Trump refuses to promise not to abuse power, says he will be a dictator ‘on day one’

During an interview on Tuesday evening, Fox News’ Sean Hannity asked Donald Trump whether he would abuse power if he was returned to office and noted that Trump has been using the line “I am your retribution” in his campaign. Trump responded by praising Al Capone, who he called “one of the greatest of all time, if you like criminals” while failing to promise that he wouldn’t abuse power.

Hannity then tried again, asking Trump to promise the public that he wouldn’t abuse power as retribution against anybody. For a second time, Trump refused to make that promise. “Except for day one,” he replied. Trump followed this by saying, “I want to close the border and drill, drill, drill.” Trump then acknowledges that Hannity wants him to say he’s not going to be a dictator before repeating that he will be a dictator “on day one.”

Hannity tries to save this by insisting that what Trump is saying doesn’t sound like retribution and is just Trump returning to the policies of his first term. But Trump never makes the promise not to abuse power or not to violate the law to persecute those he sees as enemies.

Hannity asks Trump if he has plans to become a dictator. Notably, Trump immediately changes the topic and doesn't answer the question.

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 6, 2023

The Biden-Harris campaign responded to Trump’s words with a brief statement.

NEW >> statement on Trump's townhall tonight from Biden-Harris Campaign Manager @JulieR2022 “Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s reelected and tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one. Americans should believe him.”

— Ammar Moussa (@ammarmufasa) December 6, 2023

This is not the first time Trump has made such a statement. At an earlier stop in Iowa, Trump declared that he had been “waging an all-out war on American democracy.” Though that particular phrase may have been a Freudian slip, over the last few weeks even media outlets that have been willing to sleepwalk past Trump’s comments have started to wake up to the open threats of authoritarian rule.

It was the great poet Maya Angelou who said, “When someone tells you who they are, believe them.” No one may have generated more reiterations of that truth than Trump.

Trump has been telling us who he is from well before he came down the golden escalator at the start of his 2016 campaign. His pro-authoritarian leanings were visible in a 1990 interview with Playboy, where Trump expressed his admiration for how the Chinese government had crushed students at Tiananmen Square the year before. Trump called those peaceful pro-democracy protests a riot and praised the communist leaders for the “strength” they showed in killing hundreds or thousands to protect their own power.

Trump has declared himself a “big fan” of Turkish strongman Recep Erdoğan. Hungarian extremist Viktor Orban has become a regular feature of Trump’s rally speeches (even if Trump sometimes can’t remember what country Orban leads). Trump’s timid primary opponents were disturbed enough by his praise for brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to momentarily express their concerns. Trump has heaped praise on the “brilliant” Chinese dictator Xi Jinping. And Trump is always willing to express his admiration for Russian warlord and enemy of democracy Vladimir Putin.

These are the leaders Trump looks to as his role models. He believes their ability to do whatever they please makes them strong. He thinks their outsized egos and narcissism make them great. He’s not just telling us who he admires, he’s also telling us who he is.

If America goes down the road to dictatorship with Trump, there are no do-overs. Authoritarian rule is not something the nation can sample, just to see if it likes the taste. Once a dictatorship is in place, it will do whatever it takes to remain there … from day one.

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Hunter Biden called James Comer’s bluff. Now Comer is flailing

Hunter Biden wants to testify to the House Oversight Committee in public, not behind closed doors. He’s watched as his associates have given private depositions only for Republicans to leak misleading and outright false accounts of their answers, and the president’s son doesn’t seem interested in being a victim of that process. Hunter Biden’s offer to testify publicly has James Comer, the chair of the Oversight Committee, talking fast and offering a lot of excuses. A closed-door deposition, Comer insisted to Sean Hannity Tuesday night, “is for all practical purposes public. We will release the transcripts.”

But not before Comer and his buddies go out and set the narrative about the deposition by lying about it.

