Markwayne Mullin, self-professed Jan. 6 hero, tries to codify Big Lie and expunge Trump impeachment

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) is trying to codify the Big Lie and expunge the second impeachment of the former guy. The Hill obtained a copy of Mullin’s draft legislation, which asserts that the charge against Trump for incitement of insurrection  “contains a subjective account of that which transpired at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.”

Because what the entire world witnessed on their television sets for hour upon hour on Jan. 6…  wasn’t as bad as it looked? This is a particularly interesting reimagining of history because Markwaye went to great pains to highlight his own heroics as the MAGA army of orcs attacked on January 6. He told Politico a few weeks later that he “first leapt into action, helping an officer barricade the door on the House floor that leads to Statuary Hall.”

“The idea was just to try to delay. I honestly didn’t believe we were going to keep them out of the chamber. I was 100 percent convinced that we were going to pile up at the door,” Mullin told Politico. “It is all about time,” he added. He described how he broke up wooden hand sanitizer stands to create some kind of weapon, giving a piece of wood to Texas freshman Rep. Troy Nehls. “We have a choice. I’m with you, brother,” Mullin said he told Nehls.

Then he described how he attempted to try to talk the invaders down. “You almost got shot. You almost died. Is it worth it?’” he said he asked them. Someone in the mob supposedly helped back “This is our House. This is our House. And we’re taking our House back.’” Mullin told Politico he shot back with “This is our House, too. That is not going to happen.”

But in retrospect, all those heroics must have been overblown, because it was just an overly zealous attempt to exercise free speech on the part of those Trump supporters. Or something. Mullin’s big argument in the legislation is that the impeachment arcticles “omits any discussion of the circumstances, unusual voting patterns, and voting anomalies of the 2020 Presidential election itself.” Mullin was among the Republicans who challenged the electoral vote count on Jan. 6, even after his action-figure heroics were called upon earlier in the day.

Mullin was expected to introduce the bill Wednesday. In an email to fellow Republican House members Tuesday, reported by the Daily Beast, Mullin’s office wrote, “The Democrats’ weaponization of impeachment against President Trump cannot go unanswered in the history books.” The bill decries the “rabid partisanship the Democrats displayed in exercising one of the most grave and consequential powers with which the House is charged.”

“Democrats used their second impeachment resolution to once again weaponize one of the most grave and consequential powers of the House,” Mullin said in a statement. “This was never about the Constitution; it was rooted in personal politics.”

“Liberals couldn’t see through their blind rage long enough to follow parliamentary procedure, and instead barreled through Congress in order to have one more bite at the apple with President Trump,” said Mullin.

You don’t have to look too hard to find Mullin’s motivation in pushing this bill—which, by the way, will not get anywhere near the House floor as long as Democrats hold the chamber. Mullin is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Inhofe in June’s special election. Trump hasn’t endorsed yet in the crowded Republican primary.

Back in April, Mullin made the Mar-a-Lago pilgrimage to beg for his ruler’s favor. He and Trump “discussed the state of the economy and the upcoming election,” Mullin’s campaign said. Sure.

Not to be outdone by Mullin in the Trump genuflection contest, the perfectly odious Elise Stefanik jumped on board. “The American people know Democrats weaponized the power of impeachment against President Donald Trump to advance their own extreme political agenda,” she told Fox News Digital. “President Donald Trump was rightfully acquitted, and it is past time to expunge Democrats’ sham smear against not only President Trump’s name, but against millions of patriots across the country.”

Republicans plot a wave of impeachments if they take the House

Republicans are teeing up their next move toward making the U.S. government completely unable to function. If they take control of the House, as they are favored to do, they will come in already having laid the groundwork to begin impeaching Cabinet officials, starting with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandra Mayorkas.

On Monday, 133 Republican House members sent Mayorkas a letter accusing him of “disregard for the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws” and actions that have “willingly endangered American citizens and undermined the rule of law and our nation’s sovereignty.” Basically, Mayorkas has not kept every single one of Donald Trump’s hateful immigration policies in place. 

RELATED STORY: Dear reporters: Please don't parrot back whatever noted liar Kevin McCarthy says at the border today

Though the letter doesn’t use the word “impeach,” it makes a not very veiled threat: “Your failure to secure the border and enforce the laws passed by Congress raises grave questions about your suitability for office.”

