Things are going great! Republicans walk out en masse on Florida man Gaetz during speech

The House of Representatives still does not have a speaker. The 20 or so Freedom Caucus members holding up the proceedings realize that they, like the Republican Party itself, don’t believe in majority rule. The fact that the Republican establishment has kowtowed to them for the past decade or more has only emboldened their position.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the craven establishment leaders don’t want to remain in power—or at least seem to remain in power. On Friday, Florida man Rep. Matt Gaetz stood up to nominate—wait for it … wait for it—well, before he named his nominee for the speakership, Gaetz made a long speech attacking Kevin McCarthy, calling him the “LeBron James of special interest fundraising in this town.” 

It’s Jim Jordan! Sorry, I couldn’t wait. He named the guy who stayed silent while young man after young man allegedly told him they were being sexual assaulted and abused by a wrestling team doctor. That Jim Jordan. However, at least half of the people on Gaetz’s side of the aisle were not simply unhappy about the nomination but clearly could not stand to sit through the more-than-five-minute cringeworthy speech Gaetz subjected everyone to—and they left!

RELATED STORY: Matt Gaetz hits a new low—even for him—and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shuts him down

Hello darkness my old friend...

After saying Jordan’s name, Gaetz decided to attack reports that his crew of freedomers were too obstinate to make any deal with the 200 or so McCarthy backers. “Let's start with purity. Many of you have seen the reports that there are negotiations to determine whether or not on this side of the aisle there can be a deal, a meeting of the minds, a grand bargain that would allow us to proceed with the speakership. And I want all of my colleagues to know, regardless of your perspective on me, how impure some of those negotiations have gone.”

“Impure!” Matt Gaetz! Somewhere just shy of the four-minute mark where Gaetz began airing out his point of view on the dirty laundry exchanges behind closed doors, Republican members of the House began standing up, looking at their phones and walking out of the chambers.

Best part? Jordan continues to vote for McCarthy.

RELATED STORY: Twitter has a field day with Jim Jordan's craven behavior at impeachment hearing

What a way to start the new year! On the first episode of season two of The Downballot, we're talking with Sara Garcia, the strategy and outreach manager at Crooked Media—home of Pod Save America—about everything her organization does to mobilize progressives and kick GOP ass. Sara tells us how Crooked arose to fill a void in the media landscape, how it not only informs listeners but also gives them tools to take action, and some of her favorite shows that she loves to recommend to folks.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also discuss the Republican shitshow currently unfolding in Congress—and starkly different outcomes in two state legislatures that just elected new House speakers via bipartisan coalitions; the landslide win for the good guys in a special election primary in Virginia; why George Santos faces serious legal trouble that will very likely end with his resignation; and the massive pushback from progressive groups and labor unions against Kathy Hochul's conservative pick to be New York's top judge.

GOP falls into further disarray after seven Republican senators admit Trump was 100% guilty

Donald Trump may have escaped conviction, but the Republican Party will be suffering the consequences of his abhorrent insurrection for years to come. The fact that a historic number of GOP Senate and House lawmakers joined Democrats in declaring Trump guilty of betraying the country sets up a dramatic rift in a party that already appears to be going through a tumultuous realignment

Trump's constant defender, golf partner, and sometimes election meddler Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina rushed out to the Sunday talk shows to assure Republicans they are doooooomed without Donald Trump. “Donald Trump is the most vibrant member of the Republican Party. The Trump movement is alive and well,” Graham told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. “All I can say is that the most potent force in the Republican Party is President Trump. We need Trump.”

The notion that a guy who just came the closest leader in American history to getting convicted of impeachment charges is the "most vibrant member" of the GOP is really a stunning admission—Graham just doesn't know it. Graham is legitimately panicked. In essence, Republicans can't win without Trump, but trying to win with him is going to weigh down the party like a bag of bricks. 

Graham panned as "wrong" a recent move by Republican Nikki Haley to try (yet again!) to distance herself from Trump as she angles for 2024. Graham also twice declared during the Fox interview, "I'm into winning," taking a swipe at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for ripping into Trump in a cynical effort to appease corporate donors who have soured on him.

But Graham did make one observation that is surely true about McConnell's oratory castigation of Trump despite the fact that he ultimately surrendered to casting an acquittal vote. "That speech you will see in 2022 campaigns,” Graham predicted. Truth. Any right-wing Trumper who emerges victorious after a bruising GOP primary will certainly hear the echo of McConnell's words slamming their general election pitch. 

McConnell knew that before he made the speech, and it also tells you just how desperate he is to keep those corporate donations flowing. He was trying to split the baby by acquitting Trump in one breath and skewering him in the next, but that’s also bound to cause some GOP collateral damage heading into 2022.

Just to truly drive home how far the GOP star has fallen, Graham declared none other than Lara Trump, the supremely uninspired beneficiary of Trump nepotism and Ivanka wannabe, the future of the Republican Party. Verbatim—not kidding.

“The biggest winner I think of this whole impeachment trial is Lara Trump,” Graham said. “If she runs, I will certainly be behind her because I think she represents the future of the Republican Party.”

Lara led Trump's "Women for Trump" initiative targeting the suburbs, which you may recall, wasn't the electoral fast ball the campaign hoped it would be.

On the other side of Graham's sycophantic appeals and McConnell's Machiavellian maneuvering was Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who seemed to grow genuinely outraged over the course of the trial by Trump's murderous riot and overt lack of remorse. After Cassidy voted to convict, he released an exceedingly simply and unapologetic statement: "Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty."

On ABC's This Week Sunday, Cassidy predicted Trump's influence over the party had peaked and was on its way down. “I think his force wanes," Cassidy said.

What's so fascinating is that both Graham and Cassidy are likely speaking shades of the truth. Trump remains the most high-profile Republican nationwide and, while he will surely continue to harness the intensity of the nativist wing of the GOP, his ability to command a broad enough coalition to win national and statewide elections has just as surely taken a hit. In essence, Trump is a short-term bandage for a gaping oozing wound within the Republican Party. The Lindsey Grahams of the world are clinging to Trump for dear life, but his epic toxicity guarantees that wound will only deepen in the months and years ahead.