2020 was an election theft dry run for Republicans. Next time, they could succeed

Every election starting now and into the foreseeable future is going to be the most important election of our lifetime. Until the Republican Party as we currently know it is ground to dust, scorched, and the earth on which it stands is salted, the threat of white nationalistic fascism will remain. Right now, in 2022, Republicans are running explicitly on undermining representative democracy, from the smallest local positions up through the state legislatures and all the way to Congress. They are converging behind the Big Lie and promising that they are going to fix it so that they don’t lose any more elections. So that Donald Trump (or his stand-in) will take the 2024 election.

They’re not even trying to be subtle about it—it’s explicit in so many campaigns for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state in plenty of battlegrounds, including the states that Trump tried to contest in 2020.

“What we’re seeing right now is unprecedented,” Joanna Lydgate, co-founder and CEO of States United Action, told CNN’s Rod Brownstein. “To see candidates running on a platform of lies and conspiracy theories about our elections as a campaign position, to see a former President getting involved in endorsing in down-ballot races at the primary level, and certainly to see this kind of systemic attacks on our elections, this spreading of disinformation about our elections—we’ve never seen anything like this before as a country.”

RELATED STORY: Republican state legislators are laying the groundwork to overturn the next election

Brownstein reports on a study released last week—commissioned by the groups States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, and Law Forward—which determined that 13 states have already approved laws to make sure there will be partisan control over election administration, laws to intimidate election administrators, and laws requiring audits of the 2020 election, as if that is a thing. That’s beyond the orgy they’ve been having for the past decade with voter suppression laws, which hasn’t ended either. Thirty-three states have another 229 bills related to denying the results of the last election, and to limiting the electorate and predetermining the outcome of future elections.

“Taken separately, each of these bills would chip away at the system of free and fair elections that Americans have sustained, and worked to improve, for generations,” the groups concluded. “Taken together, they could lead to an election in which the voters’ choices are disregarded and the election sabotaged.”

“In the leadup to the 2020 election, those who warned of a potential crisis were dismissed as alarmists by far too many Americans who should have seen the writing on the wall,” Jessica Marsden, counsel at Protect Democracy, told Brownstein in an email. “Almost two years later, after an attempted coup and a violent insurrection on our Capitol, election conspiracy theorists—including those who actually participated in January 6—are being nominated by the GOP to hold the most consequential offices for overseeing the 2024 election.”

“It’s all connected,” Lydgate said. “The playbook is to try to change the rules and change the referees, so you can change the results.”

They’ve got a very powerful referee on their side in the form of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

A casual observer might reasonably conclude that Ginni and Clarence Thomas are working in tandem to lay the groundwork for the next coup—with Ginni taking up the politics and Clarence handling the legal side. The symmetry between their work is remarkable. https://t.co/wUh5TiHk4q pic.twitter.com/tooRedMQJk

— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) May 23, 2022

Thomas won’t recuse himself from any of these cases, and as of now, a Democratic Congress doesn’t seem particularly interested in trying to force him to via the threat of investigation and impeachment.

“What’s past is prologue, and what was done sloppily in 2020 is being mapped out by experts for 2024,” Slate’s Stern and Dahlia Lithwick write. “It didn’t work in 2020 because the legal and political structures to support it weren’t in place at the time. Those pieces are being put into place as we type this.” That’s the story Brownstein is also trying to get to Democrats and the rest of the traditional media—anyone who will listen and can do something about it.

There are answers. There are ways to fix this. They start with electing enough Democrats to state offices to make sure the damage the fascists can do is limited. We can also elect enough Democrats to the House and to the Senate to make the two Republican-friendly, obstructionist Democratic senators irrelevant.

Then it’ll be a matter of convincing that Democratic majority and a Democratic president that none of this is blogger hysteria, but a very real threat to our freedoms that has everybody else’s hair on fire. Saving our representative democracy means expanding and reforming the court.

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Nearly 70% Of Republicans Want Biden Impeached After 2022 Midterm Elections

As the November midterm elections inch closer, Americans’ struggle everyday with inflation and increasing gas and food prices with no end in sight.

Needless to say, that doesn’t bode well for those who are in charge – but it also has the effect of energizing the opposition.

