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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adorbs. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former WH adviser Fiona Hill considered pulling a fire alarm during Helsinki Summit—to shut Trump up

I don’t know about you, but I used to feel pretty on edge whenever Donald Trump left the country. As bad as it was having him here, seeing him take overseas trips felt a bit like that scene in The Silence of the Lambs where Lecter escapes from his cage and no one can find him. What will happen? Will Trump shove Montenegro’s prime minister out of the way like an unruly child trying to get to the front of a Sno-Cone queue? Will he stand next to murderous dictators looking like Droopy Dog at the tail end of a four-day bath salts bender? Or will his diseased offal heap of a brain spin the wheel and do something truly Dadaistic, like appointing his horse to the Senate while ordering Ted Cruz to pull a wagon of turnips through Mar-a-Lago 16 hours a day with a Trump-branded bit in his mouth? 

My point is, anything could happen with this guy. And while that’s a great trait in a shock jock or a WWE wrestler, it’s not something I want to see in a man whose preternaturally stubby fingers hover over the nuclear button. But I’m just a garden-variety, standard-issue American with an ordinary interest in not dying gruesomely for no reason. Imagine how much worse it was for people on the front lines of Donald Trump’s war on reality.

Well, you don’t have to imagine. Former presidential adviser and National Security Council official Fiona Hill, who was a key witness in Trump’s first impeachment trial, has an insider’s take.

On the June 15 edition of Don Lemon Tonight, Hill recounted how truly horrifying Trump’s performance at the 2018 Helsinki Surrender Summit was. Remember? Trump took Russia President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of our own intelligence agencies and looked like a beaten animal that still thought it was going to get a Trump Tower Moscow deal one day.

Transcript!

LEMON: “I just want to read something that you told the BBC about the Trump-Putin press conference, this is in Helsinki, and you said this. You said, ‘My initial thought was just ‘How can I end this?’ I literally did have in my mind the idea of faking some kind of medical emergency and throwing myself backwards with a loud, blood-curdling scream into the media.’ I mean, of all the disastrous things that you have seen on the world stage, Fiona, where did that moment fall, and did you seriously consider that? Was it that bad?”

HILL: “I did seriously think about it. First of all, I looked around to see if there was a fire alarm, but we were in a rather grand building attached to the presidential palace … and I couldn’t see anything that resembled a fire alarm.

Look, I had exactly the same feeling that Deborah Birx had during the infamous press conference where there was the suggestion by President Trump about injecting bleach to counteract the coronavirus. It was one of those moments where, it was mortifying, frankly, and humiliating for the country. And it was also completely, I have to say, out of step with what had happened in the meeting prior to that.

The meeting itself was quite anodyne. Putin had tried to pull a fast one again. He always likes to stoke outrage. He had come up with the idea of potentially allowing the United States to interview some operatives from the Russian military intelligence services who had been just indicted for their interference in the 2016 elections, but of course he was just about to announce to the world as well that he would then like to interview a few Americans, including our former ambassador Mike McFaul and a number of State Department and other officials who he’d also got in his crosshairs, so he knew that that was going to stoke outrage.

But it was the press conference itself and the way that President Trump unfortunately handled himself which was, you know, the worst moment of all. And as I said, I just thought let’s just cut this off, let’s try to end it, but of course I couldn’t come up with anything that wouldn’t just add to the terrible spectacle.”

Think about that. A top presidential adviser literally thought about pulling a fire alarm to save Donald Trump, and the nation, from Donald Trump. The best idea I could ever come up with was anonymously sending him a case of Velveeta-slathered sex toys—and that was after four years of racking my brain. But pulling a fire alarm was probably a better idea. Giving him a shiny new firetruck to play with would have also been a viable option.

Fast forward to today where, if none of President Biden’s advisers thought about tackling him to the ground and bringing in an exfil team to get him away from Putin, we’re already far, far ahead of where we were as a country at this time last year. 

But none of this will convince the members of the Republican Bizarro World Caucus, better known as the entire Republican Party, except for Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, plus a smattering of other consensus-reality dead-enders. The GOP currently imagines a world where Joe Biden, who has five decades of relevant experience, somehow collapses under the weight of his own competence.

Who wants to take this one? 😂 pic.twitter.com/8PIY2wkY5j

— Jo (@JoJoFromJerz) June 16, 2021

Uh huh. Sure, Lauren. You might want to up your daily intake of gingko biloba if you really can’t remember “a more unqualified person.”

Meanwhile, Biden was busy providing us with a refreshing study in contrasts.

Who looks a beaten-down Russian dog this time around? It isn't Biden. pic.twitter.com/C2yOKtALWZ

— Dawn Got Vaccinated! (@viewsfordays) June 16, 2021

We’re also supporting our allies now, instead of humiliating the ones Putin doesn’t like.

2017 G7 vs. 2021 G7 pic.twitter.com/JG9ZuBi3ya

— The Recount (@therecount) June 11, 2021

I don’t know about you, but I feel a whole lot better about where we are today than one year ago. At the very least, there’s a much better chance of Biden bringing Putin to heel, rather than the other way around.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

As Republicans beg Trump to focus on future, his first rally in Ohio aims to avenge his impeachment

Donald Trump’s first stop on his scorched-earth tour to punish Republicans who spurned him with impeachment votes is set to take place in Cleveland on June 26, according to CNN. First target: GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, representing Ohio's 16th District, which covers some of Cleveland's West Side suburbs extending down into rural Akron.

