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.

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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.

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fox News explains why America shouldn’t hear from Hunter Biden after Comer chickens out

House Republicans are still all-in on their plan to impeach President Joe Biden for Something Something Hunter Biden, even if they still haven't been able to work out the pesky details. But Hunter threw a wrench in the gears Tuesday morning with an offer to testify, in person, to the House Oversight Committee investigating him—but only if his testimony is public.

Crack Republican investigator and committee chair James Comer immediately shot that idea down, because at no point in the process did Republicans intend for Hunter Biden to actually respond to any of this. No, Republicans absolutely do not want Hunter to come in and testify publicly about their speculations and accusations.

Now Fox News and other Republican disinformation factories have to come up with some spin on why the House committee is right to not want the American public to hear Hunter's willing testimony. Acyn has the clip, so here's your shit show:

Fox News hosts trying to convince their viewers that a closed door deposition of Hunter Biden is better than a public hearing pic.twitter.com/KPxznk5NUK

— Acyn (@Acyn) November 28, 2023

Michele Tafoya: But I agree, I prefer hearings to be done behind closed doors, because I think they actually get to the heart of the matter, and they get some truth, and they can ask questions without preening for the camera, without all the grandstanding.

Yes, that's what the Republicans investigating the Something Something Hunter Biden conspiracy hate more than anything else: grandstanding. Comer and Jim Jordan are known nationwide for their unwillingness to do anything that looks like grandstanding. Republicans specifically selected lawmakers who would be least likely to tolerate grandstanding, which is why Comer and Jordan are joined on the committee by such level heads as—taking a deep breath here—Virginia Foxx, Glenn Grothman, Pete Sessions, Clay Higgins, Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Anna Paulina Luna, Paul Gosar, and Marjorie Taylor “Absolutely No Grandstanding Here” Greene.

The House hearings on Hunter Biden are likely the most dignified and least showboating hearings to ever have occurred in any Congress anywhere, in fact. They ooze decorum like Jordan oozes concern for college athletes’ welfare.

Hmm. The chyron identifies Tafoya as a "former NFL sideline reporter." During her many years on the field, I wonder if she ever discovered a football game going on.

“That is my preference, and for Abby Lowell, for his attorney to say, ‘well you all use that to misinform, and to distort the facts,’ well you know what? You can do that too. After he comes out of his closed door session, you feel free to knock yourself out and you can distort too.”

Ah, and there we have the perfect encapsulation of the Fox News mindset: The truth isn't important! Nobody wants to see the truth for themselves! What's important is how partisans want to "distort" the facts, and the other side can distort the facts too, and then Fox will broadcast the distorted facts that it thinks are best and those are what you, loyal couch potato, should then base your entire mushy worldview around. That's how America is supposed to work.

It seems like just last week House Republicans were loudly crowing about how America needed to see all of the Capitol security camera footage from the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—absolutely needed to see every bit of it (except for the bits they're going to withhold because of reasons and the bits where they're going to blur out faces so that nasty, nasty law-abiding Americans can't snitch on any more rioters than they've already snitched on). Now we're hearing that cameras and public broadcasts are bad and what Americans really want to know is what the loudest conspiracy freaks in Congress think they should know.

I mean, you can't say she's wrong here. Roger Ailes built a whole network around that idea and he died rich and only mildly discredited, shunned, and a social pariah.

“I mean, it's a silly argument and Comer has said, ‘fine, sit before us publicly, a public hearing, we will do that later. We want the closed door one first.’”

And if you can't trust Comer and Jordan to keep their word, who can you trust? Ask Jordan's old wrestling team: This is a man who's never told a lie.

“And I think it's totally, totally appropriate. Hunter Biden would love nothing more than to sit, have cameras pointed at him, and try to generate the narrative that he wants to form.”

