Sen. Ron Johnson goes on CNN, makes wild election claims, then struggles to provide proof

Sen. Ron Johnson went on CNN Monday evening to talk about the Republican Party’s continued attempts to tie providing aid for Ukraine with conservative bogeyman border policies. At the end of the interview, host Kaitlan Collins mentioned recent news about Wisconsin’s 10 fake Donald Trump electors cutting a deal in their civil case. Collins wanted the senator to weigh in on calls for one of the fake electors, Robert Spindell Jr., to resign his position on the state elections commission.

Johnson is nothing if not duplicitous and he stayed on brand, citing “all kinds of irregularities in Wisconsin in the 2020 election” and saying that having “an alternate slate of electors” was some kind of common practice, “just like Democrats have done repeatedly in all kinds of different states.” Collins reminded Johnson that these fake electors have admitted that what they did was at the very least “improper,” and Johnson responded by saying all the civil cases against them were “a travesty of justice.” That led to this exchange:

Collins: You think it's fine that someone who tried to overturn a legitimate election is still on a board that helps certify [elections]--

Johnson: –Democrat electors have done that repeatedly. Democrats have done the same thing.

Collins: Which one? In Wisconsin—fake slates of electors?

Johnson: No, it's, it's happened in different states …

Collins: Which ones, sir?

Johnson: I didn’t come prepared to give you the exact states but it’s happened repeatedly. It has happened repeatedly, just go check the books.

Collins: Which books?

Johnson: There have been alternate slates of electors by Democrat electors in our history. Again, you didn't—this wasn't what this interview is going to be about. I'll come and I'll provide you that information.

Not long after Johnson’s pathetic appearance, the senator went to his X (formerly Twitter) account to post his “examples,” which included Democratic reps objecting to the election results in 2017 and did not involve fake electors. Surprisingly, this also didn’t include creating a revolt at the Capitol building, and Donald Trump was certified without anyone being killed or injured.

His other example is the 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Nixon had lost the election, but Hawaii was initially called for Nixon by 140 votes. Three Democratic electors chose to sign a slate saying Kennedy won. Of course, at that time there was a recount underway that would eventually reveal Kennedy got more votes.

Johnson’s part in the attempted coup on Jan. 6 has been the subject of much speculation, as the things he’s said in public and his alibi do not square with the evidence. Johnson has been secretly recorded admitting that there was no election fraud, and definitely not the kind of Big Lie-mythologized fraud that might have actually reversed the outcome in Wisconsin.

Since the failed coup, Johnson has consistently tried to downplay the severity of what happened at the Capitol and across the country after the 2020 election.

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Cheney’s new book is a devastating indictment of Republican efforts to overturn 2020

In her new book, former Rep. Liz Cheney unloads on her former colleagues in the Republican Party, and to no one's surprise, her disgust is seething and deep.

"Oath and Honor," which was obtained by CNN, serves as an overarching indictment of the many Republicans Cheney deems most responsible for gifting the GOP to the twice-impeached, four-time criminally indicted Donald Trump, whom she calls “the most dangerous man ever to inhabit the Oval Office.”

“As a nation, we can endure damaging policies for a four-year term. But we cannot survive a president willing to terminate our Constitution," writes Cheney, who served as the number three House Republican before being ousted from leadership over her vote to impeach Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol.

According to the book, then-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Cheney following the 2020 election that Trump knew he had lost. “He knows it’s over,” McCarthy reportedly said at the time. “He needs to go through all the stages of grief.”

Yet that same day, Cheney reveals, McCarthy fanned the election-denial flames on Fox News, telling viewers, "President Trump won this election."

Cheney writes, "McCarthy knew that what he was saying was not true.” So much for virtue.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a pro-Trump MAGA stalwart, derided the legal avenues for challenging the election results, saying, “The only thing that matters is winning,” according to Cheney. So much for honor.

Cheney also shredded Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana in the book, which she finished writing before he was elevated to speaker. Johnson, she said, pressured his Republican colleagues to sign on to an amicus brief supporting his legal challenge to 2020 results.

“When I confronted him with the flaws in his legal arguments," Cheney writes, "Johnson would often concede, or say something to the effect of, ‘We just need to do this one last thing for Trump.'" So much for the rule of law.

Fast-forward to Nov. 29, 2023, and Johnson contrasting Republicans' ham-handed effort to impeach President Joe Biden with what he framed as Democrats' "brazenly political" impeachment of Trump for springing a violent coup attempt on the U.S. Capitol.