Gonzalez, a former wide receiver for Ohio State University-turned-pro-baller, is in Trump's crosshairs for being one of 10 House Republicans to vote for his impeachment and also joining with nearly three-dozen of his GOP colleagues to vote in favor of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. In May, the Ohio Republican Party voted to censure Gonzalez and called on him to resign for his impeachment vote. 

Now Trump will be using his first rally to support one of Gonzalez's primary opponents, Max Miller, a former Trump administration official and campaign aide. Trump had previously endorsed Miller in a February statement calling him "a Marine veteran, a son of Ohio, and a true PATRIOT."

News of the inaugural revenge rally comes amid a backdrop of distress signals from Republicans at both the state and federal level who fear Trump’s relentless focus on relitigating the past will cripple them in the midterms. Trump is also expected to hold a rally in Tampa, Florida, on the eve of July 4, with upcoming rallies in Alabama and Georgia yet to be decided.

But Trump's first stop will be devoted to his effort to eliminate any Republican willing to think for themselves and put country above Trump. 

In May, Gonzalez told attendees of a virtual forum hosted by the City Club of Cleveland, "I think as a party, frankly, we need to be on the side of truth, we need to be on the side of substance, and that’s how we’re going to win back majorities both in the House and the Senate and hopefully the White House in 2024. … I think continuing to perpetuate falsehoods, especially ones that are dangerous that led to the violence on Jan. 6, is a recipe for disaster for the party, but it’s also horribly irresponsible."

Trump simply cannot tolerate that type of thinking, nor could he survive it if it actually took hold in the Republican Party more broadly. Fortunately for him, the GOP is overrun with a bunch of spineless sycophants like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

As Republicans beg Trump to focus on future, his first rally in Ohio aims to avenge his impeachment

Donald Trump’s first stop on his scorched-earth tour to punish Republicans who spurned him with impeachment votes is set to take place in Cleveland on June 26, according to CNN. First target: GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, representing Ohio's 16th District, which covers some of Cleveland's West Side suburbs extending down into rural Akron.

Gonzalez, a former wide receiver for Ohio State University-turned-pro-baller, is in Trump's crosshairs for being one of 10 House Republicans to vote for his impeachment and also joining with nearly three-dozen of his GOP colleagues to vote in favor of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. In May, the Ohio Republican Party voted to censure Gonzalez and called on him to resign for his impeachment vote. 

Now Trump will be using his first rally to support one of Gonzalez's primary opponents, Max Miller, a former Trump administration official and campaign aide. Trump had previously endorsed Miller in a February statement calling him "a Marine veteran, a son of Ohio, and a true PATRIOT."

News of the inaugural revenge rally comes amid a backdrop of distress signals from Republicans at both the state and federal level who fear Trump’s relentless focus on relitigating the past will cripple them in the midterms. Trump is also expected to hold a rally in Tampa, Florida, on the eve of July 4, with upcoming rallies in Alabama and Georgia yet to be decided.

But Trump's first stop will be devoted to his effort to eliminate any Republican willing to think for themselves and put country above Trump. 

In May, Gonzalez told attendees of a virtual forum hosted by the City Club of Cleveland, "I think as a party, frankly, we need to be on the side of truth, we need to be on the side of substance, and that’s how we’re going to win back majorities both in the House and the Senate and hopefully the White House in 2024. … I think continuing to perpetuate falsehoods, especially ones that are dangerous that led to the violence on Jan. 6, is a recipe for disaster for the party, but it’s also horribly irresponsible."

Trump simply cannot tolerate that type of thinking, nor could he survive it if it actually took hold in the Republican Party more broadly. Fortunately for him, the GOP is overrun with a bunch of spineless sycophants like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Not shocking: The Republicans’ star witness at Trump’s first impeachment was lying

When former special ambassador to Ukraine Kurt Volker appeared to testify before the House in hearings connected to Donald Trump’s first impeachment, Republicans were thrilled. Volker was part of the “three amigos,” who Trump had sent to Ukraine to force out experienced diplomats and see that Rudy Giuliani got all the assistance he needed in extorting the Ukrainian government into pretending to investigate Joe Biden. 

As soon as Volker completed his testimony, it was clearly at odds with that delivered by other witnesses. Volker testified that he never talked about the company Burisma, where Hunter Biden was on the board, in his discussions with Ukrainian officials. He completely omitted any reference to a series of meetings and calls on July 10, 2019, after which then-Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman took his concerns about what was going on to the NSC’s lead counsel. Volkman contradicted the content of text messages he sent on July 19, in which he joined Rudy Giuliani in urging the Ukrainian president to initiate an investigation of Biden. He left out how Burisma and the Bidens factored into a statement Trump wanted from the Ukrainians. And he completely failed to testify about how he had insisted—as text messages showed—that Ukrainian officials had to include both claims that Ukraine had interfered with the U.S. election in 2016, and that Biden had tried to block an investigation into Burisma, if they wanted to “prevent a recurrence” of Trump blocking military aid to the country.

But what really excited the Republicans was the fact that Volker provided them with the Big Talking Point: a claim that there was “no quid pro quo” connecting the request for an investigation into the Bidens and the release of U.S. assistance to Ukraine. In his deposition to the House committee, Volker made it clear: “At no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former vice president Biden.”

But text messages at the time also made it clear this wasn’t true. And calls that CNN released this week while looking into the actions of Giuliani make this one thing exceedingly clear: In his sworn testimony to Congress, former ambassador Kurt Volker was lying his ass off.

As The Washington Post reports, it was Volker’s testimony that Republicans leaned on when they claimed that Trump had been exonerated. 

“Ambassador Volker … confirmed what the President has repeatedly said: there was no quid pro quo,” tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan. 

