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GOP Watch Keeping an Eye on Republicans for You - Page 26

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.” ― Theodore Roosevelt Welcome to GOP Watch keeping an eye on Republicans for you. The Republican Party is using lies, hate, fear, alterative facts and whataboutism to stay in power and protect a comprised and corrupt Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party and Putin. The GOP is a danger to America and Americans.

In an interview about the Mueller report, Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, distorted the facts in repeatedly making the case that there was “no obstruction” by Trump.

A 1989 memo Barr wrote summarizing the “principal conclusions” of a D.O.J. ruling apparently left out several of those principal conclusions.

The majority leader cares only for winning, not rules or democracy itself. He is doing more damage than Trump
by Robert Reich

By Jordain Carney

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled on Tuesday that he is open to changing the president's national emergency powers as support grows within the GOP caucus for amending the National Emergencies Act. "We're looking at some ways to revisit the law. There's a lot of discomfort with the law. ... Was it too broad back in the '70s when it was passed? So yeah, we're discussing altering that," McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference. A growing number of Republican senators have expressed interest in amending the National Emergencies Act to make it easier for Congress to terminate a national emergency. The discussion is focused on future national emergencies but comes days before the Senate will vote on a House-passed resolution of disapproval blocking Trump's emergency declaration at the border. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is expected to introduce legislation that would require Congress to vote to approve future national emergency declarations within 30 days before they automatically expire. McConnell, asked if he would support Lee's legislation, told reporters that he "may well" back it. Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), another member of GOP leadership, has said he's co-sponsoring Lee's bill. Trump's emergency declaration has sparked an intense, lengthy debate among Republicans about separation of powers. Though Republicans largely support Trump's desire to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, they are worried about the precedent his actions could set for a future Democratic president to force through proposals on issues such as climate change and gun control. Senators say they are in talks with the White House about changes to the National Emergencies Act. Vice President Pence met earlier Tuesday with a handful of Republican senators who are undecided on the resolution of disapproval, though members of leadership have expressed skepticism that an eleventh-hour agreement would be enough sink the resolution blocking Trump's emergency declaration. Even if they aren't able to get a deal, GOP senators said they expect the caucus debate over changing the National Emergencies Act will continue after this week.

Every House Democrat voted for a broadly worded resolution condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance,” but 23 Republicans voted no.
By Emily Cochrane and Catie Edmondson

WASHINGTON — The House passed a resolution on Thursday that condemned anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. The resolution, written by House Democrats, began as an implicit response to comments made by Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, that were widely deemed anti-Semitic, but when some Democrats objected to singling her out, the resolution was broadened to condemn other forms of hatred. Earlier this year, House Republicans unanimously endorsed a resolution that condemned white nationalism and white supremacy after Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, asked when the term “white supremacy” had become controversial, capping years of bigoted comments that had gone unpunished. This time, they were not so united, and some Democrats demanded to know why. Where’s the outrage over the 23 GOP members who voted NO on a resolution condemning bigotry today? Oh, there’s none? Did they get called out, raked over, ambushed in halls and relentlessly asked why not? No? Okay. Got it. — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 8, 2019. Here is their answer: “The frustration on the Republican side was that they watered down the amendment,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, said at a news conference on Friday. (Mr. McCarthy voted for the resolution; one of his top lieutenants, Representative Liz Cheney, voted against it.)

Republicans' estimates that the climate plan would cost $93 trillion are based on a think tank study that doesn't endorse that total.

Republicans claim the Green New Deal would cost $93 trillion — a number that would dwarf the economic output of every nation on Earth.
The figure is bogus. But that isn’t stopping the eye-popping total from turning up on the Senate floor, the Conservative Political Action Conference and even “Saturday Night Live” as the progressive Democrats’ sweeping-yet-vague vision statement amps up the political conversation around climate change. The number originated with a report by a conservative think tank, American Action Forum, that made huge assumptions about how exactly Democrats would go about implementing their plan. But the $93 trillion figure does not appear anywhere in the think tank’s report — and AAF President Douglas Holtz-Eakin confessed he has no idea how much exactly the Green New Deal would cost. “Is it billions or trillions?” asked Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “Any precision past that is illusory." The Green New Deal isn’t even a plan yet — at the moment it’s a non-binding resolution that calls for major action to stop greenhouse gas pollution while reducing income inequality and creating "millions of good, high-wage jobs." But top Republicans have embraced the $93 trillion price tag, using it to argue that the climate plan would bankrupt the United States. Democrats say Republicans are using the number to try to dodge responsibility for decades of denying climate science, while the White House continues to disregard the evidence linking human activity to rising temperatures and extreme weather. To come up with the $93 million total, Republicans added together the cost estimates that the AAF report's authors had placed on various aspects of a Green New Deal platform. Most of those were based on assumptions about universal healthcare and jobs programs rather than the costs of transitioning to carbon-free electricity and transportation. “There’s a race for think-tankers, analysts and academia to be the first to come up with a number, and you can see why — look at how many people latched onto that $93 trillion number,” said Nick Loris, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “A lot of times you just see the number and you don’t get a lot of the backstory behind the number.”

By Margaret Sullivan

Chris Wallace is an exceptional interviewer, and Shepard Smith and Bret Baier are reality-based news anchors. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the overall problem of Fox News, which started out with bad intentions in 1996 and has swiftly devolved into what often amounts to a propaganda network for a dishonest president and his allies. The network, which attracts more viewers than its two major competitors, specializes in fearmongering and unrelenting alarmism. Remember “the caravan”? At crucial times, it does not observe basic standards of journalistic practice: as with its eventually retracted, false reporting in 2017 on Seth Rich, which fueled conspiracy theories that Hillary Clinton had the former Democratic National Committee staffer killed because he was a source of campaign leaks. Fox, you might recall, was a welcoming haven for “birtherism” — the racist lies about President Barack Obama’s birthplace. For years, it has constantly, unfairly and inaccurately bashed Hillary Clinton. And its most high-profile personality, Sean Hannity, is not only a close confidant of President Trump but appeared with him onstage at a campaign rally last year. Anyone who was paying the slightest bit of attention knew all of this long before Jane Mayer’s 11,000-word investigation in the New Yorker magazine was published a few days ago. But because Mayer is so highly respected, and the piece so thorough, it made an impact. Within days, DNC Chairman Tom Perez announced that Fox wouldn’t be chosen as one of the hosts of the Democratic primary debates. This was a mild, reasonable step that recognizes the reality that Fox News shouldn’t be treated as an honest broker of political news. It was not censorship as some bizarrely claimed, merely a decision not to enter into a business relationship.

By Jane Mayer

Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda? n January, during the longest government shutdown in America’s history, President Donald Trump rode in a motorcade through Hidalgo County, Texas, eventually stopping on a grassy bluff overlooking the Rio Grande. The White House wanted to dramatize what Trump was portraying as a national emergency: the need to build a wall along the Mexican border. The presence of armored vehicles, bales of confiscated marijuana, and federal agents in flak jackets underscored the message. But the photo op dramatized something else about the Administration. After members of the press pool got out of vans and headed over to where the President was about to speak, they noticed that Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, was already on location. Unlike them, he hadn’t been confined by the Secret Service, and was mingling with Administration officials, at one point hugging Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security.

The pool report noted that Hannity was seen “huddling” with the White House communications director, Bill Shine. After the photo op, Hannity had an exclusive on-air interview with Trump. Politico later reported that it was Hannity’s seventh interview with the President, and Fox’s forty-second. Since then, Trump has given Fox two more. He has granted only ten to the three other main television networks combined, and none to CNN, which he denounces as “fake news.” Hannity was treated in Texas like a member of the Administration because he virtually is one. The same can be said of Fox’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch. Fox has long been a bane of liberals, but in the past two years many people who watch the network closely, including some Fox alumni, say that it has evolved into something that hasn’t existed before in the United States. Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor of Presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and the author of “Messengers of the Right,” a history of the conservative media’s impact on American politics, says of Fox, “It’s the closest we’ve come to having state TV.”

