Biden says he won’t step aside. What happens next?

Despite continuing calls for him to step aside as the Democratic Party’s nominee, President Joe Biden says he’s not going anywhere. A significant contingent of Democratic leaders disagrees with that decision.

So where do things stand now?

This year’s presidential race was already neck-and-neck heading into a June 27 debate that Biden requested, using rules he established. The result was not great, as I wrote at the time. “President Joe Biden had one job Thursday, one job only—prove to America that he still has what’s needed to be president, despite rampant questions about his age. He didn’t do that. Instead, he validated the worst criticisms.”

Three weeks later, the debate rages on inside the Democratic Party: Should Biden stay or should he go?

The problem is, there is no real mechanism to force him out. Some have said that delegates can take it upon themselves to ditch Biden, given the party rule stating that “Delegates elected to the national convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.” That sounds good on paper, except that it’s not as simple as that.

There are 3,979 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. To oust Biden, 1,990 would have to not just abandon Biden, but do so for a single other candidate. This means there would have to be an actual campaign, with all the trappings that would entail—public appeals for support, clearing the field, and managing the inherent divisiveness of such a move. (Disclosure: I’m a California delegate to the convention.)

In other words, forcing Biden out of the race against his will would require an organized rebellion and unity in purpose that is well beyond the Democratic Party’s ability. You can see it even in the statements of those demanding that Biden quit—few are clearly advocating for the obvious alternative, Vice President Kamala Harris. They all talk about some truncated primary process because the second an actual Biden alternative is named, it generates opposition from supporters of other potential replacement candidates.

That’s why on Wednesday, California Rep. Adam Schiff called for Biden to “pass the torch” without explaining how and to whom. The second he named a name, people would disagree with that alternative, starting a debate that does nothing to help us win in November.

Timing is important here, as there are several deadlines approaching. One is the party’s decision to nominate Biden in a virtual roll call, first agreed on to avoid the filing deadline in Ohio. Like Alabama, Ohio’s deadline has since been moved to after the convention, so efforts to continue with the virtual roll call appear to be motivated by the desire to shut down Biden’s intra-party detractors and lock in Biden’s nomination ahead of the late-August Democratic convention.

That doesn’t mean that Biden, even after being nominated, couldn’t drop out and release his delegates by the convention’s start. The bigger timing issue is simple: We’re less than four months away from Election Day, and every single day that the focus isn’t on Donald Trump is a day that he has effectively won the news cycle.

Elections are usually a referendum on the incumbent. This year, we effectively have two incumbents—a sitting and a former president. So in order to win, we have to make this election about Trump and ask voters whether they want to return to the chaos, incompetence, and fascist tendencies of the Trump administration … but supercharged.

538’s polling average has shown a roughly 2-point drop for Biden post debate, a relatively small effect given his disastrous performance and the media’s near-constant coverage of it. But the explanation is simple: It’s about the narrative.

Before the debate, Democrats said Trump was a dangerous liar, and Republicans said Biden was cognitively addled and old. Then the debate happened, and what did voters see? They saw that Trump was a dangerous liar, and Biden was old and suffering from cognitive decline. The narrative had been set, and the debate confirmed it. Biden missed a golden opportunity to reset that narrative, but it wasn’t to be.

Ultimately, voters saw nothing in the debate that they didn’t already assume was true.

And because of that, some Democrats’ efforts to push Biden out of the race have largely proven self-destructive. The news cycle is speeding past at a dizzying pace. An assassination attempt on Trump four days ago is now old news. Had Democrats shrugged off Biden’s performance and quickly moved on, the whole debacle would now be ancient, mostly forgotten news. Instead, Democrats have insisted on replaying the ordeal in the news every single day.

I get it—we have a lot more at stake than Republicans do. Democrats recognize that our rights and our very democracy are on the line. As for Republicans: What do they have to fear from Biden? Just look at Trump’s nickname for Biden—”Sleepy Joe.” We are fearful of losing our rights, they are fearful of what—a president that falls asleep?

We even have data on this. A March AP poll found that around 70% of Democrats were fearful of another Trump presidency, while a significantly fewer 56% of Republicans said the same about a Biden presidency. He’s just not that scary.