“Ambassador Volker, you just like took apart their entire case,” said a grateful Rep. Michael Turner during questioning.

In his testimony, Volker didn’t hold back. “At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former vice president Biden. As you know from the extensive real-time documentation I have provided, Vice President Biden was not a topic of our discussions.”

How could this be the case when Volker repeatedly texted concerning an investigation into Burisma? The pretense that Volker put forward was that he didn’t know. He didn’t know why Trump wanted an investigation into a particular Ukrainian energy firm as part of his deal. He didn’t know why this was so vital that it could be a factor in allowing an ally to be preyed on by Russian forces.

Volker wasn’t the only one. His former “amigos”—Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry—pushed the same line. Apparently Trump and Giuliani had it out for this one gas company. After that, they all pled blissful ignorance. 

Yeah, but … Volker was on the call when Giuliani said this to one of the Ukrainian president’s top assistants:

“All we need from the President is to say, I’m going to put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence that presently exists, and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out.”

That was just one of several instances where Giuliani explicitly drew the connection between what was being asked of the Ukrainian president with the Bidens. Volker was on that call. Pretending that he didn’t know what he was asking when he asked about Burisma would mean not just acknowledging an astounding ignorance about the country he was supposed to be assisting—past allegations against Burisma had played a key role in both U.S. and U.K. actions in Ukraine—it would mean he wasn’t actually listening to what Giuliani said during their conversations with Ukrainian officials. In Volker’s testimony he claimed that “In referencing Burisma it was clear he was only talking about whether any Ukrainians had acted inappropriately,” which never made any sense at all. It still doesn’t.

The Post suggests that Volker hewed a very narrow line in his testimony and that he “referred specifically to the idea that Biden wasn’t brought up in the text messages he turned over—rather than at all in any conversations.” But that’s attempting to parse things way, way too finely.

It’s clear that when Volker, Sondland, and others mention Burisma in their text messages, that this is shorthand for announcing an investigation into the role Joe and Hunter Biden played in connection to that company. That’s specifically what Giuliani asks for, again and again.

And in his testimony, Volker goes much further than The Post suggests. Volker’s full statement to the committee, apparently in response to a question by Rep. Adam Schiff, was this:

“At no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. As you will see from the extensive text messages I am providing, which convey a sense of real-time dialogue with several different actors, Vice President Biden was never a topic of discussion.”

It might be possible to twist that statement so that the last mention of Biden is directed toward the text messages. It’s not possible to do so with the first mention. “At no time was I aware of or took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden” is simply a lie. An out and out lie. A lie that was intended to cover Volker’s ass, and which Republicans seized on as justification to exonerate Trump.

It was always clear that Volker was lying when he claimed to not understand the connection between Burisma and Joe Biden. The most recent revelations just underline the extent of that lie.

it may be too late for a do-over of that first impeachment, this time with honest testimony. It’s not too late to charge Kurt Volker for his lies.

Morning Digest: Trump backs longtime coal operative in Ohio special election for red House seat

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

OH-15: Donald Trump waded into the crowded August Republican primary to succeed former Rep. Steve Stivers by endorsing coal company lobbyist Mike Carey on Tuesday.

Trump's decision came days after Stivers, who officially resigned from this very red suburban Columbus seat last month, backed state Rep. Jeff LaRe. That move, as well as Stivers' decision to use his old campaign committee to air ads for the state representative, briefly made LaRe the primary frontrunner; another candidate, state Rep. Brian Stewart, subsequently dropped out and acknowledged he didn't think he could compete against his Stivers-supported colleague. Trump's support for Carey, though, likely upends this contest.

Carey himself doesn't appear to have run for office since his 1998 defeat in an eastern Ohio state House seat against the late Charlie Wilson, a Democrat who went on to represent that area in Congress from 2007 to 2011, but he's long been influential in state politics.

Campaign Action

Back in 2011, Politico described Carey, who worked as an operative for the state coal industry, as "a one-man wrecking ball for Democrats who have strayed too far green for voters' liking." It noted that Carey's political organization ran TV ads in Ohio in 2004 savaging the Democratic presidential nominee as "John Kerry, Environmental Extremist," and he also targeted Barack Obama four years later.

Carey went on to work as a lobbyist for the coal giant Murray Energy, which was renamed American Consolidated Natural Resources Inc. last year after it emerged from bankruptcy protection. The company and its leadership has long been a major foe of environmentalists in Ohio and nationally, with former chief executive Robert Murray, a close Trump ally, lavishly funding global warming deniers.

Senate

AK-Sen: A new poll from Change Research for the progressive group 314 Action finds Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski faring poorly under Alaska's new top-four primary. In a hypothetical matchup against fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka (who is running) and independent Al Gross (who unsuccessfully ran for Senate last year with Democratic support and is considering another bid), Tshibaka leads with 39%, while Gross takes 25 and Murkowski just 19. John Wayne Howe of the far-right Alaska Independence Party would get 4%, and 12% are undecided.

Murkowski would still advance to the general election in this scenario, since, as the name implies, the four highest vote-getters in the primary move on, but she'd do no better then. To reduce the risk of spoilers, November elections will be decided via ranked-choice voting, but in a simulated instant runoff, Tshibaka would beat Gross 54-46. 314 Action, which endorsed Gross last cycle, is arguing that the poll suggests that Murkowski's weakness offers Democrats an opening, but Tshibaka's performance—and recent history—show just how tough it is for Democrats to win statewide in Alaska.

