Republicans proceed with impeachment effort to spread Russian disinformation

The biggest story of the week, the month, and perhaps the rest of 2024 should be the fact that Republicans predicated their entire impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden on information provided to them by an agent of the Russian government.

Instead, yet another Russian incursion into American politics directly facilitated by Republican officials is falling flat.

Let's take a moment to review the situation with national security expert and ABC News analyst Asha Rangappa, who tweeted, "For real, can we recap: Sitting members of Congress initiated IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS against a U.S. President based on information passed to them by an agent of Russian intelligence. Same members refuse to pass aid to Ukraine. Same members defend Trump."

For real, can we recap: Sitting members of Congress initiated IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS against a U.S. President based on information passed to them by an agent of Russian intelligence. Same members refuse to pass aid to Ukraine. Same members defend Trump. ….

— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) February 21, 2024

It's not just that congressional Republicans like House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer and veteran GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa spouted disinformation from a Russian mole: It's that the claim made by the Russian mole was laughable on its face.

As The Bulwark's Tim Miller recounted on "The Next Level" podcast, "This idea that Joe Biden is a master criminal, and he has like a web of bank accounts that are so ... complex ... it would take the FBI and the CIA 10 years to unravel Joe Biden—Joseph Robinette Biden's scheme?"

Miller recalled thinking, no way, "This is crazy."

But not congressional Republicans. They made the claims of FBI informant Alexander Smirnov central—indeed, indispensable—to their case against Biden. 

In May, Comer told Fox News his committee was demanding the FBI release information it had gleaned from Smirnov.

"This is a very crucial piece of our investigation," Comer said.

Grassley took to the Senate floor to pressure the FBI to release the FD-1023 form supposedly detailing "a criminal bribery scheme" that included President Biden and his son, Hunter. Grassley claimed that information came from "a highly credible, long serving FBI confidential human source." 

Last year, Senator Grassley touted the now indicted informant. During the same speech he complained that Judiciary Committee Democrats described his investigation Russian disinformation. According to court filings, the source he’s referencing here has ties to Russian intelligence

— Acyn (@Acyn) February 20, 2024

Oops, just kidding. 

But now that Smirnov has been indicted and revealed as a Russian agent, Republicans are trying to triage their impeachment inquiry instead of backing away from their disgraced probe of an American president whom they are smearing for political gain.

Comer told Newsmax Wednesday that Smirnov "wasn't an important part" of their investigation "because I didn't even know who he was."

Republicans are also scrubbing references of Smirnov from their investigatory materials, according to reporting from The New Republic's Tori Otten. 

Totally absent from this Republican debacle is any sense of contrition for their roles serving as stooges of the Kremlin in spreading a mountain of lies about a sitting U.S. president.

Comer, Grassley, and others should be fighting off calls for their resignations after betraying the country.

Instead, the impeachment show must go on for Republicans. Otherwise they will have no means by which to uncover and spread more Russian disinformation about their political rival, Joe Biden.  

Democratic voters know Joe Biden is old and MAGA voters like to pretend that Trump isn't just as long in the tooth. Both men were old the last time we did this and the only thing that’s changed is Biden is now a successful incumbent, while Trump is busy juggling trials and indictments.

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GOP continues bogus ‘investigation’ after star witness turns out to be Russian mole

On Wednesday, the Republican-led House of Representatives impeachment inquiry will question James Biden behind closed doors on the very critical matter of how he repaid a loan to his brother. Banking records have already revealed that there is absolutely nothing to find in this investigation. Joe Biden loaned his brother James $200,000. Two months later, James paid him back. Neither did one thing wrong.

This hearing is a perfect example of why everyone called before this inquiry should demand to testify publicly. Not only has House Oversight Committee Rep. James Comer accused both the president and Democrats in Congress of lying about the loan, even though Comer already had all the evidence in hand to show everything was accurate and above board, but Democrats are being denied their rightful opportunity to rub Republican noses in the ugly collapse of every piece of “evidence” behind this so-called investigation.

In the last few days, the FBI form that Republicans demanded to see, then released themselves after threatening to hold the FBI director in contempt, turns out to be the product of a Russian mole who was fed false information by Russian agents. Meanwhile, a picture of “cocaine” that was included in a court filing in charges against Hunter Biden turns out to be an image of sawdust. 

The only real questions that remain in this investigation are: How much did James Comer, Jim Jordan, and Chuck Grassley know, and when did they know it?

As Spiderman might say, let’s do this one last time

In 2019, Rudy Giuliani went to Ukraine on orders from Donald Trump and came back with a story. That story was so ludicrous that everyone passed on it, including Fox News. But there was one place where Giuliani could still get this mess published: The New York Times

According to that story, Joe Biden went to Ukraine and demanded the firing of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin because Shokin was investigating Burisma, the energy company where Hunter Biden served on the board. Biden allegedly threatened to withhold U.S. aid from Ukraine until Shokin was canned so Hunter could continue to collect his paycheck, and this oh-so-good prosecutor was unjustly fired.

The Times ran the story verbatim, without seeming to do anything like check Giuliani’s sources or look at public records. However, within a few days, Bloomberg dispatched a reporter to Ukraine to check on what Giuliani was selling, and sure enough, it was all bullshit.

Not only had Shokin not been investigating Burisma, he was so notoriously corrupt that officials in both the U.S. and the U.K. called for his removal for years. Biden didn’t start the push to remove Shokin, and he didn’t act alone. Everything that happened in Ukraine was very public, and European officials celebrated when Shokin was finally sacked. 

There was no story. There never had been a story. But that didn’t stop Republicans from continuing to repeat Giuliani’s fairytale.

Then a miracle happened. Republicans learned that the FBI had been given a tip about this subject, one that resulted in an FD-1023 form that seemed to back up everything Giuliani had said in 2019. Over objections from the FBI, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Jim Jordan demanded the form. Then Grassley and Comer released the form to the public, and it became the beating heart of the Republican “impeachment investigation.”

And the form was perfect. Referring to Joe Biden as the “big guy” was in there. A claim that Hunter Biden was hired to "protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems” was right on the front page. The “17 recordings” of phone calls that supposedly included Joe Biden getting directly involved with his son’s business came from this form. Best of all, it included the claim that a Burisma executive complained about how "it cost 5 (million) to pay one Biden, and 5 (million) to another Biden.” 

The form was everything. The absolute proof that Republicans wanted.

Except, of course, everything in it completely contradicted years of public records and statements from those involved. Republicans didn’t let that bother them. Comer defended this form repeatedly, calling Democrats who challenged its contents liars. Grassley declared the importance of those recordings mentioned in the form, even while admitting they might not exist. Jim Jordan practically quoted the form in his questioning of Devon Archer, and then lied about Archer’s testimony when it failed to match up.

Then last Thursday, Alexander Smirnov, the man behind that FD-1023, was charged with lying to the FBI and creating false records. According to CNN, Smirnov has informed investigators that he has “‘extensive and extremely recent’ contacts” with Russian spies. And in an interview after his arrest, Smirnov admitted that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story about Businessperson 1.”

“Businessperson 1” is Hunter Biden.

So, Republicans have not only spent the last year pressing an investigation of the president’s son largely instigated by a document that turns out to have been tailor-made for them by Russian intelligence, they opened an impeachment inquiry with a Russian agent as the “heart” of their investigation

House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) on the indictment of ex-FBI informant Alexander Smirnov for lying about the Biden family: “It doesn’t change the fundamental facts.” Reporter: “Doesn’t change the facts? It does change the facts, because they’re no longer facts.”

— The Recount (@therecount) February 21, 2024

The answer to why the FBI was so reluctant to release the document is simple: They don’t release unfounded accusations (unless they come from James Comey or Robert Hur, of course). And that ongoing investigation that had Republicans so excited was the investigation of Smirnov, not Hunter Biden. 

All of this was a lie, and Republicans knew it. Just ask one of the men who toured Giuliani around Ukraine in the first place. 

The FBI had my communications with the CEO of Burisma since my arrest in 2019. The GOP received my communications with the CEO of Burisma during the first Trump impeachment in 2020. They all knew that the 1023 from Alexander Smirnov was a lie. Why did they continue this farce…

— Lev Parnas (@levparnas) February 21, 2024

Republicans are plowing on, keeping up the pretense that this source they made such a big deal about for so long was just “ancillary” to their investigation into what they love to call “the Biden crime family.” They have other evidence, dammit. Like how Joe Biden once loaned his son some money for a truck

But in the last day, another part of the investigation into Hunter Biden has crumbled into dust. As in sawdust. 

Federal prosecutors mistakenly claimed in a court filing that a photo of sawdust they found while searching Hunter Biden's electronics was cocaine, attorneys for the president's son said Tuesday.

How anyone could have ever thought that this material, which was tan in color and sitting on a table saw, was anything other than sawdust is astounding. But a picture of any kind of dust seemed to be convincing to Sean Hannity, so Fox News audiences aren’t likely to be threatened by the truth. (This also raises questions about just what Hannity has been putting up his nose.)

A Russian agent. A fake document. A pile of sawdust. That’s what Republicans have to show for their big investigation.

It would be really great to hear what’s happening behind those closed doors today. Democrats should be having fun.

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Despite Trump’s current laughable lawyers, his DOJ could be staffed with skilled radicals

Attorney Alina Habba has been widely mocked for her courtroom blunders and behavior as she defends Donald Trump in the business fraud lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James and in E. Jean Carroll’s second defamation trial against the accused rapist.

Former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski, who is now editor in chief of the liberal Meidas Touch, had this post on X, formerly known as Twitter:

I’m gonna say you can watch My Cousin Vinny and Legally Blonde back-to-back and you’d be ready to do a better trial than Habba.

— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 18, 2024

And “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert said in a monologue earlier this month, “Habba is, to use a bit of legalese, a bad lawyer,” HuffPost reported. He then played a clip from a podcast interview in which Habba, a former fashion executive, said she’d “rather be pretty than smart.” She then added she “can fake being smart.” 

But as Trump has become the first candidate to run a presidential campaign out of a courtroom, Habba has taken on a prominent role in MAGA world by playing the Trump victimization card in numerous interviews on courthouse steps, on Fox News, and other conservative news outlets.

RELATED STORY: How the next Trump-inspired insurrection could unfold and how the administration could respond

And while Trump’s immunity claims may seem a joke, there’s nothing funny regarding the attorney who handled Trump’s appeal seeking immunity from charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith that he conspired to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. The three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is widely expected to reject Trump’s immunity claim.

