Donald Trump says he’d consider Ken Paxton for US attorney general

Trump told a reporter in Texas this weekend that Paxton is “a very talented guy.”

By Jasper Scherer, The Texas Tribune

Former President Donald Trump said he would consider tapping Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for U.S. attorney general if he wins a second term in the White House, calling his longtime ally “a very talented guy” and praising his tenure as Texas’ chief legal officer.

“I would, actually,” Trump said Saturday when asked by a KDFW-TV reporter if he would consider Paxton for the national post. “He’s very, very talented. I mean, we have a lot of people that want that one and will be very good at it. But he’s a very talented guy.”

Paxton has long been a close ally of Trump, famously waging an unsuccessful legal challenge to Trump’s 2020 election loss in four battleground states. He also spoke at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the deadly U.S. Capitol riot in January 2021.

Paxton’s loyalty was rewarded with an endorsement from Trump in the 2022 primary, which helped the attorney general fend off three prominent GOP challengers.

Trump also came to Paxton’s defense when he was impeached last year for allegedly accepting bribes and abusing the power of his office to help a wealthy friend and campaign donor. After Paxton was acquitted in the Texas Senate, Trump claimed credit, citing his “intervention” on his Truth Social platform, where he denounced the proceedings and threatened political retribution for Republicans who backed the impeachment.

“I fought for him when he had the difficulty and we won,” he told KDFW. “He had some people really after him, and I thought it was really unfair.”

Trump’s latest comments, delivered at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas, come after a series of recent polls have shown the presumptive Republican nominee leading President Joe Biden in a handful of key battleground states.

Paxton has also seen his political prospects rise in recent months, after prosecutors agreed in March to drop three felony counts of securities fraud that had loomed over Paxton for nearly his entire tenure as attorney general. The resolution of the nine-year-old case, along with Paxton’s impeachment acquittal in the Senate last fall, has brought him closer than ever to a political career devoid of legal drama.

Still, Paxton’s critics say he is far from vindicated. He remains under federal investigation for the same allegations that formed the basis of his impeachment, and he continues to face a whistleblower lawsuit from former deputies who said they were illegally fired for reporting Paxton to law enforcement. A separate lawsuit from the state bar seeks to penalize Paxton for his 2020 election challenge, which relied on discredited claims of election fraud.

If nominated, Paxton would need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The chamber is narrowly divided along party lines, with Democrats holding a 51-49 majority. One of the most prominent Republican members, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, has been an outspoken critic of Paxton, while Paxton has openly entertained the idea of challenging Cornyn in 2026.

Paxton is not the only Texan Trump has floated for a high-profile spot in his potential administration. In February, he said Gov. Greg Abbott is “absolutely” on his short list of potential vice presidential candidates. Abbott has since downplayed his interest in the job.

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Tracking URL: https://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/20/donald-trump-ken-paxton-attorney-general/

House GOP targets attorney general after failing to dig up dirt on Biden

The House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Accountability Committee are holding hearings Thursday to consider holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The Department of Justice has refused to provide recordings of special counsel Robert Hur’s interviews with President Joe Biden and his ghostwriter in the classified documents probe, having already provided the transcripts of those interviews. 

The outcome of these meetings isn’t in question; committee chairs Jim Jordan and James Comer will push the contempt vote to the House floor. They remain intent on finding anything that they can use to impeach Biden and/or members of his administration, and they won’t let the fact that their efforts so far have been ridiculous stop them. 

It took them two tries to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, only for the Senate to swat it away. The star witness in their Biden impeachment case turned out to be a Russian mole. And they’ve already been down the road of trying to use Hur’s report to prove Biden unfit for office—a game that Hur refused to play in Jordan’s disastrous hearing. But no embarrassing defeat is going to stop them.

“These audio recordings are important to our investigation of President Biden’s willful retention of classified documents and his fitness to be President of the United States,” Comer said in a press release. 

The DOJ has in fact been providing information to Comer and Jordan. In February, it even gave them access to two of the classified documents Biden had from his time as vice president, which Comer insisted were critical to his investigations. 

But Comer “has not yet taken us up on our offer,” DOJ Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote in refusing the team’s subpoena for more information. 

Uriarte detailed all of the information they had provided in response to their demands and subpoenas in his initial letter to Jordan and Comer in April and concluded “we are therefore concerned that the Committees are disappointed not because you didn’t receive information, but because you did.”

In his second letter to the chairs, Uriarte reiterated that point.

“It seems that the more information you receive, the less satisfied you are, and the less justification you have for contempt, the more you rush towards it,” he wrote. “[T]he Committees’ inability to identify a need for these audio files grounded in legislative or impeachment purposes raises concerns about what other purposes they might serve.”