AL-Sen: The Club for Growth has dusted off a late April poll from WPA Intelligence showing Rep. Mo Brooks leading businesswoman Lynda Blanchard by a wide 59-13 margin in next year's GOP Senate primary, with Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt at 9 and 19% of voters undecided. (The survey was conducted well before Britt, who just kicked off her campaign the other day, entered the race.) The Club hasn't endorsed Brooks yet, but sharing this poll is a signal that it may do so.

FL-Sen: On Wednesday, several weeks after a consultant said Rep. Val Demings would run for Senate, Demings herself made her campaign against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio official. Demings, who was a manager during Donald Trump's first impeachment trial and reportedly was under consideration as Joe Biden's running-mate last year, is by far the highest-profile Democrat to enter the race, though she faces Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell and (apparently?) former Rep. Alan Grayson for the nomination.

OH-Sen: A new poll of next year's GOP Senate primary in Ohio from former state Treasurer Josh Mandel unsurprisingly finds Mandel leading former state party chair Jane Timken 35-16, with all other candidates (actual and hypothetical) in the mid-to-low single digits and 34% of voters undecided. The survey, from Remington Research, is likely intended as pushback to a recent set of Timken internals from Moore Information that showed her gaining on Mandel, the newest of which had Mandel up just 24-19.

Governors

MI-Gov: A new poll from the Michigan Republican Party from Competitive Edge finds former Detroit police Chief James Craig (who hasn't actually kicked off a campaign yet) leading Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer 45-38 in a hypothetical test of next year's race for governor. Somewhat strangely, the survey also finds Whitmer beating Army veteran John James, who lost back-to-back Senate bids in 2018 and 2020 (and also hasn't announced a gubernatorial run), by a 50-45 margin.

These numbers are peculiar for two reasons: First, why would the state GOP want to make a prominent potential recruit like James look less electable—unless party leaders actually would prefer he stay out of the race, that is? The second oddity is the data itself. The 12-point difference in Whitmer's share as between the two matchups suggests that Craig, who's never run for office before, has an ability to win over Democratic voters so strong as to be almost unique in American politics today.

This extremely bifurcated take also stands in contrast to an independent poll last month from Target Insyght for the local tipsheet MIRS News, which found Whitmer up 48-42 on Craig and 49-39 on James. We'll need more polling before we can get a better sense of where things stand, but in today's extremely polarized political environment, the results from Target Insyght make much more sense than those from Competitive Edge.

NJ-Gov: Just hours before polls closed in the Garden State for Tuesday's primary, Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics released a poll of a matchup between Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and former Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli that showed Murphy comfortably ahead 52-26. The survey found 10% of respondents undecided and an additional 11% who declined to choose either candidate.

The poll only pitted Murphy against Ciattarelli, a matchup that's no longer hypothetical since Ciattarelli secured the GOP nod with 49% of the vote on Tuesday and Murphy faced no intra-party opposition.

OR-Gov: Businesswoman Jessica Gomez has joined next year's race for governor, making her the second notable candidate to seek the Republican nod after 2016 nominee Bud Pierce. Gomez has run for office once before, losing an open-seat race for the state Senate to Democrat Jeff Golden 55-45 in 2018.

PA-Gov: The Associated Press reports that Republican strategist Charlie Gerow is considering a bid for governor, though there's no quote from Gerow himself. Gerow's run for office twice before, losing bids in the GOP primary for Pennsylvania's old 19th Congressional District in both 1996 and 2000. (The closest successor to the 19th is the present-day 10th District, as both are centered around York and Cumberland counties.)

VA-Gov: With the general election matchup between former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin now set, Youngkin immediately began attacking his opponent, releasing two ads the day after McAuliffe clinched his party's nod.

The first commercial prominently features former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who finished second in the Democratic primary, and shows several clips of her criticizing McAuliffe. Youngkin appears at the end to call himself "a new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia". However, before the ad even had a chance to air, Carroll Foy had already unambiguously endorsed McAuliffe's bid for a second term as governor.  

The second spot follows a similar theme of a "new day". It begins showing a legion of grey-haired white men in suits while Youngkin's voiceover decries "the same politicians taking us in the wrong direction". Youngkin, a younger, less-grey white man wearing a vest, then appears amid the crowd to describe the policies he would pursue as governor.

House

TX-08: Republican state Sen. Brandon Creighton, who previously hadn't ruled out a bid for Texas' open 8th Congressional District, says he won't run for the seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Kevin Brady.

Legislatures

NJ State Senate, Where Are They Now?: Michael Pappas, a Republican who represented New Jersey in the U.S. House for a single term from 1997 to 1999, won Tuesday's state Senate primary for the open 16th Legislative District by a 65-35 margin. Pappas will take on Democratic Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker for an open GOP-held seat in the west-central part of the state that Hillary Clinton carried 55-41.

Pappas earned his brief moment in the political spotlight in 1998 when he took to the House floor to deliver an ode to the special prosecutor probing the Clinton White House that began, "Twinkle, twinkle, Kenneth Starr/ Now we see how brave you are." Politicos would later blame that bit of awful poetry for Pappas' 50-47 defeat against Democrat Rush Holt that fall. Pappas tried to return to Congress in 2000, but he lost the primary to former Rep. Dick Zimmer, who in turn lost to Holt.

Special elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's special election in New Hampshire:

NH-HD-Merrimack 23: Democrat Muriel Hall defeated Republican Christopher Lins 58-42 to hold this seat for her party. Hall improved on Joe Biden's 55-44 win in this suburban Concord district last year, which was the best showing of any of the last three Democratic presidential nominees.

Republicans control this chamber 213-186, with one other seat vacant.

