The Supreme Court has gone rogue. Now is the time to start fixing it

The conservative Supreme Court has gone rogue. It has “cemented its place in history as the most radical Supreme Court ever,” in the words of historian Kevin Kruse. It handcuffed all federal regulatory agencies last week, and elevated the president to king on Monday. They’ve done so on behalf of the American oligarchs who have bankrolled the lavish lifestyle of at least two of the justices. They have also done so on behalf of twice-impeached convicted felon Donald Trump.

If there is any hope of salvaging our republic out of this mess, President Joe Biden and Democrats have to fight back, immediately, in the campaign and in action. That means setting aside the trust institutionalists like Biden and Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin have in the system and in the basic decency of people like Chief Justice John Roberts. It means directly taking on the corrupt court and making the case to the American people that it has to be stopped.

Biden made a start Monday evening, giving a short prime-time address to the nation to point out the “dangerous precedent” of placing “virtually no limits on what a president can do.”

“This decision,” Biden said, “has continued the court’s attack in recent years on a wide range of long-established legal principles in our nation, from gutting voting rights and civil rights to taking away a woman’s right to choose to today’s decision that undermines the rule of law of this nation.”

In perhaps the most chilling words a president has uttered since the Civil War, Biden starkly defined where we’re at as a nation. 

“[I]t will depend on the character of the men and women who hold that presidency that are going to define the limits of the power of the presidency,” he said, “because the law will no longer do it.” 

That’s Biden declaring that, as of Monday, we are no longer a nation under the rule of law because of a decision made by a court that is fundamentally corrupt—the essential backdrop to this momentously, historically awful term.

Start with Justice Clarence Thomas, whose corruption has been detailed in months of reporting from ProPublica: the undeclared luxury trips, gifts, and real estate deals; the cozying up to the Koch machine; his own extortion of the court and the oligarchs insisting that if he didn’t benefit financially, he would leave the court. There’s also his wife, Ginni, who not only plotted in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, but was rewarded by another billionaire—Leonard Leo—who funneled tens of thousands to her for consulting work. 

Not to be outdone in either the grift or the partisanship game, there’s Justice Samuel Alito. He was there for the luxury trips from hedge fund billionaires and the lavish trip to Rome to be feted for writing the decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Like Thomas, Alito lets his spouse do his partisanship talk for him, or rather the flag-flying.

Then there’s Roberts refusing to even answer questions from the Senate about how these bought-and-paid for ideologues have tarnished the institution or to consider implementing a binding ethics reform to attempt to redeem the court.

And voters know it. Trust in the court plummeted after it overturned Roe to record lows, and it is not recovering.

So here we are. The only thing that can forestall the end of the republic is our vote and the hope that democrats—and Democrats—prevail in November in numbers that can’t be denied. Maybe then elected Democrats will fix this mess.

There are plenty of good ideas for reshaping the court from expanding it to imposing term limits to create a stable of justices that rotate in and out of the court. The solutions are there—Democrats need to embrace them. And run on them.

That can start with rallying around Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s impeachment resolution against the justices who perpetrated this “assault on American democracy.” No, it won’t move forward in a Republican-controlled House, but it can help unite Democrats for an immediate course of action should they regain the House.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries echoed that, saying Democrats plan to “engage in aggressive oversight and legislative activity” to determine that “extreme, far-right justices in the [Supreme Court] majority are brought into compliance with the Constitution.”

The Senate has to take the lead in the coming months, and it has to come from Durbin, who failed in his first task of responding to the devastating ruling. He complained over spilled milk, that Thomas and Alito “brazenly refused to recuse themselves from this case.” He scolded Roberts for not using “his existing authority to enact an enforceable code of conduct.”

It’s a lot too late for that. Durbin and his colleagues need to get on the same page as House Democrats, because they actually are in an oversight position and need to start using it. No, they can’t fix the Supreme Court now, but they can start building the case for it. 

They have to win back the two elected branches, and one of the best ways to do it will be to put aside the niceties of institutionalism and comity and declare war on the unelected branch—the one that would make Trump king.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's Bloody Monday, every single Democrat should be talking about that—exclusively that. Enough hand-wringing over Biden’s debate performance. Enough speculation about replacing the top of the ticket. Enough Democrats in disarray. Too much is at stake now.

Tell the people—show the people—the danger the republic is in. How Democrats react now to what this court has done could make all the difference in November.

If you want to help make America the place it ought to be, it starts by electing more and better Democrats. And you can do your part right here. Please give $10 to each of these Daily Kos-endorsed candidates today!

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Donald Trump says he’d consider Ken Paxton for US attorney general

Trump told a reporter in Texas this weekend that Paxton is “a very talented guy.”

By Jasper Scherer, The Texas Tribune

Former President Donald Trump said he would consider tapping Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for U.S. attorney general if he wins a second term in the White House, calling his longtime ally “a very talented guy” and praising his tenure as Texas’ chief legal officer.

