2020 was an election theft dry run for Republicans. Next time, they could succeed

Every election starting now and into the foreseeable future is going to be the most important election of our lifetime. Until the Republican Party as we currently know it is ground to dust, scorched, and the earth on which it stands is salted, the threat of white nationalistic fascism will remain. Right now, in 2022, Republicans are running explicitly on undermining representative democracy, from the smallest local positions up through the state legislatures and all the way to Congress. They are converging behind the Big Lie and promising that they are going to fix it so that they don’t lose any more elections. So that Donald Trump (or his stand-in) will take the 2024 election.

They’re not even trying to be subtle about it—it’s explicit in so many campaigns for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state in plenty of battlegrounds, including the states that Trump tried to contest in 2020.

“What we’re seeing right now is unprecedented,” Joanna Lydgate, co-founder and CEO of States United Action, told CNN’s Rod Brownstein. “To see candidates running on a platform of lies and conspiracy theories about our elections as a campaign position, to see a former President getting involved in endorsing in down-ballot races at the primary level, and certainly to see this kind of systemic attacks on our elections, this spreading of disinformation about our elections—we’ve never seen anything like this before as a country.”

RELATED STORY: Republican state legislators are laying the groundwork to overturn the next election

Brownstein reports on a study released last week—commissioned by the groups States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, and Law Forward—which determined that 13 states have already approved laws to make sure there will be partisan control over election administration, laws to intimidate election administrators, and laws requiring audits of the 2020 election, as if that is a thing. That’s beyond the orgy they’ve been having for the past decade with voter suppression laws, which hasn’t ended either. Thirty-three states have another 229 bills related to denying the results of the last election, and to limiting the electorate and predetermining the outcome of future elections.

“Taken separately, each of these bills would chip away at the system of free and fair elections that Americans have sustained, and worked to improve, for generations,” the groups concluded. “Taken together, they could lead to an election in which the voters’ choices are disregarded and the election sabotaged.”

“In the leadup to the 2020 election, those who warned of a potential crisis were dismissed as alarmists by far too many Americans who should have seen the writing on the wall,” Jessica Marsden, counsel at Protect Democracy, told Brownstein in an email. “Almost two years later, after an attempted coup and a violent insurrection on our Capitol, election conspiracy theorists—including those who actually participated in January 6—are being nominated by the GOP to hold the most consequential offices for overseeing the 2024 election.”

“It’s all connected,” Lydgate said. “The playbook is to try to change the rules and change the referees, so you can change the results.”

They’ve got a very powerful referee on their side in the form of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

A casual observer might reasonably conclude that Ginni and Clarence Thomas are working in tandem to lay the groundwork for the next coup—with Ginni taking up the politics and Clarence handling the legal side. The symmetry between their work is remarkable. https://t.co/wUh5TiHk4q pic.twitter.com/tooRedMQJk

— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) May 23, 2022

Thomas won’t recuse himself from any of these cases, and as of now, a Democratic Congress doesn’t seem particularly interested in trying to force him to via the threat of investigation and impeachment.

“What’s past is prologue, and what was done sloppily in 2020 is being mapped out by experts for 2024,” Slate’s Stern and Dahlia Lithwick write. “It didn’t work in 2020 because the legal and political structures to support it weren’t in place at the time. Those pieces are being put into place as we type this.” That’s the story Brownstein is also trying to get to Democrats and the rest of the traditional media—anyone who will listen and can do something about it.

There are answers. There are ways to fix this. They start with electing enough Democrats to state offices to make sure the damage the fascists can do is limited. We can also elect enough Democrats to the House and to the Senate to make the two Republican-friendly, obstructionist Democratic senators irrelevant.

Then it’ll be a matter of convincing that Democratic majority and a Democratic president that none of this is blogger hysteria, but a very real threat to our freedoms that has everybody else’s hair on fire. Saving our representative democracy means expanding and reforming the court.

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Guardian says House Jan. 6 committee to hold six public hearings in June, but is that enough?

The Guardian is reporting that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack is planning to hold six public hearings in June on how Donald Trump and some allies broke the law in their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. But Rick Wilson, a former top GOP strategist and the co-founder of The Lincoln Project, sounded alarm bells, saying the committee members are not putting enough effort into making their case to the public.

The British newspaper, citing sources familiar with the inquiry, said it had reviewed a draft schedule prepared by the House committee. The first hearing is scheduled for June 9 and the last hearing on June 23 will be televised in prime time.

The Guardian wrote:

We want to paint a picture as clear as possible as to what occurred,” the chairman of the select committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, recently told reporters. “The public needs to know what to think. We just have to show clearly what happened on January 6.”

The select committee has already alleged that Trump violated multiple federal laws to overturn the 2020 election, including obstructing Congress and defrauding the United States. But the hearings are where the panel intends to show how they reached those conclusions.

According to the draft schedule, the June public hearings will explore Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, starting and ending with prime-time hearings at 8 pm on the 9th and the 23rd. In between, the panel will hold 10 am hearings on the 13th, 15th, 16th and 21st.

The Guardian said the schedule is still subject to change. The two prime-time hearings are scheduled to last between one-and-a-half and two hours, while the four other morning hearings will last between two and two-and-a-half hours.

Each hearing will be led by a select committee member, the sources told the newspaper, but the questioning of witnesses who have been subpoenaed to appear will be primarily conducted by the committee’s top investigative lawyers. The investigators also intend to use flash texts, photos, and videos to illustrate the testimony, the sources said.

The Guardian report added that the panel will lay out how the efforts to overturn the election results unfolded over a 65-day period from the time Trump falsely claimed victory until Jan. 6:

The select committee is expected, for instance, to run through how the Trump White House appeared to coordinate the illegal plan to send fake electors to Congress, the plot to seize voting machines, and the unlawful plan to delay the certification of Biden’s win.

