Senate Judiciary panel advances Supreme Court ethics reform bill  

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines after a more-than-three-hour markup Thursday to advance a Supreme Court ethics reform bill in the wake of media reports that conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito accepted tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts and perks from wealthy Republican donors.  

The committee voted 11 to 10 to approve the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act, which would require justices to adopt a code of conduct and create a transparent process for members of the public to submit ethics complaints against members of the court.  

Every Democratic member of the committee voted for the reforms while every Republican voted no. 

The bill would also require the Supreme Court to adopt disclosure rules for gifts, travel and income received by justices and law clerks that are as rigorous as Senate and House disclosure rules. 

It would establish a panel of chief judges from the lower courts to investigate and make recommendations in response to complaints and require greater disclosure of funding behind amicus curiae briefs to the court.  

Senate Republicans filed 61 amendments to the legislation to drag out the Judiciary Committee’s markup for several hours. The panel ended up voting on fewer than a dozen of them. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the ranking member of the panel, accused Democrats of trying to “destroy” the court in retaliation for recent landmark decisions by the court’s conservative majority to overturn the constitutional right to abortion, to reject the affirmative action policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina and invalidate President Biden’s student loan relief program.  

“What you’re trying to do is not improve the court, you’re trying to destroy it as it exists,” he told his Democratic colleagues on the panel.  

“You have to look at this in terms of what’s been going on for a couple years,” he said, pointing to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) warning to conservative Supreme Court justices in a rally held outside the court in March of 2020 that they would “pay the price” for ruling in favor of abortion restrictions. 

Schumer later clarified that he never intended to suggest anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court if it restricted abortion rights. 

Graham also accused Democrats of wanting to expand the Supreme Court to dilute the influence of conservative justices.  

“You have done just about everything there is to do to delegitimize this court,” he said. “Members of the Democratic leadership went to the steps of the Supreme Court and literally threatened people.” 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) rejected that accusation.  

“Some have suggested that Democrats are pursuing Supreme Court ethics reform to target the court’s current right-wing majority. Far from it. The reforms we are proposing would apply in equal force to all justices,” he said.  

Durbin noted that he first urged Chief Justice John Roberts 11 years ago, when the composition of the court was much different, to adopt a binding code of conduct. 

“Unfortunately, he did not accept my suggestion. Since then as more and more stories have emerged of justices’ ethical lapses, the American people’s confidence in the Supreme Court has dropped to an all-time low,” Durbin said.  

ProPublica reported in April that Thomas accepted gifts of private plane travel and luxury vacations from Republican megadonor Harlan Crow over two decades without disclosing them publicly.  

More from The Hill

The outlet also reported that Thomas didn’t disclose that one of Crow’s companies bought a property in Savannah, Ga., where Thomas’s mother lives and in which the justice owned a third interest. 

Another ProPublica report revealed that Crow paid for the private school tuition for Thomas’s teenage grandnephew, whom Thomas said he was raising “as a son.”  

ProPublica reported last month that Alito accepted a vacation at a luxury fishing lodge in Alaska in 2008 paid for by conservative donors and didn’t disclose it publicly.  

Alito traveled to the lodge aboard a private jet owned by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer and six years later ruled in a case, Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital, that resulted in Singer’s hedge fund recouping a $2.4 billion payout. 

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), a member of the panel, argued Thursday that Thomas’s wife, Ginni, a conservative activist, accepted payments from groups with business before the court that were not properly disclosed. 

“How is it that you can have a Supreme Court justice who does not recuse himself when his wife is involved in the very issue that is before him?” she said. “Those kinds of examples really raise the question of why the Supreme Court shouldn’t have a code of ethics.” 

More recently, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor came under criticism after The Associated Press reported that the her staff pushed colleges and a library to purchase copies of her book when she was scheduled to speak at their sponsored events. 

Democrats voted along party lines to defeat Republican amendments to the bill, including one sponsored by Graham to empower the Supreme Court’s police force to investigate threats to justices and another by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to allow judges to carry guns for self-protection without restriction by state and local laws.  

Durbin argued that the Department of Justice and FBI already has the job of investigating threats against justices and voiced concerns that expanding the mission of the Supreme Court’s relatively small police force would overtax it and require additional resources.  

Durbin and other Democrats argued that Cornyn’s gun proposal wasn’t relevant to Supreme Court ethics reform. Cornyn argued that arming justices would protect them from potential attackers motivated by criticism of their decisions and ideology.  

Democrats also defeated an amendment sponsored by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to delay the implementation of the Supreme Court ethics reform bill until Congress learns who leaked a draft of the court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the constitutional right to an abortion.  