That’s why conservative memes often portray Biden as a puppet being manipulated by George Soros or Bernie Sanders (the Jews!), or Barack Obama or Harris (the scary Blacks!). Or maybe all of the above.  

Trump and his MAGA ilk really don’t know how to run against an old white man, someone who looks just like the Republican base. They prefer to run against the “other.” That’s always been the case, and that’s why Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on July 25, 2019, to try to manufacture a fake investigation against Hunter Biden. That was the same phone call that led to Trump’s first impeachment.

At that time, Biden was polling in the high 20s or low 30s in the Democratic primary. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were polling high, and had they united the left wing of the party, could’ve posed a serious threat. But Trump wasn’t worried about them: He was worried about Biden, and actively working to kneecap his candidacy early. Turns out, Trump had every reason to fear Biden the most.

For his part, Biden is through listening to his party’s critics. He wanted to run for president in 2016, but party leaders pushed him aside in favor of Hillary Clinton. When he geared up to run in 2019, the same voices claimed he was too old and archaic to defeat Trump. Heck, I was saying those things. Yet Biden proved his critics wrong, and did something that has only been done five times since 1912—he defeated an incumbent president.

Biden is done listening to critics.

So the critics in the Democratic Party are saying he should step aside, and he’s thinking, “They were wrong in 2016, they were wrong again in 2020, and they’re wrong again today.”

Of course, the Biden of four years ago is a different one than today’s Biden. Heck, he even seems different from the Biden who nailed the State of the Union address back on March 7. So yeah, people have reason to be freaked out, but the fundamentals of the race haven’t changed. Swapping out a candidate won’t reset the race for the Democrats; it’ll just create strife and ill feelings at a time when we need to be focused on Trump and his Project 2025 agenda. And much of what I wrote pre-debate about why Biden is not looking as bad as the polls indicate? It still holds up today.

Democrats have been overperforming polling since 2020. That includes 2022, when everyone declared that a red wave was inevitably going to sweep Democrats out of power in Congress, state houses, and state legislatures across the country. That certainly didn’t happen. And in regular and special elections, Democrats continue to overperform. Meanwhile, Trump underperformed his polling during the contested part of the Republican primary season.

Even globally, the far right has underperformed polling and expectations in India, Poland, and most recently, in France. (The right was swept out of office in the United Kingdom, but that was well predicted by the polling.) We’re consistently seeing that when facing right-wing authoritarian fascism, voters turn out in greater numbers than predicted, no matter what the polls say.

None of that means Biden is a shoo-in, but we’re not facing a calamitous situation. Indeed, Biden’s chances of winning in 538’s election model have inched up in recent days, to 54%. That’s a coin flip, within the margin of engagement. That was true before the debate, it’s true after the debate, and it will be true after the Republican convention and even the Democratic one.

The winner of the 2024 presidential election will come down to which side out-hustles the other one on the ground, turning out their vote in just a handful of battleground states. There isn’t a single potential candidate (pie-in-the-sky nominee Michelle Obama doesn’t count) that would significantly change the dynamics of this race. The country is locked into hyperpartisanship so strong that few people’s minds will be changed by anything—not even the attempted assassination of one of the candidates. (It’s true: Trump got zero bump.)

With Biden fully committed to his reelection campaign, it serves little purpose for senior Democrats to continue undermining the sitting president. You don’t have to like it (most don’t), you can think it sucks (and you might be right!), but Biden is holding all the cards. We either get back to focusing on Trump and Project 2025, or we give Trump a big assist in his bid to reoccupy the Oval Office.

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Joe Biden wants to complete his goals on civil rights, taxes, and social services if he’s reelected

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has a simple reelection pitch to voters — let him "finish the job."

So what does that mean? What's left for him to get done?

Unlike Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination who has been releasing videos and statements detailing his agenda, Biden hasn't formally released his plans as part of his campaign.

But his ambitions are no secret, and his goals for child care, community college and prescription drugs have been laid out in detail during the Democrat's first term. He also has unfulfilled promises on civil rights, such as protecting access to the ballot box, preventing police misconduct and restoring the nationwide right to abortion. Banning firearms known as assault rifles remains a priority as well.

The result is a second-term agenda that could look a lot like Biden's first-term agenda, with some of the same political challenges. Almost none of this can get done without cooperation from Congress, and many of these goals already have been blocked or pared down because of opposition on Capitol Hill.

