Sen. Ron Johnson goes on CNN, makes wild election claims, then struggles to provide proof

Sen. Ron Johnson went on CNN Monday evening to talk about the Republican Party’s continued attempts to tie providing aid for Ukraine with conservative bogeyman border policies. At the end of the interview, host Kaitlan Collins mentioned recent news about Wisconsin’s 10 fake Donald Trump electors cutting a deal in their civil case. Collins wanted the senator to weigh in on calls for one of the fake electors, Robert Spindell Jr., to resign his position on the state elections commission.

Johnson is nothing if not duplicitous and he stayed on brand, citing “all kinds of irregularities in Wisconsin in the 2020 election” and saying that having “an alternate slate of electors” was some kind of common practice, “just like Democrats have done repeatedly in all kinds of different states.” Collins reminded Johnson that these fake electors have admitted that what they did was at the very least “improper,” and Johnson responded by saying all the civil cases against them were “a travesty of justice.” That led to this exchange:

Collins: You think it's fine that someone who tried to overturn a legitimate election is still on a board that helps certify [elections]--

Johnson: –Democrat electors have done that repeatedly. Democrats have done the same thing.

Collins: Which one? In Wisconsin—fake slates of electors?

Johnson: No, it's, it's happened in different states …

Collins: Which ones, sir?

Johnson: I didn’t come prepared to give you the exact states but it’s happened repeatedly. It has happened repeatedly, just go check the books.

Collins: Which books?

Johnson: There have been alternate slates of electors by Democrat electors in our history. Again, you didn't—this wasn't what this interview is going to be about. I'll come and I'll provide you that information.

Not long after Johnson’s pathetic appearance, the senator went to his X (formerly Twitter) account to post his “examples,” which included Democratic reps objecting to the election results in 2017 and did not involve fake electors. Surprisingly, this also didn’t include creating a revolt at the Capitol building, and Donald Trump was certified without anyone being killed or injured.

His other example is the 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Nixon had lost the election, but Hawaii was initially called for Nixon by 140 votes. Three Democratic electors chose to sign a slate saying Kennedy won. Of course, at that time there was a recount underway that would eventually reveal Kennedy got more votes.

Johnson’s part in the attempted coup on Jan. 6 has been the subject of much speculation, as the things he’s said in public and his alibi do not square with the evidence. Johnson has been secretly recorded admitting that there was no election fraud, and definitely not the kind of Big Lie-mythologized fraud that might have actually reversed the outcome in Wisconsin.

Since the failed coup, Johnson has consistently tried to downplay the severity of what happened at the Capitol and across the country after the 2020 election.

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Former OSU wrestlers: Jim Jordan ‘has to answer for what happened to us’

“Do you really want a guy in that job who chose not to stand up for his guys?” That’s what Ohio State University wrestler Mike Schyck told NBC News about Rep. Jim Jordan, the former assistant coach who allegedly stood by in silence while his charges were being sexually abused by team doctor Richard Strauss.

A group of the former student-athletes is speaking out about Jordan once again, because he was put forward as a viable candidate to be speaker of the House—second in line to the presidency. They think he should be nowhere near the job. It looks as though a slim majority of House Republicans might agree. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise narrowly got the nod from his fellow GOP members Wednesday, ahead of what could be another drawn-out and bruising fight on the floor. Nevertheless, in today’s MAGA-dominated Republican Party, Jordan was able to rise to these heights and be a contender for the job.

That’s why former student-athletes are speaking out.

Jordan’s “hypocrisy is unbelievable,” said Dunyasha Yetts, another former OSU wrestler. “He doesn’t deserve to be House speaker. He still has to answer for what happened to us.” Yetts recounted an incident in which he went to see Strauss for a thumb injury and the doctor tried to pull his pants down. He said he immediately told Jordan and then-head wrestling coach Russ Hellickson about the incident. They then went to confront the doctor. In the years since, Jordan has claimed he had zero knowledge of any abuse.

Another alleged victim, Rocky Ratliff, is now a lawyer representing some of the plaintiffs suing the school. He said Jordan “abandoned his former wrestlers in the Ohio State sexual abuse scandal and cover-up.”

One of the alleged victims, who thinks Jordan is politically qualified for the speaker job, would not endorse him. “My problem with Jimmy is that he has been playing with words instead of supporting us,” the anonymous man told NBC News. “None of us used the words ‘sexual abuse’ when we talked about what Doc Strauss was doing to us, we just knew it was weird and Jimmy knew about it because we talked about it all the time in the locker room, at practices, everywhere.”

Jordan didn’t respond to the allegations directly, but his spokesman Russell Dye issued this statement: “Chairman Jordan never saw or heard of any abuse, and if he had, he would have dealt with it.”

That’s a reflection of Jordan’s lack of character, said Schyck. “He put himself in this position,” he said. “If early on he jumped in on our side and validated what we were saying, what everybody knew about what Dr. Strauss was doing to us, then this wouldn’t be happening. But he decided early on, for reasons I still don’t understand, that he was going to deny knowing anything about this. Now he’s got no choice but to stick to this story that he had no idea what Dr. Strauss was doing, even though it’s a lie.”

This same lack of principles and character made Jordan one of Donald Trump’s most stalwart supporters all the way through the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Jordan was at the center of Trump’s attempted coup, advising Trump by phone that morning. He was one of the loudest proponents of Trump’s Big Lie.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s sticking with his OSU lie, considering that he’s sticking with Trump’s Big Lie and using his power within the House to try to bring down Joe Biden’s presidency.

It’s a reflection of what the GOP has become that Jordan is a serious contender to be second in line to the presidency. Not that ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy or Scalise are that much better: Both of them voted to overturn the 2020 election on the night of Jan. 6, after the Trump mob ransacked the Capitol and threatened their lives.


Jim Jordan’s based his career on enabling Republican crimes

Liz Cheney goes at Jim Jordan for his role in Jan. 6 insurrection

House Republicans swiftly act to obstruct on Trump’s behalf

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Prosecutors probe whether Giuliani was drunk when advising Trump. Does it even matter?

