House Republicans continue wasting time instead of governing

The Republican House of Representatives is spinning its wheels Thursday over minor legislation that’s going nowhere, including yet another racist bill to deny housing for immigrants on federal lands. House Speaker Mike Johnson is instead focused on fundraising with big-money people in Washington, D.C., and New York. The fundraising is necessary for House Republicans since it’s been lagging since they toppled former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, their money juggernaut.

That fundraising Johnson's doing in New York includes ”the annual Bright Lights on Broadway fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee, [and] … two events for the New York delegation and three receptions for embattled New York Republicans in their districts: freshman Reps. Nick LaLota, Anthony D’Esposito and Mike Lawler,” according to The Washington Post. That might be why some of those particular Republicans representing districts that voted for President Joe Biden in 2020 are just fine with moving ahead on an historically specious impeachment inquiry. Because they are moving fast on impeachment.

While Republicans don’t have any evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, they’ve got a new website to track all the stuff they’ve made up in the various committees. And they’re talking about moving on it formally before the Christmas break. They might not have enough Republican votes to authorize it, but so far that doesn’t seem to be slowing them down.

Unfortunately for them, the House GOP is also having to figure out how to deal with Rep. George Santos, who is almost certainly going to be expelled in a vote Friday, after debate Thursday. Johnson doesn’t want to have this vote, but Santos has given his colleagues no choice. He refuses to leave of his own volition and he’s refusing as messily as possible.

Over on the Senate side Thursday, the Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on advancing a handful of judicial nominees and on issuing subpoenas to Leonard Leo and Harlan Crow, the fixer and the mega-donor, respectively, who are tied up with the corruption scandals surrounding Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. That committee is where all the worst people in the GOP Senate have congregated, and they were in full, obnoxious form Thursday to fight those subpoenas and stand up for conservative corruption, including bringing 177 amendments.

Before they could even get to the subpoenas, Republicans tried to shout down Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat of Illinois, when he tried to advance the first nominee. All of the nominees have had hearings and debate, giving every senator two previous chances to talk about the nominees. Durbin pointed this out as he tried to limit debate. The performative outrage then commenced.

“Mr. Chairman, you just destroyed one of the most important committees in the United States Senate,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn yelled. “Congratulations on destroying the United States Senate Judiciary Committee.” Tennessee’s dimmest Senate bulb, Marsha Blackburn, shouted, “You want us to shut up?” Arkansas’ Tom Cotton jumped in with, “I guess Durbin isn’t going to allow women to speak, I thought that was sacrosanct in your party.”

In other words, it’s business as usual for congressional Republicans.


Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to vote on subpoenas for Supreme Court benefactors

Cartoon: Santos Claus

House Republican fundraising takes a dive under MAGA Mike's leadership, god bless him

Campaign Action

There has been a ton of coverage in recent weeks over a streak of poor 2024 polling for Democrats and Target Smart’s Tom Bonier joins us to help us separate the wheat from the chaff. We talk about what to take from these polls and how to balance them against the much more positive election results we’ve seen this year. We also discuss how early voting data continues to evolve and how Sen. Sherrod Brown’s campaign will use Ohio’s recent abortion and marijuana referendums to find new persuadable voters next year.

Republican favorability ratings in battleground districts sink even lower

As House Republicans weigh launching an impeachment proceeding against President Joe Biden for who the hell knows what, new polling shows nearly 7 in 10 voters (68%) in battleground congressional districts across the country believe House Republicans have prioritized “the wrong things," while just 20% say they have prioritized the right things.

The findings come from a Navigator Research survey of 61 battleground districts in late October. And the poll suggests that sentiment is shared at roughly the same rate among voters represented by Democratic and Republican incumbents alike.

Voters' assessments of House Republican priorities have also plummeted since July, when Republicans were just 16 percentage points underwater on the question versus being 48 points underwater now—a net shift of -32 points in only three months.

Republican incumbents in Biden-won districts also have a net -10 favorability rating among their constituents (34% favorable, 44% unfavorable).

