Ted Cruz grows his brand with popular tool — a podcast

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been a familiar face and voice on Fox News, right-wing talk radio and elsewhere in the conservative media ecosystem since first being elected to the Senate more than a decade ago. 

But these days, Cruz is getting a boost in raising his profile through a media product of his own making.  

The Republican lawmaker hosts a now thrice-weekly podcast that has grown in popularity since its first episode published during former President Trump’s first impeachment trial.  

Over the last three years, “Verdict” has helped Cruz amass a following of millions of listeners each month, all while promoting frequent GOP talking points, blasting his political enemies and keeping the senator's name in the headlines.  

“I’m not interested in being a pundit,” the Republican senator told The Hill during an interview this week. “But part of fighting successfully is communicating and explaining what the issues are that matter. So, I view the podcast as fulfilling one of the really important responsibilities of representing Texans.”  

“Verdict” became a quick success in terms of listenership during Trump’s first impeachment drama, quickly climbing podcasting leaderboards, with Politico noting at the time it beat out “The Daily” from The New York Times and Joe Rogan’s popular talk show on iTunes.  

Today, it ranks among the top podcasts in the “politics” category and among the top 25 among all “news” podcasts, according to podcast tracking website PodBay. This month alone, “Verdict” has raked in 2 million downloads, including more than a million unique listeners, Cruz said.  

The Republican argues that his show, which often features lengthy discussions on constitutional law and politics, has seen success because of what he described as the failings of the mainstream media in acknowledging topics important to conservatives.  

“Much of the corporate media does not provide in-depth coverage of what is going on,” Cruz contends. “The reason why people faithfully listen three times a week is because when they’re done they’ve learned something … far better than what they’re able to get from the vast majority of media sources.”  

Started initially as an explanatory program laying out and poking holes in the impeachment charges against Trump, Cruz now uses each episode of “Verdict” to pontificate about everything from President Biden’s family to foreign policy issues and other news of the day.  

During one recent episode, Cruz explained for his audience the legalese around Hunter Biden’s plea deal, which fell apart in a Delaware courtroom last week after the president’s son was expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay income taxes as part of a deal announced last month with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“It’s a plea deal that is designed to be a slap on the wrist, so Hunter serves no jail time whatsoever, and that it’s real purpose as we’ve discussed is to protect Joe Biden from any exposure to Hunter’s influence-selling and corruptions,” the GOP senator said during the episode. 

Cruz, a second-term senator who mounted an unsuccessful campaign for president against Trump in 2016, fashions himself as a media-savvy national political operative — one who is mindful of audience demographics on each platform he appears on.  

“If I’m walking through an airport and a woman in her 70s comes up and says, ‘Hey I loved you on TV,’ you know many of the demographic that are watching TV interviews are of an older generation,” the senator said.  

“On the other hand, if I’ve got another guy with a ponytail and tattoos comes up and says, ‘Hey, I love what you’re doing,’ I know what the next words he’s going to say. He’s going to mention the podcast.”  

Other high-profile lawmakers have also dipped their toes in the podcasting arena. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) are regulars on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast. 

Other up-and-coming lawmakers have used social media to boost their brand, such as freshman Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-N.C.), who has mobilized an aggressive campaign on TikTok to reach voters, and progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has made news with opinions given while speaking on Instagram Live. 

Cruz, likewise, makes it clear his goal with his podcast is to drive the news cycle as much as he can.  

“It’s a way of raising issues and advancing issues that matter to Texans,” he told The Hill.  

Cruz’s podcasting venture has been met with some criticism, including over the ethics of a sitting U.S. senator operating a talk show.  

The Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics after he reached a syndication agreement with iHeartMedia, one of the largest providers of audio content in the country, contending the deal violated Senate rules on accepting gifts from lobbyists. 

iHeartMedia is a registered lobbyist, according to OpenSecrets. 

Cruz has said he receives “no financial benefit” from his podcast.  

“It’s no surprise Democrats and their allies in the corrupt corporate media take issue with Sen. Cruz’s chart-topping podcast — it allows him to circumvent the media gatekeepers and speak directly to the American people about what is really happening in Washington,” a Cruz spokesman told the Austin American-Statesman at the time.  

“Sen. Cruz receives no financial benefit from 'Verdict.' There is no difference between Sen. Cruz appearing on a network television show, a cable news show, or a podcast airing on iHeartMedia.” 

While Cruz, who is up for reelection in 2024, still sees some value in traditional cable news hits and radio appearances, he says the show he puts on himself allows for extra flexibility in pushing his agenda.  

“Let’s say you’re doing a TV interview and it’s six or eight minutes. That can be valuable if you reach a lot of people,” he said. “But in six or eight minutes, you can’t engage in a whole lot of substance. You can have a few talking points, you can have kind of a clever one-liner, but it’s difficult to have really detailed analysis in a short TV or radio interview. The podcast format, I’ve really grown to like.” 

Both parties hear what they want to hear during rare Durham public hearing

Special counsel John Durham was both lionized and scrutinized by lawmakers as he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to discuss his probe into the FBI’s 2016 investigation into the Trump campaign. 