Mayors

Atlanta, GA Mayor: Former Mayor Kasim Reed filed paperwork Wednesday to set up a campaign to regain his old office, and while he has yet to make an announcement, there's little question he'll be on this year's ballot.

Local NBC reporter Shiba Russell tweeted that Reed "could officially announce he plans to enter the race" at a Thursday birthday fundraiser, a message the ex-mayor retweeted. If Reed wins this fall, he would be the first Atlanta mayor to secure a third term since the city's first-ever Black leader, Maynard Jackson, won back this office in 1989.

Reed himself had no trouble winning re-election the last time he was on the ballot in 2013 (term limits prevented him from seeking a third consecutive term in 2017), but a federal corruption investigation that ultimately resulted in bribery convictions for two senior city officials generated plenty of bad headlines during the end of his tenure. The matter isn't over, as Reed's former chief financial administration officer and director of human services are currently under indictment but unlikely to go on trial before this year's election.

Last month, Channel 2's Dave Huddleston asked Reed whether he was under investigation, to which the former mayor replied, "The Justice Department under [former Attorney General] Bill Barr has looked into every aspect of my life for more than three years and took no action." The former mayor also said of the scandals involving his old staffers, "Anything on my watch, I take responsibility for," adding, "I'm sorry I didn't see it faster."

Reed himself used that interview to argue that he could tackle Atlanta's rising crime rate if he returned to office, declaring, "I do know how to fix crime, and I do know I could turn our crime environment around in 180 days, and I know that I've done it before."

A number of fellow Democrats are already campaigning in this November's nonpartisan primary to succeed incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms, who shocked the city last month when she decided not to seek a second term, and others could still get in ahead of the August filing deadline. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Tharon Johnson, whom the paper identifies as a "veteran Democratic strategist and businessman," is one of the prospective contenders thinking about running.

Boston, MA Mayor: This week, state Rep. Jon Santiago became the first candidate to air TV commercials ahead of the September nonpartisan primary; Politico's Lisa Kashinsky says his "six-figure ad buy is for two 30-second spots that will air on the city's cable systems and Spanish-language broadcast."

Both Santiago's English and Spanish spots focus on his work as an emergency room physician and military service, with the narrator in the former ad asking, "You want a mayor who's got a pulse on Boston and its problems, literally?"

New York City, NY Mayor: Attorney Maya Wiley picked up an endorsement Wednesday from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams ahead of the June 22 Democratic primary. Williams, who was elected in 2019 as an ardent progressive, is one of just three citywide elected officials: The others are termed-out Mayor Bill de Blasio and one of Wiley's rivals, city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

How’s this for a rallying cry? If we lose the midterms, Trump will run again and (could) steal 2024

I never thought a fascist takeover of the galaxy could ever be less entertaining than the one depicted in The Phantom Menace, but here we are. One major American political party remains tethered to reality, whereas the other is a barmy cult of personality that worships at the clay feet of the worst human being I’ve ever laid eyes on outside of the port-a-potty queue at the annual Chilton, Wisconsin, Beer Festival—which is a long story, but trust me. And the line to pee in the creek is even worse. I only wish I were kidding.

Being the guileless backwoods naif that I am, I figured Donald Trump would be forced to slink away after the sound beating he received in November from the guy he kept calling a senile loser. After all, when George W. Bush left the country in a smoldering heap after his eight years of misrule, Republicans scrambled away from him like Quint trying to escape the shark on the deck of the Orca at the end of Jaws

But Trump is different. For one thing, he doesn’t have the common decency to concede an election he lost—by a lot. For another, he’s somehow mesmerized a majority of Republicans into believing he’s their bumblefuck messiah, despite having surrendered the White House and his congressional majority during his truncated tenure—and despite having incited a deadly insurrection based on corrosive lies about the integrity of our elections.

So here we are. I fully expected Republicans to dip a diffident toe or two back into consensus reality after the big dopey Dr. Zaius cosplayer was 86’d from the White House, but it looks like they’re all-in on febrile fantasy. 

The Maricopa County audit, the conspicuous (and appalling) lack of enthusiasm among Republicans for a Jan. 6 commission, the rebuke of ultraconservative but anti-Big Lie Republican Liz Cheney, polls showing that a majority of Republicans still think the election was stolen from Trump—it’s all more than a little scary. I was already freaking out about 2024 and the possibility that Donald Trump would run again instead of vanishing forever under a pile of fast food detritus after removing a load-bearing McRib box.

Then MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan welcomed Yale professor Timothy Snyder and Emory University professor Carol Anderson, both historians and experts on democracy, onto his UpFront show. He asked them a chilling hypothetical: What happens if Republicans hold Congress in 2024 and a Democrat wins the White House?

Buckle in. This gets weird.

"If the Republican candidate is running on the Big Lie, if that's their issue in 2024...the Republican candidate who loses the election will indeed be appointed by Congress to be President of the United States," Prof @TimothyDSnyder tells me tonight. Wow.pic.twitter.com/Vaj4QL5Brx

— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) May 25, 2021

Transcript!

HASAN: “Tim and Carol, I’m going to ask you both the exact same question I asked Norm Ornstein and Ruth Ben-Ghiat on the show last week. If the Republicans are in control of the House and Senate come 2024 and a Democrat wins the presidential election narrowly, do you believe a Republican Party in Congress will certify that Democratic candidate’s win in Congress? Yes or no? Tim.”

SNYDER: “I think if the Republican candidate is running on the Big Lie, if that’s their issue in ‘24 the way that it seems to be in ‘22, then the answer to your question is the Republican candidate who loses the election will indeed be appointed by Congress to be president of the United States.”

