In leaked audio, Sen. Lindsey Graham calls Biden ‘maybe the best person to have’ as president

Let it be known that during a brief, ephemeral moment when Donald Trump sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham momentarily gained a conscience and understood just how horrific the Jan. 6 insurrection provoked by Trump's lies really was, even he expressed relief that Joe Biden would soon be taking office and sending Trump back to the toxic swamp from which he came.

"We'll actually come out of this thing stronger," Graham told reporter Jonathan Martin in a recording only being released by Martin now to goose publicity for his new book. "Moments like this reset. It'll take a while."

Martin probed Graham on his optimism: "And Biden will be better, right?"

"Yeah, totally," responded Graham. "He'll be maybe the best person to have, right? I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?"

Yeah, we're all just going to have to let that sit there for a while. It turns out that Lindsey Graham is just as wrong about the actions the Lindsey Graham of the future will take as he is about everything else. What followed next was indeed Graham's predicted "reset," but it was he and his closest allies who did the resetting. In the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup, numerous Republican House and Senate leaders expressed horror at the violence Trump had unleashed and privately vowed to cut him loose, or at least think real hard about cutting him loose. House minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy was among those to float either removing Trump as unfit for office or asking for his resignation.

But then Republicans "reset," and not only returned to rally around Trump but to publicly dismiss the severity of the violent coup, to near-unanimously once again support Trump during his impeachment trial, and indeed to flit to Trump's Florida crime laboratory to publicly polish his boots. (A fun thing to think about: McCarthy and all the other Republican visitors presumably not knowing, during their Mar-a-Lago trips, that inside a private room sat boxes of documents Trump had stolen from the government, some of them highly classified. Or maybe Trump was handing them out as party favors.)

And Graham bungled his prediction even worse when he supposed that nobody could get too mad at the incoming Joe Biden. Republicans quite swiftly pivoted back into lying about Biden outright, and Biden's every new proposal was met with bulging Republican eyes as lawmakers declared him to be the real "fascist."

Graham and the others weighed an attempted coup against proposals to hike corporate tax rates or speed the transition away from fossil fuels and decided that they preferred the coup. So here we are—except, now, with Republican state legislatures and Republican Party functionaries all hurriedly scribbling up new rules allowing the precise methods Trump attempted for his coup, evidence-free declarations that some communities should not have their votes counted paired with new Republican means of overturning elections if the votes do not go their way, to go forward with less resistance next time around.

In Graham's case the motives for flipping from outrage to coverup may be simpler than most. Graham himself was one of the Republicans to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to alter presidential vote totals in the state, backing the very Trump strategies that would soon consolidate into an attempted coup.

Yes, Lindsey Graham is a terrible person. Just terrible. This has been evident for years and was evident when he ditched his longtime ally Sen. John McCain to back Trumpism instead, and is evident every time he defends Republican sexual assaults, international crimes, or violent coup attempts with teary eyes and sneering contempt for the witnesses. He is a horrible, horrible, horrible person of the sort that Republicanism breeds; you cannot back Trumpism after all that has happened unless your devotion to horribleness surpasses every other ambition and personality trait.

So-called journalists who keep private these demonstrations that our elected officials lie constantly and grotesquely to us, exposing them only later when the quotes can be better monetized, aren't much better.

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Another book again confirms that Trump wanted the military to ‘just shoot’ BLM protesters

In news we already knew but now know more, er, knowingly, a new book by ex-Trump secretary of defense Mark Esper confirms that yes, Donald Trump really did want to "just shoot" Black Lives Matter protesters rallying near the White House during the 2020 protests. Specifically, Trump said he wanted the U.S. military to "beat the fuck" out of the protesters, and told Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Mark Milley and other top administration officials to "just shoot them" on several occasions. When Milley and then-attorney general Bill Barr resisted due to the blazing illegality of such an order and, let's assume, not wanting to spend the rest of their lives in prison on this bozo's behalf, Trump modified his proposal to "just shoot them in the legs or something?"

We knew these incidents had taken place because a previous book profiting off the slow death of democracy described them last year; Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender's 2021 book revealed them in similar detail, including Trump's demands to use military force, "beat the fuck" out of protesters, and "shoot them in the leg" or "maybe the foot."

That earlier book also gave us the heartwarming scene in which a fed-up Gen. Milley, tired of White House white nationalist Stephen Miller egging Trump on with claims that parts of the United States were now a "war zone" due to the protests, "spun around in his seat" and told Miller to "shut the fuck up, Stephen." There is no military medal awarded to generals who personally tell Stephen Miller to "shut the fuck up," but there ought to be. We're all perhaps a bit disappointed Milley didn't shoot Miller in the leg or "maybe the foot," but there you go. That's military discipline for you.

What Mark Esper's new book brings to the scene is confirmation by another participant that yes, all of this really did take place and they took place just as previous accounts said. Donald Trump wanted to use the military, and he specifically wanted to use the military to kill protesters or, after meeting resistance from the rest of his staff, shoot them "in the legs" so that they could no longer march against his self-imagined greatness. That Black Lives Matter protesters might have had a legitimate point to make never crossed his mind; that he, as president, was not allowed to simply murder protesters outright was something he struggled to understand even as the top officials who would have to order such murders tried to explain it to him.

Listen to Markos and Kerry Eleveld talk Ukraine and speak with Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler on how hitting back at Republicans helps win elections on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

Truly, the worst president ever. Possibly the worst human being ever, though that's a value judgment—and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is making his own bid for both positions, so Trump may last as America's Worst President for no longer than George W. Bush did before him.

The purpose of Esper's book is self-redemption. Esper was Trump's secretary of defense during a time, post-impeachment, when Trump was widely purging the U.S. government of anyone thought to be disloyal, felt newly emboldened after Senate Republicans immunized him from the consequences of a Watergate-plus sized campaign of political corruption, and was increasingly deemed by many to be dangerously unstable—as he would go on to prove at numerous points during the 2020 campaign and post-election, culminating in an attempted coup. Esper was one of Trump's enforcers, as Trump attempted to do to the military what he was doing everywhere else, only to be replaced after Trump's November election loss with the more-toadying Christopher Miller.

Whatever career Mark Esper once had before Trump appeared on scene is now well and truly gone; he will remembered now alongside William Barr and other Republicans who protected Trump through years of corrupt, self-serving, often-delusional, nation-harming behaviors only to write up books afterwards mumbling that they were Actually against all of the outright evil things all along, or were against at least some vanishingly small number of them, and ought to still be served in public restaurants and invited to Washington parties.

