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

Remember “The Dating Game”? It was one of those shows that folks of a certain age would watch when we stayed home from school pretending to be bleeding from our eyeballs with hemorrhagic fever. Even as a kid it seemed odd to me that 1) anyone would go on a beach trip vacation alone with a stranger they’d just met, 2) they’d select their date, sight unseen, based on generic softball questions like “What’s your idea of a fun first date?” and 3) the woman would often look utterly stricken when she finally met her chosen suitor face to face, even though only one of the contestants ever turned out to be a serial killer. (That we know of, anyway.)

I couldn’t help but think of that show after Republicans chose Rep. Mike Johnson to lead the House for however long we have left until the rapture, when God finally calls Randy Quaid and his Igloo cooler full of squirrel heads home. The ordeal felt a bit like an episode of “The Dating Game” where Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, and Johnson were the three eager bachelors and Republicans somehow decided Johnson was their least creepy option.

I can almost picture a beaming Johnson declaring how super hard-core he’s going to love America as soon as he gets it alone: “For our first date, I’d like to fly you to Idaho, force you into a covenant marriage, and stare at you for the rest of your natural life with the baleful mien of a Christmas elf who doesn’t like to make toys but does have an oddly specific penchant for unlicensed taxidermy.”

In other words, Republicans chose this guy with precious little forethought or vetting, and it sorta feels like it could backfire. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. But we already know he’s all-in on forced birth, The Big Liecriminalizing gay sex, and handing Ukraine over to Vladimir Putin, so naturally he’ll be an ideal brand ambassador for the GOP heading into the 2024 election cycle. 

This week on the Sunday shows, Johnson’s name came up more than it ever has before. In addition, Maria Bartiromo of “Sunday Morning Futures” scored an exclusive interview with the man himself. I fully expected her to ask about Johnson’s plan for governing and whether it’s easier for a Christian dominionist weirdo and real-life “Handmaid’s Tale” character to keep a show on Fox News or be elected speaker of the House with the unanimous support of his party, but Johnson was too busy lying to get into too much detail on any of that.

He did have some important stuff to say, though. Mostly lies, but what else is new?

So let’s dive in, shall we?


Normally if I were cueing up a Tim Kaine clip I’d warn you well in advance so you had time to order smelling salts and a home defibrillator on Amazon, but in this case he’s exactly what we need. He’s the man for the hour. And the one after that. And the next one, too. Aaaaand … oh, shit, he’s still going. Oh, no, did he just start in on the macroeconomic implications of corporate sorghum subsidies? Again? We could be here a while. Hope you brought a book.

So you didn’t want industrious, conscientious, and serious leaders like Tim Kaine, eh, America? Well, look what you got instead. Kaine may be as exciting as plain oatmeal, but at least he’s good for you. You went with the Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, and they turned out to be actual bombs. 

Kaine joined “The Saturday/Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart” to discuss the yang to his yin, new House Speaker Mike Johnson—who’s also pretty boring, but in that lawful evil way Republicans have always loved. 

"You outlined the positions [Rep. Mike Johnson] had, from election denial to climate science denial to anti-LGBTQ and anti-women's reproductive rights. This is who the Republican Party is now." @SenTimKaine discusses with @CapehartJ the extremism of Speaker Johnson #SundayShow

— The Saturday/Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart (@weekendcapehart) October 29, 2023

CAPEHART: “Before we get into the nitty-gritty, just generally your view of Speaker Mike Johnson, what he represents?”

KAINE: “Well, Jonathan, he is the most powerful Republican in America. He is the face of today’s GOP. He’s second in line to the president, and you outlined the positions he had, from election denial to climate science denial to anti-LGBTQ, anti-women’s reproductive rights. This is who the Republican Party is now, and remember, he received the vote of every member of the Republican caucus to be speaker. So that is obviously a very different vision than Virginians have, a very different vision than Senate Democrats or Republicans have, and so it sets up some challenging times ahead. But all that said, it’s better to have a speaker than not have a speaker, because we have important work to do for the American public.”

It is better to have a speaker than not to have a speaker. That is true. And it was better for the Titanic to have a captain, if only to tell the string quartet where to set up. But Kaine makes some great points, and even more importantly, he offers a living, breathing contrast to today’s GOP, which is exciting in the same way that buying Tylenol in October 1982 was exciting

If you want sober, steady, and policy-focused, you’d do well to elect more Democrats like Kaine. If you want to have a child every 10 months and, seconds after giving birth, be forced to shout, “Thank you, Jesus, may I have another?!” then Mike Johnson is definitely your guy.

Moving on.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: McCarthy still blames Dems for GOP clown show, and Cheney might run for president?


As Kaine said, it is important to have a speaker. Who else is going to try to impeach Joe Biden for no reason? New Speaker Mike Johnson, newly hatched from the Republican-pol pod farm miles below Koch Industries, appeared on “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo to further gaslight a weary nation that’s had just about enough of this nonsense already.

Bartiromo asked the question that’s at the top of every American’s mind: Are you going to keep the Biden impeachment charade going through the 2024 election?

"We're the rule of law team," says one of the congressmen who led the effort to install Trump in power

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 29, 2023

BARTIROMO: “What about the investigations into the potential Biden family influence peddling, potential bribery? Are you going to allocate the financial resources and human capital needed to do an in-depth investigation? And will an impeachment inquiry turn into an official impeachment?”

JOHNSON: “We’ll see, Maria. I worked on the committees of jurisdiction, and Judiciary is one of those. I think our chairmen have done an exceptional job, you’ve spoken to all of them. Jamie Comer and Jim Jordan and Jason Smith, on Oversight and Judiciary and Ways and Means. They’ve continued those investigations. Even while we were going through the tumult of the speaker’s race, they were still working methodically through that. I’m encouraging that. I think we have a constitutional responsibility to follow this truth where it leads. We’re the rule-of-law team. We don’t use this for political partisan games like the Democrats have done and did against Donald Trump twice. We are going to follow the law and follow the Constitution, and you and I have a suspicion of where that may lead, but we’re going to let the evidence speak for itself, and I look forward to rolling that out over the coming days and weeks and letting the American people see exactly why we’re taking the next steps and where it’s headed.”

Okay, no one has time to fully parse all the lies and barmy nonsense Johnson packed into that short clip. Suffice to say, Republicans have no evidence against Biden. In fact, their one big hearing on the subject was so effing embarrassing, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer recently told reporters, “I don’t know that I wanna hold any more hearings, to be honest with you.” Which is a weird thing to say if, as Johnson claims, they just want to let “the American people see exactly why we’re talking those next steps and where it is headed.”

But flipping reality on its head is kind of the GOP’s brand now. Donald Trump may have extorted a foreign power in order to dig up dirt on Biden, and yes, he tried to illegally overturn the results of a free and fair election and was all-in when his feral mob decided it wanted to hang Mike Pence (he should have known Pence would hang himself eventually), but President Biden loaned some money to his brother. And his brother paid it back! 

Rule-of-Law Party to the rescue!

Sadly, just based on the few clips we’ve seen, it’s clear that Johnson is the kind of liar who can lie straight to your face without flinching. And if I never watched anything on Sunday mornings besides Fox News and Alvin Styczynski’s Polka Palooza, I’d be pretty convinced by him, too. But I watch all the polka shows, and sample more than just one Sunday show, too. So I’m not fooled by him for a second, no matter how many outrageous fibs he tells for Jesus. 

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


Top Trump gadfly Chris Christie is back. He appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper to help us ascertain the obvious: Murderous autocrat and war criminal Vladimir Putin’s best friend in America is Donald Trump. And if Trump returns to power, Putin will get pretty much everything he wants (including a U.S. withdrawal from NATO, though Christie didn't specifically mention that part), and Ukraine will be left twisting in a very foul wind.

Yes, Christie is still telling the truth about Donald Trump, which is a big reason why he’s stuck at roughly 3% in the polls. You can’t be a truth-teller and expect to win anything as a Republican.

Chris Christie on Trump calling for Israeli aid to be separated from Ukraine aid: "He wants to separate them to continue to coddle Putin."

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 29, 2023

TAPPER: “Let’s turn to the war in Israel. President Biden has proposed a $105 billion foreign aid package, which includes support to both Israel and Ukraine and some other priorities. Donald Trump said yesterday that Ukraine aid and Israel aid should be separate, it should be decoupled. What do you think?”

