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GOP Civil War Erupts Again Over  Primary Challenge To Murkowski

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In the minds of Trumpistas, conservative Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska committed an unpardonable sin when, earlier this year, she voted "guilty" during former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial for "incitement to insurrection." Trump devotees are hoping to unseat Murkowski via a 2022 GOP senatorial primary, and Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka is campaigning on an overtly Trumpian platform — slamming Murkowski for failing to honor Trump,

CNN reporters Manu Raju and Alex Rogers explain, "Nearly a dozen years after overcoming a Tea Party-inspired challenge from the right, Murkowski again is facing a Republican seeking to claim the mantle as the most aggressive version of today's GOP — or in this case, the Trumpiest. Republican Kelly Tshibaka, a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner, has offered herself as a vessel for the supporters of the former president, who won the state twice, as she lambasts Murkowski for her penchant for deal-cutting and breaking with Trump."

Raju and Rogers, in an article published by CNN's website on April 19, describe the Murkowski/Tshibaka competition as "the first proxy battle between Trump, whose top political advisers have joined Tshibaka's campaign, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is backing the nearly 20-year incumbent." And they note that the Alaska GOP senatorial primary puts Republican senators and the National Republican Senatorial Committee "in an awkward position as they remain divided about the former president's role in the party" and "try to unify ahead of the 2022 midterms with control of Congress at stake."

In an interview with CNN, Tshibaka promoted the false claim that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election — in contrast to Murkowski, who acknowledged Joe Biden as the legitimate president-elect after the 2020 election.

Tshibaka told CNN, "We don't know the outcome of the 2020 election. In the 2020 election, there were questions raised in several states, and we're not allowed to look into the questions of those allegations to see what actually happened. I still have questions, and I think millions of other Americans do too."

In fact, now-President Biden defeated Trump by more than seven million in the popular vote, and cybersecurity experts for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have stressed that the election was undeniably secure. Even former Attorney General Bill Barr, a Trump loyalist, said he saw no evidence of the type of widespread voter fraud that Trump alleged.

Raju and Rogers note, "There was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, which President Joe Biden won resoundingly with 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232. And Trump and his allies' many lawsuits contesting the election were roundly rejected in court, including before conservative judges and the U.S. Supreme Court. But Tshibaka's willingness to cast doubt over the legitimacy of the election illustrates how those eager to win over the former president must adopt his baseless claims."

Voting to impeach Trump was not the first time Murkowski infuriated Trumpistas, who were disappointed when — along with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona — she voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. Trump loyalists have never forgiven Murkowski for helping Obamacare to survive or for voting against the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

Murkowski has not officially announced that she will seek reelection in 2022, but she filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on March 9. And Tshibaka is obviously looking forward to taking on Murkowski in the primary.

Murkowski told CNN, "We'll see how much is invested in the sense of time and energy and resources by those that think that I should have been a more loyal Trump supporter."

Trump Gang Tries To Punish Rep. Cheney For Impeachment — And Fails

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Wyoming's Republican-controlled Senate killed a scheme by Donald Trump backers to make it harder for a pro-impeachment congresswoman to keep her seat.

The state Senate voted on Wednesday to defeat a bill to require primary candidates in future elections to receive an outright majority or face a runoff.

Supporters said such a bill would prevent unpopular candidates from winning with a narrow plurality, while opponents called it unnecessary and costly for county elections officials. It failed following a 15-14 vote.

The bill was largely seen as targeted against Wyoming's at-large U.S. representative, House Republican Caucus Chair Liz Cheney — who has already drawn multiple 2022 primary challengers.

Cheney earned the ire of Trump and his supporters for not being loyal enough to the twice-impeached, one-term president. She criticized his foreign policy, voted to impeach him for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, and said in February that she does not believe Trump "should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country."

While it is unclear how he knew about it, Trump's longtime strategist Corey Lewandowski endorsed the Wyoming legislation before it was even publicly announced, suggesting it would help Republicans defeat her.

"What we have in Wyoming — which is a statewide district, one member of Congress represents the whole state — we've got six, seven, or eight candidates who all think that they're the best candidate to beat Liz Cheney," he told a right-wing outlet in February. "The problem with that is, in a multi-candidate field, the incumbent has an advantage — name ID, money, recognition, which means if we have six or seven candidates running, she may have the chance to get through a primary."

"Now, I believe they're going to change the rules in Wyoming and that would then require a runoff if you don't get over 50 percent," he added. "That's very good news for the Trump candidate. The former president will choose, I believe, and a small group of advisors will help him make some recommendations on who he ultimately endorses in that race, but I can assure you, it will not be Liz Cheney."

Don Trump Jr. also got involved, urging pro-Trump forces in Wyoming to pressure their legislators to back the bill, Senate File 145, to punish Cheney.

"Any Republican in Wyoming who does Liz Cheney's bidding and opposes SF145 is turning their back on my father and the entire America First movement," he tweeted on March 9. "Support SF145 and let's send Lincoln Project Liz into retirement in 2022!"