"What you are seeing here is exactly the opposite. We are the rule-of-law team—the Republican Party stands for the rule of law," Johnson told reporters Wednesday, touting his work to defend Trump against Democrats’ "meritless" impeachment proceedings.

Speaker Mike Johnson claims that both of Donald Trump's impeachments were “brazenly political” and “meritless,” but says the GOP's efforts to impeach Joe Biden are “just the opposite” because “the Republican Party stands for the rule of law.”

— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) November 29, 2023

Just a quick trip to Republicans' present day house-of-mirrors routine as the majority party in the House. Now, back to the book.

Perhaps the most chilling part of CNN's write-up was Cheney's recollection of House Republicans' methodical efforts to reject the will of the people in 2020. Here’s CNN:

On Jan. 6, before the attack on the Capitol, Cheney describes a scene in the GOP cloakroom, where members were encouraged to sign their names on electoral vote objection sheets, lined up on a table, one for each of the states Republicans were contesting. Cheney writes most members knew “it was a farce” and “another public display of fealty to Donald Trump.”

“Among them was Republican Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee,” Cheney writes. “As he moved down the line, signing his name to the pieces of paper, Green said sheepishly to no one in particular, ‘The things we do for the Orange Jesus.’”

So much for fealty to the Constitution.

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TX appeals court weighing whether state bar can discipline Ken Paxton for challenging 2020 election

Texas appeals court weighing whether state bar can discipline Ken Paxton for challenging 2020 presidential election

By Joshua Fechter

The Texas Tribune

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Whether the Texas State Bar can take away Attorney General Ken Paxton's law license could hinge on whether appellate justices believe the organization is trying to control what lawsuits he files on the state's behalf — or whether the group has the jurisdiction to punish him for pushing false theories in a lawsuit over the 2020 presidential election.

Lawyers for Paxton argued before a three-justice panel of the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals on Wednesday that the bar overstepped its bounds when it sued the attorney general last year for professional misconduct. A disciplinary committee for the State Bar of Texas, the organization that regulates law licenses in this state, alleged the attorney general made “dishonest” representations in a widely condemned lawsuit — quickly rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court — that tried to throw out election results from former President Donald Trump’s 2020 loss in four battleground states.

Paxton’s lawyers argue that, by suing him, the bar is “attempting to control the Attorney General's decision going forward about what types of lawsuits to file, and what kinds of legal theories to pursue,” Lanora C. Pettit, principal deputy solicitor general, told justices Wednesday.

That argument drew skepticism from Justice Erin Nowell.

“That’s a big leap,” Nowell said.

Paxton’s unsuccessful attempt to intervene in four other states’ elections leaned heavily on discredited claims of election fraud in those swing states.

The Texas bar has argued its conduct rules for lawyers apply to Paxton, too.

“The underlying attorney discipline case here is about ethics,” Michael Graham, an attorney representing the state bar, told justices. “The substantive questions at the heart of that attorney discipline case, like any other, have nothing to do with politics or anything else. They have everything to do with whether an attorney is engaged in professional misconduct and, if so, what's the appropriate disciplinary sanction for that misconduct?”

A Collin County judge hasn’t ruled on the merits of the case but sided with the bar earlier this year when he ruled the group has the ability to sue — a decision Paxton quickly appealed. The appeals court is weighing whether to reverse the lower court's ruling, but did not rule Wednesday.

The bar’s actions raise questions about whether any elected official who is also a lawyer could have their law license threatened if a member of the public doesn’t agree with them, Justice Emily Miskel said — with which Graham disagreed.

“General Paxton, for instance, has been Attorney General for almost a decade now, and to my knowledge, there's not a raft of complaints or attorney disciplinary actions against him for filing suits,” Graham said.

But there might be if the bar is successful, Miskel said.

“If it's effective, then everybody should (file a grievance against) any elected official who happens to be a lawyer because it's a great way to get a second bite at the apple of a policy decision you don't like,” Miskel said.

That may be the case, Graham said, but such a complaint would still have to pass muster with the bar.

If the bar prevails, Paxton could face punishment anywhere from a reprimand to full disbarment and the loss of his law license.

The bar’s attempt to discipline Paxton is among several legal battles he’s waging. The Texas Senate acquitted Paxton in September on 16 articles of impeachment alleging bribery and corruption. But Paxton is expected to go to trial in April on state securities fraud charges eight years after he was first indicted on those charges.

He also faces a federal investigation into claims by former top staffers that he abused his office to help Austin real estate magnate Nate Paul, a friend and donor — claims that formed the basis of impeachment allegations against the attorney general. And on Tuesday, a Burnet County judge said those former employees’ lawsuit against the attorney general could proceed.