There’s a reason Hunter Biden might want the world to see his answers live. In late July, his former business partner Devon Archer gave a closed-door deposition. Within hours, Comer and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan were on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News, with Comer claiming, “Today, we saw Joe Biden has lied to the American people. He knew exactly who his son was getting those millions and millions of dollars of wires from, and he spoke to them, and he spoke to them often.” Days later, under pressure, Republicans released the transcript of Archer’s deposition, and, of course, it showed nothing of the sort.

Talking to Hannity on Tuesday night, Comer pretended he hadn’t spent months lying his inflated head off about everything related to the “investigation.” Comer constantly spits out numbers of pages of documents that the committee has obtained, dollar amounts of money paid to people associated with Hunter Biden, and accusations that President Joe Biden has in some way been receiving that money—without any evidence at all of that final, critical point.

“Everyone knows that if you have a credible, substantive investigation, you have depositions, you have transcribed interviews, then you bring in people for committee hearings,” Comer told Hannity. “I’m not doing this for entertainment. This is a credible investigation.”

(Pause to laugh.) A credible, substantive investigation, he says. (Helpless laughter.) Man, if you have to repeat “credible investigation” like that on friendly ground like Hannity, you are giving something away.

“This will be a very transparent investigation, as it has been from the very beginning,” he added. Transparently partisan, for sure. But again, we’ve watched as Comer and other Republicans have lied and obfuscated and manufactured baseless claims about the president. We know better—but Republicans are relying on having Hunter Biden give a private deposition that they can twist and set a false narrative on before they release the transcript and only a few people bother to read the whole thing.

Tuesday on Newsmax, Comer again claimed his reasons for wanting a closed-door deposition were very serious investigative ones, complaining that a hearing doesn’t offer the opportunity to dig into the documents “without filibustering, without interruption, without going five minutes back and forth.” But then he said something that got to the real issue, complaining about “[Reps.] Jamie Raskin and Dan Goldman and little Moskowitz jumping up and down.” (Here's why Rep. Jared Moskowitz is apparently living rent-free in Comer’s head these days.)

Rep. Elise Stefanik sounded a similar note in a Wednesday interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business. “In an open public hearing, you see the Democrats turn this into a charade.” In other words, you see the Democrats push back. Stefanik also showed how fully the fix is in despite no evidence of corruption by the president. “This is not about Hunter Biden,” she said. “This is about Joe Biden and whether or not he is compromised. I believe he is fully compromised, and I believe that as we continue uncovering evidence, we will see that this is the greatest political corruption scandal of our lifetime.”

Republicans are trying to sound like Very Serious Investigators as they push for that closed-door deposition. But this comes after Comer and others have spent months showboating on Fox News and Newsmax, building a baseless public case about the president’s alleged corruption. They have nothing to show for it but partisan talking points, as we see when they subject themselves to questioning by nonpartisan reporters. Nothing about this is “a credible investigation,” and what they’re really worried about is Hunter Biden testifying publicly and putting that on view for the whole world.

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Hannity shows that when a Republican makes an accusation, it’s a confession

Fox News host Sean Hannity wants his viewers to feel sorrow and outrage at the victimization of Donald Trump and his children. This time, he took the truism that “every Republican accusation is a confession” just a little too far.

“Now how would you feel if a prosecutor started combing through every aspect of your life in search of a crime,” Hannity said, “and then dragging your children into it, simply because they don’t like you, they don’t like your politics?”

Hannity: How would you feel if they started combing through every aspect of your life in search of a crime and then dragged your children into it simply because they don’t like you or your politics

— Acyn (@Acyn) October 3, 2023

I think Hunter and Ashley Biden would probably like a word.

Trump’s alleged crimes are many and varied, but where his adult children enter into it is the civil suit by New York Attorney General Letitia James, accusing Trump, Don Jr., Eric, and the Trump Organization of making false claims about the value of their assets in ways that financially benefited them. Ivanka Trump was originally a defendant in the case, but her part in it was dismissed by an appeals court over the summer. James’ investigation originated after Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified to Congress, saying, “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”

Judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing the civil trial, has already ruled that Trump did commit fraud by overvaluing assets.