Biden has achieved bipartisan victories on infrastructure projects and public funding for the domestic computer chip industry. But Democrats would need to win wide majorities in both the House and the Senate to clear a path for the rest of his plans.

"We're going to finish as much of the job as we can in the next year," said Bruce Reed, Biden's deputy chief of staff. "And finish the rest after that."

Biden's campaign expressed confidence that the president's agenda would stack up well against Republicans in next year's election. Kevin Munoz, a spokesman, described the election as "a choice between fighting for the middle class or shilling for rich special interests" and he said "it's a contrast we are more than happy to make."

One other difference between Biden and Trump doesn't fit neatly into policy white papers, but it's core to their political foundation. Biden has made defending American democracy a cornerstone of his administration, while Trump tried to overturn his election loss in 2020.

The result of the 2024 campaign could reshape not only government policy but the future of the country's bedrock institutions.

TAXES

Biden's plans are expensive and he doesn't want to increase the deficit, so that means he's looking to raise taxes on the wealthy.

He already has succeeded in implementing a 15% minimum tax on companies with annual income exceeding $1 billion.

Biden has proposed raising the top tax rate to 39.6%, the corporate tax rate to 28% and the stock buyback tax to 4%.

He wants a minimum tax of 25% on the wealthiest Americans, a levy that would be applied not only to income but unrealized capital gains. The idea, which Biden called the "billionaire minimum income tax," could prove difficult to put in place, not to mention extremely hard to push through Congress, given Republican opposition to higher taxes.

SOCIAL SERVICES AND HEALTH CARE

Biden's original signature plan was known as Build Back Better, a cornucopia of proposals that would have dramatically changed the role of the federal government in Americans' lives.

It was pared down because of resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who is a key vote in the narrowly divided Senate and announced this past week that he will not seek reelection. The result was the Inflation Reduction Act, which included financial incentives for clean energy and limits on prescription drug costs, but not many other programs.

Biden will want to bring back the ideas that were left on the cutting room floor. That includes making two years of community college tuition free, offering universal preschool and limiting the cost of child care to 7% of income for most families.

He also wants to resuscitate the expanded child tax credit. The American Rescue Plan, the pandemic-era relief legislation, boosted the credit to $3,000 for children over six and $3,600 for children younger than age 6. The expansion lapsed after a year, returning the credit to $2,000 per child, when his original package stalled.

More work is left on prescription drugs. The monthly cost of insulin was capped at $35 for Medicare recipients. Biden wants the same limit for all patients.

GUN VIOLENCE

The White House recently announced a new office dedicated to preventing gun violence. Biden also signed legislation that's intended to help officials keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and other dangerous people.

But Biden's biggest goal, a ban on so-called assault weapons, remains out of reach because of Republican opposition. Such a ban was in place from 1994 to 2004, but it wasn't extended after it expired. Although the proposal hasn't been spelled out in detail, it would likely affect popular high-powered weapons such as the AR-15, which can shoot dozens of bullets at a fast pace.

Another item on the wish list is universal background checks, which increase scrutiny of sales conducted through gun shows or other unlicensed avenues.

CIVIL RIGHTS

Biden took office at a time of national upheaval over the role of racism in policing and the future of democracy. George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, was murdered by a white police officer, and Trump tried to overturn Biden's election victory, leading to the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol.

Biden promised to address both of these issues through landmark legislation, but he came up short of his goals.

On policing, bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill failed to reach a deal, particularly when it came to making it easier to sue over allegations of misconduct. So Biden instead crafted an executive order with input from activists and police. The final version changes rules for federal law enforcement, but it does little to alter how local departments do their jobs.

He similarly issued an executive order on voting rights that aims to expand registration efforts. But Democratic legislation intended to solidify access to the ballot box failed to advance when some members of the party refused to sidestep Senate filibuster rules to pass it.

Biden's presidency was upended by the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed nationwide access to abortion. It's proved to be a potential campaign issue for Democrats, but they have had less success in Congress. Biden said that if his party picks up more seats, he will push for legislation codifying the right to abortion.

IMMIGRATION

On Biden's first day in office, he sent Congress his proposal for overhauling the country's immigration system. The idea went nowhere.