Disclosure: The State Bar of Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

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Biden-district House Republicans get behind new extremist speaker

 Whether out of desperation or sheer exhaustion, House Republicans unanimously voted in a new speaker more than three weeks after Kevin McCarthy was booted. And what a doozy of a speaker he is: Rep. Mike Johnson is an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+ bigot who is all in on an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden based on lies. He considers himself and Rep. Jim Jordan to be “like Batman and Robin,” and if he were Robin before, maybe now he gets to be Batman. And all 18 Republicans representing districts President Joe Biden won in 2020 got behind this extremist.

Nine Biden-district Republicans voted for Jordan as speaker all three times. Another three voted for him twice before flipping their votes the third time. But Johnson? The “most important architect of the Electoral College objections” in the House on Jan. 6, 2021, according to The New York Times? He got all 18 of them. And all 18 of them are going to have to answer for it in their 2024 reelection campaigns—Democrats will make sure of that.

Democrats are heckling the vulnerable New York Republicans from across the chamber, crooning "bye bye" as they fall in line behind Johnson

— Kate Riga (@Kate_Riga24) October 25, 2023

No, Republicans, Trump’s indictment isn’t about free speech

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell might not be commenting on the former president’s latest indictment, but those Republicans who have spoken up are dismissing Donald Trump’s alleged conspiracy to overthrow an election by claiming that it was merely “free speech.”

Apparently it is now a crime to make statements challenging election results if a prosecutor decides those statements aren’t true. So when should we expect indictments of the democrat politicians who falsely claimed Russia hacked the 2016 election?

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 2, 2023

“Apparently it is now a crime to make statements challenging election results if a prosecutor decides those statements aren’t true,” Sen. Marco Rubio asserted, knowing full well that this is not about Trump’s statements, but about his actions.

Bogus “free speech” arguments are a tried-and-true Republican favorite, and Trump’s legal team is no exception. “[O]ur focus is on the fact that this is an attack on free speech, and political advocacy,” said Trump lawyer John Lauro on CNN. “And there’s nothing that’s more protected, under the First Amendment, than political speech.” (Lauro might want to do a quick review of how that defense has been working for Jan. 6 defendants, including the Proud Boys.)

Special counsel Jack Smith knew this would be a key argument from Trump, and quickly debunked it on page 2 of the indictment. “The Defendant had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won,” the indictment says. “He was also entitled to formally challenge the results of the election through lawful and appropriate means …. [I]n many cases, the Defendant did pursue these methods of contesting the election results. His efforts … were uniformly unsuccessful.

“Shortly after Election Day, the Defendant also pursued unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results.” That’s what Trump is being indicted for: his actions.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Jan. 6 committee and lead manager of Trump’s second impeachment, explained all of this during a appearance on MSNBC, poking a big hole in Republican arguments with a simple analogy. “[Y]ou can say ‘I think the currency is phony and everybody should be allowed to make up their own money … but the minute that you start printing your own money, now you run afoul of the counterfeit laws, and it’s the exact same thing with the Electoral College,” the Maryland Democrat said.

Here’s the full transcript:

We know that our friends across the aisle are trying to mobilize some big free speech defense of Donald Trump here, which is just comical. Of course you have a right to say for example, “I think that the meeting of the House and the Senate in joint session to count Electoral College votes is a fraud or is taking away Donald Trump’s presidency.” You can say whatever you want, but the minute you actually try to obstruct the meeting of Congress, you crossed over from speech to conduct.

It’s like you can say, “I think the currency is phony and everybody should be allowed to make up their own money.” You can say that, but the minute that you start printing your own money, now you run afoul of the counterfeit laws, and it’s the exact same thing with the Electoral College. They can say, “Well, we don’t think that Joe Biden really won in these states,” even though every federal and state court rejected all of their claims of electoral fraud and corruption. The minute that they start manufacturing counterfeit electors and trying to have them substitute for the real electors that came through the federal and state legal process, at that point, they’ve crossed over from speech to conduct. I think the indictment is really tight in focusing just on the conduct.

Sign the petition: Disqualify Trump from running for public office

Conservatives cried about how the “woke” (whatever that means) “Barbie” movie would fail. It didn’t. In fact, the film has struck a chord with American and international audiences. Daily Kos writer Laura Clawson joins Markos to talk about the film and the implications of the Republican Party’s fixation on mythical culture wars, which is failing them in bigger and bigger ways every day.

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.

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 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.

— 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.


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.”


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.”