The purpose, of course, is having audio and video that they can chop up to show Biden unfavorably in their televised hearings. They got the transcripts for their hearing with Hur, but they didn’t find anything, so of course they’re doubling down. It’s Jordan and Comer—what else are they going to do?

But this latest sham does at least give Democrats on the committees yet another opportunity to own Republicans in the hearings.

RELATED STORIES:

Democrats are blowing up House GOP efforts to take down Biden

The Biden impeachment is a huge failure. The GOP is looking for a way out

House GOP manufactures new fight after Biden impeachment fails

Ian Bassin is the former associate White House counsel and co-founder and executive director of Protect Democracy. Protect Democracy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group focused on anti-authoritarianism, how to protect our democracy, and safeguarding our free and fair elections.

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House Speaker Mike Johnson just can’t win

Big Republican donors might note Monday that after Speaker Mike Johnson talked tough to them this weekend about cracking down on the rebels who have derailed the House, he chose to kowtow to the current chaos agent; Johnson will have a one-on-one meeting with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to air her grievances. 

Johnson and Greene will meet Monday afternoon, following days of Greene abusing him on social media and with her promise of forcing a vote to oust Johnson some time this week. She and her ally, GOP Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, are ready to go. “If you’re happy with what he’s done this year and if you’re looking forward to what he will do the remainder of the year, you should join the Democrat leader Hakeem Jeffries in supporting Mike Johnson. #uniparty” Massie tweeted Sunday.

That’s in response to the Democratic leadership team’s announcement last week that they’ll ride to Johnson’s rescue and allow members to block his ouster. That move ensures Johnson owes his future as speaker to Democrats and guarantees that his GOP detractors are only going to be more enraged at him because of it. There's just no winning for him no matter what.

Meanwhile, Johnson tried to placate big GOP donors by telling them he wants to crack down on the rebels if the Republicans retain the House next year. In a two-day donor retreat that started Sunday evening, Johnson said that he’d support new rules that would kick members off of their committees if they don’t toe the line on party-line procedural votes. Members of the Freedom Caucus have been regularly grinding the House’s business to a halt this session by blocking bills from moving to the floor either in the Rules Committee or on the floor.

Johnson needs those big donors for the Republicans to have a prayer of keeping their House majority and those big donors need to know that their investment wouldn’t just go down the toilet. The chaos in the House has been a black eye for Republicans, and the money men are seemingly not happy about that. 

Johnson’s reassurances that he’d crack down on the malcontents if he stays in the job just made Greene more riled up. “Speaker Mike Johnson is talking about kicking Republican members off of committees if we vote against his rules/bills,” she tweeted Monday morning. “It’s not us who is out of line, it’s our Republican elected Speaker!!” It’s unclear if that came before or after Johnson granted her a private audience. 

So far, most of the Freedom Caucus gang seems to be as fed up with Greene as they are with Johnson, so she hasn’t gained much support. But that could change with Johnson’s promise to the money people that he’d crack down on the rebels. That would make Johnson even more reliant on Democrats to save him, which would make the maniacs even angrier. He can’t win.

This was supposed to be a week devoted to messaging bills bashing President Joe Biden and the Democrats, including everyone’s favorite HOOHA bill—Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act—which promises to liberate our refrigerators from the heavy hand of big government. Instead it’s all going to be overshadowed by the soap opera. 

Donate now to end this circus, and to take the House back from Republicans!

RELATED STORIES:

Democrats might stop the House speaker’s ouster—and they won’t let him forget it

Mike Johnson may be speaker, but Democrats run the House

Marjorie Taylor Greene makes a mess of House GOP's big impeachment day

House GOP manufactures new fight after Biden impeachment fails

House Republicans’ attempt to impeach President Joe Biden has fizzled out. But the two members tasked with the job, Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and Oversight Chair James Comer,  needing to atone for their failure, have picked another fight: threatening to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt over the Department of Justice’s refusal to provide the audio recordings of Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur in the classified documents probe. 

Garland is refusing to play their game. 

On Thursday, the DOJ refused for a second time to provide that audio, arguing that it has complied in full with the committees’ subpoenas for information. It provided both the transcription of the Biden interview as well as Hur’s interview with Biden’s ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer for Jordan’s big disaster of a hearing. Two months ago, it even gave Jordan and Comer access to two of the classified documents, which Comer insisted were critical to his investigations. 

But Comer “has not yet taken us up on our offer,” DOJ Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote.

In Uriarte’s first letter to Jordan and Comer earlier this month, he detailed all of the information they had provided in response to their demands and subpoenas. 

“The Committees’ reaction is difficult to explain in terms of any lack of information or frustration of any informational or investigative imperative, given the Department’s actual conduct,” Uriarte wrote. “We are therefore concerned that the Committees are disappointed not because you didn’t receive information, but because you did.”

Uriarte reiterated that point Thursday. 