Durham provided little new information in his May report but confirmed a series of FBI missteps previously documented by the news media, including that the FBI failed to provide a full picture of the evidence when seeking a wiretap of Trump campaign aide Carter Page.  

In a rare public appearance Wednesday, Durham called his findings “sobering.” 

“The problems identified in the report are not susceptible to overnight fixes. … They cannot be addressed solely by enhancing training or additional policy requirements. Rather, what is required is accountability, both in terms of the standards to which our law enforcement personnel hold themselves and in the consequences they face for violation of laws and policies of relevance,” he said. 

More House coverage from The Hill

Over more than five hours of questioning, Republicans and Democrats zeroed in on the parts of the report most favorable to their positions.  

To Republicans, Durham’s scathing 305-page report supports their arguments about a Department of Justice and FBI that has been weaponized against former President Trump.  

Democrats argued the report backed the FBI’s initial decision to open a probe into the Trump campaign, something they view as significant, since Trump called for Durham's appointment with high expectations that he’d find damaging material on the FBI.  

Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a chief Trump defender who has cast the FBI as “rotted to the core,” said the report served as an example that the bureau requires serious reform, as “any one of us could be next.”  

“There is [a double standard at the Department of Justice]. That has got to change, and I don't think more training, more rules is going to do it. I think we have to fundamentally change the FISA process, and we have to use the appropriations process to limit how American tax dollars are spent at the Department of Justice,” he added, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has the power to authorize a wiretap. 

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It was a tip from an Australian diplomat that ignited the FBI’s interest. The diplomat had spoken with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who told him that Russia had damaging emails from then-competitor Hillary Clinton. It was that tip, not the later debunked Steele Dossier, that led the FBI to initiate the investigation. 

“We have many areas of disagreement across the aisle, but I am relieved that we have no disagreement about one of the fundamental conclusions of your report: that it was incumbent upon the FBI to open some form of investigation when presented with evidence that a presidential candidate and his associates are either coordinating campaign efforts with a hostile nation or being manipulated by such a hostile nation,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.). 

Several Democrats attacked Durham’s work, criticizing the report for not offering any recommendations for the FBI and calling attention to its failure to lead to criminal convictions. 

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) noted that five Trump campaign associates were convicted of various crimes following the Mueller investigation.  

“In contrast to multiple Trump associates who were convicted, you brought two cases to a jury trial based on this investigation, and you lost both. So I don't actually know what we're doing here, because the author of the Durham report concedes that the FBI had enough information to investigate,” he said. 

“And thank goodness the FBI did, because vulnerable Trump associates who committed crimes were held accountable. And the best way to summarize what happened is: Thank you to the brave men and women of the FBI for doing their jobs.” 

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) addresses reporters after a closed-door House Democratic Caucus meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

Republicans pivoted between complaints over the Justice Department and the treatment of Trump to possible FISA reforms that would limit law enforcement authority for spying both in the U.S. and abroad.  

“You detail how FBI personnel working on FISA applications violated protocols. They were cavalier at best, as you said, in your own words, towards accuracy and completeness. Senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards information that they received, especially information received from politically affiliated persons or entities and … a significant reliance on investigative and leads provided or funded by Trump's political opponents were relied upon here,” Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) said. 

Johnson went on to lament the involvement of Peter Strzok, previously deputy assistant director the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, who made negative comments about Trump in texts. 

“He said horrible things about President Trump, and all of his supporters by the way, how could we say he did not have political bias?” 

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.)

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) leaves a closed-door House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

Rep. Laurel Lee (R-Fla.) criticized the FISA application that allowed the FBI to wiretap Page. 

“A FISA application was pursued without disclosing some relevant information to prosecutors or the court, without following standard procedural rules, utilizing investigative techniques that were the most intrusive without first exhausting other techniques, and instead pursuing the most invasive method possible from the outset against Mr. Page,” she said. 

Durham was also at times berated for his work, including by those who said he did not do enough to probe FBI misdeeds after Trump said Durham’s report would reveal the “crime of the century.” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was also gifted time by other members to question the course of the investigation.

Schiff critiqued Durham’s decision to issue a statement about an inspector general’s report on the same topic and repeatedly asked why one of the top prosecutors on the investigation resigned, a question Durham refused to answer.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said Durham’s investigative trip to Italy was just “looking for authentic pasta” as he griped that the special counsel’s work was insufficient.

“It seems like more than disappointment. It seems like you weren't really trying to expose the true core of the corruption,” Gaetz said. 

“It's not what's in your report that is telling, it's the omission, it's the lack of work you did. ... You let the country down.”

GOP unrest: Conservatives threaten to tank party’s 2024 spending bills

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is seeking to appease his conservative agitators by targeting next year’s federal spending at last year’s levels.

It’s not going well. 

A long list of conservatives left Washington this week accusing McCarthy and other GOP leaders of using budgetary “gimmicks” to create the false impression that they’re cutting 2024 outlays back to 2022 levels, rather than adopting the fundamental budget changes to realize those reductions and rein in deficit spending over the long haul.