Hemmer argues that Fox—which, as the most watched cable news network, generates about $2.7 billion a year for its parent company, 21st Century Fox—acts as a force multiplier for Trump, solidifying his hold over the Republican Party and intensifying his support. “Fox is not just taking the temperature of the base—it’s raising the temperature,” she says. “It’s a radicalization model.” For both Trump and Fox, “fear is a business strategy—it keeps people watching.” As the President has been beset by scandals, congressional hearings, and even talk of impeachment, Fox has been both his shield and his sword. The White House and Fox interact so seamlessly that it can be hard to determine, during a particular news cycle, which one is following the other’s lead. All day long, Trump retweets claims made on the network; his press secretary, Sarah Sanders, has largely stopped holding press conferences, but she has made some thirty appearances on such shows as “Fox & Friends” and “Hannity.” Trump, Hemmer says, has “almost become a programmer.” Fox’s defenders view such criticism as unfounded and politically biased. Ken LaCorte, who was in senior management at Fox News for nearly twenty years, until 2016, and recently started his own news service, told me, “The people at Fox said the same thing about the press and Obama.” Fox’s public-relations department offers numerous examples of its reporters and talk-show hosts challenging the Administration. Chris Wallace, a tough-minded and ecumenical interviewer, recently grilled Stephen Miller, a senior Trump adviser, on the need for a border wall, given that virtually all drugs seized at the border are discovered at checkpoints.

Trump is not the first President to have a favorite media organization; James Madison and Andrew Jackson were each boosted by partisan newspapers. But many people who have watched and worked with Fox over the years, including some leading conservatives, regard Fox’s deepening Trump orthodoxy with alarm. Bill Kristol, who was a paid contributor to Fox News until 2012 and is a prominent Never Trumper, said of the network, “It’s changed a lot. Before, it was conservative, but it wasn’t crazy. Now it’s just propaganda.” Joe Peyronnin, a professor of journalism at N.Y.U., was an early president of Fox News, in the mid-nineties. “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he says of Fox. “It’s as if the President had his own press organization. It’s not healthy.” othing has formalized the partnership between Fox and Trump more than the appointment, in July, 2018, of Bill Shine, the former co-president of Fox News, as director of communications and deputy chief of staff at the White House. Kristol says of Shine, “When I first met him, he was producing Hannity’s show at Fox, and the two were incredibly close.”

Both come from white working-class families on Long Island, and they are so close to each other’s children that they are referred to as “Uncle Bill” and “Uncle Sean.” Another former colleague says, “They spend their vacations together.” A third recalls, “I was rarely in Shine’s office when Sean didn’t call. And I was in Shine’s office a lot. They talked all the time—many times a day.” Shine led Fox News’ programming division for a dozen years, overseeing the morning and evening opinion shows, which collectively get the biggest ratings and define the network’s conservative brand. Straight news was not within his purview. In July, 2016, Roger Ailes, the co-founder and C.E.O. of Fox, was fired in the face of numerous allegations of chronic sexual harassment, and Shine became co-president. But within a year he, too, had been forced out, amid a second wave of sexual-harassment allegations, some of them against Fox’s biggest star at the time, Bill O’Reilly. Shine wasn’t personally accused of sexual harassment, but several lawsuits named him as complicit in a workplace culture of coverups, payoffs, and victim intimidation.

By Nicole Hemmer

(CNN) On Monday, the New Yorker's Jane Mayer published an explosive expose on "the Fox News White House," a deeply reported story alleging that the channel had killed a story about Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election and that President Trump tried to spike the AT&T-Time Warner merger apparently because he wasn't happy with the news coverage of his presidency by CNN, which is now owned by AT&T. The story makes clear in vivid detail that Mayer's answer to the headline question about Fox News — "Is it propaganda?" — is a resounding yes. But for some readers, that still left a lingering question: Is it new? After all, presidents have had close ties with media outlets before. Didn't journalists provide cover for the Bush administration during the Iraq War? Didn't MSNBC's Chris Matthews declare he got "a thrill go up his leg" when he listened to Barack Obama's speeches? Haven't mainstream outlets carried water for presidents for decades? Absolutely.

Yet the relationship between Donald Trump and Fox News is distinctly different, bringing the channel closer to state television than anything the United States has ever known. There's certainly precedent for some features of Trump's relationship with Fox News. American presidents have long cozied up to the press, seeking favorable coverage for their parties and agendas. And some journalists returned the favor, enjoying the access and prestige of being a White House insider. New York Times columnist Arthur Krock had long been close to John Kennedy, helping him with his senior thesis and even privately advising him on how to handle the CIA. Drew Pearson, a Washington Post columnist, regularly traded favors with Lyndon Johnson, including dropping investigations in exchange for political help and weighing in on speeches and strategy.

News outlets have also backed particular candidates, hoping to get their man in the White House. In 1940 Henry Luce, who owned Time, Life, and Fortune, single-handedly engineered Wendell Willkie's nomination. Not only did his magazines popularize the little-known candidate, Luce ensured the coverage was uniformly positive, often to the dismay of journalists working for him. "Take me off this train," begged one Time reporter covering Willkie. "All I can do is sit at my typewriter and write, 'Wendell Willkie is a wonderful man. Wendell Willkie is a wonderful man.'" And journalists have certainly covered up presidents' sexual dalliances. In the mid-20th century, stories of such misdeeds were considered out of bounds, so while it was common knowledge that both Kennedy and Johnson regularly pursued women other than their wives, those lascivious tales never made it into the nation's newspapers.

There are even plenty of cases of news outlets acting as court stenographers, credulously repeating the party line even as evidence amassed that an administration was lying (see: Vietnam, Iraq). Yet despite all the ways journalists and presidents have coordinated in the past, none comes even close to the symbiosis between Fox News and Donald Trump. Not even Fox News has been so in bed with a White House before. While the channel has always been firmly Republican -- Roger Ailes was an adviser to Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to George H.W. Bush before launching Fox News -- it did not have the wholesale influence over George W. Bush that it has over Trump (and vice versa). One metric: the steady flow of personnel from Fox News to the Trump White House. Fox News' Tony Snow served as press secretary to George W. Bush, and while it was unusual for a journalist to move into an administration, it was not unprecedented. For the Trump administration, however, appearances on Fox News have often served as the first step in the interview process. That is, no doubt, how Bush administration official and hawk John Bolton wound up in the White House, despite the fact that Trump regularly bashes interventionism.

By Barbie Latza Nadeau

Jared talks to Murdoch ‘like, every day.’ Trump may have had Megyn Kelly’s debate question early—and ordered a hit on AT&T’s merger. A fast look at the new New Yorker bombshell. In a far-reaching New Yorker exposé titled “The Making of the Fox News White House” published Monday, Jane Mayer dissects the often-incestuous relationship between the Trump White House and Fox News. In it are numerous highly disturbing claims. Here, a quick look at several of them: Fox News Sat on Story About Trump’s Payoff to Stormy Daniels. Mayer’s biggest scoop may just be one that Fox News passed on. “Diana Falzone, who often covered the entertainment industry, had obtained proof that Trump had engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006 with a pornographic film actress calling herself Stormy Daniels,” Mayer writes.