The New York Times and other outlets are reporting that federal prosecutors are taking a very close look at Rudy Giuliani's alleged drinking problems as they seek to prosecute Donald Trump for his illegal acts to nullify his 2020 presidential election loss. From the Times:

The office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, has questioned witnesses about Mr. Giuliani’s alcohol consumption as he was advising Mr. Trump, including on election night, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Smith’s investigators have also asked about Mr. Trump’s level of awareness of his lawyer’s drinking as they worked to overturn the election and prevent Joseph R. Biden Jr. from being certified as the 2020 winner at almost any cost.

Whether Giuliani was notably, speech-slurringly drunk during the times he was offering advice to Trump on how to contest the election's outcome may go a long way in scrubbing out Trump's claims that he was only acting on the advice of counsel when he undertook those illegal acts. If Trump was aware that his alleged lawyer was Barney Gumble drunk during the conversations where Rudy was pushing bizarre election conspiracy theories and offering, the pair now claims, attorney-client advice on how to pursue them, then Trump could hardly claim he was a naive victim blindly following that advice. It would show that Trump ought to have understood from the beginning that he was listening to the ramblings of an impaired man.

Personally, I'm not seeing it. Trump had been using Giuliani to source and publicize a mountain of utterly crackpot conspiracy theories throughout the election. It was evident even by 2019 that Giuliani's claims ranged from sloppy factual blunders to obvious disinformation attempts to full-on fictions. After the Robert Mueller-led probe of Russian election interference concluded in 2019, Giuliani began insisting that the election had actually been interfered with by "Hillary [Clinton], [John] Kerry and Biden people colluding with Ukrainian operatives."

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One of the most bizarre of all Giuliani-pushed conspiracy claims was that Ukraine was actually the nation behind the hacks of Democratic National Committee servers, and that Russia had been framed by Ukrainian or American officials. Giuliani believed a Democratic National Committee server had been spirited to and hidden somewhere in Ukraine by the DNC themselves, their cybersecurity firm, or someone else.

Not only did Trump willingly believe it, he believed it enough to ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate "the server" during the extortion-laden call that resulted in Trump's first impeachment.

Whether or not Rudy Giuliani was or wasn't sloshed enough to be an explosion hazard during this time seems hardly relevant; the man was transparently out of his gourd. He was spouting incoherent, looneytoons fictions long, long before election night, and not only was the national press awash with explanations of just how nonsensical and fraudulent Giuliani's claims were, Trump suffered through an actual bonafide impeachment as a direct result of believing Giuliani's delusional crap.

That would seem to suggest that Trump had every possible opportunity to realize Giuliani was giving him advice that was snow-globe-brain, television-static bonkers long before Giuliani was offering up advice on how to overturn an American election. Yes, it's possible that Giuliani was drunk the whole time; at best, that might show that a sober Trump is still stupider than a stumble-drunk Rudy.

Most of the Times story centers on the apparently widespread knowledge among Giuliani's peers and allies that he has had a devastating drinking problem for "more than a decade." "His consistent, conspicuous intoxication often startled his company," we are told a few years too late to do anyone any good, with "almost anyone in proximity" realizing that his drinking "has been the pulsing drumbeat punctuating his descent." But even then, half the article is devoted to how supposedly grand Giuliani was in his 9/11-punctuated heyday. It appears we will never be free of the hagiographies that have always brushed aside Giuliani's many past scandals in favor of a generic supposed heroism.

As for whether Giuliani was visibly and odiously drunk when he advised Trump to contest the election based on no evidence at all, though, it does appear to be true. The Times, again:

In interviews and in testimony to Congress, several people at the White House on election night — the evening when Mr. Giuliani urged Mr. Trump to declare victory despite the results — have said that the former mayor appeared to be drunk, slurring and carrying an odor of alcohol.

So there you go. It still seems to me that it hardly matters: Was it Drunk Rudy who called a vital press conference at the concrete driveway of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, or Sober Rudy? Was it Drunk Rudy who mistook some unknown substance for hair dye before rushing out to the press for a different press conference, or Sober Rudy?

I don't think we need to hold a match in front of his mouth to judge whether or not the man's judgment has been impaired these past few years. Trump may claim that he only did criminal things because his lawyers told him to, but it doesn't hold up when Trump chose those lawyers specifically because his White House legal team, Department of Justice legal team, and everyone else with common sense weren't willing to go along with plainly criminal acts like "seize the voting machines," "have Mike Pence declare you the winner by fiat," and "impose martial law."


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Co-conspirator 5’s memos show that Jan. 6 was a planned coup

On the heels of the public exposure of a memo from lawyer Kenneth Chesebro proposing what would become the central strategy of Donald Trump's attempted coup on Jan. 6, 2021, Politico has a new overview of Chesebro's role in the conspiracy that's worth a read.

Chesebro only made it to Co-Conspirator 5 status in Trump's newest federal indictment, overshadowed by figures such as hoax architect Rudy Giuliani and lawyer John Eastman, but in memos it was Chesebro who laid out each of the core elements of the plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence and Congress to simply nullify the election's results come Jan. 6. Eastman appears to have been the one who packaged it all up for sale to Trump and the rest of the White House team.

In the Dec. 6 Chesebro memo revealed Wednesday, he proposes a plan to create fake, uncertified electoral slates in multiple Joe Biden-won states that would then be passed to Pence, who would announce them as the "true" electors using an allegedly unilateral constitutional power that allows the vice president to count up the electoral votes literally however he or she wants. That version of the plan was the one the co-conspirators and conspiring Republican members of the House and Senate worked towards, creating the fake electoral slates. It was Sen. Ron Johnson who appears to have been the volunteer who would smuggle the fake electors to Pence on the day of the vote.