But wait, there's more: Republican incumbents in Trump-won districts are also underwater in terms of both favorability (-4 points on net, 41% favorable to 45% unfavorable) and job approval (-6 points, 37% favorable to 43% unfavorable).

Navigator says these are House Republicans' lowest ratings since the group's first battleground survey in April.

By contrast, throughout Navigator’s battleground series this year, Democratic incumbents have remained above water and improved over time. In this latest survey, Democratic incumbents are 9 points above water on favorability (42% to 33%) and 8 points above water on job approval (40% to 32%).

Survey responses continued to highlight economic anxiety among voters across the districts, with a 48% plurality rating the economy as "poor," and 54% expressing concern over being able to set aside money for savings. Inflation and the cost of goods remain key concerns.

When taking stock of their personal financial situation, however, 54% rated it positively, with 7% saying "excellent" and 47% saying "good."

But whatever their economic outlook, battleground voters overwhelmingly believe Republicans have not prioritized the economy, with 70% saying they haven't focused on economic issues, compared with just 17% who say they have.

With some 70% of battleground voters agreeing Republicans have prioritized “the wrong things" and haven't focused enough on economic issues, Republicans have the perfect fix: impeachment.

What’s that old phrase, again? It's the impeachment, stupid. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Campaign Action

ICYMI: Media sleeps as Trump blatantly disregards constitutional norms

Why is the media ignoring Trump's direct threats to our Constitution?

Donald Trump keeps threatening our nation’s democracy in no uncertain terms, and yet the nation’s media insists on treating his proclamations as spectacle, when they’re not outright ignoring him.

Take Trump’s fascist declaration that his potential next administration would “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections.” Historians have noted the alarming similarities to Adolf Hitler’s and Benito Mussolini’s eliminationist rhetoric, yet a Media Matters for America analysis found that our media could barely be bothered to care. Indeed, comparing the media’s coverage of Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment to Trump’s “vermin” comment is … just go look for yourself.

Well, now he’s threatening the media, promising in a social media post to “come down hard” on MSNBC for its “constant attacks” on him. Clearly, Trump has no use for the First Amendment or the Constitution in general. Yet, can we expect the media to rally around its freedoms by calling out such outrageous threats? Don’t hold your breath. The media has a history of ignoring his threats, after all. If only his name were Hillary Clinton, perhaps then they’d be more suitably outraged.

More top stories

Senate Republicans do Trump's bidding on Ukraine, immigration

Once upon a time, the Republican Party stood tough against Russian imperialism. But now, thanks to Trump, they are Vladimir Putin’s useful idiots.

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

This was hilarious yesterday. Given how Republicans are still flailing, it remains hilarious today.

Students for Trump co-founder charged with assaulting woman with firearm

They really are deplorables, though.

Reporter asks simple Biden impeachment logic question. Speaker Mike Johnson changes the subject

Republicans are forging ahead on their Biden “impeachment inquiry” despite zero evidence to support it. With one question, one reporter lays bare the absurdity of the Republicans’ actions.

Trump tries to delay trial with another spurious court filing, but this one’s a stinker

This is what happens when Trump dictates his legal strategy instead of letting people who know what they’re doing take the lead.

How many times will Tommy Tuberville pull the football away from Senate Republicans?

This time he’ll allow military promotions to proceed, promise! He just needs a couple more days. …


More comics.

Campaign Action

Cheney’s new book is a devastating indictment of Republican efforts to overturn 2020

In her new book, former Rep. Liz Cheney unloads on her former colleagues in the Republican Party, and to no one's surprise, her disgust is seething and deep.

"Oath and Honor," which was obtained by CNN, serves as an overarching indictment of the many Republicans Cheney deems most responsible for gifting the GOP to the twice-impeached, four-time criminally indicted Donald Trump, whom she calls “the most dangerous man ever to inhabit the Oval Office.”

