New study finds one-third of Congress is now iffy on democracy

If your doctor diagnoses you with cancer, and then in the next breath tells you it’s nothing to worry about because eventually the cancer will get tired of making new cells and decide to leave on its own, you should probably get a new doctor. Because if Donald Trump is elected president again, that doctor will be appointed head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and he’ll no longer have time for you anyway.

But—also!—cancer is bad, and expecting it to leave on its own is perhaps the most fatuous thing one can do as a human, apart from making a guy who thinks Hitler did “a lot of good things” president—again.

And yet here we are. Three and a half years removed from President Joe Biden’s victory in a free and fair election, and our country and Congress are riddled with cancer. And there’s a nonzero chance the patient—the world’s preeminent democracy—will die. 

That’s by no means a foregone conclusion, of course, but as with actual cancer, the patient is getting sicker by the day, and lots of people who know better are just standing around watching it happen. Shockingly, these people now include roughly one-third of our Congress.

As The Associated Press reports:

As Trump makes a comeback bid to return to power, Republicans in Congress have become even more likely to cast doubts on Biden’s victory or deny it was legitimate, a political turnaround that allows his false claims of fraud to linger and lays the groundwork to potentially challenge the results in 2024.

A new report released Tuesday by States United Action, a group that tracks election deniers, said nearly one-third of the lawmakers in Congress supported in some way Trump’s bid to overturn the 2020 results or otherwise cast doubt on the reliability of elections. Several more are hoping to join them, running for election this year to the House and Senate.

More specifically, States United Action found that 170 representatives and senators of the total 535 Congress members are election deniers of some kind. Meanwhile, the group determined that two new Senate candidates and 17 new House candidates fall into the same category. And the situation is even more dire if you look at the Republican National Committee, which is now in the clutches of Trump lackeys: Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter-in-law, and prominent election denier Michael Whatley. (In fact, the RNC is now explicitly asking job candidates if they believe the 2020 election was stolen. What do you suppose happens if they say no?)

While boiling frog syndrome certainly applies here—we’ve gotten so used to election denial from these scoundrels it barely registers anymore—we’re actually a bit more like humans sitting in a hot tub inhaling psychedelic toad venom like it’s strawberry Fun Dip. Because I don’t know about you, but to me the past three years feel more like a hallucination than history—though, unlike congressional Republicans, we don’t have the luxury of denying reality.

As the AP points out, it’s particularly concerning that Congress members, of all people, are abandoning democracy, considering their traditional role in upholding it: 

The issue is particularly stark for Congress given its constitutional role as the final arbiter of the validity of a presidential election. It counts the results from the Electoral College, as it set out to do on Jan. 6, 2021, a date now etched in history because of the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Of course, as we all know, the clear threat Trump poses to democracy and the rule of law could have been dealt with immediately after Trump had exhausted his legal remedies for challenging the election results. In a healthy, well-functioning democracy, members of both major parties would have stood arm in arm in opposition to Trump’s outrageous attacks on the election. Republicans in Congress would have denounced Trump’s baseless claims from the outset, making it abundantly clear that he was not just lying but corroding the very foundations of our country.

Instead, we got Republican officials spewing nonsense like, “What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change. He went golfing this weekend. It’s not like he’s plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20. He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.”

Ah, the classics.

Of course, scores of Republicans who might have been appalled or felt chastened by Trump’s brazen coup attempt are now basking in the beatific glow of Trump’s gooey orange id. In fact, for roughly half of Congress, fascism has become tres chic

This is exactly why you cut the cancer out as soon as it’s identified. Because if you don’t, you could sprout a tumor that looks unnervingly like J.D. Vance.

Perhaps reasoning that it’s better to be vice president than sew hair onto Trumpy Bears in a work camp for 18 hours a day, Republican vice president hopefuls are now auditioning for the role by telling the feral leader of a cult of personality exactly what he wants to hear.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is the latest Republican to telegraph his intention to embrace Trump’s bullshit if and when the ocher abomination face-plants in November. On Sunday, he told Kristen Welker of “Meet the Press” that he wouldn’t commit to accepting the results of the 2024 election, because they could end up being “unfair.” 

Hmm, what are the chances Trump will decide the election was stolen if he loses: 100% or 110%?

Rubio joins other vice president hopefuls whose election denialism has been especially vociferous. They include Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who in January refused to commit to certifying the 2024 election results if they went against Trump; Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who, when asked if he would accept the 2024 election results, said, “At the end of the day, the 47th president of the United States will be President Donald Trump”; and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who has refused to acknowledge that former Vice President Mike Pence did the right thing in certifying the 2024 election. (Come on now, Governor! That dog won’t hunt. And not just because you repeatedly shot it in the face.)

Of course, it’s telling how defensive they all get when asked these questions, almost as if they know they’re doing the devil’s work.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky knew when he excoriated Trump over his actions on Jan. 6 but refused to back a conviction in his impeachment. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina knew when he said “count me out, enough is enough” in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s bumbling coup. Former Attorney General Bill Barr knew when he determined Trump was making up stories about the 2020 election to justify a government takeover.

And yet all three of these self-proclaimed patriots have endorsed this cancer’s return to Washington. Then again, Trump is a wildly charismatic, larger-than-life character with a smile that can light up a roomful of tiki torches.

Of course, anyone with three minutes to spare can quickly determine that Trump had always planned to claim the election was stolen if he lost. In fact, Axios reported that in the days before the election.

Behind the scenes: Trump has privately talked through this scenario in some detail in the last few weeks, describing plans to walk up to a podium on election night and declare he has won.

  • For this to happen, his allies expect he would need to either win or have commanding leads in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Iowa, Arizona, and Georgia.

Why it matters: Trump's team is preparing to falsely claim that mail-in ballots counted after Nov. 3—a legitimate count expected to favor Democrats—are evidence of election fraud.

Meanwhile, not a shred of credible evidence has ever surfaced to suggest the election was stolen on Biden’s behalf. Though we’ve seen lots of absurd and completely discredited “evidence”—evidence that has so far cost Fox News $787 million and Rudy “Just Say We Won” Giuliani $148 million. That should have definitely proved to all of these independent thinkers that Trump was systematically undermining global democracy so he wouldn’t feel like the colossal loser he actually is.

In other words, enough is enough. 

We were right to be alarmed by Trump’s rhetoric, and those who thought it was okay to “humor” Trump, or to fail to hold him accountable after Jan. 6 (thanks, Mitch), were disastrously wrong. If we get through this fraught period in our history, we need to repair our faith and trust in democracy, which includes calling out fascist rhetoric wherever we see it. Because this slippery dope has already brought us dangerously close to the brink.

Daily Kos’ Postcards to Swing States campaign is back, and I just signed up to help. Please join me! Let’s do this, patriots! Democracy won’t defend itself.