The hard-liners are already threatening to oppose their own party’s spending bills when they hit the House floor later this year, undermining the Republicans’ leverage in the looming budget fight while heightening the chances of a government shutdown. 

More House coverage from The Hill

The internal clash would also be an enormous headache for the Speaker, who’s already under fire from conservatives for his handling of the debt ceiling debate and faces intense pressure to hold the line on spending in the coming battle over government funding.

“He's not doing ‘22 spending levels; he’s talking ‘22 spending levels,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), former head of the far-right Freedom Caucus, said Thursday. “Talk is cheap.”

Biggs and a number of other conservatives fear that GOP appropriators intend to use a budgetary tool known as a rescission in the drafting of their 2024 spending bills. Rescissions essentially claw back spending that Congress has already appropriated for future programs, allowing appropriators to claim they're funding the government at one level while actually spending at another. The hard-liners say that mechanism will lead to higher deficits than they're ready to support. 

“The idea of saying that we’re marking to 2022, but we're going to buy up to 2023 marks with rescissions, just — to me that's disingenuous,” Biggs said. 

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) speaks to reporters before a press conference held by the House Freedom Caucus regarding the proposed Biden-McCarthy debt limit deal on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), another Freedom Caucus member, agreed. 

“My understanding is they're going to use ‘23 numbers, and then through rescissions, get back to ‘22 numbers. So if they don't get the rescission, then they don’t get the ‘22 number,” Buck said. “The whole predicate is, ‘We're going to do this with rescissions,’ and then the rescissions don't happen, and then everyone says, ‘Well, that wasn't my fault.’”

Buck said he hasn’t voted for any appropriations bill “in a long time.” And without more drastic cuts and fundamental structural changes, he’ll likely oppose this year’s bills, too. 

“To go off the cliff at the ‘22 pace is not much different to me than going off the cliff at the ‘23 pace,” he said.

The opposition is significant because Democrats are already up in arms that McCarthy is targeting 2024 spending figures below the caps he negotiated with President Biden in this month's debt ceiling agreement. They’re vowing to oppose any appropriations bills that fall below those figures — leaving McCarthy with little room for GOP defections given the Republicans' slim House majority. 

“It's our view that a resolution was reached, and was voted on in a bipartisan way, and at the end of the day, any spending agreement that is arrived at by the end of the year has to be consistent with the resolution of the default crisis,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters Thursday in the Capitol. 

“Otherwise, what was it all for?”

The issue of government spending has been at the center of the battle this year between McCarthy and the hard-line conservatives, who had sought in January to win a promise from the Speaker to cut 2024 spending down to 2022 levels — a reduction of roughly $130 billion from current spending. The conservatives were furious that, as part of this month’s debt ceiling deal between McCarthy and Biden, next year’s spending came in above that figure, essentially frozen at 2023 levels with a 1 percent increase slated for 2025. 

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McCarthy has responded by claiming the topline figure he negotiated with Biden was merely a ceiling, not an objective. He’s instructed appropriators to target 2024 funding below that cap, and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, announced this week that she’ll do just that. 

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act set a topline spending cap – a ceiling, not a floor – for Fiscal Year 2024 bills,” Granger said in a statement Monday. “That is why I will use this opportunity to mark-up appropriations bills that limit new spending to the Fiscal Year 2022 topline level.”

Yet the conservatives are far from convinced. 

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) hailed Granger for putting out the statement. “But what I'm hearing,” he quickly added, “is that the intention is to claim 2022 [levels], and then utilize rescissions to take it back up to 2023, and claim that's some kind of a victory.” 

“We need true 2022 levels, and then we ought to be utilizing targeted cuts and rescissions to go beneath that, not pretend 2022 levels plussed-up with rescissions,” he said.

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.)

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) speaks to reporters as he heads to the House Chamber for a series of votes on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (Greg Nash)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) delivered a similar warning this week, saying the key issue is “the paradigm around what constitutes 2022 spending levels.”

“We don't think you oughta be able to buy your way into those spending levels with rescissions. We think that you ought to appropriate to that level. Because if you're only able to get to the 2022 levels with rescissions, then the budgetary process is void of the programmatic reforms that are necessary,” Gaetz said. 

“My concern with [Granger's] statement is that it seems still that 2022 levels are a term of art, rather than a term of math,” he continued. “I'm worried that Chair Granger's statement reflects a willingness to only get to 2022 spending levels through rescissions, which is not going to be palatable for my crew.”

Neither Granger’s office nor McCarthy’s responded to requests for comment Thursday.

The conservative criticisms have raised new questions about McCarthy’s ability to keep the confidence of his restive conference while cutting deals with Democrats to fund the government and prevent a shutdown. The Speaker has said the hard-liners are being unrealistic about governing in a divided Washington — but his arguments have failed to make those conservatives back down. 

“Nobody wants a shutdown,” Gaetz said. “But we’re not gonna vote for budgetary gimmicks and deception as a strategy for funding the government.”

Mychael Schnell contributed. 

Five dramatic, colorful moments from McCarthy’s Speakership fight

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected Speaker of the House early Saturday morning, after weeks of haggling and a historic 15 roll call votes on the floor.