But the president would want to take another swing at the issue in a second term. It will prove an especially urgent topic as migrants continue crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and the country looks for the next generation of workers to achieve its economic goals.

Biden wants to allow people who are in the United States illegally to apply for legal status and eventually citizenship. He also wants a smoother and expanded visa process, particularly for foreign graduates of American universities. These steps would be paired with additional resources for border enforcement.

UKRAINE AND ISRAEL

Biden is facing two wars on two continents, and the fallout from each conflict will shape a second term even if the fighting ends before that.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been going on for almost two years, and Israel and Hamas began their latest clash about a month ago. Biden wants to send military support to Ukraine and Israel, something that he describes as "vital" to U.S. national security interests.

"History has taught us when terrorists don't pay a price for their terror, when dictators don't pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction," he said in a recent Oval Office address.

His plans will require challenging congressional negotiations. Some Republicans are resisting more assistance for Ukraine after Congress has already approved $113 billion in security, economic and humanitarian resistance.

Both conflicts will likely require years of U.S. involvement. For example, Biden is looking for a new opportunity to push for a two-state solution in the Middle East, creating an independent Palestinian country alongside Israel.

CLIMATE

Fighting global warming is one of the areas where Biden has had the most success. The Inflation Reduction Act includes nearly $375 billion for climate change, much of it going toward financial incentives for electric cars, clean energy and other initiatives. Biden is also pushing stricter regulations on vehicles and power plants.

But the U.S. is not yet on track to meet Biden's ambitious target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to independent analysts. And there's a lot of work ahead to ensure new programs reach their potential.

One hurdle is red tape for energy projects. The White House argues that it's too hard to build infrastructure such as transmission lines, but legislation to address the issue would likely require compromises with Republicans, who see an opportunity to grease the skids for additional fossil fuel development.

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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.

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

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

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

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 2, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the full transcript:

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

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

Sign the petition: Disqualify Trump from running for public office

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

It’s Year 5 Of The Biden Crime Family Coverup

By Frank Miele for RealClearWire

A truism that came out of the Watergate scandal is that often the coverup is worse than the crime. But that is not the case in the unraveling Bidengate scandal. The alleged crime here is so bad that it is probably the worst ever committed by an American president.

Yet the coverup should be studied, too. It deserves superlatives for its longevity, inventiveness, and sheer audacity. The strategy has been simple: deny, deflect, destroy. Deny the facts. Deflect with distractions, and when all else fails, work tirelessly to destroy Trump, who was among the first to raise questions about the Biden family’s shady dealings. At Year 5, it may be the most successful coverup in modern history, especially since so many of the facts have been in plain sight for the entire time.

So what exactly is Bidengate? A decade-long influence-peddling scheme that saw Joe Biden, the former vice president, using his son Hunter as a conduit for millions of dollars in payoffs from foreign entities in Ukraine, China, and elsewhere in exchange for favorable treatment. The most famous instance of this scheme was the millions of dollars paid to Hunter Biden for his role as a board member of the corrupt Burisma energy company in Ukraine. Even Hunter acknowledged that his only qualification for being on the board was his last name.

Trading on one’s name to gain employment is not a crime in itself, but using your father’s public office to influence U.S. policy is definitely against the law – especially when the clout is used to protect your corrupt foreign employer.

That’s just what happened in March of 2016 when Vice President Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine if prosecutor general Viktor Shokin were not immediately fired. Biden even bragged about this escapade a few years later when he told the story to the Council on Foreign Relations.

It’s hard to know whether Biden’s threat to withhold aid was approved by the State Department or whether it was “on the fly” diplomacy, but we do know that Shokin has publicly stated that he was fired because he was investigating Burisma’s alleged corruption, and that after he was fired there was no further substantial investigation of Burisma. Quid pro quo.

Another famous mantra from the Watergate era is “Follow the money.” It almost makes you think Biden was taunting his accusers, quipping to a reporter on June 8, “Where’s the money?” when asked about allegations of corruption.

“That’s what we want to know,” the reporter should have demanded, but of course there was no follow-up question. There never is.

Biden’s cheeky response suggests he had reason to think that he could count on the source of any ill-gotten wealth being kept private. And he may have had good reason for that belief.