“I would, actually,” Trump said Saturday when asked by a KDFW-TV reporter if he would consider Paxton for the national post. “He’s very, very talented. I mean, we have a lot of people that want that one and will be very good at it. But he’s a very talented guy.”

Paxton has long been a close ally of Trump, famously waging an unsuccessful legal challenge to Trump’s 2020 election loss in four battleground states. He also spoke at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the deadly U.S. Capitol riot in January 2021.

Paxton’s loyalty was rewarded with an endorsement from Trump in the 2022 primary, which helped the attorney general fend off three prominent GOP challengers.

Trump also came to Paxton’s defense when he was impeached last year for allegedly accepting bribes and abusing the power of his office to help a wealthy friend and campaign donor. After Paxton was acquitted in the Texas Senate, Trump claimed credit, citing his “intervention” on his Truth Social platform, where he denounced the proceedings and threatened political retribution for Republicans who backed the impeachment.

“I fought for him when he had the difficulty and we won,” he told KDFW. “He had some people really after him, and I thought it was really unfair.”

Trump’s latest comments, delivered at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas, come after a series of recent polls have shown the presumptive Republican nominee leading President Joe Biden in a handful of key battleground states.

Paxton has also seen his political prospects rise in recent months, after prosecutors agreed in March to drop three felony counts of securities fraud that had loomed over Paxton for nearly his entire tenure as attorney general. The resolution of the nine-year-old case, along with Paxton’s impeachment acquittal in the Senate last fall, has brought him closer than ever to a political career devoid of legal drama.

Still, Paxton’s critics say he is far from vindicated. He remains under federal investigation for the same allegations that formed the basis of his impeachment, and he continues to face a whistleblower lawsuit from former deputies who said they were illegally fired for reporting Paxton to law enforcement. A separate lawsuit from the state bar seeks to penalize Paxton for his 2020 election challenge, which relied on discredited claims of election fraud.

If nominated, Paxton would need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The chamber is narrowly divided along party lines, with Democrats holding a 51-49 majority. One of the most prominent Republican members, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, has been an outspoken critic of Paxton, while Paxton has openly entertained the idea of challenging Cornyn in 2026.

Paxton is not the only Texan Trump has floated for a high-profile spot in his potential administration. In February, he said Gov. Greg Abbott is “absolutely” on his short list of potential vice presidential candidates. Abbott has since downplayed his interest in the job.

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Tracking URL: https://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/20/donald-trump-ken-paxton-attorney-general/

Mitch McConnell will stop at nothing to regain Senate majority

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Sunday airwaves to pat himself on the back for getting Ukraine aid passed, and promptly reverted back to his old ways. Bipartisanship is in the rear view mirror now and McConnell is still intent on the GOP winning at all costs, no matter what damage is done to the country.

In lengthy interviews on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’s “Face the Nation,” McConnell dodged the most critical issues of the day in furtherance of his primary goal. 

“I think the single most important thing I can do is make sure my successor is the majority leader, no matter how the presidential election comes out,” he told CBS’s Margaret Brennan. "What I want to do and what I'm focused on is not the presidential race, but getting the Senate back. I've been the majority leader, I've been the minority leader. Majority is better."

McConnell said he intends to "get ready for the challenges that we have ahead of us, rather than just looking backward." The nation’s biggest challenge ahead is Donald Trump and his threat to democracy, and that’s what McConnell is refusing to look back on.

When asked about Trump’s claims of immunity from prosecution, McConnell insisted he “stands by what he said” after Jan. 6, namely that “[t]here is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of [Jan. 6]” and the attack on the Capitol “was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.” 

That faux-righteous diatribe came after McConnell voted to acquit Trump in his second impeachment, the one fail-safe opportunity he and his fellow senators had to ensure Trump could never run for office again. He failed then, just like he failed when he gave Trump his endorsement earlier this year. Now he insists that he has to support Trump, telling Brennan “[a]s the Republican leader of the Senate, obviously, I’m gonna support the nominee of our party.” 

And that support doesn’t even really mean anything, he claimed. 

“The issue is, what kind of influence, even if I had chosen to get involved in the presidential election, what kind of influence would I have had?” McConnell mused.

He had enough influence to make sure Trump would not be barred from running again. On top of that, the Supreme Court McConnell stole for Trump seems intent on clearing Trump’s path back to the White House.

Saving democracy wasn’t the only big issue McConnell tried to dodge on Sunday. NBC’s Kristen Welker asked him whether he supports a national abortion ban, and he refused to answer. 

“I don’t think we’ll get 60 votes in the Senate for any kind of national legislation,” McConnell said, not-so-deftly avoiding the question. 

He deflected instead, using the standard GOP rationalization.