Pence foiled the scheme by refusing to be a part of it even though Trump and Trump's team had pressured him intensely. He was retaliated against on Jan. 6 when Trump singled out Pence as his enemy even as violent pro-Trump insurrectionists hunted for targets in the halls of the Capitol.

But Chesebro had alternative plans as well. All of them hinged on the conservative Supreme Court being sufficiently crooked enough to come up with a legal facade for ignoring the certified electoral slates of multiple states purely on Republican say-so. Or at least for the court to put a pause on the electoral counting that would, in the eyes of the public, help justify other extreme actions to overturn the results.

A week after the Dec. 6 memo proposing the original plan of Pence unilaterally altering the counts himself, Chesebro had already brainstormed a fallback position that would have the same effects.

On Jan. 6, Chesebro said, Pence would announce his recusal from presiding over the joint session of Congress, citing the unconstitutionality of the Electoral Count Act as well as a conflict of interest because of his candidacy for reelection. This, Chesebro contended, would “insulate” Pence from charges of making a self-serving decision and leave the matter ostensibly in the hands of a senior Republican senator. Then, after beginning to count electoral votes from an alphabetical list of states, that senator would refuse to count the votes from Arizona, citing the competing slates of electors. If Arizona wants to be counted, this senator would say, it would either have to “rerun” its election or allow for more judicial review of the outcome.

It's important to acknowledge here that this plan, too, was absolutely batshit crazy. The plans concocted by Trump's alleged "legal" team all hinged on a supposed ability for a vice president or temporary acting Senate president to simply declare that they weren't going to count the votes of states that the Republican candidate didn't win because fuck you, that's why. This was in accordance with the theory that power is unilaterally invested in the vote-counter and there is not a damn thing anyone else in the entire country can do about it.

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This was entirely batshit crazy for a whole host of reasons, and perhaps especially for the complete indifference shown towards what 330 million people might think—or do—when they learned that their entire constitutional democracy was a fiction. Chesebro himself continued to recognize that his plan was so destructive and batshit crazy that the Supreme Court could very well not go along with it. Again, this is a plan that would end with Chesebro and the others facing a firing squad at pretty much any other point of history or in any other country. At some point even the Supreme Court would have to decide whether this was a stunt worthy of forcing the most powerful military on the planet into choosing sides.

But Chesebro still held out hope that the resulting batshit chaos would somehow result in a miracle occurring. Perhaps the election would be thrown out, making House Speaker Nancy Pelosi the acting president. Or perhaps not. Spin the wheel and take your chances, America. The rancid sacks of shit proposing this plan were willing to risk everything for the slightest chance to erase an election.

But another outcome, he said — one that appears even more far-fetched in hindsight — might play out: Trump could quit the race in exchange for a negotiated deal to make Pence president.

“In this situation,” Chesebro wrote, “which would be messy and unpalatable to many … it doesn’t seem fanciful to think Trump and Pence would end up winning the vote after some legislatures appoint electors, or else that there might be a negotiated solution in which the Senate elects Pence vice president and Trump agrees to drop his bid … so that Biden and Harris are defeated, even though Trump isn’t re-elected.”

First off, fuck this dude sincerely for his willingness to throw all of democracy against a wall in the off chance that the debris would make a pretty pattern that he, personally, might like. But the notion that Donald Trump would "quit the race" in a ploy to make Pence president may be more delusional than the plan to assert dictatorial Pence powers. Trump has never done anything in his life unless it would benefit Trump. Just how were Giuliani, Eastman, and the other seditionists going to convince Trump to drop his claims of winning the election so that Pence could sit behind his desk? Were they going to offer him Alaska? Delaware? Agree to convert our newest aircraft carrier to a floating Trump-branded result?

And no matter how many Trump lawsuits fell because each of them were based on craptacular hoaxes that fell apart upon even the most cursory examination—which has landed multiple lawyers in Trump's orbit in deep professional trouble, and that is putting it mildly—Chesebro and Eastman and the others just kept pressing forward. As the House select committee that investigated the coup discovered, Justice Clarence Thomas was widely seen as the coup's most likely Supreme Court ally. As Trump pressured Pence, the coup's architects hunted for cases that might give Thomas the means to at least temporarily block a state's results from being counted.

“Possibly Thomas would end up being the key here — circuit justice, right? We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt,” Chesebro wrote. “Realistically, our only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress, is from Thomas — do you agree, Prof. Eastman?”

This was just one week before Jan. 6, after courtrooms across the country had thrown out the team's farcical "evidence" of fraud over and over again, leaving the seditionists with no remaining legal fig leaves that would justify their plan. But when not even Thomas gave them the justification they sought, the plan didn't change.

Trump and his allies even scheduled a "march" on the Capitol to coincide with the counting of electoral votes, another means of potentially delaying the vote or creating enough chaos to justify throwing out or "redoing" the election's results.

The reason Trump stood by as the violent mob attacked police and ransacked the building is self-evident: This was the delay the team had been trying to make happen. Trump and the coup planners indeed used the delay caused by the evacuation of Congress to again work the phones, pressuring individual lawmakers to go along with the plan.

What the Chesebro and Eastman memos have spelled out, much too plainly, is that from at least Dec. 6 the plan was to nullify Trump's presidential election loss through Republican fiat, either through Pence or through other House and Senate accomplices, and the co-conspirators all recognized that a likely result of their plan would be massive public unrest and almost certain violence. And they did not care. At all! The "plan" was for Trump to declare that the Insurrection Act allowed him to put down public protests by military force, and he was to give those orders, and the coup planners were willing to spin the wheel on what would happen after that as well.

There was seemingly no jumping-off point where Trump's team of true believers proved unwilling to risk mass violence, military violence, or a new civil war on the vaporous chance that they could erase a Republican election loss. The memos are banal in tone: Things might get "messy" after their "bold" strategies were employed, but oh-fucking-well, those were simply the risks of overturning a democratic election and installing a Republican winner regardless.