HASAN: “Wow. Carol?”

ANDERSON: “Given that we have Republicans now who refuse to back the Jan. 6 commission, which was about the overthrow of an election … a fair election, given that we have the refusal of the Republicans to go in on impeachment, and given that they’re doing all of this work to undermine democracy with voter suppression and taking over control of electoral certification, I see this as a dress rehearsal for 2024 where they will not certify.”

HASAN: “Wow. So that’s Norm, Ruth, Tim, Carol. Four experts on this show all have answered this question in a very, very depressing way, but it’s important that we have this discussion.”

Jaw ===> floor

These experts aren’t in the mold of modern-day Republican “experts.” Ornstein, a contributor to The Atlantic and The Washington Post, helped draft parts of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a professor of history at New York University who “writes frequently for CNN and other media outlets on threats to democracy around the world.”

None of them, as far as I know, makes a living selling mediocre pillows to donkey-brained dipshits. So that’s scary shit, indeed. But it could also be an opportunity. Why? Because Donald Trump is a coward.

Let me explain. 

In a recent Politico story on Republicans’ attitude toward a potential Trump 2024 run, Trump flunky and perduring magic toadstool hallucination Lindsey Graham said this: 

“It’s more likely than not that he does” run, Graham said. “How we do in 2022 will have a big effect on his viability. If we do well in 2022, it helps his cause. I want him to keep the option open.”

So there it is, from Hermey himself. Graham doesn’t explain why Trump’s viability as a candidate would be improved if Republicans take back Congress in 2022 and then build their momentum enough to hold onto it in 2024, but I will: It would make stealing the election a piece of cake. 

Trump is a loser. Full stop. He lost in 2020 and, if our elections are conducted in 2024 the way they always have been (i.e., with Congress’ certification of the results being taken as a mere formality), Trump would almost certainly flame out, assuming President Joe Biden isn’t handed some major crisis that he fails to get under control.

After all, Trump lost by 7 million votes last time, and that’s before he tried to shiv democracy with his stabby little Chucky doll hands. The guy’s poll numbers were underwater for all but a few days of his White House tenure. On the day he left office, his aggregate disapproval rating, according to FiveThirtyEight, was a whopping 57.9%. Sure, the guy would likely skate through the primary process and would almost certainly be the GOP nominee if he ran, but he’d likely be dead in the water in the general election. Who (beyond his death cult) would want him back?

Most of the country has moved on and never wants to lay eyes on this sodden heap of off-brand urinal cake ever again. But Republicans—who, let’s not forget, make up less than 30% of the population—can’t get enough of the guy. Fifty-three percent of these deludenoids still think Trump is the rightful president, FFS. 

And so there’s our opportunity. Participation in midterm elections is typically far less than that of presidential elections. Voter turnout was strong in 2018—particularly in the suburbs—as many Democrats, independents, and disaffected Republicans came out to rebuke Trump and his agenda. Trump was on the ballot in 2020, and 81 million people came out to toss his ass, swamping the MAGAs’ own enthusiastic turnout.

Without a doubt, Trump can be a motivating factor, whether he’s on the ballot or not.

So here’s our motivation—and our rallying cry—for 2022.

If we lose Congress in the midterm elections, Trump will almost certainly run again, seeing his opportunity to cheat and manipulate his way to victory regardless of the actual results. If we keep Congress, Trump may finally slink away, knowing that he’d have little to no chance of pulling off another upset.

Incumbency is a huge advantage in a presidential election, and Trump won’t have that this time. His only advantage would be the likelihood—dare I say the guarantee?—of Republican treachery. But that can’t happen if there aren’t enough treacherous GOPsters in Congress to pull off an election theft.

So if you want Trump to run again—to be a major part of your waking life again—by all means, skip the midterm elections. If you don’t, show the fuck up, and make sure your friends and neighbors do, too.

That’s a rallying cry for 2022 if I’ve ever heard one. If we win in 2022, which we must, Trump will likely bugger off—finally and forever. Because he knows he can’t win, and he’s nothing if not a coward. If we lose, well, that could be the end of democracy as we know it.

Let’s win. In the face of insurmountable odds, let’s make sure we win.  

The alternative is simply too awful to consider.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

There’s a second federal investigation underway looking at Rudy Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine

Even before the 2016 election, Donald Trump and his supporters were pushing back against news that Russia was directly interfering in the U.S. presidential election. Even though Russia had engaged an army of false social media accounts, a network of sites dedicated to generating Trump-favorable false stories, and teams of dedicated hackers digging into documents at the DNC, Trump refused to say a bad word about the land of Vladimir Putin. Instead, Trump and his campaign pushed a conspiracy theory that all the hackers, bots, and Facebook ads didn’t actually come from Russia. Instead, said Trump’s campaign, the U.S. was being taken for a ride by that most powerful of opponents … Ukraine.

Trump and members of his campaign team pushed a completely unsupported idea that the “Cozy Bear” hackers were actually Ukrainians just pretending to be Russian. Then Trump took the whole thing further, insisting that Hillary Clinton’s emails were somehow stored on a “missing server” that was somewhere in Ukraine. That there was no missing server in the first place wasn’t a problem. 

It was all ridiculous. But over the next four years, Trump set out to prove that not only was Ukraine behind the 2016 hacks, they were also hiding criminal activity on the part of Joe Biden and his son. So, with the help of Rudy Giuliani and a cast of seemingly hundreds of eager to help scam artists, Trump spent months making connections with pro-Russian elements in Ukraine and leaning on the Ukrainian government. Those efforts not only earned Trump his first impeachment, it seems they also opened the 2020 election to foreign interference … from Ukraine. By way of Rudy Giuliani.