“It seems to me views about this issue at the state level vary depending where you are. And we get elected by states,” McConnell said. “And my members are smart enough to figure out how they want to deal with this very divisive issue based upon the people who actually send them here.” 

Welker pushed McConnell, asking him to explain his celebratory remarks in 2022, after the Supreme Court he built overturned Roe v. Wade and he said a “national ban is possible.” Now that the political blowback of that decision has hit Republicans hard when it comes to election results, McConnell once again obfuscated. 

“I said it was possible. I didn’t say that was my view,” he claimed. “I just said it was possible.”

Once again, McConnell’s eye is on that ultimate prize of a Republican Senate majority, no matter what he has to do or lie about. If reclaiming that majority means a second term for Trump, so be it.

Stop McConnell in his tracks. Donate now to stop Republicans from snatching the Senate!  

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Morning Digest: Why the field to replace Mitt Romney may soon get a lot smaller

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

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Leading Off

UT-Sen: The Utah GOP's April 27 convention is coming up quickly, and a newly formed super PAC is trying to make sure Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs' campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Mitt Romney comes to an end at the event well before the June 25 primary.

The Deseret News' Brigham Tomco reports that Hometown Freedom Action Network has spent $17,000 on mailers and text messages to delegates portraying Staggs, who has emphasized his hard-right stances, as disloyal to conservatives. One message faults the mayor for initially supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president, declaring, "Betraying Trump is not MAGA." Another blasts Staggs as "woke" for instituting anti-bias training for police officers. It's not clear who is funding the group.

One delegate told Tomco he considers these kinds of attacks from outside groups "frustrating, annoying, and inappropriate." Staggs is hoping others agree because he needs to perform well with delegates if he's to keep his campaign going.

Utah allows candidates to reach the primary ballot by competing at their convention or by collecting signatures, and while candidates can pursue both routes, Staggs is only going with the first option. This means that, should he fail to win the support of at least 40% of the delegates on April 27, his campaign is over. Another hard-right candidate, conservative activist Carolyn Phippen, is also pursuing a convention-only strategy.

It's not clear yet, however, if a third candidate, attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, needs to rely on delegates to get onto the ballot. Hatch, who is the son and namesake of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, submitted signatures ahead of the April 13 deadline, but election authorities have not yet verified if he turned in the requisite 28,000 valid petitions.

Hatch himself also sounded uncertain if he'd hit this goal at the start of the month. He previously told Tomco the task was "daunting," and that his status was "up in the air."

The convention is far less important for two other Republicans, Rep. John Curtis and former state House Speaker Brad Wilson. Election authorities have verified that each of them turned in enough signatures to make the ballot, though they're each still taking part in the convention.

Hometown Freedom Action Network sent out texts blasting Curtis, who appears to be the least doctrinaire of the candidates, as someone who was "never with President Trump, and never will be." However, it only spent $2,500 on this messaging against the congressman, who will be on the June ballot no matter how well he does at the April 27 gathering.

The Downballot

It's an old story, but it never gets old: Democrats just whooped Republicans in fundraising—again. This week on "The Downballot" podcast, we're running through some of the most eye-popping numbers Democrats hauled in during the first quarter of the year (Sherrod Brown! Jon Tester! Colin Allred!) and the comparatively weak performances we're seeing from Republicans almost across the board. The GOP hopes to make up the gap by relying on self-funders, but a campaign without a strong fundraising network can be dangerously hollow.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap the week's electoral action, starting with victories in a pair of special elections in Michigan that allowed Democrats to reclaim their majority in the state House, plus a noteworthy House runoff in Alabama that could lead to a Black Democrat representing Mobile for the first time since Reconstruction.

The Davids also explain why a surprise retirement from the Wisconsin Supreme Court means progressives need to be on guard against a top-two lockout in yet another critical battle for control of the court. And finally, there's the astonishing three-way House race in California that could soon turn into a humdrum two-way affair thanks to an unexpected recount.

1Q Fundraising

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present brand-new charts rounding up first-quarter fundraising numbers for every incumbent and notable challenger running for the House and the Senate this year. The overarching story is a familiar one: Democrats in key races are outraising their Republican rivals almost across the board, sometimes by astonishing margins.

The lopsided Senate battlefield is particularly noteworthy. Compared to the same quarter six years ago, the two most endangered Democratic senators, Montana's Jon Tester and Ohio's Sherod Brown, raised four times as much as they did for their last campaigns. Meanwhile, in Texas, Rep. Colin Allred managed to exceed the already eye-popping records set by Beto O'Rourle in 2018. Check out our charts for the complete picture in both chambers of Congress.

Senate

MT-Sen: In a follow-up to her absolutely bonkers report about former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy last week, the Washington Post's Liz Goodwin pokes further holes in the Republican's claims about an alleged bullet wound he suffered.