That darn grandstanding Hunter Biden. He tricked Rudy Giuliani into possessing his criminally hacked computer files. He tricked the least grandstand-y group of House Republicans to ever exist into displaying his hacked, private nude photos during a public hearing. He tricked them into focusing obsessively on all of the lowest moments of his life, using all of his worst failures as tabloid fodder for the sake of discrediting his father. Now he's trying to trick them into allowing him to tell his side of the story, after years of Republicans broadcasting their own version?

The absolute gall.


Hunter Biden asks to testify publicly. House Republicans scurry away in a panic

Looks like Jared Moskowitz seriously got under James Comer's skin

Hunter Biden condemns Republican hoax-promoters: A ‘real threat’ to others ‘desperate to get sober’

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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.”

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White House denounces ‘irresponsible’ subpoenas from House GOP and says they should be withdrawn

The White House is firing back on a recent slate of subpoenas issued by House Republicans targeting members of President Joe Biden’s family and his inner circle of aides, describing the GOP’s impeachment push as an illegitimate endeavor that has repeatedly failed to produce proof of wrongdoing.

The four-page letter from a top White House attorney to Republican committee leaders portrays an overzealous House GOP majority that, according to the letter, has “misrepresented the facts, ignored the overwhelming evidence disproving your claims, and repeatedly shifted the rationale for your ‘inquiry.’”

It calls on Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan to withdraw what the White House described as an “irresponsible set of subpoenas and requests for interviews.”

The White House argued that House Republicans were “improperly weaponizing the oversight powers of Congress” for political gain, and have “consistently misrepresented the documents and testimony you have received and then moved the goalposts when your claims have been debunked.”

“This pattern of distortions and falsehoods lays bare that no amount of truthful testimony or document productions will satisfy you and exposes the improper nature of your Committee’s efforts,” Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, wrote in the letter, sent Friday to Comer and Jordan. “Congressional harassment of the President to score political points is precisely the type of conduct that the Constitution and its separation of powers was meant to prevent.”

In a long-anticipated move, Comer this month issued subpoenas to Biden’s son Hunter and brother James, insisting that the committee has found indications of “influence peddling” by members of the president’s family in their business dealings. But after nearly a year, House Republicans have yet to provide evidence that directly implicates Joe Biden in any wrongdoing.

Comer responded Friday that if the president had nothing to hide, then he should make his aides available to the committee for interviews on the classified documents probe.

“President Biden and this White House are seeking to obstruct our investigation at every turn,” Comer said. "We are not deterred by this obstruction and will continue to follow the facts and hold President Biden accountable to the American people.”

Hunter Biden’s representatives, while dismissing the subpoenas as a “political stunt,” have said he would be willing to speak to the Oversight committee “in a public forum and at the right time.” An attorney for James Biden said a subpoena was unnecessary because the committee has already reviewed private bank records and transactions between the two brothers. The records concerned two loans that took place when Biden was not in office or a candidate for president.

Sauber noted that all those targeted for subpoenas and voluntary interviews last week are private citizens, including Hallie Biden, the widow of the president’s son Beau, and Sara Biden, the president’s sister-in-law.

Earlier this week, Comer also subpoenaed former White House counsel Dana Remus and other White House aides to speak with the committee on whether Biden had mishandled classified information — an issue currently under investigation by special counsel Robert Hur.

“These requests appear to be motivated by a desire to boost your subpoena numbers, as Chairman Jordan tweeted just this week, rather than any legitimate investigative interest,” Sauber wrote. On the social media platform X, Jordan emphasized that more than 20 people had received subpoenas and interview requests on their impeachment efforts, and that there would be “more to come.”

In his letter, Sauber also stressed that the House has not authorized a formal impeachment inquiry by a vote of the full House and that new Speaker Mike Johnson — when former President Donald Trump was facing the prospect of impeachment by a Democratic-led House — said any inquiry without a House vote was a “sham.”

