Liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Defends Clarence Thomas Amid Calls For Impeachment: ‘Cares Deeply About The Court’

Amidst calls for his impeachment by some Democrats, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has found an unlikely defender – Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Sotomayor offered praise for her colleague, stating he is a very personable individual who “cares deeply” about the integrity of the court.

“Justice Thomas is the one justice in the building that literally knows every employee’s name, every one of them,” she told attendees of the American Constitution Society’s 2022 national convention on Thursday.

“And not only does he know their names, he remembers their families’ names and histories.” 

She said despite their differences of opinion on how to help people, they maintain a friendship because she knows Thomas is a “man who cares deeply about the court as an institution … about the people who work here.”

RELATED: AOC Calls To Impeach Clarence Thomas, The Only Black Supreme Court Justice

Sonia Sotomayor Defends Clarence Thomas

Sonia Sotomayor’s kind words towards Clarence Thomas were a rare moment of positivity for the longest-serving justice, the second black justice, and the most conservative member currently serving on the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor hasn’t always lobbed kindness towards conservatives on the Supreme Court, however.

In oral arguments regarding Roe v. Wade, she suggested the Court was not considering the law itself, but rather seeking to pursue its reversal due to the makeup of the justices.

“Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” she asked.

RELATED: Justice Clarence Thomas Hammers the Media: ‘I’ll Leave the Court When I Do My Job As Poorly As You Do Yours’

They Want Him Gone

Sonia Sotomayor’s comment comes as Democrats have been actively calling for Thomas’ impeachment due to the alleged conduct of his wife, Virginia Thomas.

Reports have surfaced that Thomas’ wife exchanged text messages with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and other officials about alleged election fraud.

A petition by the far-left group MoveOn.org calling for Thomas’ impeachment has eclipsed 236,000 signatures. Politico reports that House Democrats are “outraged” over the situation with his wife and they have the option to impeach.

Far-left Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is demanding Thomas resign or face impeachment for what she has determined are ethical breaches.

“Clarence Thomas should resign,” AOC tweeted.

“If not, his failure to disclose income from right-wing organizations, recuse himself from matters involving his wife, and his vote to block the Jan 6th commission from key information must be investigated and could serve as grounds for impeachment.”

Sotomayor made a widely panned false claim about the seriousness of COVID infection in children during oral arguments over the Biden administration’s efforts to mandate vaccines.

“We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in serious condition, and many on ventilators” due to the coronavirus, she said.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky would later state that the Supreme Court Justice was wrong, pointing out at the time there were 3,500 children in the hospital.

Thomas meanwhile, joked to the media about when he’d be leaving the Supreme Court.

“One of the things I’d say in response to the media is when they talk about, especially early on, about the way I did my job, I said ‘I will absolutely leave the court when I do my job as poorly as you do yours,'” he recalled. “And that was meant as a compliment really.”

The audience erupted in laughter.

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2020 was an election theft dry run for Republicans. Next time, they could succeed

Every election starting now and into the foreseeable future is going to be the most important election of our lifetime. Until the Republican Party as we currently know it is ground to dust, scorched, and the earth on which it stands is salted, the threat of white nationalistic fascism will remain. Right now, in 2022, Republicans are running explicitly on undermining representative democracy, from the smallest local positions up through the state legislatures and all the way to Congress. They are converging behind the Big Lie and promising that they are going to fix it so that they don’t lose any more elections. So that Donald Trump (or his stand-in) will take the 2024 election.

They’re not even trying to be subtle about it—it’s explicit in so many campaigns for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state in plenty of battlegrounds, including the states that Trump tried to contest in 2020.

“What we’re seeing right now is unprecedented,” Joanna Lydgate, co-founder and CEO of States United Action, told CNN’s Rod Brownstein. “To see candidates running on a platform of lies and conspiracy theories about our elections as a campaign position, to see a former President getting involved in endorsing in down-ballot races at the primary level, and certainly to see this kind of systemic attacks on our elections, this spreading of disinformation about our elections—we’ve never seen anything like this before as a country.”

RELATED STORY: Republican state legislators are laying the groundwork to overturn the next election

Brownstein reports on a study released last week—commissioned by the groups States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, and Law Forward—which determined that 13 states have already approved laws to make sure there will be partisan control over election administration, laws to intimidate election administrators, and laws requiring audits of the 2020 election, as if that is a thing. That’s beyond the orgy they’ve been having for the past decade with voter suppression laws, which hasn’t ended either. Thirty-three states have another 229 bills related to denying the results of the last election, and to limiting the electorate and predetermining the outcome of future elections.

“Taken separately, each of these bills would chip away at the system of free and fair elections that Americans have sustained, and worked to improve, for generations,” the groups concluded. “Taken together, they could lead to an election in which the voters’ choices are disregarded and the election sabotaged.”

“In the leadup to the 2020 election, those who warned of a potential crisis were dismissed as alarmists by far too many Americans who should have seen the writing on the wall,” Jessica Marsden, counsel at Protect Democracy, told Brownstein in an email. “Almost two years later, after an attempted coup and a violent insurrection on our Capitol, election conspiracy theorists—including those who actually participated in January 6—are being nominated by the GOP to hold the most consequential offices for overseeing the 2024 election.”

“It’s all connected,” Lydgate said. “The playbook is to try to change the rules and change the referees, so you can change the results.”

They’ve got a very powerful referee on their side in the form of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

A casual observer might reasonably conclude that Ginni and Clarence Thomas are working in tandem to lay the groundwork for the next coup—with Ginni taking up the politics and Clarence handling the legal side. The symmetry between their work is remarkable. https://t.co/wUh5TiHk4q pic.twitter.com/tooRedMQJk

— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) May 23, 2022

Thomas won’t recuse himself from any of these cases, and as of now, a Democratic Congress doesn’t seem particularly interested in trying to force him to via the threat of investigation and impeachment.