Listen and subscribe to Daily Kos Elections’ The Downballot podcast with David Nir and David Beard

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the threat explicit in the Monday border visit he used to try to distract from having been caught in a set of big lies about his attitude toward Trump and Jan. 6. “This is his moment in time to do his job,” McCarthy said of Mayorkas. “But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody.”

Mayorkas is supposedly “derelict,” while Republicans have nothing bad to say about expensive and useless theater conducted at the border by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

But a move to impeach Mayorkas probably wouldn’t be the end of Republican efforts to hobble President Biden's administration and make being a Cabinet official from one party punishable by impeachment if the other party held the House. The reporting at Axios can be faulted on many fronts, but the outlet has excellent Republican sourcing. Here’s what it takes from its sources: “For the first year of President Biden's term, it was mostly the hard right of the GOP who entertained impeaching the president and his Cabinet secretaries. But those deliberations are now happening among a much larger group — even with virtually no precedent or legal justification.”

One Cabinet official has ever been impeached in U.S. history. Republicans are getting ready to make that commonplace, not because Cabinet officials suddenly magically got worse, but because the Republican Party is committed to sabotaging not just a Democratic administration but voters’ faith that the government can function effectively.

RELATED STORIES: 

Texas' corrupt attorney general hopes the courts can yet again help him sabotage Biden's agenda

Far-right Freedom Caucus is poised to have serious sway if Republicans take the House

Democrats To Explore Impeachment Options For Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Impeachment-happy Democrats are expected to hold a hearing to explore the possibility of impeachment for Supreme Court justices in the wake of controversial messages surfacing from the wife of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.

The hearing follow reports that Thomas’ wife, Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, exchanged text messages with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about alleged election fraud after the 2020 election.

Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) distributed a memo to members of the House Judiciary courts subcommittee that seeks further inquiry into legislative proposals to impose ‘ethics requirements’ on Supreme Court justices.

The memo, obtained by The Hill, “discusses Congress’s impeachment authority” as a means to regulate “the conduct of Supreme Court justices.”

Johnson, famously known as the lawmaker who once asked if the island of Guam might capsize if too many people were on it, is the chairman of the subcommittee.

RELATED: AOC Calls To Impeach Clarence Thomas, The Only Black Supreme Court Justice

Seeking Impeachment of Clarence Thomas

Clarence Thomas is the longest-serving justice, the second black justice, the only black justice until Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed over the summer, and the most conservative member currently serving on the Supreme Court.

That’s the true reason why he is being targeted.

Democrats have been seeking to get his recusal on cases involving the election and former President Donald Trump, suggesting his interpretation of laws is clouded by his wife’s beliefs.

The hearing exploring ethics and impeachment options involving the Supreme Court, titled “Building Confidence in the Supreme Court Through Ethics and Recusal Reforms,” will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

A committee in Congress, which perpetually holds a favorability rating in the teens, wants to ‘build confidence’ in the Supreme Court, whose favorability rating recently sat at 54%.

Though she doesn’t serve on the committee, far-left Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has been instrumental in the notion that the impeachment of Clarence Thomoas should be explored.

“Clarence Thomas should resign,” she tweeted last month.

“If not, his failure to disclose income from right-wing organizations, recuse himself from matters involving his wife, and his vote to block the Jan 6th commission from key information must be investigated and could serve as grounds for impeachment.”

Once again proving the Squad Queen tells her party to jump … and they sure do ask ‘How high?’

RELATED: DeSantis Signs Bill To Create Election Police Force In Florida To Investigate Voter Fraud

The Impeachment Mob is Unwarranted

AOC went on to suggest the only sitting black Supreme Court justice must be ‘held accountable’ for the actions of his wife.

“Congress must understand that a failure to hold Clarence Thomas accountable sends a loud, dangerous signal to the full Court,” she said.

Mark Paoletta, former chief counsel and assistant to Vice President Mike Pence, argues that the case against the Thomases is thin and manufactured.

In a column for the Washington Examiner, Paoletta points out that Virginia Thomas’ involvement in the events of January 6 is minimal as she “attended the rally … but left before then-President Donald Trump addressed the crowd because she was cold.”