CHRISTIE: “Well, this is Donald Trump’s, you know, bad worldview. Look, he wants to do it and separate them because he wants to continue to coddle Putin, as he’s done from the minute he became president of the United States and going forward from there. This aid is connected because these attacks are connected. There’s no doubt that Russia, China and Iran, and North Korea are all working together to try to disrupt the world and create violence. We need to support Israel and support them strongly, and we need to support our friends in Ukraine as well. Remember, Jake, we made a promise to them in 1992 when they removed nuclear missiles and returned them to Russia that we would protect them if Russia attacked. We need to keep our promises.”

Wait, did anyone else notice what I noticed? Christie just admitted that Trump has been coddling Putin from the moment he became president. Is that why Christie risked his life to help Trump prepare for the debates against Biden? So Trump could continue coddling Putin for another four years? 

Republicans. I tell ya, man. Even when they’re telling the truth they’re up to their eyeballs in horseshit.


Of course, Donald Trump isn’t the only Republican who wants to coddle Putin. Enabling mass murderers is all the rage in the GOP these days. While they’re eager to send aid to Israel, which was attacked by a terrorist group with a small fraction of Israel’s resources, Ukraine was invaded by the No. 2 military in the world (by beet consumption, anyway), and it’s doing a great job curtailing Putin’s imperial ambitions. In other words, Ukraine is shedding its citizens’ blood for the sake of Europe’s and the world’s democracies, not just for its own interests. If you want to promote democracy and contain brutal autocracy, this is the fight you should be paying attention to.

But as the recent speaker battle proved, these jabronis take their orders from Donald Trump now, and Trump still wants to build a big tower in Moscow. Perhaps to live in, but that remains to be seen.

Sen. J.D. Vance joined host Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” to throw our brave and loyal ally Ukraine under the busski. 

"There's a difference between what should happen, and what can happen" -- JD Vance on his opposition to US aid to Ukraine

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 29, 2023

BRENNAN: “We just heard the new House Speaker, you have some similarities with him in terms of separating out Israel aid from Ukraine aid. He did say, though, ‘We can’t allow Putin to prevail in Ukraine because I don’t believe it would stop there. We’re not going to abandon them.’ What part of that statement is objectionable to you?”

VANCE: “Well, nothing is objectionable in the sense that if I could wave a magic wand and throw Putin out of Ukraine, I would, but what we have to accept is there’s a difference between what should happen and what can happen. America has limited capacity. Just in the Israeli conflict, for example, there are 300,000 artillery shells the Israelis would love to have access to. They don’t have access to them. Why? Because we sent them to Ukraine. We have a rising threat of China in East Asia. There are weapons the Taiwanese need that we can’t send because we sent them to Ukraine. We have to focus. That’s all I’m saying.”

Uh-huh. You know, when a guy who still supports Donald Trump claims “we have to focus,” it’s almost too much for a single human brain to process. I may have to hook into the Borg hive mind for a few while I try to make sense of it. We have to focus, so let’s make this googly-eyed Adderall golem president again. That sure would help!

Also, we can’t keep sending money to Ukraine. They might win, and where will we be then? So let’s get the Los Alamos National Laboratory started on that magic wand! We’ve got the bad guys on the run now!

These people. Sheesh.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: Matt Gaetz tries to 'splain himself, and Blinken responds to GOP lies about Hamas

But wait! There’s more!

That’s all for this week! Have a happy Halloween! It’s a frightening world out there these days, so maybe take some time to unwind with a few of those “Saw” movies and maybe an “Exorcist” or two.

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

Democrats sound the alarm about Jim Jordan’s potential interference in the 2024 election

If you need further proof that the GOP is not a serious party—apart from its continued fealty to a disgraced ex-pr*sident who’s roughly 20% evil and 80% Happy Meal—consider that they’re actually thinking about making Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a known insurrectionist, House speaker.

And no, he wasn’t just another of the cow-eyed and craven Republicans who stood by slack-jawed and mute as Donald Trump tried to smother American democracy with a lumpy MyPillow. He was elbows-deep in the shenanigans, and he wasn’t even trying to hide it.

Well, plenty of people have noticed the irony in potentially putting an America-hating coup plotter second in line to the presidency—and they’re not just Democrats. After all, giving this guy the power to finish what he and Custard Cream Caligula started in January 2021 is the height of irresponsibility for a party with any real pretensions of patriotism.

On Oct. 4, former House member Liz Cheney, one of the few Republicans who still thinks the person who won the most electoral votes should get to be president, even if that person is a Democrat, warned that a vote to elect Jordan speaker would be a vote for further undermining the increasingly vulnerable foundations of our democracy.

“Jim Jordan knew more about what Donald Trump had planned for Jan. 6 than any other member of the House of Representatives,” she said during a speech in Minnesota. “Somebody needs to ask Jim Jordan, ‘Why didn't you report to the Capitol Police what you knew Donald Trump had planned?’” 

Cheney also noted—correctly—that if Republicans elect Jordan speaker, it would be tantamount to abandoning the Constitution. 

Jim Jordan was involved in Trump's conspiracy to steal the election and seize power; he urged that Pence refuse to count lawful electoral votes. If Rs nominate Jordan to be Speaker, they will be abandoning the Constitution. They’ll lose the House majority and they’ll deserve to.

— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) October 13, 2023

Well, Cheney’s not the only one who’s alarmed. In fact, Rep. Ted Lieu, an outspoken Democrat, is concerned that a Jordan speakership could grease the skids for Bumblin’ Coup 2.0 following next year’s presidential election.

"Jim Jordan is one of the leaders of not respecting the will of American people in elections, and he will absolutely do everything he can to not certify a Biden victory,” said Lieu. “That's what he did before."

Lieu also noted that Jordan would be as much of a nightmare for reasonable (ha ha) Republicans as he is for the rest of the country.

"I think moderate Republicans should be freaked out with Jim Jordan as speaker," said Lieu, noting that Jordan would likely "push for a national abortion ban" and for the impeachment of President Biden.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, House Democrats’ one and only choice for speaker, echoed Lieu’s sentiments.

“House Republicans have selected as their nominee to be the speaker of the people’s House the chairman of the chaos caucus, a defender in a dangerous way of dysfunction, and an extremist extraordinaire,” Jeffries said on Friday while gathered with other congressional Democrats outside the Capitol. “His focus has been on peddling lies and conspiracy theories and driving division amongst the American people.”

House Minority Whip Katherine Clark has also weighed in, noting that Jordan is an “insurrectionist” who’s currently being blocked from the speaker's chair thanks to blanket opposition from Democrats. 

“He was directly involved in the right-wing coup that sought to overturn the 2020 election,” she said. “Every Republican who cast their vote for him is siding with an insurrectionist against our democracy.”

Yes, Jordan was directly—and heavily—involved in Trump’s America-garroting schemes following the 2020 presidential election.

In case you need a refresher, Mother Jones has the deets:

Many Republicans endorsed Trump’s Big Lie about the election. But Jordan was one of only a handful of congressional Republicans who actively conspired with Trump to overturn the election results. As he runs for House speaker, Republicans appear eager to ignore that. Yet by embracing Jordan they tie themselves further to that attack on democracy and the Constitution.

Jordan was an early and enthusiastic recruit in Trump’s war on the republic and reality—in public and in private.

Days after the November election, he spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in front of the Pennsylvania state capitol. He spread election conspiracy theories within right-wing media. He endorsed Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell’s bogus claims that Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic had robbed Trump of electoral victory. He called for a congressional investigation of electoral fraud for which there was no evidence and demanded a special counsel be appointed. He endorsed state legislatures canceling vote tallies and selecting their own presidential electors. He urged Trump not to concede. He demanded Congress not certify Joe Biden’s victory in the ceremony scheduled for January 6, 2021.

In other words, making Jordan speaker of the House would be a little like checking your local school bus driver’s pupils to make sure he is on drugs. 

But Republicans, for the most part, don’t see it that way. For instance, profile in porridge Mike Pence, who actually did right by the Constitution on Jan. 6, 2021, is nevertheless supporting Jordan’s speaker bid. He was recently interviewed by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, who asked him a very rude question he didn’t want to answer. So he didn’t. Answer it, that is.