“What’s past is prologue, and what was done sloppily in 2020 is being mapped out by experts for 2024,” Slate’s Stern and Dahlia Lithwick write. “It didn’t work in 2020 because the legal and political structures to support it weren’t in place at the time. Those pieces are being put into place as we type this.” That’s the story Brownstein is also trying to get to Democrats and the rest of the traditional media—anyone who will listen and can do something about it.

There are answers. There are ways to fix this. They start with electing enough Democrats to state offices to make sure the damage the fascists can do is limited. We can also elect enough Democrats to the House and to the Senate to make the two Republican-friendly, obstructionist Democratic senators irrelevant.

Then it’ll be a matter of convincing that Democratic majority and a Democratic president that none of this is blogger hysteria, but a very real threat to our freedoms that has everybody else’s hair on fire. Saving our representative democracy means expanding and reforming the court.

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Rudy Giuliani’s Law License Suspended In New York

A New York court has suspended the law license of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who also served as personal attorney to former President Donald Trump.

The court claims that Giuliani made “demonstrably false and misleading” statements to courts, legislators, and the public about the 2020 election in his capacity as Trump’s attorney.

In their decision to suspend Giuliani’s license, the court wrote, “These false statements were made to improperly bolster respondent’s narrative that due to widespread voter fraud, victory in the 2020 United States presidential election was stolen from his client.” 

The court stated that Giuliani had made false claims about the number of absentee ballots that had been counted in Pennsylvania after Joe Biden had won the state’s electoral votes.

The court also stated, “We conclude that respondent’s conduct immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law, pending further proceedings before the Attorney Grievance Committee.”

RELATED: Wisconsin Senate Passes Bill To Make Badger State A ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary

What Rudy’s Side Is Saying

Attorneys for Giuliani, John Leventhal and Barry Kamins, said that they were “disappointed” with the court’s decision: “Our client does not pose a present danger to the public interest. We believe that once the issues are fully explored at a hearing Mr. Giuliani will be reinstated as a valued member of the legal profession that he has served so well in his many capacities for so many years.” 

Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement to the New York Post, Giuliani likened the action to the Soviet Union stating, “It’s a complete invasion of my First Amendment rights and my rights as an attorney, I’m allowed to have a client.” 

He continued, “President Trump is not allowed to have a lawyer, of course it’s a partisan hit. I didn’t do anything wrong. There’s nothing I said that a witness didn’t tell me. We’re getting to be like East Germany.”

RELATED: Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera And Dana Perino Blast ‘Pathetic, Sleepy’ Biden Gun Control Speech 

Legal Issues For Rudy

Rudy Giuliani is facing several legal actions.

He is the defendant in a $1.3 million lawsuit where Dominion voting systems has accused him of defamation.

Giuliani claimed after the 2020 presidential election that Dominion voting machines were programmed to flip Trump votes to Biden votes. Another voting machine company, Smartmatic, has also filed suit against Giuliani.

He is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday in relation to the Dominion case.

On April 28, federal agents raided Giuliani’s home and office as part of a separate investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan of Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine

The feds claim Giuliani violated lobbying laws by acting as an unregistered foreign agent while working in his capacity as Donald Trump’s lawyer. 

RELATED: IRS Reportedly Rejects Christian Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Status: ‘Bible Teachings’ Are ‘Typically Affiliated With The Republican Party’  

Giuliani can now request a post-suspension hearing. He has 20 days to do so.

President Trump also weighed in, calling Giuliani the greatest mayor in the history of New York City.

 

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Unwilling to wait until 2024, ‘Speaker Trump’ is now a thing Republicans want

Republicans can’t help themselves. No matter how big of a loser Donald Trump is, and he’s the biggest of them all, they just can’t quit him. In fact, they’re so desperate to keep him front and center in the electoral debate, that they’re now talking about making him speaker of the House

And in a little-known quirk of the House’s rules, he wouldn’t even need to be elected to anything to make that happen. 

Article 1, Section 2, states, “The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers...” There are no other legal requirements for the position, including age, or actually being elected to anything. For some time in the mid teens, House conservatives actually agitated for Senator Ted Cruz to become speaker. In 2013, former Secretary of State Colin Powell received votes for speaker. In 2015, Sen. Rand Paul got a vote. 

Now, in all of American history, the speaker has always been a member of the House. But that’s a norm, a tradition, not an actual requirement. And we all know how much water that carries with both the modern conservative movement and Donald Trump. Zero. And so, a new conservative scheme is born: the drive to make Trump the next speaker. It started with this exchange on wingnut radio:

Speaker of the House Donald Trump? He’s not ruling it out.

The former president called the idea “very interesting” after conservative radio host Wayne Allyn Root pressed him Friday to run for a Florida congressional seat in 2022 with the goal of leading a Republican takeover of the House and supplanting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Why not instead of just waiting for 2024, and I’m hoping you run in 2024, but why not run in 2022 for the United States Congress, a House seat in Florida, win big, lead us to a dramatic landslide victory, taking the House by 50 seats, and then you become the Speaker of the House,” said Mr. Root on his USA Network show [...]

“You’ll wipe him [President Biden] out for his last two years, and then you’ll be president. Do it! Do it! You’ll be a folk hero,” Mr. Root said.

Of course, Root clearly doesn’t know about the non-requirements to be speaker. Other conservatives do, and they’re starting to talk. One told The Atlantic’s Peter Nicholas, “If 150 members of Congress went to Trump and said, ‘We want you to be our leader,’ I think he’d do it.” 

Of course he’d do it! Could there be a better scenario for Trump than to be handed something without having to do a lick of work? It’s his dream come true! And you know who is really excited at this possibility? Steve Bannon. 