The panel is also expected to chart the reactivation of the Stop the Steal movement by the Trump activist Ali Alexander and associates, and how he applied for a permit to protest near the Capitol on January 6 but never held the “Wild Protest” and instead went up the Capitol steps.

The select committee additionally intends to address the question of intent, such as why Trump deliberately misled the crowd that he would march with them to the Capitol, and why he resisted entreaties to call off the rioters from obstructing the joint session on January 6.

The sources said the current schedule calls for capping off the six hearings with a close examination of video footage of leaders of the extremist Oath Keepers and Proud Boys groups meeting in a parking lot on Jan. 5 and their activities at the Capitol.

The sources said the select committee wants to draw a connection between “Trump’s political plan for January 6 and the militia groups’ violence at the Capitol in what could form evidence that Trump oversaw an unlawful conspiracy.”

Wilson sharply criticized the committee’s plan to only hold six hearings in a Twitter thread:

“SIX HEARINGS? SIX? Are. You. F*cking. Kidding. Me?" before adding, "Does no one understand the ballgame here?"

2/ Does no one understand the ballgame here? The witnesses from the Trump world will filibuster, bullshit, evade and jerk themselves off on live TV for roughly 40% of the hearings. Everyone will have a long statement at the opening.

— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) May 23, 2022

Wilson went on to say: "You have to create a spectacle. You have to make people care. You have to have drama. You have to drag and grind the people who tried to do this so long and so hard their knees bleed. A coup attempt that goes unpunished is a training exercise."

And he warned that should the GOP take control over Congress next year, they will hold months of hearings on Hunter Biden’s laptop, begin impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden for failing to secure the border, and hold months of “show trials” on Afghanistan or antifa.

4/ I PROMISE you, if the GOP was in charge of this, the hearings would NEVER, EVER, EVER stop. cc: @kurtbardella @TaraSetmayer Six hearings means the GOP will try to disrupt them (see Gaetz et al previously) and the Democrats will mumble their objections.

— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) May 23, 2022

Just for comparison’s sake, the Senate Watergate Committee headed by Democratic Sen. Sam Ervin of North Carolina began holding public hearings on May 17, 1973. In all, the committee held 51 days of public hearings, a total of 319 hours, before issuing its final report on June 27, 1974.

Here are highlights of that Senate committee’s hearings:

In May 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began holding formal impeachment hearings against President Richard M. Nixon, and in late July approved three articles of impeachment. Nixon resigned in August 1974 before he could be impeached in a House vote.

Of course, now we probably don’t have that amount of time to hold extended public hearings given the looming midterm elections, but the question is whether the House committee is allowing enough time to make its case to the American public.

Markwayne Mullin, self-professed Jan. 6 hero, tries to codify Big Lie and expunge Trump impeachment

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) is trying to codify the Big Lie and expunge the second impeachment of the former guy. The Hill obtained a copy of Mullin’s draft legislation, which asserts that the charge against Trump for incitement of insurrection  “contains a subjective account of that which transpired at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.”

Because what the entire world witnessed on their television sets for hour upon hour on Jan. 6…  wasn’t as bad as it looked? This is a particularly interesting reimagining of history because Markwaye went to great pains to highlight his own heroics as the MAGA army of orcs attacked on January 6. He told Politico a few weeks later that he “first leapt into action, helping an officer barricade the door on the House floor that leads to Statuary Hall.”

“The idea was just to try to delay. I honestly didn’t believe we were going to keep them out of the chamber. I was 100 percent convinced that we were going to pile up at the door,” Mullin told Politico. “It is all about time,” he added. He described how he broke up wooden hand sanitizer stands to create some kind of weapon, giving a piece of wood to Texas freshman Rep. Troy Nehls. “We have a choice. I’m with you, brother,” Mullin said he told Nehls.

Then he described how he attempted to try to talk the invaders down. “You almost got shot. You almost died. Is it worth it?’” he said he asked them. Someone in the mob supposedly helped back “This is our House. This is our House. And we’re taking our House back.’” Mullin told Politico he shot back with “This is our House, too. That is not going to happen.”

But in retrospect, all those heroics must have been overblown, because it was just an overly zealous attempt to exercise free speech on the part of those Trump supporters. Or something. Mullin’s big argument in the legislation is that the impeachment arcticles “omits any discussion of the circumstances, unusual voting patterns, and voting anomalies of the 2020 Presidential election itself.” Mullin was among the Republicans who challenged the electoral vote count on Jan. 6, even after his action-figure heroics were called upon earlier in the day.

Mullin was expected to introduce the bill Wednesday. In an email to fellow Republican House members Tuesday, reported by the Daily Beast, Mullin’s office wrote, “The Democrats’ weaponization of impeachment against President Trump cannot go unanswered in the history books.” The bill decries the “rabid partisanship the Democrats displayed in exercising one of the most grave and consequential powers with which the House is charged.”

“Democrats used their second impeachment resolution to once again weaponize one of the most grave and consequential powers of the House,” Mullin said in a statement. “This was never about the Constitution; it was rooted in personal politics.”

“Liberals couldn’t see through their blind rage long enough to follow parliamentary procedure, and instead barreled through Congress in order to have one more bite at the apple with President Trump,” said Mullin.

You don’t have to look too hard to find Mullin’s motivation in pushing this bill—which, by the way, will not get anywhere near the House floor as long as Democrats hold the chamber. Mullin is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Inhofe in June’s special election. Trump hasn’t endorsed yet in the crowded Republican primary.