As Trump sat watching in the courtroom, his attorney, D. John Sauer, in response to questioning from the judges, suggested that even a president directing SEAL Team 6 to kill a political rival would be an action barred from criminal prosecution unless the president was first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate.

Mother Jones wrote that “it’s hard to overstate the terrifying absurdity of the argument.” But in  social media posts, candidate Trump has argued that presidents deserve complete immunity from prosecution even for acts that “cross the line.” The Atlantic wrote that “Today’s legal argument could very well be next year’s exercise of presidential power.”

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich went even further, stating that “Sauer was arguing for the equivalent of the 1933 Enabling Law in Germany,” which facilitated Adolf Hitler’s success in moving the country from democracy to fascism. That law—approved by the German Parliament in March 1933—gave the new chancellor, Hitler, the power to enact new laws without interference from the president or the parliament for four years.

What’s scary is that unlike Habba, Sauer has a blue-chip legal background. He was a Rhodes scholar and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to federal appellate court Judge J. Michael Luttig and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

In 2017, then-Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley appointed Sauer to serve as the state’s solicitor general and he continued to serve in that post under Hawley’s successor, Eric Schmitt, who also was elected to the U.S. Senate. The New York Times wrote:

As Missouri’s solicitor general, Mr. Sauer took part in a last-ditch effort to keep Mr. Trump in power after his defeat in the 2020 election, filing a motion on behalf of his state and five others in support of an attempt by Texas to have the Supreme Court toss out the results of the vote count in several key swing states.

He also joined in an unsuccessful bid with Texas in asking the Supreme Court to stop the Biden administration from rescinding a Trump-era immigration program that forces certain asylum seekers arriving at the southwestern border to await approval in Mexico.

Sauer left the solicitor general’s post in January 2023. He served as a special assistant attorney general for Louisiana’s Department of Justice in a First Amendment lawsuit against Biden administration officials over their contacts with social media platforms about “misinformation.” 

So could Sauer be another politically ambitious conservative lawyer with an Ivy League law degree looking to make an impression on Trump in hopes of securing a top position at the Department of Justice in a second Trump administration? It’s hard to know for sure, as Sauer keeps a low public profile outside the courtroom and shuns media interviews. But it sounds like he would fit right in, according to a November New York Times article on the subject:

Close allies of Donald J. Trump are preparing to populate a new administration with a more aggressive breed of right-wing lawyer, dispensing with traditional conservatives who they believe stymied his agenda in his first term.

The allies have been drawing up lists of lawyers they view as ideologically and temperamentally suited to serve in a second Trump administration. Their aim is to reduce the chances that politically appointed lawyers would frustrate a more radical White House agenda — as they sometimes did when Mr. Trump was in office, by raising objections to his desires for certain harsher immigration policies or for greater personal control over the Justice Department, among others.

The Times said Trump has even become disenchanted with the Federalist Society, the conservative legal network whose members filled key executive branch legal positions when he was last in office. Trump was particularly enraged at White House and Justice Department legal officials who blocked his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

John Mitnick, who was fired by Trump as general counsel of the Homeland Security Department in 2019, told the Times that “no qualified attorneys with integrity will have any desire to serve as political appointees” in a second Trump term.

The Guardian reported that Trump’s former senior adviser Stephen Miller, known for his draconian immigration policy, “is playing a key role in seeking lawyers fully in sync with Trump’s radical agenda to expand his power and curb some major agencies.” The Guardian wrote:

His search is for those with unswerving loyalty to Trump, who could back Trump’s increasingly authoritarian talk about plans to “weaponize” the DoJ against critics, including some he has labeled as “vermin.”

Miller, who is not a lawyer, is president of the MAGA-allied group America First Legal, which has been filing lawsuits against the Biden administration. Miller also sits on the board of Project 2025, an effort led by the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups to map authoritarian policy plans for a second Trump administration.

And that brings us to who Trump might choose for attorney general if he makes his way back to the Oval Office. Back in November, former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a member of the House Jan. 6 Select Committee, warned in an episode of The Bulwark podcast:

“If he does get through and he wins this time, he's going to interview 100 candidates for attorney general and only take the one that says, 'Mr. President, in essence, I don't care what the Constitution is. I'm going to do whatever you want as your servant at the Department of Justice.'"

And the scary thing is that there is one lawyer who is media savvy, has a blue-chip legal resume, and is a total right-wing monster. His name is Mike Davis.

Tim Miller, a former Republican National Committee spokesperson and Never Trumper, wrote about an interview Davis gave to conservative political commentator Benny Johnson in which Davis discussed what he would do if he were “acting attorney general” for a few weeks in a new Trump term:

But during my three week reign of terror as Trump acting attorney general, before I get chased out of town with my Trump pardon, I will rain hell on Washington, D.C. ... I have five lists, ready to go and they’re growing.

List number one, we’re gonna fire. We’re gonna fire a lot of people in the executive branch, in the deep state.

Number two, we’re gonna indict. We’re gonna indict Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and James Biden and every other scumball, sleazeball, Biden, except for the five year old granddaughter who they refused to acknowledge for five years until the political pressure got to Joe Biden.

Number three, we’re gonna deport. We’re gonna deport a lot of people, 10 million people and growing—anchor babies, their parents, their grandparents. We’re gonna put kids in cages. It’s gonna be glorious. We’re gonna detain a lot of people in the D.C. gulag and Gitmo.

And list number five, I’m gonna recommend a lot of pardons. Every January 6th defendant is gonna get a pardon, especially my hero horn man. He is definitely at the top of the pardon list.

“This is almost comically pathetic chest-beating of a creepy dork,” says Hayes on far-right lawyer Mike Davis. “But again the history of fascism is full of creepy dorks who…used the power of the state to execute their most despicable, violent fantasies.”

— IT’S TIME FOR JUSTICE (@LiddleSavages) November 22, 2023

In an article for The Bulwark, Miller wrote:

Davis has become an influential voice in MAGA media and activist circles—understandably so, given his crossover appeal as someone who combines legitimate bona fides as a GOP staffer with the incendiary, burn-it-all-down rhetoric that the MAGA base laps up.

And should, God forbid, Trump win a second term, Davis will be emblematic of the type of person who will staff the government. …

Davis’s current gig is spearheading activist groups that fight for right-wing judicial appointments and oppose “Big Tech.” In this role he makes frequent appearances on right-wing media outlets, including primetime Fox and its MAGA competitors (think Real America’s Voice, Newsmax, Bannon’s War Room), where he preaches the Gospel of Trump on issues ranging from the former president’s many indictments to the Biden impeachment.

Davis has an extensive biography on the Federalist Society website. But Miller also exposed Davis’ dark side, including a rant on X about the “violent black underclass” who are “monsters” and should be subjected to “mass incarceration.” He wrote:

Racist demagoguery. Conspiratorial thinking. Promises for retribution against enemies. This is Trump’s stated agenda for 2024. And people like Mike Davis stand ready and willing to execute it.

Davis now heads the Article III Project, which has run ads defending Trump against his four criminal indictments with messages mirroring Trump’s comments that he is a victim of politically motivated prosecutions.

One 60-second digital ad says, “Activist prosecutors and judges have destroyed the rule of law, the scales of justice forever broken and imbalanced. The worst offenders? Those who have weaponized the legal system for political gain against President Trump. Even now they’re resorting to insane legal theories to take him off the ballot,” the ad continues. “They’ve gone after a president of the United States. Do you think they’ll stop there?”

In November, Mehdi Hasan presented an in-depth report on the dangers posed by Davis on MSNBC.

Davis responded to the report and Miller’s Bulwark article with this tasteless post on X that included a homophobic slur. 

😂 Trump’s Dream Team.@mehdirhasan is now on my Lists 2 (indict), 4 (detain), 6 (denaturalize), and 3 (deport). I already have his spot picked out in the DC gulag. But I’ll put him in the women’s cell block, with @Timodc. So these whiny leftists don’t get beat up as often.

— 🇺🇸 Mike Davis 🇺🇸 (@mrddmia) November 20, 2023

And here’s the kicker: Donald Trump Jr. actually said on his online show “Triggered” in November that he’d actually like to see Davis as attorney general, even on an interim basis, “just to send that shot across the bow of the swamp.”

Donald Trump Jr. says he wants Laura Loomer as White House press secretary and Mike Davis as attorney general; Loomer has described herself as “pro-white nationalism,” Davis says that he wants to enact a “reign of terror” targeting Trump’s enemies.

— Media Matters (@mmfa) November 10, 2023

RELATED STORY: Republicans actually published a blueprint for dismantling our democracy. It's called Project 2025

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House Republicans hand Democrats an early 2024 gift: A fact-free impeachment inquiry

House Republicans voted unanimously Wednesday to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. They will live to regret it.

Even under the best and most convincing of circumstances, impeachments are typically unpopular. After Donald Trump sicced a violent mob on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, only a slender majority of Americans supported impeaching him. A Monmouth University poll conducted shortly after Trump's impeachment on Jan. 13 found that 56% of Americans favored his impeachment and Senate conviction, including 92% of Democrats but just 52% of independents, despite the Jan. 6 insurrection unfolding on live television for all of America to see.

Fast forward to this week, with Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado telling CNN Monday, "This is not the way to run a Congress. This is not the way to run a House. We should not be engaging in retribution politics, in retribution impeachments.”

Still, Buck couldn’t bring himself to buck his fellow Republicans on the party-line vote.

Republican Rep. Ken Buck: “This is not the way to run a Congress. This is not the way to run a House. We should not be engaging in retribution politics, in retribution impeachments.”

— Ian Sams (@IanSams46) December 12, 2023

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa admitted Wednesday that Republicans had "no evidence" on which to conclude the president is guilty of any high crimes or misdemeanors.

"I'm going to follow the facts where they are, and the facts haven't taken me to that point where I can say the president is guilty of anything," Grassley told CNN's Manu Raju.

Amazing. Chuck Grassley admits "I have no evidence ... the fact haven't taken me to that point where I can say the president is guilty of anything."

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 13, 2023

This impeachment should be embarrassing to Republicans, and yet the bubble of far-right politics has given them the courage of their fact-free convictions.

Democrats should thank them. After months of polling showing a tight 2024 presidential contest with whiffs of sagging Democratic enthusiasm for Biden's reelection, Republicans have handed Democrats a base-energizer.

Democratic voters will be rightfully outraged that Republicans would launch an inquiry when they have zero supporting evidence despite a year-long investigation into Biden’s supposed misdeeds that turned up squat.

Just wait for the polling. Republicans may be hermetically sealed from reality, but the majority of voters are not—particularly those in some 17 Biden-won swing districts that are currently represented by Republicans.

