Tag: gop
Matt Gaetz

GOP-Led House Ethics Committee Reopens Gaetz Sex Offenses Probe

On Thursday, CNN reported that the House Committee on Ethics is renewing its investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) after issuing a new request to interview a witness.

According to the network, the request to interview the unnamed witness went out the day before the House of Representatives voted for the expulsion of Rep. George Santos (R-NY), stating that "the Chairman and Ranking Member have authorized staff to conduct an interview" with the witness. This is the first activity out of the committee regarding Gaetz since July, when it interviewed a witness in Florida about "alleged lobbying violations."

In response to CNN asking him about the probe, Gaetz said "oh please" and "I wish them luck."

The ethics committee initially launched its investigation into Gaetz in 2021, when Democrats were in control. CNN reported that the initial probe looked into allegations that Gaetz "violated sex trafficking laws, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, used illicit drugs, converted campaign funds to personal use and accepted a bribe, among other claims."

While a Department of Justice investigation into Gaetz for alleged sex trafficking of a minor concluded with no charges filed against the Florida congressman, a source close to the ethics committee confided to CNN that the DOJ's decision to not file criminal charges "does not impact what the committee will and won’t investigate." The network reported that the committee has not yet interviewed key witnesses in the DOJ probe, including his close associate Joel Greenberg, who in 2021 was sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to underage sex trafficking, wire fraud, stalking, identity theft, producing a fake ID card and conspiring to defraud the United States government.

Gaetz has carved out a reputation in the House of Representatives as a bomb thrower among the GOP, as the instigator of the motion to vacate former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Ultimately, Gaetz and seven other Republicans joined all Democrats in voting to oust McCarthy from the speakership following his efforts to work with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown.

On Wednesday, McCarthy announced he would not be retiring from Congress at the end of 2023. His exit triggers a special election in his Southern California district, potentially endangering Republicans' ability to hold their slim majority in the next Congress.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Kevin McCarthy

With McCarthy Quitting In Weeks, Democrats 'Must Be Prepared To Act'

The American voters sent 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats to the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections, the exact same margin, but flipped, as the 2020 election. But today, with the announcement that ousted, former GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is not only not running for re-election but is quitting Congress at the end off the year, Republicans have a big majority crisis — because of their now tiny majority.

It’s no longer 222 to 213.

After McCarthy’s exit, and with the recent expulsion of now-former Congressman George Santos (R-NY) Republican Speaker Mike Johnson will have a very slim majority.

“The party’s margin in the House fell to three seats from four with the expulsion of Representative George Santos of New York last week,” The New York Times explains. “That leaves almost no wiggle room for Mr. Johnson, who is already dealing with a revolt from the far right for working with Democrats to keep the government funded and faces another pair of shutdown deadlines in mid-January and early February.”

“When the House returns in January,” The Washington Post adds, “Republicans can lose only two votes from their ranks to pass any legislation at a time when the chamber faces major decisions on government spending and foreign aid. That dynamic could force Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who assumed the post after a tumultuous three weeks following McCarthy’s ouster, to work with Democrats to avert a partial government shutdown as soon as mid-January.”

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) has announced he will retire and exit Congress early next year.

But possibly even before that, Speaker Johnson’s tiny majority could at some point become an opening for Democrats, according to a top political scientist and scholar, Dr. Norman Ornstein.

“Democrats need to be prepared to act swiftly and decisively if the numbers drop below 218– even if only for a day. Quick motion to vacate, [Minority Leader Hakeem] Jeffries as Speaker, immediate agenda,” writes Dr. Ornstein, a senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), “where he has been studying politics, elections, and the US Congress for more than four decades.”

Ornstein offers more opportunities should Democrats be able to take the majority back soon.

“Reconciliation bill to secure robust spending, eliminate debt limit permanently, taxes on rich to pay for permanent child tax credit.”

He adds, the number of Republican members “would need to get down to 213. But any set of problems– a Covid outbreak, for example– could bring those numbers down, if only for a day or two. Have a plan ready! Hardball? You bet.”

David Rothkopf, the noted foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator, responding to Ornstein’s remarks appeared to urge Republicans to join with Democrats to elect a Democratic Speaker, or even to switch parties:

“This. C’mon you GOPers from purple districts. Trump will have you purged and sent to Siberia. We just need 2 of you. You can be unloved by the GOP or heroes to the rest of America! Make your move now.”