“It seems that the more information you receive, the less satisfied you are, and the less justification you have for contempt, the more you rush towards it,” he wrote. “[T]he Committees’ inability to identify a need for these audio files grounded in legislative or impeachment purposes raises concerns about what other purposes they might serve.”

Those purposes are clearly political. They need to keep up the fight against Biden and are scrambling for whatever they can get. They also probably believe that the audio of the interview could be damaging to Biden. Hur’s report included gratuitous hits about Biden’s age and mental acuity, so Jordan and Comer want to play it during their hearings, knowing that the media would eat that up

Uriarte outlined the DOJ’s concern about that, writing that it would impinge on Biden’s privacy and that “courts have recognized the privacy interest in one’s voice—including tone, pauses, emotional reactions, and cues—is distinct from the privacy interest in a written transcript of one’s conversation.”

He also implied that Comer and Jordan can’t be trusted with the audio, writing that it could be manipulated by “cutting, erasing, and splicing.” 

That’s a safe assumption on Uriarte’s part.

After basically crying “uncle” on impeaching Biden on influence peddling, being humiliated over their Alejandro Mayorkas impeachment stunt, and losing on Ukraine and government funding, Jordan and Comer are itching for revenge.

But the DOJ has called them on it

“The Committees have demanded information you know we have principled reasons to protect, and then accused us of obstruction for upholding those principles,” Uriarte wrote. “This deepens our concern that the Committees may be seeking conflict for conflict’s sake.”

RELATED STORIES:

The Biden impeachment is a huge failure. The GOP is looking for a way out

House GOP to launch critical investigation into just how old Biden is

The New York Times is determined to make 'but his age' the new 'but her emails'

Here's one way to avoid dealing with election results you don't like: just wipe them from the record books. It's not Orwell—it's Arizona, and we're talking all about it on this week's episode of "The Downballot." This fall, voters have the chance to deny new terms to two conservative Supreme Court justices, but a Republican amendment would retroactively declare those elections null and void—and all but eliminate the system Arizona has used to evaluate judges for 50 years. We're going to guess voters won't like this one bit … if it even makes it to the ballot in the first place.

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The Biden impeachment is a huge failure. The GOP is looking for a way out

After 15 months of trying to pull a Biden family crime spree out of thin air, lead impeachment zealot James Comer has watched his dreams of MAGA glory crumble into dust. Comer, the House Oversight Committee chair, told a Republican colleague that he’s ready to be “done with” the whole fiasco, according to CNN

“Comer is hoping Jesus comes so he can get out. He is fed up,” another GOP lawmaker said.

There’s just so much humiliation one man can take, I guess. The effort by Comer and co-zealot Jim Jordan, chair of the Judiciary Committee, to find dirt on President Joe Biden and his son Hunter has ended up with the two coated in mud. It’s become so pathetic that even Sean Hannity has stopped propping it up.

But how did it come to this? 

Start with the fact that a full year ago, even Comer had to admit that there wasn’t any evidence of Biden crimes. But that didn’t stop him and Jordan from plowing on and making it all more ridiculous. They brought in IRS whistleblowers who produced nothing but hot air. The biggest news story to come out of that hearing was extremist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s porn stunt, displaying nude photos of Hunter Biden—not the usual C-SPAN fare.

Despite those early fiascos, then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy decided he’d try to save his own bacon by making the impeachment effort official. (The extent to which that didn’t work is a whole other story.) The first official hearing proved to be another complete farce

“Through the course of the day, not only did Republicans showcase their lack of interest in facts, they also demonstrated that they are absolutely terrified of anything that looks like a fact witness,” Daily Kos’ Mark Sumner wrote.

It didn’t get any better for Comer and Jordan. They were played by Hunter Biden when he showed up to testify on camera despite their efforts to do it in secret. Comer still plowed on with the hearings only to be embarrassed again in the infamous Russian mole and sawdust debacle. He then tried moving the goalposts, suggesting that impeachment wasn’t their goal after all. Rather, they were gathering evidence for future prosecutions in a would-be Trump administration, Comer claimed.

That was after they tried to pivot the story to a classified documents scandal, featuring a report on Biden’s old age, which was another total flop. They even tried to impeach a Cabinet secretary in another debasing disaster for Republicans.

All of which has served primarily to turn extremist Republicans against Comer for not working hard enough at impeaching Biden. 

“I feel like this was slow-rolled, and it’s been very frustrating for me as a new member because I feel like there’s way more that we could have done, and it just hasn’t been done in a timely fashion,” a frustrated GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna told CNN.

“I don’t even want to talk to you. … If you don’t think they were influence-peddling, there’s nothing to say. My God,” Comer responded to CNN. 

Officially, a House Oversight Committee spokesperson says that “the impeachment inquiry is ongoing, and impeachment is 100% still on the table.” Uh-huh.