As The New York Times reports, federal prosecutors are now investigating whether a group of  Ukrainian officials launched a scheme to use Trump to get things they wanted in exchange for false information that Rudy Giuliani could spread in hopes of harming President Joe Biden. Which … yes. Yes, that happened. And it’s already been well-documented by House investigators

It’s been clear for months that Giuliani established ties to both exiled oligarch Dmytro Firtash and corrupt officials like parliament member Andriy Derkach. Firtash, who is also connected with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and employs Trump attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, gave Giuliani the indicted Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas to act as his guides to the Ukrainian underworld. With both Trump and Firtash leaning in, Giuliani had no trouble finding plenty of people willing to sign off on statements that smeared Biden—even if some of those same people instantly folded when questioned and admitted that they were just trying to “curry favor” with Trump.

However, Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine did have some very serious consequences, including giving power to hoodlums who wanted a U.S. ambassador out of the way so they could increase their level of corruption. Giuliani gleefully served that role, helping to demean and dismiss a dedicated career official so that he could get crooks to sign onto his scheme.

Now that Giuliani is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation that has seen his home and office raided, it seems that prosecutors are also looking at the people on the other end of the pipe. Particular attention seems to be focused on Derkach. Derkach has been both named by the intelligence community as an “active Russian agent” and sanctioned by the Treasury Department. He’s also one of Giuliani’s primary sources for claims against Biden and his son, Hunter.

The only person standing up for Derkach appears to be Giuliani, who said in an interview, “I have no reason to believe he is a Russian agent.” He said that after being officially warned that Derkach was … a Russian agent. Which is a pretty important denial for Giuliani.

The federal case against Giuliani seems to center on to what extent he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian elements in lobbying Trump to take actions such as the firing of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. That Giuliani did such a thing as a dupe of corrupt former officials supported by an oligarch who can’t even set foot in his own country for fear of arrest … that’s bad. But if it turns out that Giuliani did this as the knowing partner of someone who had been identified to him as an active agent of Russia … that’s considerably worse.

This investigation is based in the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, and is apparently running in parallel with the investigation into Giuliani’s activities being based in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. Hopefully they’re sharing notes.

Trump lickspittles have taken over Republican Party, but a handful of rebels play long game

All Republicans are awful. They are greedy, selfish, death-worshipping assholes. Let’s just stipulate that because it’s objectively true—it’s no accident that while they were happy to toss aside their supposed fealty to “family values” and “national security” during the Trump years, the one thing they got accomplished was tax cuts for the über-wealthy. Their priorities have always been clear. 

That said, we can divide Republicans into two camps, one of them full of morons beyond belief, and the other not so dumb. The first has surrendered itself completely to the felon-in-waiting Donald Trump, who cost them the House, the Senate, and the White House—only the third president to lose reelection in the last hundred years. He isn’t just the nation’s biggest loser, but a living reminder of the GOP’s lack of any actual ideological core beyond tax cuts for the rich. Remember, Republicans didn’t even bother writing a party platform during their presidential convention! Why bother writing anything down when all that matters is what Trump thinks in the moment, subject to his changing irrational whims? 

The Trump lickspittles have won the battle for control of their party. But there is a smaller faction—those Republicans who, while ideologically odious, at least remain loyal to the Constitution and the principles of American democracy. It’s a low bar to meet and a distressingly small number of Republicans meet it, but they exist. 

Yet while this small minority of Republicans might be on the outs today, they’re playing the long game, and it’s a smarter game to play. They may not be the future of the party, but they have more of a chance to do so than any of the Lickspittle caucus ever will. 

Six Republicans voted for the Jan. 6 commission: 

  Bill Cassidy, Louisiana   Susan Collins, Maine   Lisa Murkowski, Alaska   Rob Portman, Ohio   Mitt Romney, Utah   Ben Sasse, Nebraska

This nearly mirrors the list of Republicans who voted to convict during Trump’s second impeachment trial. The only differences are that Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey is missing (he didn’t bother to stick around) and Portman was added to this list. 

Of those, Portman is retiring, Collins represents a blue state, and Murkowski is protected by the strange politics of her state (including the brand new “top-four” jungle primary that protects her from being ousted in a traditional Republican-only primary). 

Cassidy, Romney, and Sasse, however, represent solid red states (even if Utah isn’t particularly Trump-loving), and Sasse, in particular, has presidential ambitions. (Maybe Romney too.) 

Over in the House, 35 Republicans voted for the commission—a stunningly large number of defectors—led by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was recently cancelled from the House leadership. That is a significant increase from the 10 who voted for Trump’s second impeachment. And if you look at that list, it’s not a list of “liberal Republicans,” or even moderates. No liberal Republicans are left, and precious few moderates, as well. Most were solid conservatives standing up for the Constitution. 

It would be hard to point to any elected official and not think that they have higher-office aspirations. So these Republicans, in all future campaigns, will have this vote hung around their necks during their primaries. It’s the reason so many Republicans took the coward’s way out and stood by Trump. They were afraid to face their base voters having stood up to Trump. There are the loyalists, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who are far gone in Q-conspiracy land and worship their idol Trump. But aside from those, there are the opportunists—the Sens. Josh Hawleys and Ted Cruzes, Republicans working feverishly to capture that Trump electoral magic in a bottle and releasing it for their own benefit in their inevitable future presidential bids. George P. Bush is the latest of that crowd to humiliate themselves in a bid to win Trump’s approval. 