The lengthy Speakership fight — the first in a century to go past one ballot — played out largely in front of the public, as members repeatedly voted and sometimes negotiated on the floor of the House before C-SPAN’s cameras.

The battle for Speaker, particularly its culmination on Friday night and Saturday morning, produced a number of memorable moments. Here are five of the most dramatic and colorful:

Republicans rush back to Washington

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) embraces Rep.-elect Wesley Hunt (R-Texas)

Two Republican congressmen — Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Wesley Hunt (R-Texas) — rushed back to the Capitol on Friday to vote for McCarthy.

Buck had said he would return for Friday evening votes after being gone during the day for a “non-emergency medical procedure” he had to undergo back in his home state.

But Hunt had to change his plans. He returned home to Texas Friday morning to spend time with his wife and newborn son, who was born prematurely on Monday and spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“Willie needs his father and Emily needs her husband,” Hunt said in a tweet. “Today, I’ll be returning home to hold my son and be at my wife’s side. It’s my intention to get back into the fight as soon as possible.”

Both were McCarthy supporters and McCarthy's Speaker math meant he needed both of their votes to prevail.

Hunt flew back to Washington later Friday and was in the chamber in time to vote the first time his name was called, while Buck arrived in time to vote when they circled back to his name.

Both received a round of applause from their Republican colleagues.

Lawmaker physically restrained by colleague

Rep. Michael D. Rogers (R-Ala.) is taken away form Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)

Perhaps the more tense — and chaotic — moment of the night came after McCarthy lost his 14th Speakership vote, one Republicans were confident would be their last.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was among the last lawmakers to vote and because only one of the other five holdout Republicans — Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) — had changed their vote to "present," a "present" vote from Gaetz wouldn't be enough to put McCarthy over the finish. McCarthy needed an affirmative vote from the Florida Republican.

Gaetz voted "present."

With tensions rising, a heated argument broke out between Gaetz and several McCarthy backers and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) appeared to take a step toward Gaetz before he was physically pulled back by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), eliciting gasps in the chamber.

Greene gets Trump on the line

As chaos ensued between then 14th and 15th votes, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) had President Trump on the phone in an effort to whip the final votes for McCarthy.

A widely-circulated photo from Friday night showed Greene holding up her phone to Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), one the last six Republican holdouts. Rosendale appeared to refuse the phone call, whose caller ID read “DT.”

Greene later confirmed to The Hill that the phone call was in fact from Trump. 

“It was the perfect phone call,” she added in a post on Twitter, a reference to Trump's comment about the phone call at the center of his first impeachment.

Trump also reportedly called other Republican holdouts on behalf of McCarthy and McCarthy credited Trump for helping him win the 15th ballot.

Republicans rush to stay in session after McCarthy apparently locks down votes

House Republicans rush to change their vote to adjourn

With Republicans seemingly at an impasse after a 14th failed vote, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) moved to adjourn the House until Monday. 

The motion seemed to have enough GOP support to pass, but then McCarthy and other Republicans rushed to the dais to their change votes and stay in session.

McCarthy had seemingly locked down the votes he needed.

Several Republican lawmakers chanted “one more time” in anticipation of what would be the 15th and final ballot. With all six Republican holdouts changing their vote to "present," McCarthy was able to secure the Speakership with 216 votes just after midnight on Saturday.  

Democrats troll their Republican colleagues

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)

As Republican infighting continued throughout the week, Democrats watched with a level of amusement, frequently mocking their GOP counterparts.

Several Democratic members brought out buckets of popcorn amid the drawn-out process.

"We are breaking the popcorn out in the Dem Caucus till the Republicans get their act together," Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said in a Twitter post on Tuesday, accompanied by a picture of large bucket of popcorn.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) was seen during Friday's votes sitting and reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F---” by Mark Manson.

After McCarthy clinched the Speakership on Saturday morning, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) also appeared to take a jab at the Republican conference, calling it an honor to “finally” welcome members to the 118th Congress.

WHIP LIST: McCarthy searches for 218 GOP Speakership votes

A narrower-than-anticipated House Republican majority and a growing number of House Republicans expressing opposition to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are threatening to derail his bid to be Speaker of the House.

McCarthy won his party’s nomination for Speaker this month but needs to secure a majority of all those casting a vote for a specific candidate in a Jan. 3 House floor vote in order to officially be elected Speaker.

Support from 218 House Republicans, marking a majority of the House, would shore up his position. 

A Speaker can be elected with fewer than 218 votes if there are absences, vacancies or some members vote “present,” but McCarthy does not have much wiggle room. Democrats will have around 213 seats, and all are expected to vote for a Democratic Speaker nominee. Republicans will have around 222 seats. 

McCarthy maintains confidence that he will win the Speakership, but around five House Republicans have already signaled they will not support McCarthy’s Speakership bid on the floor, likely already putting him under 218 and throwing his position into dangerous territory. Several others are withholding support, too, without necessarily saying they will vote against McCarthy on Jan. 3.

Opposition to McCarthy

Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.)