Need detailed info on the 18 Biden-Republican districts in the House? We've got you covered at this link! (Trump-Democratic districts are on a second tab)

— Daily Kos Elections (@DKElections) October 18, 2023

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What Biden crime are Republicans probing in fake impeachment? Don’t ask this Guy

In 2019, the House impeached Donald Trump for trying to extort an ally into launching a bogus investigation against his top political rival by withholding vital, congressionally approved military aid. In 2021, the House impeached Trump again because he incited a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol and then sat on his hands while the bloody chaos dragged on for hours. In 2023, Republicans are trying to impeach President Joe Biden because in 2018, when he held no public office, his son repaid a $4,200 personal loan the senior Biden had given him to buy a truck.

Actually, that’s not completely accurate. House Republicans are dead set on impeaching Biden because Trump wants them to. Which is really sad when you think about it. Having their free will stolen by Donald Trump must feel like getting carjacked by a 6-year-old with a safety scissors.

And yet it somehow keeps happening to Republicans across the country.

Then again, Republicans aren’t exactly known for their courage in the face of tyranny. In fact, they’re so cowardly, they’re bowing to the wild and woolly Trump mob and finally formalized an impeachment inquiry against Biden for still-undefined reasons—after years of go-nowhere calls for it. 

But, sadly, when asked direct questions about what this impeachment push is actually for, they still can’t quite come up with the answer.

RELATED STORY: House approves impeachment inquiry into President Biden as Republicans rally behind investigation

At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse (who served as a House manager for Trump’s second impeachment) asked GOP Rep. Guy Reschenthaler what specific potential Biden crime Republicans were investigating.

And even in the wake of extensive GOP investigations and an avalanche of innuendo, Reschenthaler still couldn’t answer. But that hardly matters—they’re voting on the inquiry ASAP regardless. 

Neguse: What is the specific constitutional crime that you're investigating? Reschenthaler: We’ll, we're having an inquiry so we can do an investigation in the production of witnesses. Neguse: And what is the crime?

— Acyn (@Acyn) December 12, 2023


NEGUSE: “I think the question I’m asking you is, what is the specific constitutional crime that you are investigating?”

RESCHENTHALER: “Well, we are having an inquiry so we can do an investigation and compel the production of witnesses and documents.”

NEGUSE: “What is the crime you’re investigating?”

RESCHENTHALER: “High crimes and misdemeanors and bribery.”

NEGUSE: “What high crime and misdemeanor are you investigating?”

RESCHENTHALER: “Look, once I get time I will explain what we’re looking at, and I will make the equivalency with the last impeachment.” 

NEGUSE: “Okay, what I’m trying to say, Mr. Reschenthaler, and again I say this because I served as a prosecutor during the last impeachment of former President Trump. There was a specific high crime that he was impeached for, on a bipartisan basis. Thirteen Republicans agreed. [In] 2019, President Trump was impeached. There were two very specific offenses that he was impeached for. And I can’t get an answer, I don’t think members of the Oversight Committee can get an answer—or the Ways and Means Committee or the Judiciary Committee. I don’t think there is an answer.

“And, of course, it’s unsurprising, because according to even Fox News correspondents, House Republicans have been unable to make any kind of connection to a constitutional high crime and misdemeanor in President Biden. I would say this: To make the argument that there is some similarity between—and I don’t know if this is what you're suggesting, I hope it’s not—between the various facts that you’ve focused in on with respect to President Biden and President Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, I just—it’s very clear to me that the American people would reject that argument outright.”

In other words, Republicans’ fake impeachment is all about fishing for documents in search of a crime—even though they haven’t presented a scintilla of evidence to support accusations of wrongdoing. Oh, and it’s also about smearing gobs of mud-like matter on Biden so low-information voters (i.e., Republicans) can feel better about flocking to the polls in 2024 to vote for a confirmed rapist

They’re not even hiding it. They’re saying the loud part out loud.

Republican Rep. Troy Nehls on what he’s hoping to gain from an impeachment inquiry: “All I can say is Donald J. Trump 2024 baby.” Story:

— nikki mccann ramírez (@NikkiMcR) December 13, 2023

In fact, following Neguse’s questioning, Reschenthaler seemed to give away the game while discussing Trump’s previous impeachments.

The Washington Post:

Indeed, there appears to be less evidence to substantiate this impeachment inquiry than there have been for any of its predecessors, including Trump’s two. Even the GOP’s own impeachment hearing in September devolved into its witnesses saying the evidence of impeachable offenses wasn’t there.

At another point, immediately after Neguse’s grilling, Reschenthaler seemed to get at the crux of the matter. He pointed to his opposition to Trump’s impeachments.

“Now we have a situation where the standard of impeachment has been lowered to such a degree that, again, it’s merely at this point a political exercise,” he said.

He quickly added, “Not that this is a political exercise, but the bar has been lowered.”

Uh huh. Not this. Sure. Nice save, Guy.

But don’t simply take House Republicans’ word that this Biden impeachment push has been 100% politically motivated. Here’s GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, briefly forgetting that Trump has long since devoured his mind—which is, unfortunately, where he keeps the bulk of his CornHub passwords and pidgin stories:

Amazing. Chuck Grassley admits "I have no evidence ... the fact haven't taken me to that point where I can say the president is guilty of anything."

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 13, 2023


CNN’S MANU RAJU: “He said his father was not financially involved in any way with his business. Do you accept that?”

GRASSLEY: “I’m going to take the same position I’ve taken since 2019, that all I can say is there’s some indication of maybe some compromise with China particularly, but I have no evidence of it and I’m going to just follow the facts where they are, and the facts haven’t taken me to that point where I can say that the president is guilty of anything.”

Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s that Fox News clip Neguse was talking about. It shows gormless gadfly Peter Doocy throwing up his hands and admitting Republicans still have bupkis.

Peter Doocy: "The House Oversight Committee has been at this for years, and they have so far not been able to provide any concrete evidence that Joe Biden personally profited from his son Hunter's overseas business."

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 8, 2023


DOOCY: “The House Oversight Committee has been at this for years and they have so far not been able to provide any concrete evidence that Joe Biden personally profited from his son Hunter’s overseas business, but they are going to try again with this impeachment inquiry that’s set to start next week.”

Sure, there’s no evidence, but at least it’s an entirely partisan endeavor! We know how much Republicans love those—except when they don’t, of course. Here’s current House Speaker Mike Johnson taking a break from jabbering with Jehovah to weigh in on the outrage inherent in one party holding a sitting president accountable. I should mention that this is from four years ago, when Democrats were getting ready to impeach Trump for the first time—just in case you were wondering why his glasses and deeply held core convictions were different now.

Absolutely amazing. Speaker Mike Johnson four years ago *today* "The Founding Fathers, the founders of this country, warned against single-party impeachments. And they had a very specific reason for warning us against that."

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 13, 2023


JOHNSON: “The Founding Fathers, the founders of this country, warned against single-party impeachments, and they had a very specific reason for warning us against that. They said it would be bitterly divisive, perhaps irreparably divisive for the country, and that’s what’s happened now. This is the first time in the history of this nation, in 243 years, that a president has been treated in this manner, when one party has followed and pursued a predetermined political outcome to get to that end.”

Yes, God forbid one party pursue a predetermined political outcome. That could be the death knell for democracy. And clearly Republicans don’t want to have any part in such an outcome.

Except when they do, of course.

RELATED STORY: House approves impeachment inquiry into President Biden as Republicans rally behind investigation

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

Fox News host did not expect his Biden conspiracy to get blown apart on live TV

At the heart of every single Republican conspiracy about both President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine is a single claim. The claim is that Joe Biden got Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin sacked in order to protect energy company Burisma, where Hunter Biden was on the board.

That was the claim former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani brought back from Ukraine, and the basis on which Donald Trump tried to blackmail Ukraine and earned his first impeachment. Also, because Republicans keep saying things long after they know, we know, and they know we know that they’re lying, this claim is also behind the hearings being led by Rep. Jim Jordan in the House. It’s behind the messages being pushed by Rep. James Comer and Sen. Chuck Grassley. And it’s the basis of an improbable number of stories at Fox News.

The idea that Shokin was fired to protect Burisma has been debunked so many times that de bunk is exhausted, but it has seldom gone down with as much grim satisfaction as it did on Sunday when Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade interviewed former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

amazing - during a Fox News interview w/ Brian Kilmeade, former president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko denounces Victor Shokin, who plays as a leading role in Kilmeade's conspiracy theories, as a "completely crazy person" & says "there's something wrong with him" as Kilmeade melts

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 25, 2023

Kilmeade: Is that why he got fired? Because of the billion dollars and the former vice president, now president?

Poroshenko: First of all, this is a completely crazy person. This is something wrong with him. Second, there is not one single word of truth. And third, I hate the idea to make any comments and to make any intervention in the American election. We have very much enjoyed bipartisan support. Please do not use such person like Shokin to undermine the trust between bipartisan support and Ukraine.

It helps to get the laughter flowing if you know that Kilmeade is a near-constant spouter of this false claim who has been treating Shokin as a fount of wisdom. As for Shokin, in his portion of the recording, he states the Republican claim quite succinctly.

“Poroshenko fired me,” said Shokin, “at the insistence of the then-Vice President Biden because I was investigating Burisma. There were no complaints whatsoever and no problems with how I was performing at my job.”

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Well, that seems like something that might be checked out. We can start with this Financial Times article where officials from a number of nations (not just the U.S.) sought the removal of Shokin for months before Biden ever became involved because Shokin was not investigating potential corruption cases, including Burisma, and was suspected of being corrupt himself. In addition to U.S. and E.U. officials, senior officials from the International Monetary Fund called for reforms because widespread corruption in Ukraine was seen as the country’s biggest obstacle to growth and stability.

And there was one other group really pushing for Shokin’s removal, as CNN reported in 2019. That group was the Senate Ukraine Caucus, where Republican member Sens. Rob Portman, Mark Kirk, and Ron Johnson dispatched a letter urging Poroshenko to “press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General's Office.”

Shokin’s own deputy testified that there was no active investigation into Burisma at the time of Biden’s actions. And not only was all this looked into as part of Trump’s impeachment, a Republican investigation launched in 2020 specifically to find any wrongdoing by Biden ended in an 87-page report that “contained no evidence that the elder Mr. Biden improperly manipulated American policy toward Ukraine or committed any other misdeed.”

The claim that Biden did something wrong in Ukraine wasn’t true, isn’t true, and can’t be made true through repetition. Shokin was fired because he was corrupt, bad at his job, and everyone complained.

