McConnell unwittingly explains why Trump now owns the Republican Party

During the same February 2021 impeachment trial speech in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Donald Trump "practically and morally responsible" for the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, McConnell also argued that impeachment alone was never intended to be "the final forum" for justice.

"Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office—as an ordinary citizen," McConnell said as he sought to explain away the vote he had cast to acquit Trump.

"We have a criminal justice system in this country," McConnell continued. "We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one."

Yet on Tuesday when McConnell was asked if he still believes Trump isn't immune from prosecution, McConnell dodged the question, choosing instead to reframe the legal query as an electoral matter.

"Well, my view of the presidential race is that I choose not to get involved in it, and comment about any of the people running for the Republican nomination," McConnell responded.

Q: “You had argued, after voting to acquit the former president that presidents are not immune from prosecution is that still your view?” McConnell: “I choose not to get involved...and comment about any of the people running for the Republican nomination.”

— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) January 9, 2024

If anyone wonders why Trump now owns the GOP, they need look no further than the feckless leadership of McConnell, who has failed at every turn to challenge Trump's takeover of the party.

It's a point former Rep. Liz Cheney has made repeatedly during her book tour for "Oath and Honor." In the book, Cheney writes that McConnell originally seemed "firm in his view" that Trump should be impeached. But as the vote approached, he got squishy and ultimately folded.

“Leader McConnell, who had made a career out of savvy political calculation and behind-the-scenes maneuvering, got this one wrong,” Cheney writes.

After years of McConnell worship by Beltway journalists, the fact that he 100% whiffed on the most consequential issue of our time might finally be sinking into the psyche of some political journalists and analysts.

As former U.S. attorney, deputy assistant attorney general, and “Talking Feds” host Harry Litman noted this week on NPR's “Trump Trials” podcast, we would never be here if McConnell hadn't "blinked" on convicting Trump.

"When you think of all the forks in the road over the last several years, that one moment with McConnell who was obviously saying that [Trump] was guilty and should have been convicted, stands out to me as the absolute road not taken," Litman observed.

That would have been the most "straight-forward" and appropriate way for McConnell to have "solved this national nightmare," Litman added, "and he blinked."

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GOP betrays the country by endorsing a failed coup, yet wants to lecture Biden on national security?

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but historically those who’ve sanctioned and supported domestic rebellion against the United States government have not been allowed a public platform in government to continue spreading their policy views to a wider audience. Jefferson Davis was indicted for treason following the Civil War with Congress even going so far as to impanel a jury for his prosecution, and he remained under indictment until President Andrew Johnson issued a general amnesty in 1868. Afterwards he remained popular in the defeated South, contributing to the deliberate falsification of the war’s origins that eventually became enshrined by the heirs of the Confederacy as the “Lost Cause.” But his participation in the legitimate U.S. machinery of government was understood to be forfeit. 

And those who don’t actively incite insurrection but otherwise betray their country aren’t afforded any deference in matters of national security either. Aldrich Ames, the former CIA case officer who chose to work for the Soviet Union, disclosing the names of both U.S. officers and Russian sources and thus directly causing their deaths at the hands of the KGB, is not, as far as I am aware, regularly consulted on foreign policy matters by the State Department. John Anthony Walker Jr., who sold inside information about our country’s nuclear submarine capabilities to the Soviets, was not thereafter permitted to critique our nation’s naval tactics at meetings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Yet somehow the incoming Republican Congress—the majority of whom on Jan. 6, 2021, voted to illegally disenfranchise the majority of the American electorate; several of whom have voiced or lent their support to groups planning armed rebellion against our democratic government; and still more who have made common cause with those who violently attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6—seem to believe it still has some legitimate standing to criticize the current administration on matters of national security. For example, the newly elected Republican House majority has vowed to conduct investigative hearings about the process by which President Joe Biden ended our two-decade involvement in Afghanistan. Some of the very same voices involved in supporting and spreading Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that resulted in the Jan. 6 insurrection seem to believe that their criticism of President Biden’s manner of withdrawal of troops from the Afghanistan theater merits serious consideration by the American public. All of those harboring this astonishing misconception are, unsurprisingly, members of the Republican Party.

But they are grievously mistaken. By willfully aiding and abetting an attempted coup aimed at usurping a legitimately elected U.S. president—and thus attempting to overthrow a legitimately elected U.S. government—current Republicans have quite simply forfeited any standing they once may have had to criticize that president on any matter affecting this nation’s security. Not only have they forfeited that right, but any attempt by them to assert it—in staged, circus-like “hearings” or otherwise—should be met with the complete scorn it deserves.

What Republicans seem unable to collectively grasp, even at this point, is the sheer enormity of the treachery that their party committed on Jan. 6, 2021. Not only did the vast majority of them stand silently by while their party’s leader plotted and incited a violent uprising specifically engineered to thwart the peaceful transfer of power, but many of them were also directly involved in the plot itself. As the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks final report indicates, Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry, for example, was instrumental in Trump’s attempt to subvert any action by the Department of Justice to forestall the planned coup through the appointment of a sympathetic seditious-minded lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, to the post of attorney general.