“As a nation, we can endure damaging policies for a four-year term. But we cannot survive a president willing to terminate our Constitution," writes Cheney, who served as the number three House Republican before being ousted from leadership over her vote to impeach Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol.

According to the book, then-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Cheney following the 2020 election that Trump knew he had lost. “He knows it’s over,” McCarthy reportedly said at the time. “He needs to go through all the stages of grief.”

Yet that same day, Cheney reveals, McCarthy fanned the election-denial flames on Fox News, telling viewers, "President Trump won this election."

Cheney writes, "McCarthy knew that what he was saying was not true.” So much for virtue.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a pro-Trump MAGA stalwart, derided the legal avenues for challenging the election results, saying, “The only thing that matters is winning,” according to Cheney. So much for honor.

Cheney also shredded Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana in the book, which she finished writing before he was elevated to speaker. Johnson, she said, pressured his Republican colleagues to sign on to an amicus brief supporting his legal challenge to 2020 results.

“When I confronted him with the flaws in his legal arguments," Cheney writes, "Johnson would often concede, or say something to the effect of, ‘We just need to do this one last thing for Trump.'" So much for the rule of law.

Fast-forward to Nov. 29, 2023, and Johnson contrasting Republicans' ham-handed effort to impeach President Joe Biden with what he framed as Democrats' "brazenly political" impeachment of Trump for springing a violent coup attempt on the U.S. Capitol.

"What you are seeing here is exactly the opposite. We are the rule-of-law team—the Republican Party stands for the rule of law," Johnson told reporters Wednesday, touting his work to defend Trump against Democrats’ "meritless" impeachment proceedings.

Speaker Mike Johnson claims that both of Donald Trump's impeachments were “brazenly political” and “meritless,” but says the GOP's efforts to impeach Joe Biden are “just the opposite” because “the Republican Party stands for the rule of law.”

— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) November 29, 2023

Just a quick trip to Republicans' present day house-of-mirrors routine as the majority party in the House. Now, back to the book.

Perhaps the most chilling part of CNN's write-up was Cheney's recollection of House Republicans' methodical efforts to reject the will of the people in 2020. Here’s CNN:

On Jan. 6, before the attack on the Capitol, Cheney describes a scene in the GOP cloakroom, where members were encouraged to sign their names on electoral vote objection sheets, lined up on a table, one for each of the states Republicans were contesting. Cheney writes most members knew “it was a farce” and “another public display of fealty to Donald Trump.”

“Among them was Republican Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee,” Cheney writes. “As he moved down the line, signing his name to the pieces of paper, Green said sheepishly to no one in particular, ‘The things we do for the Orange Jesus.’”

So much for fealty to the Constitution.

Campaign Action

Mike Johnson gives the game away in Biden impeachment: It’s revenge

House Speaker Mike Johnson pretended Wednesday that Republicans have any basis at all for moving forward on impeaching President Joe Biden, and that this is a serious inquiry. Johnson soberly intoned that the Republicans understand “impeachment requires time … You don’t rush something like this.”

Meanwhile, House Republican leadership told members that they’ll be taking a formal vote on impeachment in the next few weeks, possibly in January. That’s even while their plans for a hearing with their primary witness, Hunter Biden, are crumbling around them. Johnson laughably praised the committee chairs for conducting their circus “methodically and transparently,” when right now they’re trying to force Hunter Biden’s testimony to happen behind closed doors.

Johnson really gave the game away, though, in a statement that could have come straight from “1984”’s Ministry of Truth. He claimed that both of Donald Trump's impeachments—in which he was on the Trump defense team—were “brazenly political” and “meritless.” The GOP's efforts to impeach President Joe Biden, however, are “just the opposite” because “the Republican Party stands for the rule of law.”

That’s the whole game, right there. It’s not about the rule of law. It’s about revenge for Trump. Period.