As The Washington Post points out, Fox News and Republicans come out of this looking extremely foolish, though no one should expect them to admit it. They are deeply invested in this lie. In 2020, Republicans looked into this idea and realized it was baseless. But then, 2020 was a year when some Republicans still thought they could pull their party away from Trump and chart a course back to a world where they had both policies and a platform. Connections between Republicans and reality have become much more tenuous since then.

They’ll keep promoting the lie, because without it everything that Jordan, Comer, Grassley, and the rest are doing is revealed as pointless political theater in support of a lie. They know that we know that they know they are lying.

It helps that they don’t care.

Kerry talks with Drew Linzer, director of the online polling company Civiqs. Drew tells us what the polls say about voters’ feelings toward President Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and what the results would be if the two men were to, say … run against each other for president in 2024. Oh yeah, Drew polled to find out who thinks Donald Trump is guilty of the crimes he’s been indicted for, and whether or not he should see the inside of a jail cell.

Sen. Chuck Grassley put American lives at risk to spread a document he knew was a lie

 Sen. Chuck Grassley released an FBI FD-1023 form related to the Hunter Biden investigation. These forms are not intended to be public documents and it is highly unusual to release them publicly. These are the forms that the FBI uses to “record raw, unverified reporting from confidential human sources.” They do not represent the results of investigations, and “recording this information does not validate it or establish its credibility.”  

These forms are not classified, but they are kept in confidence for a number of reasons that are mostly connected with protecting sources. The FBI has made it clear to Grassley repeatedly that releasing the form would have a negative impact not just on this case, but on every case that depends on confidential human sources.

Grassley released it anyway because he has placed what he sees as a momentary opportunity to hurt President Joe Biden over the needs of the FBI and the good of the nation. More than that, Grassley is doing this to forward a story that he knows is a lie.

The form, which is dated June 2020, claims to be sourced from a businessman who was introduced to leadership at Burisma energy in Ukraine in “late 2015 or early 2016” to help the company find a U.S. company to purchase. During a meeting with Burisma leadership, the source claims that he was told Hunter Biden was put on the company board to "protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems.” Asked why it isn’t Hunter doing the job of locating a U.S. form to purchase, he’s told that “Hunter is not that smart.” Finally the source is told by Burisma executive Mykola Zlochevsky that the company has to pay $5 million to Joe Biden and another $5 million to Hunter Biden because they are being investigated by Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, and Burisma needed Biden to “deal with Shokin.”

The story then jumps to a phone call in 2016. Or maybe it was 2017. As with the original meeting, the source can’t recall the year, though he recalls the dialogue word for word. This time Zlochevsky complains that Burisma was forced to pay Biden, using a term that the source describes as “Russian-criminal-slang,” and now that Trump has been elected their investment is worthless. However, Shokin has been fired, so there was no investigation and no one would ever know about the money they paid the Bidens.

Jump forward to 2019 when CHS again meets with Burisma executives and Zlochevsky brags to the source about how clever they were in hiding the payments to Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, and how no one will ever find those payments. According to the source, this is the kind of thing Ukrainian businessmen like to brag about in casual conversation.

Finally, it comes down to this bit where one of the Burisma executives tells the source:

"... he has many text messages and 'recordings' that show he was coerced to make such payments … he had a total of "17 recordings" involving the Bidens; two of the recordings included Joe Biden, and the remaining 15 recordings only Included Hunter Biden. … These recordings evidence Zlochevskiy was somehow coerced into paying the Bidens to ensure Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was fired.”

If any of this sounds slightly familiar, it’s because it’s the exact story that Rudy Giuliani told to The New York Times in May 2019. In that story, Hunter Biden was placed on the board of Burisma in 2014 not because he was clearly a well-placed American with years of experience in lobbying, investment banking, and corporate governance who might be essential to an energy company looking to expand internationally, but because his father could get a Ukrainian prosecutor fired.

And Shokin was fired in 2016. The Ukrainian parliament voted him out after Joe Biden made it clear that the United States was very concerned about Shokin and might withhold or delay assistance to Ukraine unless he was removed. That’s a real thing. Biden even bragged about it later, telling a group of foreign policy advisers that he confronted the Ukrainian president and demanded Shokin’s firing.

Except the reason that Shokin was fired was because he was not investigating cases of corruption and was instead either turning a blind eye or an outstretched hand when dealing with Ukrainian oligarchs who were making off with billions. Both the U.S. and the U.K. governments had been pressuring Ukraine about Shokin for over a year before Joe Biden’s visit. In fact, the thing that upset the U.K. government most was that Shokin was refusing to investigate one firm in particular: Burisma.

As the head of a Ukrainian anti-corruption organization told Radio Free Europe, Shokin had dumped the investigation of Burisma when he took office.

"Ironically, Joe Biden asked Shokin to leave because the prosecutor failed [to pursue] the Burisma investigation, not because Shokin was tough and active with this case," Kaleniuk said.

When The New York Times ran Giuliani’s version of the story in 2019, it took Bloomberg News just one week to rip it apart.

… at the time Biden made his ultimatum, the probe into the company—Burisma Holdings, owned by Mykola Zlochevsky—had been long dormant, according to the former official, Vitaliy Kasko.

“There was no pressure from anyone from the U.S. to close cases against Zlochevsky,” Kasko said in an interview last week. “It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.”

From the beginning of this whole affair, and in fact from the moment Giuliani set foot in Ukraine, it’s been obvious that in getting Shokin fired Joe Biden wasn’t protecting Burisma, he was taking action that put the company under renewed scrutiny. And in fact prosecutors did reopen their investigation of Burisma, reviewing multiple instances in which Zlochevsky was suspected of crimes.

All of this—all of it—was thoroughly covered just two years ago, including just how Giuliani generated his claims against Joe Biden and Hunter Biden in the first place.

Giuliani made a personal visit to an outgoing prosecutor, tried to convince him to play ball, and even called Trump directly while in the prosecutor’s office so that Trump could explain how excited he was about the “investigation” into Biden. The prosecutor even went so far as to add some new false claims, asserting that Joe Biden personally took a payment to act as an agent of a Ukrainian company.

That moment when Giuliani was making calls directly to the White House from the office of an outgoing official is the genesis of the idea that Joe Biden took some kind of payment from Burisma. Until that moment, it had come up nowhere. From no one.

Over the following months, Giuliani assembled a group of known criminals and former members of the pro-Russian government who had been ousted with the election of Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He found several willing to play along with his growing story, but they had a price: They wanted Trump to get rid of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was too effective in fighting corruption. Trump gave them exactly what they wanted to get his false evidence against Biden, but even in 2019 the holes in the story were so big that the whole scheme was obviously a … scheme.

Now it’s back again and nothing has changed. The document that the FBI held was clearly authored by someone who was part of Giuliani’s plot, and it was clearly Giuliani himself who pointed out this document to Grassley and others. The document contains exactly the same false, easily disproved claims as the story the Times printed up for Giuliani and was obviously written with the sole purpose of providing some faux documentary evidence for the story Giuliani and Trump were pushing at the time. It’s all part of what Trump was trying to get Zelenskyy to say when he made his impeachment-worthy phone call to the Ukrainian leader.

The content of the FD-1023 form is a lie. What’s more, Grassley knows it is a lie. He knows this has all been investigated and found to be baseless accusations. And he knows that releasing this document causes real, genuine harm.

Protecting this type of information from wider disclosure is crucial to our ability to recruit sources and ensure the safety of the source or others mentioned in the reporting. CHSs are critical to cases across all FBI programs—whether it’s violent crime, drug cartels, or terrorism. It would be difficult to effectively recruit these sources if we can’t assure them of their confidentiality. And without these sources, we would not be able to build the cases that are so important to keeping Americans safe.

Grassley was sent a letter reminding him of exactly this issue and asking him expressly to remind everyone involved to keep in mind the importance of keeping these documents secure. Instead, Grassley did the opposite: He published the FD-1023 in blatant defiance of the FBI’s request.

Why did he do it? He did it for the same reason that Republicans had been seeking release of the document all along, and that was because they knew it would generate headlines like this:

Bidens allegedly 'coerced' Burisma CEO to pay them millions to help get Ukraine prosecutor fired: FBI form

Bidens allegedly 'coerced' Burisma CEO to pay them millions to help get Ukraine prosecutor fired: FBI form

Grassley purposely released a document that he knew was a lie for the purpose of attacking Joe Biden even though he knew it would put Americans in danger and damage the FBI’s ability to investigate actual crimes of all sorts.

To gain a moment of political attention, Grassley is creating an immeasurable risk. How can witnesses come to the FBI to make a confidential statement knowing that their identities and claims can be revealed for political expediency by someone who has no real interest in the truth?

There is a genuine broad streak of corruption in this case, and it runs right through Iowa.

Sign the petition: No more spending taxpayer money on frivolous GOP hearings.

FBI document GOP wants released to tarnish President Biden came from Rudy Giuliani

Republicans are desperately searching for something they can smear President Biden with in advance of the 2024 election and, needless to say, it’s been slow going. Of course, if Donald Trump had been in D.C. politics for the past 50 years—as Biden has—the Library of Congress would currently be listed as a two-star brothel on Yelp. But Biden’s opponents have been busy turning over every rock they can find outside of Louie Gohmert’s head, and so far they’ve found bupkis.

In the wake of reports that Biden’s sketchy sexual assault accuser Tara Reade has mysteriously turned up in OG Trump fan Vladimir Putin’s Russia, it’s now been revealed that the “bombshell” document supposedly detailing a Biden pay-for-play scheme originated with—oh, sweet Fiddle-Pants McGee—none other than Rudy Giuliani.

Yeah, given ol’ Rudes’ preternatural talent for barmy bullshittery, we can probably put this “scandal” to bed, and hope against hope that no one tries to spank it with a Forbes magazine.

RELATED STORY: Tara Reade's long and 'bumpy' road to Moscow isn't a surprise

The Daily Beast:

Facing looming contempt of Congress proceedings, FBI Director Christopher Wray has offered to show House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) a document—behind closed doors—that Comer believes exposes nefarious dealings by Joe Biden during his days as vice president. The document is reportedly from a collection that Rudy Giuliani gave to the Department of Justice in 2020, according to CNN reporter Zachary Cohen, and contains unverified information from confidential sources. Since Republicans seized power in the House, Comer has led a crusade to expose what he alleges to be misconduct by President Biden and his family—but has so far come up empty. After threatening Wray with contempt of Congress, Comer now says that Wray’s offer to show him the document in the FBI headquarters won’t suffice. “If the FBI fails to hand over the FD-1023 form as required by the subpoena, the House Oversight Committee will begin contempt of Congress proceedings,” Comer said, according to CNN.