COLLINS: “It’s interesting to me to hear you say that, that Jim Jordan would be a great speaker given he was someone who sent a text to the chief of staff on Jan. 5 that outlined for you to violate the Constitution and block the certification of the election. I mean, do you really believe that’s someone who should be third in line [sic] to the presidency?”

PENCE: “I have immense respect for Jim Jordan, he’s a man of integrity, and I’ve known him for many years. I was not aware of his opinion going into Jan. 6. My interaction with Congressman Jordan in December was simply over the legitimate objections that members of Congress were permitted to file under the law. But look, we may have a difference of opinion about my duties under the Constitution that day, but I’m very confident that if Jim Jordan becomes speaker of the House that he’ll lead with integrity.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the Bullshit Bot 9000, new from Ronco! I really wonder sometimes if Pence could pass the Turing test. Something tells me if Trump’s mob had actually succeeded in hanging him, he’d have sputtered his rehearsed talking points to his last breath: “I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a purpling corpse—in that order!”

Meanwhile, Democrats are pushing hard against the notion that Republicans’ demonstrated inability to get out of their own way is somehow the minority party’s fault. 

“It’s really appalling that they can’t even own their mess,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “They’ve been unable to govern from the beginning of this Congress and unable to work with Democrats. All they seem focused on is fighting each other.”

“When I’ve gone through battleground districts across the country, folks want to see governance work,” DelBene added. “All they’ve seen from the Republican side is chaos and dysfunction.”

Uh huh. And that’s all they’re going to see, especially if Jordan gets his wish. Well, that and another big, steaming kettle of coup stew. 

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

The Ukraine War is core to our American domestic politics

I attempted to run this story last Thursday, but a nasty site bug ate most of it, so readers only saw the first couple of paragraphs. Normally, I go into comments to check reaction and note any corrections, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do so that day. So ultimately, the comments were full of confused “this is the shortest Ukraine Update ever!” Sorry about that. Unfortunately, Ukraine is still a big factor in our domestic politics and the original story is still timely, so we’re running it in full. 

It might not be obvious, but the war in Ukraine has always been an issue of utmost domestic importance to the United States.

Ukraine was at the center of Donald Trump’s first impeachment, and featured heavily in internal Republican machinations. Remember, the one change that the Trump camp made to the 2016 Republican Party platform was watering down support for Ukraine.

And then there are the strategic considerations. Russia is a big part of the reason that the United States’ defense budget is north of $800 billion … and fast approaching $900 billion. Not only does Russia’s battlefield defeat have budgetary implications, but it will inform whether we have to fight a hot war against either China or North Korea that would cost trillions of dollars, claim untold lives, and  destroy the world economy.

This is all quite clear to Democrats and old-guard Republicans. But Trump’s MAGA cult has lined up behind their authoritarian pro-Putin leader, rupturing the Republican Party and leading to a seemingly inevitable government shutdown at midnight on Sept. 30. [Edit: the shutdown was averted, but only after all Ukraine aid was stripped from the legislation.]

In my list of Republican presidential debate winners and losers Wednesday night, I listed Ukraine as one of the few winners. It started with the running of this excellent ad from Republicans for Ukraine:

It got even better when the moderators adopted the ad’s narrative when asking the assembled candidates about Ukraine.

“So, Governor DeSantis, let me go to you. Experts say President Putin has ordered assassinations across Europe, cheated on arms control treaties with the U.S., and seeks to work with China to force our decline,” former White House press secretary and debate moderator Dana Perino asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “President Reagan believed that if you want to prevent a war, you better be prepared to fight one. Today the Republican Party is at odds over aid to Ukraine. The price tag so far is $76 billion. But is it in our best interest to degrade Russia’s military for less than 5 percent of what we pay annually on defense, especially when there are no U.S. soldiers in the fight?”

DeSantis, hack that he is, had nothing. “It is in our interest to end this war, and that’s what I will do as president,” he answered impotently, spewing empty words. “We are not going to have a blank check.” He then awkwardly pivoted to border border border. But it did open up the field to more forceful defenses.

“[O]ur national vital interest is in degrading the Russian military,” said South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. “By degrading the Russian military, we actually keep our homeland safer, we keep our troops at home.” Former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley added, “A win for Russia is a win for China.”

After tech bro Vivek Ramaswamy claimed that supporting Ukraine was “driving Russia further into China’s arms,” former Vice President Mike Pence made the obvious point that, “Vivek, if you let Putin have Ukraine, that’s a green light to China to take Taiwan. Peace comes through strength.” Remember, China and Russia declared they had a “friendship with no limits” right before Russia invaded. It would take an ignoramus conspiracy theorist like Ramaswamy, who has admitted to not knowing anything about foreign policy until six months ago, to think that supporting Ukraine would bring those two countries further together. They’ve been using the BRICS framework to try and balance out U.S. and Western power for years—since 2001, actually. China and Russia are already allies.

After that exchange, moderator and Fox Business host Stuart Varney teed up a softball for the rest of the pro-Ukraine candidates, asking, “[Former New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie, President Biden’s first two years have brought China, Russia, and Iran closer together. Are we focused too much on Ukraine, and not enough on this threat from the new world order?” Christie smashed it out of the ballpark: “No, they’re all connected, Stuart. They’re all connected. The Chinese are paying for the Russian war in Ukraine. The Iranians are supplying more sophisticated weapons, and so are the North Koreans now as well, with the encouragement of the Chinese. The naivete on this stage from some of these folks is extraordinary.”

He wasn’t done. “And the fact of the matter is, we need to say right now that the Chinese-Russian alliance is something we have to fight against. And we are not going to solve it by going over and cuddling up to Vladimir Putin,” Christie added. “Look, Donald Trump said Vladimir Putin was brilliant and a great leader. This is the person who is murdering people in his own country. And now, not having enough blood, he’s now going to Ukraine to murder innocent civilians and kidnap 20,000 children.”

This isn’t hard. Ramaswamy is clearly trying to ingratiate himself with the MAGA seditionist crowd, so perhaps his willful ignorance makes sense. But DeSantis? This is one of the most momentous issues facing the world community today, and rather than deliver a forceful defense of the international rule of law and America’s clear interest in defeating Russia, he pulled a Trumpian “I’ll immediately bring peace” and tried to pivot to something else. His weakness permeates everything he does and says, and he can’t mask it with hateful attacks against trans and gay people. He is a small and scared man, and people see through him. That’s why he’s gone nowhere but down in the polls.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been on an on-again, off-again merry-go-round on whether to include new Ukraine aid in the defense budget, and it is currently out. The House Freedom Caucus’ MAGA-aligned nihilists wanted it stripped out, but there’s no indication that they’ll vote for the clean spending bill anyway, so no one knows how things will proceed without cutting a deal with Democrats.

One person losing patience is Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who must really regret not impeaching Trump when he had the chance. “We’re lined up here against China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran,” McConnell said while speaking at the Center for European Policy Analysis think tank on Sept. 27. “That ought to tell you right from the beginning that you’re on the right side. If Putin is to win this, some NATO country will be next. And I think it’s a lot smarter to just stop this invasion, to push him back.”

It’s smart to message the new China-Iran-Russia-North Korea axis. The MAGA cult pretends that focusing on Ukraine and Russia somehow detracts from China, but they are all one and the same fight. Any future Chinese war against Taiwan would feature strong Russian support, if not outright participation. North Korea would similarly need strong Chinese and Russian support for any sustained war against South Korea.

It is U.S. and Western pressure, and the threat to China’s rickety economy, that is keeping them from overtly supplying Russia with military support. But make no mistake, those repressive expansionist regimes are all working to undermine Western democracies and national self-determination. And even if it refuses to provide direct (and overt) military aid to Russia, China has still offered a lifeline and sanctions evasion to keep Russia’s economy from completely collapsing.

At the other end of the Republican spectrum, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has gone off the deep end into nutso conspiracy land. “And over in Ukraine, Charlie, by the way we haven't even talked about this, the country that Mitch McConnell and Schumer and Lindsay Graham and Tom Cotton and everybody can't wait to give another 100 billion dollars to, Ukraine is one of the worst countries on the Earth for child sex trafficking and they're harvesting children's organs over there,” she said on Charlie Kirk’s radio show, amplifying one of the more bizarre Russian-spread conspiracy theories.