Rep. Matt Gaetz wants to force House GOP to take a Trump loyalty test

On Tuesday, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz and honorary “Florida man” Rep. Elise Stefanik, and 64 House Republicans presented a resolution to declare that Donald Trump “did not engage in insurrection or rebellion” related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Gaetz began the press conference by saying “We are here today to authoritatively express that President Trump did not commit an insurrection,”

More importantly, Gaetz made it clear that he plans to use this as a MAGA purity test. After thanking Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio for filing a companion bill in the Senate, Gaetz said, “And now it's time for members of the House and Senate to show where they stand on this question.” And just like that, Gaetz’s remarks were followed by a series of Republicans praising dear leader Trump and saying how the insurrection on Jan. 6 was a concoction by “leftists.” 

“[What] we have seen is mass hysteria caused by you, the reckless leftist media,” said Rep. Andy Biggs. “That's what we've seen.”

Stefanik flanked Gaetz during the press conference, suggesting they’ve patched things up since the two spent October bickering at one another’s expense. Gaetz’s resolution reads in its entirety

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that former President Donald J. Trump did not engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or give aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

You can flip the paper over if you don’t believe me.

The idea that after hundreds of arrests, convictions, and prison sentences—as well as a congressional investigation that left very little to the imagination about how very much Trump and his allies orchestrated the insurrection—the horrors of Jan. 6 should be forgotten with a single-sentence resolution is almost hallucinogenic! It also signals how Trump and his supporters expect the GOP to fall in line. Those who sign on to Gaetz’s resolution will be on a list that Trump can point to and threaten Republican officials with for however long he lives.

As of now, two names are conspicuously absent from the list of sponsors of the bill: Reps. Jim Jordan and James Comer, both of whom have been doing Trump’s dirty work as chairs of House oversight committees.

Maybe they are too busy not finding evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden to sign on to a bill as ludicrous as this one. But as former Rep. Liz Cheney knows, Jordan will surely sign on to any bill pretending that Jan. 6, 2021, never happened.

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Hunter Biden called James Comer’s bluff. Now Comer is flailing

Hunter Biden wants to testify to the House Oversight Committee in public, not behind closed doors. He’s watched as his associates have given private depositions only for Republicans to leak misleading and outright false accounts of their answers, and the president’s son doesn’t seem interested in being a victim of that process. Hunter Biden’s offer to testify publicly has James Comer, the chair of the Oversight Committee, talking fast and offering a lot of excuses. A closed-door deposition, Comer insisted to Sean Hannity Tuesday night, “is for all practical purposes public. We will release the transcripts.”

But not before Comer and his buddies go out and set the narrative about the deposition by lying about it.

There’s a reason Hunter Biden might want the world to see his answers live. In late July, his former business partner Devon Archer gave a closed-door deposition. Within hours, Comer and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan were on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News, with Comer claiming, “Today, we saw Joe Biden has lied to the American people. He knew exactly who his son was getting those millions and millions of dollars of wires from, and he spoke to them, and he spoke to them often.” Days later, under pressure, Republicans released the transcript of Archer’s deposition, and, of course, it showed nothing of the sort.

Talking to Hannity on Tuesday night, Comer pretended he hadn’t spent months lying his inflated head off about everything related to the “investigation.” Comer constantly spits out numbers of pages of documents that the committee has obtained, dollar amounts of money paid to people associated with Hunter Biden, and accusations that President Joe Biden has in some way been receiving that money—without any evidence at all of that final, critical point.

“Everyone knows that if you have a credible, substantive investigation, you have depositions, you have transcribed interviews, then you bring in people for committee hearings,” Comer told Hannity. “I’m not doing this for entertainment. This is a credible investigation.”

(Pause to laugh.) A credible, substantive investigation, he says. (Helpless laughter.) Man, if you have to repeat “credible investigation” like that on friendly ground like Hannity, you are giving something away.

“This will be a very transparent investigation, as it has been from the very beginning,” he added. Transparently partisan, for sure. But again, we’ve watched as Comer and other Republicans have lied and obfuscated and manufactured baseless claims about the president. We know better—but Republicans are relying on having Hunter Biden give a private deposition that they can twist and set a false narrative on before they release the transcript and only a few people bother to read the whole thing.

Tuesday on Newsmax, Comer again claimed his reasons for wanting a closed-door deposition were very serious investigative ones, complaining that a hearing doesn’t offer the opportunity to dig into the documents “without filibustering, without interruption, without going five minutes back and forth.” But then he said something that got to the real issue, complaining about “[Reps.] Jamie Raskin and Dan Goldman and little Moskowitz jumping up and down.” (Here's why Rep. Jared Moskowitz is apparently living rent-free in Comer’s head these days.)

Rep. Elise Stefanik sounded a similar note in a Wednesday interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business. “In an open public hearing, you see the Democrats turn this into a charade.” In other words, you see the Democrats push back. Stefanik also showed how fully the fix is in despite no evidence of corruption by the president. “This is not about Hunter Biden,” she said. “This is about Joe Biden and whether or not he is compromised. I believe he is fully compromised, and I believe that as we continue uncovering evidence, we will see that this is the greatest political corruption scandal of our lifetime.”

Republicans are trying to sound like Very Serious Investigators as they push for that closed-door deposition. But this comes after Comer and others have spent months showboating on Fox News and Newsmax, building a baseless public case about the president’s alleged corruption. They have nothing to show for it but partisan talking points, as we see when they subject themselves to questioning by nonpartisan reporters. Nothing about this is “a credible investigation,” and what they’re really worried about is Hunter Biden testifying publicly and putting that on view for the whole world.

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Coming soon: A sham impeachment, brought to you by Fox News

Twenty-seven years ago, Fox News made its first appearance on American television screens. In October 1996, it  would have seemed foolhardy to assume that this tacky corporate creature—an embarrassing facsimile of actual journalism, patently dedicated to serve as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party—would eventually metastasize into an impermeable, alternative universe for millions of Americans. Few would have guessed that within two decades we’d actually witness the core functions and operations of our government appropriated, coopted, and bastardized simply to promote that network's constant spigot of inflammatory lies and misinformation, even when the very lives of its own viewers were literally put at risk as a result.

That transformation reached its apotheosis during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Fox’s fountain of rank COVID denialism was duly parroted day after day, month after month, by elected Republicans. As the pandemic spread into the so-called “heartland” of America, the bacillus of Fox News proved itself as insidious as the virus itself, with its viewers absorbing and internalizing its preposterous science denial and anti-vaccination rhetoric. This doubtlessly led (as suggested by several studies conducted afterward) to the sickness and premature death of many Americans.  

The saddest and most depressing aspect of all this, however, was that no one seemed surprised. By that time, Fox’s tentacles had already infiltrated nearly all of our nation’s institutions, transforming our entire political system with a malignancy that has proved impossible to eradicate. Even now, the remainder of our media seem unwilling to acknowledge the wholesale degradation Fox has inflicted on this nation, its discourse, its politics, and its institutions. 