More: The document at center of this dispute has origins in a tranche of docs that Rudy Giuliani provided to DOJ in 2020, sources tell @evanperez. The allegations, many originating from sources Ukraine, included 1 claiming evidence of corruption involving Biden when he was VP.

— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) May 31, 2023

The claims were dubious enough that then-AG Barr directed that they be reviewed by a US attorney in Pittsburgh, in part because Barr was concerned that Giuliani’s document tranche could taint the ongoing Hunter Biden investigation overseen by the Delaware US attorney.

— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) May 31, 2023

Former Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady oversaw the FBI investigation of the Giuliani claims. The document being demanded by Comer is among the products of that probe. While the document outlines claims from the informant, it doesn’t provide proof they are true, per sources.

— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) May 31, 2023

For the nontweeters:

CNN REPORTER ZACHARY COHEN: More: The document at center of this dispute has origins in a tranche of docs that Rudy Giuliani provided to DOJ in 2020, sources tell @evanperez.

The allegations, many originating from sources Ukraine, included 1 claiming evidence of corruption involving Biden when he was VP.

The claims were dubious enough that then-AG Barr directed that they be reviewed by a US attorney in Pittsburgh, in part because Barr was concerned that Giuliani’s document tranche could taint the ongoing Hunter Biden investigation overseen by the Delaware US attorney.

Former Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady oversaw the FBI investigation of the Giuliani claims. The document being demanded by Comer is among the products of that probe. While the document outlines claims from the informant, it doesn’t provide proof they are true, per sources.

Wait, Rudy’s sources in Ukraine are certain they’ve found evidence of Biden corruption? Do tell! 

Of course, there are good reasons to be skeptical of not only the document’s source, but of Republicans’ intentions as well. For one thing, it would be wildly inappropriate to make the document public, as doing so could endanger confidential sources. And for another, its release would prove exactly nothing. 

The Washington Post:

Congressional Republicans say they know of a whistleblower within the Justice Department who alleges that President Biden received millions of dollars from a foreigner in exchange for a policy decision.

That’s all we know; Republicans are in an escalating battle with the FBI to get hold of the informant tip that they say will shed light.

The evidence: The document Republicans are requesting is a form the FBI uses to record unverified tips. The FBI stressed that in its response to Republicans: “The FBI regularly receives information from sources with significant potential biases, motivations, and knowledge, including drug traffickers, members of organized crime, or even terrorists. … Recording the information does not validate the information, establish its credibility, or weigh it against other information known or developed by the FBI.”

So why is the GOP so keen on getting its grubby hands on a document that reportedly came from Ratfucker Rudy and presumably contains wild, unverified accusations? Come on, you know why. For the same reason Donald Trump wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to simply announce an investigation into Joe Biden that could have been used to smear him in the 2020 election. After all, a real investigation would have turned up nothing. An announced, ongoing investigation, on the other hand, would have been a golden political cudgel that Trump could have wielded with abandon throughout the presidential campaign.

They want an unverified (i.e., likely bullshit) “official” accusation against Biden to hang around the president’s neck like a moldering albatross. It would be like giving the MAGA media a coloring book they could fill in with the most lurid hues imaginable.

So that’s why you get comedy gold like the following:

Chuck Grassley on Fox News: "We are not interested in whether the allegations against Vice President Biden are accurate or not."

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 1, 2023

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY: “We aren’t interested in whether or not the accusations against Vice President Biden are accurate or not. We’re responsible for making sure the FBI does its job, and that’s what we want to know.”

FOX NEWS’ BILL HEMMER: “Okay, Senator, let me stop you there. You just said you read the document, is that right?


HEMMER: “And what did it say?”

GRASSLEY: “Well, I’m not going to characterize it.”

He’s not going to characterize a document that damns the leader of the opposition party? Wow, that information must really be explosive.

Oh, but it gets better.

FOX: How damning is this document for Biden? GRASSLEY: I, I dont know that FOX: But you've read it GRASSLEY: Let's put it this way, there are accusations in it

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 1, 2023

HEMMER: “Senator, how damning is this document to the sitting U.S. president?”

GRASSLEY: “Well, it’s … I, I don’t know that.”

HEMMER: “But you’ve read it.”

GRASSLEY: “I read it. Let’s put it this way, there’s accusations in it, but it’s not for me to make a judgment about whether these accusations are accurate or not. It’s my job to make sure the FBI is doing their job, and that’s what this is all about as far as I’m concerned. The public’s business ought to be public.”

Hoo-boy! That’s convincing, huh? First of all, it’s clearly not the FBI’s job to burn sources in order to smear a sitting president with unverified allegations brought to the agency by his chief political opponent’s goofball lawyer. Secondly, if Grassley’s already read the document and can’t decide if there’s any “there” there, why does he think the American public would be any more discerning?

The truth is they want it released because they need to create at least a whiff of scandal to mask the refulgent stink lines pouring 24/7 off Donald John Trump’s purpling political corpse.

That’s clearly what Comer and Grassley’s performative—and very public—war with the FBI is all about, too. In fact, both Comer and Grassley already know what’s in the document, but instead of simply investigating the allegation, they’re determined to raise as much of a stink as possible.

The Washington Post:

The FBI did respond to the request for the document, saying that it opposed its release in part because it risked exposing its sourcing (a standard response) and in part because the allegation is just that: an allegation. The FBI isn’t new at this; it certainly understands why Grassley and (particularly) Comer are eager to have it released. An allegation encoded on an FBI form has a perceived weight that an allegation presented in a congressional press release doesn’t, even if that perception is unwarranted.


The logical implication from Grassley and Comer having seen the document is that their whistleblower is someone who had access to it; to wit, a current or former employee of the FBI or the government. (CNN reported on Wednesday that the document at issue may have been part of a number of files Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani gave the Justice Department in 2020.) Whoever the source was, they had a copy of the reporting document for years without more details about it being uncovered. Never mind that the allegation about Biden emerged in June of the year Donald Trump was seeking reelection, seemingly without Barr’s Justice Department developing a criminal case around it.

But Comer and Grassley have been aware of its contents for a month, and all they appear to have done is pester the FBI about it. Remember, Comer held a news conference in early May during which he alleged that foreign money had at times moved between members of Biden’s family. That was the product of months of investigations based on financial documents the Oversight Committee had retained.

In other words, Comer and Grassley are out on a very wobbly limb when it comes to these accusations. But hey, better luck next time, guys. Maybe Chuck can pin the dead pidgin in front of his house on Biden next. It would make at least as much sense as this. 

RELATED STORY: Whistleblower's complaints started while Trump was in office

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.   

Morning Digest: Oregon Republicans threatens suit to overturn election results because of attack ad

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Cara Zelaya, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar. Click here to subscribe.

Leading Off

OR-06: Here's something you don't see often—or ever: Republican Mike Erickson released an internal poll showing him leading his Democratic opponent, Andrea Salinas, the very same day that he filed a lawsuit demanding Salinas take down an attack ad by citing a law that he recently threatened to use to overturn the election should he lose.

To pick apart this strange turn of events, we'll start with Erickson's survey from Cygnal, which shows him beating Salinas 44-39 in Oregon's brand new 6th District, a seat Joe Biden would have taken 55-42. The last polls we saw out of this district, which is based in the Salem area and Portland's southwestern suburbs, were both from mid-August: The GOP firm Clout Research gave Erickson an even larger 43-34 advantage, while a GBAO internal for Salinas had her up 48-45.

Despite these optimistic numbers for Republicans, however, both the Congressional Leadership Fund and the NRCC have so far avoided spending here, even though their opponents at the DCCC and House Majority PAC have together dropped over $1.4 million. Given the district's lean, it's exceedingly unlikely that the GOP's two biggest House groups have steered clear of this race because they feel supremely confident, especially since a conservative organization called Take Back Oregon PAC just launched a $300,000 TV buy this week.

Salinas' side has run several commercials focusing both on allegations that Erickson paid for a girlfriend to have an abortion in 2000—years before Herschel Walker did the same—as well as stories around his 2016 arrest. The latter is the focus of his new lawsuit and a cease and desist notice he recently sent to Salinas. In that letter, Erickson threatened to invoke a state law that the Oregon Capitol Chronicle writes "prohibits knowingly making false statements about a candidate, political committee or ballot measure."

Reporter Julia Shumway explains, "If a judge determines that a candidate made a false statement that cost their opponent an election, the law states that the candidate will be removed as a nominee or elected official." But she adds, "Over several decades, Oregon courts have interpreted that law to exclude opinions or statements that could reasonably be interpreted as true." It's also not clear whether this law has ever been successfully employed to reverse the results of an election, and Erickson's attorney, Jill Gibson, cited no such examples in her letter.

In his newly filed lawsuit, Erickson didn't actually present any demands regarding overturning the upcoming election but instead asked a state court to order Salinas to stop airing the ads in question and "to retract the false statements by airing correction advertisements with the same frequency and broadcast location as the false advertisements." He is also seeking $800,000 in monetary damages, which he claims would cover the cost of "commercials to correct the false statements."

The complaint insists that Salinas' ads are "false" because Erickson "has never been charged with illegal possession of drug." To that end, Gibson's letter cited a recent story from The Oregonian in which Hood River County District Attorney Carrie Rasmussen said that the court documents that those allegations came from were incorrect.

Instead, Erickson's attorney from that case, Tara Lawrence, insisted that she'd made a "mistake" by filing a plea agreement stating that the Rasmussen's office had "agreed to dismiss felony possession of controlled substance upon tender of guilty plea." An attorney for Salinas, however, cited that very statement in support of the ad's truthfulness in a letter and argued that "a charge is a charge, whether or not the DA files it."

Before Erickson filed his lawsuit, Salinas' campaign shrugged off his threats, saying in a statement, "Mike Erickson's threats to overturn the election if he doesn't win should raise major concerns for Oregonians who cherish democracy."

The Downballot

After an eruption of even more scandals among Republican Senate candidates, FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich returns to The Downballot this week to discuss the effect these sorts of scandals can have on competitive races; whether Democrats stand a chance to keep the House; and the different ways pollsters create likely voter models.

Co-host David Beard and guest host Joe Sudbay also discuss Dr. Oz, puppy killer; the GOP's hypocrisy regarding Herschel Walker's ever-growing list of scandals; Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s desperate attempts to avoid testifying in an abortion case; and Brazil's presidential runoff, where former President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva remains the favorite despite far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro's better-than-expected first-round showing.

Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also find a transcript for this week's episode right here.