At some point, reason will likely prevail and Ukraine aid will pass through both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support. But that doesn’t mean the issue will be domestically dead. Expect the MAGA crowd, fueled by an aggrieved Trump, to keep agitating against Ukraine and building more opposition to further U.S. assistance. How it plays in the 2024 presidential election remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t assume it plays to President Joe Biden’s advantage, particularly given how reluctant he and many of Ukraine’s European allies are to provide Ukraine everything it needs to win quickly and decisively.

Slow-rolling Ukraine aid hasn’t served anyone’s interests except for Russia’s, using the delays to further entrench itself in occupied territory.

Ukraine Update: The Ukraine War is a core American domestic political issue

It might not be obvious, but the war in Ukraine has always been an issue of utmost domestic importance to the United States.

Ukraine was at the center of Donald Trump’s first impeachment, and featured heavily in internal Republican machinations. Remember, the one change that the Trump camp made to the 2016 Republican Party platform was watering down support for Ukraine.

And then there are the strategic considerations. Russia is a big part of the reason that the United States’ defense budget is north of $800 billion … and fast approaching $900 billion. Not only does Russia’s battlefield defeat have budgetary implications, but it will inform whether we have to fight a hot war against either China or North Korea that would cost trillions of dollars, claim untold lives, and  destroy the world economy.

This is all quite clear to Democrats and old-guard Republicans. But Trump’s MAGA cult has lined up behind their authoritarian pro-Putin leader, rupturing the Republican Party and leading to a seemingly inevitable government shutdown at midnight on Sept. 30.

Sunday Four-Play: The elephant in the room plops down on ‘Meet the Press’

I just realized I’m the unwitting victim of one of the most fiendish long cons in the history of grifting. Here’s my story.

Several weeks ago, Jessica Sutherland, my wonderful editor here at Daily Kos, told me one of the muckety-mucks in the organization had suggested I write a fun and breezy weekly review of the Sunday morning political shows. What?! Hey, that sounds great. I love that idea, my wonderful editor! What an honor! I’m truly humbled.

And so I put together a formal proposal, the scheme plotters at Daily Kos accepted it with a scarcely audible cackle, and Sunday Four-Play debuted on July 30, just in time for a fresh wave of Donald Trump indictments.

Needless to say, I don’t have a crystal ball and didn’t know what was coming, but because I so eagerly accepted this plum assignment, I’m now essentially compelled to watch this unholy hippo fuck of a Trump interview on “Meet the Press” today instead of languidly pouring molten pig iron into my freshly voided eye sockets with a Hello Kitty glitter spoon like I’d originally planned on doing.

Thanks, guys! This column has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to don my hastily jerry-rigged inside-the-shell Ronco Egg Scrambler helmet and beer-bong a pony keg full of Hibernol

Delete my fucking memory, Kos!

Ironically, here was the second paragraph of my very first Sunday Four-Play column, in which I betrayed a naïveté and callowness of youth normally associated with 5-year-old kids who are wheedled into eating earthworm pasta on their first day of kindergarten:

But while [Chuck] Todd is being replaced in September by the far more palatable Kristen Welker, this column will soldier on indefinitely, assuming it doesn’t get pulled immediately after its first installment, like whatever this thing is.

And here I was just last week, Pollyanna that I am, welcoming the new regime with open arms:

The supremely capable Kristen Welker will replace Todd, and he graciously passed the baton to her on Sunday.

Good luck, Kristen. You’ve got some big, squishy shower sandals to fill. Something tells me you’re more than up to the challenge. 

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: It's Chuck Todd's last day! And we're ridin' with Biden

Of course, y’all know what happened next. After taking over the reins of the longest-running show in television history, Welker announced that her debut episode would feature an interview with … that guy. Him. The semi-ambulant tub of walrus butter who has never—not for one moment in the past 77 years—had anything interesting, coherent, or remotely truthful to say. 

At first I thought, well, maybe she’ll utterly savage him. But even then her decision would be irresponsible, because it’s literally impossible to responsibly interview Trump. You’d have to fact-check him in real time, and if you did that, there’d be 10 times more fact-check than interview. Didn’t we learn that earlier this year from CNN’s ill-advised Trump town hall?

My hopes for a thorough dressing-down quickly faded, however, when the teaser clips started trickling in. For instance, there was this preview clip from, which shows Trump bending Welker’s ear during a leisurely summer stroll as Welker demurely smiles and generally behaves as if she’s not standing next to a feral criminal who violently attempted to end American democracy. Yup, I pretty much knew this interview would suck from the drop when I didn’t see her wheeling him across the golf course on a dolly as Walt Nauta fed him Reese’s Pieces through the breathing hole in his ranch sauce-festooned Hannibal Lecter mask.

Then she asked him a question about the ringing endorsement he recently got from Vladimir Putin and—surprise, surprise—he lied through his teeth Kari Lake-esque filter of billowing brown meat sweats. For instance, Welker let him get away with saying nobody was tougher on Russia than he was. It’s a lie Trump repeats continually, even though Putin moved mountains to try to get him reelected and Trump planned to pull us out of NATO in his second term—which would have been the biggest gift Putin ever received. And Welker just sat there nodding her head. 


I get it. Trump is running for president. He’s also an (alleged!) criminal who’s been indicted on 91 felony counts. Not that interviewing criminals is necessarily a journalistic no-no, but let’s face it, Charles Manson was a lot more interesting—and likely had no serious plans for invading Mexico

So, yeah, I pretty much have to cover this, but I’m not happy about it. For those media leading lights who are still wondering how to effectively interview Trump, the correct answer is … don’t. It’s not worth it. After all, what can you really learn that we don’t already know? Do you think he has a fresh perspective on Kristen Stewart’s love life that he hasn’t yet shared? Because he sure as shit doesn’t have anything useful to say about domestic or foreign policy.

Seriously, why do we still have to pretend that Donald Trump is a real boy? Get a grip, media.

Okay, on to the barmy bullshit ...


So, yeah, confirmed rapist and traitor to democracy Donald Trump was on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. Let’s see how that went, shall we? One effing clip and then we’ll move on.

And it’s a doozy. Here Trump appears to acknowledge he lost the election before saying he won the election. Who knows? Maybe he has early-onset brain death. As it is, roughly 98% of his brain is devoted to digesting trans fats and screaming racial slurs at the brown people on “Sesame Street.” It wouldn’t take much to nudge it into oblivion.

WATCH: Former President Trump says he needed ’22,000 votes’ in each state to win in 2020, but falsely claims he still won KRISTEN WELKER: When you say you needed one-tenth of a point, you needed one-tenth of a point to win? FMR. PRES. DONALD TRUMP: I needed a very small — I…

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 17, 2023

WELKER: “When you say you needed one-tenth of a point, you needed one-tenth of a point to win?”

TRUMP: “I needed a very small—I think somebody said 22,000 votes.”

WELKER: “To win?”

TRUMP: “Yeah. If you divide it among the states, it was 22,000 votes, something to that effect ...”

WELKER: “To win the election?”

TRUMP: “Yeah. If I would’ve had another 22,000 votes over the whole—but, look. They rigged the election. If you look at Pennsylvania ...”

WELKER: “But Mr. President, you’re saying you needed more votes to win the election, are you acknowledging you didn’t win?”

TRUMP: “Excuse me. If you look at all of the statistics, all of the votes, they say 22,000 votes. Over millions and millions of votes, 22,000 votes. So when they do Twitter Files, or when they have 51 intelligence agents come out and lie that the laptop from hell was Russia disinformation, and now they find out it’s not, but they knew that at the time. They cheated on the election in that way, too.”

WELKER: “I just want to be clear, though. Are you saying you needed those votes in order to win? Are you acknowledging you didn’t win?”

TRUMP: “I’m not acknowledging. No. I say I won the election.”

Ooh, Welker really thought she had him trapped. But no. It’s likely Trump’s left brain lobe doesn’t know what his right lobe is doing. Like, ever. Also, the so-called “laptop from hell” likely was Russian disinfo. 

Consider this December piece from Lindsay Beyerstein at The Editorial Board:

A largely genuine trove of stolen data is also the perfect place to hide forged or stolen elements, which enjoy unearned credibility because they’re packaged with real stuff. That’s why the victims of hack and leaks are advised never to confirm the authenticity of anything.