It was seditionist from the start. The plan was never to prove actual fraud in any state, it was to unilaterally declare "fraud" and announce that the results were invalid because Pence said so. The Supreme Court would hopefully declare the moves "nonjusticiable" because it was Congress doing them, after which the only remaining concerns would be enforcing order as the public objected.

These ratbastards and their allied Republicans intended a coup from the beginning. It was a stupid plan, mind you. It was premised on a great deal of wishful thinking, and with never a thought to what would happen if Trump called up the military and some member of the military dropped a missile onto the White House in response, but it was a coup by design.

It's hard to imagine what justice can even be meted out here against a team of conspirators whose communications show complete indifference to the damage caused by their schemes.

Conservatives cried about how the “woke” (whatever that means) “Barbie” movie would fail. It didn’t. In fact, the film has struck a chord with American and international audiences. Daily Kos writer Laura Clawson joins Markos to talk about the film and the implications of the Republican Party’s fixation on mythical culture wars, which is failing them in bigger and bigger ways every day.


Newly uncovered memo describes Trump coup plan in detail, one month before it was attempted

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Media pretends planned impeachment of Biden has some basis in facts

Two-thirds of Americans think Jan 6. charges are serious, less than half say Trump should drop out

ABC News/Ipsos is the first outlet out of the gate with polling on Donald Trump’s latest indictment, this time for his 2020 election interference which culminated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The element that stands out most in the new polling is tribalism: Only a minority of Republicans think the Jan. 6 charges are serious and a tiny group of them thinks he should be charged.

While nearly two-thirds of the voters surveyed—65%—think the charges are serious, just 38% of Republicans think so, and just 14% of Republicans think he should be charged with a crime.

Discouragingly, only 52% of the total surveyed believe Trump should be facing criminal charges for everything he did leading up to and on Jan. 6. That’s down from a June 2022 ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted during the Jan. 6 committee hearings. In that survey, 58% agreed that, “Trump bears a good or great amount of responsibility for the events of Jan 6 and that he should be charged with a crime.”

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In addition, just under half of all voters in the new poll—49%—think that Trump should suspend his campaign. A similar number, 46%, think the charges against Trump are politically motivated. Republican talking points about the Biden administration targeting Trump are clearly permeating the populace. In contrast, 60% of those surveyed last year thought that the congressional committee was conducting a fair and impartial investigation.

That’s as much a condemnation of the narrative the national media has been pushing as anything, including the fact that the poll and the ABC News story that goes with it also include questions about President Joe Biden’s approval ratings and, more problematically, the Hunter Biden investigation.

About one-third of this story is about about Biden’s low approvals (33% to Trump’s 30%) and his son Hunter Biden, including whether Biden should be investigated for impeachment over it (39% say yes) and whether they have confidence that the “Justice Department is handling its ongoing investigation of Hunter Biden in a fair and nonpartisan manner”; 46% say they are not.

That poll and the accompanying story are effectively equating Hunter Biden’s legal problems with Trump’s. The article provides absolutely no context or explanation of the fact that House Republicans have come up with exactly nothing in their extensive and ridiculous investigation of Hunter Biden. The media is treating a conspiracy theory cooked up by Rudy Giuliani and his cohorts—that was proven to be bullshit even before the 2020 election—as equivalent to the very real allegations of a conspiracy by Donald Trump and his team to steal the election and violently overthrow the government.

This persistent reporting trend perpetuates a vicious cycle of both-sidesing the news that could end very badly for all of us.

Conservatives cried about how the “woke” (whatever that means) “Barbie” movie would fail. It didn’t. In fact, the film has struck a chord with American and international audiences. Daily Kos writer Laura Clawson joins Markos to talk about the film and the implications of the Republican Party’s fixation on mythical culture wars, which is failing them in bigger and bigger ways every day.

No, Republicans, Trump’s indictment isn’t about free speech

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell might not be commenting on the former president’s latest indictment, but those Republicans who have spoken up are dismissing Donald Trump’s alleged conspiracy to overthrow an election by claiming that it was merely “free speech.”

Apparently it is now a crime to make statements challenging election results if a prosecutor decides those statements aren’t true. So when should we expect indictments of the democrat politicians who falsely claimed Russia hacked the 2016 election?

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 2, 2023

“Apparently it is now a crime to make statements challenging election results if a prosecutor decides those statements aren’t true,” Sen. Marco Rubio asserted, knowing full well that this is not about Trump’s statements, but about his actions.

Bogus “free speech” arguments are a tried-and-true Republican favorite, and Trump’s legal team is no exception. “[O]ur focus is on the fact that this is an attack on free speech, and political advocacy,” said Trump lawyer John Lauro on CNN. “And there’s nothing that’s more protected, under the First Amendment, than political speech.” (Lauro might want to do a quick review of how that defense has been working for Jan. 6 defendants, including the Proud Boys.)

Special counsel Jack Smith knew this would be a key argument from Trump, and quickly debunked it on page 2 of the indictment. “The Defendant had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won,” the indictment says. “He was also entitled to formally challenge the results of the election through lawful and appropriate means …. [I]n many cases, the Defendant did pursue these methods of contesting the election results. His efforts … were uniformly unsuccessful.

“Shortly after Election Day, the Defendant also pursued unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results.” That’s what Trump is being indicted for: his actions.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Jan. 6 committee and lead manager of Trump’s second impeachment, explained all of this during a appearance on MSNBC, poking a big hole in Republican arguments with a simple analogy. “[Y]ou can say ‘I think the currency is phony and everybody should be allowed to make up their own money … but the minute that you start printing your own money, now you run afoul of the counterfeit laws, and it’s the exact same thing with the Electoral College,” the Maryland Democrat said.

Here’s the full transcript:

We know that our friends across the aisle are trying to mobilize some big free speech defense of Donald Trump here, which is just comical. Of course you have a right to say for example, “I think that the meeting of the House and the Senate in joint session to count Electoral College votes is a fraud or is taking away Donald Trump’s presidency.” You can say whatever you want, but the minute you actually try to obstruct the meeting of Congress, you crossed over from speech to conduct.