She says Falzone had even confirmed it with Daniels through Gina Rodriguez, Daniel’s manager at the time and with Daniels’ former husband, Mike Moz, who she says “described multiple calls from Trump.” “Falzone had also amassed emails between Daniels’ attorney and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, detailing a proposed cash settlement, accompanied by a nondisclosure agreement. Falzone had even seen the contract,” Mayer writes. Roger Ailes Warned Murdoch Off Trump in His Final Days. Mayer writes that Rupert Murdoch has “cultivated heads of state in Australia and Great Britain” and she was told that “he’s always wanted to have a relationship with a president—he’s a businessman and he sees benefits of having a chief of state doing your bidding.” The Fox News chairman has met every U.S. president since Kennedy, but “until now a relationship has eluded him.” She says Ailes, during his final days at Fox, “apparently warned Murdoch of the perils. According to Gabriel Sherman, a biographer of Ailes who has written about Fox for New York magazine and Vanity Fair, Ailes told Murdoch, ‘Trump gets great ratings, but if you’re not careful he’s going to end up totally controlling Fox News.’”

By Julia Arciga

Despite the apology, however, at least three other Corsi posts making the same conspiratorial claims about Seth Rich’s murder remain on the InfoWars website. ight-wing conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi on Monday officially retracted and apologized for an InfoWars article he wrote in 2018 claiming that murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich (and his brother Aaron Rich) leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks during the 2016 election. “Dr. Corsi acknowledges that his allegations were not based upon any independent factual knowledge regarding Seth or Aaron Rich,” a statement on InfoWars read.

The website claimed that Corsi based his false claims off a Washington Times column by retired Adm. James Lyons, which was also retracted late last year. “It was not Dr. Corsi’s intent to rely upon inaccurate information, or to cause any suffering to Mr. Rich’s family,” the statement read. “To that end, Dr. Corsi retracts the article and apologizes to the Rich family.” Corsi also echoed the apology to the Rich family on his personal Twitter account. “As Christians gentleman [sic], I have sympathy for the suffering the Seth Rich family has gone through. I hope all will understand that. God Bless,” he wrote, while going out of his way to note for his more conspiracy-minded followers that he was not “threatened” into retracting. I'm not being threatened. My retracted article in error relied on a retracted Wash Times article retracted for making false statements.

As Christians gentleman, I have sympathy for the suffering the Seth Rich family has gone through. I hope all will understand that. God Bless — Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@jerome_corsi) March 4, 2019. A lawyer for Aaron Rich told CNN the retraction was an "important step toward obtaining justice” for the family. “We will continue to litigate our defamation claims against conspiracy theorists who refuse to retract & apologize for similar false statements,” the statement read. The article was one of many featured on Alex Jones’ far-right conspiratorial website describing Seth Rich as a Bernie Sanders supporter who leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks as revenge against the committee backing Hillary Clinton as the party’s candidate. Corsi wrote that Rich was the “likely perpetrator” in the leak because he was “implicated in breaches of email systems,” and he was killed for providing the dump to the website. The Daily Beast previously reported Corsi did acknowledge the fact that hackers—not Rich—were behind the DNC leak in August 2016 emails to his friend and long-time Trump confidant Roger Stone, who has been accused of obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his communications between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign.

By Will Sommer

Newly released email shows the Russia truthers knew full well who supplied Wikileaks. They kept blaming a murdered staffer, even after his parents begged them to stop. Russian hackers weren’t the ones behind the theft of Democratic emails that upended the 2016 presidential race, conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi told his InfoWars fans last year. Instead, Corsi said, Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich had stolen the emails and was murdered in revenge for the heist. But Corsi was lying. In an email to Trump confidante Roger Stone in 2016, Corsi acknowledged that in fact hackers were behind the email theft, according to newly released messages. Despite that admission, both Corsi and Stone played key roles promoting the conspiracy theory about Rich.

Stone became one of the first major figures in Trump’s orbit to suggest Rich was murdered over the emails, tweeting on August 10, 2016 that Rich had “ties to DNC heist.” In 2017, after Rich’s parents begged right-wing media personalities to stop pushing conspiracy theories about their son, Corsi put the blame for the email theft on Rich in a three-part InfoWars series. In his InfoWars posts and a series of YouTube videos, Corsi portrayed Rich as a disaffected supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who stole the emails to get revenge against the DNC and paid for it with his life. Corsi wrote that Rich had clearly been “implicated in breaches of email systems.” The young staffer was, according to Corsi, the “likely perpetrator.” Corsi’s theory helped fuel conspiracy theorists on the right who claim, without evidence, that Rich was murdered on the orders of Hillary Clinton. But emails from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia show that Corsi knew all along that Russian hackers gave the emails to WikiLeaks. In an August 2, 2016 email, made public Tuesday in draft court papers prepared by Mueller’s office, Corsi told Stone that “hackers” were behind the WikiLeaks releases.

(The Hill) - Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Julie Lynch filed paperwork with the county board of elections last week to run as a Democrat in future races, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “I’ve been a registered Republican since I was 18, and 41 years later I do not recognize the Republican Party as it is today,” she told the Columbus Dispatch. “And I’m not the same person I was when I was 18.” Her filing makes it official that she will run as a Democrat next time she is up for reelection in 2023. She did not elaborate on specifics that have led to her decision. Lynch told the local news outlet she “can’t articulate all the things that are disturbing to me, because that would not be appropriate for a judge. I’ll let my action speak louder than my words.” While ballots for judges in Ohio do not indicate political affiliation, primaries within parties take place for Common Please Court judges and candidates are back by political parties, according to the Dispatch. Ohio’s largest city of Columbus, a recent Democratic stronghold that went heavily for Hillary Clinton in 2016, is within Franklin County, and in the 2018 election Democrats won six of seven seats on the Franklin Country Common Pleas Court. However, Lynch said the recent voting did not influence her decision to switch parties. “That ebbs and flows,” she said. “When I started out, Republicans were dominant, but there were still Democratic judges. ... I’ve always had support from Democrats and Republicans and independents.” Several GOP state lawmakers in Kansas recently left the party and became Democrats last year, citing differences in educational policies.

By Devan Cole
Washington (CNN)A Republican congressman who opposes President Donald Trump's emergency border wall declaration said Sunday he believes Trump "is violating our constitutional system" with the declaration. The comments from Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who serves on the House Oversight Committee, came as he discussed the declaration, which Trump made last month to unlock additional funding to construct his proposed wall along the southern border. "I think the President is violating our constitutional system. And I don't think Congress can grant legislative powers to the President by statute," Amash told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." "You can't just pass a statute that says, 'The President now has appropriations power and bypass Congress.' " Amash said he thinks his Republican colleagues who support the move are abdicating their constitutional responsibilities, but that he doesn't "think that they are all intending to do that." He added that Republican members of Congress who argue the President was granted this power by Congress are probably not "thinking to themselves, 'Oh, I just want the President to violate the Constitution.' " Amash, who is one of 13 Republicans in the House who voted with Democrats to pass a measure to block Trump's declaration, told Tapper that "we have to protect our own power." The measure will now be considered in the Senate, where, Amash said, he's "hopeful many Republican senators will agree." Not ruling out a 2020 bid. Amash, who was first elected to Congress in 2010, declined on Sunday to rule out a possible 2020 presidential run as a Libertarian candidate. "Well, I would never rule anything out. That's not on my radar right now," he said of a 2020 bid to Tapper. "But I think that it is important that we have someone in there who is presenting a vision for America that is different from what these two parties are presenting." Amash told Tapper he believes there is a "wild amount of partisan rhetoric on both sides" and that "Congress is totally broken." "I think that we need to return to basic American principles, talk about what we have in common as a people -- because I believe we have a lot in common as Americans -- and try to move forward together, rather than fighting each other all the time," Amash said.

