Trump eyes dual strategy to flip script against Biden amid legal hurdles: ‘We have the messaging’

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Donald Trump heads out on the stump Tuesday in Michigan and Wisconsin, two Midwestern battleground states he narrowly lost to President Biden four years ago, as he looks to take advantage of a weekday campaign rally ahead of his upcoming hush-money trial in a couple of weeks.

The former president's team said the presumptive GOP nominee will take aim at what they charged was President Biden's "Border Bloodbath" during the first stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Trump's campaign swing is his first in two and a half weeks since he headlined a rally in Ohio on March 16 on behalf of the Republican candidate he was backing in the Buckeye State's GOP Senate primary.

The infrequent weekday campaign rallies may become even rarer this spring and summer as Trump becomes the first current or former president in the nation's history to go on trial.


As of now, Trump's hush-money trial is set to begin in New York City on April 15. The former president – who is being tried on 34 state felony charges – is accused of falsifying business records in relation to hush-money payments during the 2016 election he made to Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about his alleged affair with the adult film actress.

Trump has repeatedly denied falsifying business records as well as the alleged sexual encounter with Daniels.


During the Republican presidential primaries, Trump used the multiple criminal and civil cases he faces – including two for his alleged attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden and another for mishandling classified documents – to cast himself as a victim, which fired up support among GOP voters and boosted fundraising.


The former president is required to attend the court proceedings in the hush-money trial, which are scheduled for weekdays, except Wednesdays, and will ground the 74-year-old Trump in the city where he was born and raised and called home until changing his residence to Florida nearly five years ago.

Sources in the former president's political orbit tell Fox News that a schedule's being mapped out that includes making the most of Wednesdays, when court is not in session, as well as weekends, when Trump usually holds rallies and other campaign events.

"We have the message, the operation, and the money to propel President Trump to victory on November 5," Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita predicted last week in a statement.

While Trump's been mostly off the campaign trail, Biden has stopped since delivering the State of the Union address in early March in all six of the crucial battleground states where he narrowly edged Trump to win the White House in 2020. And last week Biden visited North Carolina, which Trump won by a razor-thin margin four years ago.

The trips are aimed at pumping up the president's anemic poll numbers and also to paint a contrast with Trump, who has been sidetracked due to numerous court appearances in New York City and Florida.

In a video posted on X last week, the president's re-election team highlighted Biden's busy schedule and contrasted it with Trump playing golf.

"I’ll tell you this: There’s a difference between the two candidates in this election," Biden wrote in the social media post after Trump bragged on his Truth Social platform about winning two golf championships at a course he owns.

But Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt predicted that the upcoming trial would give the former president a boost against his successor in the White House, and she said in a statement that "Joe Biden and the Democrats’ entire strategy to defeat President Trump is to confine him to a courtroom."

"President Trump has been attacked by the Democrats for eight years. He has stood strong through two sham impeachments, endless lies and now multiple baseless political witch hunts," Leavitt told Fox News Digital in February. "The Democrats want Donald Trump in a courtroom instead of on the campaign trail delivering his winning message to the American people, but nothing will stop him from doing that."

While he'll be sidetracked four out of five weekdays when the trial gets underway, Trump is expected to continue his practice of grabbing the cable news spotlight with his courtroom arrivals and departures. 

And the former president has also used his social media postings on his Truth Social platform to make headlines and drive the campaign conversation.

"Trump can dominate the message environment anytime he wants," longtime Republican strategist Dave Carney told Fox News. "We've never seen anything like this where one guy – whatever he says – gets full coverage. It's a phenomenon. Whether it's social media or cable TV or even broadcast TV, he just dominates the news."

And Carney, a veteran of numerous presidential campaigns, forecast "there will be such coverage of his court cases that at times I would bet there will be more reporters covering his stakeout than covering the president."

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Wisconsin Republican push to impeach elections official faces internal opposition

A Republican attempt to impeach Wisconsin's nonpartisan top elections official is nothing more than "a big show for the cameras" and will be ignored, the Assembly's GOP majority leader said Thursday.