The attackers are counting on the public to draw the erroneous conclusion that, because some things are genuine, the whole package is real, and—most importantly—that it came from where the cover story says it came from, be that an imaginary collective of good-hearted “hacktivists” or a computer repair shop in Delaware. Anywhere but the GRU.  

The GRU is notorious for hacking and leaking.

In other words, just because portions of Hunter’s laptop were real doesn’t mean all of them were.

But never mind that. Is Trump really trying to say an election win isn’t legitimate if one of the candidates or his surrogates lied prior to that election? Because that’s an extraordinary claim. The courts might have a real pickle of a time dealing with that one.

But hey, glad to see that the first president ever to know the difference between a lion and camel is still at the top of his game.

Unlike, say, on Friday night:

77-year-old Trump last night was so confused and incoherent that he suggested Obama was his opponent in 2024, also suggested he beat Obama in 2016, and seemed to think we were on the verge of Word War *2*. I can only imagine the headlines if 80-year-old Biden had said this. 🤷🏽‍♂️

— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) September 16, 2023

The rest of the interview was similar. He lied with every exhale; she didn’t push back nearly forcefully enough. He told “sir” stories. He talked over her while claiming she was talking over him. He claimed Democrats want to abort babies after they’re born. (She should have challenged him hard on that. She didn’t.) Of course, later, after saying Democrats want to abort born babies, he said they don’t want abortions in the seventh month and don’t want to be radical. He also confirmed he’d give Ukraine to murderous war criminal Vladimir Putin.

She kept calling him “Mr. President” instead of using the far more appropriate “traitor says what?” Halfway through she may have replaced him with a glazed ham. Still doing research on that one. I promise to release my findings in two weeks. You’ll know as soon as I do.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: Kos was on 'Meet the Press'! Also, debate fallout and mug shot mania

By the way, NBC News did a perfunctory fact-check of the interview. Online. Where you know simply everyone will see it. 

Moving on! Whew!


Let’s see if we can ratchet that rage down to 11, shall we? Here’s a nice palate cleanser. Nancy the Great joined Jonathan Capehart on MSNBC’s “The Saturday/Sunday Show” and made clear that Democrats stand behind the striking autoworkers—whereas Trump’s plan to help them is likely to cut their bosses’ taxes even more. It’s time for those proles, plebs, and peons to really feel that warm trickle down their necks, right? 

But Rep. Pelosi sees it differently.

"One month pay for the CEO, a lifetime pay to the workers. It's just not fair" @SpeakerPelosi shares her thoughts on the historic United Auto Workers strike against GM, Ford, and Stellantis #SundayShow

— The Saturday/Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart (@weekendcapehart) September 17, 2023

PELOSI: “Let me just say that as we are here we have workers on strike in a number of industries in our country, but right now you said you’re going to have a show on ...”

CAPEHART: “The UAW president ...”

PELOSI: “UAW president. This is really something so important to all of us in the country. These workers, just think of this. The CEOs of these companies make probably, in one month, what these workers make in a lifetime. That’s just unjust. Years ago it was 20 times, now it’s 10 times that—over 200 times as much for the CEO as it is for the worker. Those profits that they say they are rewarding would not happen without the workers. So let us pray that they will make some progress on this respectful of the workers. [Sen.] Sherrod Brown says it’s over 300 times as much. But whatever it is, one month pay for the CEO, a lifetime pay to the workers. It’s just not fair.”

Pelosi was riffing a bit, but her numbers are in the ballpark. And any way you slice it, the gap between worker and CEO pay has grown out of control since Ronald Reagan first put billionaires on the endangered species list.

Fortune, Aug. 4, 2023:

The average CEO of an S&P 500–listed company earned $16.7 million from their role in 2022, the AFL-CIO said—the second highest amount ever recorded in the organization’s annual Executive Paywatch report.

That’s 272 times the average salary of just under $62,000 for someone employed by an S&P 500 firm, according to the report.

Assuming an average career of around 45 years before retirement, that means an ordinary employee would have to work six lifetimes to earn the same as their CEO did last year.

So there you go. Pelosi may have been a bit off on her comparison of monthly vs. lifetime wages, but the actual numbers are still eye-popping. And it’s about time workers started clawing back some of the wealth that’s consistently been funneled upward for the past four decades.

Quite a chart from @McKinsey #economy #productivity #wages #growth

— Mohamed A. El-Erian (@elerianm) November 17, 2021


Needless to say, Casper the Friendly Milquetoast (aka Mike Pence) had a somewhat different take on the UAW strike. He insists he stands with the working men and women of this country, and you can tell he’s sincere because he’s standing in front of two barns and isn’t wearing a tie.

The former vice president and one-time Trump colon polyp appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper. When asked about the autoworkers’ strike, he launched into his prepared talking points about Biden’s economy.

Pence on CNN on the fairness of the CEO of GM making 362 times what her employee makes: "I'm someone who believes in free enterprise"

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 17, 2023

TAPPER: “On this issue of general fairness, in 1965, during this era of the great middle-class expansion in the United States, CEOs made about 20 times what their typical workers made, but as I noted to you, the CEO of GM makes 362 times what her typical employees make. I just want to make sure I get an answer from you. Is that okay? Do you think that’s fair?”

PENCE: “Well, I think that ought to be left to the shareholders of that company. I’m somebody that believes in free enterprise. I think those are decisions that can be made by shareholders and creating pressure, and I’ll fully support how these publicly traded companies operate. I’m not interested in government mandates or government bullying when it comes to those kinds of issues. And I don’t think it's about the usual fault lines of the difference in salaries between white collar and blue collar. I think it’s that everyday Americans out there working hard are living in the midst of the failed policies of Bidenomics.”

TAPPER: “Inflation’s been horrible, no question, but their wages haven't gone up since the auto bailout in 2008. Meanwhile, the CEOs, their wages have gone up 40% in the last five years. That’s what the union workers say as to why they’re striking. I guess, just a question here. Do you side with the CEOs or do you side with the union here?” 

PENCE: “I side with American workers, I side with all American families, I side with the people of this country, Jake, that are living under the failed policies of the Biden administration.”

In other words, Pence wants a laissez-faire economic system that punishes American workers—the real wealth creators—decade after decade while continuing to create opportunities for hardworking CEOs and majority shareholders who, under Biden’s economy, struggle every day to locate private islands for sale. But hey, get a load of those two barns. And that open collar. Mother is so turned on right now she wants to join her husband in a three-way—which, for the Pences, simply means eating lunch at Olive Garden with a woman they just met in the lobby.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: Actual Black people react to Trump's 'gangsta' street cred, and Tim Kaine returns


Oh, yeah, Republicans want to impeach President Biden for—hmm, let’s see here—no reason at all!

GOP Rep. Michael McCaul appeared on Maria Bartiromo’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” where he discussed impeaching the president while acknowledging there’s exactly zero reason to do so.

"We don't have the evidence now, but we may find it later" -- McCaul is what passes for a "serious Republican" these days

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 17, 2023

MCCAUL: “Well first of all, I’ve been tasked by the speaker to assist the Oversight and Government Reform. With respect to foreign policy decisions the president made—or vice president, at that time—with respect to money coming in to try to tie the two. We don’t have the evidence now, but we may find it later.”

Okay, have fun with that, Mike. Sounds like a case for Columbo. Or Scooby-Doo. Or maybe Son of Sam. His neighbor’s dog has some really tantalizing new details about Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma.

If they keep digging, maybe they’ll find out Corn Pop wasn’t such a bad dude after all. And can we really trust a man who brutally defames Corn Pop? I say no.

But wait! There’s more!

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

Sunday Four-Play: Trump’s lawyers try to spin their incorrigible client’s latest indictment

Well, it’s indictment week. Again. And that must mean it’s time for Sunday Four-Play—a new-ish feature in which we shine a spotlight on some of the Sunday show hijinks.

In last week’s installment, we talked about Donald Trump’s latest indictment. This week, we’ll be talking about Donald Trump’s latest indictment. Next week: An exclusive four-part interview with the first Kardashian to show up at my door with an ounce of OG Kush and a Hefty bag full of crullers. Unless Donald Trump is indicted again—but that’s just common sense.

So before this is all over, will we see more Trump indictment weeks or Trump infrastructure weeks? In other words, is Trump more dangerously criminal or dangerously incompetent? You make the call.