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The Trumps—Donald and the adult children who are executives in the family company—run a substantial company, albeit not as substantial as they claim. Don Jr. and Eric are involved in this lawsuit because they are executives. They've been very well paid in those roles, and in those roles, they are potentially liable for fraud. That’s how it works. None of Trump’s adult children have been charged in any of his four criminal indictments.

Here are some things that have not happened to the Trump children as their father’s critics “started combing through every aspect of [his] life in search of a crime and then dragging [his] children into it, simply because they don’t like [him], they don’t like [his] politics.” No one has stolen a diary from Ivanka Trump to use it against her father in a political campaign, passing it around at a fundraiser for her father’s opponent. That was done to Ashley Biden.

No one has held up nude photos of Don Jr. or Eric on the House floor and used them in fundraising appeals. That was done to Hunter Biden.

Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka have not had House committees sifting through bank records related to them—despite the $2 billion in investments Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, got from Saudi Arabia shortly after he left his role as a senior White House adviser. Once again, that’s Hunter.

“Now how would you feel if a prosecutor started combing through every aspect of your life in search of a crime, and then dragging your children into it, simply because they don’t like you, they don’t like your politics?” Substitute “House committee” for “prosecutor,” and President Joe Biden can give you chapter and verse—but he doesn’t, because he’s busy trying not to interfere in the politicized prosecution of his son that he is letting happen in the name of an independent Justice Department.

Coming soon: A sham impeachment, brought to you by Fox News

Twenty-seven years ago, Fox News made its first appearance on American television screens. In October 1996, it  would have seemed foolhardy to assume that this tacky corporate creature—an embarrassing facsimile of actual journalism, patently dedicated to serve as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party—would eventually metastasize into an impermeable, alternative universe for millions of Americans. Few would have guessed that within two decades we’d actually witness the core functions and operations of our government appropriated, coopted, and bastardized simply to promote that network's constant spigot of inflammatory lies and misinformation, even when the very lives of its own viewers were literally put at risk as a result.

That transformation reached its apotheosis during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Fox’s fountain of rank COVID denialism was duly parroted day after day, month after month, by elected Republicans. As the pandemic spread into the so-called “heartland” of America, the bacillus of Fox News proved itself as insidious as the virus itself, with its viewers absorbing and internalizing its preposterous science denial and anti-vaccination rhetoric. This doubtlessly led (as suggested by several studies conducted afterward) to the sickness and premature death of many Americans.  

The saddest and most depressing aspect of all this, however, was that no one seemed surprised. By that time, Fox’s tentacles had already infiltrated nearly all of our nation’s institutions, transforming our entire political system with a malignancy that has proved impossible to eradicate. Even now, the remainder of our media seem unwilling to acknowledge the wholesale degradation Fox has inflicted on this nation, its discourse, its politics, and its institutions. 

During his entire tenure, Donald Trump huddled with and spoke through his willing vessels at Fox News; the Republican Congress has conducted pointless, wasteful political show trials based on Fox-driven fantasies; and even the conservative federal judiciary began to blatantly regurgitate Fox’s hyperbolic, fact-challenged talking points in its legal opinions. Yet, despite its corrosive influence, the media continues to treat Fox News as simply another legitimate player in the information ecosystem, something to be envied, even emulated, occasionally criticized, but never truly called to account. The first rule about Fox News for the rest of the media, it seems, is that you don’t talk about Fox News. 

Now it appears likely the American people are about to witness the consequences of that neglect, in the form of a wholly contrived, factually baseless presidential impeachment, with no purpose other than to satisfy Fox News’ hyperpartisan fever-dream agenda. It remains to be seen, what, if any, response the “reality-based” journalistic community is prepared to give to this coming travesty.

RELATED STORY: Rupert Murdoch is handing the reins to his son and Fox News could get even worse

As explained by Matt Gertz, writing for Media Matters, the carnival barkers thinly disguised as journalists on Fox News have been pushing for an impeachment of President Joe Biden since before he was even elected.