During his entire tenure, Donald Trump huddled with and spoke through his willing vessels at Fox News; the Republican Congress has conducted pointless, wasteful political show trials based on Fox-driven fantasies; and even the conservative federal judiciary began to blatantly regurgitate Fox’s hyperbolic, fact-challenged talking points in its legal opinions. Yet, despite its corrosive influence, the media continues to treat Fox News as simply another legitimate player in the information ecosystem, something to be envied, even emulated, occasionally criticized, but never truly called to account. The first rule about Fox News for the rest of the media, it seems, is that you don’t talk about Fox News. 

Now it appears likely the American people are about to witness the consequences of that neglect, in the form of a wholly contrived, factually baseless presidential impeachment, with no purpose other than to satisfy Fox News’ hyperpartisan fever-dream agenda. It remains to be seen, what, if any, response the “reality-based” journalistic community is prepared to give to this coming travesty.

RELATED STORY: Rupert Murdoch is handing the reins to his son and Fox News could get even worse

As explained by Matt Gertz, writing for Media Matters, the carnival barkers thinly disguised as journalists on Fox News have been pushing for an impeachment of President Joe Biden since before he was even elected.

The right-wing propaganda network’s stars have long demanded a Biden impeachment as both retaliation and political cover for Donald Trump’s various impeachments and criminal indictments. Since those Fox commentators wield more power within the GOP than most of its putative leaders do, a Biden impeachment inquiry has seemed inevitable, with the only question being what they’d end up backfilling as its rationale. And somehow, they’ve settled on taking a shot with the Hunter Biden minutiae they’ve all spent years feverishly rehashing (but that no one can parse without a PhD in Sean Hannity Studies).

As Gertz reminds us, Fox News “personalities” such as Mark Levin were agitating for the impeachment of the “next Democratic president” long before Biden even secured the nomination. Levin knew he didn’t need to articulate an actual reason for this drastic action to his audience; the plain fact that Trump himself was about to be impeached for acting on Fox News’ unfounded assertions that Biden had somehow corruptly influenced the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor was reason enough. Because Trump’s impeachment was literally the result of a phony narrative that Fox News itself (with the assistance of right-wing dark money groups) had promoted and pushed, it obviously struck far too close to home.

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As Gertz himself reported in 2019:

Fox’s role -- and particularly that of Sean Hannity, the network star who also privately advises the president -- was central to every phase of the story. The network was the source of the president’s long-held animus toward Ukraine, the vector of Giuliani’s disinformation campaign, a common former employer of some key figures and a unifying factor of others, and the fountainhead of arguments that Trump and his House Republican allies have used to try to minimize the scandal.

And the impeachment talk at Fox continued to snowball from that point, again, in nearly every circumstance, stemming directly from “reporting” that originated in Fox’s own fetid swamp of fact-challenged propaganda. Fox had relentlessly pushed the Hunter Biden story throughout the run-up to the 2020 election, in a failed effort to help Trump win. But even as November 2020 approached, their hosts were carefully “setting a predicate,” as Gertz puts it, in the event Trump lost. Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery floated in late October the prospect of an immediate Biden impeachment over the amorphous Hunter rabbit hole the network had been hawking for months. As Gertz reports, these sentiments were echoed by Fox showboats Jeanine Pirro and Greg Gutfeld only days before the 2020 election, and reemphasized by Hannity in December 2020—as Trump was allegedly scheming with his cohorts to overturn the election well after it became obvious he’d lost.

In fact, Hannity came up with a remarkable quote (particularly the last sentence).

“What are you going to do if -- you know, all these people that impeached Trump, how do you not impeach if it's Joe Biden one day? How do you not do it? It's a foreign -- it's a family foreign crime syndicate. Got an email provided to the FBI pointing out that Hunter hadn't paid taxes on some of the Burisma payments and that's just the tip of the iceberg, with -- now they're talking about money laundering as well. You know, pretty amazing stuff, I've got to tell you. Amazing times we're looking -- living in. They all have an agenda. You know, the difference between us and them is we're just honest about who we are.”

After Republicans eked out a narrow House majority in 2022, Hannity once again bloviated about impeachment, setting the stage for his most ardent fan, Trump, to begin turning the screws on members of the newly (and narrowly) Republican-led House. As reported by Kristen Holmes and Eric Bradner, writing for CNN, the screws have turned harder as the criminal indictments began to pile up for Trump. 

Donald Trump has publicly and privately encouraged House Republicans’ push to impeach President Joe Biden ahead of their potential rematch in 2024, two sources close to the former president said.

Trump has kept close tabs on the matter, the sources said – including speaking by phone with New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the House GOP conference chair, about the party’s impeachment strategy shortly after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday that he is calling on his committees to open a formal impeachment inquiry into Biden.

Gertz notices a pattern here:

The year that followed has been marked by three overlapping trends: repeated indictments of Trump on state and federal charges, fruitless congressional efforts to uncover damning evidence of Joe Biden’s involvement in his son’s businesses, and demands from Fox for Republicans to retaliate against Democrats for the former, including by turning the latter into fodder for impeachment.

Fox’s Jesse Watters weighed in on June 9, the day Trump was hit with 37 felony counts in the Southern District of Florida, saying that the Republicans should welcome the “distraction” of impeachment. And on Aug. 2, Watters probably revealed more about the Republicans’ nakedly political purposes than he realized.

“[W]ithout the impeachment, you have back-to-back-to-back-to-back Trump trials. The media’s not going to cover anything else. Biden’s going to hide and Trump is going to be criminalized on TV. But if Republicans time this right and follow the evidence where it leads, impeachment is going to run counter to the Trump trials next year.”

Or as Gertz sums it up: ”Rather than picking [a presidential candidate] who isn’t looking at four state and federal trials on scores of charges, they want to tear down his opponent by ginning up a scandal and hoping that the mainstream press fails to make clear what they’re doing.”

RELATED STORY: Trump reportedly worries about prison, wonders if he'll wear 'one of those jumpsuits'

The Republican Party’s impeachment efforts against Biden, egged on by Fox News, are without any legitimate basis. They are premised wholly upon a vendetta urged by Trump, who is facing actual, real criminal liability in several actual, real courts of law. The complete absence of any legal justification to pursue impeachment proceedings against this president has even been obliquely acknowledged by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy himself. In reality, what Republicans are pursuing—and what it seems that Americans are going to be forced to witness—is an impeachment by Fox News itself, fraudulently justified by the same lies and fact-free innuendo in which the network habitually traffics.

A network that didn’t consider it necessary to modulate its grievance-driven political rhetoric even when that rhetoric threatened to kill or sicken its own viewers obviously has no compunctions about subverting our constitutional system. Nor would it spare the slightest thought for the personal anguish it will inflict on Biden or his family, who have to watch as their (obviously troubled) son’s name is dragged through the mud by the Republican charlatans who will outdo themselves with pre-packaged, Fox-friendly soundbites. They know that’s what their base voters are conditioned to look for.