Back in April, Mullin made the Mar-a-Lago pilgrimage to beg for his ruler’s favor. He and Trump “discussed the state of the economy and the upcoming election,” Mullin’s campaign said. Sure.

Not to be outdone by Mullin in the Trump genuflection contest, the perfectly odious Elise Stefanik jumped on board. “The American people know Democrats weaponized the power of impeachment against President Donald Trump to advance their own extreme political agenda,” she told Fox News Digital. “President Donald Trump was rightfully acquitted, and it is past time to expunge Democrats’ sham smear against not only President Trump’s name, but against millions of patriots across the country.”

Audio: McCarthy weighed 25th Amendment for Trump in private after Jan. 6

A new audio recording of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has reportedly captured him weighing whether to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove then-President Donald Trump from the White House two days after the assault on the Capitol.

With much attention largely trained right now on the Supreme Court after the leak of a draft opinion poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, McCarthy has managed a slight reprieve from the headlines. 

It was just over a week ago that a different series of audio recordings featuring the House GOP leader went public and he was heard, in his own words, telling members of his party that he was prepared to call for then-President Donald Trump’s resignation. 

In those recordings, and now in this new set, McCarthy’s private agony is yet again starkly contrasted against the public support—and cover—that he has ceaselessly heaped upon Trump. 

Related story: Jan. 6 committee may have another ‘invitation’ for Kevin McCarthy

The latest audio recordings—obtained by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns as a part of their book, This Too Shall Not Pass and shared with CNN—reportedly have McCarthy considering invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump as he listened to an aide go over deliberations then underway by House Democrats. 

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

When the aide said that the 25th Amendment would “not exactly” be an “elegant solution” to removing Trump, McCarthy is reportedly heard interrupting as he attempts to get a sense of his options.  

The process of invoking the 25th Amendment is one not taken lightly and would require majority approval from members of Trump’s Cabinet as well as from the vice president.

“That takes too long,” McCarthy said after an aide walked him through the steps. “And it could go back to the House, right?”

Indeed, it wasn’t an easy prospect.

Trump would not only have to submit a letter overruling the Cabinet and Pence, but a two-thirds majority would have to be achieved in the House and Senate to overrule Trump. 

“So, it’s kind of an armful,” the aide said. 

On Jan. 7, 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the president’s allies to divorce themselves from Trump after he loosed his mob on them, Capitol Hill staff, and police. 

“While there are only 13 days left, any day could be a horror show,” Pelosi said at a press conference where she called for the 25th Amendment to be put in motion.

Publicly, McCarthy would not budge.

The House voted 232-197 to approve a resolution that would activate the amendment on Jan. 13.  McCarthy called for censure instead of impeachment through the 25th Amendment. Then, from the floor of the House, McCarthy denounced Trump. 

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” McCarthy said. 

During the Jan. 8 call, the House GOP leader lamented that impeachment could further divide the nation. He worried it might also inspire new conflicts. He also told the aide he wanted to have Trump and Biden meet before the inauguration.

It would help with a smooth transition, he said. 

In another moment in the recording after discussing a sit-down with Biden where they could talk about ways to publicly smooth tensions over the transition, McCarthy can be heard saying that “he’s trying to do it not from the basis of Republicans” but rather, “of a basis of, hey, it’s not healthy for the nation” to continue with such uncertainty. 

Yet within the scant week that passed from the time McCarthy said Trump bore some responsibility for the attack and the impeachment vote, McCarthy switched gears again. 

He didn’t believe Trump “provoked” the mob, he said on Jan. 21. 

Not if people “listened to what [Trump] said at the rally,” McCarthy said. 

McCarthy met with Trump at the 45th president’s property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, a week after Biden was inaugurated. Once he was back in Washington, the House leader issued a statement saying Trump had “committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022.” 

They had founded a “united conservative movement,” he said. 

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.

McCarthy does damage control with House Republicans over leaked recordings

Despite Tucker Carlson's rant saying he “sounds like an MSNBC contributor” in recently released recordings and is a “puppet of the Democratic Party,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to be hanging on to the support of his fellow House Republicans. 

In January 2021, in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy claimed he was going to pressure Donald Trump to resign. He said Rep. Matt Gaetz was “putting people in jeopardy” and that he would tell Gaetz to “cut this shit out.” He wondered, of some House Republicans, “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?” But apparently, McCarthy has done enough sucking up over the past 15 months to convince the far right, including Trump, that he can be relied on to keep sucking up and supporting assaults on democracy.

RELATED STORY: Awkward recording of Kevin McCarthy emerges hours after his denial. What else do reporters have?

McCarthy reportedly got a standing ovation at a House Republican meeting Wednesday, after he claimed that all those comments were part of a “conversation about scenarios” and worked to focus attention on winning in November.

”McCarthy has explained that his comments about resignation were made only in the context of an anticipated impeachment conviction, and he has argued that he did not really want to kick members off Twitter,” The Washington Post reports, based on an anonymous “person familiar with the comments.” The part about the comments about resignation isn’t too far out of line with the recordings, in which McCarthy said, “This is, this is what I think. We know [the impeachment resolution will] pass the House. I think there’s a good chance it’ll pass the Senate, even when he’s gone. Um, and I think there’s a lot of different ramifications for that,” and speculated about whether Democrats would follow through on impeaching Trump if he resigned first. But the part about not really wanting Republicans kicked off Twitter is a strong case of “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying ears?” Most House Republicans are apparently willing to believe McCarthy, despite the clarity of the recording.