It’s like you can say, “I think the currency is phony and everybody should be allowed to make up their own money.” You can say that, but the minute that you start printing your own money, now you run afoul of the counterfeit laws, and it’s the exact same thing with the Electoral College. They can say, “Well, we don’t think that Joe Biden really won in these states,” even though every federal and state court rejected all of their claims of electoral fraud and corruption. The minute that they start manufacturing counterfeit electors and trying to have them substitute for the real electors that came through the federal and state legal process, at that point, they’ve crossed over from speech to conduct. I think the indictment is really tight in focusing just on the conduct.

Sign the petition: Disqualify Trump from running for public office

Conservatives cried about how the “woke” (whatever that means) “Barbie” movie would fail. It didn’t. In fact, the film has struck a chord with American and international audiences. Daily Kos writer Laura Clawson joins Markos to talk about the film and the implications of the Republican Party’s fixation on mythical culture wars, which is failing them in bigger and bigger ways every day.

Does McConnell still think Trump is ‘liable for everything he did while he was in office’?

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell voted not to convict Donald Trump during his second impeachment—the one prompted by Trump endangering the lives of all members of Congress and trying to overthrow the government. Despite his “no” vote, McConnell had some pretty tough words. 

“There is no question—none—that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said. “The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things.”

He was voting against impeachment but not letting Trump off the hook, he suggested, because there were still legal remedies.

"President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen. Unless the statute of limitations is run, still liable for everything he did while he was in office. Didn’t get away with anything, yet. Yet.

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

So we should expect a statement from McConnell shortly, congratulating the Justice Department for holding Trump accountable. Right?

Sign the petition: Disqualify Trump from running for public office

Jim Jordan unable to stop Democratic lawmakers from dissecting his farce hearing

America got another chance to watch Rep. Jim Jordan’s circus act he calls a House hearing on Thursday, as he wasted the universe’s time on “weaponization” of the FBI.

To make their case, Republicans invited  three former agents and “self-described FBI whistleblowers” to testify, as well as a lawyer who worked in the Office of the Special Counsel under former president Donald Trump. The three agents have had their security clearances suspended by the FBI because of Jan. 6 conspiracy mongering, and only one of them, former agent Stephen Friend’s previous testimony was available to Democratic lawmakers.Jordan refused to allow Democratic members of the committee to see any of these tales of whistleblowing.

Ranking Democratic committee member Rep. Stacey Plaskett, along with Reps. Dan Goldman, Gerry Connolly, Linda Sanchez, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, proved that brains and not brawn can win the day, successfully exposing what all Jordan-chaired hearings are: Attacks on our democracy and attempts to justify MAGA-world’s crimes and grievances.

RELATED STORY: Tough guy Jim Jordan turns outrage on teachers, unions

The hearing began with Democratic lawmakers pointing out the rules of House committees and how Jordan has not been able to follow a one of them. Plaskett explained in her opening statement, that Democratic members only found out what “witnesses” were going to be at the hearing by way of “British tabloids.”

She very pointedly wondered aloud “Are Republicans scared of giving us the information so that we can do our own due diligence on these conspiracy theories, these ideas they want to put forward.”

Her opening statement: "My colleagues on the far right are on a mission to attack, discredit, and ultimately dismantle the FBI. This is defund the police on steroids." SO FREAKING GOOD @StaceyPlaskett

— Victor Shi (@Victorshi2020) May 18, 2023

Plaskett and Goldman pressed Jordan on whether they would have any access to the information the committee is supposedly “investigating?” Jordan’s dismissiveness came across as particularly cowardly and unreasonable—which it was.

Plaskett asks Jim Jordan why he isn't sharing transcripts of witness testimony with Democrats. Jordan says flatly "right now you're not getting the testimony."

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 18, 2023

Sanchez used her time to remind the public that,“this committee is a vehicle to legitimize the events of January 6 and the people who perpetrated it.”

"I find it incredible that evidence that one side has garnered is not going to be shared with the other side. That's not how committees work." -- Rep. Linda Sanchez

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 18, 2023

Then came Wasserman Schultz and Goldman, both hitting Jordan again for refusing to follow any committee rules and for its brazen stonewalling.

Jim Jordan is making clear that there are no rules other than his whims for this committee

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 18, 2023

Connolly, whose district staff was recently attacked by a man wielding a baseball bat, focused on Republican hypocrisy, wondering where this “concern for protecting whistleblowers was in the Ukraine episode, in that ‘perfect’ phone call Donald Trump had with President Zelenskyy—when Col. [Alexander] Vindman, was in fact subsequently punished for reporting on that phone call which led to the impeachment of the president of the United States.”

Connolly dismissed the so-called whistleblowers’ testimony as nothing more than “employee grievances.”. He concluded, “I'm not quite sure why we had this hearing.” Maybe it was because Kash Patel, the former Trump administration official and insurrection adviser, was financing two of them, as Goldman got them to admit.

Finally, Plaskett summed up exactly what we are seeing from Jordan’s circus sideshow—a misinformation campaign against the truth and, therefore, our democracy:

McConnell will do anything to win back Senate, insurrection be damned

Mitch McConnell’s cravenness knows no bounds. The Senate minority leader is proving it again, basically promising the Senate to former insurrection-loving President Donald Trump—as long as Republicans win in 2024.

When Sen. Steve Daines, the Montanan running the GOP Senate’s 2024 campaign effort, told McConnell he was considering endorsing Trump’s reelection bid, McConnell gave Daines his blessing, The New York Times reports. Because the main thing is winning, a source close to McConnell told the Times, so he is just fine with someone in his leadership team having close ties to the guy he acknowledged is the one who “provoked” the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

"The mob was fed lies," McConnell said on the Senate floor on the occasion of Trump’s second impeachment. "They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like."