Paoletta also notes one of her private texts to Meadows points out the rioters themselves do not represent Trump supporters.

The National Review’s Andrew McCarthy concurs noting, “The smearing of Justice Thomas is transparently partisan politics, nothing more.”

A senior GOP aide tells The Hill, “Let’s be honest, this hearing is nothing more than step one in impeaching Justice Thomas.”

Thomas once famously declared his nomination process, turned into a smear campaign back in 1991, was “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas.”

Then-Senator Joe Biden was instrumental in those shenanigans. 

With Democrats now pursuing the impeachment of Clarence Thomas, what exactly has changed in the party since that moment over 30 years ago?

The post Democrats To Explore Impeachment Options For Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas appeared first on The Political Insider.

McCarthy said he’d tell Trump to resign after Jan. 6. McConnell thought he’d be out, book reports

What Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Mitch McConnell said behind closed doors about President Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection and what they said to his face were in complete opposition, according to a book set to hit shelves next month.  

This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future releases May 3, and with it will come a few surprises about the conversations key GOP members reportedly had about their leader.

The New York Times exclusively reports that not only did McCarthy and McConnell believe that Trump was directly responsible for the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, but they told other GOP lawmakers they intended to ask the president to resign. “I’ve had it with this guy,” McCarthy reportedly told a group of Republican leaders. Naturally, a spokesperson for McCarthy, Mark Bednar, denied to the Times that the congressman ever “said he’d call Trump to say he should resign.”

RELATED STORY: Can Kevin McCarthy be any more gutless? Yes, he can ‘forget’ what he said to Trump on Jan. 6

The book, co-written by Jonathan Martin and  Alexander Burns, two New York Times reporters, compiles interviews and records of hundreds of lawmakers and officials, according to the Times, and lays out a timeline where McCarthy and McConnell both lost their respective chutzpah—a great Yiddish word for nerve.

Listen Jennifer Fernandez Ancona from Way to Win explain what how Democrats must message to win on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld

According to the Times, before McCarthy’s spine dissolved, he reportedly suggested that several GOP lawmakers should be banned from social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook following the insurrection.

“We can’t put up with that,” McCarthy reportedly said. “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”

Again, Bednar denied to the Times that Rep. McCarthy ever suggested any GOP leaders be banned from social media.

However, we know that McCarthy did publicly say in mid-January 2021 that Trump was at least partially responsible for the riot. "He told me personally that he does have some responsibility. I think a lot of people do."

Here's the audio of McCarthy saying Trump has responsibility for Jan. 6th and Trump admitted responsibility. He strongly urges a commission to investigate the attack. McCarthy said Thursday he didn't recall telling members Trump took responsibility.https://t.co/fsZYL5Q1ss pic.twitter.com/T7Rwb8Yd0n

— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) January 14, 2022

McCarthy also blabbed about Trump to House Republicans during a private conference call on Jan. 11. CNN obtained a copy of a transcript of that call.

"Let me be clear to you, and I have been very clear to the President. He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No if, ands, or buts," McCarthy said. "I asked him personally today if he holds responsibility for what happened. If he feels bad about what happened. He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. But he needs to acknowledge that."

But four days later, McCarthy conveniently forgot all that he’d said.

Here's McCarthy yesterday when asked directly if he told members on a 1/11/21 call about Trump taking responsibility. "I'm not sure what call you're talking, so....," pivots quickly to next question. pic.twitter.com/GeWQTs0FSs

— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) January 14, 2022

According to the Times, McCarthy was told by Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio that Trump supporters did not want their president challenged on Jan. 6 events.

“I’m just telling you that that’s the kind of thing that we’re dealing with, with our base,” Johnson said.

As a result, by the end of January and after seeing that a scant 10 House Republicans would support a Trump impeachment, McCarthy reversed course and stepped away from any condemnation of HerrTrump. He shut his mouth and kept his job as the House Minority Leader.

As for McConnell, theTimes reports that he initially believed Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 were so heinous that he was convinced his GOP colleagues would surely break with the president. He reportedly even predicted a conviction vote for Trump’s impeachment.

“The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” he reportedly said during a Jan. 11 meeting with Terry Carmack and Scott Jennings, two of his advisors. “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is,” he reportedly said.