If a sitting president of the United States repeatedly—no, incessantly—asks his staff to do criminal things, anything from the political extortion of an at-war government to further a propaganda effort to requesting that Americans protesting against him simply be murdered, refusing to do the murder part is not bold. Trump's vast and wide-ranging ignorance made him an incompetent leader during every national crisis he was faced with. He could not grasp security briefings, forcing staff to include frequent mentions of him to at least keep him reading; he was so obsessed with self-promotion that he altered government hurricane maps and promoted the altered forecasts rather than admitting to a piffling Twitter mistake; his prescriptions for dealing with pandemic continuously did active harm to the nation, even as his lack of focus made more organized and sensible responses impossible.

All of this was a pattern and was being warned of, incessantly, both long before and during every winter day leading up to a Trump-led attempted coup. His own staff knew of his history of demanding illegal or corrupt actions—and, after his election loss, much of his stalwart-Republican staff helped him take those actions. Some, like chief of staff Mark Meadows, may have played a more pivotal role in attempting to nullify the election than the buffoonish Trump could himself even manage.

You do not get to say, "I worked for the man who soon afterward attempted to end United States democracy," and append "but was of course against the coup part," unless you can provide even a teaspoon of evidence of being "against" the government purges, political purges, manufacturing of hoaxes, flagrant daily lying, contempt for the American public, white nationalism, autocratic demands, and ingrained fascist beliefs that had been laying the groundwork for that outcome through Trump's whole long, crooked descent. There's now an entire cottage industry of hard-right Republican officials who helped Trump do extraordinarily bad and damaging things, but who are propping themselves up now on the pretense that, well, at least they did not support murdering protesters outright, or at least they did not support attempts to capture or murder Trump-opposed House and Senate leaders, or at least they did not help the rest of Trump's staff in schemes to declare that the vice president could scrub out the votes of whatever Americans he wanted to, in order to arrive at whatever election outcome the current leaders of government wished to announce.

You especially cannot respond to an attempt to overthrow democracy itself by demanding that Americans move on while your party allies write new election laws to get around the flaws of the first coup attempt and make a second one easier to muster. You don't get to say, "I am still a Republican," without adding, "even though the party both plotted an election-nullifying coup and is continuing to protect its plotters."

Take your books and shove them. Do something worthy of redemption before demanding it. William Barr, Mark Esper, the blizzard of propagandist-to-news-"analyst" career slides—Americans have every right to treat all of these people with contempt for their parts in normalizing horrific acts, bragging that they prevented even more horrific acts, and demanding the nation move on without any doled-out consequence or comeuppance. We've got library book bans now. We've got a party that has convinced the majority of American voters that our elections are illegitimate—based on a barrage of internet hoaxes and nothing more. White nationalism is now a party plank, such that even mentions of racism in American history are now fodder for public retaliation.

Stuff your books. Abandon your party or do your part to redeem it—or shut the fuck up, Stephen. Nobody has time to give you the attention you seek.

House Republican resolution would erase House impeachment of Trump for Ukraine extortion

Republicans have been trying very hard to shift to a pro-Ukraine stance since Russian autocrat and far-right hero Vladimir Putin invaded the country and began a systemic program of war crimes, but it has been hard going. The Republican talking points of the Donald Trump era were that Ukraine was a hopelessly corrupt country and that we needed to support whatever crackpot schemes Rudy Giuliani and other party toadies came up with to put the screws to its corrupt-but-not-in-the-right-way government. Also oh-by-the-way maybe it was Ukraine, not Russia, who attacked our 2016 presidential elections, and maybe it was Donald Trump's political opponents who orchestrated it rather than a laundry list of Donald Trump's grifting underlings and kin.

No matter how hard walking lie dispenser Sen. Mitch McConnell or other Republicans bluster that actually the party has been pro-Ukraine, anti-Russia all along, it regularly goes to hell again when some pro-Trump House Republican pipes up with a new defense of how Donald Trump had every right to block military aid from reaching Ukraine until the Ukrainian president did him, personally, an election favor.

Sure enough, here comes Oklahoma's Rep. Markwayne Mullin, and with impeccable timing. Mullin is taking this moment to introduce a new House resolution that would "expunge" Donald Trump's first impeachment. It would officially, according to, uh, this document, never have happened. And Mullin is doing this because, he told Fox News, Democrats were "manipulating a perfect phone call with a vulnerable nation" for their "political gain."

It is possible this bearded gas station bollard was drunk when he was saying that, because nobody in full possession of their faculties would still use the phrase "perfect phone call" in the year Dickety Dickety Two unless Donald Trump was standing behind them with a gun to their back. It is a level of maudlin sycophancy that even Sen. Lindsey Graham shies away from these days.

Though we have never once said this and will never say it again: Markwayne Mullin is right. The House of Representatives should absolutely be taking time out of whatever the hell they are currently pretending to do to revisit the debate on whether Donald Trump's extortion of the Ukrainian government was, as they have insisted ever since, how the Republican Party believes their foreign policy should function. Whether it is reasonable for a president to make congressionally mandated military assistance contingent on an allied government announcing false accusations against Republican enemies. Whether the timing of Trump's delay, which took place as Russian cutouts and Russian forces were stepping up military attacks inside Ukraine as part of the overall plan to annex the eastern side of the nation outright was coincidental or conspiratorial.

We should again all be pondering whether the near-entirety of the Republican Party, its lawmakers, its allies, and its pundits sought to immunize Trump from consequences because they genuinely do not feel that a president corrupting foreign policy to gain personal, nongovernmental benefits is out of bounds—or if they believe only that Republican elected officials ought to be able to commit such crimes.

And, of course, the House needs to come to terms with the most consequential question of all: whether the near-unanimous Republican decision to immunize Trump against charges of corruption against our democracy led directly, a short time later, to Trump attacking our democracy even more directly with a propaganda-premised coup attempt that turned violent inside the halls of the U.S. Capitol. By. All. Means.

Come to think of it, Mullin's request that Trump not just be immunized from consequences for extorting the Ukrainian government, but the records "expunged" of any mention that Congress even objected, is something that would fit well with the House select committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection. Donald Trump clearly believed that in a showdown between this nation's written Constitution and his own personal ambitions, Republicans would choose him. Why did he think so? Why was he so certain that the Republican Party would, so long as a little bit of preemptive violence was added to the mix so that all parties would understand the consequences for opposing him, fall in line and demand that the election be erased rather than acknowledge his loss?

Which, in fact, happened: The majority of Republican lawmakers did vote to nullify the election. But Democrats, at that particular moment in time, happened to outnumber them anyway.

Why would Trump think that the Republican Party would back him even if he committed sedition itself? Why was he so certain?