Bannon unspooled a wild chain of events to me, to explain away that hurdle: Trump would serve only 100 days, setting in motion the Republican policy agenda and starting a series of investigations, including an impeachment inquiry into Biden. Then, Trump would step down, turn the gavel over to McCarthy, and prepare for a 2024 presidential run. “He’d come in for 100 days and get a team together,” Bannon said. “They’d have a plan. That plan would be to confront the Biden administration across the board. I actually believe that there will be overwhelming evidence at that time to impeach Biden, just as they did Trump. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

“On the 101st day,” Bannon added, “he’ll announce his candidacy for the presidency, and we’ll be off to the races.”

Adorbs. 

Bannon thinks that 1) House minority leader Kevin McCarthy would step aside, even for some time, to hand the gavel to Trump, 2) that Trump would have the votes in the House to win a speaker election, 3) that Trump would have enough of his shit together to put together a team in that short time frame, 4) that Trump would have a “policy agenda,” when they couldn’t even bother to have a party platform at the 2020 Republican convention, 5) that they’d have anything to impeach Biden on with supposed “overwhelming evidence,” and 6) that Trump would willingly hand over the gavel once he had it. Though it is nice of him to admit that Democrats did have “overwhelming evidence” against Trump. 

Still, rather than mock this, and it is so eminently mockable, it behooves us to encourage this talk. As I’ve written, midterm elections are almost always referendum on an incumbent president, leading to typical losses. 

History says that the party of a first-term president nearly always faces catastrophic loses in Congress in his first midterm election. In the House, the average is an over 30-seat loss. In the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attack, 2002 was an exception, so exceptions do exist. Regardless, Democrats face some historical headwinds that are compounded by a reapportionment and redistricting process that favors Republicans, a Senate map that features nearly every single difficult 2020 presidential battleground [...] and the systematic Republican effort to make it harder for core Democratic constituencies to turn out and vote.

In a normal year, we’d be talking about how to minimize losses and what a Biden administration might do with Republican congressional majorities. But this isn’t a normal year, and Republicans are doing everything in their power to keep it that way [...]

[B]y letting loser Trump call the shots and by letting him insert himself into the political debate, Republicans very well risk turning 2022 into a referendum on … Donald Trump. We already know how those go—they goose the liberal base vote without any corresponding Republican vote unless Trump is on the ballot. And he isn’t.

Keeping Trump front and center in the political debate, along with the conservative movement’s inability to get worked up much about President Joe Biden, 2022 threatens to upend the conventional debate, from a referendum on the incumbent, to yet another referendum on Donald Trump. By essentially putting Trump on the ballot—for speaker of the House—Republicans could give liberals yet another reason to turn out in the numbers they did in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. And without Trump being literally on the ballot, the chances of Republicans turning out the hidden deplorables are dramatically lowered. 

Right now, this “Speaker Trump” discussion is floating on the edges of the political debate. But with Bannon on board, it shouldn’t be long before Trump himself is promoting the idea. And from there? Who knows. “Will you vote for Trump for Speaker” could be yet another item on the conservative litmus test, to go with “who really won the 2020 election.”

Hillary Clinton, Who Called Trump An ‘Illegitimate President,’ Says Casting Doubt On Election Is ‘Doing Putin’s Work’

Hillary Clinton, who frequently cast doubt on the results of the 2016 election, says doing so regarding the 2020 presidential contest is “doing Putin’s work.”

Clinton made the unsurprising remarks in an interview on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’

“We never thought we had to worry about domestic enemies,” the former First Lady lamented. “We never thought we had to worry about people who didn’t believe in our democracy.”

“Sadly, what we’ve seen over the last four years and particularly since the election is that we have people in our own country who are doing Putin’s work,” she claimed.

Clinton suggested some lawmakers may be doing the Russian President’s bidding either wittingly or unwittingly.

“They are doing his work to sow distrust, to sow divisiveness, to give aid and comfort to those in our country who, for whatever reason, are being not only disruptive but very dangerous,” she alleged.

RELATED: Bitter Hillary Implies Trump Stole Election and Will Steal It Again

Clinton Claims Republicans Are Doing Putin’s Work

President Biden is in Geneva on Wednesday meeting with Vladimir Putin for the first time since winning the 2020 election.

Clinton, further along in the interview, also suggested former President Trump “elevated” Putin at a joint press conference with the Russian leader in 2018. 

“The problem is that Trump has elevated him. Trump, from the very beginning, even when he was running in 2016, lifted up Russia,” she claimed.

“So it’s difficult to say let’s turn the clock back and go from where I thought we were when I left being secretary of state,” added Clinton. “I never thought I would see some of what we saw during the four years of the Trump administration.”

RELATED: Biden Unveils Plan To Combat ‘Domestic Terrorism’ And ‘Insider Threats’ In The Military

Doubts On The 2016 Election

Nobody has cast more doubts on elections than the Democrats, of course.

House Democrats, for example, tried objecting to the certification of electoral votes for Donald Trump in 2017 on 11 separate occasions.

Democrat Stacey Abrams, credited with helping deliver a victory for Joe Biden during the last presidential cycle, claimed Trump was an “illegitimate” President.

“Anytime a leader is afraid of people speaking their minds and making their selections, he is illegitimate and should not hold office,” Abrams argued last April.

President Biden made the same assertion, agreeing with a woman at a campaign rally who said Trump was an “illegitimate president in my mind.”

“I absolutely agree,” Biden replied.

Former president Jimmy Carter claimed in June of 2019 that Trump didn’t actually win the election.

“I think a full investigation would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” Carter said without evidence. “He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”

Does Clinton think Carter was also doing ‘Putin’s work’?

Hillary Clinton, though, has flip-flopped on the matter of dangers in casting doubt on an election and whether it amounts to doing ‘Putin’s work’ more than anybody.

When the media had anointed her victor in 2016 leading up to the actual vote, Clinton said any failure to accept the election results is “a direct threat to democracy.”

She then proceeded to refuse to accept the election results.

In a speech for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this past summer, she also implied that Trump could “steal” the 2020 election.

“Don’t forget: Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose — take it from me,” Clinton griped. “We need numbers so overwhelming Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”

In an interview just prior to the 2020 election, Clinton again suggested Trump did not win the 2016 election through legitimate means.