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Rep. James Comer’s family business is shadier than anything involving Joe Biden

In the last two weeks, Rep. James Comer has claimed that President Joe Biden “laundered China money,” accused Biden of “influence peddling,” and issued subpoenas to members of Biden’s family. Comer has based these actions on the “discovery” of transactions that Biden made no effort to disguise, including a $200,000 loan Biden extended to his brother and which his brother later repaid.

However, as The Daily Beast reports, Comer was engaged in a series of business dealings with his own brother. Those dealings, which included a $200,000 payment, were nowhere near as straightforward as the dealings between Joe and James Biden. Comer’s deal involved not only a big payment but multiple land swamps, shell companies, and requests for special tax breaks.

As members of the Biden family were being accused of “shady business practices,” it seems that Comer has a forest's worth of shade.

In a press release about the check from Biden’s brother, Comer stated, “Even if this was a personal loan repayment, it’s still troubling that Joe Biden’s ability to be paid back by his brother depended on the success of his family’s shady financial dealings.” By this, Comer seems to mean that Biden was repaid soon after his brother received a payment from an American health care company.

But what happened between Comer and his brother is a lot more mysterious. According to The Daily Beast, Comer’s family has for years been identified in news accounts as owning “Comer Land & Cattle.” As of 2018, Comer listed this as an asset worth $3 million.

However, no such entity appears to exist in business filings. It reportedly did at one time, but there’s been no such business for years. At least, not legally. It’s not registered as a business in Kentucky. It’s not registered anywhere else. A past press release showed him as the owner of “James Comer Jr. Farms,” which also doesn’t appear on paper to be a business entity. Comer’s Facebook page also lists him as the owner of “Comer Family Farms,” which isn’t listed as a business entity in Kentucky, according to the secretary of state’s website.

Much of Comer’s business activity seems to follow inheriting land in Kentucky following his father’s death in 2019. But exactly what happened with that land is the opposite of transparent. In one case, Comer reportedly sold his interest in a piece of land to his brother, then bought it back five months later, slipping his brother $18,000 in the process. That purchase ran through a shell company owned by Comer, the value of which doubled in two years. That company appears to have dealt exclusively with agricultural land deals at a time when Comer was on the House Agriculture Committee.

Comer’s family also swapped large tracts of land in Tennessee. That includes handing his brother one tract valued at $175,000 as a “gift.” In exchange, Comer reportedly got another tract that The Daily Beast describes as “apparently more valuable” without recording the cost of that land. The value of these transactions appears to be larger than even the largest loan that Biden gave to his brother.

Comer also seems to have benefited directly from a “tobacco buyout” of land he purchased while serving on the Kentucky legislature’s Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee. This means that he helped set the rate for the purchase of his own property.

Much of Comer’s story seems to be a more rural version of the Donald Trump story. He started out making small land purchases with the help of his father and brother, inherited larger tracts of land when his father died, and has made millions engaging in land speculation. The difference is that for much of this time, Comer was either involved in the Kentucky legislature or the House Agriculture Committee in positions that gave him insider knowledge and a direct advantage.

Comer also has his own Trump-style bank connection. When he sought a line of credit up to $1 million, he found it at South Central Bank—the same bank where Comer had been on the board of directors for 12 years.

If all of this makes Comer look like a country mini-Trump, that’s probably a description that would make him proud. But it would also seem to make his family finances much more worthy of scrutiny than anything he’s claimed about Joe Biden.

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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!

House Republicans will subpoena Hunter and James Biden as their impeachment inquiry ramps back up

House Republicans will issue subpoenas on Wednesday to members of President Joe Biden's family, taking their most aggressive step yet in an impeachment inquiry bitterly opposed by Democrats that is testing the reach of congressional oversight powers.

The subpoenas were expected to be issued later Wednesday afternoon. The long-awaited move by Rep. James Comer, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to subpoena the president's son Hunter and his brother James comes as Republicans look to gain ground in their nearly yearlong investigation. So far, they have failed to uncover evidence directly implicating the president in any wrongdoing.