What the Liz Cheneys and Ben Sasses know, because it’s obvious, is that Trump will never anoint any of that crowd—not the loyalists, and not the opportunists—for anything in which he or his spawn have their eye on. He is loyal to himself first, and Ivanka Trump second. Then, to a lesser degree, his sons. And after that, the spouses and partners. That’s it! 

There isn’t a chance in hell that a Trump doesn’t run for president in 2024. It might not be Donald Trump himself—he might be too indicted, too convicted, too in jail, or too dead from all those disgusting Big Macs he eats. But if it isn’t the Liar in Chief himself, it will be one of his children. The loyalists might not care, pathetically worshipping at the altar of Trump. But the opportunists are making a bet that will never pay off. They will never inherit the Trump movement, because Trump doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone but himself and his clan. They have thrown in with an odious, morally obscene man who will never give them the approbation they so desperately want from him. 

Cheney and Sasse are ambitious politicians. They know what they face inside their party, and they’re making a calculated bet that someday sanity will return to their party, and their brand of competent conservatism will once again have value. These are smart politicians, and they know the pitfalls and dangers they face ahead. They may lose their next primary bids. They may be further ostracized and marginalized. They may simply fail to stem the tide of a Republican Party falling deeper into conspiracy territory. 

But if the Republican Party ever breaks out of this current fever, they’ll be there to pick up the pieces and lead it onward. 

The chance that happens is slim. What, 5% or 10%? Let’s not pretend odds are good. But it’s not out of the realm of impossibility. And even 10% is a higher chance of success than the big 0% the lickspittles have of ever becoming president, becoming leaders of their party, or even winning any seats coveted by the Trump clan. 

Gordon Sondland sues government, Mike Pompeo for impeachment-related legal fees

Remember when it was conclusively proven that Donald Trump did a crime? No, not that one, the other one. No, between those two. We're talking about the confirmation, by multiple witnesses called before the House to testify on presidential acts, that Donald Trump slow-walked both military and diplomatic aid to Ukraine, which was fighting off a Russia-backed insurrection after Russian troops invaded and proclaimed ownership of Crimea, because Donald Trump was demanding the Ukrainian government do him specific favors to aid his upcoming campaign.

In a move eerily similar to the Trump campaign's 2016 dalliances with Russian espionage and propaganda campaigns, this time it was Rudy Giuliani, not Paul Manafort, who acted as courier looking to boost the effectiveness of Russian disinformation campaigns looking to damage Trump's most-feared Democratic election opponent. Pro-Russian Ukrainians laundered anti-Biden materials through Giuliani, who broadcast even the weirdest and most ridiculous ones (Secret servers! Russia was unfairly blamed for 2016 election hacking when actually it was Democrats hacking themselves the whole time!) into Donald Trump's own incomprehensibly hollow head; Donald Trump then insisted that Ukrainian government officials announce that they were investigating these very stupid claims, lending them official credence, in exchange for Trump (1) meeting with the Ukrainian president as show of support for the nation's battle against Russian occupation and (2) agreeing to release his hold on congressionally mandated military aid that Trump and his top officials had no legal authority to block in the first place.

During House impeachment investigations, Trump ally, donor, and ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified through only a little flopsweat that yes, there was a "quid pro quo" demand from the White House that the Ukrainian government promote the Trump-backed anti-Biden hoax before Trump would agree to meet with the Ukrainian president—a clear abuse of governmental powers to gain something of value to Trump personally. Sondland was one of the few pro-Trump witnesses to even agree to appear before Congress; other key witnesses to the events, including William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, refused to testify or to produce subpoenaed documents.

Trump and his allies faced no repercussions, however. Senate Republicans near-unanimously refused to hear testimony or evidence in the resulting impeachment trial, because they are corrupt. Only days after those Republicans dismissed the impeachment trial against Trump, Trump fired Sondland and other witnesses who testified to his actions, beginning a large-scale purge of any government officials deemed to be unwilling to cover up future Trump corruption. It was a fascist act from a fascist administration backed, then and now, by a fascist party.

Trump once-ally Gordon Sondland is now suing both the U.S. government and Mike Pompeo. His claim? That Pompeo assured him that the U.S. State Department would cover the legal expenses he incurred in preparing for his congressional testimony, back when Pompeo (himself hiding from Congress) and other Trump allies still believed Sondland would refuse to acknowledge Trump's extortive would-be deal. When he came back from testifying, however, Pompeo demanded his immediate resignation, Trump fired him after he refused to give it, and Pompeo's State Department stiffed him, leaving him with $1.8 million in legal bills.

Or, in other words, the same thing happened to him that has happened to everyone else who ever tried to attach themselves to Trump. Who would have thunk it.

Pompeo, for his part, is scoffing at the lawsuit. Democrats have for some reason declined to enforce Pompeo's testimony now that Pompeo no longer has the whole of Trump's government stonewalling that testimony on his behalf, and Pompeo is currently preparing to jet off to Israel to attend a party honoring an Israeli intelligence official and, presumably, commit another crime or two while he has the chance. He remains of the belief that he is still a force to be reckoned with in Republican politics, despite being made to look like a chump throughout Trump's incompetent reign and despite newer-generation fascist blowhards like Ron DeSantis running circles around him when it comes to kissing Trump's ass and getting Americans pointlessly killed.

Will Sondland get his money back? Who knows. Not from Pompeo, that's for sure. We'll see whether the new Biden administration decides that a Pompeo promise ought to be honored even when Pompeo himself never intended to do so, or whether maybe all involved believe that if you staked nearly $2 million on a promise from Trump's crooked inner circle than maybe that's your problem and not ours.