“Remember, as I said, he lives with this specter of illegitimacy,” she said. “He knows more about how he got really elected than we still do. Hopefully, we’ll learn more in the years ahead.”

“I was the candidate that they basically stole an election from,” Clinton alleged. 

All must be right in Clinton’s world after Biden received an ‘overwhelming’ 81 million votes and Hillary can once again claim that casting doubts on the election process is the work of a Russian asset.

 

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Poll: Overwhelming Majority Of GOP Voters Agree With Trump Policies, Approve Of Ousting Liz Cheney

According to a new poll, a strong majority of Republican voters agree with the agenda of former President Donald Trump and agree with Republicans ousting anti-Trump Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position. 

The poll shows where GOP voters stand as the party tries to navigate how to move forward in the 2022 midterm elections and beyond.

The results come from a CBS News/YouGov poll.

RELATED: Kinzinger Claims He’s ‘Been A Republican Far Longer’ Than Trump – Not Going To Let Him ‘Hijack My Party’

CBS News/You Gov Poll: Republicans Overwhelmingly Support Trump

The poll showed that “80% of Republicans agree with the removal of Liz Cheney from GOP Leadership.”

Cheney was recently voted of her House GOP Conference chairmanship due to to supporting the second impeachment of Trump and her constant criticism of the former president.

Also, the survey revealed, for example, that 89 percent agree with the former president on economic issues, and also 80 percent say Trump’s form of leadership is something the GOP should learn from and follow.

88 percent say Trump’s immigration agenda should be adhered to, and 73 percent of those taking the survey said Trump set an example on racial issues.

On handling the American left and overall mainstream media, 69 percent said Trump set the example on how to treat the left.

77 percent agreed with how Trump handled the media.

The numbers also skewed heavily in favor of Donald Trump’s claims about the 2020 presidential election and the GOP in general. 

Republicans Do Not Believe Biden Won The 2020 Election

67 percent of Republican voters believe President Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election.

In addition, 34 percent of those polled believe Republicans should be punished if they are disloyal to the base.

RELATED: Jim Jordan Slams Liz Cheney – Can’t Have A Conference Chair ‘Reciting Democrat Talking Points’

When the CBS News/YouGov poll inquired about Republicans’ 2022 and 2024 strategy, 53 percent said Republicans need to focus on the “message” to get more Republican votes. 

The poll advised Republicans that they “should tell the public about popular policies and ideas, and will win if more people hear about them.”

The CBS News/YouGov survey was taken between May 12 and May 14, surveying 951 self-identifying Republicans who had previously taken a poll with CBS News in 2021. 

The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points.

 

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Over 120 Retired Generals, Admirals Challenge Integrity Of 2020 Election, Question Biden’s Mental Fitness

A letter penned by 124 retired generals and admirals questions the mental fitness of President Biden and seemingly disputes the outcome of the 2020 election.

The group claims absentee ballots are not secure and questions election irregularities that were allegedly ignored in the previous presidential race.

The “Constitutional Republic is lost,” write the military leaders, without “fair and honest elections that accurately reflect the ‘will of the people.'”

“The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020,” they continue.

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign and its allies lost dozens of court cases challenging Biden’s victory in several states, and despite repeated objections by Trump since then, there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

RELATED: Lindsey Graham Warns Anti-Trump Republicans They’re Going To Wind Up ‘Getting Erased’

Biden’s Mental Fitness

The letter goes on to question both the mental and physical fitness of President Biden to serve as Commander-in-Chief.

“The mental and physical condition of the Commander in Chief cannot be ignored,” the group writes. “He must be able to quickly make accurate national security decisions involving life and limb anywhere, day or night.”

The group of retired military leaders refers to itself as ‘Flag Officers 4 America.’

They make mention of Democrats’ attempts to wrest away some control of the nuclear codes as Biden was first settling into office.

Dozens of House Democrats called on Biden to relinquish sole control over the country’s nuclear arsenal and the ability to launch a strike using those weapons back in February.

“Recent Democrat leadership’s inquiries about nuclear code procedures sends a dangerous national security signal to nuclear-armed adversaries, raising the question about who is in charge,” the group states.

“We must always have an unquestionable chain of command.”

RELATED: 100 Former Republican Officials Threaten To Form Anti-Trump Third Party

Partisan Attack?

Contrary to the claims made in the letter, President Biden’s doctor released a report earlier this month maintaining that he is a “healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”

The letter from ‘Flag Officers 4 America’ was criticized by military members who maintain men and women serving in uniform should not be involved in political matters.

Jim Golby, an expert in civil-military relations, defined the letter as a “shameful effort to use their rank and the military’s reputation for such a gross and blatant partisan attack.”

Of course, ‘gross and blatant partisan attacks’ were all the rage during Trump’s tenure. In fact, one key military figure who engaged in such activities helped push Democrats to impeach the former President.

Business Insider accused the group of backing “a false election conspiracy.”

Politico ran a piece titled, “‘Disturbing and reckless’: Retired brass spread election lie in attack on Biden, Democrats”

In it, they note “…current and former military officers are speaking out, calling the missive a dangerous new sign of the military being dragged into the trenches of partisan warfare.”

The letter in question also takes issue with the Iran nuclear deal and suggests “illegals are flooding our country.”

Read the astonishing letter in full here

 

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Dems Took Way More Dark Money Than The GOP – Will They Now Swear It Off?

By Susan Crabtree for RealClearPolitics

Nearly a decade ago, Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold warned that his party would “lose its soul” if it began taking unlimited corporate money with plans to wean itself off the addiction later –  especially if the funds helped Democrats gain control of the White House and Congress.

Fast-forward to 2021 and that warning is facing its first big test.

Anonymous “dark money” donors provided $145 million to pro-Biden groups during the 2020 election, helping pave his way to the White House and dwarfing the $28.4 million spent on behalf of Donald Trump, Bloomberg reported in late January.