Perry, who purportedly sought a pardon from Trump after committing this act of treachery, appears to have been well aware that was he was doing was illegal. For someone with Perry’s military background, however, it was even worse than that. There is fundamentally little difference between an attempt to erase a legitimate, democratic U.S. election and participating in an armed assault against one’s country. To put it in terms that Perry—formerly a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard—might understand? He could scarcely have acted with greater disdain for his country had he crossed the DMZ into North Korea at the 38th parallel and trained his weapon on American troops. 

And that’s the problem here: the lack of any acknowledgement—or even cognition—of just how profoundly and depravedly un-American Republicans’ actions on Jan. 6 actually were. A majority of the GOP caucus, 147 House Republicans in all (most of whom are still sitting members of Congress), stood up right after having been assaulted by a violent mob of thousands that their own leader had spurred on against them and voted to disenfranchise over 80 million American voters. Those 80 million Americans justifiably expected their supposedly “sacred” votes would be legitimately counted. Republicans unilaterally declared that no, they should not be counted, for no legitimate reason other than their desire to keep Donald Trump in power.

My parents were among the votes that these Republicans sought to disenfranchise. My father is a former Marine. The idea that a cadre of wingtip-clad fops in suits would try to erase the votes he served this country to protect is literally so appalling that it’s beyond his comprehension. It would be beyond comprehension for the same soldiers who fought and died against impossible defenses just to secure and retain a narrow strip of beach in Normandy, France. Those soldiers died to preserve the very institutions of our democracy that were so blithely and carelessly disregarded by Republicans, and so casually desecrated on Jan. 6.

No, this was no ordinary betrayal, no ordinary expression of disapproval. It was a wholehearted, concerted, and collective effort by Republicans to attack this country’s foundation, one that brooks no excuses or justifications. It is a stain on the Republican Party that will last for generations. Maybe they didn’t all realize it at the time, but that’s exactly what it was, and it should continue to haunt every single one of those Republicans who has since tried to evade it, justify it, or otherwise explain it away.

This may be hard for some Republicans to face. It was only a few short decades ago that Republicans painted themselves as the party of national security while simultaneously painting Democrats as “soft” on defense. Those were times when the media worked hand in hand with Republican administrations to instill the myth of Republican supremacy in all matters properly allotted to the provenance of the so-called "daddy" party. They were times when people like former George W. Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, surfing the serendipity of the horrific 9/11 attacks, could darkly warn liberals and others that they ought to "watch what they say," lest they run afoul of Republicans' innate, heartfelt patriotism.

But that time is past. It went away for good when Republicans hitched their star to Donald Trump.  The real moment of cognitive dissonance came in 2017, when Republicans found themselves faced with a stark choice. They could accept the fact that the man they'd just made their president had solicited and accepted the assistance of Vladimir Putin to get himself elected, or they could compartmentalize, rationalize, and deny that fact into oblivion, in effect accepting such treachery as their "new normal." In reality, they didn't make this decision wholly by themselves; they clicked on their soothing Fox News for comfort and reassurance. But winking at the perfidies of Donald Trump was one thing; it was enlisting in full-throated support of an insurrection against American democracy, parroting the Big Lie, and continuing to foster the corrosive poison of election denial that served to really seal the deal. 

For that reason, Republicans have disqualified themselves from “investigating,” “critiquing,” or “criticizing” this president on any matter regarding national security. How can a political party that has sought to destroy democracy be heard to criticize the very measures intended to preserve it? Republicans don’t like how the administration handled the Afghanistan withdrawal? Think they can criticize it? They just no longer have that right, or the moral authority to do so.

Sorry, Republicans, but you threw out your right to criticize this president on such matters when you tried to overthrow the U.S. government. Your protestations, your criticisms, your “investigations” fundamentally do not matter, because coming from you, they are less than worthless. As a thought experiment, just imagine if a Democratic president, supported by a Democratic Congress, had attempted to subvert an election in this way, by voting to disenfranchise a clear majority of Americans after a violent, failed coup. Would Republicans give them the time of day and allow them to air a collection of vindictive conspiracy-mongering allegations against a legitimately elected president, or about national security and military matters? 

No, they’d be laughed out of the hearing room. As any Republicans—who have the temerity and sheer gall to criticize this administration on any matters involving the security of the American people—rightly should be.

Trump responds to Jan. 6 criminal referrals: ‘It strengthens me’ 

Former President Trump on Monday responded to the Jan. 6 committee’s decision to urge the Justice Department to prosecute him and some of his associates over their involvement in the Capitol riot and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, saying the move makes him “stronger.”  

“These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me.  It strengthens me. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger," Trump said on his Truth Social social media platform.