The right-wing propaganda network’s stars have long demanded a Biden impeachment as both retaliation and political cover for Donald Trump’s various impeachments and criminal indictments. Since those Fox commentators wield more power within the GOP than most of its putative leaders do, a Biden impeachment inquiry has seemed inevitable, with the only question being what they’d end up backfilling as its rationale. And somehow, they’ve settled on taking a shot with the Hunter Biden minutiae they’ve all spent years feverishly rehashing (but that no one can parse without a PhD in Sean Hannity Studies).

As Gertz reminds us, Fox News “personalities” such as Mark Levin were agitating for the impeachment of the “next Democratic president” long before Biden even secured the nomination. Levin knew he didn’t need to articulate an actual reason for this drastic action to his audience; the plain fact that Trump himself was about to be impeached for acting on Fox News’ unfounded assertions that Biden had somehow corruptly influenced the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor was reason enough. Because Trump’s impeachment was literally the result of a phony narrative that Fox News itself (with the assistance of right-wing dark money groups) had promoted and pushed, it obviously struck far too close to home.

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As Gertz himself reported in 2019:

Fox’s role -- and particularly that of Sean Hannity, the network star who also privately advises the president -- was central to every phase of the story. The network was the source of the president’s long-held animus toward Ukraine, the vector of Giuliani’s disinformation campaign, a common former employer of some key figures and a unifying factor of others, and the fountainhead of arguments that Trump and his House Republican allies have used to try to minimize the scandal.

And the impeachment talk at Fox continued to snowball from that point, again, in nearly every circumstance, stemming directly from “reporting” that originated in Fox’s own fetid swamp of fact-challenged propaganda. Fox had relentlessly pushed the Hunter Biden story throughout the run-up to the 2020 election, in a failed effort to help Trump win. But even as November 2020 approached, their hosts were carefully “setting a predicate,” as Gertz puts it, in the event Trump lost. Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery floated in late October the prospect of an immediate Biden impeachment over the amorphous Hunter rabbit hole the network had been hawking for months. As Gertz reports, these sentiments were echoed by Fox showboats Jeanine Pirro and Greg Gutfeld only days before the 2020 election, and reemphasized by Hannity in December 2020—as Trump was allegedly scheming with his cohorts to overturn the election well after it became obvious he’d lost.

In fact, Hannity came up with a remarkable quote (particularly the last sentence).

“What are you going to do if -- you know, all these people that impeached Trump, how do you not impeach if it's Joe Biden one day? How do you not do it? It's a foreign -- it's a family foreign crime syndicate. Got an email provided to the FBI pointing out that Hunter hadn't paid taxes on some of the Burisma payments and that's just the tip of the iceberg, with -- now they're talking about money laundering as well. You know, pretty amazing stuff, I've got to tell you. Amazing times we're looking -- living in. They all have an agenda. You know, the difference between us and them is we're just honest about who we are.”

After Republicans eked out a narrow House majority in 2022, Hannity once again bloviated about impeachment, setting the stage for his most ardent fan, Trump, to begin turning the screws on members of the newly (and narrowly) Republican-led House. As reported by Kristen Holmes and Eric Bradner, writing for CNN, the screws have turned harder as the criminal indictments began to pile up for Trump. 

Donald Trump has publicly and privately encouraged House Republicans’ push to impeach President Joe Biden ahead of their potential rematch in 2024, two sources close to the former president said.

Trump has kept close tabs on the matter, the sources said – including speaking by phone with New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the House GOP conference chair, about the party’s impeachment strategy shortly after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday that he is calling on his committees to open a formal impeachment inquiry into Biden.

Gertz notices a pattern here:

The year that followed has been marked by three overlapping trends: repeated indictments of Trump on state and federal charges, fruitless congressional efforts to uncover damning evidence of Joe Biden’s involvement in his son’s businesses, and demands from Fox for Republicans to retaliate against Democrats for the former, including by turning the latter into fodder for impeachment.