But Republicans say the evidence trail they have uncovered paints a troubling picture of “influence peddling” by Biden's family in their business dealings, particularly with clients overseas.

"Now, the House Oversight Committee is going to bring in members of the Biden family and their associates to question them on this record of evidence,” Comer, of Kentucky, said in a statement.

The stakes are exceedingly high, as the inquiry could result in Republicans bringing impeachment charges against Biden, the ultimate penalty for what the U.S. Constitution describes as “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The subpoenas demand that Hunter Biden and James Biden as well as former business associate Rob Walker appear before the Oversight Committee for a deposition. Lawmakers also requested that James Biden's wife, Sara Biden, and Hallie Biden, the wife of the president's deceased son Beau, appear voluntarily for transcribed interviews.

Requests for comment from Hunter Biden, who lives in California, and James Biden, who's from Royal Oak, Maryland, were not immediately returned.

Both the White House and the Biden family's personal lawyers have dismissed the investigation as a political ploy aimed at hurting the Democratic president. They say the probe is a blatant attempt to help former President Donald Trump, the early front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, as he runs again for the White House.

Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell said the investigation has been full of “worn-out, false, baseless, or debunked claims.” In a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday morning, Lowell urged the new speaker to rein in the "partisan political games.”

Johnson, now settling into the speakership after replacing Kevin McCarthy as the top Republican in the House, has given his blessing to the inquiry and has hinted that a decision could come soon on whether to pursue articles of impeachment against Biden.

“I think we have a constitutional responsibility to follow this truth where it leads,” Johnson told Fox News Channel recently. He also said in a separate Fox interview that he would support Comer's decision to subpoena the president's son, saying “desperate times call for desperate measures, and that perhaps is overdue."

Since January, Republicans have been investigating the Biden family for what they claim is a pattern of “influence peddling” spanning back to when Biden was Barack Obama's vice president. Comer claims the committee had “uncovered a mountain of evidence” that he said would show how Biden abused his power and repeatedly lied about a “wall” between his political position and his son’s private business dealings.

While questions have arisen about the ethics surrounding the Biden family’s international business, no evidence has emerged to prove that Joe Biden, in his current or previous office, abused his role or accepted bribes.

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Special counsel in the Hunter Biden case insists he was the ‘decision-maker’ in rare testimony

The prosecutor overseeing the Hunter Biden investigation testified Tuesday that he had the ultimate authority in the yearslong case as he made an unprecedented appearance before Congress to rebut Republicans' explosive claims that the probe has been plagued with interference.

Weiss' interview with the House Judiciary Committee marked the first time a special counsel has ever testified to lawmakers in the middle of a probe. He agreed to the unusual appearance under heavy pressure from House Republicans, who are looking to ramp up their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden and his family.

In his opening statement, Weiss told lawmakers he would not answer questions that could jeopardize the investigation and would only talk about the scope of his authority. “I am, and have been, the decision-maker on this case,” he told lawmakers. “I do not, however, make these decisions in a vacuum.”

He acknowledged being required to follow Justice Department guidelines and processes as well as federal law as he carries out his investigation. But those requirements “did not interfere with my decision-making authority,” he said.

No one at the Justice Department, including U.S. attorneys or the tax division, blocked or prevented him from pursuing charges or taking other necessary steps in the investigation, Weiss said.

Lawmakers leaving the interview with Weiss described it as “tedious” and “a waste of time” as the federal prosecutor was bound by Justice Department rules that limit his ability to talk about an ongoing investigation.

“Mr. Weiss was here in incarnate, but not particularly in spirit,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said during a lunch break. He added that any questions Republicans had about the investigation, Weiss would “demure and say that it was just part of his deliberative process.”

Democrats accused Republicans of trying to interfere with the Hunter Biden investigation by bringing Weiss in to testify.