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

This is what happens when a House Republican gets tough questions on Hunter Biden subpoenas

Campaign Action

Logical question on impeachment had Speaker Mike Johnson changing the subject

House Speaker Mike Johnson took time away from being a homophobe to hold a press conference on Wednesday. He spent most of the time doing what Republican leaders usually do in front of a press corps: equivocate, change the subject, and spew a few empty talking points. In a video posted by reporter Aaron Rupar, Johnson is asked a pretty easy-to-answer question by a reporter.

Of course, the question gets considerably more difficult to answer when the logic of your position is as deplorable as the current Republican speaker’s.

Here’s what Johnson was asked:

The official act that was corrupt that Republicans are alleging today was that when he was vice president, Joe Biden pushed for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor—and this was the subject of the impeachment of Donald Trump—and you had a lot of State Department officials who came in and said, “This wasn't Joe Biden's policy. This was our policy. He didn't do this to benefit his son. He did this because we wanted him to do it.”

So did they all commit perjury, or are you going to bring them back for more interviews? Why are Republicans just ignoring all that testimony.

Johnson’s response is to change the subject. “Look, no one's ignoring testimony,” he said. “Let me tell you the top four pieces of evidence with regard to Biden, if I just give a bulletpoints here. From 2014 to 2019, Biden family members and their affiliated companies received over $15 million from foreign companies and foreign nationals.”

That’s $15 million over five years to anyone connected to Biden, got it! It isn’t great form to play whataboutism, but in this case, let’s remember that during the four years of Donald Trump’s disastrous administration, his daughter and son-in-law reportedly made more than half a billion dollars in “outside” income. Jared Kushner alone received more than $2 billion from Saudi nationals for a business where operations were considered “unsatisfactory.”

Johnson is out of his depth. In his defense, the entire Republican Party is drowning in a swamp of MAGA extremism and anti-democratic authoritarianism.

Campaign Action

Hunter Biden offers to testify. Republicans scurry away in fear

After months of being treated as a punching bag by Republicans in the House and by right-wing media, Hunter Biden has reacted to a Republican subpoena by offering to testify in person before the House Oversight Committee that’s supposedly looking into allegations of misconduct by President Joe Biden and members of his family. It’s a direct challenge to Republican committee Chair James Comer and to the GOP’s ongoing efforts to create an excuse to impeach the president.

Hunter Biden’s testimony could be one of the greatest “put up or shut up” moments of the century.

Except it’s not going to happen. It’s not happening because the offer to testify in public and answer any question that Republicans wanted to ask was met with a refusal from Comer. The last thing the House Oversight chair wants in his committee is the truth.

According to Hunter’s attorney, David Lowell, the president’s son is willing to sit for the committee on “December 13, or any date in December that we can arrange.” And he has just one requirement: That testimony has to be public, so everyone gets to hear what Republicans ask and what Hunter has to say in response. “All you will learn is that your accusations are baseless,” writes Lowell. “However, the American people should see that for themselves.”

That’s exactly what terrifies Comer. As CNN reports, the Republican congressman who has been making outrageous claims about the Biden family for months quickly rejected the idea of public testimony. “Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else,” said Comer. “That won’t stand with House Republicans.”

Instead, Comer insists that Hunter must appear before Republicans in private so that they can frame information released about both questions and answers in the way they best suits their “investigation.” Republican Rep. Ben Cline followed Comer’s refusal by maintaining that Hunter’s offer to testify in public was part of a Democratic scheme to block Comer’s investigation.

Because, as everyone knows, open public testimony is something that a Republican investigation simply cannot tolerate.

Hunter has been the subject of continuous attacks since Rudy Giuliani first strolled into The New York Times in 2019 and handed them an utterly ridiculous story about Hunter, his father, and a corrupt prosecutor in Ukraine. That story was rapidly and thoroughly debunked, but that hasn’t kept Republicans from citing it as fact from that day until the present. Just days before the 2020 election, Giuliani announced that he had obtained “Hunter Biden’s laptop”—a phrase that has now been promoted thousands of times by Donald Trump, Republicans in the House and Senate, right-wing media, and Elon Musk. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene went so far as to brandish revenge porn taken from this nonexistent laptop on the floor of the House.