But the non-Fox-viewing American public doesn’t have to play along with this cheap and disgusting farce. They can be shown exactly what it is, if the rest of the media—the ones not in thrall to Rupert Lachlan Murdoch’s propaganda network—finally do their jobs. That means doing a lot more than “fact-checking” Republicans and their statements. Fox viewers will never, ever see those fact-checks (and if they did, they would disregard them). This impeachment will mostly be an exercise in Republicans preening for the cameras and making declarative speeches, which will be edited into tight soundbites and run alongside nothing but approving nods and supportive chatter from Fox’s talking heads. And while we can expect Democratic House members to do yeoman’s work exposing this travesty during the hearings themselves, none of their rebuttals will make Fox’s highlight reel.

“Fact-checking” is simply a cop-out. What the media should really do here is explain who is telling the lies, why the lies are being told, and what motivates the lies. Explain how each Republican is following a template laid down by the likes of Hannity and his ilk. Explain who pays for Hannity and his ilk to spread their manure, and where their true interests lie. Explain how every Republican lives in mortal fear of a primary challenger promoted by Trump. Explain how Trump’s situation has influenced this sham impeachment’s timing and presentation, the selection of witnesses, and the things those witnesses will say. Explain who’s not called as a witness by Republicans, and ask why.

Above all, the media must expose this travesty for what it is: a “distraction,” as Fox’s Watters so eloquently put it, from the “back-to-back-to-back-to-back” Trump trials, pending in real criminal courts, before real judges and real jurors, not a group of corrupted, political hacks terrified of getting on the wrong side of Donald Trump.

RELATED STORY: Republicans use long-debunked scam to fuel impeachment inquiry

Sunday Four-Play: The elephant in the room plops down on ‘Meet the Press’

I just realized I’m the unwitting victim of one of the most fiendish long cons in the history of grifting. Here’s my story.

Several weeks ago, Jessica Sutherland, my wonderful editor here at Daily Kos, told me one of the muckety-mucks in the organization had suggested I write a fun and breezy weekly review of the Sunday morning political shows. What?! Hey, that sounds great. I love that idea, my wonderful editor! What an honor! I’m truly humbled.

And so I put together a formal proposal, the scheme plotters at Daily Kos accepted it with a scarcely audible cackle, and Sunday Four-Play debuted on July 30, just in time for a fresh wave of Donald Trump indictments.

Needless to say, I don’t have a crystal ball and didn’t know what was coming, but because I so eagerly accepted this plum assignment, I’m now essentially compelled to watch this unholy hippo fuck of a Trump interview on “Meet the Press” today instead of languidly pouring molten pig iron into my freshly voided eye sockets with a Hello Kitty glitter spoon like I’d originally planned on doing.

Thanks, guys! This column has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to don my hastily jerry-rigged inside-the-shell Ronco Egg Scrambler helmet and beer-bong a pony keg full of Hibernol

Delete my fucking memory, Kos!

Ironically, here was the second paragraph of my very first Sunday Four-Play column, in which I betrayed a naïveté and callowness of youth normally associated with 5-year-old kids who are wheedled into eating earthworm pasta on their first day of kindergarten:

But while [Chuck] Todd is being replaced in September by the far more palatable Kristen Welker, this column will soldier on indefinitely, assuming it doesn’t get pulled immediately after its first installment, like whatever this thing is.

And here I was just last week, Pollyanna that I am, welcoming the new regime with open arms:

The supremely capable Kristen Welker will replace Todd, and he graciously passed the baton to her on Sunday.

Good luck, Kristen. You’ve got some big, squishy shower sandals to fill. Something tells me you’re more than up to the challenge. 

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: It's Chuck Todd's last day! And we're ridin' with Biden

Of course, y’all know what happened next. After taking over the reins of the longest-running show in television history, Welker announced that her debut episode would feature an interview with … that guy. Him. The semi-ambulant tub of walrus butter who has never—not for one moment in the past 77 years—had anything interesting, coherent, or remotely truthful to say. 

At first I thought, well, maybe she’ll utterly savage him. But even then her decision would be irresponsible, because it’s literally impossible to responsibly interview Trump. You’d have to fact-check him in real time, and if you did that, there’d be 10 times more fact-check than interview. Didn’t we learn that earlier this year from CNN’s ill-advised Trump town hall?

My hopes for a thorough dressing-down quickly faded, however, when the teaser clips started trickling in. For instance, there was this preview clip from NBCNews.com, which shows Trump bending Welker’s ear during a leisurely summer stroll as Welker demurely smiles and generally behaves as if she’s not standing next to a feral criminal who violently attempted to end American democracy. Yup, I pretty much knew this interview would suck from the drop when I didn’t see her wheeling him across the golf course on a dolly as Walt Nauta fed him Reese’s Pieces through the breathing hole in his ranch sauce-festooned Hannibal Lecter mask.

Then she asked him a question about the ringing endorsement he recently got from Vladimir Putin and—surprise, surprise—he lied through his teeth Kari Lake-esque filter of billowing brown meat sweats. For instance, Welker let him get away with saying nobody was tougher on Russia than he was. It’s a lie Trump repeats continually, even though Putin moved mountains to try to get him reelected and Trump planned to pull us out of NATO in his second term—which would have been the biggest gift Putin ever received. And Welker just sat there nodding her head. 

Sigh.

I get it. Trump is running for president. He’s also an (alleged!) criminal who’s been indicted on 91 felony counts. Not that interviewing criminals is necessarily a journalistic no-no, but let’s face it, Charles Manson was a lot more interesting—and likely had no serious plans for invading Mexico

So, yeah, I pretty much have to cover this, but I’m not happy about it. For those media leading lights who are still wondering how to effectively interview Trump, the correct answer is … don’t. It’s not worth it. After all, what can you really learn that we don’t already know? Do you think he has a fresh perspective on Kristen Stewart’s love life that he hasn’t yet shared? Because he sure as shit doesn’t have anything useful to say about domestic or foreign policy.

Seriously, why do we still have to pretend that Donald Trump is a real boy? Get a grip, media.

Okay, on to the barmy bullshit ...

1.

So, yeah, confirmed rapist and traitor to democracy Donald Trump was on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. Let’s see how that went, shall we? One effing clip and then we’ll move on.

And it’s a doozy. Here Trump appears to acknowledge he lost the election before saying he won the election. Who knows? Maybe he has early-onset brain death. As it is, roughly 98% of his brain is devoted to digesting trans fats and screaming racial slurs at the brown people on “Sesame Street.” It wouldn’t take much to nudge it into oblivion.

WATCH: Former President Trump says he needed ’22,000 votes’ in each state to win in 2020, but falsely claims he still won KRISTEN WELKER: When you say you needed one-tenth of a point, you needed one-tenth of a point to win? FMR. PRES. DONALD TRUMP: I needed a very small — I… pic.twitter.com/zcLrTvS993

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 17, 2023

WELKER: “When you say you needed one-tenth of a point, you needed one-tenth of a point to win?”

