The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By David Knowles, Bloomberg News (TNS)

One of the best sub-plots to the 2016 presidential race will be the Republican Party battle between Kentucky Sen. Rand Pauland Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Both seen as conservatives just outside the mainstream of the party, Paul and Cruz will compete for support from the same voter demographic during the GOP primary, meaning that only one of these men will likely have a realistic shot at challenging establishment candidates like Jeb Bush. Splitting a voting block could leave both candidates vulnerable to their challengers, so these ideological allies have already begun trying to distance themselves from one another.

“We kind of come from the same wing of the party,” Paul told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on the day that Cruz announced his presidential bid, “and if you look at our voting records you’ll find that we’re very, very similar. I guess what makes us different is probably our approach as to how we would make the party bigger.”

In order to distinguish himself from Cruz, Paul has tried to portray himself as the candidate who can breathe new life into the party, arguing that “people will also have to make a decision: which is the Republican who can not only excite the base, but can also bring new people into the party.”

For his part, Cruz has made his case that he is best suited to excite the Republican Party’s conservative base. His strategy largely focuses on the primary rather than Paul’s big tent vision for the general election. By choosing Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University for his campaign launch, and in his first campaign ad, Cruz has also targeted the religious conservatives, a group that could help him pull away from Paul in Iowa.

But Cruz has also taken aim at Paul since launching his presidential campaign, focusing on Paul’s foreign policy positions, which have been criticized as out of step with many GOP voters.

“I’m a big fan of Rand Paul; he and I are good friends. I don’t agree with him on foreign policy,” Cruz said on ABC’s “This Week” in March.”I think U.S. leadership is critical in the world, and I agree with him that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force abroad, but I think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did.”

Cruz has also gone after Paulon an issue championed by the Kentucky senator:reforming the NSA’s data collection program.

While Cruz voted last weekto pass a reform bill, Paul voted against the measure, saying it would not solve the problem. That left Cruz with enough daylight to launch an attack.

“Unfortunately, Rand voted no,” Cruz told voters in Iowa last Thursday. “He did say it didn’t go far enough, but it failed by one vote.”

Paul has accused Cruz of mischaracterizing his foreign policy positions, and, back in November complained about the NSA bill sponsored by Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

“They put something good in a bill that I find objectionable,” Paul told The Daily Beast. “They could take out the (Patriot Act) reauthorization, then I’ll vote for the bill.”

Recent polling averages show Cruz and Paul tied, with both receiving 8.7 percent support from Republican voters. At this early stage in the developing race, Bush receives 16.8 support in the Real Clear Politics polling average, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker earns 16.2 percent of the vote. In other words,more political attacks between the two second-tier candidates are sure to follow.

(c)2015 Bloomberg News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}