McConnell voted to acquit Trump anyway, despite saying, “There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.” His condemnation of Trump was unequivocal: “Former President Trump's actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.”

“We all were here. We saw what happened. It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next. That’s what it was,” McConnell said in a news conference one year later.

When the Jan. 6 committee voted to refer criminal charges against Trump to the Justice Department at the end of last year, McConnell simply said, “The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day.”

According to Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their book about Trump and the 2020 election, titled “Peril,” Trump called McConnell to yell at him on Dec. 15, 2020, after the senator congratulated President-elect Joe Biden from the Senate floor. The Kentucky Republican reportedly said, “Mr. President, the Electoral College has spoken. That's the way we pick a president in this country.”

That was the last time the two spoke, and McConnell’s last words were: “You lost the election, the Electoral College has spoken.” McConnell told numerous people he never wanted to talk to Trump again.

With all that said (not to mention Trump’s litany of racist attacks against McConnell’s wife and former Cabinet member Elaine Chao), McConnell wants to win the Senate back so badly that he’s willing to see the man he accused of leading the attack on the Capitol back in the White House. More than that, he’s willing to help him get back in there: That’s what having a member of Republican Senate leadership on Team Trump means.

The goal is to win back the Senate, “and in service of that goal he is already making accommodations for the former president,” the Times reports. That includes reiterating that he would “absolutely” support Trump if he wins the Republican Party nomination for 2024.

“The thing about Mitch is, he wants a majority in the Senate,” one Republican senator told Politico. That’s all he wants and he will do anything to get it—even if it means putting the guy he admits attacked democracy right back in the Oval Office.

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Can we have fairer, more representative elections in the U.S.? Absolutely, says Deb Otis on this week's episode of "The Downballot." Otis, the director of research at FairVote, tells us about her organization's efforts to advocate for two major reforms—ranked-choice voting and proportional representation—and the prospects for both. RCV, which is growing in popularity, not only helps ensure candidates win with majorities but can lower the temperature by encouraging cross-endorsements. PR, meanwhile, would give voters a stronger voice, especially when they're a minority in a dark red or dark blue area.

The New York Times interviews random Republican voters for the millionth time, still learns nothing

There is some unfortunate news to report today. Sadly, I have died. My cause of death was, as I always knew it would be, The New York Times. Seldom do we talk about the ongoing dangers presented by the Times, which is the unregulated gas stove of newspapers, but anyhow I read this new Times focus group piece talking to yet another band of unrepentant Trump voters and it caused me to immediately die. It's a damn shame, but I probably had it coming.

The premise of the piece is the same premise used for each of its one hundred million previous incarnations: The Times gathered up a dozen average-Joe Republican Americans it had previously talked to and asked them yet again what they thought about seditious coup conspirator Donald Trump, about the Republican Party, and about oh right the Jan. 6 insurrection and subsequent hearings publicizing what investigators have been able to learn about the origins of the violence.

What you get, when you ask any random dozen Americans to weigh on any subject not in their personal wheelhouse, is almost certain to be a train wreck every single time it is attempted. We know this. We have always known this. The whole genre is mostly an exercise for the press to find out how badly the press has fucked up its own public responsibilities, and in specific it really can't be anything more than a parlor-game premise in which we attempt to deduce, knowing nothing at all about the handful Americans corralled for public display, which news channel their television most frequently ends up on.

Most. Americans. Do. Not. Pay. Attention. To. Politics. They know only what they have heard thirdhand. The most useable quotes almost always come from the volunteers who are the least informed but the most hardheadedly confident in themselves, a bad combination that never gets any better than absolutely awful.

This is a very useful exercise if you want to lose all hope in America. It's one of the best approaches possible if your paper is looking to collect all its readers who do pay close attention to politics for the purpose of killing them all off at once.

When it comes to actually collecting useful information about anything other than the relative reach of various television and radio programs, however, the assault-every-diner approach is useless. So it must be that the Times really did intend to kill readers. They are serial killers. Their depravity knows no bounds. The murder weapons? Quotes from Americans still willing to say they support Republicans even after the party egged an attempted coup into being, Americans who have been selected for inclusion based explicitly on their utter disinterest in any politics that cannot be sloganed onto a hat.

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) Well, I think Republicans are our only option as far as getting us out of this mess that the Democrats have started with inflation and all that. Do they have a plan at this point? Doesn’t look like it. But are they organized? Doesn’t look like it. But there is hope there.

See, I don't want to write about politics anymore. I just don't. I want to write stories about elves and dwarves and dragons, stories in which the dwarves and elves are at each others throats because elves think trees should exist and dwarves can only find joy in extraction-based industries, and both are competing for control of a fantasy legislative body but they're evenly matched and can't make progress but then a collection of mountain trolls begin to run for office as well, and the mountain trolls argue that since the main reason for electing dwarves is that dwarves really hate elves, well then mountain trolls hate both elves and dwarves so that makes them even more qualified for office.

Anyway, it would all end with the head dwarf, whose name is Kevli or whatever, bargaining for the trolls' support by allowing them to eat both of his legs, one of his arms, both ears, and five dwarven legislators to be named later. It's all a mess, and while the dwarves are all arguing over who to feed to the trolls in order to keep Kevli from looking like a complete dork here the Dark Lord Braendoen is gathering his forces to give everybody slightly cheaper insuli—I mean, potions. Slightly cheaper potions.

I don't have to write about politics. I've got a vivid imagination that could, like, totally nail a story about racist dwarves that conspire with even more racist mountain trolls to keep anyone from getting cheap insuli-I mean, health potions.

But no, here I am, a corpse, because the Times had to kill me before I even had the chance to switch careers in self-defense.

Q: Is there a particular idea or value that you’d like [Republicans] to stand up for?

(Judi, 73, white, Okla., retired) Honesty.

See, I'm dead now. Everything you're hearing from me after this point is just gas escaping.

