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This Week In Crazy: Persecuted Racists, Vote Thieves, And Matt Gaetz (Twice!)

Trump supporters are violated, Matt Gaetz exposes himself as a peeping Tom. And being racist isn’t racism if you employ at least one black person. Don’t adjust your computer screens. It’s This Week in Crazy!

5. Laura Loomer

Being outed as racists can be really hard on the financial security of Trump supporters, as Laura Loomer can say from experience. With less charisma than a sloth on downers, she whined: “People like myself and Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos and Gavin McInnes and so many others are being de-platformed simply because we support President Trump.”

The Loom went on to say that she and fellow Frat Packers “inspired so many young people and red-pilled so many people to vote for President Trump.” Whoa there, careful what kinda pills you’re poppin’ at those white privilege parties.

Clearly still pilled, Loomer suggested the FBI raid Robert Mueller at six in the morning. She ended on a poignant note: “I think that the way Trump supporters are being treated in this country constitutes human rights violations.” Well, they didn’t violate Article 13, which protects your freedom to move.

4. McCrae Dowless and Mark Harris

McCrae and Marky, gettin’ cray-cray in Carolina. Mr. Dowless is a longtime GOP operative whose most recent task was working on Mark Harris’ 2018 Republican Congressional campaign. Harris was projected to win North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District with 900 votes. But officials discovered that Dowless illegally collected thousands of absentee ballots.

On Wednesday, Dowless was indicted on seven counts related to election fraud: “three counts of felonious obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and two counts of possession of absentee ballot.”

North Carolina plans to run a second election to determine the real victor. Sadly for Harris, he lied about his knowledge of any wrongdoing by Dowless to the State Board. This mendacity disqualified Harris from contention. To save face, he claimed he wasn’t going to run again due to medical issues and problems with “memory and recall.” Now, if only he could forget hiring Dowless…

 

3. Matt Gaetz

Not to be outdone by the latest Kardashian clan cheating scandal, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R_FL) went all Real Housewives on Michael Cohen. Gaetz ran the old Tweet-and-Delete, calling out the former Trump confidante:

 

Yeah, that’s tampering with a witness. Suffice to say, House Leader Nancy Pelosi was not impressed.

 

You know what happens when you poke Mama Bear? She threatens to set the House Ethics Committee on you. So, Gaetz handled the situation like a real tough guy and posted a tweet he has yet to delete…an apology to Pelosi.

2. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)

Now it’s time to discuss a Human Right’s violation just one step below the financial woes of Laura Loomer. We’re talking about the sexual abuse of migrant youth. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report on sexual abuse cases against minors in U.S. custody. Alarmingly, there’ve been over 4,500 cases filed since 2014.

The Trump rhetoric is that monsters are trying to come into our country. Yet, it seems the monsters are already here. Congress had an opportunity to respond, where Matt Gaetz (yes, that same Matt Gaetz) chimed in, “are people more likely going to be sexually abused on their way to our country by the cartel” than the would be by every U.S. government official “if every allegation were true?”

After this thought-provoking question, the ORR rep actually became the voice of reason in the room. Jonathon White, Manager of Unaccompanied Minors, dryly stated: “We don’t set ourselves the standard of just doing better than smugglers and traffickers.” Come to think of it, should we just set a This Week in Crazy record and give Matt Gaetz two rankings?

1. Mark Meadows

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows deployed a little racism to prove that Donald Trump isn’t racist. Counteracting the claims of Michael Cohen, Meadows called upon Lynne Patton. Patton was a former event planner for the Trump family and is now a regional administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Oh, and she’s black!

Almost as if on auction, Patton stood stoically behind Meadows as he deployed the classic “I have a black friend” defense. He spoke up for Patton, who as a non-witness could not speak for herself: “She says that as a daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Alabama, that there is no way she would work for an individual who was racist.”

Yes, it’s clear the President takes HUD bigly serious:

 

Well, there you have it! Another clear-cut case of non-racism and another seven days until another Week In Crazy!

Cohen’s Impending Testimony Shakes Trump And Republicans

Trump and his Republican allies were fuming all day on Tuesday about the upcoming congressional testimony of former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.

Cohen is set to testify publicly before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday to discuss how Trump directed him to pay off porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about her affair with Trump, among other topics.