Mullin, author of a new resolution calling on Congress to "expunge" the impeachment charges Trump faced after an international extortion scheme looking to boost his own power even if it directly conflicted with laws passed by Congress: Do you have any insight as to why Trump would believe House Republicans would allow him to commit any crime he wanted to?

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene goes full pro-Putin after Zelenskyy addresses Congress

Republicans continue to struggle mightily with the task of distancing themselves from Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin, now that Putin not only ordered the annexation of a European democracy but has committed to a campaign of war crimes to accomplish it. Putin has been a favorite of the American far-right for his nationalist policies, his contempt for human rights, and of course, his ability to govern as a "strong" autocrat who dispenses with his own political opposition using whichever tools of the state are most convenient. The admiration turned mainstream once Donald Trump started praising him, and sucking up to him, for the same reasons.

Putin is the autocrat of the exact sort that the Republican right have demanded this country also install. We have all seen Sen. Ted Cruz's mocking of the "woke" American military compared to the testosterone-heavy recruiting ads of the (now proven incompetent) Russian army. We have years of history of the most highly connected Republicans working directly with pro-Russian oligarchs to destabilize Ukrainian democracy in exchange for either cash or "favors"—in the form of fraudulent claims and documents that can be used against Republican enemies here at home. Fox News' Tucker Carlson went from cheering for Putin to vaguely condemning him to speedily shifting into a top international promoter of Kremlin "biolab" propaganda intended to retroactively justify the invasion.

The party is a wreck on this. And speaking of wrecks, here's Marjorie Taylor Greene, coming out with the straight-fascist conspiracy take. It no longer even matters whether she herself believes these things to be true; she is either a willing purveyor of hoaxes or an unwilling one, and either should be sufficient grounds to remove her from office outright.

Marge Greene issues a statement tonight against help for Ukraine. Says both sides are at fault, the Ukraine govt only exists because of Obama, and Biden, Pelosi and Romney have financial interests in the country. pic.twitter.com/9Ra8VWpKsT

— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) March 16, 2022

Greene punctuated her speech, which was delivered soon after Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's virtual address to Congress, with repeated claims that Ukraine is certain to lose to Putin—a claim that, at this point, few outside the Kremlin are still claiming. On the contrary, the Russian advance has stalled out amid devastating supply shortages, the Putin government is urgently asking China for Chinese-made weapons to replace what they have expended, and as it currently stands Russia has devoted 75% of its total offensive forces to an effort which may end the nation's claims of superpower status.

There surely cannot be anyone left in America who believes that Marjorie Taylor Greene, of all people, has put even ten minutes of serious thought into what should or should not happen in Ukraine. But the more central point is that she is not an outlier on this.

Which Republican lawmakers have been eager to adopt Rudy Giuliani-pushed hoaxes claiming that their Democratic enemies-of-the-moment were responsible for all sorts of subterfuge in Ukraine and that the Ukrainian government was in cahoots with those efforts? Nearly all of them! And not just a little, but to the point that Republican lawmakers were willing to repeat those claims as part of their justifications for nullifying a U.S. constitutional election on behalf of the liars who invented the theories.

Which Republican lawmakers stubbornly insisted that there was no foul done when Donald Trump held up weapons shipments to an at-war Ukraine in a flagrantly crooked attempt to extort the Zelenskyy government into publicly endorsing a hoax aimed at Trump's election opponent? All of them, save one Republican senator.

Many of those same Republicans are now on television feigning great outrage over President Biden's unwillingness to directly engage Russian aircraft in combat. The very same Republicans were using Greene's arguments during Trump's first impeachment trial to argue that Trump's one-person blockade of military aid to Ukraine during a time of war was of no great consequence.

The Greene position is the basest form of the Republican position, in that she is not clever enough to couch her demands in the doublespeak most politicians use to pretend at nuance. The Republican position on Ukraine is that whatever is happening is the fault of Democrats, the answer is to do the opposite of whatever Democrats want to do, and the actual outcome—whether a European democracy lives or dies—is irrelevant. The war only exists as attack line. It is important only to the extent that it can be used to pin Bad Things on the movement's domestic enemies.

There is no unified Republican Party "position" on the Russia-Ukraine war. There are only attacks. A few senators are using the war to demand that the supposedly cowardly Biden administration do more. House Republicans who have long expressed at least subtle admirations for Putin (aka, the Trump wing of the party) is demanding their Democratic enemies do less. And all of it is a complete afterthought, as the dominant Republican theme of the war centers itself around rising gas prices, and why those rising gas prices are not Vladimir Putin's fault but the fault of Joe Biden because ... something.

There's no unified Republican Party position on what ought to happen in Europe because Republicanism no longer has any measurable, identifiable ideology that would guide such a thing. It's chaos. Tucker is promoting top Kremlin conspiracies, Greene is demanding the United States cut off supplies and let Putin win, Sen. Lindsey Graham is daring the administration to get into a shooting war, Donald Trump is still praising Putin's supposed genius even as his military gets bogged down, literally, in soggy Ukrainian fields.

The only unified party position is that of the typical fascist movement; no matter what crisis hits, it is their domestic enemies who are responsible, claims that are supported by newly constructed hoaxes supposing all of it to have been manufactured so as to benefit the secret corruption of their enemies, and whether the crisis ends well or in abject disaster is of no consequence except as a tool for further demonizing those domestic enemies.

We saw this at the beginning of the pandemic when even the most basic of emergency precautions were opposed en masse by a Republican Party devoted instead to claims that every one of those medical precautions—from masks to public closures to vaccines—was a supposed assault on nationalist freedoms. We are seeing it now, as Republicans take to the airwaves to claim that Putin only invaded Ukraine because Joe Biden tricked him into it, or looked "weak" compared to President Hamburglar, or that Biden is doing too little to protect Ukrainians but is also doing too much, which means temporarily high gas prices are his fault, which means we should be easing sanctions on Putin, but we should also be taking Russian yachts, and in the background, Tucker continues to yell about "biolabs" with all the conviction of a dog barking at passing cars.

Republicanism has long passed the point at which it can respond to a real crisis with urgency—or even competence. It cannot distinguish between true crises and its own crafted delusions, and does not care to, and instead insists that incompetence in times of crisis is itself bold. When Donald Trump botched each and every aspect of the early pandemic response, due largely to his fixation on assigning such tasks to incompetent, suck-up underlings, those failures became a newly invented ideology to rally around. No masks! No public safety measures! Testing is for cowards!

Republicanism is now obsessively a movement devoted to attacking the movement's own domestic enemies, and there is no ideology or policy that takes precedent over that. Greene is acting on reflex, but it is the reflex that the party base now demands of every one of its politicians. Anyone who can't handle the job, like Rep. Liz Cheney, is declared an enemy.