In its final public meeting hours earlier, the Jan. 6 panel unveiled criminal referrals recommending that the DOJ prosecute Trump on charges of inciting an insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make a false statement and obstruction of an official proceeding. 

“The Fake charges made by the highly partisan Unselect Committee of January 6th have already been submitted, prosecuted, and tried in the form of Impeachment Hoax # 2. I WON convincingly. Double Jeopardy anyone!” Trump wrote hours after the panel’s recommendations were formally made.

Trump, who last month announced another run for the White House in 2024, painted the probes as an effort to undercut his campaign. The insurrection charge could bar Trump from running for elected office again.

“The people understand that the Democratic Bureau of Investigation, the DBI, are out to keep me from running for president because they know I’ll win and that this whole business of prosecuting me is just like impeachment was — a partisan attempt to sideline me and the Republican Party,” Trump said. 

At the meeting, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who is leaving Congress after she lost her primary election to a Trump-backed candidate, said Trump is “unfit for any office.” 

The former president also rebuffed the panel’s determination of his 187 minutes of inaction between the start of the riot and Trump’s video message urging the rioters to "go home." Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) on Monday called it an “extreme dereliction of duty,” with other lawmakers calling Trump's inaction one of the panel's most shameful findings.

The Jan. 6 panel will release a much-anticipated report on its findings on Wednesday before it is dissolved in the next Congress.

Trump responds to Jan. 6 criminal referrals: ‘It strengthens me’ 

Former President Trump on Monday responded to the Jan. 6 committee’s decision to urge the Justice Department to prosecute him and some of his associates over their involvement in the Capitol riot and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, saying the move makes him “stronger.”  

“These folks don’t get it that when they come after me, people who love freedom rally around me.  It strengthens me. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger," Trump said on his Truth Social social media platform.

In its final public meeting hours earlier, the Jan. 6 panel unveiled criminal referrals recommending that the DOJ prosecute Trump on charges of inciting an insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make a false statement and obstruction of an official proceeding. 

“The Fake charges made by the highly partisan Unselect Committee of January 6th have already been submitted, prosecuted, and tried in the form of Impeachment Hoax # 2. I WON convincingly. Double Jeopardy anyone!” Trump wrote hours after the panel’s recommendations were formally made.

Trump, who last month announced another run for the White House in 2024, painted the probes as an effort to undercut his campaign. The insurrection charge could bar Trump from running for elected office again.

“The people understand that the Democratic Bureau of Investigation, the DBI, are out to keep me from running for president because they know I’ll win and that this whole business of prosecuting me is just like impeachment was — a partisan attempt to sideline me and the Republican Party,” Trump said. 

At the meeting, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who is leaving Congress after she lost her primary election to a Trump-backed candidate, said Trump is “unfit for any office.” 

The former president also rebuffed the panel’s determination of his 187 minutes of inaction between the start of the riot and Trump’s video message urging the rioters to "go home." Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) on Monday called it an “extreme dereliction of duty,” with other lawmakers calling Trump's inaction one of the panel's most shameful findings.

The Jan. 6 panel will release a much-anticipated report on its findings on Wednesday before it is dissolved in the next Congress.

Republicans continue to fail the democracy test: Do they support Trump or the U.S. Constitution?

After three consecutive dismal election cycles, Republicans still can't bring themselves to break with perennial loser Donald Trump even after his rallying cry to terminate the U.S. Constitution.

On Tuesday, the House GOP's No. 2, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, became the latest Republican to fail the democracy test: Trump or the Constitution?

Pressed by PBS Newshour reporter Lisa Desjardins on Trump's latest call to suspend "all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution," Scalise simply couldn't bring himself to condemn Trump.

"Rep. @SteveScalise told me a few minutes ago that he has not seen former Pres. Trump's words about the Constitution," tweeted Desjardins, in regard to Trump's Truth Social rant.

Desjardins proceeded to educate Scalise: "As he sees the election, from 2020, it allows for the termination of all rules and articles, including the Constitution. What do you make of that?"

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Steering clear of Trump, Scalise responded, "The Constitution is never subject to being waived or suspended. Obviously, the Constitution's our enduring document that protects our freedoms."  

Desjardins followed up by asking Scalise if it's "dangerous to talk about the termination of things like that?" In other words, is it dangerous to suspend the very document that "protects our freedoms," as Scalise himself put it.

The response, according to Desjardins' tweet thread: "Scalise: *enters office, does not respond*"

So if it's Trump or the Constitution, it's still Trump for Republicans, which is the exact same message Rep. David Joyce of Ohio, who chairs the Republican Governance Group, sent Sunday on ABC's This Week.

Host George Stephanopoulos asked Joyce directly, "Can you support a candidate in 2024 who's for suspending the Constitution?"

Joyce equivocated at first, offering, "It's early, I think there's going to be a lot people in the primary."