Several Republican lawmakers, including the state Senate president, have called for Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe to be impeached over her handling of the 2020 election won by President Biden. The Senate voted in October to fire Wolfe but later admitted that the vote was symbolic and had no legal effect.

In the Assembly, state Rep. Janel Brandtjen has introduced a resolution to impeach Wolfe. As of Thursday, it had just five co-sponsors in addition to Brandtjen. It would require 50 votes to pass.


Brandtjen tried in vain on Tuesday to be recognized to speak in an attempt to get a vote on her proposal. Brandtjen, who has endorsed discredited conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, accused Republican leaders of being "Administrator Wolfe's PR team."

During a news conference before Thursday's session, Assembly Majority Leader Tyler August said Brandtjen's proposal would not be voted on because it doesn't have enough support to get out of committee or be approved by a majority of the Assembly.

"We have a process that has been utilized in this building for decades of how to bring a bill or a resolution to the floor," August said. "And that’s the process that we’ll continue to use."

August said if Brandtjen has enough support to bring the measure forward for a vote, she can.

"But the fact is she doesn’t," August said. "Our caucus is focused on real things, not grifting and not making a big show for the cameras. And that’s all she’s interested in doing."

Even as the impeachment effort stalls, Republicans have called for Wolfe to be replaced. But she has said she will remain in her post at least through the November election.


Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is being targeted for recall by supporters of former President Donald Trump, in part over his opposition to the Wolfe impeachment. Trump in November posted a news release on his social media platform Truth Social from Brandtjen criticizing Vos for not doing more to remove Wolfe.

The Assembly can only vote to impeach state officials for corrupt conduct in office or for committing a crime or misdemeanor. If a majority of the Assembly were to vote to impeach, the case would move to a Senate trial in which a two-thirds vote would be required for conviction.

Although Wolfe is the administrator of elections, it is the more than 1,800 local clerks who actually run elections in the presidential battleground state. The commission she oversees is run by a bipartisan board with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

Brandtjen and others who support impeaching Wolfe had pushed for decertification of Biden's 2020 win. Biden defeated Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in Wisconsin, an outcome that has withstood two partial recounts, a nonpartisan audit, a conservative law firm’s review, and multiple state and federal lawsuits.

Wisconsin Supreme Court weighs challenge to constitutionality of state-funded school choice programs

Supporters of Wisconsin's taxpayer-funded school choice and independent charter school programs urged the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to reject a lawsuit seeking to declare the programs unconstitutional, saying such a move would create chaos for tens of thousands of families with students currently enrolled.

Private schools, parents with students who attend them, advocacy groups and the state chamber of commerce argue in court filings that the 32-year-old program has benefitted families for a generation and the effort to undo it is politically motivated, after the Supreme Court's majority shifted to liberal control earlier this year.

"A mere change in membership should not create an opportunity to challenge precedent," supporters of school choice programs, being represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, contend. "A single election is not a mandate to radically change the law."


The lawsuit was filed two months after the state Supreme Court flipped to 4-3 liberal controlled. With that change, Democrats hope the court will rule in their favor in pending cases seeking to overturn Republican-drawn legislative electoral maps and undo the state’s ban on abortion.

The school choice lawsuit comes after decades of complaints from Democrats who have argued that the program is a drain on resources that would otherwise go to public schools.

The nation's first school choice program began in Milwaukee in 1990. Then seen as an experiment to help low-income students in the state's largest city, the program has expanded statewide and its income restrictions have been loosened, and it served more than 52,000 students at a cost of $444 million in the last school year.

Democrats including Gov. Tony Evers, who previously served as state superintendent of education, have been longtime critics of the program. But Evers this summer agreed to increase spending on the programs as part of a larger education funding package that was also tied to a deal sending more money to Milwaukee and local governments.

The first question for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to decide is whether to take the case directly or first have it work its way through lower courts. The plaintiffs want the high court to take it directly, which would mean a ruling could come in months rather than perhaps years if it had to go through the lower courts.