Sheehy claims he lied about getting shot at a national park in 2015 in order to deter a military investigation into what he says was the true source of his injury—a possible incident of friendly fire in Afghanistan three years earlier—but new documents obtained by the Post include a report from an unnamed person visiting the park who reported "an accidental gun discharge" to the National Park Service.

An attorney for Sheehy disputed whether there had in fact been any such report by a park visitor. Sheehy's campaign previously said it was seeking to obtain copies of his hospital records from the 2015 incident, but the same attorney did not directly respond when asked whether those records had been received.

NJ-Sen: A three-judge federal appeals panel has upheld a ruling by a lower court last month that barred the use of New Jersey's "county line" system on the grounds that it violates the Constitution. However, that ruling remains in effect solely for the Democratic primary. Barring further legal action, Republicans will still be able to print ballots that give favorable placement to party-endorsed candidates. That state of affairs is likely temporary, though, as a similar ruling applying to Republican primaries is likely at some point.

Governors

MO-Gov: The Missouri Scout has rounded up campaign fundraising reports covering the first quarter of the year, and the overall story of the Aug. 6 Republican primary for governor remains the same as it's been throughout the entire cycle. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe continues to dominate financially even though almost every released survey shows him trailing Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft by double digits. State Sen. Bill Eigel also brought in more money during the quarter than Ashcroft even those polls show him with little support.

Kehoe and his joint fundraising committee this time raised a combined $2.5 million and ended March with a total of $6.3 million. Eigel and his committee outraised Ashcroft and his allies $587,000 to $513,000, though it was Ashcroft's side that finished the quarter with a $2.6 million to $1.7 million cash on hand advantage.

On the Democratic side, state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade and her committee together raised $285,000 and had $391,000 available. Businessman Mike Hamra and his allies together brought in $690,000, which includes $250,000 from the candidate, and ended March with $1.1 million banked.  

House

CA-16: NBC Bay Area's Jocelyn Moran reports that a newly formed super PAC called Count the Vote is providing the money to finance the ongoing recount into the March 5 top-two primary. It's not clear who is funding the group, but Moran says that the address on its checks matches that of a law firm that used to work for former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo, who is assured a place in the Nov. 5 general election, has continued to deny he has anything to do with the recount even though the person who requested it, Jonathan Padilla, worked for his 2014 campaign and served in his administration. Two of Liccardo's fellow Democrats, Assemblyman Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, tied for second place last month, and they'd both advance to the general election unless the recount changes the results.

The recount process began Monday, and it's not clear how long it will take to conclude. While election officials in Santa Clara County, which makes up over 80% of the 16th District, initially told KQED they believed this would be a five-day undertaking, Moran writes that they now think it could last between one and two weeks. Personnel in San Mateo County, which forms the balance of the seat, separately tell ABC 7 they believe their retabulations will be done around April 24.

Officials in Santa Clara and San Mateo tell The Daily Journal that the daily cost in their respective counties is $16,000 and $5,000, though they add it would change depending on exactly what Padilla requests. The process would come to an end if Padilla missed a day's payment, and an incomplete recount would leave the certified results unchanged.

MD-02: AIPAC, the hawkish pro-Israel group, has endorsed Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary, where his main rival for this open seat is Del. Harry Bhandari. Olszewski has been the frontrunner ever since he launched his bid in January, and he previously earned endorsements from retiring Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, longtime Rep. Steny Hoyer, and organized labor.

Olszewski also enjoys a large financial advantage over Bhandari. The executive raised $726,000 in the first quarter and finished March with $499,000 on hand, while Bhandari took in $134,000 during this time and ended the period with only $68,000 left to spend.

MD-03: Retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn has publicized an internal poll from Upswing Research and Strategy that shows him leading state Sen. Sarah Elfreth by 22-18, while a 44% plurality of voters undecided ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary for this safely blue open seat. State Sen. Clarence Lam was further back with 8%, while no other candidate in the crowded race exceeded 3%.

Dunn gained national visibility after he helped protect Congress during the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that fame helped him dominate the rest of the field in fundraising. Dunn raised a massive $3.7 million in the first quarter and finished March with $1.7 million on hand. That haul was the third-largest of any House candidate nationwide, and it also was more than the rest of his primary rivals combined.

By contrast, Elfreth raised $502,000 and had $569,000 left to spend. However, Elfreth has also received $1.4 million in outside support from the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, while none of the other candidates have benefited from major outside spending.

Lam, for his part, raised $284,000 and had $505,000 remaining in the bank. Further back, Del. Mike Rogers raised $140,000 and had $171,000 left over, while labor lawyer John Morse raised $116,000 and finished March with $94,000. None of the other candidates took in six-figure sums.