A new UMass Amherst/YouGov poll shows that should Republicans retake Congress this fall after the midterm election, 68% of Republicans want President Joe Biden impeached.

And if the nation’s economic woes continue, that number is likely to climb.

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Poll Highlights

Of those polled, over two-thirds of Republicans want Biden charged with “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” 

As many would guess, the issue that’s by far top-of-mind for most voters is the economy. (Though for Democrat voters, while the economy takes top billing at 22%, the next ‘most important issue’ is ‘climate change’ at 20%.) 

Immigration takes second billing, followed by abortion and health care. 

Broken down by party, the top issues for Republican voters are the economy, immigration, and abortion. 

For Democrats, it’s the economy, climate change, and abortion. 

For independents: the economy, health care, and immigration.

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‘Multiple Grounds’ 

The way the Republicans see it, there are plenty of reasons to bring charges of impeachment against Joe Biden, and it has been talked about for a while.

Back in January on his podcast, Texas Senator Ted Cruz gave one of the strongest arguments for a Biden impeachment:

“Probably the most compelling is the utter lawlessness of President Biden’s refusal to enforce the border. His decision to just defy federal immigration laws and allow 2 million people to come here unimpeded in direct contravention of his obligation under Article 2 of the Constitution to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. That is probably the strongest grounds right now for impeachment, but there may be others.”

Even as far back as fall of 2021, a group of Republicans did file articles of impeachment after the disastrous pullout of American forces from Afghanistan. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) tweeted at the time,

“I filed articles of impeachment against @POTUS based on what I believe to be clear violations of his duties. There are dynamics in Congress preventing this from being debated. But I could not stand by while Biden commits flagrant & deliberate violations of his oath of office.”

Several other items that could trigger impeachment proceedings are possible hearings looking into the foreign business dealings of Biden’s son Hunter, and what if any involvement the President had in those deals.

POLL: Should President Biden be impeached?

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Other Biden Worries

Joe Biden and the Democrats have plenty to worry about way before any impeachment proceedings. A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research poll shows Biden’s approval ratings at a dismal 39%.

When broken down by issues, the numbers are still as bad. On things like the economy and the Russian-Ukraine conflict, more Americans disapprove of Biden’s job performance than approve.

Joe Biden is also rapidly losing a previously reliable Democrat demographic. Approval among Hispanics has dropped to 26%, while a whopping 60% disapprove. 

Rep. Bob Good of Virginia may have given the best insight into what Republicans plans might be if they win big in 2022. He stated,

“I believe Joe Biden has intentionally done more to harm the country than any president in American history with the border situation. He deserves to be impeached for that alone, let alone anything else.”

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In leaked audio, Sen. Lindsey Graham calls Biden ‘maybe the best person to have’ as president

Let it be known that during a brief, ephemeral moment when Donald Trump sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham momentarily gained a conscience and understood just how horrific the Jan. 6 insurrection provoked by Trump's lies really was, even he expressed relief that Joe Biden would soon be taking office and sending Trump back to the toxic swamp from which he came.

"We'll actually come out of this thing stronger," Graham told reporter Jonathan Martin in a recording only being released by Martin now to goose publicity for his new book. "Moments like this reset. It'll take a while."

Martin probed Graham on his optimism: "And Biden will be better, right?"

"Yeah, totally," responded Graham. "He'll be maybe the best person to have, right? I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?"

Yeah, we're all just going to have to let that sit there for a while. It turns out that Lindsey Graham is just as wrong about the actions the Lindsey Graham of the future will take as he is about everything else. What followed next was indeed Graham's predicted "reset," but it was he and his closest allies who did the resetting. In the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup, numerous Republican House and Senate leaders expressed horror at the violence Trump had unleashed and privately vowed to cut him loose, or at least think real hard about cutting him loose. House minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy was among those to float either removing Trump as unfit for office or asking for his resignation.

But then Republicans "reset," and not only returned to rally around Trump but to publicly dismiss the severity of the violent coup, to near-unanimously once again support Trump during his impeachment trial, and indeed to flit to Trump's Florida crime laboratory to publicly polish his boots. (A fun thing to think about: McCarthy and all the other Republican visitors presumably not knowing, during their Mar-a-Lago trips, that inside a private room sat boxes of documents Trump had stolen from the government, some of them highly classified. Or maybe Trump was handing them out as party favors.)