Putin is targeting and slaughtering civilians in a brutal unprovoked war against Ukraine, a sovereign democratic nation. Only the Kremlin and their useful idiots would call that “a conflict in which peace agreements have been violated by both sides.” pic.twitter.com/Ld9WomOStd

— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) March 17, 2022

This was once a completely unremarkable centrist position. But now Cheney is the one being purged, and the Dear Leader-humping conspiracy goons of the party are those doing the purging.

Russian state TV also jumped on comments by Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn, who called Zelenskyy “a thug”. That got played over and over. pic.twitter.com/VdC2AG48NQ

— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) March 17, 2022

Putin is doing the world a small favor in demonstrating that an autocratic government consisting of a single Dear Leader who surrounds himself with toadying yes-men and who cares not a damn about corruption—so long as it is corruption that benefits himself and his allies—will eventually hollow out their state to the point it becomes nonfunctional. This is not a lesson any of these Republicans will learn, as they demand the United States be recrafted into a similar one-party state that frees their own Dear Leader to violate laws at will and without consequence.

They won't learn from it because the party exclusively picks incompetent would-be autocrats to rise up their ranks while scrubbing out anyone with even the slightest bit of expertise. The rest of us, though, need to be watching closely.  

Related: 'R' is for Russia

Related: Cawthorn isn't alone as a Republican crapping on Ukraine. He just has bad timing

Related: 'Biolabs' boom shows that Russia's disinformation networks are still functioning

Related: Tucker Carlson's new argument is that NATO (and Kamala Harris) tricked Putin into war

Related: Kremlin tells Russian media it is 'essential' to broadcast Tucker Carlson clips

The Republican response to Biden’s State of the Union was, as usual, detached from reality

There was once a time when we might have live-blogged the Republican responses to a State of the Union address, but we're all much older and more tired now and the collective "news" broken during all State of the Union responses combined, in the past decade, consists of that time Marco Rubio needed to take a drink of water and pretty much nothing else.

The Republican response this time around was apparently given by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who perhaps needed a bit of good publicity after she was discovered to have taken nearly a half million dollars of federal pandemic relief money to pay staffers in her own state government office, which isn't what the pandemic fund was intended for. Reynolds also allegedly took steps to hide where the cash was going, and has also refused to provide the documentation required for auditing the expenditure, so she's clearly been doing her be more like Donald Trump homework.

Anyhoo, Reynolds continued the long tradition of State of the Union responses that completely ignore the actual speech they're responding to in order to fire off a laundry list of pre-determined attack lines, so we're going to respect that choice by reviewing Kim Reynolds' speech without bothering to actually watch or read it. I thought the part where she promised to kill, stuff, and mount Hank, the bear breaking into South Lake Tahoe homes for winter snacks, to be unnecessarily gruesome. I don't like the part where she swore that Republicans were on Ukraine's side and against Russia, but she kept mispronouncing "Ukraine" as "eclair" so it sounded like she was defending Republican dessert rights. The part where she juggled Hummel figurines while reciting Donald Trump's favorite poem, The Snake, showed remarkable dexterity but I thought muddled her central anti-Hank messages.

There you go, you're caught up.

From actual not-entirely-imaginary news coverage, it appears the parts of Reynolds' speech we missed focused primarily on convincing America that the pandemic, the economic chaos of the pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and a new wave of our children learning uncomfortable things are all Joe Biden's fault. According to The New York Times, she was selected for the bit by Sen. Mitch McConnell "in part" because of Reynolds' anti-masking stances. Reynolds is one of the Republican governors who has signed on to efforts to ban school mask mandates, because Republican parents don't like masks and it's extremely important to Republican parents that these preferences be played out in classroom proxy battles that may or may not kill teachers or neighbors or other parents or the kids themselves outright.

Do not let anyone, anywhere tell you that Americans "love their children." Some do and some don't. For many parents, that "love" is purely conditional and predicated on their children hating the right things or hurting the right people, which is why books that portray LGBT adolescents as normal and worthy of normal lives are among the top targets on all the newest banned book lists.

The other bit of Reynolds' speech consisted of a half-hearted attempt to erase all of recent Republican history to claim that Republicans are indeed in Ukraine's corner and against Vladimir Putin's bloody war, despite the Republican Party specifically stripping support for Ukraine from the last platform it ever bothered to write, per the demands of the Trump campaign; despite Republican airwaves and conferences being awash with praise for the "smart" Putin and his "smart" white nationalist, non-woke murders and violence; and despite Gov. Kim Reynolds herself being a strong backer of Donald Trump's extortion of Ukraine during Trump's first impeachment trial. According to the Kim Reynolds of back then, holding Trump to account for blocking military aid to the at-war Ukraine so that he and Rudy Giuliani could pressure Ukraine's democratic government into announcing a thoroughly fake investigation of the Biden family was outrageous.

Now she's just another one of the insufferably ambitious Republican governors insisting that the party's previous explicit support for sabotaging the Ukrainian government using propaganda backed by pro-Putin oligarchs is nothing the rest of us should be going on about. Republicans didn't back Trump's every effort to hand Putin whatever Putin expressed even mild interest in. Republicans didn't actually nod and applaud during the countless episodes in which Trump or one of his hackish underlings attacked the very premises of NATO or flung cheap, spurious insults towards the nations that comprise it. Heavens no, and to prove it Kim will add three more Hummel figurines to her performance.

I think we've given Reynolds' response about the right amount of attention now, so we're good. The short version is that once again, Republican leaders chose as their best spokesperson an anti-mask, pandemic-prolonging, culture-war-focused hack currently under investigation for stealing government funds and who turned in a performance that had not a damn thing to do with anything, but instead was filled with the same six or seven talking points Republicans have currently chosen to flood the airwaves with while completely ignoring all the misery their incompetence bestowed on the rest of us.

Who else were they going to pick? The still-indicted Texas attorney general? The Florida governor just caught on camera yelling at students for wearing masks in his presence? Tucker?

Subpoenas in Georgia’s Trump corruption probe won’t come until May at best

If we've learned anything in the last few years, it's that when powerful people commit crimes, the odds that our nation's various legal jurisdictions can be roused to do so much as even investigate what happened in a rational timeframe are iffy at best. It has been a year and change since the last Republican administration mounted an all-out effort to overturn the results of a not-even-close United States election; although each of of the connected plots mounted by Donald Trump, his allies, and complicit Republican lawmakers are now known in public detail, whether any of those involved face legal consequences for attempting to overthrow the United States government appears to depend on whether Rep. Liz Cheney goads the rest of government into doing so.