Gaetz remains unhappy, speaking out at the Republican meeting. But while Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly called on Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, to apologize for his comments on the recordings, and said she was hurt by McCarthy’s comments, it seems that McCarthy has done enough to butter her up—Greene isn’t after his head. And all it took was McCarthy coming out of a discussion about her speaking at a white nationalist event and pledging that he’d restore her committee assignments if Republicans control the House, and—as she told her fellow Republicans on Wednesday—working on getting her reinstated on Twitter.

In addition to his Wednesday comments claiming he had just been gaming out scenarios and hadn’t meant what he said and don’t Republicans want to win in November, a large part of McCarthy’s effort to get past his recorded comments has involved further sucking up to Trump. He talked to Trump three times in the 24 hours after the first round of recordings became public, the Post reports, and Trump told The Wall Street Journal the two men’s relationship was good. 

But it’s Trump, so it’s all transactional. “He will extract something from it. I’m sure of that. He will hold it over McCarthy,” someone who had talked to Trump about the recordings told the Post. Trump understands that he’s dealing with someone weak, someone he can handle:

" 'Inferiority complex,' Trump said." https://t.co/68nQvjJnYV

— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) April 28, 2022

It’s not transactional with only Trump, either—as the explanation for Greene’s muted tone about the recordings shows. McCarthy has spent 15 months making sure that Trump and Greene and everyone else understands that his ambition to be speaker is definitely more important than upholding democracy or ensuring accountability after an insurrection.

Whatever McCarthy really thinks about January 6, or about some of his members’ Twitter accounts … doesn’t matter. Because the only thing that matters for McCarthy is Republican power, and his own power within his party. And since most of his fellow Republicans share the former goal and think he can help deliver it, his barrage of phone calls to Trump and his refusal to discipline Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar for speaking at a white nationalist event, and his help with Greene’s Twitter account are enough for him to hang onto the latter.

RELATED STORIES:

Kevin McCarthy is in large trouble with his fellow Republicans after more recordings released

Trump’s Big Lie rules Republicans, and the traditional media is letting them get away with it

Michigan Republican sends horrid anti-trans solicitation after fundraising shortfall

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

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Leading Off

MI-07: Republican state Sen. Tom Barrett, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin in Michigan's new and competitive 7th Congressional District, recently sent out a fundraising appeal by text message falsely telling recipients that "your child's gender reassignment surgery has been booked," complete with a phony time for the appointment. Barrett, a far-right politician who has worn a "naturally immunized" wrist band and refused to say if he's vaccinated, deployed this tactic after David Drucker of the conservative Washington Examiner reported that he'd badly missed his own team's fundraising goals.

We know about Barrett's underperformance because a Democratic operative provided Drucker with a vivid recording of one of his top aides. "We announced just before Thanksgiving, you know, really, you know, we chained him to a desk and had him on the phones," said the staffer in February, "and he raised, you know, 310 grand. He's raising more money now—our goal is a million by the end of March." However, the senator hauled in only $456,000 during the first three months of 2022, which left him with $396,000 on hand. Slotkin, by contrast, took in $1.32 million during the first quarter and had a gigantic $5.5 million on hand.

One thing Barrett doesn't need to worry about, though, is the Aug. 2 primary. Candidate filing closed Tuesday, and the only other Republican to turn in paperwork was insurance agency owner Jacob Hagg, who hasn't reported raising any cash at all. This constituency in the Lansing area would have supported Joe Biden by a 50-49 margin, a small improvement for Slotkin from Trump's 50-49 edge in the old 8th District. But even an underfunded extremist like Barrett has an opening in a district this close.

Now that filing has passed in the Wolverine State, we'll be taking a look at Michigan's other big competitive races, starting with our MI-Gov item below. It's possible that some candidates who submitted signatures won't appear on the ballot, though, because election authorities in Michigan have disqualified contenders in past years for not meeting the state's requirements. In 2018, for instance, seven House hopefuls—including a few notable names—were thrown off the ballot after the secretary of state ruled that they'd failed to turn in the requisite number of acceptable petitions.

Redistricting

FL Redistricting: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed his state's new congressional map—which he himself proposed—on Friday, following party-line votes that advanced the map in both chambers of the Republican-run legislature. (We previously detailed the map's impacts in this post.) The same day, several advocacy groups and Florida voters filed a lawsuit in state court alleging that the map violates the state constitution's prohibitions on partisan gerrymandering and diluting minority representation.

NY Redistricting: A five-judge panel on New York's Appellate Division, the state's intermediate appellate court, upheld a recent lower court ruling that the new congressional map drawn by Democrats violates the state constitution as an illegal partisan gerrymander and gave lawmakers until April 30 to craft a replacement. However, Democrats have already said they'll appeal to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, with oral arguments scheduled for Tuesday.

In its ruling, the Appellate Division also overturned the trial court's finding that the legislature lacked the power to draw new maps for the state Senate and Assembly, allowing those maps to be used. It's not yet clear whether Republicans plan to pursue their own appeal regarding this issue.

Senate

AR-Sen: We have yet to see any polls indicating whether former NFL player Jake Bequette poses a serious threat to Sen. John Boozman in the May 24 Republican primary, but the incumbent did recently air an ad taking a swipe at his foe. Most of Boozman's spot, which praises him as a "workhorse, not a show pony" is positive, though it employs a photo of Bequette as the narrator hits those last words.

Bequette's allies at Arkansas Patriots Fund, meanwhile, have been going directly at Boozman with a commercial faulting him for having "voted to confirm six in 10 Biden cabinet picks" in the first 40 days of the administration. The ad goes on to accuse the senator of backing "amnesty for illegals, tax dollars for abortions, bailouts for Wall Street, even allowed the feds to confiscate your firearm records." The super PAC received $1 million from conservative megadonor Dick Uihlein last year, which Politico's Alex Isenstadt says makes up most of its budget.