On July 20, a little more than a month after Biden asked “Where’s the money?”, Sen. Chuck Grassley released an unclassified FD-1023 FBI informant form alleging that Biden and his son Hunter had split a $10 million payment from Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of Burisma. Among the many intriguing breadcrumbs in that document was the informant’s claim that the payment to the Bidens was so well disguised that it would take years to uncover:

Zlochevsky responded he did not send any funds directly to the “Big Guy” (which [the FBI source] understood was a reference to Joe Biden). [The source] asked Zlochevsky how many companies/bank accounts Zlochevsky controls; Zlochevsky responded it would take them (investigators) 10 years to find the records (i.e. illicit payments to Joe Biden).

So that’s one possible answer to Joe Biden’s taunt: “Where’s the money?” Perhaps it’s well-hidden.

Related: Jill Biden’s Ex-Husband Comes Back To Haunt Her – ‘I Can’t Let Them Do What They Did To Me To President Trump’

There are so many flashing red warning lights in the Biden scandal that a casual observer would be forgiven for assuming he was in Amsterdam. Case in point: The FBI informant reported in his June 2020 statement that Zlochevsky had called Joe Biden the “Big Guy” in 2019.

That’s the same gangster nickname that one of Hunter Biden’s business associates used to refer to Joe in an infamous email on the “Laptop from Hell” when discussing what percentage of capital equity was being held by Hunter for Joe in a Chinese investment scheme. The laptop was in FBI hands since December 2019, but the email in question wasn’t circulated in public until the New York Post published it on Oct. 15, 2020. The informant’s use of the phrase prior to that time is strong circumstantial evidence that the FBI’s trusted human source was indeed privy to confidential and damning information about Biden.

But what’s truly maddening about the Biden coverup is just how long it has lasted while more and more evidence has mounted. Recent congressional hearings unearthed a trove of detail about bank payments to Biden family members, and IRS whistleblowers have laid bare the protection racket that the FBI and DOJ have been running for the Bidens. Most of that is just confirmation of what we already knew.

Remember, the first time most Americans heard about the Bidens’ bribery schemes was in September 2019 when the transcript of a phone call between President Trump and then-new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was released. In it, Trump raised the issue of former Vice President Biden’s alleged corruption and asked Zelensky to cooperate with U.S. authorities by “looking into” rumors of criminal activity by the Bidens.

Imagine if Congress had opened an inquiry then into the question of Hunter Biden’s huge salary for sitting on the board of Burisma Energy, the company controlled by oligarch Zlochevsky. Hunter Biden might be in prison now, and his father would have retired to Delaware to live out his final years in shame.

Instead, Democrats in Congress put Trump on trial for daring to notice that which must not be named – the influence-peddling scheme run by Joe Biden and his kin. The impeachment was America’s crash course on Ukrainian corruption, but somehow the mainstream media missed the story and tried to convince the public that Biden was the victim. They hid the evidence then, just as they did last week when Hunter Biden’s sweetheart plea deal fell apart.

Related: Hunter Biden Pleads Not Guilty After Plea Deal Falls Apart

The Democrat-adjacent media seem to have a hard time understanding the case against Hunter Biden – and Joe Biden – even after five years. It’s not uncommon to hear cable news anchors lamenting that the Republicans are persecuting Joe and that they haven’t proven the president did anything wrong.

Either they don’t understand the meaning of the word proven, or they don’t understand our system of justice. It is not the job of Congress or reporters to prove anything, but rather to investigate and unearth evidence. For anyone who has eyes to see, there is a mountain of evidence against both Hunter and Joe Biden. But what we are still waiting for – what the nation is waiting for – is justice. To get that, we need a prosecutor who will present the evidence to a jury and ask for a verdict. Then and only then will the president’s guilt be proven or unproven.

How many more years do we have to wait?

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

The post It’s Year 5 Of The Biden Crime Family Coverup appeared first on The Political Insider.

Trump demands rivals quit presidential race, and more Biden investigations

By JILL COLVIN

NEW YORK (AP) — At a moment of growing legal peril, Donald Trump ramped up his calls for his GOP rivals to drop out of the 2024 presidential race as he threatened to go after Republican members of Congress who fail to focus on investigating Democratic President Joe Biden.