The combined effort of Republicans, their supporters, and the media to crush Hunter may be the most jaw-dropping example of the lengths to which the right will go in an effort to find some reason, any reason, to defame Joe Biden. In the past few weeks, Comer has been dribbling out already well-established information one crumb at a time, treating each piece as if it’s some kind of revelation and throwing claims of corruption at multiple members of the Biden family.

And that’s exactly what Comer and others intend to do over the coming months. They have no interest in the truth, and no interest in what Hunter Biden has to say. They only want to preserve their ability to pretend to “investigate” by way of smear.

Rep. Jamie Raskin issued a response to Comer’s insistence that his work can only be carried out in darkness:

“Let me get this straight.  After wailing and moaning for ten months about Hunter Biden and alluding to some vast unproven family conspiracy, after sending Hunter Biden a subpoena to appear and testify, Chairman Comer and the Oversight Republicans now reject his offer to appear before the full Committee and the eyes of the world and to answer any questions that they pose?  What an epic humiliation for our colleagues and what a frank confession that they are simply not interested in the facts and have no confidence in their own case or the ability of their own Members to pursue it.  After the miserable failure of their impeachment hearing in September, Chairman Comer has now apparently decided to avoid all Committee hearings where the public can actually see for itself the logical, rhetorical and factual contortions they have tied themselves up in.  The evidence has shown time and again President Biden has committed no wrongdoing, much less an impeachable offense.  Chairman Comer’s insistence that Hunter Biden’s interview should happen behind closed doors proves it once again.  What the Republicans fear most is sunlight and the truth.”

Campaign Action

MAGA House: Impeachment or bust

With just 12 legislative days scheduled the rest of the year, appropriations bills they can’t pass, a simmering civil war over the last continuing resolution to fund the government, and two more funding deadlines looming, House Republicans are laser-focused on one thing: impeaching President Joe Biden.

Leadership wants to make a decision on going forward with impeachment as soon as January, and they’ll figure out what they’re impeaching him over as they go along. At the moment, its allegations are that Biden used his political office to help his family’s business interests. Since their “evidence” tends to have to do with things Biden did when he was not holding political office, and those things are well documented and above board, that’s going to be a challenge.

The MAGA crew doesn’t care. They want this done now. “I think it needs to move with alacrity. I’ve always felt that we should be able to move faster. … But I do anticipate that it comes to Judiciary soon,” North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop, a Freedom Caucus member who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told Politico.

Another Judiciary Committee member, Rep. Ben Cline of Virginia, tried to take the high road talking to Politico, pretending as though this whole pursuit is about public service rather than Trumpian revenge. “We understand that the further you go toward an election, the more politicized these conversations become. That’s why it’s all the more important for us to begin to take action sooner rather than later.”

And if they can’t get Biden on any actual actions, they’re willing to go for the technicalities. “They’ve hinted that they could also draw obstruction allegations into the impeachment articles, citing any refusal by the Biden administration to cooperate,” Politico reports.

That might be one of the strategies behind the ridiculous subpoenas they’re piling up, the latest of which is for Lesley Wolf, the assistant U.S. attorney for Delaware who investigated Hunter Biden. They’re trying to find evidence of political interference in the federal investigation that began in 2018, under the Trump administration. When Joe Biden was not in office.

It’s not like they aren’t aware that this is a fraught issue for a good chunk of the GOP conference. “Any kind of an impeachment puts our Biden people in a really tough spot,” one GOP lawmaker told Politico, talking about the Biden 18 in particular. “Impeachment hurts us politically—it makes our base feel better.”

They know they’re hurting their members. They know they are only antagonizing the Senate, which will never take up impeachment articles even if the House manages to pass them, a very big if at this point. They also know they have an almost insurmountable amount of work to do between now and Jan. 19, when the first tranche of current government funding expires. On top of that, there’s aid to Israel and Ukraine.