By William Cummings, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – After Rep. Mark Meadows defended himself against allegations of racism during a House committee meeting Wednesday, critics resurfaced two 2012 videos of the North Carolina Republican in which he vowed to send then-President Barack Obama "home to Kenya." The videos were shared by Liberal commentators in response to an exchange between Meadows and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., during a hearing featuring President Donald Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen. Meadows invited Lynne Patton – a longtime Trump associate and current Housing and Urban Development official – to the hearing and referred to her while disputing Cohen's allegation that the president is a racist. "Just because someone has a person of color, a black person working for them, does not mean they aren't racist," Tlaib said. She added that the use of Patton as a political "prop" was "racism in itself."

By Spencer Ackerman, Sam Brodey

The Republican game plan was to impugn Cohen’s nonexistent integrity. Cohen told them that if they continue down their path, they’ll end up as disgraced as he is. For all the Republican assaults on Michael Cohen’s character and credibility – an easy thing to pull off against someone convicted of both fraud and lying to Congress – President Trump’s ex-fixer had a warning for them: You’re going down the road that led me here. “I can only warn people,” the disgraced ex-attorney said, “the more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did, blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.” Cohen, testifying to the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, said that throughout his decade-long tenure as Trump’s attorney, the “conman” instructed him to lie. Those lies including covering up to Congress the extent and campaign-time duration of a nine-figure deal to build a Moscow Trump Tower and arranging hush-money payments to silence women during the 2016 election who said they had sex with Trump. Cohen’s account of deceit put Trump closer to legally perilous terrain of the sort that will soon send Cohen to prison: obstructing congressional investigations and violating campaign finance law. He told the panel that in meetings with Trump and attorney Jay Sekulow ahead of his deceitful 2017 congressional testimony, Trump told him: “‘Michael, there’s no Russia, there’s no collusion, there’s no interference.’ I know what he wants because I’ve been around him for so long” – that is, to lie to Congress.

By David Shortell, CNN

Washington (CNN)The Florida Bar is investigating Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz after his threatening tweet last night about President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen. Francine Andía Walker, the group's director of communications, said the Florida Bar received a number of calls and emails regarding the tweet after it posted. According to disciplinary guidelines for the group, which is the organization of all lawyers licensed by the Supreme Court of Florida to practice law in the state, the state bar's lawyer regulation arm must determine that an allegation against a bar member "would constitute a violation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar" before a probe is opened. On Tuesday night, just hours ahead of Cohen's public testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Gaetz -- a Trump ally -- tweeted at Cohen, "Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she'll remain faithful when you're in prison. She's about to learn a lot..." Gaetz later deleted his tweet and issued an apology. As part of their investigation, Walker said the Florida Bar on Wednesday would send Gaetz a letter outlining the allegation against him. Gaetz will have 15 days to respond. The Daily Beast first reported the investigation Wednesday. "It seems that the Florida Bar, by its rules, is required to investigate even the most frivolous of complaints," said Jillian Lane Wyant, a spokeswoman for Gaetz, when asked for a response to the investigation. A state bar investigation is not a criminal probe, and in Florida, there are further layers of investigation that the probe will go through before any potential disciplinary action is brought down by the Florida Supreme Court. Rules regulating the Florida Bar say that "a lawyer's conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer's business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law's procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others."

By Matthew Dessem

On Tuesday, Florida congressman Matt Gaetz sent the following tweet to Donald Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen: Hey @MichaelCohen212 - Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot... — Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 26, 2019. Gaetz’s threat comes on the eve of Cohen’s public testimony about the president’s involvement in schemes to buy the silence of adult actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in order to prevent the public from discovering that a man famous for being unfaithful to his various wives was still sleeping around. There’s a complicated moral calculus surrounding these payoffs: It’s obviously good any time Donald Trump has less money, but it might also have been good for the public to have evidence that Trump is an amoral jerk who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near government power. On the other hand, the public already had mountains of evidence that Trump was an amoral jerk who shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near government power on Nov. 8 and elected him anyway, so it’s possible the payoffs were nothing more than waste of Trump’s money, which, again, would be something to applaud. On the other hand, Gaetz’s tweet threatening Cohen the night before he testifies seems to be a little easier to parse. For more on this, let’s check in with what looks like every single law professor in America. Here’s Ryan Goodman of NYU: Hey @mattgaetz - Does your personal attorney know you’ve just engaged, very clearly, in the crime of witness tampering? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. https://t.co/d4d1O7nnMw — Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) February 26, 2019. Here’s Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas: Hey @mattgaetz: Do you know about 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b), which prohibits tampering with witnesses to official proceedings?:https://t.co/4ZZ2jQ0Qrs https://t.co/t7XMXITlNb — Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) February 26, 2019.

By Adam Jentleson

He’s not an institutionalist. He’s the man who surrendered the Senate to the president. Among the casualties of President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build his border wall is the reputation of the majority leader Mitch McConnell as a Senate institutionalist. The evidence of the last few days has confirmed, if there were still any doubt, that he is no such thing. First, he helped prolong the longest government shutdown in American history by insisting that the Senate would act only with explicit approval from the president. Now Mr. McConnell has fully acquiesced in President Trump’s power grab by supporting an emergency declaration, which he opposed just weeks before, aimed at addressing a crisis that Senate Republicans know does not exist. This display of obedience from the leader of a supposedly coequal branch of government is shocking only if you ever believed Mr. McConnell was an institutionalist.

But his defining characteristic has always been his willingness to do anything and sacrifice any principle to amass power for himself. What separates him from the garden-variety politicians — what makes him a radical — are the lengths he is willing to go. Seeing this with clarity should help us grasp the danger to which he is subjecting the Senate — and, more important, our democracy. The signs of Mr. McConnell’s malign influence were always there. Before he became a Senate leader, he dedicated himself to opening the floodgates for corporate money to flow into our political system. Mr. McConnell chased the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law all the way to the Supreme Court; the 2003 challenge to the law bears his name. Mr. McConnell lost that one, but his cause prevailed six years later when the Supreme Court overturned restrictions on corporate contributions in Citizens United. In 2010, as minority leader, Mr. McConnell stated that his main goal was not to help our country recover from the Great Recession but to make President Obama a “one-term president.” A self-declared “proud guardian of gridlock,” he presided over an enormous escalation in the use of the filibuster. His innovation was to transform it from a procedural tool used to block bills into a weapon of nullification, deploying it against even routine Senate business to gridlock the legislative process.

Top Republican Party leaders on Wednesday began sensitive discussions over the scope of support the GOP can give now to President Trump's re-election campaign, amid talk of potential primary challenges, fresh evidence of sagging approval ratings and multiple ongoing government investigations. Members of a Republican National Committee (RNC) panel responsible for considering formal resolutions and changes to party rules on Wednesday affirmed their support for the president by passing a resolution offered by Oklahoma Committeewoman Carolyn McClarty that stated the party's "unequivocal support" of the president — a step that a president's own party has never before taken. But the ongoing special counsel investigation and intra-party squabbles could threaten Mr. Trump's standing as the presumptive nominee. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, former Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, and former Ohio Governor John Kasich have all been mentioned as potential challengers to Trump for the 2020 GOP presidential nomination — although none of the men have taken formal steps to begin a campaign.