But he ultimately admitted that he would back Trump if he won the nomination. "At the end of the day, whoever the Republicans end up picking, I think I'll fall behind."

"Even if it's Donald Trump and he's called for suspending the Constitution?" Stephanopoulos interjected.

Joyce retreated to his earlier contention that it would be a "big field" in 2024, suggesting that Trump might not win.

"That's not what I'm asking," Stephanopoulos clarified, "I'm asking you, if he's the nominee, will you support him?"

"I will support whoever the Republican nominee is," Joyce restated, adding another dash of fairy dust, "I just don't think at this point he will be able to get there."

Stephanopoulos proceeded to call Joyce's statement both "extraordinary" and "remarkable."

But the truth is, it isn't remarkable in the least from today's Republican Party—it's just more of the same from a party that has routinely capitulated to Donald Trump no matter what the circumstance. Even after Trump inspired the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. seat of government, 197 House Republicans—93% of the caucus—voted against impeaching him.

The entire Jan. 6 attack was an assault on the Constitution, the peaceful transfer of power, and the will of the people.

The brother of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick put it best on Tuesday when he explained why the Sicknick family refused to shake the hands of GOP leaders Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell at a congressional gold medal ceremony for officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6.

"Unlike Liz Cheney, they have no idea what integrity is," Ken Sicknick said. "They can't stand up for what's right and wrong—with them, it's party first."

On Tuesday, McConnell had yet another opportunity to defend U.S. democracy when CNN’s Manu Raju asked if he would “categorically” refuse to support Trump. 

"What I’m saying is, it would be pretty hard to be sworn in to the presidency if you’re not willing to uphold the Constitution,” McConnell offered. 

Again, given the choice of Trump or the Constitution, McConnell demurs.

Republicans have proven over and over again their fealty to party, and personal gain supersedes their fealty to the republic. Their continued refusal to condemn a man who is calling for the "termination" of the U.S. Constitution is just a continuation of their treachery.

FLASH: Family of officer Brian Sicknick refuses to shake hands with Sen McConnell and Rep McCarthy at Congressional gold medal ceremony. Brian’s brother Ken Sicknick tells me why ====>

— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) December 6, 2022

Asked McConnell - in aftermath of his criticism of Trump in the past two weeks - if he could categorically say he wouldn't support him as GOP nominee. "What I’m saying is it would be pretty hard to be sworn in to the presidency if you’re not willing to uphold the Constitution"

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 6, 2022

This is the state of the authoritarian Republican Party: willing to back an aspiring despot who *explicitly* says he wants to terminate the US Constitution, so long as he’s got an (R) by his name. We’re in trouble.

— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) December 4, 2022

‘From homemaker to House Speaker’: Nancy Pelosi’s time in Congress

After almost two decades leading the House Democratic Caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that she will step down from her leadership role in the next congressional session. 

Pelosi became the leader of the caucus in 2003 and became the first female speaker of the House in 2007. She has had two separate stints as House speaker and minority leader but has consistently been a face of the Democratic Party for a generation. 

Pelosi has overseen the passage of many major pieces of legislation during her tenure and was often key to the legislative successes of the Obama and Biden administrations. She also made history on multiple occasions, becoming the first woman to serve in several of the positions she held. 

"When I first came to the Floor at six years old, never would I have thought that someday I would go from homemaker to House Speaker," she said during her remarks on Thursday.

Although she will no longer hold a leadership position, Pelosi will keep her seat in the House to guide the next generation of leaders. 

Here’s a timeline of Pelosi’s career in Congress, from her first election to her announcement Thursday: 


Nancy Pelosi, who served as chairwoman of the California Democratic Party from 1981 to 1983, wins a special election in June to fill the remainder of the term of Rep. Sala Burton (D), who died in office. 

She easily prevails in the heavily Democratic district, receiving more than 67 percent of the vote. She more narrowly defeated a San Francisco city supervisor in the primary in April. 

Pelosi was 47 years old at the time. 


Pelosi sponsors legislation in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing to allow Chinese students in the United States at the time to be able to seek permanent residency without returning home first. 

The House approved the bill unanimously, and the Senate approved it by voice vote, but then-President George H.W. Bush vetoed it, reasoning that he already planned to use his executive powers to give the students the protections the bill would offer. 

The Chinese government also had threatened to cut off future student exchanges if the bill became law. 

The House voted to override Bush’s veto, but the Senate fell a few votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority. 

Pelosi would be a strong advocate for human rights in China throughout her career. 


The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program goes into effect following advocacy from Pelosi. The program, which Congress approved as part of the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990, to provide affordable housing for low-income people with HIV and AIDS. 

The legislation is one of Pelosi’s first legislative victories, and she becomes a proponent of providing protection and funding to help people living with the virus. 


A provision of legislation that becomes known as the Pelosi Amendment goes into effect. The amendment, which was approved in 1989, requires international financial institutions, including the World Bank, to allow the assessment of environmental impacts of proposed loans. 