The undisclosed payment was an illegal contribution to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign because it kept the affair hidden from voters, and Cohen has already been sentenced to three years in prison for that and other crimes.

If Trump hadn’t put Cohen in his employ as a Nixonesque bagman — and reportedly instructed him to deceive Congress as part of the ensuing investigation — there would be no need for Cohen to testify before Congress this week in the first place.

But as usual, Trump is blaming everybody but himself — and his Republican allies are happy to help him do that.

“Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” read a statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Trump’s behalf. “Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same.”

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) also furiously denounced the hearing in a Tuesday op-ed in USA Today.

“Giving Cohen a congressional platform is a disservice to the public, an affront to our democratic values and flat-out offensive to anyone who seeks the truth,” they wrote.

Jordan and Meadows disingenuously claimed that the hearing is only taking place because “many Democrats care about one thing and one thing only: impeaching President Trump.”

The two men — who had no problems when a Republican-led Congress repeatedly wasted resources on fruitless investigations of President Barack Obama’s administration — added, “The Oversight Committee shouldn’t feed Cohen’s insatiable desire for celebrity while playing patsy for political aims of the far left.”

The Republican National Committee officially released a video accusing Cohen of “lying about President Trump in an effort to save face,” and telling him to “have fun in prison.”

However, the RNC video failed to mention that Cohen — who used to serve as the RNC’s deputy finance chair — also repeatedly lied for Trump in the many years he worked for him. And the RNC didn’t seem to mind that the current leader of the GOP had for years employed a known liar as one of his right-hand men.

Republican Party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel complained that the hearing is a “last ditch effort to save face & cast blame on everyone but himself [Cohen] for his crimes,” and lamented that it is “sad Democrats are wasting time with this liar in an effort to distract from the historic progress @realDonaldTrump is making overseas.”

It is unclear if McDaniel is referring to Trump’s “historic” willingness to suck up to strongmen Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin, or his “historic” eagerness to alienate key allies like Canada and Germany.

Republicans are clearly very upset that Cohen is going to speak in public about the corruption he was a part of as a top figure within Trump’s inner circle.

But instead of being angry with Trump for engaging in such practices, or their party for continuing to support him, prominent Republicans are lashing out at the Democratically-controlled House for showing the American people who their president really is.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

House GOP Leader Blames Freedom Caucus For Midterm Defeat

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) blamed the far-right House Freedom Caucus for costing Republicans control of the chamber in a private call with his donors  specifically, he said, by forcing the GOP to include an end to pre-existing condition protections in their Affordable Care Act repeal bill:

“When we couldn’t pass the repeal of Obamacare the first way through, an amendment came because the Freedom Caucus wouldn’t vote for” the original House bill, McCarthy said. “That amendment put [the] preexisting condition campaign against us, and so even people who are running for the very first time got attacked on that. And that was the defining issue and the most important issue in the race.”

McCarthy’s account accurately describes the dynamics of passing the American Health Care Act, the Republican ACA alternative, in 2017: After an initial version of the bill was withdrawn due to opposition from both the Freedom Caucus and GOP moderates, Meadows and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) crafted an amendment that would give states the ability to waive protections for people with preexisting conditions.

These comments effectively reiterate a key point that Republican leaders admitted on the day after the midterm election: their attempts to repeal Obamacare are dead and buried. The party recognizes how reviled this policy is with the public, and now the only thing left is to assign blame for having the thought in the first place.

The Freedom Caucus, which took a drubbing in 2018 with the loss of members including Reps. David Brat (R-VA), Rod Blum (R-IA), and Mark Sanford (R-SC), promptly hit back, with chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) calling McCarthy’s remarks “very troublesome” and an “us-versus-them mentality.”

In fairness, the Freedom Caucus can’t take all the blame for making health care repeal toxic. While health care was indeed the key issue that swung the election, the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) was broadly hated even before Republicans inserted the “MacArthur Amendment.”

Moreover, it is not exactly like the GOP leadership was in any way reluctant to help the Freedom Caucus undermine Obamacare’s signature provision. Then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) touted the MacArthur Amendment, saying it “strengthens” the repeal bill. McCarthy himself reportedly inspired GOP House members to vote for the bill by projecting an image of George Patton, and gleefully celebrated on the White House lawn with President Donald Trump and other Republicans after the House passed the measure.