Durbin said Blackburn’s proposal wouldn’t do anything to address the “crisis of confidence” in the court. 

The committee adopted an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) to condemn denigrating rhetoric used against Thomas or any justice. Republicans who supported the amendment cited several examples of Democratic officials using such rhetoric to criticize Thomas.  

—Updated at 4:50 p.m.

GOP senators want Roberts to take action on Supreme Court

Republican senators are leaning on Chief Justice John Roberts to do something about the Supreme Court's appearance problem in the wake of reports that conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito accepted luxury vacations from conservative donors.  

While Republicans don’t support Supreme Court ethics reform legislation sponsored by Democrats, they think the reports that Thomas and Alito accepted expensive vacations funded by wealthy donors has created a real public relations problem for the court. 

These lawmakers want Roberts to take the issue of legislation out of Congress’s hands by issuing a judicial code of ethics or some other updated statement of principles for he and his fellow justices.  

“I think it would be helpful for the court to up its game. I don’t want Congress to start micromanaging the court but I think confidence-building would be had if they were more clear on some of this stuff,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

ProPublica this week reported that Alito flew on a private plane owned by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer to a luxury fishing lodge in Alaska in 2008.  

Alito later decided not to recuse himself from a 2014 case that pitted the Republic of Argentina against American creditors, including Singer. Singer’s hedge fund ultimately gained a $2.4 billion payout after the Supreme Court ruled 7-1 in its favor. 

Alito explained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he did not include the private flight to the King Salmon fishing lodge on his financial disclosure reports because he viewed it as personal hospitality exempt from disclosure requirements. 

Graham had previously called on Roberts to address criticism of the Supreme Court’s ethics policies after ProPublica reported earlier this year that Thomas had accepted luxury trips and other perks from Republican megadonor Harlan Crow over the course of two decades — none of which Thomas had included in financial disclosures.

ProPublica reported that Crow paid the tuition for Thomas’s grand-nephew at a private boarding school and that one of Crow’s companies bought a house in which Thomas had a one-third financial interest.  

Graham told The Hill in April that the court should adopt new ethical guidelines.

“A lot of us are really leery of micromanaging the other branch, but I think that’s where the court is headed. At least that’s where I hope they are,” he said at the time. 

“The reason we have these [ethics] rules on our side [of government] is to make sure people feel confident, and I think that’s where the court is headed.”   

It’s unclear if Roberts could get his fellow justices to agree on any new course of action. But it’s clearly becoming a growing concern for some Republicans.

“I think that the nine justices need to get on the same page,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a member of the Judiciary Committee. “I believe the Article III branch should address concerns amongst themselves without congressional intervention. 

“I think it’s a process that the justices should go through and get consensus,” he added. “The chief justice can’t do it on his own.”  

Asked if he thinks the Supreme Court has a public perception problem, Tillis said, “I do.” 

“I think it’s time to show progress,” he said.  

Roberts told an audience at the American Law Institute on May 23 that he and his fellow justices are working to reassure the public that it adheres to “the highest standards of conduct.”  

“We are continuing to look at things we can do to give practical effect to that commitment. And I am confident that there are ways to do that consistent with our status as an independent branch of government and the Constitution’s separations of powers,” he said. 

Yet a month later, the court hasn’t made any new announcement about its ethical rules or procedures.  

Tillis thinks Roberts is having trouble getting all nine members of the high court to agree on how to address concerns about its conduct and adherence to ethical guidelines.

“If you had nine justices saying, 'We need to address this,' then they would be doing something. So logic tells me maybe there’s not consensus,” he said. “They need to sort it out. It’s their institution; they should preserve the integrity.”

Asked about Alito’s fishing trip, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), another Judiciary Committee member, said, "All of us need to be concerned about the public confidence in the courts, but this is not something that Congress has the authority over.” 

“This is something that the court itself needs to come to grips with. I hope that John Roberts will do that,” he said. “I understand they’re still working on a review of their ethics policy.” 

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), a key subcommittee chairman, announced Wednesday that they will mark up Supreme Court ethics legislation after the July 4 recess, but so far only one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), has sponsored a Supreme Court ethics reform bill.  

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) told reporters Wednesday that Congress needs to “stay out” of the court’s business.  

Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, a progressive advocacy group that favors Supreme Court reform, said the reports of Alito and Thomas accepting lavish gifts from wealthy donors has put GOP senators in a tough spot.  

“These Republicans are caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they don’t want to have to cooperate with Democrats on ethics legislation, because it sort of accepts the premise that the Republican justices are behaving corruptly and there’s a need to rein them in,” he said.  