It also instructs U.S. representatives on the boards of these institutions to vote against any loans not subject to this public scrutiny. 


Pelosi begins serving on the House Intelligence Committee, where she would serve for a decade, making her the longest-serving member in the committee’s history. She serves as the committee’s ranking member from 2000 to 2003 and continues to serve as an ex officio member after. 


President Clinton signs a bill into law to preserve the Presidio of San Francisco following a multi-year effort from Pelosi. The Presidio was a military post from 1776 until the Army closed it in 1994, transferring it to the jurisdiction of the National Park Service and putting its future in jeopardy. 

The legislation creates a public-private partnership to preserve the park and allow it to become financially self-sufficient. Pelosi initially sponsored the bill to provide funding for the park in 1994, and it passed the House but failed in the Senate. 

The effort to pass the bill was renewed in the next session of Congress, which was controlled by the GOP, and was successful. Pelosi helped secure more than $300 million in federal funding for the trust, which was set to be financially independent by 2013. 


Pelosi is elected as House minority whip, the highest rank a woman had ever reached in Congress at the time. She narrowly defeated Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), with whom she would work closely in Democratic leadership, to win the role, which she assumes early the next year. 


Pelosi splits with then-House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and much of her own party in voting against the resolution authorizing the Bush administration to take military action in Iraq. Pelosi said in a statement announcing her decision that she was not convinced that all diplomatic remedies had been exhausted. 

Serving as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, she said she did not see any evidence or intelligence that Iraq posed an “imminent threat” to the U.S. She remains a strong opponent of the war as it continues. 


Pelosi is elected House minority leader, the first woman to hold the role, after Gephardt declines to run for leadership again ahead of his planned 2004 presidential run. She wins with an overwhelming number of caucus members supporting her bid. 


Pelosi successfully organizes almost unanimous Democratic opposition to block President George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. Bush put forward reforming the program as his top domestic priority days after winning the 2004 presidential election. 

Bush mentioned the plan in his 2005 State of the Union address and said that he planned to use the political capital he gained from his reelection on this initiative, but Pelosi and Democrats rallied opposition from the American people to the plan. 

Polls showed widespread disapproval with Bush’s plan, and the president eventually pulled the idea. 


Pelosi is elected the first female speaker of the House after Democrats pick up more than 30 seats in the body to win a majority. Democrats unanimously chose her as their nominee almost exactly 16 years before her announcement Thursday that she would step down from party leadership. 

She also became the first Italian American to be elected speaker. 


President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, one of the most significant legislative accomplishments of his presidency, into law. Pelosi was essential in gathering enough votes for the legislation to pass, working for months to win over the necessary support from members of the liberal and more conservative Democrats. 

Obama said before signing the bill into law that Pelosi was “one of the best speakers” that the House has ever had. 


Pelosi becomes minority leader for a second time after Democrats lose control of the House. She fended off a challenge from a conservative Democrat to remain the leader of the caucus. 


Pelosi holds onto her position leading House Democrats despite some talks of replacing her after the party lost multiple House special elections in a row. She defended her record at a press conference and her abilities as a “master legislator” and “strategic, politically astute leader.” 


Pelosi becomes House speaker for a second time after Democrats regain the majority in the House following the 2018 midterms. Some Democrats expressed interest in Pelosi stepping aside and the party moving to a new generation of leaders, but she made a deal with them that she would not serve for more than four years as speaker. 


The House approves two articles of impeachment against President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress following an investigation into a phone call he made with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July of that year. 

Pelosi initiated the formal House inquiry into the matter, which concluded that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine to try to pressure Zelensky into launching an investigation into President Biden, whom Trump saw as a top competitor for the 2020 election, and his son, Hunter. 

Trump was ultimately acquitted of the charges in the Senate. 


Pelosi tears up a copy of Trump’s State of the Union address after he finishes delivering it, gaining widespread attention. She told reporters after that it was “the courteous thing to do given the alternatives.” 

Trump appeared to ignore Pelosi’s offer for a handshake earlier. The speech came as the Senate was in the midst of Trump’s impeachment trial. 


Pelosi calls on Trump to resign in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, promising to begin impeachment proceedings if he did not do so or if he was not removed by the Cabinet under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. 

After Trump did not step down and his Cabinet did not remove him, the House impeached him for a second time, with all Democrats and 10 Republicans voting in favor. A majority of the Senate voted in favor of convicting him for the charge of inciting violence, but the body did not reach the required two-thirds majority needed for a conviction. 


Pelosi maintains her role as House speaker after Democrats lose seats in the body in the 2020 elections but keep a majority. She leads House Democrats in passing major legislative accomplishments from the Biden administration, including the American Rescue Plan, to fight against the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the bipartisan infrastructure investment package. 


Pelosi becomes the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan as Beijing steps up its threats toward the self-governing island. She previously visited in 1999 as a House member.