The Team Trump effort to change the law and oust Cheney is part of a wider plan to retaliate against the handful of congressional Republicans who voted to impeach him, backed his conviction, or spoke out against his seditious attempts to overturn President Joe Biden's 2020 victory.

Donald Trump himself reportedly told Wyoming's Republican state chair last month that he was willing to come campaign in the state, aiding the anti-Cheney effort.

Last month, he endorsed a primary challenger to an Ohio representative who backed Trump's second impeachment.

"Current Rep. Anthony Gonzalez should not be representing the people of the 16th district because he does not represent their interest or their heart," Trump said in a press release. "Max Miller has my Complete and Total Endorsement!"

He has also vowed to campaign against other "disloyal" Republicans, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and "disloyal and very bad" Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Party Leaders Shrug As Trump Declares War On GOP Dissidents

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The two Republicans heading up the party's efforts to retake control of Congress in the midterms all but declared war on any GOP lawmaker who dares to cross Donald Trump between now and 2022.

On Friday, both Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) copped to the fact that not only did they fail to get a commitment from Trump not to make primary targets of their caucus members, but they also had no intention of doing so. Both men are also charter members of the Sedition Party, having voted to reject congressional certification of Joe Biden's victory even after Trump's murderous mob stormed the Capitol complex on January 6.

"I don't have a commitment on that," McCarthy told reporters Friday during a press conference, adding that he's working "closely" with Trump on "endorsements to win seats in the House."

The ten members of McCarthy's caucus who voted to impeach Trump face the most immediate threat from a Trump-backed 2022 primary. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, in particular, has drawn Trump's ire. Earlier this week, Cheney took a whack at Trump once again, telling reporters she didn't think Trump should be "playing a role in the future of the party or the country." McCarthy, on the other hand, flew down to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump's ring in the weeks following the January 6 insurrection because he just wants to be Speaker of the House that badly.

As a nice touch, McCarthy wouldn't say whether he would help Cheney in her reelection bid. "Liz hasn't asked me," offered McCarthy. With friends like that ...

And then there's Scott, who's chairing the campaign arm of the Senate Republican caucus, basically spewing venom at Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Thune of South Dakota. Murkowski is the sole GOP senator who both voted to convict Trump and faces a 2022 reelection bid, while Thune has repeatedly said the party should steer away from Trump's cult of personality.

"I never talked to [Trump] about that," Scott told The Wall Street Journal of Trump refraining from endorsing potential primary opponents. "Many are saying it is my job to mediate between warring factions on the right and mediate the war of words between party leaders … Well, I have news for them—I'm not going to mediate anything."

With friends like that ... oh wait, I already said that.

In any normal party, a basic commitment to do no harm to incumbent lawmakers would be standard. But not in today's Republican Party, where fascist loyalty to Trump supersedes all other rules of engagement. It's a truly special time to be a Republican—and goddess help us all if this version of the party ever regains control of the country.

’Totally Appropriate’: Trump Insists Speech Inciting Capitol Riot Was Just Fine

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Donald Trump said on Tuesday it was "totally appropriate" for him to incite the attack on the U.S. Capitol that killed five people.

"People thought that what I said was totally appropriate," Trump told reporters.

Trump's did not admit any guilt for his role in inciting the attack and he expressed no regret for the deaths that occurred. When airing his remarks, MSNBC cut away from Trump, noting he was lying about the events that took place.

"The president has started to, as he usually does, often does, veer away from the truth," noted MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson.

Trump's statement runs counter to claims on Monday from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that Trump admitted he had a role in instigating the violence on Capitol Hill.

At a speech in Washington before the riot took place, Trump encouraged rally attendees to take action, citing myths and conspiracy theories about Joe Biden's election win. As the mob attacked the Capitol, Trump told them, "We love you."

Support for Trump's removal from office has risen since he made his comments, with a recent ABC News poll showing 56% supporting his removal.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a staunch Trump ally, said his legacy had been "tarnished" by the attack and said, "His actions were the problem not the solution."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) called for Trump's resignation, telling reporters, "I want him out."

Some of Trump's fellow Republicans have said they are considering supporting a measure to impeach him for inciting the attack.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) has said he hasn't ruled out voting for impeachment and that he supports using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power.

Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) said Trump's rhetoric denying his election loss was "rankly unfit" and would be considering impeachment.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said he would "consider" the articles of impeachment, and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said, "I do think the president committed impeachable offenses."

Punchbowl News reported that House Republicans "are bracing for between ten and 20 of their GOP colleagues to vote to impeach Donald Trump."

But Graham has said he opposes impeachment, claiming it will "do far more harm than good."

From a Jan. 12 media availability:

REPORTER: What is your role in what happened at the Capitol? What is your personal responsibility?
DONALD TRUMP: So if you read my speech, and many people have done it and I've seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television, it's been analyzed and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate and if you look at what other people have said, politicians at a high level, about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other places –
HALLIE JACKSON, MSNBC: We are coming out of this now because the president has started to, as he usually does, often does, veer away from the truth.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.