Trump also urged a halt to Ukrainian military aid until the White House cooperates with congressional investigations into Biden and his family.

"Every dollar spent attacking me by Republicans is a dollar given straight to the Biden campaign," Trump said at a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Saturday night.

The former president and GOP front-runner said it was time for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others he dismissed as "clowns" to clear the field, accusing them of "wasting hundreds of millions of dollars that Republicans should be using to build a massive vote-gathering operation" to take on Biden in November.

The comments came two days after federal prosecutors unveiled new criminal charges against Trump as part of the case that accuses him of illegally hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago club and refusing to turn them over to investigators. The superseding indictment unsealed Thursday alleges that Trump and two staffers sought to delete surveillance at the club in an effort to obstruct the Justice Department's investigation.

The case is just one of Trump's mounting legal challenges. His team is currently bracing for additional possible indictments, which could happen as soon as this coming week, related to his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election brought by prosecutors in both Washington and Georgia. Trump already faces criminal charges in New York over hush money payments made to women who accused him of sexual encounters during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Nevertheless, Trump remains the dominant early figure for the Republican nomination and has only seen his lead grow as the charges have mounted and as his rivals have struggled to respond. Their challenge was on display at a GOP gathering in Iowa Friday night, where they largely declined to go after Trump directly. The only one who did — accusing Trump of "running to stay out of prison" — was booed as he left the stage.

In the meantime, Trump has embraced his legal woes, turning them into the core message of his bid to return to the White House as he accuses Biden of using the Justice Department to maim his chief political rival. The White House has said repeatedly that the president has had no involvement in the cases.

At rallies, Trump has tried to frame the charges, which come with serious threats of jail time, as an attack not just on him, but those who support him.

"They're not indicting me, they're indicting you. I just happen to be standing in the way," he said in Erie, adding, "Every time the radical left Democrats, Marxists, communists and fascists indict me, I consider it actually a great badge of honor.... Because I'm being indicted for you."

But the investigations are also sucking up enormous resources that are being diverted from the nuts and bolts of the campaign. The Washington Post first reported Saturday that Trump's political action committee, Save America, will report Monday that it spent more than $40 million on legal fees during the first half of 2023 defending Trump and all of the current and former aides whose lawyers it is paying. The total is more than the campaign raised during the second quarter of the year.

"In order to combat these heinous actions by Joe Biden's cronies and to protect these innocent people from financial ruin and prevent their lives from being completely destroyed, the leadership PAC contributed to their legal fees to ensure they have representation against unlawful harassment," said Trump's spokesman Steven Cheung.

At the rally, in a former Democratic stronghold that Trump flipped in 2016, but Biden won narrowly in 2020, Trump also threatened Republicans in Congress who refuse to go along with efforts to impeach Biden. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said this past week that Republican lawmakers may consider an impeachment inquiry into the president over unproven claims of financial misconduct.

Trump, who was impeached twice while in office, said Saturday that, "The biggest complaint that I get is that the Republicans find out this information and then they do nothing about it."

"Any Republican that doesn't act on Democrat fraud should be immediately primaries and get out — out!" he told the crowd to loud applause. "They have to play tough and ... if they're not willing to do it, we got a lot of good, tough Republicans around ... and they're going to get my endorsement every singe time."

Trump, during the 2022 midterm elections, made it his mission to punish those who had voted in favor of his second impeachment. He succeeded in unseating most who had by backing primary challengers.

At the rally, Trump also called on Republican members of Congress to halt the authorization of additional military support to Ukraine, which has been mired in a war fighting Russia's invasion, until the Biden administration cooperates with Republican investigations into Biden and his family's business dealings — words that echoed the call that lead to his first impeachment.

"He's dragging into a global conflict on behalf of the very same country, Ukraine, that apparently paid his family all of these millions of dollars," Trump alleged. "In light of this information," Congress, he said, "should refuse to authorize a single additional payment of our depleted stockpiles ... the weapons stockpiles to Ukraine until the FBI, DOJ and IRS hand over every scrap of evidence they have on the Biden crime family's corrupt business dealings."

House Republicans have been investigating the Biden family's finances, particularly payments Hunter, the president's son, received from Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company that became tangled in the first impeachment of Trump.