AZ-Sen: The NRSC is commencing what they call a "seven figure" ad buy that starts off with a spot attacking Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly over immigration. This appears to be the first ad of the cycle going directly after a candidate from any of the "big four" party groups (which in addition to the NRSC includes the Senate Leadership Fund super PAC on the GOP side and the DSCC and Senate Majority PAC for Democrats).

CO-Sen: Wealthy construction company owner Joe O'Dea has announced he's spending $250,000 over three weeks to air an ad that touts his business record and portrays him as a conservative outsider. O'Dea faces state Rep. Ron Hanks in the June Republican primary.

NC-Sen: Former Gov. Pat McCrory has debuted a new commercial ahead of the May 17 GOP primary where he calls Rep. Ted Budd weak on Vladimir Putin before claiming that Budd is backed by billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Soros is a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor whom the far-right both here and abroad has frequently used as a target of and a stand-in for age-old conspiracy theories about wealthy Jews using their power to exert a nefarious influence over the world.

However, McCrory's accusation that Soros, who is well known for openly funding progressive causes, would secretly support Budd, who has compiled a hard-right voting record in his three terms in office, relies on very dubious facts. The Charlotte Observer reports that a Soros-affiliated investment firm once owned a 7.6% stake in a company led by Budd's father that filed for bankruptcy in 2000, and there's no indication the congressman even had any role in the company's day-to-day operations, which is a very far cry from Soros actually supporting his contemporary political activities.

Budd himself has launched a new ad that features footage of a rally where Trump effusively endorses Budd and McCrory goes unmentioned. While the two Republican front runners dominate the airwaves, the pro-Budd Club for Growth is notably training its focus on former GOP Rep. Mark Walker with an ad that criticizes him for frequently missing votes, including one involving Trump's impeachment. The polls have shown Walker in a distant third place, but the Club likely views his hard-right support base as overlapping with potential Budd supporters.

OH-Sen: Undeterred by Trump's recent endorsement of venture capitalist J.D. Vance in the May 3 Republican primary, the Club for Growth is once again running an ad that uses Vance's lengthy past history of anti-Trump statements against him. The ad campaign reportedly angered Trump so greatly that he had an aide text Club president David McIntosh, "Go f*^% yourself" (which presumably wasn't censored). A spokesperson for the Club, which is supporting former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, tersely responded to the news about Trump's message by saying, "We are increasing our ad buy."

Meanwhile, former state GOP chair Jane Timken has been struggling to gain traction in the polls, and she has reportedly been off of broadcast TV in much of the state for weeks and is only continuing to run limited cable ads on Fox News.

Governors

AL-Gov: Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has commissioned a poll from the Tarrance Group that shows her holding a dominant 57-14 lead over former Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard ahead of the May 24 Republican primary, with businessman Tim James taking just 12%. There have only been a few polls here from reliable firms, but every one of them this year has found Ivey far ahead of her rivals and in good shape to surpass the simple-majority threshold needed to avoid a June runoff.

GA-Gov: A group called Take Back Georgia with ties to pro-Trump state Sen. Brandon Beach has unveiled a $2 million ad buy for a spot that goes all-in on 2020 election denial to highlight Trump's endorsement of former Sen. David Perdue ahead of the May 24 GOP primary against Gov. Brian Kemp. Perdue has only been running a modestly sized ad buy recently after struggling to keep up in fundraising with Kemp, whose allies at the RGA have also spent millions airing their first-ever ads backing an incumbent against a primary challenger.

It's unclear whether Trump himself, whose super PAC recently reported it had over $120 million on hand, will increase its support for Perdue beyond the meager $500,000 it allocated a few weeks ago toward backing his endorsee. However, with the polls showing Kemp in striking distance of the outright majority needed to avoid a June runoff, time is quickly running short for Perdue.

IL-Gov: Far-right billionaire Dick Uihlein has given another $2.5 million to the June primary campaign of Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey, bringing his total contributions to $3.5 million in addition to another $1 million that Uihlein gave to a third-party group opposing Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. In yet another election that has turned into a battle of rival billionaires thanks to Illinois being one of just a few states without any limits on direct contributions to candidates, Uihlein's involvement so far still trails far behind the $20 million that fellow billionaire Ken Griffin, a hedge fund manager who is Illinois' wealthiest resident, has given to Irvin's campaign.

MI-Gov: A total of 10 Republicans are competing to take on Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer, which would make this the largest gubernatorial primary field in state history. The few polls that have been released show former Detroit Police Chief James Craig as Team Red's frontrunner, but he's had to deal with several major campaign shakeups: Craig, most notably, parted ways with his first campaign manager in December, and his second left last month.  

The August primary also includes two wealthy businessmen, Kevin Rinke and Perry Johnson. Conservative radio host Tudor Dixon doesn't have the same resources as her intra-party foes, but she sports endorsements from Reps. Bill Huizenga and Lisa McClain. Also in the running are chiropractor Garrett Soldano, Michigan State Police Captain Mike Brown, and five others.

OR-Gov: The May 17 primary is rapidly approaching, and the Portland Monthly's Julia Silverman has collected several TV spots from the candidates. On the Democratic side, former state House Speaker Tina Kotek talks about the progressive policies she helped pass, while state Treasurer Tobias Read's narrator argues that "Oregon has lost its way. It's time for a new approach." Silverman notes that this messaging is "all in keeping with Read's efforts to portray himself as a change agent, though he has been in state government about as long as Kotek."