TRUMP: “I needed a very small—I think somebody said 22,000 votes.”

WELKER: “To win?”

TRUMP: “Yeah. If you divide it among the states, it was 22,000 votes, something to that effect ...”

WELKER: “To win the election?”

TRUMP: “Yeah. If I would’ve had another 22,000 votes over the whole—but, look. They rigged the election. If you look at Pennsylvania ...”

WELKER: “But Mr. President, you’re saying you needed more votes to win the election, are you acknowledging you didn’t win?”

TRUMP: “Excuse me. If you look at all of the statistics, all of the votes, they say 22,000 votes. Over millions and millions of votes, 22,000 votes. So when they do Twitter Files, or when they have 51 intelligence agents come out and lie that the laptop from hell was Russia disinformation, and now they find out it’s not, but they knew that at the time. They cheated on the election in that way, too.”

WELKER: “I just want to be clear, though. Are you saying you needed those votes in order to win? Are you acknowledging you didn’t win?”

TRUMP: “I’m not acknowledging. No. I say I won the election.”

Ooh, Welker really thought she had him trapped. But no. It’s likely Trump’s left brain lobe doesn’t know what his right lobe is doing. Like, ever. Also, the so-called “laptop from hell” likely was Russian disinfo. 

Consider this December piece from Lindsay Beyerstein at The Editorial Board:

A largely genuine trove of stolen data is also the perfect place to hide forged or stolen elements, which enjoy unearned credibility because they’re packaged with real stuff. That’s why the victims of hack and leaks are advised never to confirm the authenticity of anything.

The attackers are counting on the public to draw the erroneous conclusion that, because some things are genuine, the whole package is real, and—most importantly—that it came from where the cover story says it came from, be that an imaginary collective of good-hearted “hacktivists” or a computer repair shop in Delaware. Anywhere but the GRU.  

The GRU is notorious for hacking and leaking.

In other words, just because portions of Hunter’s laptop were real doesn’t mean all of them were.

But never mind that. Is Trump really trying to say an election win isn’t legitimate if one of the candidates or his surrogates lied prior to that election? Because that’s an extraordinary claim. The courts might have a real pickle of a time dealing with that one.

But hey, glad to see that the first president ever to know the difference between a lion and camel is still at the top of his game.

Unlike, say, on Friday night:

77-year-old Trump last night was so confused and incoherent that he suggested Obama was his opponent in 2024, also suggested he beat Obama in 2016, and seemed to think we were on the verge of Word War *2*. I can only imagine the headlines if 80-year-old Biden had said this. 🤷🏽‍♂️ https://t.co/8rP7qvqjFV

— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) September 16, 2023

The rest of the interview was similar. He lied with every exhale; she didn’t push back nearly forcefully enough. He told “sir” stories. He talked over her while claiming she was talking over him. He claimed Democrats want to abort babies after they’re born. (She should have challenged him hard on that. She didn’t.) Of course, later, after saying Democrats want to abort born babies, he said they don’t want abortions in the seventh month and don’t want to be radical. He also confirmed he’d give Ukraine to murderous war criminal Vladimir Putin.

She kept calling him “Mr. President” instead of using the far more appropriate “traitor says what?” Halfway through she may have replaced him with a glazed ham. Still doing research on that one. I promise to release my findings in two weeks. You’ll know as soon as I do.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: Kos was on 'Meet the Press'! Also, debate fallout and mug shot mania

By the way, NBC News did a perfunctory fact-check of the interview. Online. Where you know simply everyone will see it. 

Moving on! Whew!

2. 

Let’s see if we can ratchet that rage down to 11, shall we? Here’s a nice palate cleanser. Nancy the Great joined Jonathan Capehart on MSNBC’s “The Saturday/Sunday Show” and made clear that Democrats stand behind the striking autoworkers—whereas Trump’s plan to help them is likely to cut their bosses’ taxes even more. It’s time for those proles, plebs, and peons to really feel that warm trickle down their necks, right? 

But Rep. Pelosi sees it differently.

"One month pay for the CEO, a lifetime pay to the workers. It's just not fair" @SpeakerPelosi shares her thoughts on the historic United Auto Workers strike against GM, Ford, and Stellantis #SundayShow pic.twitter.com/4EtJa3Pspn

— The Saturday/Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart (@weekendcapehart) September 17, 2023

PELOSI: “Let me just say that as we are here we have workers on strike in a number of industries in our country, but right now you said you’re going to have a show on ...”

CAPEHART: “The UAW president ...”

PELOSI: “UAW president. This is really something so important to all of us in the country. These workers, just think of this. The CEOs of these companies make probably, in one month, what these workers make in a lifetime. That’s just unjust. Years ago it was 20 times, now it’s 10 times that—over 200 times as much for the CEO as it is for the worker. Those profits that they say they are rewarding would not happen without the workers. So let us pray that they will make some progress on this respectful of the workers. [Sen.] Sherrod Brown says it’s over 300 times as much. But whatever it is, one month pay for the CEO, a lifetime pay to the workers. It’s just not fair.”

Pelosi was riffing a bit, but her numbers are in the ballpark. And any way you slice it, the gap between worker and CEO pay has grown out of control since Ronald Reagan first put billionaires on the endangered species list.

Fortune, Aug. 4, 2023:

The average CEO of an S&P 500–listed company earned $16.7 million from their role in 2022, the AFL-CIO said—the second highest amount ever recorded in the organization’s annual Executive Paywatch report.

That’s 272 times the average salary of just under $62,000 for someone employed by an S&P 500 firm, according to the report.

Assuming an average career of around 45 years before retirement, that means an ordinary employee would have to work six lifetimes to earn the same as their CEO did last year.

So there you go. Pelosi may have been a bit off on her comparison of monthly vs. lifetime wages, but the actual numbers are still eye-popping. And it’s about time workers started clawing back some of the wealth that’s consistently been funneled upward for the past four decades.

Quite a chart from @McKinsey #economy #productivity #wages #growth pic.twitter.com/FDolwVBhix

— Mohamed A. El-Erian (@elerianm) November 17, 2021

3.

Needless to say, Casper the Friendly Milquetoast (aka Mike Pence) had a somewhat different take on the UAW strike. He insists he stands with the working men and women of this country, and you can tell he’s sincere because he’s standing in front of two barns and isn’t wearing a tie.

The former vice president and one-time Trump colon polyp appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper. When asked about the autoworkers’ strike, he launched into his prepared talking points about Biden’s economy.