All Comer has gotten out of this is the animosity of colleagues and showing himself to be a fool in front of a national audience. Oh, and the unearthing of a few of his own little scandals

The perfectly hilarious cherry on top of all of this? The Kentucky Republican’s dream of redemption.

“Comer, a five-term congressman, has another matter on his mind: ambitions to run for higher office one day,” CNN reports, “including potentially running for governor, according to lawmakers who have spoken to him.” 

Sure, dude. Sure.

RELATED STORIES:

The Republican ‘whistleblower’ hearing had everything … except evidence

The 5 best moments of the House ‘impeachment inquiry’ farce

GOP House digs for new Biden dirt as sawdust 'cocaine' and Russian moles fail

Everyone is picking on poor little Jimmy Comer

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Morning Digest: Why the field to replace Mitt Romney may soon get a lot smaller

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

UT-Sen: The Utah GOP's April 27 convention is coming up quickly, and a newly formed super PAC is trying to make sure Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs' campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Mitt Romney comes to an end at the event well before the June 25 primary.

The Deseret News' Brigham Tomco reports that Hometown Freedom Action Network has spent $17,000 on mailers and text messages to delegates portraying Staggs, who has emphasized his hard-right stances, as disloyal to conservatives. One message faults the mayor for initially supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president, declaring, "Betraying Trump is not MAGA." Another blasts Staggs as "woke" for instituting anti-bias training for police officers. It's not clear who is funding the group.

One delegate told Tomco he considers these kinds of attacks from outside groups "frustrating, annoying, and inappropriate." Staggs is hoping others agree because he needs to perform well with delegates if he's to keep his campaign going.

Utah allows candidates to reach the primary ballot by competing at their convention or by collecting signatures, and while candidates can pursue both routes, Staggs is only going with the first option. This means that, should he fail to win the support of at least 40% of the delegates on April 27, his campaign is over. Another hard-right candidate, conservative activist Carolyn Phippen, is also pursuing a convention-only strategy.

It's not clear yet, however, if a third candidate, attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, needs to rely on delegates to get onto the ballot. Hatch, who is the son and namesake of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, submitted signatures ahead of the April 13 deadline, but election authorities have not yet verified if he turned in the requisite 28,000 valid petitions.

Hatch himself also sounded uncertain if he'd hit this goal at the start of the month. He previously told Tomco the task was "daunting," and that his status was "up in the air."

The convention is far less important for two other Republicans, Rep. John Curtis and former state House Speaker Brad Wilson. Election authorities have verified that each of them turned in enough signatures to make the ballot, though they're each still taking part in the convention.

Hometown Freedom Action Network sent out texts blasting Curtis, who appears to be the least doctrinaire of the candidates, as someone who was "never with President Trump, and never will be." However, it only spent $2,500 on this messaging against the congressman, who will be on the June ballot no matter how well he does at the April 27 gathering.

The Downballot

It's an old story, but it never gets old: Democrats just whooped Republicans in fundraising—again. This week on "The Downballot" podcast, we're running through some of the most eye-popping numbers Democrats hauled in during the first quarter of the year (Sherrod Brown! Jon Tester! Colin Allred!) and the comparatively weak performances we're seeing from Republicans almost across the board. The GOP hopes to make up the gap by relying on self-funders, but a campaign without a strong fundraising network can be dangerously hollow.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap the week's electoral action, starting with victories in a pair of special elections in Michigan that allowed Democrats to reclaim their majority in the state House, plus a noteworthy House runoff in Alabama that could lead to a Black Democrat representing Mobile for the first time since Reconstruction.

The Davids also explain why a surprise retirement from the Wisconsin Supreme Court means progressives need to be on guard against a top-two lockout in yet another critical battle for control of the court. And finally, there's the astonishing three-way House race in California that could soon turn into a humdrum two-way affair thanks to an unexpected recount.

1Q Fundraising

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present brand-new charts rounding up first-quarter fundraising numbers for every incumbent and notable challenger running for the House and the Senate this year. The overarching story is a familiar one: Democrats in key races are outraising their Republican rivals almost across the board, sometimes by astonishing margins.

The lopsided Senate battlefield is particularly noteworthy. Compared to the same quarter six years ago, the two most endangered Democratic senators, Montana's Jon Tester and Ohio's Sherod Brown, raised four times as much as they did for their last campaigns. Meanwhile, in Texas, Rep. Colin Allred managed to exceed the already eye-popping records set by Beto O'Rourle in 2018. Check out our charts for the complete picture in both chambers of Congress.

Senate

MT-Sen: In a follow-up to her absolutely bonkers report about former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy last week, the Washington Post's Liz Goodwin pokes further holes in the Republican's claims about an alleged bullet wound he suffered.