McConnell was so convincing in his ire against Trump, the Times reports, that Senators John Thune and Rob Portman privately said they believed he’d vote to convict Trump.

But as we all know, McConnell eventually voted to acquit Trump, despite following it with a blistering speech against the president.

Then, he too, shut his mouth to keep his job and the support of a failed, twice-impeached president and his millions of supporters.

Trump Celebrates Retirement of Latest Republican Who Voted For His Impeachment

Former President Donald Trump celebrated an announcement by Representative Fred Upton regarding his retirement from Congress, marking the fourth departure of House Republicans who voted to impeach him over the Capitol riot.

“Even the best stories have a last chapter,” said Upton, speaking on the House floor Tuesday morning. “This is it for me.”

The Michigan Republican has served in Congress for nearly four decades, having worked for the Reagan administration before winning a seat in Congress in 1986.

The Detroit Free Press indicates that redistricting was forcing Upton to face Representative Bill Huizenga in the same district. Trump endorsed Huizenga in a statement last month.

Upton’s public service, at least for now, will conclude at the end of the year.

RELATED: Trump Bashes GOP Rep. Who Voted For Biden ‘Infrastructure’ Bill Right To Her Face

Fred Upton Voted to Impeach Trump

Fred Upton’s retirement makes him the fourth Republican of ten who voted in favor of impeaching President Trump for his alleged role in inciting a riot at the Capitol on January 6 to leave rather than face another election.

“Enough is enough,” Upton declared at the time. “The Congress must hold President Trump to account and send a clear message that our country cannot and will not tolerate any effort by any President to impede the peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next.”

He later sided with Democrats again in voting to form a select committee to investigate the riot and was one of nine House Republicans who voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress.

In 2019, he was one of only four Republicans who supported a motion to condemn Trump after he told Squad members to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.” 

Trump issued a statement celebrating Fred Upton’s retirement.

“UPTON QUITS! 4 down and 6 to go,” he wrote. “Others losing badly, who’s next?”

RELATED: The 9 Republicans Who Joined Democrats In Voting to Hold Steve Bannon In Contempt

All 10 Republicans Gone?

Trump’s dream of eliminating each of the 10 Republicans who, like Fred Upton, voted to impeach him, may not be all that unattainable.

Three others, as we mentioned, have also announced they are leaving Congress – including Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Adam Kinzinger (IL), and John Katko (NY).

Kinzinger’s departure came in part due to Democrats in Illinois unveiling a new congressional map that significantly impacted his chances of winning in 2022 – even after he allowed the party to use him to foment anti-Trump sentiments on the committee and to their voters.

As for the other six Republicans to vote for impeachment? They are all facing stiff primary challenges with many of those challengers earning a key endorsement from President Trump.

The Hill reports that “it’s possible that none of the 10 GOP ‘yes’ votes for Trump’s impeachment will be back in Congress in 2023.”

The potential purge of anti-Trump Republicans has, they write, created “a House GOP that is increasingly in lockstep with the former president.”

Upton also drew the ire of Trump supporters when he became one of 13 Republicans who helped pass President Biden’s $1.2 trillion ‘infrastructure’ bill back in November.

The 13 GOP members snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and helped Biden get a political win when the infrastructure legislation was clearly on the ropes.

Trump slammed the group, calling them ‘RINOs.’

“Very sad that the RINOs in the House and Senate Gave Biden and Democrats a victory on the ‘Non-Infrastructure’ Bill, where only 11% of the money being wasted goes to real infrastructure,” he said. “They just don’t get it!”

Upton clearly gets that he didn’t stand much of a chance against the Trump-backed candidate and opted to tuck tale and retreat instead.

POLL: Do you think all 10 pro-impeachment Republicans will lose or retire?

By voting, you agree to receive email communication from The Political Insider. Click HERE for more information.

“Private polling showed him getting clobbered by Huizenga,” Bill Ballenger, editor of the Ballenger Report on Michigan politics, told Newsmax.

The outlet reported that sources in Michigan indicate Upton “opted for retirement rather than face what he himself concluded was certain defeat.”

The post Trump Celebrates Retirement of Latest Republican Who Voted For His Impeachment appeared first on The Political Insider.