“This is unprecedented. You never interrupt a prosecution with congressional hearings. This is the first time it’s ever happened,” Rep. Glenn Ivey, D-Md., said after leaving the interview. “And the fact that he can answer your questions is an obvious byproduct of that because he doesn’t want to do anything or say anything that will disrupt a criminal prosecution.”

The rare move by the Justice Department to allow Weiss' testimony before the conclusion of an investigation indicates just how seriously the department is taking accusations of interference.

The interview came after months of back-and-forth negotiations between Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department after lawmakers subpoenaed several investigators and attorneys involved in the Hunter Biden case.

In July, Weiss, looking to correct the record of what he and the department see as a misrepresentation of the investigation, agreed to come to Capitol Hill but only if he was able to testify in a public hearing where he could directly respond to claims of wrongdoing by Republicans.

The Justice Department remained willing to have Weiss testify publicly even after the implosion of a plea agreement with Hunter Biden that could have effectively closed the case, but said he couldn't make more than one appearance in the near term. The two parties ultimately agreed on a closed-door interview with both Democratic and Republican members and their respective staff.

The interview on Tuesday focused on testimony from an Internal Revenue Service agent who claimed that under Weiss, the investigation into the president’s son was “slow-walked” and mishandled. Weiss, who was originally appointed by then-President Donald Trump, has denied one of the more explosive allegations by saying in writing that he had the final say over the case.

And he did so again behind closed doors on Tuesday when he denied bowing to political pressure in the five-year-long investigation, saying the decisions have been based on “the facts and the law.”

“Political considerations played no part in our decision-making,” he said.

Weiss added that he did not feel the need to request special counsel status until August and when he did it was quickly granted by Attorney General Merrick Garland. Like other special counsels, he will prepare a report at the end of his investigation that’s expected to be publicly released.

Two other U.S. attorneys from Washington and California testified in recent weeks that they didn’t block Weiss from filing charges in their districts, though they declined to partner with him on it.

But the IRS whistleblower, who testified publicly over the summer, insists his testimony reflects a pattern of interference and preferential treatment in the Hunter Biden case and not just disagreement with their superiors about what investigative steps to take.

Questions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings overall have been central to a GOP-led impeachment inquiry into the president. That’s been led in part by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, who had a prominent role in the questioning Tuesday.

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Sunday Four-Play: Zelenskyy seems skeptical that Trump will bring peace, and Mike Johnson lies

For a guy who’s supposedly a multibillionaire, Donald Trump sure spends a lot of his time scrounging for ha’pennies with which to stuff his gross, linty, panko breading–lined pockets. That reality was on lurid display this week as his real estate empire-cum-perpetual grift machine got flayed over and over during testimony meant to establish just how yuuuge a fraud he and his company really are—and always have been.

Would a really rich guy stiff his blue collar contractors? Would he sell tacky NFTs for $99 a pop to a heaving throng of marks who are still hoping their Beanie Babies recover their value? Would he sell mail-order steaks? And would he sell out his country and, by extension, the whole of Western democracy for the chance to build a big tower in a country led by a brutal, murderous war criminal

Trick question! He’d sell out his country for a week-old Wetzel’s Pretzel, and toss in Eric in his official Team CCCP banana hammock mankini.

No, Trump has been pretending. All along. Do you think Warren Buffett lies awake at night trying to figure out how to squeeze ever-more filthy lucre from his fawning fanboys? Of course not. But Trump does—because he apparently has to. And thanks to Trump’s ever-skeevy ambitions, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests are now reliably represented by a small-ish, but hugely significant, segment of the Republican Party.

In fact, while House Republicans have swiftly passed an aid package for Israel, whose military is already far superior to its enemy’s, it left out badly needed aid for Ukraine (while also offering a deficit-ballooning helping hand to America’s patriotic, hardly working tax cheats). New House Speaker Mike Johnson claims Ukraine aid is still on the agenda, but it’s hard to take him completely seriously given his recent skepticism on the issue, as well as his declaration that any bill authorizing new Ukraine aid should come with “conditions.”