That being said, it is certainly true that the Freedom Caucus has been a thorn in the GOP’s side for years, withholding votes from key bills in order to force more draconian spending cuts to discretionary spending. McCarthy has long had bad blood with them he had been next in line to replace former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) after his 2015 resignation, but the Freedom Caucus’ refusal to back him was what ultimately led to Ryan getting the job.

If there is one silver lining for the Republican Party leadership in losing the House, it is that the Freedom Caucus no longer has the power to hold anyone hostage. For the first time since their founding in 2015, they are facing a Democratic majority that neither needs nor wants their votes for anything. And if not the entire cause, the Freedom Caucus surely bears some of the credit for this state of affairs.

IMAGE: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Capitol Hill in Washington. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The Price Boehner Pays

WASHINGTON — If you wonder why Congress is so feeble these days that it can’t even find a simple way to pass a transportation bill, look no further than Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who proffered a little resolution on Tuesday night to oust John Boehner from the speakership.

The move was quickly dismissed by Boehner loyalists as showboating by a second-term member, and Meadows himself said he might not even seek a vote on his own measure. His hope is to provoke a “family conversation” among Republicans. It’s a heck of a dysfunctional family. The GOP these days may have its advantages on the Lannisters of Game of Thrones fame, but it’s a very long way from the Brady Bunch.

Perhaps by crushing Meadows’ insurrection, which many of even the most rebellious right-wing Republicans thought was ill timed, Boehner will strengthen his hand. The more likely outcome is that this resolution to “vacate the chair” will once again remind Boehner of the nature of the party caucus over which he presides. I use “preside” rather than “lead” precisely because his difficulty in leading these folks is the heart of his problem.

The House GOP (and this applies more than it once did to Senate Republicans as well) includes a large and vocal minority always ready to go over a cliff and always ready to burn — fortunately, figuratively — heretical leaders and colleagues. More important, a significant group sympathizes with Boehner privately but is absolutely petrified that having his back when things get tough will conjure a challenge inside the party by conservative ultras whose supporters dominate its primary electorate in so many places.

This means that Republicans have to treat doing business with President Obama and the Democrats as something bordering on philosophical treason. Yes, on trade, where Obama’s position is relatively close to their own, they will help the president out. But it’s very hard to find many other issues of that sort. Politicians of nearly every kind used to agree that building roads, bridges, mass-transit projects, and airports was good for everybody. Now, even pouring concrete and laying track can be disrupted by weird ideological struggles.

The text of Meadows’ anti-Boehner resolution is revealing. He complains that the Speaker has “caused the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American people.” Actually, Congress has done a bang-up job of blocking Obama’s agenda since Republicans won control of the House in 2010. How, short of impeachment, is it supposed to do more to foil the man in the White House?

Meadows also hits Boehner for “intentionally” seeking voice votes (as opposed to roll calls) on “consequential and controversial legislation to be taken without notice and with few Members present.” He has a point. But since so many Republicans are often too timid to go on the record for the votes required to keep government moving — they don’t want to be punished by Meadows’ ideological friends — Boehner does what he has to do.

On the other hand, Meadows’ charge that Boehner is “bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent” is absolutely true.

But the logic of this legitimate protest is that Boehner should allow many more votes on the floor in which a minority of Republicans could join with a majority of Democrats to pass legislation, thereby reflecting the actual will of the entire House. If Boehner had done this with immigration reform, it would now be a reality. Boehner didn’t do it precisely because he worried about what Republicans of Meadows’ stripe would do to him.

Meadows’ move bodes ill for the compromising that will be required this fall to avoid new crises on the debt ceiling and the budget. Republicans already faced difficulties on this front before the “vacate the chair” warning shot, as Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent noted on Wednesday.

And Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) another Boehner critic, reacted to the resolution by invoking the Lord Voldemort all Republicans fear. Jones expressed the hope that “the talk-show hosts who are so frustrated would pick up on this thing and beat the drum.” It’s enough to ruin a speaker’s summer.

Republicans are talking a good deal about the threat to their brand posed by Donald Trump’s unplugged, unrestrained appeal to the party’s untamed side. The bigger danger comes from a Republican Congress that is having a lot of trouble getting that governing thing down.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.

Photo: U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on July 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)