“The second thing is this constant drip, drip, drip of scandals emanating out of the court that is causing the courts to be highly salient politically with the public is making the Republicans’ resistance to ethics legislation look even worse,” Fallon added.  

“The Republican lawmakers are sort of being dragged down with the court, because by running interference for the court on any of these ethics bills, they are attaching themselves to them and they are putting themselves in the position of having to defend every new scandal that comes out about trips that were taken by Clarence Thomas or Sam Alito,” he added. “The obvious solution in their minds is: ‘Roberts, this hot potato belongs in your lap, if you would just self-administer some improved ethics guidelines, then it would take some of the oomph out of these stories.’" 

Carrie Campbell Severino, the president of JCN, a conservative advocacy group that favors “the Founders’ vision of a nation of limited government,” disputed the view that the Supreme Court has an image problem.  

“The only image problem after ProPublica’s recent reporting is ProPublica’s own image attempting to cast completely legal and ethical behavior as somehow wrong,” she said. “Their reporting was absolutely shoddy.”  

Severino said the notion that “Justice Alito’s fishing trip … would have triggered recusal obligations is absurd.”  

“It’s even more absurd that the cases they’re talking about were decided by overwhelming majorities,” she said. “The Argentina case was not even close.” 

ProPublica reported that Severino and JCN filed an amicus brief supporting Singer’s interest in the case, Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital. 

Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) said she agrees with GOP colleagues who want the court to address the growing criticism of its ethical standards.  

“I certainly believe it’s in the Supreme Court’s and John Roberts’s not only perusal but best interests to address this issue to the satisfaction of the public and use the standards that should apply to anyone in the executive or legislative branch with regard to ethics,” she said. 

While Supreme Court justices are subject to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which requires justices to file annual financial disclosure reports, they are not covered by the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which covers all federal district and appellate courts. 

Roberts included a statement of principles in an April 25 letter to Durbin, noting that Supreme Court justices agreed in 1991 to “follow the substance” of the Judicial Conference Regulations but cautioned they “are broadly worded principles” and “not themselves rules.”  

The Judicial Conference revised its financial disclosure rules in March to specify that judges must disclose nonbusiness stays at resorts, the use of private jets and when gifts of hospitality are reimbursed by a third party.  

Murkowski has co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) that would require the Supreme Court to establish its own ethics code and appoint an official to review potential conflicts and public complaints.  

But so far, King, the lead sponsor, hasn’t found any other Republicans to sign on to the legislation. 

King told The Hill that he was somewhat surprised that the proposal didn’t muster more bipartisan support since it didn’t prescribe any specific ethical rules for the court. 

Senate, House Republicans on collision course over defense spending 

Senate Republicans are looking for a way to get around the caps on defense spending set by the debt limit deal that President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) negotiated last month, putting them on a collision course with House Republicans.

Republican defense hawks on the Senate Appropriations Committee vented their frustration with the allocations for the Defense Department set by Senate Democrats and House Republicans, which represents an increase of more than 3 percent over current spending levels. 

“If you’re looking at China’s navy and you think now’s the time to shrink our Navy, you sure as hell shouldn’t be in the Navy. We go from 298 ships under this budget deal to eventually 291. ... You sunk the Navy. The Congress has sunk eight ships. How many fighter squadrons have we parked because of this deal?” fumed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at a committee hearing Thursday morning. 

“GDP to defense spending is going to be at a historic low under this deal,” he said, arguing that the defense spending cap will also hurt Ukraine in its war against Russia. “There’s not a penny in this deal to help them keep fighting. Do you really want to be judged in history as having, at a moment of consequence to defeat Putin, to pull all the money for Ukraine?” 

Graham suggested Thursday afternoon that Senate Republicans may attempt to renegotiate the defense spending cap set by the debt limit law later this year. 

“There will be conversation among senators and hopefully the House to increase our spending to deter China. Reducing the size of the U.S. Navy doesn’t deter China,” he said. 

Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), the top-ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said she was concerned that "the new debt limit law caps regular defense funding in fiscal year 2024 at the inadequate level requested by the president" and that it "fails to meet the security challenges facing our nation.”

House Republicans have proposed $826 billion for the annual defense appropriations bill, while Senate Democrats have proposed $823 billion for the defense spending bill, keeping in line with the spending caps McCarthy negotiated with Biden.  

Those numbers don’t include defense spending spread across other departments, including the Department of Energy, which oversees the nation’s nuclear arsenal; the Department of Homeland Security; and money allocated for military construction and veterans affairs. 

Graham and Collins are hoping to increase defense spending levels later in the year — possibly by passing a supplemental defense spending bill that includes money for Ukraine — but McCarthy has already poured cold water on the deal.  