She maintained that the visit did not violate the One China policy, in which the U.S. only recognizes Beijing as the legitimate Chinese government but considers Taiwan's status to be unsettled.


Pelosi announces she will not run for another term in House Democratic leadership but will remain in Congress, representing her House district.

Take heart: Democrats will beat expectations this November

Remember when there was no way Democrats could win two Senate seats in Georgia to take control of the upper chamber? Remember when Ukrainian forces were going to crumble under Russia's elite military onslaught in a matter of days?

Things don't always go the way Washington analysts project they will, and it's going to take some time to talk ourselves down from the steady red-wave drumbeat we’ve endured for the last six months. But let's take a stab at it, shall we?

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Democrats—voters and lawmakers—have at least a handful of reasons (if not more) for some guarded optimism as we barrel toward November.

1) As halting as the White House response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has been, President Joe Biden has started to step up. His support for a Senate filibuster carve out on abortion along with his pledge to immediately sign a bill codifying Roe into federal law once it hits his desk are the makings of an electoral rallying cry.

"We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law. Your vote can make that a reality," Biden said Friday at the White House as he vehemently denounced the Supreme Court ruling.

“We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court, working in conjunction with extremist elements of the Republican Party, to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy,” he said.

The president also framed the high court as a political entity acting outside of its rightful legal domain, teeing up the possibility that he could at some point take on court reform as an issue.

"What we’re witnessing wasn’t a constitutional judgment. It was an exercise in raw political power," Biden charged.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Biden gave a great speech on Friday, channeling activists' rage, pledging to codify Roe, promising to veto any GOP-passed federal abortion ban, encouraging Americans to register their rage at the polls this fall, and being specific about needing at least two more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House in order to pass federal abortion protections.

Biden hasn't delivered everything abortion activists want, but that's certainly enough to work for a midterm message.

2) House Democrats have keyed in on the only viable path for them to blunt losses this fall and just maybe salvage their majority: boldly attacking extremist GOP candidates.

Retiring Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky summed up the strategy best: “If we win, it’s because we scared the crap out of people about the maniacs who will be in charge.”

Democrats aggressively pounding extremist Republicans who are pushing a national abortion ban, clinging to 2020 election fraud conspiracy theories, and backing Jan. 6 rioters as patriotic protesters exercising First Amendment rights are the best plays Democrats have. They’re both base motivators and appeals to the few sane Republicans and swingy abortion supporters who still exist.

Political strategists vary between predicting the midterms will either primarily be driven by economic dissatisfaction or anger over the Supreme Court's gutting of abortion protections and other privacy rights down the road.

But in a telephone briefing last week, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg predicted November would mainly be another matchup between the MAGA movement and the anti-MAGA majority that has carried the day in the last two elections.

Running toward Donald Trump after his 2020 loss and failed January coup attempt "was always an enormous political risk," Rosenberg said of the GOP, adding that Republicans haven't done anything in the interim to sway swing voters.

3) The generic ballot has moved several points in the direction of Democrats since the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

CNN's Harry Enten has counted eight different polls in which Democrats gained ground in a generic matchup since the Dobbs ruling.

"The average shift was about 3 points in Democrats’ favor," Enten writes. "This 3-point change may not seem like a lot, and it could reverse itself as we get further away from the ruling. Still, it puts Democrats in their best position on the generic ballot in the last six months."

4) Trump falling, DeSantis rising—that about sums up a dynamic that could increasingly begin to take center stage amid jockeying for position in the 2024 GOP presidential contest. While Trump is arguably still the most popular person within the Republican Party, even his voters have begun to sour on the idea of him making another run for the GOP nomination. And as Trump’s star begins to fall, DeSantis is increasingly gaining steam.

Democrats can only hope Trump does something impulsive, like make a surprise candidacy announcement before November as he feels the Jan. 6 panel (and maybe even the Justice Department) increasingly breathing down his neck. He would lose a ton of fundraising flexibility by announcing early, but hey, once you’ve orchestrated a coup to overthrow your own government, all bets are off.

But even if he doesn't, Trump is wounded—perhaps not fatally, but wounded nonetheless. Republicans and even the MAGA faithful are beginning to debate and sometimes doubt whether he should run again in 2024. That tinge of uncertainty could lead to fissures ahead of a midterm where Republicans had hoped their base would be singularly focused on inflation and rage against President Biden.

5) The Jan. 6 hearings are the best political thriller going. Forget House of Cards—that was kid stuff compared to this coup-dunit mystery unfolding in real time on screens across the country. Did the president of the United States really intend to get his vice president killed? Did he plan to personally do it himself, or did he just envision ordering his troop of ragtag domestic terrorists to hang Pence from the gallows? Who's going to tell us, who's talking, who isn't, and who's going to end up in jail?  