Sheehy claims he lied about getting shot at a national park in 2015 in order to deter a military investigation into what he says was the true source of his injury—a possible incident of friendly fire in Afghanistan three years earlier—but new documents obtained by the Post include a report from an unnamed person visiting the park who reported "an accidental gun discharge" to the National Park Service.

An attorney for Sheehy disputed whether there had in fact been any such report by a park visitor. Sheehy's campaign previously said it was seeking to obtain copies of his hospital records from the 2015 incident, but the same attorney did not directly respond when asked whether those records had been received.

NJ-Sen: A three-judge federal appeals panel has upheld a ruling by a lower court last month that barred the use of New Jersey's "county line" system on the grounds that it violates the Constitution. However, that ruling remains in effect solely for the Democratic primary. Barring further legal action, Republicans will still be able to print ballots that give favorable placement to party-endorsed candidates. That state of affairs is likely temporary, though, as a similar ruling applying to Republican primaries is likely at some point.

Governors

MO-Gov: The Missouri Scout has rounded up campaign fundraising reports covering the first quarter of the year, and the overall story of the Aug. 6 Republican primary for governor remains the same as it's been throughout the entire cycle. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe continues to dominate financially even though almost every released survey shows him trailing Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft by double digits. State Sen. Bill Eigel also brought in more money during the quarter than Ashcroft even those polls show him with little support.

Kehoe and his joint fundraising committee this time raised a combined $2.5 million and ended March with a total of $6.3 million. Eigel and his committee outraised Ashcroft and his allies $587,000 to $513,000, though it was Ashcroft's side that finished the quarter with a $2.6 million to $1.7 million cash on hand advantage.

On the Democratic side, state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade and her committee together raised $285,000 and had $391,000 available. Businessman Mike Hamra and his allies together brought in $690,000, which includes $250,000 from the candidate, and ended March with $1.1 million banked.  

House

CA-16: NBC Bay Area's Jocelyn Moran reports that a newly formed super PAC called Count the Vote is providing the money to finance the ongoing recount into the March 5 top-two primary. It's not clear who is funding the group, but Moran says that the address on its checks matches that of a law firm that used to work for former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo, who is assured a place in the Nov. 5 general election, has continued to deny he has anything to do with the recount even though the person who requested it, Jonathan Padilla, worked for his 2014 campaign and served in his administration. Two of Liccardo's fellow Democrats, Assemblyman Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, tied for second place last month, and they'd both advance to the general election unless the recount changes the results.

The recount process began Monday, and it's not clear how long it will take to conclude. While election officials in Santa Clara County, which makes up over 80% of the 16th District, initially told KQED they believed this would be a five-day undertaking, Moran writes that they now think it could last between one and two weeks. Personnel in San Mateo County, which forms the balance of the seat, separately tell ABC 7 they believe their retabulations will be done around April 24.

Officials in Santa Clara and San Mateo tell The Daily Journal that the daily cost in their respective counties is $16,000 and $5,000, though they add it would change depending on exactly what Padilla requests. The process would come to an end if Padilla missed a day's payment, and an incomplete recount would leave the certified results unchanged.

MD-02: AIPAC, the hawkish pro-Israel group, has endorsed Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary, where his main rival for this open seat is Del. Harry Bhandari. Olszewski has been the frontrunner ever since he launched his bid in January, and he previously earned endorsements from retiring Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, longtime Rep. Steny Hoyer, and organized labor.

Olszewski also enjoys a large financial advantage over Bhandari. The executive raised $726,000 in the first quarter and finished March with $499,000 on hand, while Bhandari took in $134,000 during this time and ended the period with only $68,000 left to spend.

MD-03: Retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn has publicized an internal poll from Upswing Research and Strategy that shows him leading state Sen. Sarah Elfreth by 22-18, while a 44% plurality of voters undecided ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary for this safely blue open seat. State Sen. Clarence Lam was further back with 8%, while no other candidate in the crowded race exceeded 3%.

Dunn gained national visibility after he helped protect Congress during the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that fame helped him dominate the rest of the field in fundraising. Dunn raised a massive $3.7 million in the first quarter and finished March with $1.7 million on hand. That haul was the third-largest of any House candidate nationwide, and it also was more than the rest of his primary rivals combined.

By contrast, Elfreth raised $502,000 and had $569,000 left to spend. However, Elfreth has also received $1.4 million in outside support from the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, while none of the other candidates have benefited from major outside spending.

Lam, for his part, raised $284,000 and had $505,000 remaining in the bank. Further back, Del. Mike Rogers raised $140,000 and had $171,000 left over, while labor lawyer John Morse raised $116,000 and finished March with $94,000. None of the other candidates took in six-figure sums.

ME-02: State Rep. Austin Theriault has unveiled an internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies that finds him leading fellow state Rep. Mike Soboleski by 30-7 ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, though a large majority of respondents are undecided. The poll's sample size was just 300 respondents, which is the bare minimum that Daily Kos Elections requires for inclusion in the Digest.

Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson are supporting Theriault for the nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, and their preferred candidate raised $655,000 in the first quarter to Soboleski's $43,000. Theriault also had $831,000 on hand compared to $48,000 for his rival. However, Golden's haul was even larger at $1 million raised, and he had $2.2 million on hand at the start of April.

NJ-10: The New Jersey Globe reports that Democratic Rep. Donald Payne has been unconscious and on a ventilator ever since he suffered a heart attack on April 6. The congressman's office on April 9 put out a statement that did not indicate Payne was not conscious, saying instead that his "prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery."

NY-16: Politico's Jeff Coltin has obtained an internal for Rep. Jamaal Bowman that shows him edging out Westchester County Executive George Latimer 44-43 in the June 25 Democratic primary. The pollster, Upswing Research and Strategy, tells us the survey was conducted March 5 through March 10.

The only other numbers we've seen for this contest came from a late March poll for Latimer's allies at Democratic Majority for Israel, and it showed the executive with a wide 52-35 lead. Both DMFI and its pollster, the Mellman Group, are led by Mark Mellman.

SC-01, VA-05, AZ-02, OH-09: American Prosperity Alliance, a dark money group that is close to Kevin McCarthy, has begun running TV ads against three Republican incumbents who voted to oust McCarthy from the speakership last year. The ads, which, are focused on immigration, are also running against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Ohio's 9th District.

According to AdImpact, the group has spent at least $330,000 against Rep. Nancy Mace, who is trying to fend off former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton in the June 11 primary for South Carolina's 1st District. AdImpact has also tracked another $160,000 that APA is deploying in Virginia's 5th District against Rep. Bob Good, who faces state Sen. John McGuire in the following week's primary.

Meanwhile in Arizona's 2nd District, the group has spent $218,000 so far to weaken incumbent Eli Crane ahead of his July 30 nomination battle against former Yavapai County Supervisor Jack Smith. APA additionally has dropped $150,000 on ads against Kaptur, who she faces a competitive general election against Republican state Rep. Derek Merrin.

Mayors & County Leaders

Raleigh, NC Mayor: Democratic Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin announced Tuesday that she would not seek reelection this year and would instead lead a nonprofit. Baldwin, who was successfully treated for breast cancer last year, added that her husband also had multiple surgeries, and that all this convinced her it was "time to devote my energies to myself and my family and to find other ways to serve."

The nonpartisan general election to succeed Baldwin will take place on Nov. 5, and since there's no runoff, it only takes a plurality to become mayor of North Carolina's capital city. Three notable candidates were already running, and they each identify as Democrats.

City Councilman Corey Branch, who describes himself as a "moderate Democrat," launched his campaign in October. He was joined in January by former state Treasurer Janet Cowell, who was once a rising star in North Carolina Democratic politics.

Terrance Ruth, a North Carolina State University professor who lost to Baldwin 47-41 in 2022, also kicked off a second bid a month before the incumbent announced her departure. Ruth argued last cycle that the mayor's administration hadn't done enough to make housing affordable or to listen to residents.

The field also includes mortgage broker Paul Fitts, who is the only Republican in the contest, and two other candidates. The candidate filing deadline is July 19.

Obituaries

Bob Graham: Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who rose to prominence during his 26 years as governor and senator, died Tuesday at the age of 87. In our obituary, Jeff Singer recounts the many elections of Graham's long career, including how his famed "Workweeks" helped transform him from relative obscurity into a statewide powerhouse.

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Senate decides not to bother with House GOP’s dumb impeachment stunt

House Republicans really wanted an impeachment of … someone. President Joe Biden, preferably, or his son Hunter, or maybe Hunter’s laptop, or perhaps Hunter’s dog walker. They decided on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who didn’t commit any high crimes or misdemeanors but did attempt to execute the policies of the administration in which he serves. 

On Wednesday, the Senate took one look at the articles of impeachment oh-so-solemnly delivered by a hard-right House faction just the day before and said, “Nope. Hard pass.” Senators voted to toss the case without wasting their time on a trial.

And like that, it was all over.

That House Republicans, led by their increasingly endangered leader Mike Johnson, insisted on going through with the whole charade in the first place is a testament to their dedication to absurd stunts, as well as their inability to count. In February, they couldn’t count the number of votes they would need to actually impeach Mayorkas, and their first attempt failed.

Once they finally got their precious articles passed, they waited. And waited. And waited. It just never seemed like the right time to send those articles to the Senate because even Republican senators were musing that it all seemed like a ridiculous waste of time.

But finally—finally!—the glorious moment came when Marjorie Taylor Greene and fellow House impeachment managers would have the spotlight on their big impeachment moment. Except that didn’t happen either, because Greene instead directed the media’s attention to her threats to oust the aforementioned increasingly endangered House speaker.