And Graham bungled his prediction even worse when he supposed that nobody could get too mad at the incoming Joe Biden. Republicans quite swiftly pivoted back into lying about Biden outright, and Biden's every new proposal was met with bulging Republican eyes as lawmakers declared him to be the real "fascist."

Graham and the others weighed an attempted coup against proposals to hike corporate tax rates or speed the transition away from fossil fuels and decided that they preferred the coup. So here we are—except, now, with Republican state legislatures and Republican Party functionaries all hurriedly scribbling up new rules allowing the precise methods Trump attempted for his coup, evidence-free declarations that some communities should not have their votes counted paired with new Republican means of overturning elections if the votes do not go their way, to go forward with less resistance next time around.

In Graham's case the motives for flipping from outrage to coverup may be simpler than most. Graham himself was one of the Republicans to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to alter presidential vote totals in the state, backing the very Trump strategies that would soon consolidate into an attempted coup.

Yes, Lindsey Graham is a terrible person. Just terrible. This has been evident for years and was evident when he ditched his longtime ally Sen. John McCain to back Trumpism instead, and is evident every time he defends Republican sexual assaults, international crimes, or violent coup attempts with teary eyes and sneering contempt for the witnesses. He is a horrible, horrible, horrible person of the sort that Republicanism breeds; you cannot back Trumpism after all that has happened unless your devotion to horribleness surpasses every other ambition and personality trait.

So-called journalists who keep private these demonstrations that our elected officials lie constantly and grotesquely to us, exposing them only later when the quotes can be better monetized, aren't much better.

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Schiff: ‘The court is the most unrepresentative body in the U.S.’ and ‘needs to be unstacked’

The effort by a handful of committed Democrats to elevate Supreme Court expansion got a powerful boost this week when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) added his voice. In a tweet Wednesday, Schiff said: “What I care about is that a small number of conservative justices, who lied about their plans to the Senate, intend to deprive millions of women of reproductive care. Codifying Roe isn't enough. We must expand the court.”

He elaborated on that in an interview with CBS News’ Robert Costa Thursday. “I think the court is now the most unrepresentative body in the United States,” He said. “It is a socially conservative court that has moved in a partisan direction to enact a partisan agenda. And it is the result of Mitch McConnell withholding a justice when Barack Obama was president and then forcing through a justice in the waning days before the election with President Trump.”  

Rep. Adam Schiff on why he has called for the Supreme Court to be expanded: "I think the court is now the most unrepresentative body in the United States." pic.twitter.com/xJ7WKIH1Vt

— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 5, 2022

“As a result, the court is now stacked in this socially conservative way and I think it needs to be unstacked,” he continued. 

“Stacked” or “packed” by McConnell and Trump, choose your rhetoric, the result is the same: “the court is now in a position to force on America a policy regarding abortion that America does not agree with, that puts women’s health at risk and I think is disastrous for the country.”

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

The first order of business for congressional Democrats, he said, is to hold the vote on legislation to codify Roe v. Wade. He had a message for the two supposedly pro-choice senators who aided and abetted McConnell and Trump in this, as well as for the anti-filibuster Democrats: “I have to hope that some of these senators that bought these assurances from these Supreme Court nominees when they—before the Senate, under oath—said that they would respect precedent, having seen those promises betrayed, would support legislation now to codify Roe and do what’s necessary to overcome the filibuster to do it.”

That’s not going to happen, not even for as profound an issue as saving reproductive rights. But don’t get discouraged, says another key proponent for expanding the court, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). She gave a much-needed pep talk to all of us in Teen Vogue this week. “We may not end the filibuster in the next hour and a half, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't fight to do exactly that. To make change takes not only passion, but persistence. We gotta turn the heat up under it, and keep it up,” she said.

“Those who don't want to make change count on the fact that people get tired. Over Roe v. Wade, we don't have the luxury of getting tired. So if we want to make real change, we've got to push [to end the filibuster].”