“I’m not going to prejudge what some of them [in the Senate] do, but if they think they’re writing a supplemental because they want to go around an agreement we just made, it’s not going anywhere,” he told Punchbowl News earlier this month. 

Adding fuel to the fire, House Republicans have proposed cutting an additional $119 billion from discretionary spending by setting spending targets for the annual spending bills that cumulatively fall well below the caps that Biden and McCarthy agreed to for those programs — $886 billion for defense and $703.7 for nondefense programs.  

House Republicans are proposing finding those additional savings by cutting from nondefense discretionary spending programs, which will likely put pressure on the Department of Homeland Security. 

Meeting the House Republican targets for nondefense programs could entail spending cuts ranging between 15 percent to 30 percent for the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Interior, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.  

Such a showdown over spending levels heightens the chances of Senate Democrats and House Republicans failing to agree, and then not passing the regular spending bills, which means they would have to resort to a stopgap spending measure. If they fail to pass all 12 appropriations bills by Dec. 31, that would trigger an across-the-board, 1-percent rescission for all defense and nondefense discretionary spending.  

Senate Republicans warn the 1-percent spending sequester would hit defense programs harder than nondefense programs. 

Graham and Collins also spoke out Thursday against the spending allocations Senate Democrats set for homeland security. 

Homeland Security Department funding is under pressure because of the spending cap Biden and McCarthy agreed to as part of the debt limit deal.  

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said the debt limit deal squeezed federal funding priorities across the board.  

“We were given a top-line [spending number] that was extremely challenging and difficult,” she said. “I would dare say no one on this committee, certainly Sen. Collins or I, would have negotiated that agreement. We were not in the room but we have been given that order.” 

Graham said that under the spending caps agreed to last month, the Homeland Security Department would not have enough money to stem the flow of fentanyl and other drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border. 

“If you’ve looked at the border and you feel like we can spend less on homeland security, you shouldn’t be allowed to drive. This place is falling apart. and fentanyl is killing Americans. We need more, not less, to address that,” he said.  

Graham suggested that the consequences of the spending caps would be severe if kept in place over the long-term. 

“We’re in a tough spot. I like the idea we’re not going to be perpetually bound by this,” he said. 

Collins raised similar concerns.  

“Due to the inadequacy of funding for Homeland Security and the need for additional defense funding, unfortunately I cannot support the 302(b) allocations,” Collins said of the money proposed for the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon. 

“Our crisis at the southern border continues. We are on pace for another 2.2 million encounters with migrants this fiscal year,” she added. “Despite this ongoing calamity, the proposed 302(b) allocation would actually reduce funding for the Department of Homeland Security, limiting our ability to have sufficient personnel and technology at the southern border.” 

Graham and Collins made their comments in reaction to the $56.9 billion in budget authority that Senate Democrats proposed for the annual Homeland Security appropriations bill.  

The Republican-controlled House Appropriations panel has approved $63.9 billion in budget authority for homeland security appropriations. 

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, told colleagues at the hearing Thursday morning that he agrees with Graham and Collins that the defense funding levels set forth by the Senate and House are “inadequate.”  

“Am I happy with the defense number? No. I think it’s inadequate, quite frankly,” he said. 

He later told The Hill that he found it ironic that Republicans, who usually like to bill themselves as fiscal hawks, are the ones now looking to get around the spending caps. 

“I just felt like we had flipped positions today. Democrats were able to take the conservative [debt limit] number, and Republicans wanted the more liberal number,” he said.  

Republicans knock Biden for not freeing Whelan in prisoner swap

A growing number of Republican lawmakers are criticizing President Biden for freeing a Russian arms dealer to secure WNBA star Brittney Griner’s release, and for failing to free former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan in the deal.

Biden on Thursday morning announced Griner was returning to the U.S. after she spent nearly 10 months in Russian custody, in exchange for the U.S. releasing infamous arms dealer Viktor Bout.

The administration had also sought the release of Whelan, who was arrested in Russia in 2018 on spying charges that he vehemently denies, but Biden on Thursday said Moscow is “treating Paul’s case different than Brittney’s.”

Republicans quickly issued statements expressing relief at Griner's release while condemning the president for snubbing Whelan. Many of the GOP lawmakers also expressed worry the deal would incentivize Moscow to imprison Americans in the future for leverage.

"The Biden administration has allowed Viktor Bout, a dangerous arms dealer who was convicted of conspiring to kill American law enforcement, to walk free,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the House Armed Services Committee ranking member, said in a statement.