ME-02: State Rep. Austin Theriault has unveiled an internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies that finds him leading fellow state Rep. Mike Soboleski by 30-7 ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, though a large majority of respondents are undecided. The poll's sample size was just 300 respondents, which is the bare minimum that Daily Kos Elections requires for inclusion in the Digest.

Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson are supporting Theriault for the nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, and their preferred candidate raised $655,000 in the first quarter to Soboleski's $43,000. Theriault also had $831,000 on hand compared to $48,000 for his rival. However, Golden's haul was even larger at $1 million raised, and he had $2.2 million on hand at the start of April.

NJ-10: The New Jersey Globe reports that Democratic Rep. Donald Payne has been unconscious and on a ventilator ever since he suffered a heart attack on April 6. The congressman's office on April 9 put out a statement that did not indicate Payne was not conscious, saying instead that his "prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery."

NY-16: Politico's Jeff Coltin has obtained an internal for Rep. Jamaal Bowman that shows him edging out Westchester County Executive George Latimer 44-43 in the June 25 Democratic primary. The pollster, Upswing Research and Strategy, tells us the survey was conducted March 5 through March 10.

The only other numbers we've seen for this contest came from a late March poll for Latimer's allies at Democratic Majority for Israel, and it showed the executive with a wide 52-35 lead. Both DMFI and its pollster, the Mellman Group, are led by Mark Mellman.

SC-01, VA-05, AZ-02, OH-09: American Prosperity Alliance, a dark money group that is close to Kevin McCarthy, has begun running TV ads against three Republican incumbents who voted to oust McCarthy from the speakership last year. The ads, which, are focused on immigration, are also running against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Ohio's 9th District.

According to AdImpact, the group has spent at least $330,000 against Rep. Nancy Mace, who is trying to fend off former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton in the June 11 primary for South Carolina's 1st District. AdImpact has also tracked another $160,000 that APA is deploying in Virginia's 5th District against Rep. Bob Good, who faces state Sen. John McGuire in the following week's primary.

Meanwhile in Arizona's 2nd District, the group has spent $218,000 so far to weaken incumbent Eli Crane ahead of his July 30 nomination battle against former Yavapai County Supervisor Jack Smith. APA additionally has dropped $150,000 on ads against Kaptur, who she faces a competitive general election against Republican state Rep. Derek Merrin.

Mayors & County Leaders

Raleigh, NC Mayor: Democratic Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin announced Tuesday that she would not seek reelection this year and would instead lead a nonprofit. Baldwin, who was successfully treated for breast cancer last year, added that her husband also had multiple surgeries, and that all this convinced her it was "time to devote my energies to myself and my family and to find other ways to serve."

The nonpartisan general election to succeed Baldwin will take place on Nov. 5, and since there's no runoff, it only takes a plurality to become mayor of North Carolina's capital city. Three notable candidates were already running, and they each identify as Democrats.

City Councilman Corey Branch, who describes himself as a "moderate Democrat," launched his campaign in October. He was joined in January by former state Treasurer Janet Cowell, who was once a rising star in North Carolina Democratic politics.

Terrance Ruth, a North Carolina State University professor who lost to Baldwin 47-41 in 2022, also kicked off a second bid a month before the incumbent announced her departure. Ruth argued last cycle that the mayor's administration hadn't done enough to make housing affordable or to listen to residents.

The field also includes mortgage broker Paul Fitts, who is the only Republican in the contest, and two other candidates. The candidate filing deadline is July 19.

Obituaries

Bob Graham: Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who rose to prominence during his 26 years as governor and senator, died Tuesday at the age of 87. In our obituary, Jeff Singer recounts the many elections of Graham's long career, including how his famed "Workweeks" helped transform him from relative obscurity into a statewide powerhouse.

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Senate decides not to bother with House GOP’s dumb impeachment stunt

House Republicans really wanted an impeachment of … someone. President Joe Biden, preferably, or his son Hunter, or maybe Hunter’s laptop, or perhaps Hunter’s dog walker. They decided on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who didn’t commit any high crimes or misdemeanors but did attempt to execute the policies of the administration in which he serves. 

On Wednesday, the Senate took one look at the articles of impeachment oh-so-solemnly delivered by a hard-right House faction just the day before and said, “Nope. Hard pass.” Senators voted to toss the case without wasting their time on a trial.

And like that, it was all over.

That House Republicans, led by their increasingly endangered leader Mike Johnson, insisted on going through with the whole charade in the first place is a testament to their dedication to absurd stunts, as well as their inability to count. In February, they couldn’t count the number of votes they would need to actually impeach Mayorkas, and their first attempt failed.

Once they finally got their precious articles passed, they waited. And waited. And waited. It just never seemed like the right time to send those articles to the Senate because even Republican senators were musing that it all seemed like a ridiculous waste of time.

But finally—finally!—the glorious moment came when Marjorie Taylor Greene and fellow House impeachment managers would have the spotlight on their big impeachment moment. Except that didn’t happen either, because Greene instead directed the media’s attention to her threats to oust the aforementioned increasingly endangered House speaker.