For the Republicans, former state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan declares that she's "led the fight against [Democratic Gov.] Kate Brown's radical agenda." Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, meanwhile, goes all-in with courting right-wing outrage with spots where he calls for getting "critical race theory out of our schools" and "not allow[ing] transgender athletes to compete in girls' sports." Former state Rep. Bob Tiernan uses his messaging to attack Brown and Kotek, saying that their approach is "bull****." (A different Republican, consultant Bridget Barton, also tried to stand out with some censored potty mouth.) Finally, 2016 nominee Bud Pierce alludes to the Big Lie with the mention of "broken elections."

House

AK-AL: The Alaska Republican Party has endorsed businessman Nick Begich III ahead of the top-four special election primary this June, where Begich has emerged as one of the leading Republicans in the crowded all-party contest alongside former Gov. Sarah Palin.

MI-03: Rep. Peter Meijer, who was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump, faces primary opposition from conservative commentator John Gibbs, who is Trump's endorsed candidate. (We recently took a closer look at this primary.) Little-known attorney Gabi Manolache is also running, though "MAGA bride" Audra Johnson did not end up filing. The winner will take on 2020 nominee Hillary Scholten, who faces no intra-party opposition for her second bid, in a Grand Rapids-based seat that redistricting transformed from a 51-47 Trump seat to one Joe Biden would have carried 53-45.

MI-04: Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga, who represents the existing 2nd District, has no primary opposition following fellow Rep. Fred Upton's retirement announcement earlier this month. This seat in southwestern Michigan would have favored Trump 51-47, and the one Democrat to file, Joseph Alfonso, has not reported raising any money.

MI-08: Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee is defending a seat in the Flint and Saginaw areas that would have favored Joe Biden only 50-48, a small but potentially important shift from Biden's 51-47 showing in Kildee's existing 5th District. The Republican frontrunner is former Trump administration official Paul Junge, who lost to Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin 51-47 in the old 8th District in 2020. (The old and new 8th Districts do not overlap.) Former Grosse Pointe Shores Councilman Matthew Seely and businesswoman Candice Miller (not to be confused with the former congresswoman with the same name) are also in, but neither opened fundraising committees until recently.

MI-10: Five Democrats are competing to take on John James, who was Team Red's Senate nominee in 2018 and 2020, in an open seat in Detroit's northeastern suburbs that would have gone for Trump 50-49. James, who only has a little-known primary foe, had $1.25 million stockpiled at the end of March, which was considerably more than the Democrats had combined.

Warren Council member Angela Rogensues finished the quarter with $160,000 on hand, while attorney Huwaida Arraf and former Macomb County Judge Carl Marlinga were similarly situated with $145,000 and $135,000 to spend, respectively. Sterling Heights City Council member Henry Yanez, though, was far back with only $22,000 in the bank, while former Macomb County Health Department head Rhonda Powell had less than $5,000.

MI-11: The Democratic primary is a duel between Reps. Haley Stevens and Andy Levin for a constituency in the Detroit northern suburbs that Biden would have won 59-39. Stevens' existing 11th District makes up 45% of the new seat, while Levin represents only 25%. (Several Democrats grumbled to Politico recently that Levin should have instead run for the new 10th, where he already serves most of the residents.)

Stevens has the support of retiring Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who represents the balance of this district, and EMILY's List, while the SEIU is in Levin's corner. The two have largely voted the same way in Congress, though while Levin has emphasized his support for Medicare for all and the Green New Deal, Stevens has portrayed herself as more pragmatic. Stevens ended March with a $2.79 million to $1.47 million cash-on-hand edge over her fellow incumbent.

MI-12: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is one of the most prominent progressives in the House, faces three Democratic primary opponents in this safely blue Detroit-based seat. Tlaib, whose existing 13th District makes up 53% of the new 12th, ended March with a $1.62 million to $221,000 cash-on-hand lead over her nearest foe, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey; Winfrey, for her part, has faulted Tlaib for casting a vote from the left against the Biden administration's infrastructure bill. Also in the race are former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson and Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett, neither of whom reported raising any money during the last quarter.

MI-13: A total of 11 Democrats have filed to run to succeed retiring Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who is Michigan's only Black member of Congress, in this safely blue seat, which includes part of Detroit and its southern suburbs. Lawrence, who supports Michigan Civil Rights Commissioner Portia Roberson, has argued that it's vital to keep a "qualified, committed" African American representing the state, something that several other Black candidates have also emphasized.

However, the candidate who ended March with the most money by far is self-funding state Rep. Shri Thanedar, who is originally from India. (Thanedar, who lived in Ann Arbor when he unsuccessfully ran for governor, moved to Detroit ahead of his victorious bid for a state House seat in the city two years later.) Thanedar had over $5 million on hand, which was more than ten times as much as the $453,000 that his nearest foe, state Sen. Adam Hollier, had available.

Other candidates to watch include hedge fund manager John Conyers III, who is the son and namesake of the late longtime congressman; Detroit School Board member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo; Teach for America official Michael Griffie; former Detroit General Counsel Sharon McPhail; and Detroit city official Adrian Tonon, who is one of the few other non-Black contenders in the primary.

MN-01: In what appears to be the first TV ad from anyone ahead of the special May 24 Republican primary, former Freeborn County party chair Matt Benda plays up his farming background and pledges to "protect our children from indoctrination in the classroom [and] ensure election integrity."

NC-11: Axios reports that Results for North Carolina, a super PAC close to Sen. Thom Tillis, is spending $310,000 on an ad campaign against Rep. Madison Cawthorn, which makes this the first major outside spending of the May 17 Republican primary. The commercial focuses on reports that the incumbent "lied about being accepted to the Naval Academy" and declares he's "been caught lying about conservatives." The narrator, who brands the congressman "an attention-seeking embarrassment," does not mention Tillis' endorsed candidate, state Sen. Chuck Edwards.