So why are Republicans far more eager to help the ally that clearly needs less help than they are the largely overmatched ally that’s been bravely defending itself against a much larger imperialist aggressor, and doing so on behalf of the world’s liberal democracies? Because Donald Trump made loving Vladimir Putin fashionable. And why is that? Because he’s is a greedy, soulless prick who adores dictators. 

How do you like that? I buried the lede.

And now, on to the usual nonsense.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: GOP still deciding which fanatical, anti-American traitor to anoint as speaker


If this universe really is a simulation—and there’s a fair chance it is, frankly—I really regret buying the “Donald Trump is president” expansion pack. He’s ruined so many lives, after all.

Trump is fond of saying Russia would have never invaded Ukraine had he been president, but it seems far more likely that his lingering presence actually encouraged Pee Wee Putin’s Big Adventure—because Putin knew he had good friends in the USA to rely on if things started to go south. After all, Putin doesn’t need to defeat Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy; he just needs to defeat Joe Biden. Then Trump will be able to pull the U.S. out of NATO, as he’d planned on doing all along, and end the war in 24 hours, as he’s promised. Of course, any “peace plan” would almost certainly be made on his good buddy Vlad’s terms. Putin would likely get all the territory he’s stolen from Ukraine, along with a 600-foot statue of Stalin peeing in the reflecting pool at the National Mall; Zelenskyy would get a some-expenses-paid weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago and double scoops of ice cream every night during his stay.

Zelenskyy appeared on “Meet the Press” with host Kristen Welker, and Welker asked him about a new NBC News report that U.S. and European officials have begun talking with Ukrainian officials about what peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia might look like

WATCH: @NBCNews reports that U.S. and European officials have quietly begun talks around Russia-Ukraine peace negotiations, but Zelenskyy says he is not ready to begin that dialogue with Putin.@ZelenskyyUa: "We can’t trust terrorists because terrorists always come back." pic.twitter.com/aHQXqcQtxJ

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) November 5, 2023

WELKER: “President Zelenskyy, NBC News is reporting that U.S. and European officials have begun quietly talking to your government about what possible peace negotiations with Russia might look like to end this war. Have you personally been involved in these talks, and what’s the status of these talks?”

ZELENSKYY: “A lot of different voices around us, I’ve heard a lot of different voices and emotions and … a lot of different things, but as for me, I don’t have, for today, I don’t have any relations with Russia. And they know my position, that is the position of my country. That is the position of our people. We don’t want to make any dialogue with terrorists, and the president of the United States and Congress, bipartisan support, all of these people, they know that I’m not ready to speak with the terrorists, because their word is nothing. Nothing. We can’t trust terrorists, because terrorists always come back.”

Yeah, they do, don’t they? We’re learning that in this country, too:

This is the GOP's frontrunner for president. pic.twitter.com/rEzSUaMnp7

— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) November 2, 2023

Welker also asked Zelenskyy about Trump’s boast that he could end the Ukraine war in 24 hours. At the very least, Zelenskyy seemed skeptical. Feel free to either stare at this picture until you attain satori or, if you don’t have that kind of time, watch the following clip. Either way, you’ll get the gist.

WATCH: Fmr. Pres. Trump — the GOP front-runner — has said he could end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours. Ukrainian President @ZelenskyyUa responds: “If he can come here, I will need 24 minutes … to explain … that he can’t manage this war. He can’t bring peace because of Putin.” pic.twitter.com/iykBUuH6hw

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) November 5, 2023

I won’t transcribe the entire clip, but Zelenskyy’s big takeaway is this: “If [Trump] is not ready to give [us] our independence, he can’t manage it.”