Biggs, a former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, mounted a last-minute challenge to McCarthy for the House GOP’s Speakership nomination, when he got 31 votes to McCarthy’s 188, and five others voted for other candidates. After the nomination, Biggs said he will not vote for McCarthy to be Speaker.

“I do not believe he will ever get to 218 votes, and I refuse to assist him in his effort to get those votes,” Biggs tweeted.

He cited McCarthy’s not promising to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as one reason for withholding support. On Tuesday, McCarthy called on Mayorkas to resign, saying House Republicans will investigate and consider opening an impeachment inquiry if he does not.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) 

“Kevin McCarthy will revert to his establishment mean the moment he gets power, and that’s why there are enough of us now, a critical mass, standing as a bulwark against his ascension to the Speakership,” Gaetz said on former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon’s “War Room” show on Tuesday.

Gaetz additionally told reporters on Nov. 15 that he would vote for someone other than McCarthy on the House floor on Jan. 3.

Rep. Bob Good (Va.)

“I will not be supporting him on Jan. 3,” Good said on "John Fredericks Radio Show" on Tuesday. He added that he thinks there are “more than enough” members who are “resolved not to support him” and deny McCarthy the Speakership.

The freshman Virginia congressman, who ousted former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) in a 2020 primary, previously said on the same radio show that he had confronted McCarthy about his tactics during a House GOP conference meeting before the Speaker nomination vote. Good took issue with a McCarthy-aligned PAC spending millions to support certain Republicans in primaries over others, and noted that McCarthy had endorsed Riggleman in his 2020 primary.

“He admitted there at the mic, though, that he spent money in these races based on who would support him for Speaker,” Good said.

Good has also said that he believes there are a “dozen or so” House Republicans who will oppose McCarthy on the House floor.

Rep. Ralph Norman (S.C.)

Norman’s opposition to McCarthy centers around the budget. Norman said he asked McCarthy to adopt a model seven-year budget crafted by the Republican Study Committee, which included $16.6 trillion in cuts over 10 years. 

“Just a solid 'no' led me to believe he's really not serious about it,” Norman said on Bannon’s “War Room” on Tuesday.

The slim House GOP majority, he added, provides an opportunity for hard-line conservative members to pressure McCarthy and push for their priorities.

Norman first revealed his opposition to McCarthy to Just the News, and clarified to Politico that he will vote for someone other than McCarthy to be Speaker – and will not vote “present.”

Rep. Matt Rosendale (Mont.) 

Rosendale, a freshman, has signaled opposition to McCarthy for Speaker.

“He wants to maintain the status quo, which consolidates power into his hands and a small group of individuals he personally selects. We need a leader who can stand up to a Democrat-controlled Senate and President Biden, and unfortunately, that isn’t Kevin McCarthy,” Rosendale said in a tweet after McCarthy was nominated to be Speaker. 

Additional McCarthy skeptics and unknowns

Several other conservative members have indicated that McCarthy has not yet earned their support, or declined to answer questions about McCarthy’s Speakership altogether. 

Rep. Scott Perry (Pa.)

Perry, the current chair of the House Freedom Caucus, has repeatedly said that McCarthy does not have support from 218 members.

“It's becoming increasingly perilous as we move forward,” Perry said of McCarthy’s position in an interview last week.

Perry has been pushing McCarthy and House GOP leadership to implement rules changes that, on the whole, would give more power to rank-and-file members and lessen that of leaders. But he is not committing to vote against McCarthy at this time. 

“I’m not making my position known,” Perry said in an interview last week. “I do have an open mind, but I also see what’s happening.”

Rep. Chip Roy (Texas)

Roy has similarly said that McCarthy does not have majority support for Speaker, but has not said how he intends to vote on the House floor on Jan. 3.

“Nobody has 218, and someone's going to have to earn 218,” Roy said last week.

In addition to also pushing for a more open process, Roy has expressed that he does not think House GOP leadership’s commitments to investigate the Biden administration are aggressive enough. He is also a supporter of withholding funding unless the Biden administration ends COVID-19 vaccine mandates for the military.

Rep. Dan Bishop (N.C.)

Bishop said that his vote for Speaker hinges on more than rules changes.

“What it is about more now is whether somebody can seize the initiative to come up with a creative approach to sort of recalibrate how this place works in hopes of moving off the status quo and making it effective for the American people,” Bishop said in a brief interview last week.

“At this moment, I'm open to anyone seizing the initiative in the way that I described,” Bishop said.

Rep. Andrew Clyde (Ga.)

“Well, I will tell you that you’ll know that on January the third,” Clyde said on "John Fredericks Radio Show" on Monday when asked whether he would vote for McCarthy. “We’re still having negotiations.”

Rep. Barry Moore (Ala.)

Moore said in a brief interview last week that he is waiting to see how negotiations on rules changes go, but he was not necessarily a hard “no” on McCarthy.

“We won't really know until Jan. 3 how things shake out,” he said.

Hard-line members supporting McCarthy

Not all members of the House Freedom Caucus or the more confrontational wing are united in their antagonism of McCarthy. In fact, some are strong supporters.

Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio)

Some conservatives have suggested Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founding Freedom Caucus member who challenged McCarthy for GOP leader in 2018, as an alternative Speaker candidate. But Jordan, who is likely to chair the House Judiciary Committee, has thrown his support behind McCarthy.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.)

The firebrand Georgia congresswoman was once a doubter of McCarthy’s ability to become Speaker, but has now become one of his most vocal supporters for the post. Greene, who has said McCarthy will have to “give me a lot of power” to make the GOP base happy, said she is working to convince her fellow conservative members to vote for McCarthy.

Greene has warned that moderate Republicans could join Democrats and elect a compromise moderate Speaker, but McCarthy skeptics have dismissed that prospect as a red herring.

Rep. Randy Weber (Texas)

Weber, a House Freedom Caucus member, said he is pro-McCarthy for Speaker.

“He's poured his heart and guts and soul out into building this conference,” Weber told The Hill last week. “I've been here 10 years. ... I've never seen the conference in better shape than it is now.”

MAGA Rep Matt Gaetz Torches ‘McFailures’ McConnell and McCarthy for Midterm Results

MAGA Representative Matt Gaetz criticized Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel following a flaccid performance by GOP candidates in the 2022 midterm elections.

As of press time Thursday, the balance of power in Congress still remains undecided, with too many races yet to be called.

The House appears likely headed to a shift of power to the Republicans while the Senate will potentially be decided with a Georgia runoff in December.

But the margins in the House and questions lingering in the Senate are disappointing when a massive ‘red wave’ had been predicted. 

Gaetz took to social media to label McCarthy, McConnell, and McDaniel a bunch of “McFailure(s).”

RELATED: Report: ‘Knives Are Out’ For Kevin McCarthy After GOP’s Lackluster Midterm Performance

Matt Gaetz Guns For Kevin McCarthy

Matt Gaetz is taking out his frustration predominantly on Kevin McCarthy.

The House races shouldn’t have come down to the ones too close to call. This was supposed to be a slaughter at the ballot box, a lead so comfortable things couldn’t possibly be left to other mitigating factors.

This is the equivalent of a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament having to go into overtime against the #16 seed. And, just as a coach’s career would be reevaluated after such a performance, so should McCarthy’s.

The Washington Examiner reports that Matt Gaetz has been making phone calls to encourage colleagues to turn their back on Kevin McCarthy’s bid to be the next House Speaker.

“Just as I have done after every election, you can count on me having conversations with my colleagues on matters of policy, politics, and leadership,” he said in a statement.

Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich reported that a GOP source earlier this week had warned that the “knives are out” for McCarthy after the midterm performance.

RELATED: Matt Gaetz Warns There Are Republican Squishes Already Trying to Shut Down Biden Impeachment

Failure of Leadership

Matt Gaetz was already targeting weak Republicans, warning that there were some lawmakers voicing opposition to impeaching President Biden should the GOP take back the House.

“There are current members of the Republican majority, people who will be in the next Congress, who are arguing very, very fervently that they will oppose the use of the ‘I’ word, impeachment, in any context for any official in the Biden administration,” he said.

“And I believe that would totally misunderstand the mandate that the American people are giving us.”

That opposition is sure to grow now that the President has escaped relatively unscathed following the Republican election failure.

Likewise, McDaniel, the niece of Senator Mitt Romney, declared that Republicans will reach across the aisle and work with President Biden following the midterms.

“Would Republicans be willing to do the same and not just be a roadblock for him?” she was asked during a CNN interview.

“We have to,” McDaniel replied. “We have to work on behalf of the American people.”

She won’t have to worry about that too much, as President Biden has declared that he plans to change nothing about the way he’s governed based on the midterm results.

Meaning he’ll continue to rule by fiat, issuing executive orders and doing his best to circumvent Republicans in Congress. And he’ll get away with it too, so long as the McFailures are running the show.

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Matt Gaetz Warns There Are Republican Squishes Already Trying to Shut Down Biden Impeachment

MAGA Representative Matt Gaetz, in an interview on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, claims there are Republican lawmakers already voicing opposition to impeaching President Biden should the GOP take back the House.

Gaetz also says some of his Republican colleagues are working against the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who he accuses of “purposefully turning our border into a turnstile.”

“There are current members of the Republican majority, people who will be in the next Congress, who are arguing very, very fervently that they will oppose the use of the ‘I’ word, impeachment, in any context for any official in the Biden administration,” he told Bannon.

“And I believe that would totally misunderstand the mandate that the American people are giving us.”

RELATED: MAGA Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene Calls For Biden’s Impeachment Following ‘President Butterbeans’ Divisive Speech

Gaetz: Biden Impeachment is a Priority

Gaetz has insisted impeachment must be a priority for Republicans should the midterms yield control of the House. He notes that it’s time to start fighting fire with fire.

Democrats, after all, did not hesitate to impeach Trump for a pair of absurd reasons that did not amount to high crimes and misdemeanors.

“If we don’t use the same tools, if we don’t engage in impeachment inquiries to get the documents and the testimony and the information we need, then I believe that our voters will feel betrayed,” said Gaetz.

“And that likely could be the biggest win that Democrats could hope for in 2024,” he surmised.