The hits keep coming, and Trump’s not doing himself any favors by continuing to post on social media with all the forbearance and dignity of a howler monkey with his balls caught in a saltwater taffy machine. He really needs to call his old cybersecurity adviser Rudy Giuliani and ask him how to get locked out of his own phone

But remember. They’re not coming after Trump, they’re coming after you. He’s just in the way. Like one of those impenetrable southern border wall sections you can cut through in six minutes with a pair of Play-Doh Fun Factory scissors and a Bic lighter. 

So let’s take a quick peep at all the witchy witch hunts and election interference and whatnot, shall we?


John Lauro is one of the folks Donald Trump hired to represent him after Barry Zuckerkorn refused to take his calls. He’s already—somewhat hilariously—acknowledged Trump’s guilt in one of the charges brought against him. And he did it on national TV, because Trump isn’t trying to hide anything! Even those things that could land him in prison, with limited conjugal visits from whoever’s spanking him with Forbes magazine these days. 

Lauro appeared on “Meet the Press” with host Chuck Todd, who is leaving the show in September. (Not strictly relevant, I know; it just makes me happy.)

Judging from Lauro’s response, it’s fair to question whether he has any control over his client at all. The more Trump talks, the quaggier his legal quagmire gets. We should consider sending him an Adderall gift basket to hasten his trip to the exercise languidly-sitting-in-a-puddle-of-one’s-own-McRib-filth yard. 

WATCH: Fmr. Pres. Trump attacked Special Counsel Jack Smith, saying he's "deranged."@chucktodd: "Do innocent people attack prosectors?" Trump lawyer John Lauro: "My role is not to address anything about prosectors."

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) August 6, 2023

TRUMP (CLIP): “Deranged Jack Smith, he’s a deranged human being. You take a look at that face you say, ‘That guy is a sick man, there’s something wrong with him.’”

TODD: “Do you believe he’s deranged?”

LAURO: “President Biden in April of 2022 said he wanted President Trump prosecuted, and he wanted him out of the race. He repeated that in November of 2022. As a result, President Biden has put in motion a political prosecution in the middle of an election season, and obviously everything is open to politics. I’m not involved in politics, I’m just representing a client. I’m ensuring that justice is done in this case. President Trump is entitled to his day in court, and he’ll get it.”

TODD: “Do innocent people attack prosecutors?”

LAURO: “This is a political campaign right now. This prosecution was instituted by President Biden, and in the middle of that campaign, people are going to speak out. My role is not to address anything about prosecutors, but I will say this: There has been a history in the Justice Department of rogue prosecutions. They went after Arthur Andersen, a major accounting firm. Destroyed the company, and the DOJ lost 9-0. They went after the former governor of Virginia in a prosecution—a Republican governor who was convicted unfairly. Reversed 9-0. And now the Justice Department, the Biden Justice Department, is going after a former president for acts that he carried out in fulfillment of his oath and president of the United States.”

You know, when Lauro claimed President Biden said he wanted Trump prosecuted and out of the race, I thought to myself, “Hmm, that doesn’t sound anything like Biden. It sure sounds like something Trump would say, though.”

Well, I was right. And since this claim is at the heart of the Trump team’s public defense of their client—i.e., that this is nothing but a political prosecution launched by Trump’s political opponent—it’s important to take this head-on.

First of all, Trump is the one who continually tried to weaponize the DOJ. He wanted the department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and former FBI director James Comey, whom he corruptly fired in an attempt to stop an investigation. He also tried to use the department to overturn the 2020 election. And he continually attacked former Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Sessions recused himself in the Russian investigation—because he wanted “his” DOJ to act as his personal Roy Cohn. Oh, and he recently said he would seek to prosecute President Biden if he’s reelected

But Biden? He understands the White House’s traditional hands-off posture toward the DOJ in a way that Trump never did. And he’s continually resisted overstepping his authority. 

So what is Lauro talking about here?

Well, in April 2022, according to media reports, Biden privately mentioned to his inner circle that he thought Trump was a threat to democracy and should be prosecuted, but he never mentioned this personal preference to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

And in November of last year, responding to a reporter’s question about how to reassure world leaders that the poo-flinging Putin puppet would never resume his tirade, Biden said, “Well, we just have to demonstrate that he will not take power by—if we—if he does run. I’m making sure he, under legitimate efforts of our Constitution, does not become the next president again.” 

In other words, he’s going to campaign against him.

But hey, why let facts and context get in the way of a fun narrative!?


Oh, hey, Lauro was on “Face the Nation,” too! And “ABC This Week”! Not to mention “Fox News Sunday”! He may have appeared in hologram form on at least one of them. 

Here he was with CBS’ Major Garrett talking about the Trump team’s desire for a change of venue:

Trump lawyer John Lauro on CBS: "We would like a diverse venue, a diverse jury ... I think West Virginia will be an excellent venue to try this case. Close to DC and a much more diverse--"

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 6, 2023

GARRETT: “You’re still going to pursue a change of venue?”

LAURO: “Absolutely. We would like a diverse venue, a diverse jury ...”

GARRETT: “Do you have any expectation that will be granted?”

LAURO: “… that reflects the characteristics of the American people. It’s up to the judge. I think West Virginia would be an excellent venue to try this case.”

Yes, the famously diverse state of West Virginia, whose residents represent every color of the rainbow, from alabaster to ecru. Its population is 92.8% white and 3.7% Black. Maybe we could make the jury even more diverse by drawing its members exclusively from meth-fueled brawls in Charleston Cracker Barrel parking lots.

Hey, here’s a tip: If you don’t want to be tried in Washington, D.C., don’t commit crimes in Washington, D.C. It works every time!


Alina Habba, another Trump attorney and apologist, appeared on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo. And this happened:

Habba: I think that realistically you have to remember that a lot of these cases deal with classified documents which mean that all the lawyers now have to apply for special clearance, right? You can’t just take a classified document and review it. You have to have scifs.

— Acyn (@Acyn) August 6, 2023

BARTIROMO: “Let me ask you this, because typically when you have a case as complicated as the one we’re talking about, there is deposition, there is discovery—a whole discovery process where Trump’s lawyers will have to get access to the other side’s information, and vice versa. How long do you expect that process to take, because Jack Smith says he wants a speedy trial. We’re about a year away from an election. Obviously we’re just two weeks away from the first GOP primary debate, two months away from the Iowa Caucuses. Are you expecting to have a trial before election 2024?”

HABBA: “I think that that’s their goal. I think that realistically you have to remember that a lot of these cases deal with classified documents and classified records, which mean that all the lawyers now have to apply for special clearance, right? So it’s not a normal situation. You can’t just take a classified document and review it. You have to have SCIFs. You have to have certain procedures put in place. So while I appreciate Jack Smith trying to bleed us all dry and trying to have a speedy trial, perhaps he should have taken a case that didn’t involve classified documents that he now possesses, that we have to now repossess and review for discovery. It’s a poorly planned attack, frankly, because that’s what it is, it’s political lawfare, and he didn’t think it through. So I think these are going to take a lot longer. I think that once the judges get a [unintelligible] for how many years they’ve had this discovery—look at [Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney] Fani [Willis], two years. But she’s bringing this case now. Why? Because of election interference. They want to keep him tied up in trials, keep his lawyers tied up so that we’re distracted and not focused. It’s not going to work. He is a machine and he knows what he’s doing in a campaign. You know, he’s done this rodeo before.”

[Emphasis added]

Wait, Trump is a machine? Someone alert Mike Lindell!

Mike Lindell's speech announcing a class action lawsuit against all machines set over the Terminator 2 intro.

— Matthew Highton (@MattHighton) March 6, 2022

But never mind Pillow Man. Here’s the real takeaway: “You can’t just take a classified document and review it. You have to have SCIFs. You have to have certain procedures put in place.”

Say, Alina. Go back to the transcript and read that part over again. Then ask yourself if it was appropriate for Trump to (allegedly!) wave classified battle plans around in front of a gaggle of randos. This is an easy one. We’ll progress to the alphabet song in next week’s lesson—and colors and shapes, if there’s still time. 


Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead manager for Trump’s second impeachment, appeared on “Meet the Press” after Lauro spewed his pabulum all over Chuck Todd’s neatly pressed suit. 