Trump's campaign launches a state-by-state effort to prevent an intraparty fight ahead of convention. Worried about a potential Republican primary challenge, President Donald Trump's campaign has launched a state-by-state effort to prevent an intraparty fight that could spill over into the general-election campaign. The nascent initiative has been an intense focus in recent weeks and includes taking steps to change state party rules, crowd out potential rivals and quell any early signs of opposition that could embarrass the president. It is an acknowledgment that Trump, who effectively hijacked the Republican Party in 2016, hasn't completely cemented his grip on the GOP and, in any event, is not likely to coast to the 2020 GOP nomination without some form of opposition. While any primary challenge would almost certainly be unsuccessful, Trump aides are looking to prevent a repeat of the convention discord that highlighted the electoral weaknesses of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter in their failed re-election campaigns. To defend against that prospect, Trump's campaign has deployed what it calls an unprecedented effort to monitor and influence local party operations. It has used endorsements, lobbying and rule changes to increase the likelihood that only loyal Trump activists make it to the Republican nominating convention in August 2020. Bill Stepien, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, calls it all a "process of ensuring that the national convention is a television commercial for the president for an audience of 300 million and not an internal fight." One early success for Trump's campaign was in Massachusetts, where Trump backer and former state Rep. Jim Lyons last month defeated the candidate backed by Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, a Trump critic, to serve as the state party chairman.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called efforts by House Democrats to make Election Day a federal holiday a "power grab" by Democrats. McConnell was criticizing H.R. 1, the far-reaching bill that Democrats have made the center of their agenda since taking the House. The bill is focused on voting, campaign finance and ethics reform. The bill would make Election Day a holiday for federal workers, and would encourage private employers to do the same. McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday that Democrats "want taxpayers on the hook for generous new benefits for federal bureaucrats and government employees," including a "new paid holiday for government workers." These comments were made the week after 800,000 federal employees across the country were finally back to work after 35 days of having been furloughed or forced to work without pay during the government shutdown. The bill also attempts to dismantle barriers to voting with measures such as automatic voter registration and re-enfranchising felons who have completed their sentences. It would also allow federal workers six days off to work at polling places, which McConnell particularly criticized. - That’s rich coming from Mitch McConnell, McConnell who used his power to usurped a Supreme Court pick from Obama. Did Mitch McConnell steal Obama’s Supreme Court because he failed in his quest to make Obama a one-term president?

The flamboyant political aide is often tagged with the term. But its origins—and Stone’s relationship with the word—are complicated. Roger Stone, now under indictment on several counts related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, has always reveled in being a political mischief-maker. It’s a reputation he has burnished since he was 19 years old, when he was involved in the “dirty tricks” operation of Richard Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign. More recently, he bragged publicly about purported contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, the subject of Friday’s indictment. When asked in the 2017 documentary Get Me Roger Stone why he has embraced the role of “dirty trickster,” he shrugged and said, “Well, I’m stuck with it now. It’s going to be in the first paragraph of my New York Times obit, so I might as well go with the flow.” “Dirty trickster” is one thing. But Stone, who says he will plead not guilty to the charges against him, hasn’t been so eager to embrace another, more profane Nixon-era label with which he’s often tagged: “ratfucker,” or a political operator who engages in roguish behind-the-scenes behavior to undermine rivals. He’s inexorably linked to the term, even if he doesn’t like it. “Stone’s specialty is being a ‘ratfucker,’” wrote Will Greenberg of Mother Jones in 2017. Abigail Tracy of Vanity Fair called him a “professional ratfucker” last year—a description echoed by the Law & Crime website after Friday’s indictment. Where did the word “ratfucking” come from, and how did Stone become one of its prime targets? As first recounted by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in All the President’s Men, the term “ratfucking” entered the lingo of the Nixon campaign thanks to Donald Segretti, who was hired by his old college friend, Dwight Chapin, to sabotage the campaigns of Democrats running in the 1972 primaries. As undergraduates at the University of Southern California, Segretti and Chapin, along with other future Nixon staffers including press secretary Ron Ziegler, had been involved in a group called Trojans for Representative Government that gleefully engaged in shady tactics to win campus elections.

After a half-century of dirty tricks, there’s finally the case of United States versus Roger Jason Stone, Jr.
The standard FBI booking form filled out after Roger Stone’s arrest included a notation of any “scars, marks, tattoos,” in his case a large portrait of a smiling Richard Nixon etched on his back. The visage between 66-year-old Stone’s shoulder blades attests to his role nearly a half-century ago as a junior participant in the dirty tricks that eventually led to the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation. A description of the tattoo now became part of the official record of his arrest stemming from his alleged role as a senior participant in dirty tricks on behalf of the current president, who increasingly seems to be in serious trouble. “This is definitely getting much closer to home for the president and his people,” said a longtime FBI supervisor who is not involved in the investigation but has been following the developments with an experienced eye.

House GOP revives long-shot FBI probe - Sarah Ferris, Andrew Desiderio
Republicans, however, are severely hindered since they're in the minority. House Republicans were sent into the purgatory of the minority after their midterm drubbing. But they are still pressing ahead with longstanding probes into the FBI and DOJ — even though they lack much power to do anything about it. Barely three weeks into the minority, a band of Trump loyalists says they want to revive the remnants of an investigation that formally concluded last year, which they believe shows that federal law enforcement officials weaponized their biases against President Donald Trump in 2016 while he was a candidate for president. Yet the group, led by Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), won’t have a single tool at their disposal to compel testimony or demand documents, and not nearly enough manpower to keep up with the work. “We’ve got to keep digging for the truth no matter what,” Jordan said, confirming that he is working with a handful of Republicans to continue the work of a joint effort with the Judiciary Committee that former chairmen Trey Gowdy and Bob Goodlatte pursued last year. - Republicans want to protect Trump by investigating the FBI and DOJ, however will not investigate Trump who may be a Russian mole.

Republicans rebuked the Iowa representative for his recent racist remarks, exposing an uncomfortable truth: why does the party still support Trump’s similar views? When Iowa representative Steve King questioned how “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” became offensive terms, the nine-term Republican congressman was overwhelmingly rebuked by members of his own party. King, whose longstanding nativist views were well documented, was stripped of his committee assignments in Washington, and swiftly became the target of a Super Pac launched by Iowa Republicans with the goal of unseating him in 2020. Steve King stripped of committee posts after 'white nationalist' comments But the Republican response to King also exposed uncomfortable truths about the party’s penchant for attracting white nationalists: the individual most championed by the latter’s movement resides in the White House. “In many respects, Steve King was the easier target to go after. The harder target is Donald Trump,” said Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican national committee. “We have had now three years of Donald Trump, as candidate for president and as president, espousing very similar views,” he added. Trump, much like King, has made sharp anti-immigrant sentiment central to his platform.

Last week, Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) wondered in the New York Times how the terms “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” got a bad rap. Since then, Republicans have fallen all over themselves to distance the party from the lawmaker’s words. On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said there is no place for King’s language in America. “Action will be taken,” he said. “I’m having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party.” In the next few days, King was stripped of his position on House committees. But the GOP’s relatively quick response to King magnified just how often they’ve allowed similar language and actions to stand without comment. For critics, the most glaring example is President Trump, who among other things called white nationalists marching to preserve statues honoring men who fought to keep black people enslaved “very fine people." On Thursday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R.-Tex.), known for making controversial statements of his own, defended his colleague and claims that King is not getting due process. He told the Tyler Morning Telegraph: “He explained what he was saying. He was talking about Western civilization, that, ‘When did Western civilization become a negative?’ and that’s a fair question. When did Western civilization become a negative?" “We have the only country that I’m aware of that would shed its most valuable treasure — American blood — for freedom, not for hegemony, just for freedom,” he went on. By ignoring the fact that King literally used the words “white nationalism” and “white supremacy,” Gohmert’s defense of his friend is, at best, incomplete. At worst, could give the impression that he and King think “Western civilization” and “white supremacy” are synonymous. As historian David Perry and professor Matthew Gabriele wrote in The Washington Post, there is a history of using the idea of “Western civilization” to “cover for racism”

President Trump retaliated on Thursday against Speaker Nancy Pelosi for threatening to cancel his planned State of the Union address on Jan. 29, writing in a letter that he, in turn, was postponing her planned trip abroad, calling it a “public relations event.” “I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan has been postponed,” Mr. Trump wrote. “We will reschedule this seven day excursion when the shutdown is over.” Ms. Pelosi’s trip was scheduled to depart Thursday afternoon and included at least two other House members: Adam Schiff, the chairman of the intelligence committee, and Eliot Engel, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee. Just after 3 p.m. the lawmakers exited an Air Force bus outside the Capitol, where they had been waiting to depart for the trip. Presumably, the president is refusing to provide military transport that is traditionally provided to the House speaker or congressional delegations. In the letter, tinged with sarcasm, he wrote that she could still take the trip if she chose to fly commercial. - Trump and the Republicans saying she cannot leave the country during the shutdown, however when Trump left the country during the shutdown that was ok. Once again, Republicans are playing the American people for fools, in their minds they can do anything they want but if a Democrat does it then it is wrong.