The lawsuit was brought by several Wisconsin residents and is being funded by the liberal Minocqua Brewing Super PAC. Kirk Bangstad, who owns the Minocqua Brewing Co., is a former Democratic candidate for U.S. House and state Assembly. His brewery produces beer with politically themed names that tout Democrats, such as "Evers Ale," a nod to the governor.

Bangstad's super PAC has funded previous lawsuits targeting Republicans.

The lawsuit asks the court to stop three state officials from continuing the choice programs: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly and Secretary of the Department of Administration Kathy Blumenfeld.

All three of them faced a Tuesday deadline to file arguments.

The lawsuit argues that the state’s revenue limit and funding mechanism for voucher school programs and charter schools violate the Wisconsin Constitution’s declaration that public funds be spent for public purposes.

It also contends that vouchers defund public schools, do not allow for adequate public oversight and do not hold private schools to the same standards as public schools.


The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that Milwaukee’s voucher program was legal. But the current lawsuit alleges that as the program has expanded, the situation has dramatically changed.

At the start of last school year, enrollment in choice programs was more than 29,000 in Milwaukee, 3,900 in Racine and 17,000 elsewhere in the state, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. Another 2,200 disabled students received vouchers under a special needs scholarship program.

Ending the programs now would cause "chaos," for tens of thousands of families, argued 22 parents of voucher-enrolled students, private schools and choice advocacy groups.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative activist law firm, on Tuesday released a report claiming that if the school choice program ended, the Milwaukee school district would have to open about 17 additional buildings to accommodate the influx of students. Statewide, more than 3,700 teachers would have to be hired in public schools, the report said.

Former Wisconsin Chief Justice ordered to turn over records related to Protasiewicz impeachment advisement

A Wisconsin judge on Friday ordered the former chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court to produce records related to her work advising the Republican Assembly speaker on whether to impeach a current justice.

Former Chief Justice Patience Roggensack was one of three former Supreme Court justices asked by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to give him advice on pursuing impeachment. Vos has floated impeachment against liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz based on how she rules on a pending redistricting lawsuit Democrats hope will result in new legislative electoral maps.

The liberal watchdog group American Oversight filed a lawsuit seeking records from Vos and the three former justices. Vos and two of the former justices, David Prosser and Jon Wilcox, turned over records. That included an email from Prosser to Vos advising against impeachment. Vos turned over more than 21,000 pages of documents last week, American Oversight attorney Ben Sparks said at a Friday hearing.


Wilcox told The Associated Press he did not produce a report, but verbally told Vos impeachment was not warranted.

The only former justice who did not produce any records was Roggensack. She has not said what her advice was to Vos and he has refused to say what it was.

When American Oversight attempted to serve Roggensack with a subpoena at her home, an elderly man who answered the door said he did not know anyone by that name and closed the door, Sparks said in court while quoting a statement from the process server.

On Friday, Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington issued an order giving Roggensack 30 days to produce any records she has.

"Wisconsin has had and continues to have a long and storied tradition on the responsibility of open government," Remington said.

All of the former justices have a responsibility to produce records they maintain related to their work "whether they understood it or not in accepting the invitation to opine on the question presented," he said.

Roggensack's attorney, Robert Shumaker, did not return a phone message or email seeking comment.

Vos originally said he was considering impeachment if Protasiewicz did not recuse herself from the redistricting case. She did not recuse. Vos did not move to impeach her, following the advice against impeachment from the former justices. But now he’s suggesting he may attempt to impeach her if she does not rule in favor of upholding the current Republican-drawn maps.

The Wisconsin Constitution reserves impeachment for "corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors."


Republicans have argued Protasiewicz has pre-judged the case based on comments she made during the campaign calling the current maps "unfair" and "rigged."

Protasiewicz, in her decision not to recuse from the case, said that while stating her opinion about the maps, she never made a promise or pledge about how she would rule on the case.

The redistricting lawsuit, filed the day after Protasiewicz joined the court in August and flipped majority control to 4-3 for liberals, asks that all 132 state lawmakers be up for election next year in newly drawn districts.