The Supreme Court can’t be untouchable. Congress needs to investigate Thomas

The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman is absolutely right: “The controversy over Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, Clarence Thomas, and the Jan. 6 insurrection is demonstrating one profound difference between Democrats and Republicans: how they view the value of making a stink.”

Three years on, the ridiculous and entirely made-up Hunter Biden story is still a thing, more a thing than Donald Trump extorting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to try to get “dirt” on Biden. Because Republicans keep feeding it—because they know it will work.

Meanwhile, the spouse of a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice was involved up to her eyebrows in the effort to overthrow the Congress and keep Donald Trump in office. The Donald Trump who was doing Vladimir Putin’s bidding in trying to withhold arms from Ukraine. Arms that Ukraine has desperately needed in its defense against Russia. That’s a pretty big thing! All definitely worth making a stink about. But thus far, Democratic leadership in Congress is not. The most they’ve done so far is say they think Thomas should recuse himself from any Jan. 6-related cases. Ineffectively.

That’s why Daily Kos and 16 other organizations have signed on to this Take Back the Court letter, demanding that Congress open a formal investigation into Clarence Thomas’ misconduct. We’ve written to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the chairs of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, “to request that the House and Senate Judiciary Committees open a formal investigation into Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ misconduct in his handling of cases regarding the January 6 insurrection, the 2020 presidential election, and other cases involving his wife’s political activities.”

“Justice Thomas’ unethical conduct from the bench is within the purview of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and we urge the committees to investigate that conduct fully, in cooperation with the January 6 Select Committee as needed,” the groups write.

Even though Supreme Court justices have chosen not to abide by the same code of ethics that other all federal judges must adhere to, they are bound by a federal statute that bars them from hearing cases in which their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” or in which their spouse has “an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.”

Thomas has already violated that statute. He’s ruled in multiple cases surrounding the 2020 election and the insurrection—including being the lone dissenting vote requiring Trump to provide records to the Jan. 6 committee, records that may very well include communications from Ginni Thomas. “Justice Thomas clearly violated this provision when he refused to recuse himself from a case directly implicating his wife’s activities in support of the January 6 insurrection, and it is incumbent on Congress to respond,” the groups write.

Thomas’ rulings on cases in which his wife was directly involved go back at least two decades. In December 2000, the court heard Bush v. Gore, the only time in history in which the Supreme Court selected a president. While the case was pending, Ginni Thomas was collecting résumés for potential Bush administration positions. Twelve years later, he heard the challenge against the Affordable Care Act, NFIB v. Sibelius. Ginni was then heading up a group called Liberty Central, which was agitating for the law to be declared unconstitutional. Back then, a group of 74 members of Congress asked Thomas to recuse from the case. He did not. He heard the case and voted in dissent when the court upheld the law.

So we know how polite requests for recusal are going to pan out. Thomas is not going to recuse out of any sense of propriety or ethics. That’s abundantly clear. There’s only one way it happens and that would require a formal investigation.

It’s not just his refusal to recuse from cases, either, that raises ethics concerns aboutThomas. “Justice Thomas has repeatedly failed to disclose employers who paid his wife hundreds of thousands of dollars, as required by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978,” Take Back the Court points out. “This raises serious questions about what, if anything, Justice Thomas is trying to hide, whether any other undisclosed payments exist, and what possible judicial outcomes such hidden details relate to.”

“Allowing Justice Thomas to avoid scrutiny will surely cause the American people’s faith in our judicial system to deteriorate further—perhaps beyond repair. Americans know that Justice Thomas cannot act impartially in cases related to his wife’s political activities,” the groups write. “It’s up to your committees to ensure that he is held accountable for abusing his power and pretending otherwise.”

Nothing is going to happen to Thomas without Democrats kicking up a stink. An investigation into Thomas will sure stink for the Supreme Court, and for Chief Justice John Roberts, who seems to care about his legacy as much as anything else. Yes, it needs to happen.