Of course, special elections will be held to replace both Santos (scheduled for February 13, 2024) and McCarthy (likely summer, according to the Post), and at some point Ohio's Johnson.

But with the extremely large number of members of Congress who have exited or will be, as Ornstein says, Democrats need to be ready.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Speaker Capitulates To Greene And Far Right On Biden Impeachment Inquiry

Speaker Capitulates To Greene And Far Right On Biden Impeachment Inquiry

House Republicans are moving toward a vote on a formal impeachment inquiry as they continue to allege, without evidence, serious corruption on the part of President Joe Biden. The evidence has not gotten stronger since mid-November, when House Speaker Mike Johnson reportedly told so-called Republican moderates that there was “insufficient evidence” to move forward. The politics, however, have changed. Johnson’s move to keep the government from shutting down angered some extremist Republicans, and the expulsion of George Santos just after Johnson declared his opposition to expulsion did not make Johnson look any stronger. Giving the extremists a vote on an impeachment inquiry is an easy way for Johnson to try to shore up support.

The White House is vigorously pointing out the political calculations behind a vote on an impeachment inquiry. "Under fire for expelling George Santos, Speaker Johnson is throwing red meat to Marjorie Taylor Greene and the far right flank of the House GOP by pushing a full House vote on this illegitimate impeachment stunt," White House spokesperson Ian Sams told The Messenger.

"He admitted there is no evidence to justify it three weeks ago, but he’s doing it anyway — further proof that this whole exercise is an extreme political stunt, rather than a legitimate pursuit of the truth," Sams told The Messenger, excoriating Johnson and his flock for a "baseless smear campaign" that he said is "solely intended to satisfy their most extreme members."

Johnson has been consistent in publicly claiming that Republicans have a strong case against Biden, even as he admitted to members of his conference that there was “insufficient evidence.” Now, House Republicans are preparing to escalate their baseless inquiry and thereby escalate their harassment of Biden—leading into an election year.

The politics of an impeachment inquiry vote are clear, as former Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged, saying on Fox & Friends, “If you’re a Republican, do you really want to guarantee a primary opponent by voting against it?” Gingrich went on to offer up the regular Republican talking points, claiming that Biden is corrupt, but that sentence right there is going to be the basis for at least a few Republican votes on an impeachment inquiry—and with the razor-thin margin Republicans have in the House, that could be the decisive factor.

Republicans are set to move toward impeachment. But their evidence remains even thinner than their House majority, and many of them know it. Partisanship reigns above everything for them.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Ron DeSantis

'It's Over': Fresh Setbacks Seem To Doom Faltering DeSantis Campaign

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies continue to hope that he will be able to turn his struggling presidential campaign around, but some recent disappointments don't give the far-right governor much reason for optimism.

DeSantis' campaign suffered a major disappointment when billionaire Charles Koch's right-wing political network officially endorsed his 2024 GOP primary rival Nikki Haley, arguing that she is the candidate best equipped to overtake Donald Trump as the primary's frontrunner.

On top of that, the Washington Post reports, DeSantis' campaign has been suffering from "internal disputes."

"Ron DeSantis' presidential bid is facing extraordinary turmoil approximately six weeks before the Iowa Caucuses, with internal disputes erupting into public view as Republicans increasingly pin their hopes of stopping Donald Trump on a rival contender," according to Post reporters Hannah Knowles, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey.

A source described by the Post as someone "close to" DeSantis is doubtful that his campaign will recover. The source, interviewed on condition of anonymity, told the Post, "People increasingly think it's over. It's a dumpster fire."

The New York Times also reported Friday that Adam Laxalt, who is the chairman of his super PAC "Never Back Down," is stepping away from his position. This marks the second major departure from the PAC, with chief executive Chris Jankowski suddenly resigning prior to Thanksgiving. Laxalt's departure is arguably even more jarring, as he had known DeSantis ever since the two lived together when DeSantis was a naval officer.

"After nearly 26 straight months of being in a full-scale campaign, I need to return my time and attention to my family and law practice," Laxalt wrote in his resignation letter, adding that he was still supporting the Florida governor's bid for the presidency.

DeSantis' poll numbers have been sliding over the past few months, with RealClearPolitics' national polling average showing his lead over the other non-Trump candidates effectively evaporating between mid-September and mis-November. Haley has overtaken DeSantis as the number two Republican in New Hampshire, and the former South Carolina governor is gaining on him in Iowa. The Iowa caucuses will take place on January 15, 2024.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.