If you're feeling cynical about an entire year and change going by with no word from prosecutors that organizing a mob to interfere with Congress' ability to carry out a foundational constitutional function—or just calling up election officials directly to pressure them to change the vote tallies—then join the club.

Yes, yes, we are told that the wheels of justice turn slowly and that, behind the scenes, no doubt, prosecutors are gathering up vast mountains of evidence because they want to do this thing properly. That may be true and it may not be—the Mueller investigation suggests this is the rosiest possible interpretation. But as far as anybody can tell, top members of government conspired to nullify a United States election based on hoaxes, and nobody has done squat about it. The co-conspirators, in the meantime, are invited onto the Sunday shows to rail about the audacity of anyone even being upset about these things a whole year later.

In Atlanta, there is maaaaaaaybe some movement over a year past the time when the American public first heard the audio recording of the Trump White House pressuring the Georgia Secretary of State to "find" enough Trump votes to erase Biden's win of the state. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis received court approval in late January to seat a special grand jury to hear evidence in the case; this was necessary, she said, because witnesses to Trump's pressure were refusing to cooperate with her office without subpoenas forcing them to do so.

So here we are: A year later, key witnesses to the calls are expected to be subpoenaed to give their accounts of what happened. Welcome to the American justice system, subcategory "when you're rich or know somebody who is."

When will the subpoenas demanding testimony and documents begin? Well, the special grand jury won't be seated until May, so no sooner than that. In a new CNN interview, Willis predicted that "most" will begin to come "in June and later months."

In the interview, Willis sounded determined but not necessarily gung-ho about the investigation, which is admittedly the only public demeanor you're allowed to have when investigating even crimes that threaten the stability of government itself. "This is a criminal investigation," and "we're not here playing a game," she said. She also dismissed the expected Trump defense, the claim that presidents can't be prosecuted for crimes committed while in office.

You might remember the theory from its previous versions, in which Trump and the near-entirety of House and Senate Republicans argued during one impeachment that Trump couldn't be held accountable for crimes while he was still president because Shut Up, and couldn't be held accountable for crimes committed on his way out of office because it's just too damn Divisive. But the more generic version offered up by Trump defenders is that you can't prosecute [Republican] presidents for anything, at any time, period.

As for any hint as to which way the district attorney's office is leaning, Willis gave not much. She told CNN:

"You and I have listened to that phone call. But also I have the benefit of also having talked to a lot of witnesses and probably having read more on this than most people would like to."

I'm not going to argue here that the public should be "patient" in waiting to hear if elected officials are allowed to just straight-up phone elections officials to tell them that the election results are wrong and they need to "find" some votes to fix it.

I'm also not going to argue that prosecutors are dragging their feet, because we're in no position to know. But the facts of the matter are this: We're only going to be seeing subpoenas filed to investigate the Trump-Raffensperger call in summer, and the system will assuredly be gamed so that the first (secret) testimony takes place in the fall at best.

That means that the decision about whether to proceed with a Trump indictment will not be made until close to the midterm elections ... which means Willis will likely feel pressure to push it past the midterms so as to not be accused herself of influencing an election.

None of this feels like anybody, anywhere is treating an attempt to overthrow democracy via straight-up crookery as something that needs to be responded to with above-average urgency.

Yes, we get it; it takes vast amounts of time to do even the littlest things when laws are applied to people who have enough money to hire as many lawyers as it takes to make sure tee times are not threatened. But maybe that's been the underlying problem that's led to all the rest of it. We're a society in which a specific subclass of the wealthy, mostly Wall Street and real estate tycoons, can topple economies and even mount attempted coups—and it will all be considered just the sort of thing rich Americans are allowed to do.

Trump's been a crook his whole life and never faced a consequence, other than having to shell out a little bit of cash for settlements that would let the rest of his grift machine keep going. It's obvious he would expect that he could commit any crime he wanted to, as "president," and walk away again. And it's pretty damn obvious that Republican lawmakers have so internalized their positions as protectors of the wealthy that there is no crime an ally could commit that would result in abandonment. Crash the economy, kill hundreds of thousands, rouse fascist mobs to demand we put an end to vote-counting rather than put up with the results—nothing.

So long as the consequences for crimes can be pushed past the next election season, there are no consequences for crimes at all. It's just a question of being able to outlast whatever momentary public disgust is aimed at you.

Related: Trump is trying to incite violence against prosecutors investigating him. One has turned to the FBI

Related: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis may have best case to hold Trump criminally liable

Related: Chair of Jan. 6 House committee says testimony from Raffensperger is proving he is a key witness

Related: Georgia's Brad Raffensperger refuses to rule out supporting Trump, even after death threats

Key impeachment witness Alexander Vindman sues Trump allies for intimidation, retaliation

It's been long overdue: Former Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman has filed a lawsuit against a host of top Donald Trump allies, accusing them of attempting to intimidate him, then retaliating against him for his testimony in the first of Congress' two Trump impeachment investigations. Vindman was a key witness in the investigation, one of the few in the White House who witnessed Trump's conversation with Ukraine's president in which Trump asked the Ukrainian government to give public credence to a hoax targeting his expected election opponent, Joe Biden. It was a hoax promoted by pro-Russian oligarchs and Trump fixer Rudy Giuliani. It was also part of a broader revealed effort in which Trump's team promoted those pro-Russian interests, removed a United States ambassador who was seen as an impediment to them, and stonewalled congressionally approved military aid to the country while pushing its leaders to provide the Trump-demanded election help.

Vindman is suing Giuliani, along with then-Deputy White House Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, staffer Julia Hahn, and Donald Trump Jr. for their roles in the attacks against him. The lawsuit charges the Trump allies with an "intentional, concerted campaign of unlawful intimidation and retaliation."

There's zero question that Vindman was both publicly threatened and had his career cut short as an act of retaliation, because nobody in Trump's orbit even bothered to hide it. Donald Trump repeatedly posted public tweets threatening those who testified against him, and both Vindman and his brother were summarily removed from their White House duties immediately after Senate Republicans scuttled further investigation and backed Trump's international extortion. Trump's team followed up with a widespread purge of government watchdogs who were seen as insufficiently loyal to Trump's schemes. Republican lawmakers, pundits, and hosts all joined the effort to demonize Vindman for agreeing to testify.

The same dynamic would occur during and after Trump's second impeachment, as Republicans have done everything within their power to stonewall House and federal investigations of a Trump-organized violent coup. (Many of those Republicans are themselves accessories to the seditious acts.) Trump allies have again threatened those who willingly testify. Trump has again floated pardons for those who committed crimes on his behalf. The fascist party again settles into backing even violence by the party's leader, rather than abide election losses.