She also gave an impassioned argument for expanding the court and for Democrats to keep fighting. “We need to be as visionary as right-wing Republicans have been,” she said. “The Roe decision, at some level, should have shocked no one. They've been working on this for decades. They've been working to stack the Supreme Court, so that it would be a handful of extremists who would deliver one opinion after another that would impose their worldview on the rest of us.”

“The number of justices on the Supreme Court is determined by Congress, that's what the Constitution says,” she pointed out. “Nine is not a magic number. It's been changed seven times before. When a court has gotten this far out of sync with American values, then it's time to expand the court and pull it back toward the middle.”

That’s the fight. It wouldn’t hurt for Schiff, who led the first Trump impeachment, to start making a legislative case for expansion by investigating all five extremist justices for swearing, under oath, to varying degrees of fealty to the idea of stare decisis—Supreme Court precedent. They all lied to different degrees about the respect they would give to the previous courts’ decisions.

They’ve, as Schiff said, squandered the integrity of the court. “[S]adly, most Americans now view the court as they should in the wake of this draft opinion as no longer a conservative legal court but merely a partisan one. The court has sadly become a partisan institution, like every other.” 

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Another book again confirms that Trump wanted the military to ‘just shoot’ BLM protesters

In news we already knew but now know more, er, knowingly, a new book by ex-Trump secretary of defense Mark Esper confirms that yes, Donald Trump really did want to "just shoot" Black Lives Matter protesters rallying near the White House during the 2020 protests. Specifically, Trump said he wanted the U.S. military to "beat the fuck" out of the protesters, and told Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Mark Milley and other top administration officials to "just shoot them" on several occasions. When Milley and then-attorney general Bill Barr resisted due to the blazing illegality of such an order and, let's assume, not wanting to spend the rest of their lives in prison on this bozo's behalf, Trump modified his proposal to "just shoot them in the legs or something?"

We knew these incidents had taken place because a previous book profiting off the slow death of democracy described them last year; Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender's 2021 book revealed them in similar detail, including Trump's demands to use military force, "beat the fuck" out of protesters, and "shoot them in the leg" or "maybe the foot."

That earlier book also gave us the heartwarming scene in which a fed-up Gen. Milley, tired of White House white nationalist Stephen Miller egging Trump on with claims that parts of the United States were now a "war zone" due to the protests, "spun around in his seat" and told Miller to "shut the fuck up, Stephen." There is no military medal awarded to generals who personally tell Stephen Miller to "shut the fuck up," but there ought to be. We're all perhaps a bit disappointed Milley didn't shoot Miller in the leg or "maybe the foot," but there you go. That's military discipline for you.

What Mark Esper's new book brings to the scene is confirmation by another participant that yes, all of this really did take place and they took place just as previous accounts said. Donald Trump wanted to use the military, and he specifically wanted to use the military to kill protesters or, after meeting resistance from the rest of his staff, shoot them "in the legs" so that they could no longer march against his self-imagined greatness. That Black Lives Matter protesters might have had a legitimate point to make never crossed his mind; that he, as president, was not allowed to simply murder protesters outright was something he struggled to understand even as the top officials who would have to order such murders tried to explain it to him.

Listen to Markos and Kerry Eleveld talk Ukraine and speak with Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler on how hitting back at Republicans helps win elections on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

Truly, the worst president ever. Possibly the worst human being ever, though that's a value judgment—and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is making his own bid for both positions, so Trump may last as America's Worst President for no longer than George W. Bush did before him.

The purpose of Esper's book is self-redemption. Esper was Trump's secretary of defense during a time, post-impeachment, when Trump was widely purging the U.S. government of anyone thought to be disloyal, felt newly emboldened after Senate Republicans immunized him from the consequences of a Watergate-plus sized campaign of political corruption, and was increasingly deemed by many to be dangerously unstable—as he would go on to prove at numerous points during the 2020 campaign and post-election, culminating in an attempted coup. Esper was one of Trump's enforcers, as Trump attempted to do to the military what he was doing everywhere else, only to be replaced after Trump's November election loss with the more-toadying Christopher Miller.