“This move to appease Vladimir Putin will only encourage further hostage taking by Russian security forces. While I welcome the release of Brittney Griner, I cannot help but think about Paul Whelan — as he has apparently been abandoned by the Biden administration,” Rogers added.

Biden said on Thursday his administration will "never give up” on securing Whelan's release.

Bout was serving a 25-year prison sentence on charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, kill U.S. employees, transfer and use of anti-aircraft missiles and support of a designated terrorist organization.

He has been accused of running massive arms shipments to sanctioned regimes in African and Middle Eastern countries, earning him the nicknames “Merchant of Death” and “Sanctions Buster.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who introduced impeachment articles against Biden last year, said the swap marks another reason to push for his removal from office.

“Biden just returned the ‘Merchant of Death,’ an international arms dealer convicted of conspiring to kill Americans, to Putin and left former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained for over four years, to rot in a Russian prison,” wrote Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in the House.

“Biden's now aiding both sides of the war,” Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), who will succeed Banks in the role, wrote in a retweet of Banks’s post.

Whelan himself spoke with CNN on Thursday from Russia, saying he was happy that Griner was released but adding he felt "greatly disappointed" that more had not been done to secure his freedom.

“My prayers are with Brittney Griner and her family as they heal from this,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) wrote on Twitter. "I hope Brittney continues to use her platform to keep the pressure to bring former Marine Paul Whelan home. Leaving Paul in Russia to Putin's whim would be a disgraceful abdication of Biden's leadership.”

Scott's home-state colleague, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), tweeted, “It is a bitter pill to swallow that Mr. Whelan remains in custody while we release the ‘Merchant of Death’ Viktor Bout back to Russia.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed relief at Griner’s release while criticizing the continued detainment of Whelan and Marc Fogel, an American teacher detained in Russia for allegedly possessing 17 grams of medical marijuana in violation of Russian law.

“Unfortunately, the Biden Administration’s handling of this situation leaves behind other Americans, like veteran Marine Paul Whalen and teacher Marc Fogel,” Rubio wrote.

“What’s more, Putin and others have seen how detaining high-profile Americans on relatively minor charges can both distract American officials and cause them to release truly bad individuals who belong behind bars.” 

Lindsey Graham Cuts Deal With Bernie Sanders To Oppose ‘Election Deniers’ And ‘Defund The Police’ Candidates

Lindsey Graham offered to rein in pro-Trump Republican candidates who question the integrity of the 2020 election if Bernie Sanders would do the same regarding anti-police Democrats going forward.

The proposed compromise came about as the two Senators engaged in a debate as part of The Senate Project on Fox Nation.

Socialist Sanders (I-VT), during one exchange, started hammering Graham for his association with and promotion of Republicans who side with former President Donald Trump in questioning the legitimacy of the last presidential election.

“We have a former President whose name is Donald Trump. Goes around the country telling people, ‘Hey, I won the election. In fact, I probably won it by a landslide but they – they stole it. They took it away from me,’” Sanders argued.

“Now, that happens to be what we call a big lie,” added the socialist curmudgeon. He later lamented that the so-called ‘big lie’ casts doubt on the “entire system” and suggested it represents a slide to “authoritarianism.”

RELATED: New White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Claimed the 2016 and 2018 Elections Were ‘Stolen’

Lindsey Graham Compromises With Bernie Sanders

Lindsey Graham took the bait from Bernie Sanders and offered to rein in pro-Trump Republicans who cast doubt on the 2020 election.

Graham (R-SC) insisted he “voted to certify the election” and, despite there being “some mail balloting chicanery” declared that Biden won the election.

“But what about all of the candidates out there who are trying to say that he didn’t?” Sanders chimed in. “Your Republican candidates you want people to vote for?”

“Well, I, you know … what about the people saying defund the police? You talk to them, I talk to that crowd,” Graham replied.

RELATED: Marjorie Taylor Greene Demolishes Lindsey Graham For Helping Democrats On Gun Control

Bernie’s Own Big Lie

Bernie Sanders responded to Lindsey Graham by saying, “But your crowd is a lot larger than my crowd.”

This is a statement that underscores Graham’s fumble in going the false equivalency route. He didn’t have to compare ‘defund the police’ Democrats to Republicans who call into question election results. No, that’s a whole different segment of extremists on the left.

Graham simply had to challenge Sanders to denounce Democrats who … have questioned election results.

Like White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre who said the 2016 presidential election was “stolen.”

Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, spent years claiming the election was stolen from her by the Russians and anybody else she could point a finger at.

“I was the candidate that they basically stole an election from,” she said.

Jean-Pierre’s boss, President Biden, cast his own doubts, agreeing with a woman at a campaign rally who said Trump was an “illegitimate president in my mind.”