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: The elephant in the room plops down on 'Meet the Press'


Republicans want to pass aid to Israel in the wake of Hamas’ terrorist attack, but they also want to make sure wealthy tax cheats can go on cheatin’. What to do? Oh, here’s an idea! Take $14 billion away from IRS enforcement, then pretend that saves the country money, even though it will actually blow another $12.5 billion hole in our budget. But hey, that deal looks pretty sweet to people who don’t pay attention—which includes most voters, unfortunately. After all, it’s easy to scare Americans by shouting “IRS!” Though somehow this video isn’t quite enough to make them shit fluorescent green armadillos till the heat death of the universe:

This is the GOP's frontrunner for president. pic.twitter.com/rEzSUaMnp7

— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) November 2, 2023

Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer joined George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” to discuss Republicans’ decision to play silly political games during a fraught moment in our nation’s—and the world’s—history.

After House GOP passes emergency aid package for Israel tied to cuts in IRS enforcement, White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer tells @GStephanopoulos the move is “without precedent in recent history.” https://t.co/Qnz5e41SgQ pic.twitter.com/KwnEAHtjA5

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) November 5, 2023

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Finally, the president’s request for aid to Israel and Ukraine and Taiwan and others appears to be the victim of a stalemate right now. House Republicans have passed aid to Israel tied to cuts in IRS enforcement. We have the Republican Leader Steve Scalise on the program next. What’s the president’s message to House Republicans?”

FINER: “I think the message is pretty clear, that it is not good for the United States, good for the region, or good for Israel to tie emergency assistance to Israel to what we consider to be essentially a partisan request for a way to offset that spending. … That is basically without precedent in recent history, and we don’t support it, and are urging the members of our party and the members of Congress from any party not to support it either.”

Well, maybe this particular outrage is unprecedented, but remember, Republicans have long since decided that taking hostages and threatening the economy while a Democrat’s in the White House are acceptable governing tactics. So yeah, shocking but not surprising. Like most everything the GOP does these days.


Ah, Mike Johnson. The new House speaker who’s basically just Mike Pence if you gave him a Howdy Doody wig and steeped him in beef broth for 20 minutes. Johnson appeared on “Fox News Sunday” with Shannon Bream and said some stuff. Spoiler alert: It was mostly lies and deflections. In other words, business as usual.

Wow. Mike Johnson on Fox News Sunday doesn't rule out voting against access to contraception but then says "I really don't remember any of those measures" when asked about his past votes against reproductive health care pic.twitter.com/4pDl3BGGD3

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 5, 2023

BREAM: “I want to talk about some social issues. You’ve got a lot of critics who say that you’re wildly out of step with the American people. Let’s talk abortion first. One of the groups opposing you [Emily’s list] says this: ‘He wants a total abortion ban with no exceptions. He supported bans that would not only criminalize abortion but ban IVF treatments and common forms of birth control,’ and that you voted against access to contraception. Where are you on these issues? Is that an accurate assessment of where you are, because that’s not in step with the American people.”

JOHNSON: “No, Shannon, look, I’m pro-life. I’ve said very clearly I’m a Bible-believing Christian. I believe in the sanctity of every single human life. So I come to Congress with deep, personally held convictions. But guess what, so do my 434 other colleagues in the House. Everyone comes to Congress with their deeply held convictions. But the process here is that you make law by consensus, and I have not brought forward any measure to address any of those issues. Right now our priorities are funding the government, handling these massive national security priorities that we have and crises around the globe, and taking care of changing and reforming how Congress works. That’s what we’re going to do. Listen, prior to the modern time—until recently, actually—almost all of our nation’s leaders openly acknowledged that they were also Bible-believing Christians. This is not something that should cause great unrest, okay? It’s just that Washington right now, what you’re seeing, Washington and the … press corps are engaging with a leader who openly acknowledges faith and the foundational principles of our country. I think this a healthy discussion, but it doesn’t affect how we run Congress.”

BREAM: “To be clear, though, have you voted against fertility treatments and access to contraception? Would you?”

JOHNSON: “I don’t think so. I’m not sure what they’re talking about. I really don’t remember any of those measures. I am personally pro-life.”