An unnamed confidential FBI informant claimed that Burisma company officials in 2015 and 2016 sought to pay the Bidens $5 million each in return for their help ousting a Ukrainian prosecutor who was purportedly investigating the company. But a Justice Department review in 2020, while Trump was president, was closed eight months later with insufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

Trump's first impeachment by the House resulted in charges that he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to dig up dirt on the Bidens while threatening to withhold military aid. Trump was later acquitted by the Senate.

McCarthy, Senate Republicans Shrinking Away From Biden Impeachment Efforts, House Sidelines Vote

This may come as a surprise, but it’s glaringly apparent that Republican leadership does not have the stomach to pursue the impeachment of President Joe Biden.

MAGA Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) leveraged a procedural tool earlier this week to force a vote on an impeachment resolution. The resolution alleges Biden violated his oath by failing to enforce immigration laws and secure the southern border.

In a strictly party-line vote, 219-208, the House voted Thursday to send the matter to a pair of congressional committees – the House Homeland Security and Judiciary – for possible consideration.

Sounds good, right?

Except, as the Associated Press points out, those committees “are under no obligation to do anything.”

They describe the effort as having “pushed off” the impeachment resolution, while Reuters reports that the House has “sidelined” the measure.

RELATED: GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy Pre-Surrenders, Saying GOP Won’t Impeach Biden

Shrinking Violets: Republicans Retreating From Biden Impeachment

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been trying to tamp down impeachment efforts from firebrand GOP lawmakers Boebert and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Greene (R-GA) has announced plans for similar impeachment initiatives against Biden, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves, the attorney prosecuting January 6 participants.

McCarthy, meanwhile, urged Republicans to oppose Boebert’s resolution, saying, “I don’t think it’s the right thing to do” and citing a need for investigation and following the traditional process.

McCarthy is being true to form, so long as you listen very carefully to what he says. Just a couple of weeks before the midterm elections he wasn’t a fan of impeaching President Biden.

“I think the country doesn’t like impeachment used for political purposes at all,” said McCarthy. “If anyone ever rises to that occasion, you have to, but I think the country wants to heal and … start to see the system that actually works.”

Perhaps he doesn’t recall that Democrats didn’t give a rip about whether or not former President Donald Trump “rose to the occasion of impeachment,” going after him twice for requesting an investigation of corruption in Ukraine and for telling people to protest peacefully at the Capitol.

Considering recent news, Trump’s ask for an investigation was perfectly legitimate.

Perhaps Greene should have been directing her recent remarks about Boebert to the Speaker instead.

RELATED: MAGA Fight Consumes House Floor as Marjorie Taylor Greene Goes After Lauren Boebert, Calls Her a ‘Little B****’

Senate Republicans Too

A new Axios report indicates Senate Republicans are also a bit squeamish about pursuing President Biden’s impeachment. Several top GOP senators – members of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership team – are quoted as being in opposition.

  • Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) – “I don’t know what they’re basing the president’s impeachment on … I can’t imagine going down that road.”
  • John Thune (R-SD) – “I’d rather focus on the policy agenda, the vision for the future, and go on and win elections.”
  • Steve Daines (R-MT) – Hasn’t “seen evidence that would rise to an impeachable offense.”

Senator Daines – You haven’t seen any evidence?! Perhaps a visit to the optometrist is in order.

The border crisis, Afghanistan withdrawal, the criminal pursuit of political opponents, colluding with school boards to treat parents like terrorists, corruption and bribery, an obvious lack of mental acuity? Do any of these things ring a bell?

What is the point of the Republican party right now? Can anybody explain what they’re doing?

Perhaps these Republican squishes should listen to the words of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) who pointed out that it was the Democrats who opened Pandora’s Box when it comes to impeachment.

“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.

It’s time the GOP exercised its own power. Their colleagues on the other side of the aisle didn’t hesitate to take down Trump’s presidency. They won’t hesitate to do the same if a Republican wins the White House in 2024.

Grow a spine.

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The post McCarthy, Senate Republicans Shrinking Away From Biden Impeachment Efforts, House Sidelines Vote appeared first on The Political Insider.