TN-05: Tennessee has finalized its list of candidates for the Aug. 4 primary ballot now that each party has had the chance to eject contenders who did not meet their "bona fide" standards, an option the GOP utilized in the 5th District in order to bounce three notable candidates. The 5th will also likely be home to the only seriously contested House race, and we'll be taking a look at the field now that we know who's on the ballot.

There are nine Republicans remaining in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper in the 5th, which GOP mapmakers transmuted from a 60-37 Biden district to a 54-43 Trump constituency by cracking the city of Nashville. The only three who appear to be serious contenders are former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, who took a disappointing fourth place in the 2018 primary for governor; Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles; and retired Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead, who has the largest war chest by far, though it's possible another candidate will catch fire. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Heidi Campbell has the field to herself.

Ad Roundup

It's that time of the election cycle again when campaign ads have grown too numerous for us to detail every one, so we're bringing back a feature from past cycles where we'll round up any remaining ads that we don't have space to cover in greater depth. Today's list only has a few entries, but the roundup will be sure to grow longer as the year progresses:

Who’s the biggest loser: McConnell or McCarthy?

For years, Capitol Hill reporters have assured Americans that privately, Republicans disparage Donald Trump and can't wait to get rid of him.

Now we are finally getting some real audio to back that up, and what it exposes is exactly what a bunch of losers GOP lawmakers are—GOP leadership in particular.

The recordings, made in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, were unearthed by two New York Times reporters, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, whose book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future will be released next month.

The reporters released one piece of audio Thursday between House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and then-House GOP Communications Chief Liz Cheney. Friday, on CNN, they released two more pieces of McCarthy audio, one from a Jan. 10 phone call with an inner circle of House GOP leaders and another from a Jan. 11 call with the entire Republican caucus.

The phone calls reveal a man who is absolutely desperate to rid himself of Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

"I've had it with this guy," McCarthy tells the GOP leadership team on Jan. 10. "What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend it, and nobody should defend it.”

Listen to Jennifer Fernandez Ancona from Way to Win explain how Democrats must message to win on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld

No one, that is, until he ran down to Mar-a-Lago three weeks later to beg Trump's forgiveness.

On Jan. 11, McCarthy was a little less pointed in his conversation with the wider caucus, but still talking tough.

"Let me be very clear to all of you, and I've been very clear to the president: He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No ifs, ands, or buts," McCarthy said.

No ifs, ands, or buts—until he ran his hiney down to Mar-a-Lago three weeks later to beg Trump's forgiveness.

McCarthy then told the caucus that he asked Trump directly if he bore responsibility for what happened on Jan. 6 and if he feels badly about it.

"He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. And he need [sic] to acknowledge that," McCarthy reported back to the caucus.

That will probably be news to Trump, the notion that he took responsibility for something—anything, really—let alone the violent Jan. 6 coup attempt.

Senate GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also had some choice words on Jan. 11, telling two advisers of the impending House impeachment, “The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us."

According to the Times' Martin and Burns, McConnell told the aides he expected the Senate would convict Trump, with a strong contingent of Republicans voting accordingly. At least 17 Republicans would be needed to seal Trump's fate if all 50 Democrats voted in favor, and McConnell clearly thought he had the votes.

But once McConnell took the temperature of the caucus, he didn't. And ol' masterful Mitch also didn't have the leadership skills to deliver the votes. As McConnell recently admitted publicly, "moral red lines" aren't exactly his thing.

"He didn’t ascend to power by siding with the minority, he explained to a friend," write Martin and Burns.

As for McCarthy's leadership, just two days after that Jan. 11 call with the entire GOP caucus, he pretended it never happened at his weekly press conference.

“Did you tell House Republicans on their January 11 phone call that President Trump told you he agreed that he bore some responsibility for January 6?" a reporter asked.

“I'm not sure what call you're talking about," replied McCarthy.

Now there's a guy with some unshakable moral fortitude.

And so here we sit in the spring of 2022 with Trump still the 2024 GOP favorite even as he complicates the path for congressional Republicans to retake the majority. In fact, it's not exactly clear why he would want either McCarthy or McConnell to regain control of their chambers.

The biggest guessing game on Capitol Hill Friday morning was how hard Trump would come down on McCarthy. That seems doubtful. McCarthy is a useful idiot who will do absolutely anything Trump says in his desperate bid to become speaker of the House one day.

On Friday morning, McCarthy wasn't running around trying to rehabilitate his public image, he was madly ringing up all his colleagues to assure them that Trump isn't angry with him, according to Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman.

So who's the biggest loser? Broadly speaking, both Mitch and Kev are epic losers in the leadership department. They both wanted to rid themselves of the Trump plague with every fiber of their being, and yet capitulated to him at a time when Trump was at his lowest, most vulnerable political moment since he had announced his 2016 candidacy for president.

Dooming Trump was completely within reach, and neither of them had the grit or determination to follow through. Thus, Trump is still ruling their world.

More specifically, who will be the biggest loser of Trump's wrath? Likely McConnell, precisely because he's not the exquisite bootlicker that McCarthy is.

McCarthy gladly and immediately laying himself belly up at Trump's feet while McConnell doesn't will simply remind Trump how deeply he loathes McConnell.

He’ll be coming for McConnell. Trump can throw McCarthy under the bus later.

Awkward recording of Kevin McCarthy emerges hours after his denial. What else do reporters have?

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy strongly denied a Thursday report that, in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, he had said he would urge Donald Trump to resign. Then the audio came out of him saying he intended to do just that.

Whoopsies!

On the recording of a Jan. 10, 2021 House Republican leadership call, which Rachel Maddow played Thursday evening, Rep. Liz Cheney—then a member of House Republican leadership—can be heard referring to “when we were talking about the 25th Amendment resolution,” then asking McCarthy if Trump might resign. 