Whatever career Mark Esper once had before Trump appeared on scene is now well and truly gone; he will remembered now alongside William Barr and other Republicans who protected Trump through years of corrupt, self-serving, often-delusional, nation-harming behaviors only to write up books afterwards mumbling that they were Actually against all of the outright evil things all along, or were against at least some vanishingly small number of them, and ought to still be served in public restaurants and invited to Washington parties.

If a sitting president of the United States repeatedly—no, incessantly—asks his staff to do criminal things, anything from the political extortion of an at-war government to further a propaganda effort to requesting that Americans protesting against him simply be murdered, refusing to do the murder part is not bold. Trump's vast and wide-ranging ignorance made him an incompetent leader during every national crisis he was faced with. He could not grasp security briefings, forcing staff to include frequent mentions of him to at least keep him reading; he was so obsessed with self-promotion that he altered government hurricane maps and promoted the altered forecasts rather than admitting to a piffling Twitter mistake; his prescriptions for dealing with pandemic continuously did active harm to the nation, even as his lack of focus made more organized and sensible responses impossible.

All of this was a pattern and was being warned of, incessantly, both long before and during every winter day leading up to a Trump-led attempted coup. His own staff knew of his history of demanding illegal or corrupt actions—and, after his election loss, much of his stalwart-Republican staff helped him take those actions. Some, like chief of staff Mark Meadows, may have played a more pivotal role in attempting to nullify the election than the buffoonish Trump could himself even manage.

You do not get to say, "I worked for the man who soon afterward attempted to end United States democracy," and append "but was of course against the coup part," unless you can provide even a teaspoon of evidence of being "against" the government purges, political purges, manufacturing of hoaxes, flagrant daily lying, contempt for the American public, white nationalism, autocratic demands, and ingrained fascist beliefs that had been laying the groundwork for that outcome through Trump's whole long, crooked descent. There's now an entire cottage industry of hard-right Republican officials who helped Trump do extraordinarily bad and damaging things, but who are propping themselves up now on the pretense that, well, at least they did not support murdering protesters outright, or at least they did not support attempts to capture or murder Trump-opposed House and Senate leaders, or at least they did not help the rest of Trump's staff in schemes to declare that the vice president could scrub out the votes of whatever Americans he wanted to, in order to arrive at whatever election outcome the current leaders of government wished to announce.

You especially cannot respond to an attempt to overthrow democracy itself by demanding that Americans move on while your party allies write new election laws to get around the flaws of the first coup attempt and make a second one easier to muster. You don't get to say, "I am still a Republican," without adding, "even though the party both plotted an election-nullifying coup and is continuing to protect its plotters."

Take your books and shove them. Do something worthy of redemption before demanding it. William Barr, Mark Esper, the blizzard of propagandist-to-news-"analyst" career slides—Americans have every right to treat all of these people with contempt for their parts in normalizing horrific acts, bragging that they prevented even more horrific acts, and demanding the nation move on without any doled-out consequence or comeuppance. We've got library book bans now. We've got a party that has convinced the majority of American voters that our elections are illegitimate—based on a barrage of internet hoaxes and nothing more. White nationalism is now a party plank, such that even mentions of racism in American history are now fodder for public retaliation.

Stuff your books. Abandon your party or do your part to redeem it—or shut the fuck up, Stephen. Nobody has time to give you the attention you seek.

McCarthy does damage control with House Republicans over leaked recordings

Despite Tucker Carlson's rant saying he “sounds like an MSNBC contributor” in recently released recordings and is a “puppet of the Democratic Party,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appears to be hanging on to the support of his fellow House Republicans. 

In January 2021, in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy claimed he was going to pressure Donald Trump to resign. He said Rep. Matt Gaetz was “putting people in jeopardy” and that he would tell Gaetz to “cut this shit out.” He wondered, of some House Republicans, “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?” But apparently, McCarthy has done enough sucking up over the past 15 months to convince the far right, including Trump, that he can be relied on to keep sucking up and supporting assaults on democracy.

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McCarthy reportedly got a standing ovation at a House Republican meeting Wednesday, after he claimed that all those comments were part of a “conversation about scenarios” and worked to focus attention on winning in November.