Pence on CNN on the fairness of the CEO of GM making 362 times what her employee makes: "I'm someone who believes in free enterprise" pic.twitter.com/9SXtEr75QH

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 17, 2023

TAPPER: “On this issue of general fairness, in 1965, during this era of the great middle-class expansion in the United States, CEOs made about 20 times what their typical workers made, but as I noted to you, the CEO of GM makes 362 times what her typical employees make. I just want to make sure I get an answer from you. Is that okay? Do you think that’s fair?”

PENCE: “Well, I think that ought to be left to the shareholders of that company. I’m somebody that believes in free enterprise. I think those are decisions that can be made by shareholders and creating pressure, and I’ll fully support how these publicly traded companies operate. I’m not interested in government mandates or government bullying when it comes to those kinds of issues. And I don’t think it's about the usual fault lines of the difference in salaries between white collar and blue collar. I think it’s that everyday Americans out there working hard are living in the midst of the failed policies of Bidenomics.”

TAPPER: “Inflation’s been horrible, no question, but their wages haven't gone up since the auto bailout in 2008. Meanwhile, the CEOs, their wages have gone up 40% in the last five years. That’s what the union workers say as to why they’re striking. I guess, just a question here. Do you side with the CEOs or do you side with the union here?” 

PENCE: “I side with American workers, I side with all American families, I side with the people of this country, Jake, that are living under the failed policies of the Biden administration.”

In other words, Pence wants a laissez-faire economic system that punishes American workers—the real wealth creators—decade after decade while continuing to create opportunities for hardworking CEOs and majority shareholders who, under Biden’s economy, struggle every day to locate private islands for sale. But hey, get a load of those two barns. And that open collar. Mother is so turned on right now she wants to join her husband in a three-way—which, for the Pences, simply means eating lunch at Olive Garden with a woman they just met in the lobby.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: Actual Black people react to Trump's 'gangsta' street cred, and Tim Kaine returns

4.

Oh, yeah, Republicans want to impeach President Biden for—hmm, let’s see here—no reason at all!

GOP Rep. Michael McCaul appeared on Maria Bartiromo’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” where he discussed impeaching the president while acknowledging there’s exactly zero reason to do so.

"We don't have the evidence now, but we may find it later" -- McCaul is what passes for a "serious Republican" these days pic.twitter.com/bPMX1YPOec

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 17, 2023

MCCAUL: “Well first of all, I’ve been tasked by the speaker to assist the Oversight and Government Reform. With respect to foreign policy decisions the president made—or vice president, at that time—with respect to money coming in to try to tie the two. We don’t have the evidence now, but we may find it later.”

Okay, have fun with that, Mike. Sounds like a case for Columbo. Or Scooby-Doo. Or maybe Son of Sam. His neighbor’s dog has some really tantalizing new details about Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma.

If they keep digging, maybe they’ll find out Corn Pop wasn’t such a bad dude after all. And can we really trust a man who brutally defames Corn Pop? I say no.

But wait! There’s more!

Have a great one! See you next fall
Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, 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.  

The Trump-inspired emasculation of Kevin McCarthy

House Republicans are launching a baseless impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden for a few reasons: to distract Biden and make him less effective, and to create the public impression of corruption as a 2024 election strategy. And never discount the Republican urge to suck up to former President Donald Trump.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene had dinner with Trump on Sunday, The New York Times reports. Greene said that at that dinner, “I did brief him on the strategy that I want to see laid out with impeachment.” Specifically, she told Trump she wanted the impeachment inquiry to be “long and excruciatingly painful for Joe Biden.” Gosh, what a commitment to going where the evidence leads and finding the truth.

She would not say what Mr. Trump said in response, but she said her ultimate goal was to have a “long list of names” — people whom she claimed were co-conspirators involved in Biden family crimes. She said she was confident Mr. Trump would win back the White House in 2024 and that she wanted “to go after every single one of them and use the Department of Justice to prosecute them.”

So Republicans are launching an impeachment inquiry without a House vote on doing so, something Speaker Kevin McCarthy had in the past repeatedly insisted was a requirement for such an inquiry. And one of McCarthy’s close allies is openly saying the point of the proceeding is to make the process “long and excruciatingly painful for Joe Biden” and to lead to a “long list of names” to tee up for future prosecution by a Trump Justice Department.

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Sounds above board. Very legal and very cool. 

Greene isn’t the only House Republican talking to Trump about impeaching Biden. Trump has had regular conversations on the subject with members of the Freedom Caucus and other impeachment enthusiasts, the Times reports, although “[a] person familiar with Mr. Trump’s thinking said that despite his eagerness to see an inquiry move forward, the former president has not been twisting Mr. McCarthy’s arm.” Instead, Trump has been pushing hardest to get his own impeachments expunged.

Greene, though, is a close ally of McCarthy’s. It’s not a stretch to suspect that he’s been hearing about impeachment from her. And Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican, has reportedly had weekly calls with Trump, including one on Tuesday shortly after McCarthy announced the impeachment inquiry. Even if McCarthy isn’t personally on the phone with Trump or across the dinner table from him at Bedminster, trying to appease him, people close to McCarthy are.

House Republicans have worked throughout 2023 to turn up any kind of impeachment-worthy evidence against Biden, and they’ve failed to do so. Finding that evidence was Plan A. Now they’re turning to Plan B, which is to pretend they did find the evidence and go ahead with an impeachment inquiry, seeking to persuade the public that their lies about finding proof of Biden corruption are true, to cause “excruciating” pain to the president for their own political gain, and to get revenge for Trump’s two impeachments and dozens of criminal charges. They’re yelling lies about Biden’s alleged corruption, while they’re engaged in a completely corrupt abuse of power themselves. And the thing is when that comes from the Republican Party, no one is surprised.

Kerry talks with Drew Linzer, director of the online polling company Civiqs. Drew tells us what the polls say about voters’ feelings toward President Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and what the results would be if the two men were to, say … run against each other for president in 2024. Oh yeah, Drew polled to find out who thinks Donald Trump is guilty of the crimes he’s been indicted for, and whether or not he should see the inside of a jail cell.

By embracing ‘impeachment expungement’ nonsense, McCarthy risks his thin majority

Kevin McCarthy’s brief speakership has been such a shambolic clusterf--k. It’s a wonder he’s retained enough of his wits to keep pretending Donald Trump is a real boy—one with real human feelings beyond hunger, rage, and that concupiscent soup of queasy envy that heats up whenever his weird milksop of a son-in-law comes within Taser-range of his daughter. 

But he’ll keep pretending. Oh, will he ever! Now that his immutable soul is a wholly owned subsidiary of MAGA, Speaker McCarthy’s abandoned his dogged fight against inflation and returned to his true life’s work: continually inflating Donald Trump’s greasy ego. And he’s doing it with the help of his BFF Marjorie Taylor Greene and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, who recently introduced a symbolic measure to “expunge” Donald Trump’s two impeachments. Naturally that’ll make us all forget that he extorted a foreign ally and incited an insurrection against the U.S. government.