If only the Republicans could get a trial in the Senate, though, they’d show once and for all how impeachable Mayorkas’ supposed offenses really were! Only problem there is that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said all along he’d move to toss the whole thing without a trial, and a lot of his fellow Democrats—even West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who called the impeachment stunt “pure crap”—agreed with him.

So where does that leave everyone? Senators are now free to go back to doing their jobs, as is Mayorkas. But what about Johnson, who can’t seem to deliver a win to his Republican caucus no matter what?

Well, the the bad week he was already having on Tuesday just got worse, and his miscalculation about when it would be safe to send the impeachment to the Senate certainly won’t improve things for him. On Tuesday, Greene picked up the support of Kentucky’s Thomas Massie, who said he would cosponsor her motion to kick Johnson to the curb.

Thus far, they’re the only two Republicans in the House who want to fire yet another speaker. But now that Johnson’s delivered another GOP humiliation, who knows whether others might be ready to join that mission? After all, it’s only Wednesday.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene makes a mess of House GOP’s big impeachment day

The ill-fated impeachment trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was finally supposed to take center stage for House Republicans this week after Speaker Mike Johnson pulled it last week. The House impeachment managers presented the articles to the Senate Tuesday afternoon, in what’s supposed to be a solemn and grave proceeding—impeachment is as serious as it gets in Congress. 

Mayorkas’ impeachment is supposed to demonstrate the House GOP’s resolve on immigration and border policy and prove that it can actually get something done, but the antics of extremist Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Thomas Massie have completely overshadowed it. House Republicans brought the impeachment to the Senate, and no one gave a damn.

Instead, the blockbuster news of the day is Massie joining with Greene on her threat to oust Johnson, making the impeachment attempt even more of a ridiculous sideshow. It’s also hilarious that it’s Greene—who spearheaded the sham impeachment to begin with—who is derailing it.

If Johnson is capable of learning, this should be a lesson to him about trying to appease the hard-right faction of his party. Greene not only filed this embarrassing motion to impeach, but she’s also on the impeachment managers team. Letting her loose on the Senate floor during what’s supposed to be a serious moment is a dangerous move.

Greene gave a preview of her possible antics during a DHS budget hearing Tuesday morning.

“I demand that Chuck Schumer holds your impeachment trial in the Senate, because that’s exactly what we should be focused on right now,” Greene told Mayorkas. Sure, Marge. Sure. 

Greene’s demand means squat to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Impeachment should never be used to settle a policy disagreement, Schumer said. “Talk about awful precedents. This would set an awful precedent for Congress."

The Senate is not going to convict Mayorkas, as even some Republicans think it’s bullshit. But senators are still obligated to take time out of a hectic week to deal with the charade. They have to spend time Tuesday receiving the articles, and then they will have to waste a chunk of Wednesday being sworn in as jurors, even though the impeachment push is going nowhere. 

The whole spectacle is just one more example of House Republicans’ ineptitude and what happens when they let the likes of Greene run the show.

Donate now to end this circus, and to take the House back from Republicans!

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‘It’s crap. Pure crap’: Senators look to quickly dismiss Mayorkas impeachment

House Republicans are ready to take their sham impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate this week, where they’ll likely find a hostile jury. That’s if the Senate decides to even have a trial.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made it clear in February, after the House voted to impeach, that he views the whole fiasco a waste of time. 

“This sham impeachment effort is another embarrassment for House Republicans,” he said in a statement.  “House Republicans failed to produce any evidence that Secretary Mayorkas has committed any crime. House Republicans failed to show he has violated the Constitution. House Republicans failed to present any evidence of anything resembling an impeachable offense.” 

Last month, he called the whole thing “absurd.”

The House impeachment managers—including extremists Andy Biggs of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia—will likely present their case on Wednesday, with senators sworn in as jurors on Thursday. Then it will just be a matter of how fast the Senate dispenses with it.

Schumer wrote to Democrats Friday, giving them a preview of the next few weeks of work, including impeachment, and hinted that his likely course of action will be to move to dismiss the charges. 

“I remind Senators that your presence next week is essential,” he wrote. That’s because he needs all Democrats present to vote on that motion to dismiss. 

He’ll have them. Even West Virginia’s Joe Manchin has trashed the impeachment. 

“It’s crap. Pure crap,” he told reporters in February. “No trial at all, it’s ridiculous. The trial will be in November. No. You start that craziness and play games and that stuff?” He added that Cabinet officials “work for the president. You got a problem, go to the polls.” 

He also said he believes there are sufficient votes to dismiss the impeachment. “I just want to get rid of it as quick as possible. You go down that path, that’s a slippery slope, you’ll never stop,” he said in February. 