RELATED: Hollywood Conservative Jon Voight Calls On Joe Biden To Be Impeached

Plenty of Reasons to Impeach – But Who Will Actually Do It?

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

While it would be nice to get them all on record, we can only guess as to which Republicans would actually follow through on an impeachment inquiry into President Biden regarding any of these issues.

I’m pretty confident Gaetz would pursue the inquiry.

Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) as recently as a few weeks ago insisted Biden should be impeached following his divisive speech in which he called Republicans who back Donald Trump “extremists.”

“I guess when President Butterbeans is frail, weak, and dementia ridden, the Hitler imagery was their attempt to make him look ‘tough’ while he declares war on half of America as enemies of the state,” Greene tweeted.

Another MAGA Rep., Lauren Boebert (R-CO), wasn’t shy about calling for Biden’s impeachment over last year’s disastrous troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Who else would be on board?

Representative Nancy Mace, by contrast, recently made the absurd argument that impeaching President Biden would be a “divisive” move.

“I will not vote for impeachment of any president if I feel that due process was stripped away, for anyone,” she told MSNBC. “I typically vote constitutionally, regardless of who is in power.”

Senator Ted Cruz has suggested the House has grounds to begin impeachment hearings against President Biden.

“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.

Cruz, unlike the Republican squishes who Gaetz claims are already backing down, understands that the Democrats are the ones who opened Pandora’s Box.

“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,” Cruz said.

According to Rasmussen Reports, a majority of voters – including a third of Democrats – believe President Biden should be impeached.

“Republican voters overwhelmingly believe President Joe Biden should be impeached, and half of independents agree,” the polling outfit reports.

GOP lawmakers and candidates should be asked if they’d be willing to consider moving on a matter that a majority of Americans want them to pursue.

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Tucker Rips GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy As Democrat ‘Puppet’ After Audio Surfaces of McCarthy Ripping Trump Supporters

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson eviscerated Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as a “puppet of the Democratic Party” after audio surfaced of the House Minority Leader criticizing former President Trump and some of his staunchest allies in Congress.

McCarthy initially denied reports that he had a conversation with other GOP leaders about encouraging former President Donald Trump to resign over the Capitol riot, prompting two reporters for the New York Times to release audio to the contrary.

“The only discussion I would have with him is that, I think this will pass,” he told Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), referencing the Senate impeachment trial. “And it will be my recommendation you should resign.”

The reporters followed that up by releasing subsequent clips of McCarthy speaking with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise regarding concern over fellow Republicans – particularly America First Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), and Mo Brooks (R-AL) – ‘putting other lawmakers at risk’ with their comments about the 2020 election.

“Well, he’s putting people in jeopardy, and he doesn’t need to be doing this,” McCarthy said of Gaetz. “We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know?”

McCarthy claimed that America First Reps. referring to other Republicans who weren’t going to fight the election results as “anti-Trump” was “serious stuff” that “has to stop.”

“Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?” the California Republican would later ask.

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

Tucker Carlson Slams McCarthy as Democrat Puppet

Tucker Carlson, in commentary on his Tuesday show, took Kevin McCarthy to task over the suggestion that big tech censorship was the way to go in dealing with fiery Trump supporters.

“Donald Trump, the sitting president, had already been silenced by those companies. But McCarthy wanted the tech oligarchs to do more, to force disobedient lawmakers off the internet,” a seething Carlson told viewers.

“Quote, ‘Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away too?’ Those are the tape-recorded words of Congressman Kevin McCarthy, a man who in private, turns out, sounds like an MSNBC contributor.”

Carlson went on to warn that unless something changes, McCarthy may very well be the House Speaker following the midterm elections. And how would that be any different than what we’re seeing now, he wondered?

“That would mean you would have a Republican Congress led by a puppet of the Democratic Party,” he contends.

“So, you wouldn’t know any of this list unless it was leaked. And you can start to see why the people in charge oppose transparency and fervently support censorship on both sides.”

RELATED: Mitch McConnell Was ‘Exhilarated’ That Trump ‘Committed Political Suicide’ On January 6

Gaetz Slams McCarthy as Weak, More Concerned About Protecting Liz Cheney

Gaetz also slammed Kevin McCarthy and Scalise regarding the conversation, describing them as “weak men” more concerned with protecting Never Trump Republicans Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger from criticism.

“Rep McCarthy and Rep. Scalise held views about President Trump and me that they shared on sniveling calls with Liz Cheney, not us,” Gaetz hammered. “This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders.”

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“While I was protecting President Trump from impeachment,” he continued, “they were protecting Liz Cheney from criticism.”

Gaetz referenced McCarthy’s objection to calling people who are anti-Trump ‘anti-Trump.’

“They deemed it incendiary or illegal to call Cheney and Kinzinger ‘Anti-Trump,’ a label both proudly advertise today,” he pointed out.

McCarthy’s call for Big Tech to rain down hellfire on Trump supporters stands in stark contrast to comments he made in May of 2021 when he vowed action against these social media platforms specifically referencing Facebook’s ban of Trump.