When it comes to control of the Senate, Stacey Abrams’ voter-registration groups, Fair Fight and its dark-money arm, Fair Fight Action, also are widely credited with helping Democrats win the Georgia runoffs.

Liberal dark-money groups, which (like conservative ones) don’t disclose the source of their funds, started out-spending their counterparts in 2018, according to a report by Issue One, an advocacy group calling for more restrictions on campaign fundraising.

RELATED: Report: Biden Received Over $145 Million In ‘Dark Money’ Campaign Cash

The Center for Responsive Politics, a group that closely tracks campaign spending, found that liberal dark-money groups outspent conservatives ones in 2020 as well.

Despite benefiting from the anonymous largesse, Democrats have seemed uneasy – at least publicly — cozying up to these big donors whose identities are obscured.

During his presidential primary campaign last spring, Joe Biden said one of his first priorities would be signing a comprehensive campaign-finance reform bill that, among other things, would force dark-money groups to disclose their donors.

But in the first few weeks of the new administration, passing a COVID relief bill to help struggling Americans, along with impeaching Trump, have become the two main priorities set before Congress.

For now at least, the reform bills have been shunted aside despite Democrats giving them top legislative billing – dubbing them HR 1 and S 1 to signify their importance. 

Instead of prominent Democrats, including Biden, aggressively pressing for more campaign-finance disclosure, there’s been a proliferation of news about plans by liberal groups to spend more dark-money to help congressional Democrats keep their majorities and push the party’s agenda to the left.

Just last week, American Bridge, which spent $62 million in 2020 on ads aimed at defeating Trump, announced it would relaunch next month with a nine-figure ad budget to defend Biden’s record and maintain Democrats’ congressional majorities in 2022.

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez will serve as a co-chair of the initiative, along with former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

RELATED: Biden’s COVID Team Warns There Might Not Be Herd Immunity Until Thanksgiving Or Even Later

Sixty-two liberal groups, including Demand Justice and Fix Our Senate (a trade name for the Sixteen Thirty Fund) — both organizations that hide their donors’ identities — sent a letter Friday to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calling on him to abolish the Senate filibuster to help break any gridlock and advance a liberal agenda.

Demand Justice and several other dark-money liberal groups are also leading a separate effort called “Unrig Our Courts,” a push to undo Trump’s judicial legacy by pressing Congress to add seats to the Supreme Court, impose term limits on high court justices, and improve judiciary “ethics and transparency requirements.”

The hypocrisy of a group that obscures its donors calling for more disclosure wasn’t lost on conservatives who oppose campaign finance disclosure mandates.

“We now know that many of these dark-money groups are part of a massive operation on the left,” Adam Laxalt, a former Nevada attorney general who serves as an outside counsel for Americans for Public Trust, a conservative watchdog group, said in a statement.

“It’s not surprising that these and other progressive groups have set their sights on our courts, the last obstacle to complete power.”

Even though Democrats insist they are fighting fire with fire and will not “unilaterally disarm,” with their majority in both chambers of Congress they now have the power to advance the reforms they have long advocated, notes Michael Beckel, Issue One’s research director.

RELATED: Texas Sheriff Claims Biden Admin Releasing Illegal Immigrants Into U.S. Without COVID Testing

“The increased dark-money spending by liberal groups in recent years should make it clear to all members of Congress that neither party is immune from being pummeled by attack ads funded by anonymous donors,” Beckel told RealClearPolitics.

“Democrats and Republicans alike should be motivated to end secret spending in our elections. Lawmakers in both parties should be taking dark money seriously and working to bring more transparency to campaigns.”

Yet, as Feingold predicted, ending the addiction to big money is proving difficult for Democrats now that they’re playing the game better than Republicans.

Democrats always opposed Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 decision that allowed virtually unlimited money in politics.

They said opening the floodgates to unlimited donations flew in the face of their commitment to helping average Americans and those struggling to get by.

But Democrats also opposed Citizens United because they thought Republicans and their deep-pocketed corporate allies would benefit the most from the ruling.

“Their mantra of not ‘unliterally disarming’ was really their justification for learning how to master super PACs and dark money and all that, and they’re doing a better job of it right now than the Republicans,” Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the group Public Citizen, which advocates for stricter campaign-finance laws, told NBC News last fall. Holman went a step further, predicting more Democratic complacence on the issue if they were to win the Senate and the White House.

RELATED: Report: Democrats Have A Back-Up Plan That Might Still Bar Trump From Running Again If Impeachment Fails

Under such a scenario — which became political reality — Holman said his group would have to “hold their word over their head.”

Now, Senate Democrats who sponsored S 1 are not pushing for prompt consideration of the bill. Sen. Jeff Merkley (pictured), an Oregon Democrat and the lead sponsor, did not respond to repeated requests for comment from RCP.

A spokesman for Schumer also did not respond to an RCP inquiry. Schumer is up for reelection in 2022 and could face a primary challenge from his left flank, perhaps from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Majority Forward, a nonprofit with ties to Schumer’s Senate Majority Pac, channeled $57.4 million into super PACs that helped Democrats regain the majority in the upper chamber.

The group received $76 million in anonymous donations from mid-2018 to mid-2019, the same year it passed tens of millions of dollars to other left-wing nonprofit groups devoted to funding “voter engagement” efforts.

The Senate Majority PAC sent its largest donation — $14.8 million — to America Votes, a group that Georgia election officials investigated for allegations it sent ballot applications to non-residents.

A spokesperson for America Votes has denied any wrongdoing, arguing that it sent absentee ballot applications to registered voters across Georgia, using an official list from the secretary of state’s office along with postal address data.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a vocal proponent of ending dark-money groups, also did not respond to an RCP request for comment. The Rhode Island Democrat has repeatedly described the impact of these “shadowy” groups as a “rot on our American democracy.”