Every hearing seems to get more riveting and exponentially worse for Trump, his demented braintrust, and the GOP lawmakers who helped plot the attempted overthrow of the republic. Several headlines last month suggested not many people were watching the hearings in real time, but that’s not the measure of whether the hearings are breaking through. The progressive consortium Navigator Research released a poll Monday showing that 64% of Americans report having seen, read, or heard about the hearings (28% heard “a lot” while 36% reported hearing “some”)—perfectly consistent with the 63% who said they had heard some or a lot about last month's hearings. So interest hasn’t trailed off one bit.

So regardless of whether Trump announces a presidential bid before November, the Jan. 6 hearings are reminding all the people who voted against him in 2020 (more than 81 million Americans) exactly why they voted him out of office. And for Trumpers, the hearings are just making him look weak, out of control, and powerless. Unlike both of his impeachment proceedings, Trump doesn't have an entourage of talking heads defending him because the usual suspects are either ducking subpoenas or dodging cameras. So Trump's out there just dangling with an occasional statement on his spectacularly flailing Truth(er) Social, but that's about it.

Again, this isn't what Republicans were hoping for several months out from Election Day—a series of ongoing public hearings that they are powerless to stop and have no earthly idea of what will be uncovered.

All of these factors along with the GOP's field of D-list candidates should give Democrats fuel to fight another day. Just like every other election since 2016, this year's midterms will likely yield unprecedented results to match the unprecedented times in which we live.


Democratic voters increasingly want ‘fighters.’ Cheney plans to deliver in Jan. 6 hearings

House Democrats have been here before: debating exactly how to handle an unprecedented congressional proceeding involving the most prominent Republican in the country who, once again, committed unconstitutional and potentially unlawful acts. This time around, the sometimes heated discussions surround preparation for next month’s televised hearings on the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

During Donald Trump’s first impeachment hearing, Democrats anguished over exactly what angle, tone, and how far to reach, according to what one person involved in those deliberations told The Washington Post.

The difference now as the select committee investigating Jan. 6 plots its next phase is that an old-school rock-ribbed Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, is in the room alongside Democrats, fighting for what she clearly views as an existential battle for her future, her party, and indeed the country.

By all accounts, Cheney—who serves as vice chair of the panel—has led the way in adopting an aggressive prosecutorial posture during the Jan. 6 investigation. Her counterparts say she is the most well-versed, well-read, and prepared member of the panel, and she has leaned heavily on her legal training to inform her approach.

The Daily Kos Elections Team talks about how the MAGA civil war might be hurting the GOP in races across the country on The Downballot podcast

So as the panel debates format, tone, and priorities for the upcoming hearings, Cheney has championed making Trump the focal point while some Democrats have reportedly argued for emphasizing the security and intelligence failures that allowed the MAGA mob to storm the Capitol.

“Cheney has wanted to make sure we keep the focus on Trump and the political effort to overthrow Biden’s majority in the electoral college and to attack the peaceful transfer of power,” a committee member told the Post. In other words, Cheney is focused on Trump’s intentional effort to subvert U.S. democracy rather than the technocratic failures that played out during the attack.

"Rep. Cheney’s view is that security at the Capitol is a critical part of the investigation, but the Capitol didn’t attack itself," explained Cheney spokesperson Jeremy Adler.

Amen: The Capitol didn't attack itself.

The committee is still grappling with multiple questions, such as how much to emphasize the legal significance of its findings and whether to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department (a purely symbolic act); whether to adopt a more prosecutorial tone during the hearings; and whether to make a bid to interview Donald Trump and/or Mike Pence before they conclude their work.

But one person who is crystal clear about the threat Cheney poses to him is Trump himself, who told the Post he views the Wyoming Republican as a bigger rival than Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who led Democrats' first impeachment effort.

“From what people tell me, from what I hear from other congressmen, she’s like a crazed lunatic, she’s worse than anyone else,” he said. “From what I’ve heard, she’s worse than any Democrat.”

That's because Cheney has always known where the bodies were buried, and Trump knows it.

While much about the hearings is yet to be determined, here's what we do know:

  • Committee Chair Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Cheney will co-lead the hearings, while a third lawmaker joins them depending on the topic.
  • They expect to field eight hearings covering material mined from more than 1,000 interviews and 125,000 records.
  • The panel is considering interviewing witnesses such as top Pence aide Marc Short as well as former Justice Department officials Jeffrey Rosen, who was acting attorney general during Trump's post-election pressure campaign, and Richard Donoghue, Rosen's top deputy.
  • The final hearing is expected to be in September, when the panel will enumerate its key findings and recommend action items aimed at preventing future coup attempts.

In focus groups, Jan. 6 accountability has emerged as an important and motivating issue for some voters. Democrats in particular likely want to see heads roll among GOP officeholders who stoked 2020 conspiracy theories, fomented violence, and worked to overturn the election.