There are at least three Republican senators—Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah—who have been skeptical enough about the whole thing to help Democrats dispense with this quickly. Romney even suggested in February that he’d vote to dismiss. 

“If there is a policy difference, it’s with the president, not the secretary that reports to him,” he said.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell paid lip service to conducting a trial in remarks last week, but didn’t show much enthusiasm for it. "[T]he Democrats have a majority, so it may not go on very long," McConnell told reporters. "But my preference would be to actually have a trial. But I think the majority is likely to prevent that."

Officially, Senate Republicans will make noises about having that trial. Republican Whip John Thune said at a recent leadership press conference that the House “has determined that Secretary Mayorkas has committed impeachable offenses” and that he thinks “the Senate needs to hold a trial.” How strenuously they’ll try to make that happen is another question—particularly considering who they’ll be teaming up with in the House. After all, Biggs and Greene will be among those coming to the Senate floor with this bullshit. How many GOP senators are going to want to ally with those guys?

RELATED STORIES:

Yes, the House GOP really will try to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas

House GOP’s unprecedented stunt to impeach Mayorkas fails

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The 17 worst things Mitch McConnell did to destroy democracy

Mark Sumner also contributed to this story.

Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that he will be stepping down as Republican leader of the Senate in November. And, for the sake of the democracy he’s spent decades trying to destroy, that moment can’t come soon enough.

Here are just a few of his career lowlights.

1. He stole a Supreme Court seat from President Barack Obama. 

When Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, McConnell insisted that the seat would remain empty because it was an election year and, according to a rule he created, the seat could therefore not be filled.  

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," he said. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” He refused to even give Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing much less a vote.

But three years later, asked what he would do if the same situation arose in 2020 under President Donald Trump?

"Oh, we'd fill it," he said. And that’s just what he did.

2. He stole a Supreme Court seat from future President Joe Biden.

And he did this after changing his “no new Supreme Court justice in the last year of a president’s term” rule—to install the ultra-conservative Amy Coney Barrett on the court eight days before the 2020 election.

The night Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in the fall of 2020, according to McConnell’s former chief of staff, McConnell told Trump he would absolutely fill the vacancy just weeks out from the election, “and you’ve gotta nominate Amy Coney Barrett.”

3. He packed the federal judiciary for Trump with white men, many of them unqualified

While the Supreme Court seats may be the most visible part of McConnell’s stacking of the judiciary, his goal went further. As Frontline noted, that meant he wanted his legacy to be one of “filling the federal judiciary with conservative judges.”

4. He vowed to obstruct Obama. 

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” he told the National Journal in 2010.

5. He vowed to obstruct Biden. 

“One hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” he said in 2021.

6. He made the debt ceiling a permanent hostage starting in 2011. 

McConnell may not have invented the government shutdown, but he made sure that shutdown threats were a regular part of American politics while shutting down efforts to fix the problem. "I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” McConnell said before a vote in 2011. “Most of us didn't think that. What we did learn is this—it's a hostage that's worth ransoming."  

7. He turned the filibuster into a weapon

McConnell used the filibuster “more than ever in history” during the Obama administration to try to deny Obama any legislative victories, just as he’d threatened to do. And he kept using it long after Obama left office, including to block a 9/11-style Jan. 6 committee

McConnell reportedly worked the phones to be sure the commission bill died, asking some Republican senators to join the filibuster as “a personal favor” to him despite the appeal from the mother of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick to support the commission. 

8. He voted to acquit Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

And, just like when he blocked the nomination of Garland to the Supreme Court, he blamed it on the timing. 

As The Washington Post described it, “We witnessed a historic confession of hypocrisy and deceit on Saturday when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) went to the floor after voting to acquit Donald Trump in the former president’s Senate impeachment trial.” That came after McConnell had given a speech calling Trump’s actions “a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty” and saying that  Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

But McConnell had an excuse: timing. He claimed it was too late to convict Trump. For McConnell, it’s always too late to do something. Unless it isn’t.

9. He built a career, and a big campaign nest egg, fighting gun safety regulations

That includes pulling down $1.3 million in donations from the NRA while blocking efforts to address mass shootings. No single individual may be completely responsible for America’s failure to address gun violence, including school shootings, but McConnell comes close.

10. He destroyed campaign finance reform and filibustered any effort to get money out of politics. 

He may have called money in politics “a cancer” at the start of his career, but once he was in the Senate, he devoted himself to protecting that cancer. And spreading it.

11. He blocked votes to save the Voting Rights Act. 

That included refusing to hold hearings on an amendment named in honor of the great congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis. McConnell claimed he was a supporter of the VRA at the beginning of his career, but as Senate leader, he weakened the act at every turn. This, along with his other moves to make it more difficult to vote, earned McConnell the nickname “the gravedigger of American democracy.”

12. He tried to kill Obamacare—and failed.

"This is clearly a disappointing moment," he said after the repeal attempt failed 51-49. "I regret that our efforts simply were not enough this time."

13. He blew off coal miners with black lung disease from his own state

That included giving a group of miners who drove from Kentucky to meet with him just two minutes of his time, but McConnell always found time to help mine owners prop up the dying industry.

He failed to support legislation that would reclaim mine land for economic development. He shied away from a bipartisan coalition in his state that is nurturing tech, medical, and even solar jobs. He led the Republican effort to cut taxes on the coal companies—taxes that would help struggling miners. And he has not pushed to shore up a badly underfunded miners’ pension fund.

14. He’s working with the Trump campaign right now to endorse Trump for another term. 

Sources involved in the negotiations give a weak explanation. “We’ve reached the part of the primary where the party is coming together,” one source told The Hill. “The absolute worst thing that can happen to this country is electing Joe Biden for four more years, and you can expect to coalesce around that point over the next nine months,” the source continued. So much for protecting our institutions from the guy who tried to “torch” them.

15. He named himself the “Grim Reaper.” 

He vowed to kill—literally kill—progressive legislation to address climate change and expand Medicare.

“Are we going to turn this into a socialist country? Don’t assume it cannot happen,” he said in 2019. “If I’m still the majority leader of the Senate, think of me as the Grim Reaper. None of that stuff is going to pass. None of it.”

16. He took this infamous picture in front of a Confederate flag.

He said the photo of him beaming in front of the racist flag was taken when he was a freshman senator, at a meeting of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. And no, he isn’t sorry.

"I don't regret going to speak to a group which at the time was not being considered, you know, a pariah in our society,” he said years later. “I, over the years, have probably been to plenty of groups and shaken hands with a whole lot of people who didn’t agree with me."

17. He tried to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren. It backfired.

During a floor speech against the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Trump’s attorney general in 2017, the Massachusetts senator read—or tried to read—a damning letter from Coretta Scott King, written in 1986, which blasted Sessions for “the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens” while serving as a United States attorney in Alabama.” 

McConnell didn’t like that and insisted Warren had violated a rule against demeaning a fellow senator. And he cut her off.

“She was warned,” McConnell said. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

The joke’s on McConnell, though, because his tsk-tsking of Warren became a meme. And a hashtag. And a tattoo. And a fundraiser. And a rallying cry. 

So long, Mitch. And good riddance.  

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GOP senators demand impeachment trial as government shutdown looms

With a government shutdown looming, 13 Republican senators, led by Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas’ pretend cowboy Sen. Ted Cruz, released a letter they said they sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell demanding he make a big stink about holding an impeachment trial for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Lee even posted a copy of the letter with some vaguely legible signatures to his X (formerly Twitter) account. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to dismiss the bogus bit of political theater.

The Republican-led House was able to impeach Mayorkas after one embarrassing failure of an attempt, making it the first time a Cabinet official has been impeached in 150 years. The Senate GOP members making hay out of the impeachment process continue to remind the public how Democratic officials proved (and Republican officials admitted) the entire exercise was disingenuous.

The letter, which was signed by Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Eric Schmitt, Rick Scott, Ron Johnson, J.D. Vance, Roger Marshall, Josh Hawley, Mike Braun, Tommy Tuberville, Ted Budd, Cynthia Lummis, and Marsha Blackburn, contains a lot of what we have come to expect from the do-nothing Republican Party. The general pantomime of the GOP around the impeachment of Mayorkas involves an imaginary belief that the GOP is strong on border security. It is fitting that conservative senators like Lee, who voted against the bipartisan border security deal, would also spend their time trying to create a political theater production of impeachment instead of making the hard compromises and decisions needed to get things done.

Senators like Cruz have used their party’s disarray to take shots at current leaders like McConnell. On Sunday, Cruz told Fox News that “if Republican leadership in the Senate doesn’t like the criticism, here’s an opportunity to demonstrate some backbone.” Cruz and Lee are joined by self-promoters like Sen. Josh Hawley, who has had his own public spats with Republican leadership in recent months.

The government is set to shut down on March 1. House Republicans seem unable to chew gum and … chew gum. Senate Republicans who spent many decades in lockstep with McConnell’s leadership seem to have lost the ability to tie their shoes. The Senate is coming off of an 11-day recess. McConnell has not responded to inquiries from media outlets for his response to the letter as of the writing of this story.

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Ohhhhh yeah! Democrats kicked ass and then some in Tuesday's special election in New York, so of course we're talking all about it on this week's episode of "The Downballot." Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard explain how Tom Suozzi's win affects the math for Democrats' plan to take back the House, then dive into the seemingly bottomless list of excuses Republicans have been making to handwave their defeat away. The bottom line: Suozzi effectively neutralized attacks on immigration—and abortion is still a huge loser for the GOP.