“I absolutely agree,” Biden replied.

Former President Jimmy Carter believed Trump lost saying, “I think a full investigation would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016.”

Democrats, in fact, objected to the election results in 2016 officially and during the proceedings certifying electoral votes 11 separate times.

So many ‘big lies’ right there.

And Lindsey Graham didn’t even need to bring up all those Democrat election deniers. He could have just challenged Bernie Sanders himself in the debate.

Sanders, you see, claimed the 2016 nomination was stolen from him by a system “rigged” to favor Clinton. Well, he used the ‘some people are saying’ play.

When asked if he would commit to supporting Hillary in 2016, Sanders replied: “Some people say that maybe if the system was not rigged against me, I would have won the nomination.”

Democrats, dating back to Al Gore’s refusal to accept defeat in 2000, have been the party of election skepticism. They haven’t suddenly turned a corner.

And they don’t get to play the ‘big lie’ card just because they think voters are too stupid to remember what they have done over the years.

Republicans like Graham need to stop playing defense on this and point to how Democrats were discrediting elections long before Donald Trump ever did.

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Ted Cruz: Biden Impeachment Likely If Republicans Win Back The House

Senator Ted Cruz is optimistic about a Republican takeover of the House in 2022, something he believes will lead to the impeachment of President Biden.

The Texas Republican made the comments in the latest episode of his podcast, Verdict with Ted Cruz.

The first step in the possible impeachment of the President requires the House falling back under Republican control after the midterms, something Cruz describes as a nearly 100 percent likelihood.

“I’m very optimistic about 2022,” he said. “I put the odds of the Republicans winning the house at 90/10 and it may even be higher than that.”

It is an assessment with which oddsmakers tend to agree.

RELATED: Marjorie Taylor Greene And Lindsey Graham Call For Biden To Be Impeached Over Afghanistan

Biden Impeachment on the Table

Senator Cruz went on to suggest once the House is in Republican hands several investigations would be opened into the Biden administration.

“If we take the House, which I said is overwhelmingly likely, then I think we will see serious investigations of the Biden administration,” Cruz said.

The Political Insider reported last month that the GOP is planning investigations on seven fronts should they prevail in the midterms: The IRS, the National Security Agency, parents of school children, the border crisis, COVID response, Afghanistan and JEDI.

That report has more detailed explanations of the investigations that will, according to Republicans, begin on Day 1.

On whether or not Republicans would turn investigations into impeachment action against President Biden, Cruz could envision such a scenario and reminded Democrats that they set the precedent.

“I do think there’s a chance of that,” Cruz said. “Whether it’s justified or not, the Democrats weaponized impeachment. They used it for partisan purposes to go after Trump because they disagreed with him.”

“One of the real disadvantages of doing that is the more you weaponize it and turn it into a partisan cudgel, you know what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” he continued.

RELATED: MAGA Rep. Boebert Calls For Biden And Harris Impeachment, Pelosi To Be Removed Over Afghanistan Withdrawal

Will They Win the Senate?

Ted Cruz stated that the odds of Republicans winning the Senate, the chamber required for conviction after the House votes to impeach, isn’t quite as high.

“I put our odds at 50/50,” he said of potential GOP control of the Senate. “I think it’s going to be a really good year but it’s a bad map.”

Cruz went on to explain that the border crisis and Biden’s “decision to just defy immigration laws” are the most likely grounds for impeachment.

The crisis at the southern border continues to worsen with more than 173,000 illegal immigrants apprehended in November according to preliminary reporting.

That marks the highest total for November in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) history.

Cruz’s colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), believes the botched Afghanistan withdrawal is the most pressing need when discussing impeachment.

“I think Joe Biden deserves to be impeached because he’s abandoned thousands of Afghans who fought with us and he’s going to abandon some American citizens because he capitulated to the Taliban to a 31 August deadline,” Graham said as the withdrawal was taking place.

The evacuation and ceding control to the Taliban led to a suicide bombing killing 13 service members, a retaliatory drone strike by the United States that killed 10 civilians – including an aid worker and 7 children – and hundreds of Americans being left behind in the hostile country even to this day.

Cruz said no matter the focus, “there will be enormous pressure on a Republican House to begin impeachment proceedings.”

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Lindsey Graham Warns Anti-Trump Republicans They’re Going To Wind Up ‘Getting Erased’

Senator Lindsey Graham said it’s impossible for the GOP to move forward without Donald Trump as its leader, warning that those trying to “erase” the party of the former President might themselves be “getting erased.”

Graham’s comments came just before House Republicans voted on Wednesday to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from leadership for lack of party unity and consistent attacks on Trump and his supporters.