3Q Fundraising

  • CO-Sen: Joe O'Dea (R): $2 million raised, additional $1 million self-funded
  • GA-Sen: Herschel Walker (R): $12 million raised, $7 million cash-on-hand
  • OH-Sen: Tim Ryan (D): $17.2 million raised
  • PA-Sen: John Fetterman (D): $22 million raised
  • WI-Sen: Mandela Barnes (D): $20 million raised
  • GA-Gov: Brian Kemp (R-inc): $29 million raised, $15.4 million cash-on-hand
  • OH-Gov: Mike DeWine (R-inc): $1.5 million raised (in September), $12.5 cash-on-hand; Nan Whaley (D): $1.2 million raised (in September), $3.9 million cash-on-hand
  • CA-22: Rudy Salas (D): $1.2 million raised
  • CO-08: Yadira Caraveo (D): $1.5 million raised, $550,000 cash-on-hand
  • FL-15: Alan Cohn (D): $400,000 raised
  • IA-02: Ashley Hinson (R-inc): $1.25 million raised, $1.7 million cash-on-hand
  • IL-17: Eric Sorensen (D): $1.5 million raised
  • MT-01: Monica Tranel (D): $1.1 million raised
  • NH-02: Annie Kuster (D-inc): $1 million raised, $2.6 million cash-on-hand
  • NM-02: Gabe Vasquez (D): $1.55 million raised
  • NY-18: Pat Ryan (D-inc): $2.25 million raised, $600,000 cash-on-hand; Colin Schmitt (R): $500,000 raised, $500,000 cash-on-hand
  • PA-17: Chris Deluzio (D): $1.4 million raised
  • VA-02: Jen Kiggans (R): $1 million raised
  • VA-07: Abigail Spanberger (D-inc): $2.2 million raised


CO-Sen: Ron Hanks, a far-right state representative who lost the June Republican primary to Joe O'Dea 54-46, announced this week that he was endorsing Libertarian Brian Peotter as "the only conservative on the ballot." Hanks made it clear exactly what he thought of his former intra-party rival in his statement, declaring, "There is only a fake Republican, a pay-to-play opportunist with no conservative values or agenda. He merits no support, and he's not likely to get much." Hanks added, "Let the COGOP know we will have a party with conservative principles, not squishy candidates with a power fetish."

GA-Sen: While Republican Herschel Walker has spent days insisting that he did he not pay for his then-girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009 and that he also doesn't know who his accuser could be, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday night that the woman in question had a child with Walker a few years after her abortion. The woman, whose identity the publication has withheld, said of Walker's denials, "Sure, I was stunned, but I guess it also doesn't shock me, that maybe there are just so many of us that he truly doesn't remember." She continued, "But then again, if he really forgot about it, that says something, too."

The next day, Walker held a press conference where he again denied that he even knew who this woman was. However, the Daily Beast further reported that back in June, when the site first broke the news that Walker was father to three previously undisclosed children, the candidate himself had confirmed she was the mother of one of them.

Just before these latest developments, Walker released an ad against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock that played footage of a Democratic commercial focused on reports that the Republican had threatened to kill his ex-wife. "As everyone knows, I had a real battle with mental health—even wrote a book about it," Walker declared. CNN's Andrew Kaczynski quickly noted that this spot, which was aired "presumably in response to Daily Beast story," mentioned Walker's 2008 memoir, which was published the year before the candidate allegedly paid for the abortion.

NC-Sen: NBC reports that Senate Majority PAC has booked an additional $4 million to help Democrat Cheri Beasley, a move that will bring its total spending here to $10.5 million. The reservation comes at a time when Republican outside groups have been deploying considerably more money here than Democrats: While Politico reported Tuesday that Beasley has outspent Republican Ted Budd by $9 million in advertising, data from OpenSecrets shows that Budd's super PAC allies have outpaced Beasley’s supporters $34.9 million to $7.8 million.

NE-Sen: Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse announced on Thursday that he would resign to become president of the University of Florida, which has named the Republican as the sole finalist for the post. Multiple media outlets report that Sasse's departure will occur before the end of the year, which would allow Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who will leave office in early 2023, to appoint a successor. The Nebraska Examiner says that a special election would take place for the final two years of Sasse's term in 2024, when fellow GOP Sen. Deb Fischer will also be up.

Sasse held the post of president of Midland University in Nebraska when he entered the 2014 primary to succeed Sen. Mike Johanns, a fellow Republican who unexpectedly decided to retire after one term. Sasse had the backing of the deep-pocketed Club for Growth but still looked like the underdog for most of his campaign against former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, a retired Navy pilot who was detained by China in 2001 after his plane collided with a Chinese fighter.

Osborn's bid, however, began to fall apart weeks before the primary after the media reported that he'd distributed a bogus Navy memo to defend his decision to land in China. Sasse soon pulled ahead in the polls, while his allies took action late in the campaign to stop a third contender, wealthy banking executive Sid Dinsdale, from sneaking through. Ultimately, Sasse beat Dinsdale by a convincing 49-22 margin, and he easily won the general election in this red state.

The new senator became a media favorite in D.C., especially after he emerged as a loud Donald Trump critic during the 2016 campaign, saying at one point that "if the Republican Party becomes the party of David Duke, Donald Trump, I'm out." Sasse, though, was anything but out after Trump took the White House, and while he still vocally trashed him at times, the senator nevertheless loyally voted the administration's way.

There was talk in 2020 that Sasse could be on the receiving end of a Trump-inspired primary challenge, but no one serious emerged even before Trump himself endorsed the incumbent. Sasse had no trouble winning a second term, though he went on to become one of seven Senate Republicans to vote to convict Trump the next year following his second impeachment. The Nebraskan, though, still voted the party line on all other major issues.

UT-Sen: Put Utah First, a group funded by Democratic megadonor Reid Hoffman, has dropped another $900,000 to aid conservative independent Evan McMullin, which takes its total investment here to $2.65 million.


  • AZ-Sen: SSRS for CNN: Mark Kelly (D-inc): 51, Blake Masters (R): 45
  • IA-Sen: Cygnal (R) for Iowans for Tax Relief: Chuck Grassley (R-inc): 54, Mike Franken (D): 40 (July: 52-43 Grassley)
  • NV-Sen: SSRS for CNN: Adam Laxalt (R): 48, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-inc): 46


OR-Gov: Republican Christine Drazan has debuted a commercial accusing Democrat Tina Kotek of blocking an investigation into sexual abuse allegations, but The Oregonian's Jamie Goldberg writes, "Even by the traditionally loosened standards for political ads, that assertion is untrue, according to independent investigations and news reports."

Drazan's commercial declares that as speaker of the state House, Kotek "blocked an investigation into repeated sexual abuse because she was worried about how it would make her look." The complaints in question were about Republican Jeff Kruse—a member of the state Senate, not the state House. Unsurpirsingly, the speaker noted after the allegations became public that she had no influence over members of the upper chamber and said she did not have knowledge of the complaints against Kruse.

Goldberg writes, "No subsequent news reporting has showed Kotek covered up sexual abuse, although she did provide privacy to some victims who spoke up after 2018 to allege harassment by House members." The speaker was one of several lawmakers who initially refused to comply when the state Labor Bureau issued subpoenas after legislative attorneys argued the requests documents could reveal the identity of Kruse's accusers, but Goldberg says that a court order ultimately led Kotek and others to comply.


  • AZ-Gov: SSRS for CNN: Katie Hobbs (D): 49, Kari Lake (R): 46
  • IA-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Iowans for Tax Relief: Kim Reynolds (R-inc): 59, Deidre DeJear (D): 38 (July: 56-41 Reynolds)
  • MN-Gov: SurveyUSA for KSTP: Tim Walz (D-inc): 50, Scott Jensen (R): 40 (Sept.: 51-33 Walz)
  • NV-Gov: SSRS for CNN: Joe Lombardo (R): 48, Steve Sisolak (D-inc): 46


FL-13: Progress Pinellas has dropped another $2.2 million to support Democrat Eric Lynn, which takes its total investment here to $6.7 million. The Tampa Bay Times reported in April that the group is funded by hedge fund manager Justin Ishbia, a Lynn cousin who usually contributes to Republicans.

MI-07: The Congressional Leadership Fund is running a new ad attacking Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin over recent reports that she’s been leasing a condo from a donor named Jerry Hollister, who serves as director of government relations for a medical manufacturing company called Niowave. CLF cites a Detroit News story noting that Slotkin had signed a 2020 letter supporting a Department of Energy program that awarded a total of $28 million to Niowave in 2019 and 2021, which the narrator suggests is "shady."

Slotkin's campaign responded to the initial stories by noting that she never mentioned Niowave in that missive, and that the Republican she defeated in 2018, Rep. Mike Bishop, had previously signed a similar letter. Her team declared the congresswoman had "never done anything in Congress that inappropriately benefits his company" and that she was "paying market rate rent to a landlord, just like thousands of mid-Michiganders."

MN-02: The Minnesota Reformer's Deena Winter reported Wednesday that, while Republican Tyler Kistner spent his unsuccessful 2020 campaign suggesting that he'd been in combat, Marine records show that was never the case. Winter notes that Kistner, who is again the GOP nominee, would have received a combat action ribbon had he seen battle, which he's acknowledged he doesn't have.

Two years ago, Kistner was facing off against several fellow Republicans, including Air Force veteran Erika Cashin, ahead of the GOP party convention, where Minnesota nominations are often decided. Kistner said at the time he couldn't turn over documents about his service, but he declared in the lead up to the gathering that he'd put the enemy "six feet under" and had "been on the wrong end of a loaded weapon." The candidate also referenced the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said, "I've been in such conflicts."

Cashin said in response at the time, "Tyler Kistner has said he is 'the most decorated military member in this race,' and has made multiple statements needing clarification." She also challenged him to release his records, arguing, "Tyler can put these questions to rest by simply releasing his DD 214 and proving what he has said is true." Kistner, though, won the party endorsement without publicizing those documents, and Cashin and his other foes dropped out afterwards rather than go on to the primary. Kistner ultimately lost the general election to Democratic Rep. Angie Craig 48-46.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is backing Kistner's second bid to unseat Craig, had been airing an ad saying he'd been in "four combat deployments." The progressive group VoteVets, though, asked stations to take down these spots because Kistner had actually served in Japan and Korea, which are not combat zones. CLF, for its part, claims it distributed an "incorrect version of the ad and fixed it ourselves on the same day."