RELATED STORIES:

House Republican resolution would erase House impeachment of Trump for Ukraine extortion

Republicans have been trying very hard to shift to a pro-Ukraine stance since Russian autocrat and far-right hero Vladimir Putin invaded the country and began a systemic program of war crimes, but it has been hard going. The Republican talking points of the Donald Trump era were that Ukraine was a hopelessly corrupt country and that we needed to support whatever crackpot schemes Rudy Giuliani and other party toadies came up with to put the screws to its corrupt-but-not-in-the-right-way government. Also oh-by-the-way maybe it was Ukraine, not Russia, who attacked our 2016 presidential elections, and maybe it was Donald Trump's political opponents who orchestrated it rather than a laundry list of Donald Trump's grifting underlings and kin.

No matter how hard walking lie dispenser Sen. Mitch McConnell or other Republicans bluster that actually the party has been pro-Ukraine, anti-Russia all along, it regularly goes to hell again when some pro-Trump House Republican pipes up with a new defense of how Donald Trump had every right to block military aid from reaching Ukraine until the Ukrainian president did him, personally, an election favor.

Sure enough, here comes Oklahoma's Rep. Markwayne Mullin, and with impeccable timing. Mullin is taking this moment to introduce a new House resolution that would "expunge" Donald Trump's first impeachment. It would officially, according to, uh, this document, never have happened. And Mullin is doing this because, he told Fox News, Democrats were "manipulating a perfect phone call with a vulnerable nation" for their "political gain."

It is possible this bearded gas station bollard was drunk when he was saying that, because nobody in full possession of their faculties would still use the phrase "perfect phone call" in the year Dickety Dickety Two unless Donald Trump was standing behind them with a gun to their back. It is a level of maudlin sycophancy that even Sen. Lindsey Graham shies away from these days.

Though we have never once said this and will never say it again: Markwayne Mullin is right. The House of Representatives should absolutely be taking time out of whatever the hell they are currently pretending to do to revisit the debate on whether Donald Trump's extortion of the Ukrainian government was, as they have insisted ever since, how the Republican Party believes their foreign policy should function. Whether it is reasonable for a president to make congressionally mandated military assistance contingent on an allied government announcing false accusations against Republican enemies. Whether the timing of Trump's delay, which took place as Russian cutouts and Russian forces were stepping up military attacks inside Ukraine as part of the overall plan to annex the eastern side of the nation outright was coincidental or conspiratorial.

We should again all be pondering whether the near-entirety of the Republican Party, its lawmakers, its allies, and its pundits sought to immunize Trump from consequences because they genuinely do not feel that a president corrupting foreign policy to gain personal, nongovernmental benefits is out of bounds—or if they believe only that Republican elected officials ought to be able to commit such crimes.

And, of course, the House needs to come to terms with the most consequential question of all: whether the near-unanimous Republican decision to immunize Trump against charges of corruption against our democracy led directly, a short time later, to Trump attacking our democracy even more directly with a propaganda-premised coup attempt that turned violent inside the halls of the U.S. Capitol. By. All. Means.

Come to think of it, Mullin's request that Trump not just be immunized from consequences for extorting the Ukrainian government, but the records "expunged" of any mention that Congress even objected, is something that would fit well with the House select committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection. Donald Trump clearly believed that in a showdown between this nation's written Constitution and his own personal ambitions, Republicans would choose him. Why did he think so? Why was he so certain that the Republican Party would, so long as a little bit of preemptive violence was added to the mix so that all parties would understand the consequences for opposing him, fall in line and demand that the election be erased rather than acknowledge his loss?

Which, in fact, happened: The majority of Republican lawmakers did vote to nullify the election. But Democrats, at that particular moment in time, happened to outnumber them anyway.

Why would Trump think that the Republican Party would back him even if he committed sedition itself? Why was he so certain?

Mullin, author of a new resolution calling on Congress to "expunge" the impeachment charges Trump faced after an international extortion scheme looking to boost his own power even if it directly conflicted with laws passed by Congress: Do you have any insight as to why Trump would believe House Republicans would allow him to commit any crime he wanted to?

As momentum builds in Congress to do something about Thomas, impeachment needs to be an option

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a problem for the court, for the nation, and for democracy in general. That’s been true for decades, as long as his deep ties to the dark money swirling around the judiciary, and doesn’t even take into account the extremely partisan activities of his “best friend” and wife Ginni. Since those activities now include attempting to overthrow the government, the problem of Clarence Thomas just got a whole lot more glaring—and congressional leadership has been caught just a bit flat-footed.