The South Carolina Republican spoke earlier this week with Fox News host Sean Hannity regarding the future of the party.

“It’s impossible for this party to move forward without President Trump being its leader, because the people who are conservatives have chosen him as their leader,” Graham stated. “And you know why they chose him? Because he delivered.”

He then began listing off several conservative victories under the Trump administration – including national security, border security, tax cuts, and pride in America.

RELATED: Mitt Romney Claims That Removing Liz Cheney From Leadership Will Cost Republicans ‘Quite A Few’ Votes

Graham: Anti-Trump Republicans Are Going to End Up Getting Erased

Senator Lindsey Graham also issued an ominous warning against anti-Trump Republicans like Liz Cheney, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).

“The most popular Republican in America—it’s not Lindsey Graham, is not Liz Cheney, it’s Donald Trump,” he told Hannity.

“To try to erase Donald Trump from the Republican party is insane,” he added. “And the people who try to erase him are going to wind up getting erased.”

Graham went on to say that conservatives are disappointed that he lost the election because they “believe that Trump’s policies worked.”

RELATED: Trump Cheers Utah GOP That Booed ‘Stone-Cold Loser’ Mitt Romney, Rips ‘Big-Shot Warmonger’ Cheney

Cheney Ousted From GOP Leadership

Graham specifically commented on the embattled Representative Cheney whose leadership role was terminated on Wednesday.

Cheney was removed for her unwillingness to unite the party and instead attack Trump at every turn.

“I’ve always liked Liz Cheney but she’s made a determination that the Republican Party can’t grow with President Trump,” he said. “I’ve determined we can’t grow without him.”

Cheney has refused to unite a Republican party that includes Trump supporters. Instead, she insults them.

She has accused Trump voters of believing “the big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, has gone after colleagues in her own party who supported the former President, and vowed to campaign on impeaching him “every day of the week.”

In an op-ed for the Washington Post last week, Cheney encouraged Republicans not to embrace Trump’s “cult of personality.”

That is not somebody who belongs in a leadership role.

Romney, as you might imagine, disagrees.

“Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie,” he asserted.

“As one of my Republican Senate colleagues said to me following my impeachment vote: ‘I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group that punished someone for following their conscience.'”

Trump issued a statement referring to Cheney as a “big-shot warmonger” and Romney as a “stone-cold loser.”


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Lindsey Graham Says That ‘If We Can Get Behind President Trump And Follow His Lead, We Will Win In 2022’

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke out on Monday night to urge Republicans to stay loyal to former President Donald Trump, saying that moving forward, he is the “alternative” to President Joe Biden.

Graham Sends Message To Republicans

Graham went so far as to say that Republicans will win the 2022 midterm elections if they stay loyal to Trump.

“[H]e will position himself as the alternative to Joe Biden. He, I think, will make a speech that will unify Republicans on policy,” he said. “That I think he’s been working the phones. I was with him all weekend. He wants us to win in 2022.”

“And stay tuned,” he continued. “I think you’re going to see over the next couple of months, Donald Trump lead the Republican Party on policy and give us the energy we need to take back the House and the Senate.”

“The Democrats are doing their part,” Graham added. “If we can get behind President Trump and follow his lead, we will win in 2022. If we argue with ourselves, we’re going to — we’re going to lose. And there’s no reason to lose.”

Graham Meets With Trump

This comes after Graham met with Trump over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, and he told The Hill that they “just talked about the 2022 cycle.”

“He’s very involved in helping the team win,” Graham added, saying that Trump “made a bunch of phone calls,” specifically with GOP senators, and is “trying to get the best team on the field.”

When asked if there was any indication that Trump would run for president again in 2024, Graham simply said, “Stay tuned,” according to The New York Post.

Related: Lindsey Graham Says Mitch McConnell’s Anti-Trump Speech May Come Back To Bite Republicans

Graham Slams Richard Burr

This comes days after Graham said that the decision of retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina to vote in favor of convicting Trump in his impeachment trial makes the former president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump a shoe-in to win the 2022 Republican nomination to succeed Burr.

“The biggest winner of this whole impeachment trial I think is Lara Trump,” Graham said.

“My dear friend Richard Burr, who I like and I’ve been friends to a long time, just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the Senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs, and I certainly would be behind her because I think she represents the future of the Republican Party,” he added.