Actor Ron Perlman had some choice words for GOP lawmakers in the wake of the ongoing controversy surrounding Rep. Steve King. The 68-year-old former 'Hellboy' star took to Twitter on Monday to share his distaste with certain members of the party that have spoken out against King, going as far as to compare them to the Ku Klux Klan. #FoxNews. - No longer the party of Lincoln the GOP is a party of racist and racist sympathizers.

So now the party abhors bigotry? How convenient. Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican who couldn’t be much clearer about his values if he went around in a conical white hood, said last week that “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” were inoffensive if not honorable terms, and now his fellow party members in Congress are coming down on him like a ton of bricks. I just don’t get it. Why the upset? Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that King’s remarks were “stupid” and “hurtful” and that Americans “ought to be united, regardless of party, in saying ‘white supremacism,’ ‘white nationalism’ is hatred, it is bigotry, it is evil, it is wrong.” Strong and righteous words. Hats off to Senator Cruz. But that indignation eluded him when he was running for president in 2016. Just before the Iowa caucuses, Cruz touted King’s endorsement of him. For good and fawning measure, he chose King as the national co-chairman of his campaign.

Senate Republicans blocked a House-passed package to reopen the federal government for a second time in as many weeks on Tuesday. Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Ben Cardin (Md.) asked for consent take up a package of bills that would reopen the federal government. One bill would fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, while the other would fund the rest of the impacted departments and agencies through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. Under Senate rules, any one senator can ask for consent to vote on or pass a bill, but any one senator can object. McConnell blocked the two bills, saying the Senate wouldn't "participate in something that doesn't lead to an outcome." McConnell for weeks has said he would not bring legislation to the floor on the shutdown unless there was a deal between President Trump and Democrats on border security, the issue that has triggered the shutdown. McConnell has described other votes as "show votes." - Mitch McConnell will not allow a vote to end the shutdown then blames the democrats for not ending the shutdown. Once again, Republicans show the they are hypocrites and have a high disregard for the American people, especially Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell subverted the process by stealing a Supreme Court nomination from Obama. Mitch McConnell who swore to make Obama a 1-term president is now protecting a crook and possible a Russia asset and blaming the Democrats for Trumps shutdown. Republicans controlled all 3 cambers and could have given Trump money for his wall at time.

The nine-term Republican congressman from Iowa has been spouting racist views and canoodling with white supremacists for years. After questioning how the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” had “become offensive” in a recent interview with The New York Times, Republican congressman Steve King of Iowa was harshly rebuked by GOP leaders and stripped of all his committee assignments in the current Congress. “We will not tolerate this in the Republican Party,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) declared Monday, referring to King’s racist views. McCarthy failed to mention, however, the many years of tolerance that the GOP — including President Donald Trump — has shown to King’s lengthy history of bigotry. King, who was elected to a ninth term in November and held seats on the House committees on agriculture, the judiciary and small business, has been repeatedly called out over the years for his ties to white supremacists and his incendiary remarks about race and immigration, including a 2017 tweet described as “the most racist comment by a member of the U.S. Congress in decades.” Yet, save for the occasional verbal reproach, Republicans have largely turned a blind eye to the congressman’s racism.

By Brett Samuels
Republican lawmakers on Sunday sought to temper the impact of the latest bombshell reports involving President Trump and Russia, while their Democratic colleagues renewed calls to protect special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The responses came after both The New York Times and The Washington Post reported new details over the weekend involving allegations of Trump's close ties with Moscow, sparking renewed concerns about the fate of Mueller's probe. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on NBC criticized Washington, D.C.'s, focus on the Mueller investigation as out of touch with the rest of the country. And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally of the president, raised doubts about some of the reporting's accuracy. The New York Times reported Friday that the FBI was so concerned about Trump’s firing of former bureau chief James Comey that it opened an inquiry into whether the president was working on behalf of Russian interests. interests. And The Washington Post reported on Saturday that Trump has kept details of his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin from top officials in his administration, including withholding notes from an interpreter.

By Cristina Marcos
Rep. Steve King  is facing a new political storm over his latest inflammatory comments  about immigration and race ­— remarks in which he questioned why the  terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” were offensive. Talk  of censuring the Iowa Republican is picking up as he takes heavy  criticism from his own party. There are also questions about whether he  could lose the distinction of being a subcommittee ranking member in the  current Congress. A Friday floor speech in which he expressed  regret for “heartburn” felt in Congress and in his district and the  country over his remarks did not appear to quell the growing storm. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the Senate's only black Republican, penned a Washington Post op-ed on Friday warning that King reflects poorly on the rest of the GOP. - The KKK and white supremacist have killed more Americans in America than any external terror organization, but are not listed as the domestic terror organizations they are. If Black lives mattered in America, the KKK and other white supremacist groups would be branded as the domestic terrorist groups they are.

If you’re middle class and looking for insurance through the health law, chances are you’re paying a penalty courtesy of the G.O.P. The Affordable Care Act is still in effect, and the 2019 open enrollment period just ended for most Americans. The recent ruling by a Texas judge declaring the act invalid doesn’t change that. But the Trump administration and Republicans are still undermining the health law. People who earn too much to qualify for financial assistance for policies purchased through the A.C.A.’s health insurance exchanges or directly from insurers — five million now enrolled, including three to four million enrolled off-exchange — will pay for that sabotage in higher premiums. (Another nearly five million are uninsured and priced out of the market.) In the graphic below, I estimate how much more these unsubsidized enrollees will have to lay out in 2019 than they would have if not for the Trump administration’s actions.

The Lead - Outgoing Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) told CNN's Manu Raju that some of her Republican Senate colleagues will say privately that President Donald Trump is "nuts," and she believes history will judge them for not standing up to the President. Source: CNN - Republicans may say that privately but publicly where it matters Republicans keep protecting Trump no matter what, no matter the harm he is causing our country at home and aboard.

Some of Donald Trump's supporters in early states are making moves to protect the president from an intra-party primary challenge and mitigate any bruising ahead of the general election. The South Carolina Republican Party is considering canceling its primary in 2020, and a few members of the New Hampshire state GOP have been pushing to amend the organization's bylaws to allow the party to endorse the president. This comes amid news this week that the Trump re-election campaign will merge with the Republican National Committee--a move that is designed to streamline resources ahead of a highly competitive re-election fight but also demonstrates Trump's dominance over the party. Mr. Trump remains broadly popular among Republican voters and no party figure has stepped forward to challenge him for the nomination yet. Even if a GOP Trump critic were to enter the fray, the formula for a winning coalition is unclear. And South Carolina has canceled primaries before, including in 2004. - Republican are protecting Trump by to taking away people’s right to choose candidates they want.