Fox’s Jesse Watters weighed in on June 9, the day Trump was hit with 37 felony counts in the Southern District of Florida, saying that the Republicans should welcome the “distraction” of impeachment. And on Aug. 2, Watters probably revealed more about the Republicans’ nakedly political purposes than he realized.

“[W]ithout the impeachment, you have back-to-back-to-back-to-back Trump trials. The media’s not going to cover anything else. Biden’s going to hide and Trump is going to be criminalized on TV. But if Republicans time this right and follow the evidence where it leads, impeachment is going to run counter to the Trump trials next year.”

Or as Gertz sums it up: ”Rather than picking [a presidential candidate] who isn’t looking at four state and federal trials on scores of charges, they want to tear down his opponent by ginning up a scandal and hoping that the mainstream press fails to make clear what they’re doing.”

RELATED STORY: Trump reportedly worries about prison, wonders if he'll wear 'one of those jumpsuits'

The Republican Party’s impeachment efforts against Biden, egged on by Fox News, are without any legitimate basis. They are premised wholly upon a vendetta urged by Trump, who is facing actual, real criminal liability in several actual, real courts of law. The complete absence of any legal justification to pursue impeachment proceedings against this president has even been obliquely acknowledged by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy himself. In reality, what Republicans are pursuing—and what it seems that Americans are going to be forced to witness—is an impeachment by Fox News itself, fraudulently justified by the same lies and fact-free innuendo in which the network habitually traffics.

A network that didn’t consider it necessary to modulate its grievance-driven political rhetoric even when that rhetoric threatened to kill or sicken its own viewers obviously has no compunctions about subverting our constitutional system. Nor would it spare the slightest thought for the personal anguish it will inflict on Biden or his family, who have to watch as their (obviously troubled) son’s name is dragged through the mud by the Republican charlatans who will outdo themselves with pre-packaged, Fox-friendly soundbites. They know that’s what their base voters are conditioned to look for.

But the non-Fox-viewing American public doesn’t have to play along with this cheap and disgusting farce. They can be shown exactly what it is, if the rest of the media—the ones not in thrall to Rupert Lachlan Murdoch’s propaganda network—finally do their jobs. That means doing a lot more than “fact-checking” Republicans and their statements. Fox viewers will never, ever see those fact-checks (and if they did, they would disregard them). This impeachment will mostly be an exercise in Republicans preening for the cameras and making declarative speeches, which will be edited into tight soundbites and run alongside nothing but approving nods and supportive chatter from Fox’s talking heads. And while we can expect Democratic House members to do yeoman’s work exposing this travesty during the hearings themselves, none of their rebuttals will make Fox’s highlight reel.

“Fact-checking” is simply a cop-out. What the media should really do here is explain who is telling the lies, why the lies are being told, and what motivates the lies. Explain how each Republican is following a template laid down by the likes of Hannity and his ilk. Explain who pays for Hannity and his ilk to spread their manure, and where their true interests lie. Explain how every Republican lives in mortal fear of a primary challenger promoted by Trump. Explain how Trump’s situation has influenced this sham impeachment’s timing and presentation, the selection of witnesses, and the things those witnesses will say. Explain who’s not called as a witness by Republicans, and ask why.

Above all, the media must expose this travesty for what it is: a “distraction,” as Fox’s Watters so eloquently put it, from the “back-to-back-to-back-to-back” Trump trials, pending in real criminal courts, before real judges and real jurors, not a group of corrupted, political hacks terrified of getting on the wrong side of Donald Trump.

RELATED STORY: Republicans use long-debunked scam to fuel impeachment inquiry

Big surprise: Fox News won’t air Jan. 6 hearings

 It’s not really a huge surprise that Fox News is declining to air the public hearings of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. I mean, what did we expect?

The conservative media outlet made the announcement Monday, stating that its hosts will “cover the hearings as news warrants.” Shannon Bream, Fox News’ chief legal correspondent, will anchor a two-hour live special on the hearings, and anchors from Fox Business (the lower-rated network) Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will host live continuous coverage, The Hill reports.