“I’ve had a few discussions. My gut tells me no,” McCarthy responded. “I am seriously thinking about having that conversation with him tonight. I haven’t talked to him in a couple days.”

RELATED STORY: Kevin McCarthy's failure to act on Gosar and Greene's white nationalist flirtation says it all

Friday, Apr 22, 2022 · 3:06:54 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

CNN just broadcast new audio of McCarthy unambiguously blaming Trump for the January 6 attack during a House Republican Conference call on January 11, 2021. In the audio, McCarthy also claims Trump acknowledged to him that he bears responsibility for January 6. pic.twitter.com/qH7vPdS1Qf

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 22, 2022

Friday, Apr 22, 2022 · 3:07:54 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Kevin McCarthy swore off Trump after Jan. 6: “I’ve had it with this guy. What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend it, and nobody should defend it.” pic.twitter.com/ZgUoOAYP52

— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) April 22, 2022

“From what I know of him, I mean you guys all know him too, do you think he’d ever back away? But what I think I’m going to do is, I’m going to call him,” McCarthy continued. “This is, this is what I think. We know [the impeachment resolution will] pass the House. I think there’s a good chance it’ll pass the Senate, even when he’s gone. Um, and I think there’s a lot of different ramifications for that.”

Listen to Jennifer Fernandez Ancona from Way to Win explain how Democrats must message to win on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld

McCarthy went on to try to game out some of those ramifications, saying, “I haven’t had a discussion with the Dems, that if he did resign, would that happen,” and describing the possibility of a pardon from Pence as “one personal fear that I have.”

Returning to the conversation he planned to have with Trump, McCarthy said, “The only discussion I would have with him is I think it will pass, and it would be my recommendation that you should resign. I mean, that would be my take, but I don't think he would take it. But I don't know.”

This, again, is from the recording of the thing McCarthy called “totally false and wrong” reporting hours before the recording was released.

There’s the interesting question of how New York Times reporters Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin got that recording—and the many more recordings they say they have. It’s a question with one obvious answer, though a spokesperson for Cheney insists, “Representative Cheney did not record or leak the tape and does not know how the reporters got it.” I mean, if you say so, Liz.

McCarthy also reportedly said he wished Twitter would ban some Republican House members, like Rep. Lauren Boebert, another report McCarthy denies and is now presumably wondering if he was recorded saying. 

Within weeks, McCarthy was off at Mar-a-Lago sucking up to Trump, as he has continued to do since. Nothing can match the cravenness on display from Republicans then and now, but listening to this recording, you do have to wonder if swifter, more decisive action from Democrats might have driven the wedge deeper between Trump and congressional Republicans. Either way, McCarthy is an absolutely proven liar and any reporter quoting him from here on should include that caveat. Every single time.

Recording of McCarthy and Cheney pic.twitter.com/oHMMV7TXbo

— Acyn (@Acyn) April 22, 2022

Trump’s ‘parade of supplicants’ advised to woo the ocher ape with big fonts and color photos

I’m trying to think of anything more undignified than sucking up to colossal loser Donald Trump after everything that’s happened in the past few years—telling him he won elections he lost, groveling for his endorsement, buying overpriced tchotchkes at his cult compound/golf resort, and pretending you’re not staring directly into the sallow, rheumy eyes of primordial evil.

I wouldn’t hire Trump to manage a Chuck E. Cheese, unless I actually wanted to open a strip club with an animatronic jug band and didn’t know who to bribe or murder to make that happen. And yet, according to a profoundly pathetic Sunday New York Times story, Republicans as a whole still can’t get enough of his unique blend of feral charisma and sultry lunch meat sweats.

The story is long, sad, and eye-gougingly horrific, but we pretty much already knew the broad strokes of everything that’s in there. Republicans are cashing in their souls for endorsements, and Trump is devouring those souls like so many saucy McNuggets. Pretty standard fare for the sell-out-democracy party.

That said, one portion of the story did grab my eye, because there’s such a huge disconnect between what these GOP hopefuls—almost all of whom went to college—are likely thinking in the parts of their brains they’ve decided to keep alive and what they’re actually doing these days to curry Trump’s favor.

Mr. Trump enjoys flattery and is not above rewarding sycophants. But insiders say bringing compelling visual material matters, too. Big fonts are crucial. With photos and graphics. In color.

“He’s not a real big digital guy, so we had printouts,” said Joe Kent, who has since won Mr. Trump’s backing for his effort to unseat Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, one of the 10 Republican impeachment votes.

...

When he likes what he sees, Mr. Trump will mail words of encouragement, scrawled on news clippings with a Sharpie. “You are doing great!” he wrote in January to Mr. Kent. “You are doing great!” he wrote last October to Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Good God, is being in Congress really worth this degradation? Is being in the GOP worth it? If I had to choose between behaving this way to stay politically relevant or chaining a pair of slumbering antelopes to my vintage Sam and Frodo nipple rings, it would probably come down to a coin flip.

The Times charitably refers to the GOPsters visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago as a “parade of supplicants”—possibly because “caravan of ass-kissers” was deemed too déclassé for the paper of record. But Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio sums up these ingratiation celebrations pretty well.

“What was The Apprentice but a sad scramble of people behaving like crabs in a bucket to be lifted out by him?” said D’Antonio. “How are these people anything other than contestants vying for his approval?”

That’s a good analogy, but like most analogies, it’s a bit imprecise. Crabs in a bucket have far more dignity. If the GOP ever reaches crabs-in-a-bucket levels of seriousness again, maybe we can talk. But for now, they’re still beholden to the worst sentient being on this or any planet. And, well, the vast majority of them seem just fine with it. 

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. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE