Why conservative attacks on Trump and his GOP sycophants are the most cutting

The op-ed sections of various traditional media outlets have provided ample opportunity over the past few years for Donald Trump’s many detractors to vent their contempt and frustration. This is an opportunity to call out not only Trump’s heinous behavior but also the behavior of those who continue to pledge their support to him, in spite of—or because of—his actions. Based on the sheer amount of impassioned invective alone, there’s little doubt that Trump has proven to be the most polarizing figure in our nation’s political history.  

Most of that criticism has come from the left side of the political aisle. Adam Serwer’s essay in The Atlantic, aptly titled ”The Cruelty Is the Point,” described the malicious Trump mentality and its attraction for Trump’s supporter base as well as could be imagined. Charles Blow of The New York Times certainly deserves accolades for his tireless efforts in the wake of the 2016 election to contextualize, among other things, Trump’s appeal in terms of racism. And though it’s not clear whether she’d identify as left-leaning, Jane Mayer’s investigative work produced what is undoubtedly some of the best journalism about Trump. Obviously this list omits a lot of stellar writers whose political sensibilities, one way or another, have combined to form a durable and thorough evisceration of Trump and Trumpism.

But a discrete line of attack from certain conservatives, many of whom have styled themselves “Never Trumpers,” has also emerged as particularly acute over the past eight years. The writings of The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, The Atlantic’s David Frum and Tom Nichols, and certain pieces written by David French and even Robert Kagan have been unusually acute in conveying an almost-palpable indignation and outright disgust. And this is not just aimed at Trump but at their fellow conservatives who have so obsequiously debased themselves by adhering to him. 

Of course, liberals are outraged and disgusted by Trump as well. But there is a wounded betrayal infusing the critiques by these (some could be called “former”) conservatives that invigorates their rhetoric to levels that even the most ardent anti-Trump voices from the left can’t quite capture. Something that makes their feelings of disgust stand out with a peculiar, inscrutable resonance that liberals, by definition, lack to adequately express.

RELATED STORY: Police union endorses Trump despite his glorifying jailed Jan. 6 'hostages' who attacked officers

This phenomenon is important because it provides a unique reminder of just how far the Republican Party has fallen. To fully comprehend it, though, it’s helpful to try to imagine ourselves experiencing the events of the past eight years from the same vantage point as these now-disaffected Republicans. 

This is the point where many will remind us that these same Republicans (some of them former die-hard neo-cons who led the cheerleading for George W. Bush’s disastrous Iraq War) are responsible for Trump’s ascension in the first place. That it also led to the descent of the GOP into its current putrescent, cadaverous state is the natural, inevitable outcome of their efforts. The only way to understand that is to imagine—as Democrats—what our reactions would be under similar circumstances. And putting it mildly, that is not easy.

First, you have to assume that for the better part of their waking political lives these folks—like Democrats—proceeded under the assumption that theirs was the “proper” course for the country, that their values were “good” values that ultimately portended a “good” result for the nation. They never, ever anticipated that someone possessed of such pervasive duplicity, outright fraudulence, and raw criminal mindset as Donald Trump could ever establish such complete, unquestionable domination of their party. They never anticipated that all of the racist dog-whistles their party relied upon for decades to muster their voters would suddenly be unleashed and openly normalized. They never foresaw that, facing the threat of demographic irrelevancy, their party and its leader would revert to openly embracing violent, murderous dictators and welcoming their meddling in our elections as an effort to preserve their political power. 

For Democrats to really appreciate the overwhelming degree of cognitive dissonance that clearly discomfits these “Never-Trumpers,” some analogies have to be drawn from an “alternate universe.” Imagine that instead of the morally upright, civic-minded fellow we all know, Barack Obama had spent the entirety of his life as a self-aggrandizing, misogynist blowhard with a long track record of corrupt business ventures, serial infidelity, and dependence on Russian financial largesse. Imagine him crudely projecting his own moral decrepitude on his opponent and eagerly allying himself with some of the most insidious and criminal personages in the country to attain the presidency. Imagine that instead of Michelle, Sasha, and Malia flanking him his offspring were the likes of Melania, Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric, for whom the only salient characteristics were grifting off their father’s existence. Imagine him eagerly and actively soliciting the assistance of our most ruthless strategic enemies to gain the presidency. 

Would Democrats enthusiastically elect such a person to represent them? Not very likely, but let’s just imagine they did. And in one of his first official acts as president, Obama proceeded to dispatch his openly racist underlings to implement a policy of child kidnapping toward undocumented immigrants and permanently separating them from their mothers and fathers. Imagine a long train of his own hand-picked officials resigning to write books decrying his absolute incompetence and sociopathic instability. Imagine him trying to condition military assistance to an erstwhile ally upon inventing political dirt on his presumed opponent in the next election. Meanwhile, imagine his fellow Democrats in Congress ignoring, then emulating his behavior. And they refused to criticize him and actively engaged themselves in performative, imitative acts, rubber-stamping his selection of political candidates. And all of those candidates invariably displayed the same corrupt tendencies before they went on to overwhelmingly lose in the next election.

Then imagine the world is stricken by the worst pandemic in a century, and rather than rallying to protect Americans, the Democratic president is more concerned with his own political viability. He and his closest advisers openly plan to leverage the pandemic against his political opposition, hiring quack physician advisers to ridicule the medical establishment and encourage the American people to eschew protecting themselves. All of this is being done, mind you, with the eager cooperation and praise of the Democratic Party and Democratic voters, many of whom begin to outdo themselves with public displays of obsequious sycophancy. During this interlude, nearly 1 million Americans die, a large number of those deaths stemming directly or indirectly from this president’s malevolent inaction.

Obviously at this point, any moral justification or excuses for such a hideous transformation affecting a political party would have long since evaporated. Which brings us back to reality, a reality that these “conservatives” appalled by Trump surely recognize: that Democrats would never, ever have allowed this to happen. Period.

But Republicans didn’t do that. In fact, they did the exact opposite, affirming and cementing their abandonment of all morality, all respect for the nation and its institutions, probably forever. Every action by Republicans since Trump lost in 2020 has revealed their party and almost all of its voters as swirling ever-downward in a nihilistic death spiral, from which there appears to be no return. Rather than acknowledge their gross, self-destructive miscalculation, they’ve simply doubled down like lemmings, eagerly chasing Trump as they rush toward the cliff’s edge.

And all during this time they’ve continuously excoriated—at times violently threatening—any Republican who refuses to go along with them. The storming of the Capitol by members of Trump’s voting base on Jan. 6 didn’t change their minds. Trump’s second impeachment didn’t change their minds. The serial lies about the election and Trump’s submergence beneath the weight of harsh criminal and civil liability didn’t change them, either.

The “Never-Trumpers” were, from the outset, operating under at least the assumption that their beliefs and goals were rooted in some semblance of civic responsibility, one which they—misguidedly or not—believed would serve the nation. Whether that belief was actually well-founded is or not is beside the point; the sad reality is that for them, there simply is no longer any place to go. As David French obliquely pointed out in his latest piece in The New York Times, their fellow Republicans really don’t want them. And Democrats don’t particularly need them, either. They have lost their tribe and realistically don’t seem to stand much chance of ever getting it back in their lifetimes. They could, of course, become Democrats (Jennifer Rubin said in 2020 she’s already one). That may just be a bridge too far for some of them, for whatever reasons.

But they still have a voice—an unusually strong one, because their acute sense of betrayal has put them in an uniquely shrewd position to bear witness to the self-destruction their party has wrought. Historically (in this country, at least), a political party must have some commonality of purpose, rooted in some actual benefit to the society that sustains it. When the whims of a single leader become the sole reason a party continues to exist, that party is no more than a cult, and when cults finally die they tend to collapse. This country has, however, never seen a political party abandon itself the way the modern Republican Party has abandoned itself to Trump, and there’s a chance that the cult will continue for some time even after Trump himself departs the stage.

But ultimately—maybe sooner, maybe later—it will implode. And after that happens, somebody (at least) has to be around to pick up the pieces, however ugly and painful a task that’s going to be.

RELATED STORY: Turns out the GOP does have a few ideas—and they're all terrible

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

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

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

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

— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 18, 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In an article for The Bulwark, Miller wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

😂 Trump’s Dream Team.@mehdirhasan is now on my Lists 2 (indict), 4 (detain), 6 (denaturalize), and 3 (deport). I already have his spot picked out in the DC gulag. But I’ll put him in the women’s cell block, with @Timodc. So these whiny leftists don’t get beat up as often. https://t.co/Ylhb33KVv2

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

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

Donald Trump Jr. says he wants Laura Loomer as White House press secretary and Mike Davis as attorney general; Loomer has described herself as “pro-white nationalism,” Davis says that he wants to enact a “reign of terror” targeting Trump’s enemies. pic.twitter.com/oy3osluVC4

— Media Matters (@mmfa) November 10, 2023

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

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Hannity shows that when a Republican makes an accusation, it’s a confession

Fox News host Sean Hannity wants his viewers to feel sorrow and outrage at the victimization of Donald Trump and his children. This time, he took the truism that “every Republican accusation is a confession” just a little too far.

“Now how would you feel if a prosecutor started combing through every aspect of your life in search of a crime,” Hannity said, “and then dragging your children into it, simply because they don’t like you, they don’t like your politics?”

Hannity: How would you feel if they started combing through every aspect of your life in search of a crime and then dragged your children into it simply because they don’t like you or your politics pic.twitter.com/tRLuCHk15O

— Acyn (@Acyn) October 3, 2023

I think Hunter and Ashley Biden would probably like a word.

Trump’s alleged crimes are many and varied, but where his adult children enter into it is the civil suit by New York Attorney General Letitia James, accusing Trump, Don Jr., Eric, and the Trump Organization of making false claims about the value of their assets in ways that financially benefited them. Ivanka Trump was originally a defendant in the case, but her part in it was dismissed by an appeals court over the summer. James’ investigation originated after Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified to Congress, saying, “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”

Judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing the civil trial, has already ruled that Trump did commit fraud by overvaluing assets.

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The Trumps—Donald and the adult children who are executives in the family company—run a substantial company, albeit not as substantial as they claim. Don Jr. and Eric are involved in this lawsuit because they are executives. They've been very well paid in those roles, and in those roles, they are potentially liable for fraud. That’s how it works. None of Trump’s adult children have been charged in any of his four criminal indictments.

Here are some things that have not happened to the Trump children as their father’s critics “started combing through every aspect of [his] life in search of a crime and then dragging [his] children into it, simply because they don’t like [him], they don’t like [his] politics.” No one has stolen a diary from Ivanka Trump to use it against her father in a political campaign, passing it around at a fundraiser for her father’s opponent. That was done to Ashley Biden.

No one has held up nude photos of Don Jr. or Eric on the House floor and used them in fundraising appeals. That was done to Hunter Biden.

Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka have not had House committees sifting through bank records related to them—despite the $2 billion in investments Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, got from Saudi Arabia shortly after he left his role as a senior White House adviser. Once again, that’s Hunter.

“Now how would you feel if a prosecutor started combing through every aspect of your life in search of a crime, and then dragging your children into it, simply because they don’t like you, they don’t like your politics?” Substitute “House committee” for “prosecutor,” and President Joe Biden can give you chapter and verse—but he doesn’t, because he’s busy trying not to interfere in the politicized prosecution of his son that he is letting happen in the name of an independent Justice Department.

Eric Swalwell files second major lawsuit against Trump, allies for inciting deadly Capitol siege

Rep. Eric Swalwell filed a new lawsuit Friday in DC's federal District Court against Donald Trump and his closest allies for inspiring the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol that claimed five lives and injured more than 100 police officers. The second federal suit of its kind, it accuses Trump, Don Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and GOP Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama of violating federal civil rights and anti-terrorism laws by inciting the riot, aiding the rioters, and inflicting lasting emotional harms on members of Congress, according to CNN.

Last month, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi filed a lawsuit against Trump, Giuliani, and the right-wing extremist groups the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. Both lawsuits cite violations of a Reconstruction-era law designed to insulate Black Americans from intimidation by white supremacists. 

Swalwell, who was in the House chamber on Jan. 6 and later served as an impeachment manager, charges that the defendants incited the Capitol attack through their repeated claims that the election was stolen, their urging of supporters to attend the rally, and their specific encouragement of rally attendees to march to the Capitol and commit violence.

"Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed and then watched approvingly as the building was overrun," the lawsuit said. "The horrific events of January 6 were a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants' unlawful actions. As such, the Defendants are responsible for the injury and destruction that followed."

Trump told rally attendees they must "show strength" and "fight like hell" and then directed them to "walk down Pennsylvania Avenue," while falsely telling his supporters that he would march with them to the Capitol.

Brooks told rally goers, "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass."

Giuliani famously declared, "Let's have trial by combat!"—a reference to settling disputes through a personal battle between two opposing sides.

Naturally, Don Jr. offered rally goers the most dismal slogan of them all, but also literally threatened anyone who failed to act. "You can be a hero, or you can be a zero," he said at the rally. "If you're gonna be the zero, and not the hero, we're coming for you, and we're gonna have a good time doing it." Nice touch.

The lawsuit alleges, "The Defendants, in short, convinced the mob that something was occurring that—if actually true—might indeed justify violence, and then sent that mob to the Capitol with violence-laced calls for immediate action."

The defendants are all named in their personal capacities, forcing them to hire private attorneys and depriving them of hiding behind their public offices. As CNN notes, if either lawsuit proceeds, Trump and his allies would have to go through the discovery process and be subject to depositions—all of which could turn up fresh evidence about their personal involvement in the event.

12 people besides Donald Trump spoke at January 6 rally. Remember their names, but know who to blame

On January 6, after months of telling his supporters the election had been stolen and weeks of telling them to gather in Washington, D.C., on that day to protest (“Be there, will be wild!”), Donald Trump stood in front of the White House and told a crowd “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” and then moments later called on them to march on the Capitol. Trump is now on trial in the Senate following impeachment in the House. But he wasn’t the only person to speak that day, whipping up the crowd in the hours before it attacked the Capitol.

One speaker after another—12 of them—told the crowd to be angry, to believe that the election had been stolen, to believe that America itself was being stolen from them. (The not-very-buried subtext was “stolen from white people.”)

Two of the speakers were current members of the House of Representatives: Mo Brooks and Madison Cawthorn, the former telling the crowd to “start taking down names and kicking ass” and the latter urging them to hold members of Congress “accountable” if they didn’t try to overturn the election. A motion to censure Brooks didn’t get through the House Ethics Committee.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was another public official on the state, accusing states that counted their votes and named President Biden the winner of having “capitulated.” After the attack on the Capitol, he did not join every other state attorney general in signing on to a statement condemning the violence. Paxton faces legal trouble, but it’s not because of this—it’s because he’s extremely corrupt.

Other speakers included Trump’s sons Don Jr. and Eric, as well as Trump campaign fundraiser/Don’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and Eric’s wife Lara. Daddy Trump “has more fight in him than every other one combined, and they need to stand up and we need to march on the Capitol today,” Eric told the crowd. Don Jr. said, “You have an opportunity today: You can be a hero, or you can be a zero. And the choice is yours but we are all watching.”

Then there was the usual assortment of Trump hangers-on, people eager to elevate themselves by associating with him, to suck up to him by lying to his supporters, to bask in the cheering of an angry crowd themselves: former campaign adviser Katrina Pierson; personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani; “Women for America First” head Amy Kremer, who had done much of the rally organizing; law professor and conspiracy theorist John Eastman; former Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones, who announced from the stage that he was becoming a Republican.

All of these people are terrible in one way or another. They all participated in inciting the crowd to violence—to believing that violence was righteous rather than an effort to overturn a democratic election. The public officials who participated—Brooks, Cawthorn, Paxton—bear some special blame for encouraging an attack on democracy itself and, in the former two cases, on their own coworkers. So, yeah, they should all be shunned and disdained and booed when they show their faces in public. 

But Donald Trump is the root of it all. Trump is the one who refused to concede the election and instead tried to overturn it and to undermine the legitimacy of U.S. democracy. Trump is the one who pressured Mike Pence to try to block the congressional counting of the electoral votes, something Pence was very clear he could not do. Trump is the one who called the crowd there on that day to disrupt that constitutional process. The crowd was not there to hear Katrina Pierson or John Eastman or even Eric and Don Jr. They were there because Donald Trump summoned them, and once they were there, he told them what to do: “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol.

Senate Intelligence Committee report confirms all charges about Trump’s connections to Russia

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian interference in the 2016 election was slipped out to the public with less fanfare than a new menu item at Captain D’s. And like the actual Mueller report, released weeks after Attorney General William Barr produced his whitewashed summary, Republicans are just hoping everyone will read their topline statements and ignore what the investigation really found.

Somehow, after Republicans have declared over and over that there was “no collusion,” they’ve been sitting on a report that shows that Donald Trump’s campaign manager was in constant contact with a Russian operative, that both WikiLeaks and Roger Stone knew they were part of a direct pipeline from Vladimir Putin, and that the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort was in fact a meeting with Russian spies designed to get information that could be used against Hillary Clinton. And that Ivanka Trump coordinated the daily drip of words from Moscow.

The Senate report, in fact, proves everything that had been said since before the election—Trump’s campaign directly collaborated with Russia, on multiple occasions and in various ways, to alter the outcome of a U.S. election. It also shows that multiple members of Trump’s campaign lied to investigators about these connections, and that Republican senators have been aware of these facts even as they have scorned the Mueller investigation and defended Trump and his campaign. So what are Republican senators doing about it now? Lying, of course.

The Senate report shows that Manafort was directly involved in passing along information to a Russian intelligence agent and accepting information from that agent. That’s collusion by the head of Trump’s campaign. The investigation could have stopped right there and moved on to providing information to the House for impeachment.

It didn’t stop there. It went on to explore how Ivanka Trump coordinated the use of stolen documents provided by Russia to make Trump’s attacks on Clinton more effective. How Stone helped Moscow coordinate WikiLeaks information to run cover for Trump. And how Manafort’s close coordination with Kremlin sources “represented a grave counterintelligence threat,” The report isn’t just damning, it’s damning to helling. It could not be more conclusive and more authoritative in showing that there was genuine coordination between the Trump campaign and Putin’s plans. Trump took everything Putin would give him, and begged for more.

Evidence in the report shows that Manafort’s chief contact, Konstantin Kilimnik, was connected not just with providing information to the campaign after the fact, but to the whole plot to break into DNC servers in the first place. The Trump campaign wasn’t the lucky beneficiary of a Russian plot that was already in effect. The whole thing—the break-in at the DNC, the distribution of emails through WikiLeaks, the false claims about Ukraine—was a joint Trump/Putin production from the start. They didn’t just collude, they were partners.

Why they were partners from the start is also underlined in the report, as the fifth volume contains information directly related to the leverage Putin had over Trump. That includes not just witnesses corroborating the existence of the “pee tape,” but a possible affair between Trump and a former Miss Moscow as well as a visit to a Moscow strip club. All of this, along with Manafort’s existing connections to Moscow, meant that Trump and other members of the campaign “presented attractive targets for foreign influence, creating notable counterintelligence vulnerabilities,” according to the report.

Almost as an aside, the report shows that Donald Trump and his then-personal attorney Michael Cohen negotiated repeatedly to cover up evidence in exchange for a pardon—and then everyone involved lied about it to Robert Mueller. Though that part was already known.

So what are Republican senators going to do about a report—their own report—that lays bare Putin’s tawdry leverage over Trump, the openness of Trump’s campaign to foreign influence, and the lies that campaigns staffers told to investigators every step of the way? As Lawfare points out, Republicans have a very simple solution: lying. Over and over, Republican senators have issued statements repeating the idea that the report shows “no collusion,” in direct contradiction of the actual contents.

Republicans in the Senate deserve credit for allowing the investigation to run its course rather than doing a Devin Nunes and popping out a Trump-praising nonsense piece while claiming that everything is good. But they deserve zero credit for running away from their own report or for making claims that the report doesn’t show what it clearly shows.

And while Republicans are scanning Mike Pompeo’s stack of documents looking for possible avenues of attack against Joe Biden, Biden could do a lot worse than simply making advertisements out of segments of the report created by the Republican-led Senate.

Donald Trump Jr. wants Mitt Romney expelled from Republican Party for standing up to daddy

The idea that Donald Trump’s impeachment has been “completely partisan” is a talking point that Republicans, including Trump, have used as reflexively as breathing. It’s been at the middle of every claim that the process against Trump was somehow unfair, somehow different from that faced by Bill Clinton, and somehow violated statements House Democrats had previously made about the need for multiparty support in an impeachment. But the truth is that the House vote wasn’t purely partisan, because the vote for Trump’s impeachment also included the support of Justin Amash. 

Amash would have still been a Republican except that he was forced out of the Republican caucus back in July explicitly because he failed to join with other Republicans in wholeheartedly supporting Trump when it came to the results of the Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

Now Mitt Romney has voted for Trump’s removal based on the evidence in the impeachment trial. And it’s no surprise who wants to put Romney’s head on a pike.

In a Jan. 24 story, CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes reported, "A Trump confidant tells CBS News that Republican senators have been warned: Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.” But when Rep. Adam Schiff mentioned this in the Senate—despite correctly citing the source and saying he hoped it wasn’t true—Republican senators got a serious case of the vapors. Susan Collins shouted out, “That’s not true,” and Indiana Republican Mike Braun declared, "There’s never been arm-twisting.” The chest-beating and moaning continued into the night, with Fox News hosts making this statement the Designated Thing To Be Offended About for that day of the trial.

The idea that Trump would not take vengeance on any senator who didn’t vote his way was always ridiculous. Of course he would. Of course he will. Vengeance is Trump’s middle name. He just spells it funny.

But while Trump himself is having a moment of funk, or has smashed his phone, in the aftermath of Romney’s genuinely stirring speech, the man whose entire existence is a demonstration that there are worse Donald Trumps than Donald Trump jumped in to show exactly how accurate the “pike” statement was all along. Tweeting on Wednesday afternoon, Donald Trump Jr. proclaimed that Mitt Romney “should be expelled from the Senate GOP conference” and added the hashtag #expelMitt.

Fox News began promoting the tweet shortly after it appeared, and Trump supporters are working hard to get the tag trending (though, so far, unsuccessfully). Break out the pikes! 

Why is Trump Jr. so mad at Romney? For doing what Junior could never do.

Fox host Chris Wallace tells Romney that his action means "this is war." Wallace: "Donald Trump will never forgive you for this." Romney replies by quoting from a hymn: �Do what is right. Let the consequence follow.�

— Felicia Sonmez (@feliciasonmez) February 5, 2020