There are numerous reasons one can point to for why Fox won’t air the coverage, starting with the fact that the constant stream of bullshit from off-the-rails GOP faves Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham garners the network millions of eyes nightly. The loss of revenue is probably a consideration since the network has spent every second since Jan. 6 assuring its viewers that the entire event was a tourist trip and the investigating committee is a witch hunt.

RELATED STORY: Trump campaign instructed bogus GOP electors in Georgia to use ‘complete secrecy,’ email shows

But another important reason is the direct involvement of many of Fox News’ biggest players on Jan. 6 itself—the day a bunch of white supremacists and QAnon-ers stormed the Capitol, cheered on by Trump and assured by Fox News that the election had been stolen.

As we reported in January, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro, to name a few, were on the Oval Office’s speed dial, and on Jan. 6, Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, and Hannity all texted Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in the hopes of getting him to intervene during the insurrection.

“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” Ingraham wrote, per The Washington Post. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”

Kilmeade urged Meadows to get Trump “on TV” and stop the terrorists, and Hannity begged Meadows to demand Trump “make a statement” and “ask people to leave the Capitol.”

According to CNN, one of the last texts on the chain of the 2,319 texts to and from Meadows starting from Election Day 2020 to President Joe Biden’s 2021 inauguration was from Hannity.

The Fox News host shared the video of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell denouncing Trump from the Senate floor, saying the insurrectionists were “provoked by the President and other powerful people.” Hannity’s text read: “Well this is as bad as this can get.”

Hannity has been remarkably comfortable appearing in public with former President Donald Trump for years. He appeared on stage with Trump during a midterm election rally in Missouri in 2018, where he had the audacity to call the assembled media covering the event “fake news,” just as he’s referred to the five Democrats and two Republicans on the select committee continuously as “fake,” The New York Times reports.

But Trump ignored his buddies at Fox News and elsewhere and allowed the riot to explode, resulting in the deaths of five police officers who served at the Capitol. Fox News has mostly refused to acknowledge or cover what happened on Jan. 6.

Philip Bump, a national correspondent with The Washington Postcompared coverage of Jan. 6 by Fox News with its competitors MSNBC and CNN to find that on average, Fox rarely mentioned it at all—less than 1% during any 15-second segments in a week. They also rarely, if ever, mentioned the House select committee, the riot at the Capitol, the Proud Boys, the bogus GOP electors, and certainly not text messages from Meadows.

Oh, were the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in the news over the past year? Who knew! Mark Who's Whats?

— Philip Bump (@pbump) June 7, 2022

Bump also sites Fox’s coverage of Trump's impeachments. During impeachment hearing number one, the networks aired it without sound, allowing its hosts to babble on about it audibly. And during impeachment hearing number two, “the network cut away at key points,” Bump writes.

At least one Republican lawmaker has spoken up about Fox News’ cowardly decision not to air the hearings. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois wrote on Twitter, “If you work for Fox News and want to maintain your credibility as a journalist, now is a good time to speak out, or quit. Enough is enough.”

If you work for @FoxNews and want to maintain your credibility as a journalist, now is a good time to speak out, or quit. Enough is enough.

— Adam Kinzinger🇺🇦🇺🇸✌️ (@AdamKinzinger) June 7, 2022

Newly revealed texts show Sean Hannity knew Trump’s actions after Jan. 6 were impeachable

During and after the Jan. 6 insurrection, before Fox News went all-in on greasing the skids for fascism, some of its most celebrated on-air personalities acted as though Donald Trump had been hit with a protoplasmic growth ray and was rampaging from sea to rising sea popping whole Taco Bell Expresses in his mouth like Fiddle Faddle.

Indeed, everyone with eyes knew that Trump had gone Bonkers McGee in the wake of the election he decisively lost—including Fox News personalities Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Brian Kilmeade, who all texted people close to the pr*sident to convince him to give the stand-down order during the Capitol riot. But since those dark days, when our democracy teetered on a knife’s edge, Tucker Carlson has made a career out of convincing people to die of COVID-19 (thereby making Joe Biden look bad, though not quite as bad as those goateed doofuses with intubation tubes down their throats) while assuring them that Jan. 6 had nothing at all to do with salt-of-the-earth Trump supporters. Meanwhile, just Thursday night, Hannity welcomed the disgraced ex-POTUS to his show and Turtle Waxed his barnacled balls to a high shine and finish. 