Fresh off censuring Rep. Adam Schiff for telling the truth about Trump, McCarthy, et al., are fixing to absolve the ex-pr*sident before he even thinks about asking for forgiveness. And, needless to say, that’s left Republican House members from light-blue districts a little spooked.

RELATED STORY: Republican disarray is somehow, miraculously, getting worse

Insider:

In backing the effort, led by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Elise Stefanik of New York, McCarthy is putting his weight behind their goal of removing the charges against Trump from the impeachments of 2019 and 2021.

"I think it is appropriate, just as I thought before, that you should expunge it, because it never should have gone through," the California Republican told reporters on Capitol Hill.

McCarthy said that the 2019 impeachment was "was not based on true facts" while adding that the 2021 vote was taken "on the basis of no due process."

Right? That 2019 impeachment was bullshit! Just read the transcript.

Wait, you’re not actually reading the transcript, are you? 

Who told you to do that?

Stop it!

No more reading now, I mean it!

Anybody want a peanut?

Okay, it’s all right to skim it. Just make sure you stop as soon as you get to the part where Trump says, “I would like you to do us a favor, though,” because everything after that is pretty transparently treason-y.

Speaking of treason, the 2021 impeachment was an even easier layup—one that Mitch McConnell, et al., intentionally missed.

But being a Republican in 2023 means you’re expected to defend everything Trump says and does, up to and including installing beige bathroom fixtures that badly clash with one’s ecru classified document boxes and white crystal chandelier.

RELATED STORY: Special counsel gives two fake Trump electors immunity to compel testimony

That said, some non-MAGA House Republicans are nervous about being forced to vote on anything related to Trump’s guilt or innocence, because he’s fucking guilty and everyone with a functioning brain stem—which includes a not-insignificant number of swing voters and non-MAGA Republicans—knows it.

This week, the Republicans wanted President Joe Biden impeached. The GOP censured Adam Schiff for probing Donald Trump's corruption. The Republican Party declared their intention to expunge Donald J. Trump's impeachments. Trump was impeached twice. We, the people, won't forget. pic.twitter.com/7jA3csad4u

— Tony - Resistance (@TonyHussein4) June 23, 2023

On Friday, CNN reporter Manu Raju reported on the expungement effort and the bind in which it appears to put some moderate Republicans.

(Partial) transcript!

RAJU: “[I]n a key announcement just moments ago in that same press gaggle, Kevin McCarthy told a group of us he does support this effort to expunge those Trump impeachments. Even though it is symbolic and won’t change the actual record of the impeachments happening, if it were to move forward it would put moderates in a more difficult spot. Some of them simply don’t want to vote on this or take a position backing Trump, particularly when it comes to Jan. 6. One of them, Don Bacon, a member from Nebraska from a district that Joe Biden carried, told me it sounds, quote, ‘kind of weird to go down that route.’ And McCarthy would not promise to bring this to the floor … but he said it would go to the House Judiciary Committee and then they would make a decision. He also told me that, no, he has not spoken to Trump about this.”

Why would he talk to Trump about it? What would Trump say? He didn’t even call off his dogs when they were biting at McCarthy’s heels on Jan. 6. Why would he help McCarthy now? 

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are treating this expungement effort with all the seriousness it deserves.

If I finish rearranging my sock drawer, I will proudly introduce two resolutions to expunge the two expungement resolutions by GOP Reps @EliseStefanik and @mtgreenee. Because this is all pretend stuff anyways. https://t.co/1KzTTJ8skG

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) June 24, 2023

Rep. Dan Goldman, the Democrats’ lead counsel during the first Trump impeachment, pointed out that this was clearly just theater. “It is just a further continuation of the House Republicans acting as Donald Trump's taxpayer-funded lawyers,” Goldman told CBS News. "It’s telling who is introducing them and it’s essentially whoever is trying to curry the most favor with Donald Trump,"

Even Jonathan Turley, a Georgetown University law professor who served as a witness for House Republicans during Trump’s first impeachment, thinks the expungement effort is nonsense. “It is not like a constitutional DUI. Once you are impeached, you are impeached,” Turley told Reuters.

Of course, this is all part and parcel of Republicans’ wider campaign to whitewash our country’s recent history.

For the record, Trump-Russia collusion was proven, no matter how many times Republicans say the Mueller investigation was a hoax and a witch hunt. Trump really did extort Ukraine in a bid to manufacture dirt on President Joe Biden, no matter how many times they tell you to look the other way.

And Trump’s reckless and illegal action (and inaction) on Jan. 6, 2021, really did cause the deaths of Americans and bring our country to the brink of a constitutional crisis. McCarthy should at the very least remember that last incident. It’s pretty hard to forget the day you begged for your life and heard nothing but nonsense back.

Then again, McCarthy helped revive Trump’s political career in the wake of Jan. 6, so as his paper-thin majority continues to tear over trifles like this, he can be confident that he has only himself to blame.

Though something tells me he’d rather point fingers at Hunter Biden.

RELATED STORY: Republicans supercharge Trump's war on justice

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, 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.    

When Republicans start saying rational things about violence, they are surely worried

The No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, was quick to extend best wishes to the husband of Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul Pelosi, who was violently attacked early Friday morning by an intruder in the couple’s San Francisco home.

"Wishing a full recovery for Paul from this absolutely horrific violent attack," tweeted Stefanik.

It's a departure from her norm. On any given week, Stefanik's twitter account is a fount of racist conspiracy theories demonizing immigrants, people of color, and Democrats.

Last year, Stefanik's social media ads accused "radical Democrats" of plotting "their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.”

“Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington," claimed the ad, funded by Stefanik's campaign committee.

In a tweet earlier this year, Stefanik referred to the White House and House Democrats as "pedo grifters," invoking an apparent abbreviation for pedophile—an obsession among QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe Democrats run a Satanic child sex-trafficking ring.

So Stefanik's awkward dance with graciousness in the wake of the savage attack on Paul Pelosi looks to be more of a political tell than heartfelt sentiment. It was accompanied by similar out-of-character pronouncements from other GOP leaders on the Hill.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's spokesperson, Mark Bednar, said McCarthy had "reached out to the Speaker to check in on Paul and said he's praying for a full recovery and is thankful they caught the assailant."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted: "Horrified and disgusted by the reports that Paul Pelosi was assaulted in his and Speaker Pelosi's home last night. Grateful to hear that Paul is on track to make a full recovery."

With some notable exceptions, Republican leaders have generally responded appropriately to the tragedy the Pelosi family is enduring, which in these fractious times begs the question: Why?

Because a racist, misogynist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist just broke into the home of one of the most well-known Democrats in the nation yelling, "Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?"

It's unclear if the assailant, David DePape, who years ago listed himself in voting records as a member of the Green Party, officially identifies as a Republican or with the Republican Party. But he appears to be a case study in online radicalization. His Facebook page reportedly included links to multiple videos produced by My Pillow guy Mike Lindell falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen. The attack was also eerily reminiscent of the seditionists on Jan. 6 roaming the Capitol hallways, calling out, "Nancy, oh, Nancy," and, "Where are you, Nancy? We're looking for you."