Full Story: Lindsey Graham Declares Lara Trump ‘Biggest Winner’ Of Impeachment Trial As He Backs Her For Senate

This piece was written by James Samson on February 23, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

Read more at LifeZette:
Asa Hutchinson Says He’ll Refuse To Support Trump In 2024 – ‘He Should Not Define Our Future’
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Rep. Boebert Scares Democrats With Weapons

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Ivanka Trump Reveals Whether Or Not She’ll Challenge Rubio For His Florida Senate Seat

Back in December, we reported that rumors were swirling that Ivanka Trump was about to challenge Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his Senate seat. Now, however, she appears to be putting these rumors to rest.

Ivanka Says She Won’t Challenge Rubio 

Ivanka has reportedly informed Rubio that she will not be running against him after all, despite the fact that she just moved to Miami with her husband Jared Kushner and their three children.

Speculation had been mounting that Ivanka was planning to launch a political career of her own, and given her move there, it seemed likely that she would challenge Rubio when he was up for reelection in 2022.

Ivanka told Daily Mail that she considers Rubio to be a “good personal friend” of hers, which could be why she doesn’t want to run against him.

“Marco has been a tremendous advocate for working families, a good person friend and I know he will continue to drive meaningful progress on issues we both care deeply about,” Ivanka said.

Related: Ivanka Trump Reportedly Considering Florida Senate Run Against Marco Rubio, Source Alleges

Ivanka And Rubio To Team Up

Ivanka and Rubio are reportedly thinking about teaming up together on an event in Florida sometime in the next few months on their expansion of the Child Tax Credit, an issue she worked on when she served as a White House adviser.

“Marco and Ivanka did speak a few weeks ago. Ivanka offered her support for Marco’s reelection and they had a great talk,” said Nick Iacovella, a spokesman for Rubio. “We are discussing a joint event to highlight Marco and Ivanka’s successful push to expand the Child Tax Credit.”

If this event goes through, it will be seen as Ivanka’s endorsement of Rubio in his reelection campaign.

Related: Ivanka Trump Comes Out As ‘Pro-Life, And Unapologetically So’

This comes as Ivanka’s sister-in-law Lara Trump, who is married to her brother Eric, is reportedly considering a run for Senate in her home state of North Carolina.

After retiring Republican Senator Richard Burr voted in favor of impeaching former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that Lara would almost definitely score the Republican nomination if she runs.

“My friend Richard Burr just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the Senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs,” Graham said last Sunday.

This piece was written by James Samson on February 19, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

Read more at LifeZette:
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Kamala Harris Refuses To Give Direct Answer After Being Asked If Trump Should Face Criminal Charges

Vice President Kamala Harris declined to give a direct answer on Wednesday morning when she was asked if former President Donald Trump should face criminal charges for his alleged role in the Capitol riots last month.

Kamala Harris Interviewed On ‘Today’

“The president was acquitted in the Senate trial,” said “Today” host Savannah Guthrie. “Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, though, had some harsh words, saying he didn’t get away with anything yet, and that civil and criminal liability was still a possibility. I ask you — do you think that President Trump should be criminally charged?”

“You know, right now, Savannah, I’m focused on what we need to do to get relief to American families, and that is my highest priority,” Harris replied. “It is our administration’s highest priority. It is our job. It is the job we were elected to do, and that’s my focus.”

“But you’re a former prosecutor, so I have got to ask you, is that a strong case against the president, a criminal case that Mitch McConnell had raised as a possibility?” Guthrie pressed on.

“I haven’t reviewed the case through the lens of being a prosecutor,” Harris responded, dodging the question again. “I’m reviewing the case of COVID in America through the lens of being the vice president of America.”

Related: Abortion Provider Planned Parenthood “Excited” That Kamala Harris Is Vice President

Harris’ Past Comments Come Back To Haunt Her

Harris found herself in some hot water during Trump’s impeachment trial when past comments that she had made came back to haunt her, as Republicans claimed that she had incited violence in the past as well by encouraging racial riots and bailing out protests.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went so far as to say that if Republicans take back the House, Harris could find herself being impeached,  based on the precedent Democrats set with their latest effort against Trump.

“If you use this model, I don’t know how Kamala Harris doesn’t get impeached if the Republicans take over the House, because she actually bailed out rioters and one of the rioters went back to the streets and broke somebody’s head open,” Graham said, according to Newsweek. “So we’ve opened Pandora’s Box here, and I’m sad for the country.”

Read Next: Whoopi Goldberg Claims Joe Manchin’s Attack On Kamala Harris Was ‘Bigoted’ – ‘Really Disrespectful’

This piece was written by James Samson on February 17, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

Read more at LifeZette:
House Republicans Send Brutal Message To Pelosi – Demand Answers From Her On Security Decisions Before Capitol Riot
Graham And McConnell Feud Erupts In Senate
Pelosi Fires Back After Top Republicans Demand Answers About Capitol Security Before Riot – Deflects Blame

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