If only the Republicans could get a trial in the Senate, though, they’d show once and for all how impeachable Mayorkas’ supposed offenses really were! Only problem there is that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said all along he’d move to toss the whole thing without a trial, and a lot of his fellow Democrats—even West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who called the impeachment stunt “pure crap”—agreed with him.

So where does that leave everyone? Senators are now free to go back to doing their jobs, as is Mayorkas. But what about Johnson, who can’t seem to deliver a win to his Republican caucus no matter what?

Well, the the bad week he was already having on Tuesday just got worse, and his miscalculation about when it would be safe to send the impeachment to the Senate certainly won’t improve things for him. On Tuesday, Greene picked up the support of Kentucky’s Thomas Massie, who said he would cosponsor her motion to kick Johnson to the curb.

Thus far, they’re the only two Republicans in the House who want to fire yet another speaker. But now that Johnson’s delivered another GOP humiliation, who knows whether others might be ready to join that mission? After all, it’s only Wednesday.

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‘It’s crap. Pure crap’: Senators look to quickly dismiss Mayorkas impeachment

House Republicans are ready to take their sham impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate this week, where they’ll likely find a hostile jury. That’s if the Senate decides to even have a trial.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made it clear in February, after the House voted to impeach, that he views the whole fiasco a waste of time. 

“This sham impeachment effort is another embarrassment for House Republicans,” he said in a statement.  “House Republicans failed to produce any evidence that Secretary Mayorkas has committed any crime. House Republicans failed to show he has violated the Constitution. House Republicans failed to present any evidence of anything resembling an impeachable offense.” 

Last month, he called the whole thing “absurd.”

The House impeachment managers—including extremists Andy Biggs of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia—will likely present their case on Wednesday, with senators sworn in as jurors on Thursday. Then it will just be a matter of how fast the Senate dispenses with it.

Schumer wrote to Democrats Friday, giving them a preview of the next few weeks of work, including impeachment, and hinted that his likely course of action will be to move to dismiss the charges. 

“I remind Senators that your presence next week is essential,” he wrote. That’s because he needs all Democrats present to vote on that motion to dismiss. 

He’ll have them. Even West Virginia’s Joe Manchin has trashed the impeachment. 

“It’s crap. Pure crap,” he told reporters in February. “No trial at all, it’s ridiculous. The trial will be in November. No. You start that craziness and play games and that stuff?” He added that Cabinet officials “work for the president. You got a problem, go to the polls.” 

He also said he believes there are sufficient votes to dismiss the impeachment. “I just want to get rid of it as quick as possible. You go down that path, that’s a slippery slope, you’ll never stop,” he said in February. 

There are at least three Republican senators—Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah—who have been skeptical enough about the whole thing to help Democrats dispense with this quickly. Romney even suggested in February that he’d vote to dismiss. 

“If there is a policy difference, it’s with the president, not the secretary that reports to him,” he said.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell paid lip service to conducting a trial in remarks last week, but didn’t show much enthusiasm for it. "[T]he Democrats have a majority, so it may not go on very long," McConnell told reporters. "But my preference would be to actually have a trial. But I think the majority is likely to prevent that."

Officially, Senate Republicans will make noises about having that trial. Republican Whip John Thune said at a recent leadership press conference that the House “has determined that Secretary Mayorkas has committed impeachable offenses” and that he thinks “the Senate needs to hold a trial.” How strenuously they’ll try to make that happen is another question—particularly considering who they’ll be teaming up with in the House. After all, Biggs and Greene will be among those coming to the Senate floor with this bullshit. How many GOP senators are going to want to ally with those guys?

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GOP House digs for new Biden dirt as sawdust ‘cocaine’ and Russian moles fail

The Biden impeachment resolution the House GOP unanimously approved last December has hilariously collapsed (Russian moles, sawdust “cocaine”), but that’s not stopping the utterly inept Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, from throwing spaghetti at the wall to make something stick. The chair of the House Oversight Committee made it clear that his intention is to amass as much “evidence” of alleged wrongdoing as he can, with an eye toward setting up criminal prosecutions for a hypothetical Trump presidency.

“Since January 2023, we’ve launched investigations into President Biden’s border crisis, energy crisis, federal pandemic spending, federal agency telework policies, abuse of power at the FTC, the Bidens’ corrupt influence peddling schemes, the federal government’s efforts to combat CCP influence, and more,” Comer told Politico.

Those investigations, he promised, “will culminate in reports with our findings and recommended solutions to prevent government waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.” Expect that to be as solid as all the previous work from him and his fellow MAGA zealot Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the Judiciary Committee.

The “and more” Comer referred to includes such burning questions as the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic (which occurred under Trump) and the administration’s use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Comer has made it clear that this volley of attacks is designed to generate criminal referrals.