BREAM: “But do you oppose [crosstalk] IVF?”

JOHNSON: “No, no, of course not. No, that’s something that’s blessed a lot of families who have problems with fertility. Of course that’s a great thing. I would support that. But again, these are not issues that are on the front of the agenda, and we can come with our convictions and we can govern in an accountable, transparent manner for the American people, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Okay, while my admittedly limited Googling has failed to turn up much on Johnson’s voting record regarding fertility treatments, he does have a pretty well-established record on birth control. Uhh ... he doesn’t like it. 

An Oct. 30 Rolling Stone article titled “House Speaker Mike Johnson’s Long Crusade Against Birth Control” laid out some of the gruesome details:

Johnson is known for being among the most anti-abortion lawmakers in Congress, and for railing against the use of “abortion as a form of birth control” before he was in office. But his statements and actions suggest he does not see much difference between abortion as a form of birth control and birth control as a form of birth control.

As a lawyer, Johnson worked on multiple cases representing plaintiffs who refused to dispense, counsel, or provide emergency contraception, which they considered to be abortion-inducing drugs. And as a congressman, Johnson has repeatedly voted against efforts to expand, fund, or protect access to birth control and other family planning services — including for members of the military.

While a certain, largely female segment of the Republican party has undertaken efforts to expand access to birth control in the wake of Dobbs, Johnson has not joined those efforts.

And—oh, lookee here—he joined 194 of his Republican House colleagues in voting against the Right to Contraception Act

So let’s take another look at his answer, shall we?

BREAM: “To be clear, though, have you voted against fertility treatments and access to contraception? Would you?”

JOHNSON: “I don’t think so. I’m not sure what they’re talking about. I really don’t remember any of those measures. I am personally pro-life.”

Wait, so that was just a … lie? But Bible-believing Christians never lie! Because lies make Baby Jesus cry

Ah, but don't worry about any of that. Johnson is focused on other priorities. And as we all know, people who’ve been on the job for less than two weeks never get around to doing anything else. The new bill requiring chastity belts for women living within a 500-mile radius of Jason Momoa will be taken up in late March at the earliest. So don’t worry your pretty little heads, ladies! Johnson won't get around to banning contraception until he’s finished screwing up a bunch of other stuff first.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: Mike Johnson is a skilled (as in sociopathic) liar, and the GOP still loves Putin


Wait, are Republicans still talking about impeaching President Biden? After that oily ferret orgy of a hearing they held in September? A hearing that was so bad, House Oversight Chair James Comer recently said they don’t want to hold any more hearings

Comer appeared on “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo and tried to pretend that impeaching Biden is still a hot topic of conversation anywhere outside the musty pingpong room inside Marjorie Taylor Greene's head. 

Comer tells Maria Bartiromo he thinks Biden should be impeached but is leaving it up to Mike Johnson pic.twitter.com/g2MI0PNiwh

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 5, 2023

BARTIROMO: “Based on what you know today, Congressman, should Joe Biden be impeached?”

COMER: “I think he should, but that’s going to be left up to the speaker. You know, people ask me why I haven’t put someone in jail yet. All I can do is investigate. The House of Representatives can determine whether or not to impeach, but at the end of the day we’re going to need an attorney general who does the right thing and prosecutes people according to the law and doesn’t have a two-tier system of justice.”

Actually, we probably need more than two tiers in our justice system—if only to accommodate Trump’s dozens of felony charges. But hey, if Comer can find a grand jury to indict Biden based on the fact that he loaned money to his brother and his brother—gasp!—paid it back, he’s welcome to test out his theory that Trump is the most unjustly persecuted individual in the history of whiny little snowflake toddlers.

If nothing else, it should be interesting.

But wait! There’s more!

That’s all for now! Hope you remembered to turn your clocks back and aren’t reading this one hour in the future. But if you are, please let the rest of us know if civilization survived.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.