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Last fall Whitehouse testified during a House judiciary subcommittee hearing that conservative dark-money organizations unduly influenced the confirmation of conservative judges during Trump’s time in office.

But Whitehouse also has said he would accept campaign donations from dark-money groups and has delivered speeches to liberal groups that accept money from secret donors.

Last summer, the longtime senator trashed the judicial nominating process during Trump’s time in office as “rigged.”

He argued that Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh won confirmation because they were backed by a sophisticated dark-money advertising “scheme” funded by corporations and deep-pocketed GOP donors.

Whitehouse spokesman Rich Davidson told RCP at the time that the donor disclosure his boss is seeking should apply to all groups “regardless of ideological bent.”

Davidson made the comment the same day Whitehouse spoke about the evils of conservative dark-money groups at an event hosted by the American Constitution Society, a liberal dark-money group that doesn’t disclose many of its donors.

Over the last week, RCP reached out to numerous groups (or their political arms) that don’t disclose their donors, including Demand Justice and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Only one, the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which Politico labeled a “dark-money behemoth” after it raised $137 million from anonymous donors in 2019, came forward to say it supports efforts to force it and other groups that amass these “shadowy” funds to disclose their donors. 

“We have lobbied in favor of reform to the current campaign finance system,” Amy Kurtz, the fund’s executive director, told RCP in an emailed statement. “But we remain equally committed to following the current laws to level the playing field for progressives.”

Kurtz referred to that statement when asked whether she supports passage of the disclosure mandates in HR 1 and S 1, considering the success that dark-money groups such as hers had this cycle in helping Biden win the White House and Democrats gain the Senate majority.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

Susan Crabtree is RealClearPolitics’ White House/national political correspondent.

The post Dems Took Way More Dark Money Than The GOP – Will They Now Swear It Off? appeared first on The Political Insider.

Hiding Biden: How Democrats Crafted First Impeachment, Helping Defeat Trump With Media Help

By Mark Hemingway for RealClearInvestigations

By the numbers, Joe Biden is president of the United States because he won the swing states of Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin by a combined total of some 43,000 votes.

But he also owes his victory to the groundwork laid by Democrats and their media allies one year before, during the first impeachment of Donald Trump over his supposedly strings-attached demand that the Ukrainian government investigate alleged corruption involving Biden’s son, Hunter.

The first impeachment failed to oust Trump from office, but it helped secure the White House for Biden.

It shielded him from scrutiny, enabling him and his supporters to cast allegations during the campaign about dubious Biden family business ties as rehashed Trumpian conspiracy theories.

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Biden’s razor-thin swing state victories might not have materialized if the Trump campaign had been able to gain traction from its October Surprise – a series of articles it helped orchestrate in the New York Post that reported information from a laptop owned by Hunter Biden suggesting corrupt foreign business deals that may have involved his father.

As many as 45% of Biden voters said they were unaware of Hunter’s financial scandals before the election.

That’s likely because Democrats and much of the media discredited or did not report the accusations in the final weeks of the campaign – accusations that were bolstered after the election when Hunter admitted that he has been the subject of an ongoing federal corruption probe since 2018.

Once the Post ran its first laptop article on Oct. 14, Democrats and their allies immediately turned to the narrative they had long used against Trump: foreign interference.

Without evidence save for the claims of Democrat partisans and anonymous official sources — like those commonly relied upon during the debunked Trump-Russia affair — the New York TimesWashington Post, and Politico ran stories suggesting the laptop could be Russian disinformation.

Joe Biden said the laptop was a “Russian plan” at the first presidential debate.

The FBI, which was a main driver of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation, added to the narrative when word was leaked that the bureau was investigating whether the laptop emails were Russian disinformation.

Twitter and Facebook reacted by actively censoring the Hunter Biden story. Twitter went so far as to lock the New York Post out of its own account.

As the Senate prepares next week to take up a second impeachment of Trump, Republican objections to the Democrats’ handling of the first go-round loom large.

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The record of those proceedings shows that they were conducted in a highly unusual manner. In retrospect, it seems clear that they were designed not just to target Trump – but to protect Biden.

Taking Early Aim

Some Democrats were bent on impeaching Trump from the moment he took office, on Jan. 20, 2017. Just 19 minutes after Trump was sworn in, the Washington Post published a piece headlined, “The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun.”  

Those early efforts were spearheaded by Texas Rep. Al Green, who drew up articles of impeachment for alleged misdeeds ranging from Trump’s insulting kneeling professional football players to his firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Green’s effort led to three different unsuccessful impeachment votes — one in 2017 and two more in 2019 after Democrats gained a House majority in the 2018 election.

Publicly, Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders said they did not approve of Green’s efforts.

“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” the House speaker told the Washington Post in March 2019.

Privately, Democratic leaders were betting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump-Russia collusion would produce a clearly impeachable offense.  

They were wrong.

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After three years of thorough investigation – as well as thousands of breathless articles and untold hours of TV coverage keyed toward Trump’s prospective guilt – Mueller’s final report, issued in March 2019, concluded that the probe “[did] not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Mueller did not make a determination of whether Trump had tried to obstruct his investigation. Looking at the evidence, Attorney General William Barr determined he had not.

Nevertheless, some powerful Democrats sought to use the Mueller report as the basis to impeach Trump, only to be rebuffed by Pelosi. 

The speed of what happened next blindsided Republicans. 

The Ukraine Affair

In early August, a CIA employee filed a formal whistleblower complaint against President Trump aimed at forcing Congress to address the matter.

He alleged that Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 phone call to investigate the Bidens for political purposes, and subsequently made aid to Ukraine contingent on the probe.

Trump reportedly raised the issue because he believed there had never been any serious inquiry into why Hunter Biden, a lawyer with no experience in the energy sector, had been paid upwards of $80,000 a month to serve on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.

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Hunter received the appointment in 2014, shortly after his father was asked to oversee Ukrainian affairs as Barack Obama’s vice president. In 2016, Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid to Ukraine unless it fired a prosecutor widely considered to be ineffective.