The Vindman case will be yet another test as to whether the nation's laws still mean anything when they run up against the petty whims of the powerful, but the evidence Vindman's team has provided isn't really disputable. The only remaining question is whether political hacks working on behalf of a president are allowed to intimidate and retaliate against witnesses simply because it was in service to a Dear Leader figure who wanted those things done. Unless Republicans retake Congress and write up a new law specifically prohibiting lawsuits against Giuliani and his accomplices—which could happen, after all—it's difficult to imagine the defense offering up any justification of Vindman's treatment that wouldn't be laughed out of the courtroom.

Fascism: Trump vows pardons for Jan. 6 seditionists, calls for nationwide protests if indicted

Republican Party leader and traitor to the nation Donald Trump continues to test new rally waters in anticipation of a repeat presidential bid. On Saturday the delusional narcissist made no particular effort to hide his disgust for the law and for those who would hold him to it, delivering an ugly, unhinged, and unabashedly fascist speech to a crowd of like-minded traitors.

His most newsworthy proclamation was a vow to pardon the seditionists of the January 6 insurrection. "If I run and I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly."

"And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons. Because they are being treated so unfairly."

BREAKING: President Trump promises to PARDON Jan. 6 prisoners if he runs and wins in 2024 pic.twitter.com/teYbYNBcuB

— RSBN 🇺🇸 (@RSBNetwork) January 30, 2022

It is not immediately clear if the traitor, who gathered and incited a crowd to "march" to the U.S. Capitol on that day and hour as part of a multi-pronged plan for his Republican Party to nullify his presidential election loss while using "emergency" presidential powers to either militarily oversee a "new" election or simply declare himself the legitimate winner, is promising a blanket pardon of all those involved in the violence. He may also be vowing to use presidential pardons to erase legal consequences for only his own inner circle of co-conspirators, just as he used it to immunize those allies when he last had the power to do so.

The intent of the message is clear either way. Trump is allying himself with those that helped him carry out his seditious—and deadly—insurrection, and is dropping promises of "pardons" as encouragement to his allies to keep fighting to block probes into the violence. Stonewall the prosecutions and refuse to cooperate with investigators, the traitorous criminal hints, and he will make your troubles go away again when he is returned to power.

But Trump went even farther. Citing the (many) investigations against him for crimes ranging from the previous insurrection to the pressure on Georgia officials to "find" new votes to a lifelong pattern of financial fraud, the fascist leader pushed his fascist supporters to respond to any potential indictment against him by taking to the streets.

"If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protest we have ever had in Washington D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere, because our country and our elections are corrupt. They're corrupt."

After ranting about the prosecutors investigating him, Trump calls the prosecutors racist and says if they do anything illegal, he hopes there are massive protests in DC, New York, and Atlanta pic.twitter.com/RnY6F5OJNv

— Acyn (@Acyn) January 30, 2022

It is the hallmark of a fascist leader and his party: The claim that prosecution of his own crimes, or the crimes of his violent supporters, proves only that the whole nation was "corrupt" and needed to be remade. Trump is wedging racist in there because, both in Georgia and in New York, the head investigators of his crimes are Black.

Far from being deterred by the violence of his attempted insurrection, Trump is simultaneously promising to erase the crimes of those who attempted to topple the government on his behalf and pressing his Republican followers to mount even "bigger" street actions to keep his own criminal behind out of a prison cell. The man continues to betray his country in every way it is possible to betray it, and all of it is centered only around himself and his own desires.

In his previous rounds of presidential pardons, Trump pardoned those who committed war crimes; those who treated immigrants with illegal cruelty; those who obstructed investigations on his behalf; those who acted as agents of foreign powers. His pardons were all aimed at neutralizing prosecutions of those who did illegal things in service of racist, xenophobic, or Trump-promoting ends.

The Republican leader's promise to "pardon" those who engaged in violent insurrection on his behalf made barely a ripple on the Sunday shows or among the Republicans still loyal to that insurrection. Trump is overtly thumping for future seditious acts, and the Republican Party, purged of anyone who is not a willing accessory to even violent crimes, has little to say about it.

As gutless as ever, Sen. Lindsey Graham will only allow that it is "inappropriate" to promise pardons for insurrectionists. But only that; he will go no farther, lest he say something too bold and lose favor with the pro-fascist base.

"I think it is inappropriate" -- Lindsey Graham on Trump promising pardons to those convicted of crimes connected to the January 6 attack on Congress (Graham then tries to bothsides it by bringing up Kamala Harris) pic.twitter.com/Hr6Sgz8RPp

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 30, 2022

And as spineless as ever, Sen. Susan Collins—one of the few Republicans who dared vote to impeach Trump after the insurrection, will only allow that she is "very unlikely" to support Trump as future presidential candidate.

Susan Collins won't shut the door on supporting Trump in 2024 even after voting for his conviction following his second impeachment trial pic.twitter.com/tWfNt57kYv

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 30, 2022

So not even orchestrating an attempted coup is sufficient reason to fully and completely rule out support for the plotter? Truly, there may never be another political figure as relentlessly rudderless as this one.

More of the Sunday show debate was spent on allowing the defenders of insurrection to sniff about the alleged impropriety of Biden's promise to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court than was spent on asking those same Republicans to stand against Trump's visions of mass riots and promised pardons for insurrection.

The Sunday shows are still pointedly neutral when it comes to the choice between peaceful democracy and violence-led fascism. They do not care. Nobody involved cares. They will book the same guests to tell the same lies and support the same crimes from now until the end of the republic, and not a single host will stand against such violence if it means losing interview access to those backing it.

Trump's latest rally speeches are clear-cut attacks on the very fabric of the nation. He insists that elections are "corrupt," leading the entire Republican Party into similar rejections of our democracy's validity. He insists that those who investigate his alleged wrongdoing—up to and including violent insurrection—are "corrupt," and promises to immunize those who ally with them against the institutions that would prosecute them for such crimes.

He is a fascist-minded, mostly-delusional traitor to the republic. All those who cheer for him are the same. Trump himself appears to believe that it would be better to plunge the nation into a new civil war than recognize either the validity of his last election loss or the validity of a new one, and he has nearly all Republican Party officials and lawmakers as allies in the effort.

It is impossibly corrupt, all of it, and historians continue to scream that this is precisely how democracies are toppled. With a lazy, dull-witted press; with a party that emphasizes good corruption over bad prosecution; with a base that does not give a damn about any of it, because they are single-mindedly obsessed over the notion that the nebulous other is oppressing them and for that, must be punished.