The legislative electoral maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011 cemented the party’s majorities, which now stand at 64-35 in the Assembly and a 22-11 supermajority in the Senate. Republicans adopted maps last year that were similar to the existing ones.

Wisconsin’s Assembly districts rank among the most gerrymandered nationally, with Republicans routinely winning far more seats than would be expected based on their average share of the vote, according to an AP analysis.

Wisconsin governor expected to approve bill for early processing of absentee ballots

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday that he will sign into law a bill that would allow Wisconsin elections officials to process absentee ballots the day before an election if the Republican-controlled Legislature passes the measure in its current form.

The Republican-backed proposal, which was up for a vote in the state Assembly on Thursday, is intended to ease the workload of local clerks and their staff, who run elections, and prevent ballot-counting from stretching late into election night. The state Senate would also need to pass it before it would go to the governor.

Evers and the Republicans who control the Legislature have seldom found common ground on elections proposals. The governor has vetoed numerous GOP-sponsored elections bills in recent years that he said would make it harder to vote.



"Gov. Evers will veto any bill that enables politicians to interfere with our elections or makes it harder for eligible Wisconsinites to cast their ballot, but if there are common-sense proposals that help ensure Wisconsin’s elections continue to be fair, secure, and safe, he’ll certainly consider signing them," Evers' spokesperson, Britt Cudaback, said in a statement.

Under the bill, elections workers would not be allowed to count votes until after polls close on election day, but they could work ahead to check ballot envelopes for necessary information, verify voter eligibility and take ballots out of envelopes to prepare them for tallying.

Currently, Wisconsin elections workers cannot process absentee ballots until polls open at 7 a.m. on election day. This has led to long processing times for larger cities such as Madison and Milwaukee, sometimes causing swings in initial tallies when large batches of election results are reported late at night. Former President Donald Trump and election skeptics have falsely claimed that those so-called ballot dumps are the result of election fraud.


The Legislature has rejected similar proposals that would have allowed early ballot processing in recent years, despite them receiving bipartisan support. The bill up for a vote on Thursday, which also includes new reporting requirements for local elections officials on election night, was not sponsored by any Democratic lawmakers.

Evers proposed allowing early ballot processing in his budget proposal earlier this year, but that plan was scrapped by Republicans.

If the bill up for a vote Thursday passes in its current form without any "poison pill" additions from the Legislature, Evers will sign it, Cudaback said.

"Gov. Evers for years has proposed allowing county and municipal clerks to begin canvassing absentee ballots the day before an election and is glad to see this effort finally has bipartisan support," she said.

Wisconsin GOP leader downplays pressure to impeach nonpartisan elections czar

Wisconsin's Republican Assembly leader on Tuesday downplayed pressure he's receiving from former President Donald Trump and fellow GOP lawmakers to impeach the state's nonpartisan elections administrator, saying such a vote is "unlikely" to happen.

Some Republicans have been trying to oust state elections administrator Meagan Wolfe, who was in her position during the 2020 election narrowly lost by Trump in Wisconsin. The Senate voted last month to fire Wolfe but later admitted the vote was symbolic and had no legal effect.

Five Assembly Republicans in September introduced 15 articles of impeachment targeting Wolfe, a move that could result in her removal from office if the Assembly passed it and the Senate voted to convict. The Republican president of the Senate has also called on Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to proceed with impeachment.


A group led by election conspiracy theorists launched a six-figure television advertising campaign last month threatening to unseat Vos if he did not proceed with impeachment. On Monday night, Trump posted a news release on his social media platform Truth Social from one of GOP lawmaker's who sponsored the impeachment. The release from state Rep. Janel Brandtjen criticized Vos for not doing more to remove Wolfe.

Vos on Tuesday said Republicans were "nowhere near a consensus" and no vote on impeachment was imminent.

"I can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, but I think it is unlikely that it’s going to come up any time soon," Vos said.

Vos has previously said he supports removing Wolfe, but he wanted to first see how a lawsuit filed on her behalf to keep her in the job plays out.