Stepping into the void, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the first to use the “I” word. “Clarence Thomas should resign,” she tweeted. “If not, his failure to disclose income from right-wing organizations, recuse himself from matters involving his wife, and his vote to block the Jan 6th commission from key information must be investigated and could serve as grounds for impeachment.”

By all means, the House should start talking about impeachment. That’s what Thomas deserves: the ultimate censure. That’s where to start: the maximum. There’s no real other leverage the other two branches have over the Supreme Court than pressure in the public eye and the threat of action. Chief Justice John Roberts has been aware enough about his personal legacy in his career thus far to make blowing up the Thomas scandal in public—and keeping it there with discussion of impeachment—a smart tactic.

Would the 50-50 Senate convict him? No, but that’s a valuable weapon for Democrats in the upcoming election. Republicans are protecting the Supreme Court justice who has refused to recuse himself from cases involving his wife’s efforts to overthrow the government.

The good news is that Democrats are inching toward something a little more concrete than demanding that Thomas recuse. That’s where they started. A group of House and Senate Democrats, spearheaded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), wrote to the Supreme Court requesting that Thomas recuse himself from any future Jan. 6-related cases, as well as provide a “written explanation for his failure to recuse himself” in previous cases.

“[G]iven the recent disclosures about Ms. Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election and her specific communications with White House officials about doing so, Justice Thomas’s participation in cases involving the 2020 election and the January 6th attack is exceedingly difficult to reconcile with federal ethics requirements,” says the letter obtained by The Washington Post.

The lawmakers also called on Roberts to commit to creating “a binding Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court—the only court in the country not currently subject to a judicial code of ethics—that includes (1) enforceable provisions to ensure that the Justices comply with this Code and (2) a requirement that all Justices issue written recusal decision.” They ask that he do so by April 28.

Campaign Action

Which is a fine and appropriate next step, since Thomas will surely refuse to recuse. “He absolutely should recuse himself,” Jayapal told Politico. But, she added, “Clearly the Supreme Court is in need of ethics reforms.”

Jayapal is on the House Judiciary committee, so the ethics reform thing is another possibility. In fact, legislation to impose the Judicial Code of Ethics on the Supreme Court—which is currently exempt from it—would be a good concurrent step for Congress to be taking along with the public pressure campaign to get him to resign. That legislation exists in a bill written by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and should start moving through committee immediately.

After an ill-conceived dismissal of the issue on Monday by Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin, who suggested there’s no urgency to the Thomas problem, there’s now some momentum there. Durbin had a day to think it over and is now joining Warren in saying lawmakers need to act. Durbin told CNN’s Manu Raju that imposing the ethics code on the Supreme Court is “long overdue.” Warren told him the legislation should include limits on stocks and “rules about other kinds of personal conflicts.” The Senate Democrats are expected to discuss Murphy’s legislation in their conference luncheon Tuesday, Raju reports.

That’s all fine and needs to move apace. At the same time, House Democrats should not rule out pursuing impeachment, which has to initiate in that chamber. Once again, Ocasio-Cortez is pushing Democrats to go there. Remember, she said, that pushing for impeachment of Trump on his extortion of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was initially deemed “unrealistic,” and the “debate was fierce & opposition real.” But, she argues, “When we look back at the decision to impeach Trump over Ukraine today, could you imagine if the naysayers and those claiming to be ‘politically savvier’ won? WE would be explaining why we allowed it to happen instead of the Senate explaining why they acquitted.” That’s on the Senate Republicans.

“Subpoenas, investigations, and impeachment should absolutely be on the table. We shouldn’t have to think twice about that,” she concluded in the thread. “We must go where the facts take us. A failure to act puts the imperiling of democracy squarely on *our* shoulders. It’s our duty to defend it.”

Let the Senate lead on the code of ethics legislation. How are Senate Republicans going to argue about that? The House needs to start those investigations toward impeachment. Both chambers should also be talking now about legislation to expand the court, and to put pressure on President Joe Biden to join as well. If there’s going to be any change, any accountability at the court, it’s not going to come without a big public stink. It’s the only way it’s going to happen.