There is no way this does not end in a tidal wave of political violence. And that, too, will likely be downplayed by Sunday show hosts looking to book those who would ally with it.

Ted Cruz is trying to discredit the prosecution of violent seditionists. Any guesses why?

Sen. Ted Cruz has been beating pro-seditionist conspiracy theory drums since before the Jan. 6 insurrection ever took place. It's still a bit novel to see Cruz use his pro-sedition conspiracy theory as a campaign fundraising gimmick, though.

But here we are, and the man who once ran for president—only to be crushed by Donald Trump, then subsumed into the fold of Trump's most obsequious boot-polishers—is using the newest Republican hoax to raise money from pro-sedition members of his base. The hoax Ted Cruz is promoting is the "Ray Epps" theory:

"Who is Ray Epps? Was Ray Epps a federal agent or informant?" asks Ted. Because "We know the FBI has been misused in the past to target President Trump" and just "look at the Russia Collusion Hoax" and "Peter Strzok" and "Merrick Garland won't answer questions" and "What are they trying to hide now about the events of January 6, 2021?"

If it sounds like any other Republican fundraising letter, down to the buzzwords and linked conspiracy theories and warnings of an "extreme-left agenda," it's because the party's vocabulary has dwindled down to a mere 500 words or so, all of them focus-grouped to the last serif, and half of those are references to theories that exist only in the Fox News universe. Literally any Republican in the party could send this same letter with only a sentence or two changed to fit their current position. Whatever individuality Ted once had, back in the days when he was known mostly for being the least pleasant person to be around even in Washington, D.C., has been smoothed out in favor of Generic Pro-Trump Conspiracy Guy.

Same fundraising language, same conspiracies, same blanket defenses of the most bumbling and crooked president of the modern era as being the fault of whatever enemies Donald has a personal grudge against.

The "Ray Epps" theory is, short version, a conspiracy theory being peddled by Republican sedition backers (including, of course, Trump backers who participated in the day's violence) that supposes that actually, the crowd that Trump and Trump allies scrambled to assemble on that day and hour were goaded into mounting a violent rebellion by the FBI. Or by antifa. Or by somebody. But the important point, in the theory, is claiming that the seditionists attempted to overthrow the government only because the government egged them into doing it, and so everybody should go free and once again we really should be investigating Trump's enemies, not the people doing grotesquely illegal things on Trump's personal behalf.

Sure, the crowd attacked police officers. Sure, there were deaths. But you see, some guy was seen outside the Capitol on that day but hasn't yet been charged by federal agents, ergo that guy must have been a plant and not a real Trump supporter, ergo the crimes don't count and none of this ever happened.

Ted Cruz has some personal stake in this, of course, given that Ted Cruz was one of those who attempted to nullify an American election that day, erasing the new administration rather than obliging Trump to hand over power. Ted can't well claim that the FBI goaded him into supporting an attempted autogolpe on the Senate floor, but as federal prosecutors target individual insurrectionists with "seditious conspiracy"—the first in-court acknowledgement that individuals in the violent crowd planned their actions as a serious effort to bring down the nation's government—it is to his advantage to argue that the only coup attempt that day was his own effort and that those people were doing something else entirely.

It's not true. Both efforts were linked, as documents from inside Trump's band of schemers have now shown. Republican lawmakers and Mike Pence were supposed to challenge the election's results as corrupted and invalid; Trump and allies had organized the large crowd to "march" to the Capitol grounds at exactly the same moment to intimidate waffling lawmakers into going along—and, under the assumption that violence would break out when Trump's crowd met "antifa" opponents that never appeared that day, provide grounds for using the Insurrection Act to summon the military, declare the election nullified, and promise a "do-over" election that might or might not have ever happened.

Ted Cruz did his part on that day, and the crowd of Trump supporters did theirs. The plan failed only because Mike Pence did not go along, and the expected counter-demonstrators never appeared—which meant there was no plausible deniability for the pro-Trump militia members and others who committed violence that day.

Cruz and his seditionist allies in the House and Senate near-immediately began inventing new theories to explain why the violence was actually the fault of antifa or other "anti-Trump" forces regardless of what we saw and heard on our televisions; one of the catch-all theories has been that the FBI staged the whole thing themselves, or at least helped plan it, or at least were the people goading Trump's frothing supporters into storming the Capitol and attacking people.

It was a theory invented in real time on pro-insurrection television programs and among pro-sedition lawmakers. It was based on nothing—another hoax in the now endless stream of pro-Trump hoaxes.

In real life, Ray Epps is a longtime militia member who was once president of the Arizona branch of the Oath Keepers, one of the two militias whose members are now facing seditious conspiracy charges due to their actions before and during the coup. He was in the pro-Trump crowd for the same reason as the others: to back Trump's attempt to remain in power regardless of the election's actual results. He has so far not been charged with criminal acts for a rather mundane reason: Epps appears to have never entered the Capitol building himself, and while there is footage of him encouraging others to go inside, there is so far no footage of him telling the crowd to be anything but "peaceful."

That makes him a small fry, when it comes to prosecution efforts. Courts and prosecutors are already overburdened with insurrection cases, and even those who did enter the building are not necessarily facing much punishment unless they manage to stack up other illegal acts as well. Prosecutors aren't targeting Epps because it's a harder case to prove than the others and his violations were less severe. So far.

If Ted Cruz is going to claim that every member of the pro-Trump crowd who hasn't been charged with crimes has not been charged with crimes because they're working for the FBI, he's welcome to go nuts with that. But he'd obviously be lying—and he's obviously lying now.

The last remaining bit of this farce hinges around the question that Cruz and other seditionists demand be asked: What if Epps was an FBI informant at some point? What if he did cooperate with investigators?

Okay, Ted, you've got me. What of it? Let's say this guy talked with the FBI and squealed as squealingly as a squealer could squeal—let's say he, or somebody else in the militia movement, sat down in front of a computer screen with three FBI agents named Edward, Thaddeus, and Bifftholomew and spent 10 solid hours going through security footage, naming every last face he recognized.

So then what? Oh my goodness, somebody cooperated with law enforcement to name people who attacked police officers, ransacked offices, or threatened to hang the vice president.

That's your conspiracy theory, Ted, so tell us what that would mean. Don't snivel like a seditionist little coward and suggest that something like that might be true; come out and tell us what the actual outrage would be.

Is it that somebody, somewhere might be cooperating with law enforcement to bring Trump's most violent supporters to justice? Is that what has you so upset?

Are you suggesting that those who stockpiled weapons and who planned their actions on that day so that they would have the best possible chance of toppling constitutional government should be set free, because somebody in the crowd is a snitch?