It went a little something like this:

WATCH: Rep. Raskin (D-Md.) says Trump's lawyer claiming a "technical violation of the Constitution is not a violation of criminal law" is "deranged." "There are people who are in jail for several years for counterfeiting one vote. ... He tried to steal the entire election."

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) August 6, 2023

TODD: “Let me first start with a couple of things we heard from Mr. Lauro. You spent 25 years as a constitutional law professor, so I kind of want to get Professor Raskin’s take on this. Let me play one quick clip of something he said to me about the Constitution.”

LAURO (CLIP): “A technical violation of the Constitution is not a violation of criminal law. That’s just plain wrong.”

TODD: “Now, he added the word ‘criminal law’ there, but it was my understanding if you violated the Constitution, you’ve violated the law.”

RASKIN: “Well, first of all, a technical violation of the Constitution is a violation of the Constitution. The Constitution in six different places opposes insurrection. It makes that a grievous constitutional offense. So our Constitution is designed to stop people from trying to overthrow elections and trying to overthrow the government. But in any event, there’s a whole apparatus of criminal law which is in place to enforce this constitutional principle. That’s what Donald Trump is charged with violating. He conspired to defraud the American people out of our right to an honest election by substituting the real legal process we have under federal and state law with counterfeit electors. I mean, there are people who are in jail for several years for counterfeiting one vote, if they try to vote illegally once. He tried to steal the entire election, and his lawyer’s up there saying, oh, that’s just a matter of him expressing his First Amendment rights. That’s deranged. That is a deranged argument.”

Yes. Yes, it is. But with a client like this, a deranged argument is probably the best you can do, now isn’t it?

But wait! There’s more!

Some additional Sunday clips to help ease you into your week:

That’s all for now, friends. See you next week!

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

‘I had a stroke because of Trump’: GOP strategist offers latest proof that guy is bad for our health

It’s not just liberal Democrats who’ve been horribly traumatized by Trump. Indeed, some Republicans have gone off-record as saying they hope he dies before the 2024 election—which, given his obvious drag on GOP candidates’ prospects, is not all that surprising. Add longtime GOP pollster and strategist Frank Luntz to the list of conservatives who’d probably prefer that a milquetoast candidate like Mike Pence secure the 2024 GOP nomination. Sure, they might still lose, but they wouldn’t develop four different kinds of ulcers trying to explain why he’s now moving to the center by trying to carve out an abortion exception for 6-foot, 5-inch fetuses named Eric.

In a recent interview, Luntz, who’s devoted his career to making Republican policies appear less benighted and awful, talked about how Trump—a monster whom, let’s be honest, Luntz helped create—literally gave him a stroke. RELATED STORY: A catalog of capital incompetence: The short list of things Donald Trump did to kill America

New York Magazine: 

Donald Trump made my head explode,” he said.

In early 2020, Luntz checked himself into a hospital after a tingling in his arm crept up his shoulder and began to spread across his face. Doctors told him his blood pressure was an alarming 197 over 122 and that he had suffered a stroke. His lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits didn’t help, but a lot of it had to do with stress and the fact that when Luntz got upset about the state of the world, he was less likely to take his blood-pressure medicine. He was at that time constantly upset about the state of the world. He blamed Trump.

“I had a stroke because of Trump,” Luntz said. “I didn’t have the guts to speak out enough about him, and it drove me crazy. Every time I spoke out, I felt the backlash, I felt it on social media, I felt it a little bit with my clients, I felt it with my friends here.”

It’s hard to feel sorry for Luntz, given that he’s been greasing the skids for fascism for decades. But his example does help illustrate how bad Trump has been for many people’s mental as well as physical health—particularly during the peak of the pandemic. 

Perhaps the best way to describe how most of us have felt over the past eight years—that is, since Donald Trump glided down his gilded escalator like a papaya messiah alighting at our unwashed plebeian feet—is that it’s a lot like driving down a two-lane highway at night with a bee trapped in your car. You don’t know if you’ll get stung five times in the eyeball or accidentally drive into oncoming traffic. Either way, it’s going to be an awful ride, and there’s no way to know if you’ll reach your destination—or what that destination even is.

For instance, this January 2021 Vox story details just how on edge Americans were after four years of Trump in the White House.

While Trump was able to energize a core of supporters with his mix of bravado, defiance, and racism, for many others, his presidency was, quite simply, scary. In the American Psychological Association’s 2016 “Stress in America” survey, 63 percent of Americans said the future of the country was a “significant source of stress,” and 56 percent said they were stressed out by the current political climate. In the 2018 version of the survey, those numbers went up to 69 percent and 62 percent, respectively.

Clinical psychologist Jennifer Panning even coined the term “Trump anxiety disorder” to describe the stress many people were feeling in the weeks and months following the 2016 election. “People tended to experience things like ruminations, like worries of what’s going to be next” as they awaited each new tweet or action by the president, Panning told Vox.

Meanwhile, anyone who’s ever been in an abusive relationship was likely retraumatized by Trump’s crass rhetorical methods.

Trump also subjected people in America and around the world to language and tactics used by abusers, Farrah Khan, a gender justice advocate and manager of the Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education at Ryerson University in Canada, told Vox. That includes gaslighting (like when he claimed that the official Covid-19 death tolls were fraudulent, or that the virus would “go away on its own”), lashing out in anger (his perennial rage-tweets about “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT”), and seeking revenge on people for perceived wrongs (his attacks on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after she criticized his administration’s Covid-19 response). In a relationship with an abuser, “you’re constantly hypervigilant to what he’s going to do next,” Khan said. Under Trump’s presidency, that hypervigilance extended to the millions of Americans affected by him and his policies.

And while progressive Americans likely felt Trump’s presence most keenly, Republicans have not been immune to his reverse charms. A widely shared Atlantic story from January gave us a glimpse into GOP thinking and panic in the lead-up to the 2024 election. One anonymously quoted former congressman bluntly noted, “We’re just waiting for him to die.”

“You have a lot of folks who are just wishing for [Trump’s] mortal demise,” [former Republican Rep. Peter] Meijer told me. “I want to be clear: I’m not in that camp. But I’ve heard from a lot of people who will go onstage and put on the red hat, and then give me a call the next day and say, ‘I can’t wait until this guy dies.’ And it’s like, Good Lord.” (Trump’s mother died at 88 and his father at 93, so this strategy isn’t exactly foolproof.)

Of course, simply waiting for another human being to croak so that we don’t become a fascist dystopia isn’t a great strategy (it’s morbid, for one, and a pretty cowardly avenue for people who could simply put country over party and lock arms in opposition to fascism), but you can’t really blame people for the sentiment. Seriously, the guy wanted to pull us out of NATO and, among other gobsmacking inanities, once suggested to his chief of staff that we could nuke North Korea and blame it on someone else—an idea he no doubt arrived at earlier in the day while reading The Family Circus. How is anyone supposed to sleep soundly with a guy like that in the Oval Office? And how are we supposed to relax if there’s even a 1% chance that he might find himself back in power?

After all, Hibernol isn’t real. Or it isn’t yet, I should say. Though the pharmaceutical companies may want to get on this tout de suite. I could see a surging demand for this wonder drug the closer we get to November 2024.

RELATED STORY: 'Kill Democrats': One lasting effect of Trump presidency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen: The Capitol didn't attack itself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions loom over photos of Mike Pence from Jan. 6

Somewhere out there, there is a photo of former Vice President Mike Pence taken by a White House photographer on Jan. 6. It reportedly depicts him in hiding in a “barren garage” during the attack of the U.S. Capitol.

But when a Jan. 6 defendant recently asked the government to produce that photo to help his defense, U.S. prosecutors said it was not in their possession.

This response has ignited some curiosity around the photos and sparks questions anew about why Pence refused to allow their publication and moreover, who, exactly, may hold the photos today. 

To start at the beginning, last August, the Jan. 6 committee filed its initial request to the National Archives and Records Administration for presidential records tied to the insurrection.

Among its inquiry, the committee specifically asked the Archives for “all photographs, videos, or other media, including any digital timestamps for such media, taken or recorded within the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, or taken of the crowd assembled for the rally on the morning of Jan. 6 and all communication or other documents related to that media.”

Moreover, the committee specifically requested “all photographs, video or other media including digital timestamps for such media” of Mike Pence and any individuals accompanying him on Jan. 6. 

Then in November, journalist Jonathan Karl released his book Betrayal, about the final days of the Trump administration. 