(Andrea, 49, white, N.J., executive assistant) Just start putting things back on the right track. It makes me scratch my head that the country never did better than when Trump was president — never. You know what I mean? The gas prices were low. The border was under control. Everything was just great. And he got run out of town just because he sends mean tweets and has a big mouth. They’d rather elect a nice guy and have the country in the toilet.

Andrea, a MILLION PEOPLE DIED and you're fucking on about cheap gas prices? THERE WAS A COUP, ANDREA. How the hell did The New York Times ever even find you, how is it that you even became aware that something called The New York Times even existed and wasn't just a phishing effort aimed at getting hold of your Social Security number?

(Alissa, 29, Latina, Fla., procurement) Just thinking back to how well we were doing as a country when [Trump] was running it, I would love to see that again. I think he’s strong. I thought he was a great president. If DeSantis decides to run, I might turn a little bit. It depends.

What Donald Trump brought to America was hats. That's it. There's not a damn thing he actually did except the hat thing. And public belligerence. And being a rapist who bought an entire beauty pageant brand so that he could see teen girls change in the dressing rooms. Oh, and the international extortion bits. And the complete upending of American standing overseas, selling out allies while prodding enemies to open up new beach resorts. And using the presidency of the United States as a reason to mark up cocktail prices in his Washington hotel.

It's the hat thing, isn't it. The exchange Donald Trump made with America is that he gets to ignore laws and be roundly incompetent and kill off so many people that we’re stuffing bodies in refrigerated trucks for lack of other places to put them, but in exchange the shittiest people you know all get the opportunity to buy Chinese hats with a meaningless slogan on them. I mean, who wouldn't go for that deal.

Q: Is there anything about [Trump] that’s turned you off over the last year or that you sort of lost steam on?

(Judi, 73, white, Okla., retired) Well, when Covid started, I think he was swayed into the vaccine thing. He listened to the wrong people. I’ll leave it at that.

Yeah, that's when I died the second time, becoming double-dead. So far I cannot report any meaningful differences from just being the usual kind of dead. This must be what it's like to be a cat.

(Lorna, 60, white, Mo., customer service representative) I think it’s ridiculous people want to put him in prison. For what? And look at Biden and his son.

Again, there is only one reason why any journalistic outlet should ever do any of these diner-inspired stories about The Common American. It is a window into which news outlets they consume and nothing else. There is not one glitteringly enfuckened thing Lorna, 60, of Missouri could tell us about the relative legal jeopardy of Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Beefystevo Biden that would be the slightest bit informative or useful.

And I do mean that: You could concoct an entirely fictional Biden son named "Beefystevo," ask 12 Republican voters about Beefystevo's crimes, and at least eight of them would insist that Beefystevo has done many, many crimes, all very bad, some of them in Ukraine and some of them in Narnia, and they will tell you that The New York Times is crookedly covering up the very existence of Beefystevo Biden in coordination with Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and a giraffe in Texas that looks kind of similar to Bill Gates.

I dare you to ask your focus groups about Beefystevo and his crimes. I dare you, New York Times. You know what will happen, and I know what will happen. Do it, you diner-hounding cowards.

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) I want DeSantis to run. He’s just like Trump. He’s just as cantankerous, but I think he’s a little bit more refined. For example, you have Jack Daniels, or you have Gentleman Jack. Gentleman Jack is a lot smoother, but it’s still whiskey.

Thank God we finally have someone willing to be honest about Republican politics. That's the word that comes to mind when you think about Florida's Ron DeSantis: Refined. The man is refined, in that you can either suck on what he's selling or what Trump's selling and both will get you nice and politically shitfaced but the DeSantis version goes down smooooother. It's probably because Ron DeSantis doesn't have as much golf-course bunker sand in his shoes. It might be because the DeSantis bottle is spiked with 20% hydroxychloroquine siphoned from an early-pandemic Florida stockpile DeSantis is still trying to get rid of.

Hey, so do any of our fine Normal Republican Americans want to revise or extend their past remarks about the 2020 presidential election being stolen just because a traitorous crapsack and his eight syphillitic reindeer shouted about it way back when? Anyone want to walk that back, or not walk that back?

Was Trump, glorious figurehead who raised American life into the highest tier of awesomeness that has ever been, "cheated" out of winning his pandemic economic-crisis post-(first)-impeachment election?

(Andrea, 49, white, N.J., executive assistant) Cheated as in ballots — truckloads of ballots showing up in the middle of the night. There’s videos of it. There is proof. [...]

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) I know the videos that Andrea is talking about. It’s well documented, but the media doesn’t want to cover that type of stuff.

(Judi, 73, white, Okla., retired) No, I still think [Trump] won the election and that he should still be our president. He should be our president right now.

Truckloads! Truckloads of secret vaccines! I mean, ballots! It's all on video! It's streaming in 5G from every maple tree, but the government doesn't want you to know! It is very important that we, the readers of The New York Times, are exposed to the free and unfettered opinions of our nation's most thickheaded and source-agnostic of opinion havers, because reasons! How would America know that one specific retired Oklahoma vaccine skeptic believes Joe Biden is not the legitimate president if The New York Times did not create an entire "interactive" web feature highlighting this important fucking information? How could the readership survive if we did not contact these people not once, but a second time so that they could rub their curlicue opinions in our eyeballs twice instead of once?

What about the whole coup thing? You know, the attempted coup, the one in which Trump advertised for a rally coinciding with the certification of the United States presidential election, got angry when his security forces tried to deprive the mob of their weapons, and told them all to march to the Capitol during a joint session of Congress as means of threatening Congress if they did not overturn the election's results? That whole thing? The thing that should have made any decent person look for an exit sign, rather than being thought a supporter of a genuine bona-fide traitor to the nation?

(Andrea, 34, biracial, N.H., I.T. support) The internet was just ablaze. I made a post in support of it, and a lot of people came to attack me in the comment section. That day was really crazy. [...]