Roger Stone bemoans DeSantis’ ‘ingratitude’ and ‘treachery’ for considering 2024 run against Trump

Former Trump campaign adviser and longtime cartoon villain Roger Stone is hoping to frighten away any competition Trump may have in his 2024 presidential run. Roger Stone has set his sights on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a man who no doubt expected support from the former president after years of public ass-kissing. Like Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis is finding out that loyalty is not a two-way street in Trump’s world. 

HuffPost reports that Stone seems convinced of a third Trump presidential run in 2024, despite the fact that the former president has never announced it.

Stone wrote on Telegram that Trump has given “every indication that he’s running for president in 2024,” adding that if DeSantis ran against him, it would be the “most stunning act of ingratitude and treachery in the history of American politics,” which is funny because if anyone understands treachery, it’s Roger Stone, and if anyone understands the history of American politics, they’d know this is not even in the top 20 moments of treachery.

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Stone went on to write that Trump’s gubernatorial endorsement of DeSantis in 2019 “MADE Ron DeSanctimonius Governor” and finished his post by adding the hashtag “ingrate.”

In a debate last Monday against his Democratic opponent Charlie Crist, DeSantis was asked by Crist whether he could commit to serving the entire four years if he were reelected as governor. In response, DeSantis stood like a zombie for an uncomfortably long time.

“You talk about Joe Biden a lot. I understand you think you're going to be running against him. I can see how you might get confused. But you're running for governor. You're running for governor. And I have a question for you. You're running for governor. Why don't you look in the eyes of the people of the state of Florida and say to them, if you're reelected, you will serve a full four-year term as governor?”

While DeSantis waited for the clock to run out, Crist continued:

“Yes or no? Yes or no, Ron? Will you serve a full four-year term if you're reelected governor of Florida? It's not a tough question. It's a fair question. He won't tell you.”

Still, DeSantis said nothing.

This isn’t the first time Stone has gone hard against DeSantis. In April, The Daily Beast reported that Stone, a self-proclaimed “dirty trickster,” posted a video ripping into DeSantis and calling the Florida governor “a piece of [shit].”

This weekend, Roger Stone posted a video of himself telling Trump that Ron DeSantis is “a piece of [shit].” pic.twitter.com/Kk8Phnolzc

— Zachary Petrizzo (@ZTPetrizzo) April 17, 2022

Stone told The Daily Beast at the time, “Ron DeSantis would not be governor without the Republican primary endorsement of president Donald Trump. [...] While DeSantis has been a good governor and I support his re-election, I believe he should tell the former president that he will step aside if Trump decides to run in 2024. DeSantis has not done so I therefore I will not stop criticizing him for disloyalty.”

But, as we know, Stone’s loyalty is as fleeting as a snowflake in Florida.

The Daily Beast, which originally reported the story, wrote that during one scene filmed on Jan. 20, 2021, in the new documentary A Storm Foretold, Stone is seen trashing his BFF Trump. He says he told the former president that if he ran again, he’d get his “f***ing brains beat in.” Stone goes on to say that he’s “done with this president” and is “gonna go public supporting impeachment—I have no choice. He has to go. He has to go.”

Footage from Jan 20 2021. Stone supports impeaching Trump:“Run again you’ll get your fucking brains beat in.” pic.twitter.com/HDiCaehRg7

— Christoffer Guldbrandsen (@cguld) October 15, 2022

This was after Trump apparently refused to pardon Stone for his role on the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In another scene, Stone was filmed as he attacked Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“Jared Kushner has an IQ of 70. He’s coming to Miami. We will eject him from Miami very quickly; he will be leaving very quickly.”

Stone went on to rant about Ivanka Trump, calling her Trump’s “abortionist bitch daughter.”

Trump did go on to use the power of his office to commute Stone’s sentence on seven felony convictions that left Stone facing a sentence of 40 months in federal prison, The New York Times reported in July 2020.

One Republican lawmaker spoke out about the commutation.

Mitt Romney tweeted, “Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.”

Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.

— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) July 11, 2020

Today on The Brief, we speak with Way To Win’s co-founder and vice president, Jenifer Fernandez Ancona. Ancona comes in to discuss how grassroots progressive groups are spending money in the hopes of getting as many voters as possible out for the midterm elections. She also talks about which campaign advertisements are effective and which are not. One thing is for sure, though: We are living in historic times, and what that means for these midterms cannot be easily predicted—so Get Out The Vote!