”McCarthy has explained that his comments about resignation were made only in the context of an anticipated impeachment conviction, and he has argued that he did not really want to kick members off Twitter,” The Washington Post reports, based on an anonymous “person familiar with the comments.” The part about the comments about resignation isn’t too far out of line with the recordings, in which McCarthy said, “This is, this is what I think. We know [the impeachment resolution will] pass the House. I think there’s a good chance it’ll pass the Senate, even when he’s gone. Um, and I think there’s a lot of different ramifications for that,” and speculated about whether Democrats would follow through on impeaching Trump if he resigned first. But the part about not really wanting Republicans kicked off Twitter is a strong case of “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying ears?” Most House Republicans are apparently willing to believe McCarthy, despite the clarity of the recording.

Gaetz remains unhappy, speaking out at the Republican meeting. But while Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly called on Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, to apologize for his comments on the recordings, and said she was hurt by McCarthy’s comments, it seems that McCarthy has done enough to butter her up—Greene isn’t after his head. And all it took was McCarthy coming out of a discussion about her speaking at a white nationalist event and pledging that he’d restore her committee assignments if Republicans control the House, and—as she told her fellow Republicans on Wednesday—working on getting her reinstated on Twitter.

In addition to his Wednesday comments claiming he had just been gaming out scenarios and hadn’t meant what he said and don’t Republicans want to win in November, a large part of McCarthy’s effort to get past his recorded comments has involved further sucking up to Trump. He talked to Trump three times in the 24 hours after the first round of recordings became public, the Post reports, and Trump told The Wall Street Journal the two men’s relationship was good. 

But it’s Trump, so it’s all transactional. “He will extract something from it. I’m sure of that. He will hold it over McCarthy,” someone who had talked to Trump about the recordings told the Post. Trump understands that he’s dealing with someone weak, someone he can handle:

" 'Inferiority complex,' Trump said." https://t.co/68nQvjJnYV

— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) April 28, 2022

It’s not transactional with only Trump, either—as the explanation for Greene’s muted tone about the recordings shows. McCarthy has spent 15 months making sure that Trump and Greene and everyone else understands that his ambition to be speaker is definitely more important than upholding democracy or ensuring accountability after an insurrection.

Whatever McCarthy really thinks about January 6, or about some of his members’ Twitter accounts … doesn’t matter. Because the only thing that matters for McCarthy is Republican power, and his own power within his party. And since most of his fellow Republicans share the former goal and think he can help deliver it, his barrage of phone calls to Trump and his refusal to discipline Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar for speaking at a white nationalist event, and his help with Greene’s Twitter account are enough for him to hang onto the latter.

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Republicans plot a wave of impeachments if they take the House

Republicans are teeing up their next move toward making the U.S. government completely unable to function. If they take control of the House, as they are favored to do, they will come in already having laid the groundwork to begin impeaching Cabinet officials, starting with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandra Mayorkas.

On Monday, 133 Republican House members sent Mayorkas a letter accusing him of “disregard for the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws” and actions that have “willingly endangered American citizens and undermined the rule of law and our nation’s sovereignty.” Basically, Mayorkas has not kept every single one of Donald Trump’s hateful immigration policies in place. 

RELATED STORY: Dear reporters: Please don't parrot back whatever noted liar Kevin McCarthy says at the border today

Though the letter doesn’t use the word “impeach,” it makes a not very veiled threat: “Your failure to secure the border and enforce the laws passed by Congress raises grave questions about your suitability for office.”

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the threat explicit in the Monday border visit he used to try to distract from having been caught in a set of big lies about his attitude toward Trump and Jan. 6. “This is his moment in time to do his job,” McCarthy said of Mayorkas. “But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody.”

Mayorkas is supposedly “derelict,” while Republicans have nothing bad to say about expensive and useless theater conducted at the border by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

But a move to impeach Mayorkas probably wouldn’t be the end of Republican efforts to hobble President Biden's administration and make being a Cabinet official from one party punishable by impeachment if the other party held the House. The reporting at Axios can be faulted on many fronts, but the outlet has excellent Republican sourcing. Here’s what it takes from its sources: “For the first year of President Biden's term, it was mostly the hard right of the GOP who entertained impeaching the president and his Cabinet secretaries. But those deliberations are now happening among a much larger group — even with virtually no precedent or legal justification.”