We’re finally seeing even more evidence that Trump’s media enablers thought Trump had gone too far, and that his actions following the election and the failed Bumblefuck Putsch were way beyond the pale.

A letter from the Jan. 6 Select Committee asking Ivanka Trump to testify includes newly revealed text messages from Hannity to former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany that outline a strategy for dealing with their glitching ocher overlord:

In the texts, Hannity recaps just a few points of a broader communications plan for responding to the attack, among other pieces of advice.

“1- No more stolen election talk,” Hannity reportedly texted McEnany, who herself sat down with committee investigators last week after being subpoenaed.

Per the letter, he continued, “2- Yes, impeachment and the 25th amendment are real and many people will quit...”

So Hannity knew Trump’s actions were impeachable, huh? That’s not the impression he’s been giving his viewers.

CNN’s Jake Tapper brought former Mike Pence adviser Olivia Troye on his program on Thursday to discuss these new revelations, and boy, was she ever not impressed. (Troye did some great work in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election that helped expose Trump for the menace he was and is.):

TAPPER: “A very interesting text message exchange between Trump loyalist Sean Hannity and then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. It suggests that Hannity texted Kayleigh McEnany on Jan. 7, the day after the insurrection, laying out a five-point approach for talking to then-outgoing President Trump. He started with ‘1) No more stolen election talk, 2) Yes, impeachment and 25th Amendment are real, and many people will quit ...’ to which Kayleigh McEnany responded, ‘Love that. Thank you. That is the playbook. I will help reinforce.’ Hannity, according to these messages, also told McEnany that White House staff should try to keep Trump away from certain people. He texted her, quote, ‘Key now. No more crazy people,’ to which McEnany responded, ‘Yes. 100%.’ We should note that Sean Hannity’s show was a major place where these election lies were told—in fact, they’re being sued as a result—and Kayleigh McEnany is one of the biggest election liars that we know. So what’s your reaction when you see this conversation—this private conversation.”

TROYE: “Well, it’s stunning. It’s stunning to see this full-on evidence of these types of conversations that were happening in the lead-up to Jan. 6, but even more so, just the fact that they knew the gravity of the situation—they knew the repercussions of the possibility of what would happen in continuing down this narrative, and then even more egregious is that now they’ve doubled down on it. Right? And the problem is, not only does this narrative still exist out there—the Big Lie lives on. It’s being used by people who are seeking public office this year. It’s become sort of, the Republican Party’s platform is really the Big Lie and you have to support it or you’re going to get kicked out. … You know, I think it’s important to get this evidence out there to the American people so that they can see that in the lead-up in that situation with Donald Trump, people knew. People knew that this type of action was worthy of impeachment. It was worthy of the 25th Amendment. That these are actual discussions happening with people like Sean Hannity.”

Needless to say, these hair-on-fire texts from Trump’s biggest defenders are damning evidence that they knew he was, at best, out of control and, at worst, dangerously unfit for office. And by that, I mean any office. Or office building. Or office supply store, for that matter.

Naif that I am, I sincerely believed in the aftermath of Jan. 6 that conservatives would resurrect their long-buried shame and denounce Trump. But they sort of puttered around the grave for a few minutes, figured, “Nah, this is too hard,” and went right back to shivving the country full time.

Hopefully, Republicans will begin to slink away in something resembling shame as the Jan. 6 committee unveils more evidence, but I wouldn’t count on it. After all, the Eye of Sour-Don watches, and they dare not displease their master.

Or they could try to cobble together the last remaining shards of their dignity and try to be good-faith actors—instead of, well, just actors. But that’s just never going to happen, is it?

It made author Stephen King shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” and prompted comedian Sarah Silverman to say, “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT.” What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.