on them. That is the Donald Trump border plan. 

And so again, we are here today with these horrific ideas being presented constantly by the former president. This is all about trying to get Donald Trump reelected. Donald Trump himself is saying he wants no solutions this year out of the Congress. And Secretary Mayorkas and President Biden continue to offer solutions every day and are ready to actually talk about real immigration and border solutions in this country.

The Republican Party has admitted too many times that these committee hearings and impeachment pushes are entirely political maneuvers, fueled by petty revenge and attempted power grabs. These partisan performances have nothing to do with the checks and balances in our Constitution.

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It is primary season, and Donald Trump seems pretty low energy these days. Kerry and Markos talk about the chances of Trump stumbling through the election season and the need to press our advantage and make gains in the House and Senate. Meanwhile, the right-wing media world is losing its collective minds about Taylor Swift registering younger Americans to vote!

Watch: Republicans slammed for ‘debasing and demeaning’ the Constitution

On Tuesday, the House Homeland Security Committee met to discuss the Republican-created articles of impeachment against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The entire enterprise against Mayorkas has been an example of one of the most transparent weaponizations of impeachment provisions in our lifetime. 

Rep. Daniel Goldman decided to use his time to give a masterclass on how hypocritical, political, and ultimately dangerous this endeavor is, describing the proceedings as “completely debasing and demeaning the impeachment clause of the United States Constitution, and it is a gross, gross injustice to the credibility of this institution.” Goldman reminded the committee that impeachment has only been used against people who have abused their power and should not be used as a way to attack what you might believe to be “bad” policy. “That is for elections and that is for legislation,” Goldman continued.

He then drilled into the political nature of these proceedings, and how they are an attempt to give Donald Trump and congressional Republicans something to run on during this election cycle: “You are sitting here right now trying to impeach a secretary of Homeland Security for neglecting his duties literally while he is trying to perform his duties and negotiate legislation.” Finally, Goldman detailed the catch-22 of nongovernance being performed by the GOP, and how corrosive it is to our country.

So your own party is sabotaging and undermining this administration's efforts to address the border while you are trying to impeach him by saying that they're not addressing the border. The hypocrisy is the least of it. Your attack on the rule of law and our democracy is the worst of it. And you better be careful about the bed that you make. I yield back.

Mayorkas has been a publicly convenient symbol for Republican attacks on immigration policy. No matter how jaw-droppingly obvious the fallacy of their attacks may seem, it is all that they’ve got. Since the GOP continues to fail to gin up enthusiastic electoral support from its voters by way of culture wars attacking trans children and banning books on race and history, trying to impeach Mayorkas has become their substitute for doing anything substantial about our country’s immigration policies.

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New letter exposes Republicans’ latest absurdity in their impeachment stunt

The Republican-led House Homeland Security Committee kicked off the new year by wasting everybody’s time with new impeachment hearings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. And on Wednesday, Chair Mark Green sent a letter to Mayorkas asking that the secretary provide written testimony since he “declined to appear” before the committee.

But that’s not exactly true. Also on Wednesday, NBC News obtained a letter from DHS contradicting Green’s assertion that Mayorkas “declined” anything. According to NBC, after the Republican-led committee originally requested that Mayorkas testify in person on Jan. 18, DHS replied that the secretary could not testify on that date due to scheduling conflicts. Specifically, Mayorkas would be hosting a delegation from Mexico to discuss immigration issues. In other words, the exact issue Republicans are pretending to be interested in working on as lawmakers.

In the letter, DHS explained that Mayorkas remained willing to testify in front of the committee at another date, but as DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg described it in a statement following Green’s letter, Republicans’ “rush to impeach” Mayorkas seems to be taking precedence over having a reason to impeach him.

This is just the latest example of Committee Republicans’ sham process. It’s abundantly clear that they are not interested in hearing from Secretary Mayorkas since it doesn’t fit into their bad-faith, predetermined and unconstitutional rush to impeach him. Last week, the Secretary offered to testify publicly before the Committee; in the time since, the Committee failed to respond to DHS to find a mutually agreeable date.

Instead, they provided this offer of written testimony to the media before any outreach to the Department. [Homeland Security Committee] Republicans have yet again demonstrated their preference for playing politics rather than work together to address the serious issues at the border.

Mayorkas has long been a target for the do-nothing Republicans in Congress because immigration has been an amorphous boogeyman they use to (successfully) frighten their base. Sometimes, though, Republican lawmakers can’t keep their conspiracy theories straight, such as when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene mistakenly claimed during another hearing that the FBI was part of the Department of Homeland Security.

As a DHS official told NBC, Mayorkas has testified 27 times in 35 months—more than any other Biden Cabinet official—and has answered hundreds of questions concerning immigration and the southern border. The first two-hour hearing that Green chaired last week was unable to bring up a single piece of evidence that might rise to the level of impeachment.

Green’s choice to try and paint Mayorkas as dodging these circus-like impeachment proceedings is possibly twofold: It allows Republicans a chance to throw suspicion on Mayorkas’ as guilty of something while also ensuring that the secretary won’t publicly embarrass them the way he recently humiliated Sen. John Hawley.

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