“I want to hold the Biden family accountable. I believe the best way to hold the Biden family accountable is through criminal referrals. We’ve proven many crimes have been committed,” Comer told Fox News’ Trey Gowdy. “If the Merrick Garland Department of Justice will not hold this family accountable, then maybe if Trump is president, a Trey Gowdy Department of Justice can hold this family accountable.”

The Comer oversight overreach extends to a threat to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt if he doesn’t turn over the audio tapes of the interview special counsel Robert Hur conducted with President Biden in his classified documents probe. That’s after the disastrous hearing Jordan and Comer held last month, intended to show that Biden is too old and doddery to be trusted as commander in chief.

That backfired when the Justice Department released the transcript of the Biden interview, which showed that Biden’s memory was not failing, and in fact Hur remarked on Biden’s “photographic understanding and, and recall of the house” in Delaware where documents were found. But Comer and Jordan—who have been given free rein by GOP leadership to continue to embarrass them all—are sure that they can find some nugget of a cover-up on the part of Garland in all of this.

Mostly, though, they want to help Trump in his revenge plots. So they’re just going to keep burrowing into the hole they’ve dug. They could quit while they’re behind, but the need to avenge Trump just won’t let them.

RELATED STORIES:

House GOP scrambles to appease Trump after Biden impeachment fails

GOP continues bogus ‘investigation’ after star witness turns out to be Russian mole

GOP seeks new way to attack Biden since impeachment scheme is a bust

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House GOP scrambles to appease Trump after Biden impeachment fails

The House Republicans’ big plans to impeach President Joe Biden have imploded, forcing them to acknowledge they don’t have the votes to impeach on the flimsy evidence they’ve scraped together. So they’re trying to figure out how to make 14 months of wasted time investigating Biden look like it was serious, and have come up with the idea of packaging it all up in a criminal referral and sending it to the Department of Justice.

That’s coming straight from House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer’s mouth. You know Comer, the hapless bumbler who admitted last spring that he couldn’t find any Biden crimes, but kept on “investigating” anyway, only to see all those months of nonsense blown out of the water when it was revealed last month that one of his star witnesses was being fed false information by Russian agents. 

So it’s time to pivot. “At the end of the day, what does accountability look like? It looks like criminal referrals,” Comer recently told Fox New host Sean Hannity. “It looks like referring people to the Department of Justice. … If Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice won’t take any potential criminal referrals seriously, then maybe the next president, with a new attorney general, will.”

This new strategy seems to come at the direction of Donald Trump, who’d love to have locking Biden up as a central campaign theme this year. Comer’s interview with Hannity came shortly after Comer just so happened to run into Trump while having lunch with Trump donor Vernon Hill at one of Trump's Florida properties. What a coincidence they bumped into each other! 

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Republicans took their marching orders from Trump. One MAGA lawmaker, Texas Rep. Troy Nehls, even admitted that the motivation for him on impeachment was to give Trump “a little bit of ammo to fire back” at Biden in this year’s presidential race. Just like how Republicans killed the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill, on Trump’s orders.

House Speaker Mike Johnson confirms they are talking about criminal referrals, but he won’t commit to it. He told CNN he’s just been too busy to keep up with the investigations. “To be very frank with you, very honest and transparent because I’ve been so busy with all my other responsibilities, I have not been able to take the time to do the deep dive in the evidence, but what has been uncovered is alarming,” but that there’s “more deliberation to be done on it that’s for sure.”

There sure is. The decision to make a criminal referral against a sitting president—knowing that the Department of Justice would almost certainly have to defer it—isn’t something all Republicans relish. Even the hard-line conservative and very shady California Rep. Darrell Issa is throwing cold water on the idea, telling The New York Times, “We don’t refer a seated president for criminal charges.” He added that maybe they could make criminal referrals for Biden family members, “but most of what we’ve discovered they already knew.” 

Vulnerable Republicans, whom Johnson desperately needs to keep the House majority, likely want to distance themselves from the whole thing. One of them, Rep. Nick LaLota of New York, told CNN that he has way more important things to deal with. “I’m focused on five or 10 things other than that right now,” he said.

What happens next will have to be decided by the whole conference, and Johnson is going to have to lead. With Trump and MAGA members pressing for criminal referrals and plenty in the conference just wanting to forget the whole thing, it’s going to cause even more dissension in the ranks. 

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The ripple effects of the Dobbs decision are impacting not only the right to an abortion but also abortion funding, IVF, and even recreational sex. Joining us on this week's episode of "The Downballot" is Grace Panetta, a political reporter at The 19th who has closely covered the electoral consequences of this ever-widening set of issues. Panetta highlights key races this year where reproductive rights will take center stage, including ballot initiatives in multiple states, efforts to repeal bans on public funding of abortions, and an upcoming special election in Alabama, the state that just thrust IVF into the limelight.

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