The fired prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, testified that he was driven from office because he was investigating Burisma.

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son,” Trump told Zelensky, “that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. … It sounds horrible to me.”

At the time of the whistleblower complaint, Biden was favored to win the Democratic nomination for president.

However, the allegations regarding the Trump phone call with Zelensky were problematic from the start. The man who brought the complaint was not really a whistleblower as the term is commonly understood.

He had no direct knowledge of the phone call but had been leaked details of it by one of the seven American officials who were on the call with the president.

The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, whose legal opinions are normally binding on these matters, soon concluded the whistleblower complaint did not meet the requirements of an “urgent concern”  for it to be forwarded to Congress.

Meanwhile, Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, worked to surface the details of the complaint publicly. He recast obstacles to legitimizing the whistleblower’s complaint as attempts to hide Trump’s malfeasance.

When the White House ultimately made a transcript of the call public, Trump’s rhetorical style, an odd combination of obliqueness and bluntness, made the idea of a quid pro quo – no Biden investigation, no aid — open to interpretation.

Officials from Ukraine, which did not open an investigation, said they never felt pressured by Trump

Despite the procedural problems with the whistleblower complaint, it provided a semblance of formal process to buttress an all-new impeachment attempt. 

RELATED: Hunter Biden News Should Shame Dismissive Media Outlets

Progressives and much of the media cast the call as an abuse of power by Trump who, they claimed, tried to extort a foreign leader to kneecap a political rival. A formal House impeachment inquiry was launched on Sept. 24, 2019, with the full support of Democratic House leadership.

From the beginning, the impeachment inquiry was rife with episodes suggesting Democrats had a larger strategy. To begin with, they took an unprecedented amount of control over the process.

With the 2020 election and the prospect of a second Trump term looming, there would be no years-long special counsel or nonpartisan investigation of this matter.

While the Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, was the traditional venue for impeachment, Democrats decided that Schiff would guide the impeachment inquiry through the Intelligence Committee.

Schiff, who had raised his national profile during the Mueller probe by repeatedly claiming that he had seen more than circumstantial evidence that Trump had colluded with Russia, had already acquired a reputation for fierce partisanship.

In early October, shortly after the impeachment inquiry began, the  New York Times reported that Schiff’s office had helped shepherd the alleged whistleblower’s complaint.

The Washington Post fact-checker gave Schiff “four Pinocchios” for repeatedly denying his office’s contact with the man. Nevertheless, Schiff received glowing press coverage for his impeachment efforts.

The mainstream press further enabled impeachment by refusing to publish the whistleblower’s name, in line with Democrat admonitions, even though he wasn’t formally protected by any whistleblower laws.

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News organizations disclosed no agreements of source confidentiality with the man, and his identity was common knowledge in Washington.  

When Paul Sperry of RealClearInvestigations reported the evidence that the whistleblower was a then-33-year-old CIA employee named Eric Ciaramella, this news blackout by major media allowed them to ignore his history of partisan ties and anti-Trump statements.

Sperry reported that Ciaramella had served as an adviser on Ukraine to Vice President Biden and had been overheard in 2017 discussing with another staffer how to “take out,” or remove, the new president from office.

That colleague was Sean Misko, who left the White House in the summer of 2019 to join House impeachment manager Schiff’s committee, where, sources say, he offered “guidance” to the whistleblower. 

Aside from Schiff’s backstage dealings with Ciaramella, the Intelligence Committee chairman publicly tried to spin Trump’s alleged wrongdoing.

On Sept. 26, the day after the Trump-Zelensky transcript was released, Schiff gave an opening statement before acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before his committee.

During the statement, Schiff, who had once been an aspiring screenwriter, characterized the president’s behavior on the Zelensky call as being like “a classic organized crime shakedown.” Instead of reading the plain text of the call, Schiff paraphrased what happened in hyperbolic and lurid terms.

“I have a favor I want from you,” Schiff said while seeming to read from a transcript. “And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it, on this and on that.”

Republicans were appalled.

“He makes up a conversation supposedly between the president and Ukraine which sounds like a script from a cheap comic book. Lies and innuendo. He was called out on it and said, well, I meant it as a parody. Geez, that’s great. The fun begins,” Utah Congressman Chris Stewart would record in his journal, as quoted in “Obsession,” Washington Examiner reporter Byron York’s book on Democrats’ years-long quest to remove Trump from office.

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Leaking Testimony

To make the case for impeachment, it was crucial for Democrats to demonstrate the existence of a quid pro quo between Trump and Zelensky, which was ambiguous because Trump never mentioned aid on the call.  

Schiff responded to the Volker testimony by taking even more unprecedented steps for Democrats to control the impeachment proceedings. Volker had sat for what was known as a “transcribed interview,” which allowed Republicans to speak about the testimony afterward.

After Volker, Schiff made sure all the witnesses in the impeachment inquiry were deposed, forbidding committee members from discussing what was said publicly.

But the secrecy rules had a convenient and glaring exception – the witnesses themselves could speak about what happened. “The sessions settled into a pattern of secret testimony accompanied by quick leaks of witnesses’ opening statements,” York observes in “Obsession.”

The leaked, one-sided testimonies allowed press speculation to run wild, while House Republicans who knew the particulars were subject to ethics charges if they told the public what had actually been said. 

The DNC-Ukraine Nexus

For Democrats, Biden was a fraught issue in the impeachment proceedings. One obvious defense of Trump was for Republicans to argue that the president’s questions about Biden family corruption in Ukraine were legitimate and necessary to protect national security.

Under questioning, multiple witnesses called by Democrats conceded that Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma was concerning, leading to calls for Hunter to testify in the proceedings. (During the subsequent Senate impeachment trial, one Democratic senator, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, said Hunter Biden was a relevant witness.)

RELATED: Biden’s Dilemma: Unify The Country Or Impeach President Trump?