The real legacy of the GOP House majority isn’t about the deficit. It’s about manipulation.  There are many things for which we’ll remember the 2010 to 2018 GOP House majority. It stopped the Obama administration’s legislative agenda cold. Smoothness of operation was never its forte, as constant standoffs between leaders and far-right factionalists made it the most dramatic party conference in the Capitol. And its dogged and frequently conspiratorial oversight of the Obama administration was surpassed only by its subservience to the Trump administration. But nothing was more telling about this majority than the way it dismissed the issue it rode in on as soon as Trump replaced Obama. So before House Republicans come apologizing again for their past mistakes and begging for another chance, it’s important to emphasize right now: Republican have not, do not, and will not care about deficit reduction except as a rhetorical ploy for stymieing a Democratic government. To me, then, the defining moment of this Congress was when House Republicans decided to effectively eliminate the Tea Party’s deficit-reduction law once the White House switched from Democratic to Republican control. The 2018 budget deal increased spending by about $300 billion, without offsets, over two years. House Republicans would have treated such a budget as the actual apocalypse had it been negotiated with Barack Obama. Under the unified Republican government, though, it was framed as “rebuilding the military” and received 167 Republican votes.

Federal judges reviewing complaints lodged against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh said Tuesday that the allegations against the former federal appeals court judge are “serious.” But they ruled that it must dismiss them without determining their merits because of Kavanaugh’s October confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Judge Timothy Tymkovich wrote that “the complaints must be dismissed because an intervening event — Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court — has made the complaints no longer appropriate for consideration under the [Judicial Conduct and Disability Act].” In the order, Tymkovich said that most of the complaints include allegations of false statements under oath during Kavanaugh’s D.C. Circuit confirmation hearings in 2004 and 2006 as well as during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings earlier this year. Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the top court, was accused of sexual misconduct before he was confirmed. He emphatically denied the allegations.Tymkovich disclosed copies of the complaints with identifying information redacted on the 10th Circuit’s website.

The residents of Harlan County, Ky., depend heavily on federal assistance. That hasn’t deterred, and may explain, their swing to Republican voting. Harlan County is the nation’s fifth most dependent on federal programs, according to the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. In 2016 some 54 percent of the income of the county’s roughly 26,000 residents came from programs like Social Security and Medicaid, food stamps — formally known as SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — and the earned-income tax credit. That is up from 28 percent in 1990.

The departing GOP House speaker leaves a legacy of willful ignorance. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) hopes you’ll remember him as a deeply conservative leader who fought for tax reform and against special interests. But his refusal to take a stand against President Donald Trump ― even in the commander in chief’s darkest moments ― is a legacy he won’t soon shake. As Ryan pats himself on the back for a job well done during his final weeks in office, an authoritarian-loving habitual liar sits behind the Resolute Desk with little rebuff from his party’s leaders.

Senate Republicans blocked for the third time bipartisan legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday. The bill, which was denied by voice vote, was brought forward by Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). It would ensure that the special counsel could only be fired for good cause by a senior Justice Department official and would give the special counsel the ability to ask for an expedited review of his or her firing. “The continuity of this investigation is critical to upholding public trust in our institutions of government,” Flake, who is retiring, said on the Senate floor. “This is not a witch hunt. Russia attempted to interfere in our elections...we are seeking truth here and that’s what the special counsel is doing.” Flake’s push for the bill, which the Senate Judiciary Committee approved earlier this year, faced opposition from Republican leadership. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said there's no need for legislation protecting the special counsel, calling the bill “a solution in search of a problem.” - Mitch McConnell is protecting Donald J. trump (aka. Criminal Don, aka Don the Con).

Party officials want the state to certify a Republican congressional candidate the winner of a race amid a probe into election irregularities. North Carolina Republican Party officials accused state officials of being secretive and said they must swiftly certify a GOP congressional candidate the winner of an election unless they can present evidence the outcome of the contest was changed by illegal activity. The call comes as state election officials continue to probe irregularities in the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready in the state’s 9th Congressional District. The state board announced Friday it was pushing back the date for a public evidentiary hearing in the probe as it continues to gather evidence and now plans to hold the hearing on Jan. 11, eight days after the new Congress is seated. The resolution from the GOP executive committee in the 9th District came Monday after Harris, who leads McCready by 905 votes, suggested Republicans weren’t supporting him the way Democrats were backing his opponent. The GOP-controlled legislature passed a law last week that would require a new primary if the state board orders a do-over, leading to speculation that Republicans were trying to distance themselves from Harris. Much of the evidence that has emerged during the investigation so far suggests that McCrae Dowless, an operative working on Harris’ behalf, improperly collected absentee ballots from voters in Bladen and Robeson counties in the district. In those two counties, there was an unusually high number of absentee ballots that went unreturned to state officials.

Recent revelations in memoranda filed by the government against Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort describe even more widespread and troubling contacts with the Russians. However, since the inception of the Mueller investigation, President Donald Trump, his lawyers, legal pundits on both sides of the aisle, and everyone in between has either claimed or conceded that "collusion" is not a crime. President Trump has tweeted, "Collusion is not a crime. ..." Rudy Giuliani told Fox News, "I have been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime. ... Collusion is not a crime." Jay Sekulow told The New Yorker, "For something to be a crime, there has to be a statute that you claim is being violated. ... There is not a statute that refers to criminal collusion. There is no crime of collusion." Having worked as a federal prosecutor for 13 years in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, I can report that the President and his lawyers are wrong. Collusion is a crime. The federal criminal code says so. The federal bribery statute -- 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)(B) -- makes it a federal crime for a public official to "collude" in a fraud on the United States. More specifically, the federal bribery statute expressly states that a crime is committed when a public official "directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value ... in return for ... being influenced to ... collude in ... any fraud ... on the United States." - Trump and the Republicans trying to protect Trump tell us that collusion is not a crime, the federal bribery statute -- 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)(B) -- makes it a federal crime for a public official to "collude" in a fraud on the United States.

The Fact Checker has evaluated false statements President Trump has made repeatedly and analyzed how often he reiterates them. The claims included here – which we're calling "Bottomless Pinocchios" – are limited to ones that he has repeated 20 times and were rated as Three or Four Pinocchios by the Fact Checker.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) shrugs off news that federal prosecutors implicate President Trump in two crimes committed by his former attorney Michael Cohen.

The ex-secretary of state also reiterated that ‘there’s no question’ Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sharply criticized his former boss in a wide-ranging interview at the MD Anderson Cancer Center on Thursday night, admitting publicly that President Trump was a “pretty undisciplined” man who “doesn’t like to read” and often had to be reminded about the law. In the rare public appearance since his ouster from Trump’s cabinet, Tillerson told CBS News reporter Bob Schieffer at the Houston event that he had never met Trump until the day he was asked to be secretary of state. According to Tillerson, he repeatedly had to stop Trump from engaging in illegal activity. “So often, the president would say here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it, and I would have to say to him, ‘Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law. It violates treaty,’’ Tillerson said, before reiterating a claim he made before he was ousted on March 13—that “there’s no question” Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

A probe into election fraud expands amid growing calls -- even among some Republicans -- for a new vote. The southern border of North Carolina have been the epicenter of an unfolding investigation into potential election fraud committed on behalf of — and funded by — Republicans running in statewide and federal elections in the 9th district. Much of the focus has been on Bladen County, where Soil and Water Conservation District vice chair Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. reportedly paid multiple people to illegally collect voters’ absentee ballots and deliver them to him, rather than the local board of elections. But an analysis of absentee ballots cast in neighboring Robeson County suggests that the effort to interfere with the midterm election was more extensive than previously thought. According to CNN, four people in Robeson County are listed as witnesses on dozens of absentee ballots. One individual’s name appeared on at least 57 ballot envelopes, a whopping nine percent of all absentee ballots cast in the county. A second woman signed 28 other envelopes in Robeson county, as well as 42 others in Bladen county. She is also the daughter of Dowless’s ex-wife.

When GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger lost his primary by a narrow margin in May, he suspected something was amiss. The congressman turned to a group of friends and family who had gathered with him on election night at a steakhouse near Charlotte and blamed the “ballot stuffers in Bladen,” according to three people at the gathering. Pittenger’s concern stemmed from the vote tallies in rural Bladen County, where his challenger, a pastor from the Charlotte suburbs named Mark Harris, had won 437 absentee mail-in votes. Pittenger, a three-term incumbent, had received just 17. In the days immediately after the race, aides to Pittenger told the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party and a regional political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee that they believed fraud had occurred, according to people familiar with their discussions. GOP officials did little to scrutinize the results, instead turning their attention to Harris’s general-election campaign against a well-funded Democratic opponent, the people said.

By passing legislation to strip power from the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general, Wisconsin Republicans followed the lead of their counterparts in North Carolina — and, as in North Carolina, they are likely to face major legal challenges. Two years ago, after Roy Cooper, a Democrat, unseated the Republican governor, Pat McCrory, G.O.P. supermajorities in the North Carolina General Assembly passed sweeping restrictions on Mr. Cooper’s power. Among other things, they expanded the state elections board and split it evenly between Democrats and Republicans so Mr. Cooper could not appoint a Democratic majority; slashed the number of employees who served at the governor’s pleasure; and limited Mr. Cooper’s authority to select members for numerous state boards, including those that regulate industry and finance. It was a move that tested legal limits and prompted outrage from Democrats. It also set a precedent that could pave the way for similar actions in other states — even though courts have ruled that much of the North Carolina package violates the state constitution.

A professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discusses how Republicans in the state are strangling democracy. Wisconsin's Republican-controlled legislature has apparently decided to kill democracy in their own state. Political observers can already see how protests are erupting throughout the state in response to how the Republican legislature voted to significantly reduce the powers of Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul before they can take office, according to CNN. Wisconsin Republicans are hardly innovators here — North Carolina Republicans passed a similar law after a Democrat won the governor's mansion in their state in 2016, and Michigan Republicans are aiming to do something similar right now — but the situation is particularly galling in Wisconsin due to its reputation as a bastion of integrity when it comes to the democratic process. In order to better understand both the radical nature of the legislature's actions and what it will mean for the future of democracy in Wisconsin, Salon spoke by email with Michael Wagner, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in "research, teaching, and service are animated by the question, 'how well does democracy work?'" Is there any precedent in Wisconsin's history for the legislature to disempower the governor and other top state officials in this fashion? I am not aware of such a precedent. When Gov. Walker replaced outgoing Gov. Doyle, Doyle halted his signature high-speed rail project at Walker’s request, as Walker had been against it. What is happening now in Wisconsin is a subversion of democracy – Wisconsin Republican lawmakers are changing the job descriptions of the governor and attorney general between Election Day and Inauguration Day simply because their side lost. This is a textbook example of how democracies die. That is, when norms about the peaceful transfer of power are violated, we are in trouble.

The threat from President Trump and Republicans to take health care away — including a pending case that would strike down a large part of the law — has hit alarming levels. Yes, the Democrats reclaimed the House. But you should not assume that your health care coverage is now safe. The biggest threat is President Trump himself: His administration has been relentlessly assaulting the Affordable Care Act for two years, and that threat has not abated. Democrats may have made significant electoral gains by running on the protection of the pre-existing-conditions guarantee to insurance, but Republicans apparently aren’t listening. The president and his party remain focused on taking health care away. The administration has instituted administrative rules and guidance letters intended to undermine the insurance markets, trick the healthy into buying junk plans, and leave the less healthy with unaffordable premiums. It has also succeeded in reducing enrollment, making access to health care harder for the poor and immigrant populations and, for the first time in a decade, raising the number of uninsured children. To add insult to injury, it refuses to defend the A.C.A. in a ludicrous lawsuit in Texas — in which it now appears the judge may very well strike down a large part of the law, including the ban on pre-existing conditions. The entire A.C.A. is at stake. Don’t be fooled by the president’s claims that these problems are inherent in Obamacare.

Republicans have spent years warning us that voter fraud is rampant. Despite no evidence that this is the case -- election fraud in the United States is in fact rare -- the GOP has put legislation into place in states across the country to make it harder to vote, arguing that it's necessary to protect the sanctity of elections. They take voter fraud seriously, they say. It's become one of their core issues. So we would expect that, faced with a rare case of potentially serious and pervasive electoral fraud, they would jump on it -- insist on an investigation, figure out exactly what happened, punish wrongdoers and close whatever holes in the system led to the abuses. There are indeed serious allegations of election fraud tied to North Carolina's midterm elections right now in a congressional district where results appear abnormal. But instead of insisting on investigating, Republicans are waving it away and insisting there's nothing to see. Why the sudden about-face on this allegedly serious crime? Because the Republican candidate, Mark Harris won -- by 905 votes -- and may have benefited from the alleged fraud. And of course the GOP position was never about protecting our democracy at all. It was about suppressing votes for Democrats and giving themselves an unfair advantage.

The man at the center of an election fraud investigation in a North Carolina congressional race turned in nearly half of the requests for absentee ballots in a single county, records released Tuesday by the state's elections board show. Leslie McCrae Dowless, a veteran political operative in Bladen County who was convicted of insurance fraud in 1992 and was connected to questionable absentee ballot activity in another election, is at the center of a probe into unusual activity in the county. Dowless worked for Republican candidate Mark Harris, a Baptist minister who tallied 905 more votes than Democratic businessman and retired Marine Dan McCready. Dowless personally turned in 592 of the 1,341 total absentee ballots requested in Bladen County. Only 684 absentee ballots were ultimately cast in the county. Dowless did not return CNN's request for comment. Dowless has denied any wrongdoing to The Charlotte Observer.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to lash out at special counsel Robert Mueller and attack his former personal attorney Michael Cohen. But he offered praise to his former adviser Roger Stone, who is also under scrutiny by the special counsel. CNN's Ana Cabrera discusses with former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.
Republicans are suddenly pushing “good governance” in states they lost power in. Republicans are about to lose their grip on power in a number of states, and they’re trying their hardest to sour Democrats’ election wins. In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker will have to pass the baton to Democrat Tony Evers come January, but before he does, the state’s GOP-controlled legislature has called for an “extraordinary session” to curb Evers’s power in office and potentially make it harder for Democrats to get elected in the future. A similar tale is playing out in Michigan, where Democrats Gretchen Whitmer, Dana Nessel, and Jocelyn Benson handily won the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state races, respectively. Michigan Republicans are trying to make sure the Democratic trifecta has less power to undermine Republicans’ legislative accomplishments. The state governments have proposed a slate of bills that would touch everything from voting access to the judicial system. In Wisconsin, the proposals, some of which are expected to pass Tuesday, could limit Evers’s power to change policies around welfare, health care, and economic development, cut down early voting, and even allow the Republican-led legislature to hire their own lawyers to undermine the attorney general. In Michigan, a Republican proposal would guarantee the GOP-controlled legislature the right to intervene in any legal battles involving state laws that the attorney general may be reluctant to defend. If Republicans are successful, it’s a power grab that would seriously undermine the platform on which Evers campaigned, and won.

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