The Assembly can only vote to impeach state officials for corrupt conduct in office or for committing a crime or misdemeanor. If a majority of the Assembly were to vote to impeach, the case would move to a Senate trial in which a two-thirds vote would be required for conviction. Republicans won a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate in April.


Wolfe did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday. In September, Wolfe accused Republican lawmakers who introduced the impeachment resolution of trying to "willfully distort the truth."

Vos called for moving on from the 2020 election.

"We need to move forward and talk about the issues that matter to most Wisconsinites and that is not, for most Wisconsinites, obsessing about Meagan Wolfe," Vos said.

The fight over who will oversee elections in the presidential battleground state has caused instability ahead of the 2024 presidential race for Wisconsin’s more than 1,800 local clerks who actually run elections. The issues Republicans have taken with Wolfe are centered around how she administered the 2020 presidential election and many are based in lies spread by Trump and his supporters.

President Joe Biden defeated Trump in 2020 by nearly 21,000 votes in Wisconsin, an outcome that has withstood two partial recounts, a nonpartisan audit, a conservative law firm’s review and multiple state and federal lawsuits.

Wisconsin Republicans advance election reform-centric constitutional amendments

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature have advanced a series of constitutional amendments that would outlaw private funding for elections ahead of the 2024 presidential contest, bar municipalities from allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote in local elections and enshrine existing voter photo ID requirements in the state constitution.

The proposals debated Tuesday at a joint hearing of the Senate and Assembly elections committees stem from false claims made by former President Donald Trump and his supporters that widespread voter fraud tipped the 2020 presidential election in favor of President Joe Biden.

Constitutional amendments must be passed in two consecutive sessions of the state Legislature before being ratified by voters in a statewide election. The governor cannot veto a constitutional amendment.


Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has previously vetoed more than a dozen Republican-backed elections proposals, including a 2021 bill to outlaw private elections grants.

The Legislature approved the amendments requiring voters to be U.S. citizens and outlawing private elections grants in its last session. The voter ID amendment is a new proposal this year, which means the soonest it could be put on the ballot for voter approval is 2025.

Assembly Majority Leader Tyler August said Tuesday that he hopes to put the amendment outlawing election grants before voters in the statewide April 2024 election and put the citizenship requirements on the November 2024 ballot.

Conservatives were outraged in 2020 by a nonprofit that distributed hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, mostly funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, to local election offices. Opponents termed the money "Zuckerbucks" and claimed it was an attempt by the billionaire to tip the vote in favor of Democrats, although there was no evidence to support that. Since 2020, GOP lawmakers in at least 20 states have outlawed private elections grants.

There has also been a recent push for states to specifically make clear that only U.S. citizens can vote in state and local elections. Some cities and towns across the country have allowed noncitizens to vote in local elections. Federal law already requires U.S. citizenship to vote in national elections and no state constitutions explicitly allow noncitizens to vote in state or local elections.

The Wisconsin Constitution guarantees that every U.S. citizen age 18 and over is a qualified elector. But it does not specifically say that only U.S. citizens are qualified to vote in state or local elections.

"I don't think anyone in this room believes noncitizens are going to gain the right to vote in the state of Wisconsin anytime soon," said Jamie Lynn Crofts, policy director for Wisconsin Voices. "It should be up to people at the local level to decide if noncitizens should be able to vote in their local elections."

The photo ID amendment would enshrine the state's current photo ID law, enacted in 2011, in the state constitution. The Legislature could still pass exceptions to the requirement.


The move to make photo ID a constitutional requirement comes after the Wisconsin Supreme Court flipped to liberal control. There is no current legal challenge to the state's voter ID requirement, which is one of the strictest in the country. But other election-related lawsuits challenging restrictions on absentee voting and ballot drop boxes could be taken up by the state Supreme Court.

Republican supporters at Tuesday's hearing said the voter ID law is designed to ensure that only qualified voters cast ballots. But opponents say voter ID requirements make it more difficult for people to vote, particularly those with disabilities, the elderly and people who don't have driver's licenses.