RELATED STORIES:

Trump’s Ukraine extortion campaign didn’t begin or end with ‘I would like you to do us a favor’

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine didn’t come from nowhere: Russia had invaded and annexed part of Ukraine in 2014 and there has been an ongoing war ever since, with thousands of people killed on both sides. Donald Trump’s efforts to extort Ukraine came in the midst of that war, and have to be understood in that context. Trump had very real leverage over Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, because Zelenskyy was desperate for U.S. support during a war and Trump used that leverage to apply pressure over a period of months.

Trump’s pressure campaign wasn’t just that of a larger country against a smaller one. It was against a smaller country at war with a larger one, where the aggressor in that war—Russia—was watching and reading the tea leaves about the United States’ level of support for Ukraine. Again and again, Trump left Ukraine hanging and let Vladimir Putin know that U.S. support for Ukraine was conditional at best.

The House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry report from 2019 lays it out in detail, as Asha Rangappa noted. From the moment Zelenskyy won his election in April 2019, Trump was dangling the possibility of public shows of support and then yanking them back. In their initial phone call after Zelenskyy’s win, Trump invited him to the White House—an invitation Ukrainian officials then sought to pin down and make real, without success. Trump initially said he would send Mike Pence to Zelenskyy’s inauguration with the U.S. vice president’s presence standing as visible evidence of support, only to keep Pence home and send Energy Secretary Rick Perry instead. This was as Rudy Giuliani was ramping up his efforts to get Zelenskyy to announce investigations into supposed corruption involving the Biden family and supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Trump explicitly connected his reluctance for a White House visit for the Ukrainian president to Ukraine having supposedly “tried to take me down” in 2016. This was false. As Russia expert Dr. Fiona Hill said in her impeachment inquiry testimony about claims that Ukraine interfered in the U.S. elections, “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves. The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016.”

Next, Trump personally froze nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine—aid appropriated by Congress and supported by officials throughout the federal agencies responsible for sending it, except those who were first and foremost Trump loyalists. And a quid pro quo was repeatedly communicated to Ukraine: Make a public announcement of investigations into the Biden family and interference in the elections if you want the White House visit and the military aid. No actual investigations are needed. Just the public announcement of them.

“On July 2, in Toronto, Canada, Ambassador Volker conveyed the message directly to President Zelensky, specifically referencing the ‘Giuliani factor’ in President Zelensky’s engagement with the United States,” according to the impeachment inquiry report. “For his part, Mr. Giuliani made clear to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker, who were directly communicating with the Ukrainians, that a White House meeting would not occur until Ukraine announced its pursuit of the two political investigations. After observing Mr. Giuliani’s role in the ouster of a U.S. Ambassador and learning of his influence with the President, Ukrainian officials soon understood that ‘the key for many things is Rudi [sic].’”

This pressure ratcheted up with Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenskyy, the one in which he responded to Zelenskyy’s request to buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles with, “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” And it became still stronger as the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid continued to be frozen. 

On Aug. 28, 2019, Politico reported on the hold-up of the aid. The following day, Ambassador William Taylor sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a first-person cable in which “He explained the ‘folly’ of withholding security assistance to Ukraine as it fought a hot war against Russia on its borders. He wrote that he ‘could not and would not defend such a policy.’” But on the same day, with the aid freeze now public, Trump cancelled a trip to Warsaw for a World War II commemoration event, a trip on which he was scheduled to meet with Zelenskyy. Instead, he sent Pence.

At the meeting, President Zelensky expressed concern that even an appearance of wavering support from the United States for Ukraine could embolden Russia. Vice President Pence reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine, but could not promise that the hold would be lifted. Vice President Pence said he would relay his support for lifting the hold to President Trump so a decision could be made on security assistance as soon as possible. Vice President Pence spoke with President Trump that evening, but the hold was not lifted. 

Zelenskyy—the guy who has stayed in Kyiv at the risk of his own life during Russia’s invasion—buckled under the pressure. He booked an interview on CNN to announce the investigations Trump was demanding. Instead, as more of the story of the extortion campaign trickled out and the House announced investigations, Trump unfroze the aid. 

Trump’s pressure on Ukraine—on Zelenskyy—wasn’t just about one phone call. And the pressure wasn't just about the specific military equipment Ukraine wanted. It was about sending a message to Putin that U.S. support for Ukraine was wobbly.