A Kistner consultant named Billy Grant insisted his client had never lied during the 2020 race. Grant told Winter that the "six feet under" line referred to an operation where a "partner force effectively killed more than eight violent extremist organizations in the North African region," where Kistner helped coordinate the evacuation of seven injured soldiers. Grant also argues that Kistner had been telling the truth about being on the "wrong end of a loaded weapon" because he'd gotten into an argument with an allied commander who had pulled a gun on him before the matter was resolved.

NY-11, NY-19: Siena College is out with a pair of surveys for Spectrum News giving each party the lead in a New York House contest.

Over in the 11th District, which includes all of Staten Island and a portion of Brooklyn, freshman Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis enjoys a 49-43 edge in her rematch against Democrat Max Rose. The sample also finds Republican Lee Zeldin with a small 46-42 advantage against Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in a constituency Trump would have taken 53-46.

In the Hudson Valley-based 19th, meanwhile, Siena has Democrat Josh Riley beating Republican Marc Molinaro 46-41. The school also finds Zeldin ahead 46-45 in this swingy turf, which would have backed Biden 51-47.

Attorneys General & Secretaries of State

AZ-SoS, NV-SoS: SSRS, polling for CNN, finds election deniers with small leads in a pair of secretary of state races taking place in crucial swing states. Mark Finchem posts a 49-45 edge over Democrat Adrian Fontes in Arizona, while fellow Republican Jim Marchant enjoys a similar 46-43 edge against Cisco Aguilar in Nevada. Last week, the progressive group End Citizens United released internals from GSG showing Fontes ahead 46-44. Fontes is also getting some new outside support, as CNN reports that the Democratic organization iVote will spend $5 million to aid him.

IA-AG: The Republican firm Cygnal's new survey for the conservative Iowans for Tax Relief shows Republican Brenna Bird outpacing longtime Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller 46-43. Back in July, Cygnal found Miller, who is seeking a historic 11th term, ahead by a narrow 45-44 margin.

IN-SoS: recently published a story in which two women charged that Diego Morales, who is the Republican nominee for secretary of state, sexually harassed and groped them. One said the incident took place in 2007, while the other said her encounter with Morales took place a few years later. Morales soon put out a statement saying, "The claims being made against me are false and I unequivocally deny all of them." He faces Democrat Destiny Wells in November.

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Leading Off

NV-SoS: Both parties will be fighting hard to win the race to succeed termed-out Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who was the only Nevada Republican to prevail statewide during the 2018 Democratic wave, and with the close of candidate filing on Friday, we now know who all the contenders are. However, while former state Athletic Commission member Cisco Aguilar faces no opposition in the June 14 Democratic primary, Republicans have a seven-way contest that includes a well-connected election denier.

That conspiracy theorist is former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, who challenged Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford last cycle in the 4th District and lost by a 51-46 margin. Marchant, though, responded to that incontrovertible defeat by baselessly claiming he was the "victim of election fraud" and unsuccessfully suing to overturn the results. The ex-lawmaker, who has repeatedly addressed QAnon gatherings, has also said that he would not have certified Joe Biden's victory in the state had he been secretary of state at the time. And as for the endless string of courtroom losses Trump allies were dealt when they sought to undo the 2020 election, Marchant has an explanation for that, too: "A lot of judges were bought off too—they are part of this cabal."

Marchant continued to embrace the far-right last week by letting loose an antisemitic rant against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. "We need to support the people in Ukraine that are not the Biden, the Clintons, the cabal," said Marchant, continuing, "They have patriots like us … that have been oppressed by the cabal, the central bankers for centuries. And that's who we need to support people that were oppressed by the Soros cabal." Yet Marchant is anything but a pariah in today's GOP, as he has the backing of former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is the frontrunner to take on Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

Republicans have several other contenders, with the most formidable looking like Reno-area developer Jesse Haw. The Nevada Independent reported in January that Haw, who was appointed to fill a vacant state Senate seat for a few months in 2016, was "expected to bring at least half a million of dollars in campaign cash in the bank." The GOP field also includes Sparks City Councilman Kristopher Dahir, former TV anchor Gerard Ramalh, and former District Court Judge Richard Scotti.

Further below we'll be taking a look at Nevada's other competitive races now that filing has closed. Candidates running statewide or in constituencies containing multiple counties were required to file with the secretary of state, while candidates running for single-county seats, such as the 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts in Clark County, had to instead file with their local election officials.


OH Redistricting: A group of Ohio voters, with the support of Eric Holder's National Democratic Redistricting Committee, filed a new lawsuit on Monday challenging the replacement congressional map that Republicans passed earlier this month. The suit comes after the state Supreme Court ruled on Friday that it could not entertain plaintiffs' objections to the map in a pair of pending cases because it had issued a "final judgment" when it invalidated the GOP's original district lines in January.

In its decision, however, the court noted that plaintiffs were free to bring a new suit targeting the remedial map, which remains heavily gerrymandered in favor of the GOP. Meanwhile, the ACLU of Ohio, which served as counsel in the second case, said that it is "considering next steps."


IA-Sen: Candidate filing closed Friday for Iowa's June 7 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders here. The Hawkeye State has an unusual law that requires party conventions to select nominees in races where no candidate receives over 35% of the vote in the primary, but that provision is unlikely to come into play this year in any of the contests we'll be watching.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is one of the two longest-serving members of Congress following the death of Alaska Rep. Don Young (Grassley is tied with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is retiring), is seeking an eighth term in a state that swung hard to the right during the Trump era. The incumbent's only primary foe is state Sen. Jim Carlin, a pro-Trump die-hard who has baselessly claimed the 2020 election was stolen and spouted antisemitic conspiracy theories blaming wealthy Jews like Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros for the outcome. Trump himself, though, is supporting Grassley over Carlin, who barely raised any money in 2021.

The frontrunner on the Democratic side looks like former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who lost a tight battle for a second term last cycle in northeast Iowa. Also in the running are retired Vice Admiral Mike Franken, who lost the 2020 primary for the state's other Senate seat, and Minden City Councilman Glenn Hurst.

MO-Sen: Former Gov. Eric Greitens' ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, accused him of physically abusing both her and their children in 2018, as well as threatening to kill himself, in a court affidavit released Monday in the couple's ongoing child custody dispute. The former governor, who is competing in the August Republican primary for Missouri's open Senate seat, responded by calling the allegations "completely fabricated." His campaign manager also characterized the account as "clearly a politically-motivated attack against him."

In her filing, Sheena Greitens attested, "Prior to our divorce, during an argument in late April 2018, Eric knocked me down and confiscated my cell phone, wallet and keys so that I was unable to call for help or extricate myself and our children from our home." When her mother confronted the then-governor, Greitens continued, her husband said he'd sought "to prevent me from doing anything that might damage his political career."

The alleged incident occurred the month before Eric Greitens resigned as governor while under indictment for purportedly sexually assaulting a woman he was having an affair with and blackmailing her into silence, as well as unrelated charges of computer tampering involving his charity. The tampering charge was dropped in exchange for Greitens’ resignation, while Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker later abandoned the assault and blackmail case saying that, while she believed Greitens' accuser, she did not think she could prove the charges.

Sheena Greitens further said in her affidavit that, during "the spring and early summer of 2018," her husband had threatened to kill himself "unless I provided specific public political support." She continues that "multiple people other than myself were worried enough to intervene to limit Eric's access to firearms on at least three separate occasions, in February, April, and May 2018."

She also added that in June of 2018, the month following his resignation, "I became afraid for my safety and that of our children at our home, which was fairly isolated, due to Eric's unstable and coercive behavior. This behavior included physical violence toward our children, such as cuffing our then three-year-old son across the face at the dinner table in front of me and yanking him around by the hair."

Eric Greitens is currently competing against several other Republicans in the August primary. Donald Trump last week said, in the words of the Washington Examiner, that "Greitens is still in the running for his seal of approval."

NV-Sen: Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto will be a top GOP target in a state that both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden narrowly won, and eight Republicans have filed to go up against her.

The undisputed frontrunner is former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who lost the 2018 gubernatorial race 49-45 against Democrat Steve Sisolak and now touts endorsements from Donald Trump and the Club for Growth for his latest bid. Laxalt so far has shown no interest in tacking to the center, and he's repeatedly accused Democrats and the media of exaggerating the Jan. 6 attack, saying in September, "What the media and their left wing allies have done to weaponize this against Republicans and Trump voters is reprehensible."

However, Laxalt still faces a surprisingly well-funded intra-party challenge from Army veteran Sam Brown, though it remains to be seen whether Brown will be able to put up a serious fight. None of the other six Republicans have attracted much attention.

PA-Sen: Self-funding attorney George Bochetto's new commercial for the May Republican primary is entirely devoted to attacking TV personality Mehmet Oz for his "pro-abortion views." Bochetto, who earned all of 1% in a recent Fox News survey, doesn't even appear at all except to provide the legally required "I approve this message" disclaimer at the very end.

WI-Sen: In her second commercial ahead of the August Democratic primary, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski bemoans how prescription drug costs keep rising and declares that it's "[b]ecause Republicans like [Sen.] Ron Johnson—and let's be honest, too many Democrats—don't have the guts to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies. I'm Sarah Godlewski and I will."


IA-Gov: Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds' sole Democratic foe is Deidre DeJear, who lost the 2018 general election for secretary of state 53-45 against incumbent Paul Pate. DeJear would be the first Black person elected statewide, but a recent poll from Selzer & Company gave Reynolds a 51-43 advantage.

NV-Gov: Steve Sisolak's 2018 win made him the Silver State's first Democratic governor in 20 years, and 16 different Republicans are campaigning to unseat him this year. Most of the field has little money or name recognition, but the Republican side does include a few familiar names.

One prominent contender is former Sen. Dean Heller, who lost re-election to Democrats Jacky Rosen during the 2018 blue wave. Heller, however, has struggled to raise money for his gubernatorial bid. There's also Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who is the top lawman in a county that's home to about three-quarters of Nevada's residents and was the field's best fundraiser in 2021.

Another notable candidate is North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, a longtime conservative Democrat who switched parties just before he launched his new bid. Other contenders to watch are venture capitalist Guy Nohra and attorney Joey Gilbert, who has bragged that he was "definitely on the Capitol steps" on Jan. 6. The only recent primary poll we've seen was an early March survey from the Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling on behalf of the DGA that gave Lombardo the lead with 26%, while Heller and Lee tied for second with 13% each.

NY-Gov: Empire Results, a dark money group run by a longtime consultant to Rep. Tom Suozzi, is running a new commercial for the June Democratic primary that once again amplifies the congressman's attacks against Gov. Kathy Hochul. This time it faults the incumbent for using "state aircraft to travel to fundraisers."