Democratic voters in two other recent focus groups written about by Amy Walter of Cook Political Report expressed a desire for more "fighters" among Democratic lawmakers and candidates, more generally. Walter writes:

When asked to describe Democrats in Congress as an animal, almost all picked docile creatures, or as one man described them, animals that are "slow and arboreal." When asked what kind of animal they wished Democrats would be, they chose "great white shark," and "grizzly bear." Another said she wanted them to be like a hyena, an animal that is "fast, aggressive, assertive, and gets what they want done."

What Democratic voters are effectively describing there is a desire for what Cheney has brought to the Jan. 6 probe, at least in approach and disposition if not her actual politics.

And while the committee has no legal authority to hold Trump and GOP lawmakers criminally liable for the Capitol attack, it is certainly positioned to make a moral judgment about who was responsible for the deadly assault that day.

At the very least, Cheney seems hell-bent on delivering that to the American public.

Who’s the biggest loser: McConnell or McCarthy?

For years, Capitol Hill reporters have assured Americans that privately, Republicans disparage Donald Trump and can't wait to get rid of him.

Now we are finally getting some real audio to back that up, and what it exposes is exactly what a bunch of losers GOP lawmakers are—GOP leadership in particular.

The recordings, made in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, were unearthed by two New York Times reporters, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, whose book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future will be released next month.

The reporters released one piece of audio Thursday between House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and then-House GOP Communications Chief Liz Cheney. Friday, on CNN, they released two more pieces of McCarthy audio, one from a Jan. 10 phone call with an inner circle of House GOP leaders and another from a Jan. 11 call with the entire Republican caucus.

The phone calls reveal a man who is absolutely desperate to rid himself of Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

"I've had it with this guy," McCarthy tells the GOP leadership team on Jan. 10. "What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend it, and nobody should defend it.”

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

No one, that is, until he ran down to Mar-a-Lago three weeks later to beg Trump's forgiveness.

On Jan. 11, McCarthy was a little less pointed in his conversation with the wider caucus, but still talking tough.

"Let me be very clear to all of you, and I've been very clear to the president: He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No ifs, ands, or buts," McCarthy said.

No ifs, ands, or buts—until he ran his hiney down to Mar-a-Lago three weeks later to beg Trump's forgiveness.

McCarthy then told the caucus that he asked Trump directly if he bore responsibility for what happened on Jan. 6 and if he feels badly about it.

"He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. And he need [sic] to acknowledge that," McCarthy reported back to the caucus.

That will probably be news to Trump, the notion that he took responsibility for something—anything, really—let alone the violent Jan. 6 coup attempt.

Senate GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also had some choice words on Jan. 11, telling two advisers of the impending House impeachment, “The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us."

According to the Times' Martin and Burns, McConnell told the aides he expected the Senate would convict Trump, with a strong contingent of Republicans voting accordingly. At least 17 Republicans would be needed to seal Trump's fate if all 50 Democrats voted in favor, and McConnell clearly thought he had the votes.

But once McConnell took the temperature of the caucus, he didn't. And ol' masterful Mitch also didn't have the leadership skills to deliver the votes. As McConnell recently admitted publicly, "moral red lines" aren't exactly his thing.

"He didn’t ascend to power by siding with the minority, he explained to a friend," write Martin and Burns.

As for McCarthy's leadership, just two days after that Jan. 11 call with the entire GOP caucus, he pretended it never happened at his weekly press conference.

“Did you tell House Republicans on their January 11 phone call that President Trump told you he agreed that he bore some responsibility for January 6?" a reporter asked.

“I'm not sure what call you're talking about," replied McCarthy.

Now there's a guy with some unshakable moral fortitude.

And so here we sit in the spring of 2022 with Trump still the 2024 GOP favorite even as he complicates the path for congressional Republicans to retake the majority. In fact, it's not exactly clear why he would want either McCarthy or McConnell to regain control of their chambers.

The biggest guessing game on Capitol Hill Friday morning was how hard Trump would come down on McCarthy. That seems doubtful. McCarthy is a useful idiot who will do absolutely anything Trump says in his desperate bid to become speaker of the House one day.

On Friday morning, McCarthy wasn't running around trying to rehabilitate his public image, he was madly ringing up all his colleagues to assure them that Trump isn't angry with him, according to Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman.

So who's the biggest loser? Broadly speaking, both Mitch and Kev are epic losers in the leadership department. They both wanted to rid themselves of the Trump plague with every fiber of their being, and yet capitulated to him at a time when Trump was at his lowest, most vulnerable political moment since he had announced his 2016 candidacy for president.

Dooming Trump was completely within reach, and neither of them had the grit or determination to follow through. Thus, Trump is still ruling their world.

More specifically, who will be the biggest loser of Trump's wrath? Likely McConnell, precisely because he's not the exquisite bootlicker that McCarthy is.

McCarthy gladly and immediately laying himself belly up at Trump's feet while McConnell doesn't will simply remind Trump how deeply he loathes McConnell.

He’ll be coming for McConnell. Trump can throw McCarthy under the bus later.

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.

— 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.

— 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.