It's too early to know exactly what will come to light regarding Depape, but an incident like this is Republicans' worst nightmare in terms of the female suburban voters they are trying to woo back into their corner this cycle.

The last thing Republicans want is some QAnon loon reminding suburban moms what a danger the GOP is to civility across the country, particularly when Republicans premised much of their closing argument on being the party that can tackle crime and keep people safe.

Liz Cheney isn’t the most important thing about her primary loss. It’s about the Republican Party

As expected, Rep. Liz Cheney lost her primary by a large margin Tuesday night, purely for the sin of speaking out against Donald Trump’s coup attempt. That was enough to have her Republican In Good Standing card stripped despite her reliably conservative positions on everything else. It just can’t be said enough: The desire to overturn an election, or at least the willingness to flirt with it, is a requirement for status in the Republican Party in 2022.

It’s not just Cheney, though she is the most prominent case. Ten House Republicans voted to impeach Trump in 2021. Just two will remain in Congress after this year, with four having lost primaries and four having decided to retire (before they could lose a primary).

Republicans want to put themselves in a position to overturn the 2024 election. Stop them by donating to Daily Kos-endorsed Democrats.

RELATED STORY: Top Republican candidates in some battleground states are running to overturn the next election

Top Republicans didn’t just fail to support an incumbent in a primary. They didn’t just actively support a primary challenger to an incumbent. They actively and publicly celebrated Cheney’s loss.

“Congratulations to @HagemanforWY on her MASSIVE primary victory to restore the PEOPLE of Wyoming’s voice,” Rep. Elise Stefanik tweeted, noting that she had joined Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in endorsing Harriet Hageman. Stefanik, of course, replaced Cheney as the third-ranking House Republican when Cheney’s ex-communication from the party really got rolling.

”Girl, BYE,” was all Rep. Lauren Boebert had to say. Similarly, Sen. Rand Paul capped his tweet celebrating Hageman’s win with a “Bye Liz.”

This level of venom is spurred not by broad policy disagreement but by Cheney’s disloyalty in refusing to embrace the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, or at least keep her mouth shut about her opposition to that. That’s it. That’s all. It’s a staggering statement about today’s Republican Party.

There’s a lot of debate among Democrats about how to assess Cheney. Is she a hero? Is she just meeting the minimum bar of not supporting coups? But Cheney isn’t the point. The point is that, among Republicans, Cheney’s courage in adhering to the idea that the outcome of elections should be respected stands out, and her willingness to keep talking and name names stands out still more. Yes, everyone in office should be where she is on the basic question of whether the winner of the presidential election should become president, but they’re not. Far from it.

Cheney: Two years ago. I won this primary with 73% of the vote. I could easily have done the same again. The path was clear. But it would've required that I go along with president trump's lie about the 2020 election.. That was a path I could not and would not take. pic.twitter.com/vRq0Fdz4x1

— Acyn (@Acyn) August 17, 2022

Team Trump continues to fuel conspiracy theories about FBI search of Mar-a-Lago

According to a Fox Business correspondent’s “scoop” Wednesday afternoon, “Donald Trump and his legal team will likely seek a court order to force the @FBI and @TheJusticeDept to turn over a physical copy of the search warrant, the affidavit, and a complete inventory of what was taken in the Mar-a-Lago raid.” That news, however, came well after one of Trump’s attorneys told Dinesh D’Souza that the FBI had already given her a copy of the warrant, with an attachment detailing what they were looking for. Trump has the warrant. The fact that he hasn’t shown it to the public is his decision, and it’s probably in equal measures to hide what it reveals about him and to feed conspiracy theories. 

And those conspiracy theories continue to flourish, fueled in large part by Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle. Trump is aggressively fundraising off the search of his property, which is no surprise since Trump aggressively fundraises off of everything that happens in his general vicinity. In this case, though, it’s not just about the money. It’s about spreading the message that he wants out there: This legal search approved by a federal judge was in fact a nefarious attack on freedom. And as usual, Trump has the entire Republican Party on board with his desired message.

RELATED STORY: Trump’s fanatical supporters ready to ‘lock and load’ for ‘civil war’ after Mar-a-Lago searched

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Appearing on CNN, Republican Sen. Tim Scott responded to questions about threats to the federal judge who signed the search warrant by “asking my friends on the other side, wait, don’t rush to judgment. This is, without question, a very daring and dangerous move on the Department of Justice’s side.” When CNN’s Dana Bash pressed him again on the threats coming from Republicans, Scott again blamed the Justice Department, saying, “every single member of our family, the American family, should be very concerned when you feel like there is a weaponization of the Department of Justice against any individual, much less the former president.”

There’s no acknowledgement here that there was a lawful process in which Trump was treated better than most people on whom search warrants are executed.

And Scott is more careful than many Republicans. His use of “weaponization,” though, was definitely use of an approved party talking point. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican, similarly went with “weaponization” in a statement calling the search “a dark day in American history,” and calling for “an immediate investigation and accountability into Joe Biden and his Administration’s weaponizing this department against their political opponents—the likely 2024 Republican candidate for President of the United States.” As usual, Republicans accuse their opponents of what they’re already doing. Remember that Trump’s first impeachment was for attempting to use the power of the presidency to strong-arm Ukraine into smearing Joe Biden because Trump (correctly) saw him as a formidable challenger in 2020. Turning around and accusing Biden of mimicking Trump is to be expected, even though it was not Biden on a private phone call asking a world leader to “do us a favor” and withholding military aid to get that “favor.”

Like Stefanik, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is threatening an investigation—threats that Attorney General Merrick Garland, the entire Justice Department and FBI, and the judge who signed off on the warrant would absolutely have known were coming. 

Other Republicans have gone further.

“I’m concerned that they may have planted something,” Alina Habba, one of Trump’s attorneys, said on Fox News on Tuesday. “At this point, who knows? I don’t trust the government, and that’s a very frightening thing as an American. This is third world stuff. This is Cuba. This is not our country.”

No, this is you thinking the Biden administration operates the way Trump would like to.

Then there are the conspiracy theories about the date of the search—Aug. 8, the anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation. “There are no coincidences when it comes to the Deep State. They could have done this raid a couple of days before or tomorrow, but they chose August 8 for a reason,” former Trump Treasury Department official Monica Crowley said on the War Room podcast.

Trump could clear some of this up by releasing the warrant, which he has. (The affidavit, which would have more detail, is under seal and, according to former federal prosecutor Elie Honig, Trump wouldn’t get it “unless and until there's a charge.”) But Trump does not want to clear this up. He wants his party once again united around defending him, and his supporters buzzing with conspiracy theories and rage. It’s better for him that way, and it doesn’t matter to him that it’s worse for the concept of equal justice under the law.

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