How very odd. But it's a pattern we've seen from Cruz and the near-entirety of Republicanism over and over again; whenever Donald Trump or someone close to him gets caught doing something that would have been grounds for immediate impeachment, removal, and likely prosecution during any previous administration, the Republican Party immediately launches an all-out war against whatever public official discovered the corruption. Every last time. The Republican enemies list is now just an unending list of names of government workers, foreign diplomats, top journalists, law enforcement agents and others who have reported or testified that Donald Trump did something corrupt.

Merrick Garland is now on that list because Ted is outraged Garland's Justice Department is charging people who attacked police officers and went hunting for lawmakers with crimes. That says a lot more about Ted Cruz than it does about anything else.

There's no mastery as to what is happening here. Ted Cruz was part of a far-right effort to nullify a United States election based on a fraudulent hoax dreamed up by conspiracy theorists and seized upon by his whole party as convenient excuse. He, personally, was accessory to an attempt to erase an election rather than recognize its results. It was all a lie, and Ted Cruz was one of its chief spokesmen.

But it failed, and now Ted and the other lawmakers who engaged in that seditious conspiracy are attempting to throw up whatever barricades they can between themselves and those who are investigating the day's events. They stonewalled congressional investigation—as in, the premise that there should even be one. They have supported architects of the day's events as those figures have defied congressional subpoenas demanding their testimony. They have tossed out countless new conspiracy theories intended to discredit law enforcement investigations of the people who were caught, on camera, attacking and injuring hundreds of police officers.

Ted would rather everyone who attacked police officers and ransacked offices that day go free, so long as that means federal and congressional investigations of who sent them there are stopped in their tracks.

Why?

Because Ted Cruz was part of a seditious conspiracy himself. And however large his part is known to be, it's very, very clear that it's Ted and his fellow lawmakers who are "trying to hide" the "full truth" of what happened that day.

What do you have to hide, Ted? What's so important that you're willing to shove conspiracy theories out to your base, attempting to discredit the entire federal investigation?

Just how low do you intend to sink, buddy?

Rosen testifies behind closed doors on Trump administration coup attempt at Justice Department

The full scope of the Trump administration's efforts to nullify an American presidential election is just beginning to come into view. Trump and his top allies engaged in an orchestrated, three-pronged plan to use federal officials to cast illegitimate doubts on the integrity of the election, explicitly pressure state officials to "find" votes or otherwise alter vote totals, and counter the official congressional acknowledgement of the election's results with an organized mob assembled specifically to "march" to the Capitol and intimidate the lawmakers carrying out that constitutionally mandated process. It was an attempted coup by Trump and his deputies, one that Trump himself continued to press even after that coup had exploded into violence.

The New York Times is now reporting that Trump's acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, gave closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary on Saturday. The subject of the testimony was the interactions between Rosen and Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as Clark attempted, on Trump's behalf, to press the Justice Department into issuing false claims suggesting that they were investigating election "fraud" of the sort that Trump's propagandists were claiming as the reason for Trump's loss. It was untrue, and the top two Justice officials rejected Clark's repeated proposals.

Transparently, it was an attempt by Clark and other Trump allies to throw the nation into chaos by claiming the election was so flawed that its results must be overturned—a claim which Trump's hard-right team believed would force the assembling Congress to erase the election's counted votes and, somehow, reinstall Trump as quasilegal national leader.

All three elements of the plan came perilously close to succeeding. All three were thwarted only because individuals remained in place who believed the plan to be insanity, sedition, or both. It is the efforts by Trump-aligned officials within the federal government, using the tools granted to them by government, that elevate the events culminating in violence on January 6 from insurrection to attempted coup.

In a pivotal decision, Rosen rejected Clark's attempt, leading to yet another internal administration crisis as Trump mulled whether to fire him and install Clark in his position so that the plan could be carried out.

In a Sunday CNN appearance, Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Dick Durbin said Rosen had described Trump as being directly involved in Clark's actions. "It was real, very real, and it was very specific."

Significantly, the Times reports that Rosen scheduled his testimony "quickly" so as to allow them to go forward "before any players could ask the courts to block the proceedings." That may be a self-serving interpretation of events. As emptywheel notes, Clark's efforts to overturn the election and Trump's aborted move to fire Rosen and install Clark as acting attorney general was the subject of news reporting in January, even before Trump's second impeachment trial took place. The Senate Judiciary began their requests for documents pertaining to the plan near-immediately, and have been battling the Department of Justice for testimony ever since.

A half-year delay in gaining testimony about a "very real" and "very specific" attempt to overthrow the duly elected next administration by coup does not make it sound like anyone involved is attempting to provide evidence "quickly."

Most significantly of all, perhaps, is that the United States Senate could have investigated the Trump team's plot during the impeachment trial meant to gather evidence and come to judgment on Trump's behavior. For the second time, it did not do so. It avoided examining the evidence, rushing through the trial to again get to the inevitable close of having nearly all Republican lawmakers back Trump's actions, even after they had resulted in violence.

The job now falls to the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection: The moves Clark, Meadows, and other Trump officials made to falsely discredit the election results were intended to provide the backing by which willing insurrectionists could justify their demands that the Constitution be tossed aside for the sake of Trump's reinstallation. The job also falls to federal investigators who now need to examine—swiftly—the criminality of the schemes.

It was not, however, a "Trump" coup. Donald Trump, a known liar and semi-delusional blowhard, had few government powers that would allow him to singlehandedly erase state election counts or make official his declarations that he had lost, after a disastrous single term, only through "fraud" concocted against him. It required the cooperation of top Republican allies, of Republican Party officials, of lawmakers, and others that would press the false claims and work both within and outside of government to give them false legitimacy. It was a Republican coup, an act of sedition backed with specific acts from Mark Meadows, from Jeffrey Clark, from senators such as Josh Hawley, from state Republican officials who eagerly seized on the conspiracy claims specifically so that they could be used to overturn elections they had lost, and from everyday Republican supporters who decided that the zero-evidence nationalist propaganda they were swallowing up was justification enough to storm the U.S. Capitol by force in an overt attempt to erase a democratic election.

Here we sit, waiting with bated breath as evidence dribbles out describing the full scope of what the entire world saw in realtime, from last November to January: top Republican officials spreading knowingly false, propagandistic claims intended to undermine the integrity of our democratic elections so as to justify simply changing that election's results and declaring themselves the victors. It was a fascist act. It continues in the states, as state Republican lawmakers use the same brazenly false claims peddled by Clark to impose new hurdles to voting meant to keep at least some fraction of the Americans who voted against the party last time from being able to vote at all the next time.

A bit more urgency is required, here.