PA-Gov: Pennsylvania Works, which is funded by a DGA affiliate, recently began airing ads touting Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the size of the buy is $1 million.


FL-07: Democratic state Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil has announced that she'll run for the state Senate rather than for the open 7th Congressional District.

FL-22: Attorney Chad Klitzman, state Rep. David Silvers, and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis have each announced that they won't compete in the August Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ted Deutch. The only notable contender remains Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, who earned Silvers' support.

IA-01: Freshman Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican who won the old 2nd District by all of six votes last cycle, faces Democratic state Rep. Christina Bohannan in a southwestern Iowa seat that Trump would have carried 50-48. Bohannan has no opposition in the primary, while Miller-Meeks should have no trouble getting past her one intra-party opponent.

IA-02: Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson, who unseated Democratic incumbent Abby Finkenauer last cycle in a close race for the old 1st District, now faces Democratic state Sen. Liz Mathis in a northeast Iowa seat that Trump would have taken 51-47. Neither Hinson nor Mathis, who were once coworkers at the TV station KCRG (Hinson was a morning news anchor while Mathis hosted the evening news program) have any primary opposition.

IA-03: Three Republicans are competing to take on Rep. Cindy Axne, who emerged from the 2020 elections as Iowa's only Democratic representative, in a district based in Des Moines and southwestern Iowa that Trump would have carried by a tiny 49.2-48.9 edge. The only elected official in the primary is state Sen. Zach Nunn, who is going up against businesswoman Nicole Hasso and Gary Leffler; Leffler, who took part in the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, didn't report any fundraising during his first quarter in the race.

IL-01: While former 3rd District Rep. Dan Lipinski thankfully will not be on the ballot this year, he's endorsing pastor Chris Butler, who shares his anti-abortion views, in the June Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Bobby Rush. Lipinski represented about 10% of the new 1st until he left Congress early last year following his 2020 primary loss to Marie Newman.

NV-01: Democratic Rep. Dina Titus is defending a seat in the eastern Las Vegas area where her party, in order to make the 3rd and 4th Districts bluer, cut Biden's margin of victory from 61-36 to 53-45, and eight Republicans are now running against her. The most prominent name belongs to former 4th District Rep. Cresent Hardy, who launched a surprise bid just before filing closed on Friday; only 4% of the new 1st's residents live in the old 4th, but, because both seats are located in the Las Vegas media market, he should be a familiar presence here.

Hardy was a state assemblyman in 2014 when he waged what appeared to be a longshot campaign against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in a seat that Barack Obama had carried 54-44. However, the GOP wave hit Nevada hard, and with a little-known Democrat leading the statewide ticket against popular Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Team Blue's turnout was a disaster. Both parties began spending serious amounts of money in the final weeks of the race, but it was still a bit of a surprise when Hardy won 49-46.

Hardy was immediately a top Democratic target in 2016, and state Sen. Ruben Kihuen ended up unseating him 49-45 as Hillary Clinton was taking the 4th 50-45. Kihuen, though, didn't seek re-election after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, and both Hardy and Horsford ended up campaigning for the unexpectedly open seat. Both parties spent huge amounts of money for their rematch, but this time, a favorable political climate helped Horsford prevail 52-44.

Both Titus and Hardy have primaries ahead of them before they can fully focus on one another. Titus' only intra-party foe is progressive activist Amy Vilela, who also ran in the 4th in 2018 and took third place in the primary with 9%. The GOP field includes conservative activist David Brog, who previously ran a group funded by the late casino magnate Sheldon Adelson; Army veteran Mark Robertson; and former Trump campaign staffer Carolina Serrano.

NV-02: Republican Rep. Mark Amodei learned Friday that he'd have the pleasure of a primary fight against Douglas County Commissioner Danny Tarkanian, who ended his legendary losing streak last cycle after relocating from the Las Vegas area. Three other Republicans are also running for this northern Nevada constituency that would have backed Trump 54-43, and while none of them look formidable, they could cost Tarkanian some needed anti-incumbent votes.

Tarkanian previewed his strategy in a video posted just before he filed, saying that the incumbent has "voted for amnesty for illegal immigrants, for giving your money to Planned Parenthood, for voting for the $1.5 trillion budget which gave him a 20% increase." The challenger continued, "Mark Amodei was the first GOP congressman to join the Democrats in support[ing] President Trump's first impeachment inquiry, and he also blamed President Trump for Jan. 6."

Amodei, of course, never voted to impeach Trump, but he did piss off conservatives nationwide in September of 2019 when he became the first House Republican to identify as impeachment-curious, saying of the inquiry into Trump, "Let's put it through the process and see what happens." Hardliners immediately called for his ouster, and while the congressman soon protested that "[i]n no way, shape, or form, did I indicate support for impeachment," Trump's campaign notably snubbed the Silver State's only GOP member of Congress by leaving him off its list of state co-chairs for 2020.

Amodei avoided a serious primary fight, but he wasn't done inflaming Trumpists. Right after the Jan. 6 attacks, the congressman told Nevada Newsmakers, "Do I think he (Trump) has a responsibility for what has occurred? Yes." The congressman, though, this time used his interview to say upfront that he'd oppose any impeachment effort, and he soon joined most of his party colleagues in voting against impeachment. Tarkanian, however, is betting those anti-impeachment votes won't actually matter to a base looking to purge the party of anyone who's shown even a hint of disloyalty toward Trump.

NV-03: Democratic legislators sought to protect Rep. Susie Lee in this southern Las Vegas area seat by extending Joe Biden's margin of victory from just 49.1-48.9 to 52-46, but five Republicans are still campaigning against her. The frontrunner appears to be attorney April Becker, who narrowly failed to unseat state Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro by a 50.5-49.5 margin last cycle; Becker then tried to challenge her 631-vote loss in court and demanded a "revote," but she failed to get what she wanted. None of the other four Republicans have generated much attention yet.

NV-04: Three Republicans are challenging Democratic incumbent Steven Horsford in a northern Las Vegas area seat where Democratic legislators doubled Biden's margin from 51-47 to 53-45. The only elected official of the trio is Assemblywoman Annie Black, who attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally the preceded the attack on the Capitol. She was later censured by her colleagues on a party-line vote for refusing to comply with the chamber's COVID mitigation rules.

Also in the running is Chance Bonaventura, who works as an aide to another far-right politician, Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore (Fiore herself recent ditched a longshot gubernatorial bid to run for state treasurer instead). Finally, there's Sam Peters, an Air Force veteran and businessman who took second place in the 2020 primary to face Horsford. However, while professional boxer Jessie Vargas announced he was running last year, the secretary of state doesn't list him as a candidate.

NY-01: 2020 2nd District nominee Jackie Gordon has earned an endorsement in the June Democratic primary from 4th District Rep. Kathleen Rice, who represents a seat on the other end of Long Island.

NY-04: Retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice has backed former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen in the June Democratic primary to succeed her in this Nassau County-based seat. The congresswoman's endorsement comes not long after Jay Jacobs, who chairs both the state and county parties, publicly talked down Gillen's chances, though he did not explain his rationale. Rice, though, has made it clear she's not at all a fan of Jacobs: Earlier this month, after the chair implored donors to refrain from contributing to anyone "until we have had an opportunity to discuss the complexities of the race," she responded by tweeting, "No wonder Democrats in Nassau county lose with this kind of leadership."

NY-16: Pastor Michael Gerald last week ended his nascent Democratic primary bid against freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman, telling Jewish Insider, "Rather than crash-landing, I think it was the best thing for me to do." Little-known opponent Manuel Casanova exited the race days later and endorsed Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi, who is now Bowman's only intra-party foe.

SC-07: On Monday, the State Law Enforcement Division confirmed it was investigating allegations leveled by former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, who said that a blogger named David Hucks tried to bribe him to quit the June Republican primary at the behest of another candidate, Horry County school board chair Ken Richardson. Both McBride and Richardson are trying to deny renomination to Rep. Tom Rice, though they've each been overshadowed in recent weeks by Trump-endorsed state Rep. Russell Fry.

McBride claimed in early March that Hucks told him in a call, "There's an opportunity for you, there's a $70,000 job opportunity for you to step out of this race and support another candidate." Hucks responded both by denying the bribery allegation and that he'd "taken a cent from Ken Richardson." Richardson himself was asked about McBride's claims at a March 7 candidate forum and declared, "I didn't know anything about this until you dropped your bomb. I didn't know anything about it."

Attorneys General

IA-AG: Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat who is already the longest-serving state attorney general in American history, is seeking an 11th term this year. (Miller was elected in 1978, left in 1994 to unsuccessfully run for governor, and regained the post in 1998.) The one Republican taking him on is Guthrie County Attorney Brenna Bird, who previously worked as chief counsel to then-Gov. Terry Branstad.

NV-AG: Democrat Aaron Ford made history in 2018 when he became the first Black person elected to statewide office in Nevada, and two Republicans are now campaigning to unseat the attorney general. Until last month the only contender was Sigal Chattah, an attorney who has sued to try to undermine the state's pandemic response measures and who has complained that the attorney general has done a poor job investigating (baseless, of course) voter fraud allegations. February, though, saw the entrance of Tisha Black, who lost a 2018 race for Clark County Commission and whom the Nevada Independent identified as a former head of a cannabis industry trade group.

Secretaries of State

IA-SoS: Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate has no primary opposition in his bid for a third term, while the Democratic contest is a duel between Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker and Linn County Auditor Joel Miller.


Maricopa County, AZ Attorney: Republican Allister Adel announced Monday that she was resigning as the top prosecutor of America's fourth-most populous county, effective Friday, a move that the Arizona Republic writes came after negative attention "over her sobriety and absences from the office, which prompted investigations by the State Bar of Arizona and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors." Her situation grew worse last week when Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked her to provide more information about 180 misdemeanor cases that were dropped because Adel's office failed to file charges before it was too late.

The Board of Supervisors, which appointed Adel in 2019, must choose a fellow Republican to replace her. Adel herself won a four-year term in a close 2020 contest, but it's not clear if her soon-to-be-vacant post will be on this year's ballot or if voters will need to wait until 2024. The paper says that normally an appointed incumbent would be up whenever an election next takes place, but the deadline to turn in signatures for the 2022 cycle is fast approaching on April 5.

Suffolk County, MA District Attorney: Sen. Ed Markey on Monday endorsed Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo in the September Democratic primary, a development that came a week after Markey's home-state Senate colleague, Elizabeth Warren, also backed the city councilor. Arroyo is campaigning as a criminal justice reformer against appointed incumbent Kevin Hayden in a heavily blue county that's home to Boston and the nearby communities of Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.