When I saw videos of everything that happened, I was pretty embarrassed. I was like, “Oh, no. We’re going to hear about this forever.” It did look very chaotic and violent. I knew it was going to come down to blaming Trump somehow, saying that he was a ringleader and he’s responsible, he riled everybody up.

Ah, the very American view of "you make comments supporting one violent riot and everybody gets on your case about it" followed by "oh jeez, this turned out very fucky, now we're all going to be stuck hearing about it." Can't kill me any more than twice, New York Times. Not in a single day, anyway.

What about all those congressional hearings detailing what investigators found out about the coup's organizers, allies, and origins? Any minds changed over here in the Republicans Who Don't Pay Attention To Politics ballpit?

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) If anything, I think my views have become more solidified. If you look, they made a big thing out of it in the media. They didn’t cover Black Lives Matter, antifa. I mean, you talk about Jan. 6 being planned. Antifa, throughout the whole summer of 2020, I mean, those things were planned, organized. The media didn’t cover it.

I cannot emphasize how enraging it was that the media kept covering things that did happen while ignoring things that did not happen. You know who else planned, well, not the violent overthrow of our nation's government but, like, other stuff? Antifa, probably! But no, instead everybody made a Big Damn Deal out of a Republican-led attempt to erase a constitutional United States election. Gawd.

Please tell me any of these Informed Public Voices at least watched the hearings they're now being asked to opine on?

(Barney, 72, white, Del., retired) I didn’t see anything live. It was a waste of $3 million.

I cannot emphasize this enough, but I mean this in kindness: There is no amount of government money that could be spent that would not be a waste of money, when it comes to convincing Barney of Delaware, retired, to have an opinion other than the one he wants to have. This is indeed a terrible waste of government resources.

But the crowd Donald Trump gathered to march on the Capitol was a pretty violent bunch, at least we can all agree on—

(Alissa, 29, Latina, Fla., procurement) No, I don’t think it was. I’ve personally been to Trump rallies. They’re very peaceful. So I don’t think what happened that day had anything to do with Trump. I think it was planned.


Surely the news of an attempt to violently overturn the results of a U.S. election have left at least some small impression on Republican Jus' Folks.

(Lorna, 60, white, Mo., customer service representative) Well, a couple of people locally here were arrested. So of course, they’d show them every news clip, on every channel. It just got old. It was just a waste of taxpayers’ money, in my opinion.

I mean, that's the thing about failed violent coups, they're just so boooooring and everybody keeps going on about them all the time and it makes channel surfing sooooo tedious. Thank you again, New York Times, for exposing us to the very important views of that class of Americans that tries very hard to know nothing about politics and gets bitter and resentful when you shove it onto their television channels anyway.

Because, you know, the Jan. 6 hearings were a farce to begin with. How the hell would the United States Congress know more things than Andrea of New Jersey does? How would anyone in the White House know more about Trump’s actions than Andrea does, or Barney does? They wouldn't, so that means this was all a set up.

(Andrea, 49, white, N.J., executive assistant) I 100 percent agree with what Barney said. I think they testified because they weren’t part of the cool kids anymore or bribes. I’m not really sure what it is, but to make up blatant stories like that, there’s got to be some kind of underlying “What’s in it for me?” kind of thing, I think.

Well, we've rediscovered a core Republican voter tenet so we can't say this was a total waste of time. Ask pretty much anyone in the Republican Party, from the common voter to your average sex-crime-covering-up Republican lawmaker, and they'll tell you that there's no possible reason anyone would want to offer evidence about a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol unless there was something in it for them. The idea that anyone would be sincerely shaken by, say, a mob of pole-wielding cop-beating weirdlings hunting down Trump's political enemies in the halls of the Capitol is utterly foreign to Every Single Republican. The notion eludes them. It is not a concept that can wiggle into their smooth and proud brains.

If people are going to jump in to "testify" every single time an armed mob beats police officers inside the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to hunt down the vice president then where will it end? It's all very suspicious. They probably just want to make the coup guy look bad.

I really wish I hadn't died. Well, I suppose it's more accurate to say I really wish The New York Times hadn't gone out of its way to write an interactive fancy-pants feature specifically intended to kill me, because it seems like a jerk move every time they've tried it and yet they just keep pushing.

Bring us home, Timesy. Show us that any of these people have opinions even an onion-skin thickness above the buzzword generic. Show us that you have gathered up a small crowd who, while admirably anonymous and no doubt chosen according to best dice-throwing the editorial staff of the Times can provide, is worthy of national attention because these dozen people have at least thought about any of this stuff long enough to have any opinion that could not be more efficiently produced by an artificial intelligence exposed only to the opening monologues of weekday Fox News opinion hosts.

Show us, please show us, that you have not just gathered a collection of cranks who are angry that government keeps feeding children and trying to prevent polio and keeps blocking very profitable companies from pumping skin-dissolving toxic soup directly into your home's plumbing. That these are people who have put thought into this, and are not simply reactionary faux-libertarian crackpots spooning the wisdom of gum wrappers and fortune cookies into everyone else's tired, tired brains.

Q: Sandy, what would be a sign that our democracy is healthy?

(Sandy, 48, white, Calif., property manager) I would say getting back to the basics, sticking with the Constitution. There’s just too much government interference in everything. We’ve got so many regulations, taxes and controls and spending and everything. Get back to the fundamentals. Less government involvement. We should have an army, a military. That’s about it. Otherwise, just stay out of the way.

(Michael, 65, white, Utah, retired) I tend to agree with Sandy, just hoping that we could start letting the Constitution be the Constitution and let us have our rights with freedom of speech and just start living the way that they did hundreds of years ago, when they believed in our country.

There you go. How wonderful. I am so, so glad I didn't live to see that.

Happy New Year! Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter is on the show today to talk about the wild garbage fire that was the Republican speaker of the House vote. Kerry and Markos also break down what this onionskin-thin conservative majority can and cannot do in the coming year, as well as what the Democratic representatives can do to make Kevin McCarthy’s life just that much tougher.