The House GOP is flirting with their own political disaster. The impeachers believe they have an ally in new House Speaker Mike Johnson, but Johnson might be savvy enough to recognize that moving forward with impeachment articles will only rend the conference and give him a black eye he can ill afford going into an election year. But Johnson is “all in” for Trump, so no matter how baseless, toxic, and dangerous impeachment is, that’s probably where they’re headed.


House Republicans issue a subpoena to federal prosecutor in Hunter Biden's case

Republican chaos is purposefully designed to dampen voter engagement

James Comer discovers another smoking water pistol

Campaign Action

We talk about North Carolina non-stop on "The Downballot," so it's only natural that our guest on this week's episode is Anderson Clayton, the new chair of the state Democratic Party. Clayton made headlines when she became the youngest state party chair anywhere in the country at the age of 25, and the story of how she got there is an inspiring one. But what she's doing—and plans to do—is even more compelling. Her focus is on rebuilding the party infrastructure from the county level up, with the aim of reconnecting with rural Black voters who've too often been sidelined and making young voters feel like they have a political home. Plus: her long-term plan to win back the state Supreme Court.

Here’s how inherently partisan the House impeachment inquiry is

The early weeks of House Speaker Mike Johnson’s tenure are seeing a predictable outbreak of “moderate” Republicans saying they sure hope that the impeachment inquiry that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy launched against President Joe Biden will “go where the evidence goes” and rely on “an orderly and fair process.” Those quotes are from Reps. Don Bacon and Doug LaMalfa, respectively, who will provide invaluable cover for Johnson as he works to get the media to buy into his Very Smart Constitutional Lawyer persona. But a Washington Post article on the impeachment dynamics under Johnson contained maybe the most damning possible passage on Johnson’s approach.

But in this week’s private meeting with moderates, Johnson appeared to agree with Republican lawmakers who argued that since Biden’s polling numbers have been so weak, there is less of a political imperative to impeach him, according to Bacon and others who attended the meeting.

I’m sorry, but how is that a passing mention in a story largely focused on how Johnson “has taken a more reserved tone, both publicly and privately, urging members to conduct a thorough and fair investigation with no predetermined outcome”? If Johnson’s “more reserved tone” is based on feeling that it’s no longer politically important to impeach Biden, that’s not a sign that he’s prioritizing being “thorough and fair”; it’s a sign that he’s proceeding from an entirely partisan starting point!

Before he became speaker and decided that his play was looking like a serious guy by getting the media to ignore that his constitutional law work was anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ extremism, Johnson promoted House Oversight Chair James Comer’s baseless allegations against Biden. “The things that the evidence is leading us to, the allegations that are very serious and have been made in the mounting evidence stacking up to show is the causes that are listed right there in the Constitution,” he said in late September. “So we have no choice. Why are Democrats ignoring it purely for partisan political purposes?” Also in late September, he stood on the House floor and railed against the media for correctly observing that the impeachment inquiry “may be weakest in history” and was “the most predictable impeachment investigation in American history.” It goes on. “One thing that remains clear: The list of credible allegations that Joe Biden engaged in bribery schemes continues to grow,” he tweeted in early October. “The Constitution specifically lists bribery as a cause for impeachment. We can't have a President that is bought & paid for by foreign adversaries.”

Sure, Johnson gave lip service to following the evidence from time to time, but he regularly promoted Comer’s wildest allegations against Biden as truth, and presented impeachment as the logical and necessary outcome, the constitutional responsibility of the House for such corruption. And now the reporting shows that if, as speaker, he is backing off a little, it’s not just because he has decided it’s important to look like a statesman but also because he thinks impeachment is currently less important from a partisan standpoint, based on the polling.

This is who Mike Johnson is. The media needs to actually pay attention, rather than reporting such massively damning information as if it were a ho-hum scenario not worthy of extended comment.

Campaign Action

The band is back together, and it is a glorious day as Markos and Kerry’s hot takes over the past year came true—again! Republicans continue to lose at the ballot box and we are here for it!