Democrats rejected calls to question Hunter Biden, Ciaramella, and others.

“I think we really could have torpedoed impeachment by making the whistleblower detail all of his prior contacts with Schiff and also his prior contacts with Biden as well,” said a Republican House staffer with intimate knowledge of the proceedings who requested anonymity because he did not want to speak for elected officials.

Democrats also shut down Republican attempts to probe the Democratic Party’s own troubling connections to Ukraine during impeachment. 

A Politico investigation published in January 2017 “found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the [2016] race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.”

The article, written by David Stern and Kenneth Vogel, the latter now at the New York Times, reported that Ukrainian officials had helped Hillary “Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers,” including his campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

Key to this effort was a Democratic National Committee operative, Alexandra Chalupa, who met with Ukrainian officials and American journalists in Washington and was invited to the White House by Biden’s Ukraine pointman – the future “whistleblower” Ciaramella.

(Chalupa wasn’t the only Democratic operative pushing Manafort dirt originating in Ukraine at about the same time. So was Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the Democratic contractor behind the discredited Steele dossier on Trump-Russia collusion. He has acknowledged feeding the media Ukraine tips in “Crime in Progress,” the book he co-wrote with his Fusion co-founder Peter Fritsch.) 

But even though Politico’s reporting on Ukraine and the DNC was largely unquestioned for three years, the media once again sprang to Democrats’ defense as Republicans sought to make an issue of it.

In the end, Schiff’s secrecy and tight control over who got to testify allowed House Democrats to sidestep any explosive questions about the chairman’s role in instigating impeachment, the DNC’s involvement with Ukraine, and Biden’s potential role in his son’s corruption.

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Ultimately, the Senate refused to convict Trump and many Republicans believed that it did little to harm him politically.

“Not a single Democrat speaker referenced impeachment during any of the convention, which is a really amazing thing,” the GOP staffer noted. “That just shows me they didn’t get a whole lot of political benefit out of it.”

Shielding Joe

But if impeachment failed to tarnish Trump as much as Democrats hoped, it appeared successful in delegitimizing valid questions about alleged Biden corruption.

After impeachment, the mainstream media showed almost no interest in investigating Biden family business ties, which were largely characterized as a series of unsubstantiated and debunked allegations.

Christiane Amanpour of PBS expressed the prevailing view in an interview with Republican National Committee spokesperson Liz Harrington when she said “there has never been any issues in terms of corruption” with the Bidens.

After Harrington disagreed and urged journalists to look into the story, Amanpour responded: “We’re not going to do your work for you.”

Some coverage transformed the potential scandals into a positive for Biden. At a campaign event in Iowa, a Democratic voter asked the candidate in December 2019 about allegations of his son’s corruption.

In response, Biden called the voter a “damn liar” and challenged him to an IQ test. CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston characterized the exchange this way: “In a human moment defending his son, Biden showed the authenticity, emotion and readiness for a fight that appeals to so many Democrats as they look for someone who can take on Trump.”

Last September, when a Senate intelligence panel report revealed that a firm co-founded by Hunter Biden received a $3.5-million wire transfer from the wife of a Russian politician, the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC did not cover the story.

When Trump raised the issue at the first presidential debate, Biden claimed it had been “totally discredited” even though its existence was confirmed by Treasury Department documents.

This news blackout may have helped propel Biden to victory, but questions regarding the Bidens have not gone away.

There is the laptop, which, far from Russian disinformation, did indeed belong to Hunter Biden, who in December admitted he has been the subject of a federal corruption probe since 2018.

RELATED: To Win The Narrative Battle, Conservatives Should Learn From The Left

Other evidence and testimony implicate President Biden. Tony Bobulinski, a former naval officer and business partner with Hunter Biden, asserted in October that he met with the senior Biden as part of a plan to secretly give the future president a 10% stake in a deal with a Chinese conglomerate with ties to the country’s communist government.

Bobulinski has provided documents to back up his account and news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal have confirmed they are authentic.

President Biden seems aware of the danger of family embarrassments, including from a January 2020 FBI raid involving allegations of financial fraud at a company where Biden’s brother James was listed as “principal.” 

Politico reported last week that the president had pulled his brother Frank aside last summer to tell him, “For Christ’s sake, watch yourself. Don’t get sucked into something that would, first of all, hurt you.”

On Inauguration Day, a law firm’s ad promoting Frank Biden’s relationship with the president caused a new stir.

Such Biden family matters, and Republicans’ awareness that their concealment may have helped seal Trump’s defeat, color Democrats’ long-shot efforts next week to convince at least 17 senators of the opposite party to join their legally and politically fraught effort to convict a president in an impeachment trial after he has left office.

Republicans think the Democrats’ handling of the first impeachment poisoned the well.

“Republican fence sitters are probably already on the record denouncing the unfairness of the House process last time around, since both GOP House members and senators were doing that,” says a GOP staffer who insisted on anonymity. “So if that process was unfair, how can you trust Democrats enough to sign off on impeachment 2.0, when there wasn’t even any process to speak of at all?”

A number of House Democrats involved in the first impeachment declined to comment on their Republican colleagues’ concerns.

In a recent vote, 45 Republican senators went on record saying they did not believe impeaching a former president was constitutional.

Even prominent Senate Democrats, such as 2016 vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, are advocating censuring Donald Trump for fear that a bitter and drawn out impeachment trial is not only futile but will hamper Biden’s ability to get his administration up and running during the crucial early months of the presidency.  

Congressional Republicans, for their part, have shown no signs of dropping efforts begun in the first impeachment to investigate what they see as clear Biden family corruption – even after Trump’s second impeachment.

Prominent Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham and Charles Grassley, recently told Fox News they plan to ask Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Merrick Garland, about the Hunter Biden corruption probe during his nomination hearing. 

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

The post Hiding Biden: How Democrats Crafted First Impeachment, Helping Defeat Trump With Media Help appeared first on The Political Insider.