Under current law, and the proposed amendment, voters must provide one of a list of approved photo IDs in order to cast their ballot. Acceptable IDs include a Wisconsin driver’s license, U.S. passport, tribal ID, U.S. military ID or student ID. Absentee voters must provide a photocopy of their ID when requesting a ballot.

Voters who do not have one of the required photo IDs can vote a provisional ballot and then return by the deadline with the identification to have the ballot counted. The ability to cast a provisional ballot does not change under the proposed amendment.

Ex-Wisconsin Supreme Court justice fights subpoena over Protasiewicz impeachment advice

A former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice is fighting a subpoena ordering her to appear in court in a lawsuit related to advice she gave about possible impeachment of a current liberal justice, calling it "unreasonable and oppressive."

Republican lawmakers have threatened possible impeachment of current Justice Janet Protasiewicz related to comments she made during the campaign calling GOP-drawn legislative maps "rigged" and "unfair." She joined with the liberal majority of the court in agreeing to hear a lawsuit supported by Democrats that seeks to overturn the GOP maps and enact new ones.

Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos asked three former conservative Supreme Court justices for advice on impeachment. Two of the three told him that impeaching Protasiewicz was not warranted. The third, former Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, has not said what her advice was and Vos has repeatedly refused to disclose it.


The liberal watchdog group American Oversight filed a lawsuit alleging that the three former justices researching impeachment for Vos had violated both the state open meetings and open records laws. American Oversight wants the judge to order the former justices to meet in public and to release records related to their work. It was also seeking attorneys fees.

Last week, Roggensack received a subpoena compelling her to attend a hearing in the case was scheduled for this Thursday. On Monday, she asked to be released from the subpoena.

"I believe it would be unreasonable and oppressive to require me to appear at a hearing on a motion for preliminary injunction and even for the Court to consider such a motion," Roggensack wrote.

The judge scheduled another hearing for Wednesday afternoon, likely to address Roggensack's request.

Roggensack, in her affidavit with the court, said the order being sought, which included requiring the former justices to meet in public, would impair her First Amendment rights of freedom of expression, peaceably assembling and petitioning the government.

Roggensack said that Vos, the Republican legislator, asked for her advice on impeachment. Roggensack said she told him she had been researching the issue on her own "because I found the topic to be interesting and because I had not previously considered the standards for impeachment of a Supreme Court justice."

Roggensack said she never considered Vos’s request to mean she was becoming part of a governmental body or committee as American Oversight alleged in its lawsuit.

Vos himself called the effort a panel when he announced in September that he was seeking their advice.

Roggensack said she had a lunch with the other two former justices, David Prosser and Jon Wilcox, along with Vos’s attorney. Prosser and Wilcox have also said that was the only meeting the three former justices had. They all said that they separately advised Vos and did not collaborate on their advice.


American Oversight filed open records requests with the former justices. Prosser released the email he sent Vos that included his impeachment advice, as well as voicemail messages from Roggensack and text messages they exchanged.

Neither Wilcox, Roggensack, nor Vos’ office have responded to its requests for records, American Oversight said.

Vos originally said he was considering impeachment if Protasiewicz did not recuse herself from the redistricting case. She didn’t recuse. Vos didn't move to impeach her, following the advice against impeachment from the former justices. But now he's suggesting he may attempt to impeach her if she does not rule in favor of upholding the current Republican maps.

The Wisconsin Constitution reserves impeachment for "corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors."

Wisconsin Gov. Evers finds $170M in federal funds to continue COVID-era childcare subsidies

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will use newly discovered federal dollars to keep a pandemic-era child care subsidy program going for another year and a half, his administration announced Monday after Republican legislators refused to devote any more money to the program.

Officials with Evers’ administration said Monday they will use $170 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency pandemic response operations to keep the Child Care Counts program running through June 2025. Evers ripped Republicans in a news release, saying that it’s "unconscionable" that the GOP wouldn’t extend the program.