In its pages, Karl described having seen a photograph of Pence taken by an official White House photographer.

The image reportedly depicts Pence, second lady Karen Pence, their daughter Charlotte Pence Bond, and a few of Pence’s staff members taking refuge during the Capitol attack thanks to the quick help of Secret Service agents who whisked them away from danger.

“The photos show Pence in a barren garage. There were no windows and no furniture. This was a loading dock with concrete walls and a concrete floor,” Karl wrote.

When Karl appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he reiterated what he observed, describing Pence in the photo as standing “in a loading dock in an underground parking garage beneath the Capitol complex. No place to sit, no desk, no chairs, nothing.”

“This is the vice president of the United States and he’s holed up in a basement,” Karl said.

The journalist’s request to publish the pictures was denied by Pence through a spokesperson.

Pence has never denied publicly that the photographs exist. 

Talk of the photos resurfaced on Jan. 4, 2022 when Couy Griffin, founder of Cowboys for Trump, asked a federal judge to compel the government to produce the Pence photos to assist his defense. 

Prosecutors charged Griffin—who also serves as a commissioner for Otero County, New Mexico—with two misdemeanors for breaching Capitol grounds.

Griffin maintains he never entered the Capitol building unlawfully but went to peacefully protest and was effectively swept up into a prohibited area.

He and his accompanying videographer Matt Struck saw an open door at the top of the stairs on the Capitol’s outer deck and went through it, according to a police affidavit.

Griffin then faced the crowd, grabbed a bullhorn, addressed those around him and began leading a group in prayer, the affidavit notes.

In a Facebook video for Cowboys for Trump that has since been removed, authorities say Griffin was heard saying in the clip that he climbed to the top of the Capitol for a “first row seat.”

He was there for over an hour. 

That same video also had Griffin expressing a desire to return to the Capitol for the inauguration of Joe Biden, saying: “You want to say that was a mob? You want to say that was violence? No sir. No ma’am. No we could have a Second Amendment rally on those same steps that we had that rally yesterday. You know, and if we do, then it’s gonna be a sad day, because there’s gonna be blood running out of that building. But at the end of the day, you mark my word, we will plant our flag on the desk of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Donald J. Trump if it boils down to it.” 

Griffin’s videographer admitted to the FBI that the men may have committed “minor trespassing” on Jan. 6. 

Griffin has a bench trial before Judge Trevor McFadden in Washington, D.C., on March 21.

He insists that the government can only keep its case against him if it can prove that he “entered or remained” in the Capitol or on Capitol grounds while Pence was also present. 

“If such photographs exist, they constitute Brady material in this case. If the journalist’s description of the images is accurate, the former vice president left the Capitol Building, passed through the subterranean tunnel network, and entered the Senate underground garage,” Griffin argued in a motion on Jan. 4. “That garage is not part of the structure of the Capitol Building. It lies between the Capitol Building and the Russell Senate Office building underneath the Senate Foundation.” 

The government responded Tuesday, telling Griffin that Brady material is defined as material in the government’s possession that has some exculpatory or impeachment value.

“The photographs requested by the defendant from the official White House photographer are not in the government’s possession, therefore, they are not considered Brady and the defendant cannot move to compel their production… similarly the defendant’s request for these photographs under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 16(A)(1)(E) should be denied as Rule 16 only requires the government to disclose photographs within its possession,” assistant U.S. attorney Matthew Graves wrote. 

Graves rejected Griffin’s contention altogether, too, saying that even under Griffin’s proposed context, Capitol grounds are still prohibited from trespass whether Pence was physically there in the moment or not. 

Andrew Laufer, a civil rights attorney, spelled it out for Daily Kos in an email Tuesday: “The government is required to disclose all exculpatory evidence, things which will assist the defendant with his defense. If the judge determines that the photo of Pence meets the criteria, an order will be issued compelling the Department of Justice to produce it.”

So, this begs a series of questions. 

Do prosecutors have the photos and have opted not to share them with Griffin because they are purportedly irrelevant to his defense?  Would a court order change what prosecutors say?

Or do prosecutors genuinely not have the photos in their possession? If not, who has them? Does the National Archives have them? 

As noted, the Jan. 6 committee asked the Archives to remit such documents as a part of its probe into the Capitol attack, but the exact nature of what has been shared with the committee is not yet clear and a legal fight is still being waged between the committee and the Trump administration over the privilege of presidential records. 

The Archives did not respond to multiple requests for comment Tuesday.

When asked about the photos, a spokesperson for the Jan. 6 committee pointed to the committee’s initial request to the Archives from Aug. 25, only confirming that it made the request for pictures or media of Pence from Jan. 6. 

The White House and the Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment and a spokesperson for Pence did not immediately respond, either.

It should be noted that Pence has reportedly been willing to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee thus far and the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, told reporters last week that the committee is still deciding on whether it should formally subpoena the former vice president. 

“I think at some point the committee will make a decision whether or not we already know enough about it or if we need to hear from the former vice president on it,” Thompson said last Monday. 

Several of Pence’s senior-most staff have already met with the committee at their request including Pence’s former national security adviser Keith Kellogg, his former chief of staff Marc Short, and onetime press secretary Alyssa Farah. 

That makes Pence’s decision to keep the photos out of view, when Jonathan Karl asked to publish them, all the more curious. 

The photographer was a government employee performing his official duties on Jan 6 — those photos are government property and should have been turned over to the National Archives under the Presidential Records Act.

— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) January 18, 2022

Trump insurgents came within seconds of capturing ‘nuclear football’ on Jan. 6

During Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, video footage of events on Jan. 6 revealed just how close Mike Pence came to falling into the hands of the people who were chanting for his execution. Fourteen minutes after the mob of Trump supporters first breached the Capitol, Secret Service agents led Pence from the Senate chamber and down a flight of stairs. He entered that stairwell just seconds ahead of the arrival of insurgents, some of whom were carrying rope or zip ties. Had those insurgents not been delayed through the actions of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, they could easily have been there to capture Pence and take him to the gallows waiting on the lawn outside.

But in addition to Pence, they might have captured something else that would have been especially problematic. For most of us, our electronic devices—phones, tablets, and laptops—are regularly trusted with our most confidential information. That’s one of the things that helps to make these devices our constant companions and among the most vital objects that we own. However, there is still information that’s considered too valuable, too sensitive, to be trusted to any electronic device, and one prime example was in the hands of a military aide who was with Mike Pence as he fled from the Senate. 

That aide was carrying a small satchel, and inside that satchel was a book listing the locations of classified military sites, a description of how to activate and use the Emergency Broadcast System, a “black book” of pre-planned military actions, and a small card that contains the codes necessary to authorize a nuclear strike. That aide was with Pence at the top of the stairs in the video that was shown during the Senate trial.

The Jan. 6 insurgents didn’t just almost get Mike Pence. They almost got the backup copy of the president’s Emergency Satchel. Better know as the “nuclear football.”

As Reuters reports, concern over how close the satchel came to being captured by the Trump horde is calling for a review of just how the vital information is carried and secured. Some form of the football goes back to President Dwight Eisenhower, but it was concerns from President John Kennedy that created the system that’s still followed today. Both the president and vice president are closely pursued by aides who have the current information necessary to respond if the nation were to fall under sudden attack. 

Following the events of Jan. 6, in which one of the footballs almost went into the hands of insurgents calling for the overthrow of the elected government, there’s a concern that this 60-year-old program may be due for some review. This wasn’t the only occasion in the last four years in which the vital information came under threat. An aide carrying the information on a trip to China got into what was described as a “tussle” with a Chinese official while Trump was having lunch with Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. That situation apparently required then chief of staff John Kelly to get into a “physical altercation” to secure the satchel.

Neither situation is particularly reassuring.

Exactly what the Trump mob might have done with the satchel had they taken it and opened it isn’t clear. There are procedures for changing the authorizations codes in the case a football is lost or stolen. However, the book of secure sites and the book of military actions—primarily military actions that the U.S. intends to take in case of an attack on the nation—are extremely sensitive and any data released from those sources could cause serious damage to national security. Had that information been captured, it would have been considered compromised even if the military wasn’t aware of any leaks of the contents. 

Just what changes are being considered to better secure the information are not clear. But just as a start, securing the Capitol against future assaults by ravening mobs of Trump supporters out for blood is a good first step.