“If they can ban President Trump, all conservative voices could be next,” he said at the time. “A House Republican majority will rein in big tech power over our speech.”

Just maybe not the Trump supporters, especially when the heat gets turned up by the media.

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Trump Calls CNN Report About Denied Gaetz Meeting Fake News, Advises Them To Focus On Eric Swalwell

Donald Trump fired back at CNN over a report claiming Congressman Matt Gaetz asked for and was denied a meeting with the former President as he is currently engrossed in sexual misconduct allegations.

CNN anonymously cited “two people familiar with the matter” in their report indicating “Gaetz tried to schedule a visit with Trump after it was first revealed that he was being investigated.”

Trump fired back, labeling CNN “fake news” while claiming the report was “false.”

“Fake News CNN, relying on all anonymous sources, meaning they probably made the whole thing up, wrote a very dishonest story claiming Congressman Matt Gaetz asked for a meeting with me at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida, and was denied,” he said in a statement.

“This is completely false.”

RELATED: Raking In The Green: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Fundraising Numbers Are Staggering

Trump Advises CNN To Check Into Swalwell Instead Of Gaetz

The former President went on to suggest that CNN should consider covering the Eric Swalwell scandal involving his reported association with a Chinese spy.

A bombshell Axios report in December indicated that a woman by the name of Christine Fang (aka Fang Fang) “took part in fundraising activity for Rep. Swalwell’s 2014 re-election campaign” and interacted with the Congressman “at multiple events over the course of several years.”

Fang had allegedly served as a Chinese Intelligence operative with China’s Ministry of State Security.

“Why doesn’t CNN investigate and write about lightweight Democrat Congressman Eric Swalwell, who had a torrid and physical relationship with the Chinese spy Fang-Fang, but is somehow on the once-prestigious House Intelligence Committee,” Trump wondered.

Not only was he never asked to step down by his Democrat colleagues, but Swalwell was actually promoted as a House Impeachment Manager during the Senate trial against Trump.

According to Axios, Swalwell was notified by federal investigators about Fang in 2015, and has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

RELATED: Top Congressional Leader Calls For Eric Swalwell’s Removal From Congress After Report Links Him To Chinese Spy

Trump’s Fired Up

Trump couldn’t resist taking a jab at Swalwell by citing his “record-setting 0% in the polls” when he dropped out of the presidential race in 2020.

“[Swalwell] has been compromised and is a national security threat to the United States,” Trump added. “He should be removed from the Committee immediately!”

Gaetz also denied he requested a meeting with Trump.

He called the CNN report “a total lie” and added, “no such meeting was denied nor sought.”

Swalwell in March filed a lawsuit against Trump for his alleged role in the Capitol riot on January 6th.

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NRCC Chair Warns Trump Against Backing Primary Challenges

National Republican Congressional Committee Chair (NRCC) Tom Emmer warned former President Trump against backing primary challenges to Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach him.

Emmer made the comments in an interview with Politico.

“He can do whatever he wants,” said the Minnesota Republican. “But I would tell him that it’s probably better for us that we keep these people and we make sure that we have a majority that can be sustained going forward.”

On Trump weighing into the primaries, Emmer said, “That’s not gonna be helpful.”

Still, Emmer opined that it would be wise for the party to embrace some of Trump’s policies because they brought Republicans “a lot of new voters” and were “hugely popular.”

RELATED: Trump Plans New Super PAC, Setting His Sights On 2022 Elections

Trump Will Support Primary Challenges to Pro-Impeachment Republicans

President Trump last week announced that he was planning to form a super PAC, a sure sign he intends to help shape the future of the Republican party heading into 2022 and 2024.

Seven out of the 10 Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of impeaching Trump are already facing primary challenges for their congressional seats.

Adam Kinzinger (IL), one of those seven being primaried and who voted in favor of impeachment, formed a new PAC of his own, claiming he is fighting to “take back” the party from Trump.

In a statement last month, Trump savaged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying he is “a dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack” and indicating he was willing to wage war against the establishment GOP.

“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” he added.

While McConnell did not vote in favor of impeachment, he certainly placed blame on the former President for a riot at the Capitol in January.

RELATED: Nearly 50% Of Trump Voters Say They Will Follow Him To Another Party And Abandon The GOP

How Can They Win Back the House?

Emmer needs to find a way to back Trump, not the other way around.

The NRCC last month released a list of 47 “vulnerable Democrats” they plan to target in 2022 in an effort to take back the House.

The memo reminds voters that Republicans are “just five seats short of a majority” following some unexpected successes in the 2020 election.

But how do they think those unexpected successes came about? It wasn’t because Trump supporters stayed away from the polls.

A newly released poll indicates a majority – nearly 50 percent – of Trump voters would follow the former President to a new party and abandon the GOP.

And while he has shied away from announcing a new party, Trump would certainly hold some weight when it comes to his supporters voting in favor of primary challenges.

Other polls have shown a vast majority of GOP voters want to see Trump play a big role in the future of the party and a supermajority of them want their legislators to be more like Trump and less like establishment politicians.

Emmer told Politico he expects to have a conversation with Trump “at some point” about how to move forward.


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