One Cabinet official has ever been impeached in U.S. history. Republicans are getting ready to make that commonplace, not because Cabinet officials suddenly magically got worse, but because the Republican Party is committed to sabotaging not just a Democratic administration but voters’ faith that the government can function effectively.

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Florida man revels in vexing his GOP colleagues. His name isn’t Donald Trump

Leadership abhors a vacuum and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is Exhibit A. First, McConnell had the chance to finish off Donald Trump’s political future during his second impeachment but failed to seal the deal.

Next, McConnell had a chance to give Americans a Republican vision they could vote for in November, but he demurred—choosing instead to offer nothing for which Republicans could be held to account as a cynical campaign strategy.

Now, McConnell’s getting burned on both fronts—by Scott and Trump alike. Trump is getting his jollies by carpet bombing the 2022 landscape with endorsements at will. At the same time, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who's running the Senate GOP's bid to retake the upper chamber, has pounced on McConnell's unsteady grip on the caucus.

After Scott dropped his disastrous 11-point plan to "Rescue America" last month on "an unsuspecting party,” he relished the upheaval he created, according to a delightful Washington Post account.

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Scott used a Wall Street Journal op-ed to malign his critics as "careerists in Washington" and jeered, "Bring it on." He also restructured the National Republican Senatorial Committee's fundraising efforts to line his own campaign coffers and then punched back at his detractors.

“We don’t spend much time worrying about criticisms from anonymous Republican consultants who lost the Senate last cycle and who have gotten rich off maintaining the status quo,” Chris Hartline, NRSC communications director and Scott campaign spokesperson, told the Post.

But the pugnacity of Scott and his allies doesn't reverse the fact that he's adding significant deadweight to GOP efforts in November.

For one, he sucking up a lot of money for himself. Donors at some of his events (including in Florida) have been asked to divide their first $10,800 between Scott's campaign account and his own leadership PAC before gifting more to the NRSC account.

The Senate GOP committee is pretty flush at $33 million—$13 million more than at the same point in 2020 and more than twice as much in 2018.

But Scott isn't up for reelection and, as one GOP strategist noted, “He is doing it in a state where there is an incumbent senator who is in-cycle." That would be Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

But that's just one example plaguing what colleagues joke has become the "National Rick Scott Committee." Another change includes Scott whittling down the cut for candidates who let the NRSC fundraise off their images in digital ads. Candidates used to split the haul 50-50 with the committee along with getting donors' names but, under Scott, they get just 10% of donations plus donor names.

Overall, the takeaway among many of the colleagues Scott is supposed to be helping is that "Rick Scott seems to care a lot more about his political future than the Senate incumbents he is supposed to be working for,” according to one anonymous source.

But one group that is extremely pleased with Scott's efforts is Senate Democrats.

“We’ve got three words for him: Keep it up,” said David Bergstein, the communications director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has been readily highlighting Scott's plan to raise taxes on more than 100 million American households as well as sunset Medicare and Social Security.

"No NRSC chair has done more for Senate Democrats than Rick Scott,” Bergstein added.

Someone else who applauds Scott's self-serving actions is a fellow Florida man who loves anyone and anything that becomes a thorn in McConnell's side.

“I don’t agree with everything in the plan, but Rick is a good man,” Donald Trump said.

Trump’s statement, however, surely says more about his hatred for McConnell than it does Scott's stewardship of the NRSC.

“I’d take Romney over McConnell,” Trump recently said of Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who became the lone GOP senator to vote in favor of Trump's first impeachment. “I think he’d do a better job, and I think Romney is a lowlife.”

For his part, McConnell would be in a much better position to put Scott's GOP agenda to rest if he would bother to pound out a plan of his own. But the fact is, Scott dared to tell Americans what Republicans stand for and McConnell hasn't. And there's really no telling who will be running the Senate GOP caucus if Trump runs again in 2024 and wins.

McConnell can thank himself for that too.

The Trump-Putin axis will continue to haunt the GOP throughout the war in Ukraine

The longer the savagery of Russian President Vladimir Putin drags on in Ukraine, the more the conflict calls into question Donald Trump's relentless fealty to a man who is increasingly viewed as perpetrating genocide against the Ukrainian people.