"It’s time for Republicans to get serious about solving our problems and join us in doing the right thing for our kids and families, our workforce, and our state," Evers said.


Spokespersons for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Launched in 2020, the Child Cares Counts program provides child care providers across the country with money to help retain staffs as well as cover curriculum, utility and rent costs. The program handed out almost $600 million dollars to nearly 5,000 child care providers in Wisconsin between March 2020 and March 2023, according to the state's nonprofit Legislative Fiscal Bureau.


The program is set to expire in January, leading many to warn that the loss of the subsidies could lead to child care providers shutting their doors or a decline in early education services, particularly in rural areas.

Evers has been trying to persuade Republicans to use Wisconsin's $7 billion surplus to keep Child Care Counts afloat in Wisconsin. His state budget called for spending $300 million in state money for the program over the next two years.

GOP lawmakers stripped the plan from the budget. Evers called a special legislative session last month in hopes of prodding Republicans to take action, but they have refused to cooperate with the governor.

Top Wisconsin Republican stands by Protasiewicz impeachment threats

The Republican leader of Wisconsin’s Assembly refused to back down on Thursday from possibly impeaching a newly elected liberal state Supreme Court justice over her refusal to step aside in a redistricting case, even after two former conservative justices advised him against the unprecedented move.

"No, absolutely not," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said when asked at a news conference if impeachment of Justice Janet Protasiewicz was off the table.

"If they decide to inject their own political bias inside the process and not follow the law, we have the ability to go to the U.S. Supreme Court," Vos said, "and we also have the ability to hold her accountable to the voters of Wisconsin."


The Wisconsin Democratic Party said the comments are a signal that Republicans are backing off from impeaching Protasiewicz "by moving the goalposts in an effort to save face."

Vos first floated the possibility of impeachment in August after Protasiewicz called the Republican-drawn legislative boundary maps "rigged" and "unfair" during her campaign. Impeachment has drawn bipartisan opposition and two former conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justices, asked by Vos to investigate the possibility, told him in the past week it was not warranted. Vos refused to say what advice he got from the third retired justice.

Protasiewicz refused to recuse from the redistricting lawsuit last week and sided with the liberal majority in accepting the lawsuit. Vos suggested Thursday that impeachment may hinge on how Protasiewicz rules on that case.

"She said she’s going to follow the law," Vos said. "The most important aspect of the law is following past precedent."

Vos also said Protasiewicz’s acceptance of nearly $10 million from the Wisconsin Democratic Party would unduly influence her ruling.

Protasiewicz last week rejected those arguments, noting that other justices have accepted campaign cash and not recused from cases. She also noted that she never promised or pledged to rule on the redistricting lawsuit in any way. A state judiciary disciplinary panel has rejected several complaints against Protasiewicz that alleged she violated the judicial code of ethics with comments she made during the campaign.

With Vos tying impeachment to how Protasiewicz rules on redistricting, it’s nearly certain that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers would be able to name a replacement if the Legislature removes Protasiewicz from office or she resigns.

A special election is only triggered if a vacancy occurs before Dec. 1. Oral arguments in the redistricting case are set for Nov. 21, which makes it nearly certain a ruling won’t come until after the special election deadline.

That means if the Legislature moves to impeach and convict Protasiewicz, they would do it knowing that Evers would name her successor — who would certainly be another liberal.


Other justices, both conservative and liberal, have spoken out in the past on issues that could come before the court, although not always during their run for office like Protasiewicz did. Current justices have also accepted campaign cash from political parties and others with an interest in court cases and haven’t recused themselves. But none of them has faced threats of impeachment.

The legislative electoral maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011 cemented the party’s majorities, which now stand at 64-35 in the Assembly and a 22-11 supermajority in the Senate. Republicans adopted maps last year that were similar to the existing ones.

Wisconsin’s Assembly districts rank among the most gerrymandered nationally, with Republicans routinely winning far more seats than would be expected based on their average share of the vote, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Both lawsuits ask that all 132 state lawmakers be up for election in 2024 in newly drawn districts.