The headline of one of Wednesday's lead stories on Politico read, "As Ukraine war intensifies, questions from first Trump impeachment linger."

The story notes that Trump withholding military assistance from Ukraine in exchange for a political favor from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy may seem distant, but it has "a direct tie-in to today’s war."

In the piece, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump summarily ousted from the position, says she still harbors many unanswered questions about the entire episode.

But with so many books being written by key Trump administration figures, Yovanovitch expects the truth will out eventually.

“I expect ... that there will be more details forthcoming,” she says.

Indeed, keep 'em coming.

But the basic fact that Trump tried to kneecap Ukraine and Zelenskyy must remain top of mind as Republicans try to blame some fallout from Putin's war, such as higher gas prices, on President Joe Biden. In fact, by acquitting Trump during his first impeachment trial, Republicans blessed Trump's role in weakening Ukraine and emboldening Putin.

But Trump's first impeachment scandal is just one discrete part of an entire “litany of Trump-Russia intersections," as The New York Times put it in a remarkable piece featuring Russia expert and former Trump national security aide Fiona Hill. In a single paragraph, the Times connected these dots:

1. Trump's decades-long pursuit of business opportunities in Moscow.

2. Trump's persistent Putin worship.

3. Trump campaign aide J.D. Gordon weakening support for Ukraine in the GOP's 2016 platform.

4. Gordon dining with Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak that same week.

5. Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone asking WikiLeaks through a third party to send along forthcoming Clinton campaign emails stolen by Russian hackers.

6. Trump announcing: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

7. The Seychelles islands getaway in which military contractor and Betsy DeVos sibling Erik Prince huddled with the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund to establish a pre-inaugural backchannel to Russia.

8. Former Trump 2016 Campaign Chief Paul Manafort sharing internal polling with Russian intelligence operative Konstantin V. Kilimnik.

9. Trump’s mysteriously undocumented two-hour meeting with Putin in Helsinki in 2018, after which Trump publicly sided with Putin over the U.S. intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

10. Trump & Co. spreading Russian disinformation in 2019 asserting that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to help Clinton.

11. Trump’s pardoning of both Manafort and Stone in December 2020.

12. Trump more recently calling Putin a "genius" and soliciting him to release dirt on President Biden's son, Hunter Biden.

That's a succinct dirty dozen, and it's still just the tip of the iceberg. But all of these threads teased out over the course of the last handful of years is exactly why the phrase "Trump-Putin axis" is so resonant, particularly in light of Russia's corrupt war and the unconscionable war crimes Putin is committing in Ukraine.

South Dakota House impeaches state Attorney General Ravnsborg over fatal 2020 car accident

The South Dakota House of Representatives has voted to impeach state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg in a 36-31 vote. Ravnsborg, a Republican, struck and killed a man while driving home from a Republican fundraiser on Sept.  12, 2020 but didn't report the death until the next day, claiming that he believed his car hit a deer.

Investigators were immediately suspicious of that delay, both because it meant that Ravnsborg's blood alcohol levels weren't tested until long after the accident, and because Highway Patrol officers investigating the crash found the victim's glasses inside Ravnsborg's car. After nearly a year of delay, Ravnsborg pled no contest to misdemeanor charges, but faced no jail time. Ravnsborg had a prior history of traffic offenses and of using his position to avoid tickets when pulled over. A later investigation found evidence that he was reading a conspiracy website on his phone while driving.

Ravnsborg's support inside the Republican-controlled House, however, continued to crumble, and when "new evidence" was presented that clarified the graphic details of "the length of time [the victim's] body was on the AG's car with his head inside of the AG's car's window," the House reversed a March decision not to impeach. State Rep. Charlie Hoffman said the presentation by Highway Patrol officers included "irrefutable evidence" that Ravnsborg "knew exactly what he hit." Republican Gov. Kristi Noem also called for Ravnsborg's impeachment.

Ravnsborg will now be temporarily removed from office while the state Senate prepares for his impeachment trial. A two-thirds majority of senators will be necessary to convict him. Ravnsborg has been belligerent in his defenses, insisting both that he truly did not know that he had struck his victim and that calls for his impeachment are politically motivated.

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