Tag: mike pence
Mike Johnson

Speaker Johnson Delivers 'Horrible' Sermon At House GOP Retreat

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has not shied away from sharing his far-right, evangelical Christian faith during his nearly eight years in Congress.

Earlier this week, Religious News Service reported members of the Congressional Forethought Caucus sent a letter to Johnson on Thursday, February 15, expressing their concerns "about Jack Hibbs — the extreme right Christian nationalist Johnson chose to lead the House's opening prayer on January 30."

Last weekend, Politico reports, the Speaker used his presentation during a Republican retreat as an opportunity to focus "on declining church membership and the nation’s shrinking religious identity, according to" two people who were in the room.

Johnson's speech "took on a surprisingly religious tone," according to the report, as, "Rather than outlining a specific plan to hold and grow the majority, these people said, Johnson effectively delivered a sermon."

Furthermore, Politico notes, "The speaker contended that when one doesn’t have God in their life, the government or 'state' will become their guide, referring back to Bible verses, both people said. They added that the approach fell flat among some in the room."

Calling Johnson's presentation "horrible," one person present told the news outlet, "I'm not in church."

They added, "I think what he was trying to do, but failed on the execution of it, was try to bring us together. The sermon was so long he couldn't bring it back to make the point."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Debunking January 6 Conspiracy Claims, Pence Urges 'New Leadership' In GOP

Debunking January 6 Conspiracy Claims, Pence Urges 'New Leadership' In GOP

During a conversation with CNN host Jake Tapper Sunday — one day after the third anniversary of January 6 — ex-Vice President Mike Pence shot down the right-wing conspiracy theory that the FBI instigated the attack on the US Capitol.

Per CNN, "A recent Washington Post poll showed a third of Republicans believe the conspiracy" — which Donald Trump "echoed just days ago."

Pence told Tapper, "We’ve been assured again and again that it was not the case. They simply need to look to the facts that the Capitol Hill Police endured great hardship and great harm."

Then news outlet notes the former Trump official "said the upcoming Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary offered Republicans the chance to 'give our party a fresh start and give us new leadership to lead our party forward in the election and beyond."

Pence also emphasized his gratitude "forthe FBI’s efforts to arrest to arrest those who 'ransacked our Capitol and did violence against police officers that day,' demanding those who participated in the attack be held to 'the fullest extent of the law.'"

CNN's full report is here.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

John Eastman

Report: Jack Smith May Be Close To Indicting Major Trump Coup Plotter

Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith is requesting court records from a lesser-known case in California, and the dates of records requested line up with the dates that former Donald Trump attorney John Eastman took the stand.

Politico reported Thursday that Smith's team is asking for records from the State Bar Court of California pertaining to Eastman's disbarment proceedings. The far-right attorney has been in the Golden State defending his law license, which state bar officials are fighting to have stripped in the wake of Eastman's felony indictment in Fulton County District Court. Smith's team requested transcripts from October 30, November 2 and November 3. All three days correspond to days when Eastman was called to testify in-person. Bar officials reportedly asked Eastman about his conversations with Trump and other elected officials as part of his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Smith didn't disband his grand jury after it indicted the former president. Because Eastman has been revealed to be "co-conspirator #2" in Trump's indictment, and because Smith's grand jury has gone quiet in recent weeks, Politico legal correspondent Kyle Cheney wrote that Smith may be planning to indict Eastman as part of his election interference investigation in Washington, DC.

Following Eastman's testimony in California in October and November, a judge made a "preliminary finding" that Eastman violated the ethics of his profession by assisting Trump in his efforts to overturn election results in the courts. In recent weeks, California bar officials have been presenting "aggravating" evidence that would be used in arguments to justify stripping Eastman's ability to practice law, possibly including the speech he delivered to a crowd of Trump supporters on January 6, 2021.

John Eastman is the author of the so-called "Eastman Memo" that laid out the plan for Trump's legal team to postpone Congress' certification of Electoral College votes, with the help of Vice President Mike Pence. According to the memo, Republican senators would lodge objections to certifying counts in battleground states President Joe Biden narrowly won, like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, citing the submission of an alternate slate of electors. At that point, Pence would cite the alternate elector slates as reason to declare those states' results in dispute, thereby declaring Trump to be the winner of the 2020 election. Eastman theorized that Democrats would object to Pence'e declaration, meaning that the final decision would be punted to the House of Representatives.

Eastman's memo then hypothesized that because the US Constitution stipulates that each state's delegation gets one vote in the House of Representatives, Trump would be elected president by the GOP-controlled House. At the time, Republicans had control of 26 state delegations, with Democrats only having control of 24. Eastman then proposed Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act to have the military quell protests that would inevitably result from Trump's coup.

In addition to his role as one of Trump's attorneys, Eastman is a major player in the conservative legal world. The former law clerk to Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas went on to become the founding director of the far-right Claremont Institute's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, and remains a senior fellow at the influential conservative think tank. He's also the board chair of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Donald Trump

Trump's Plot To Steal The Election Is What Set 2020 Apart

Fox News pundits have pivoted from declaring Donald Trump a free speech martyr being prosecuted for simply saying that fraud tainted the 2020 presidential election to citing Democrats making supposedly similar claims about past races, seeking to portray him as the victim of a two-tiered justice system in which only Republicans are charged for claiming an election was rigged.

Their narrative is nonsensical — contrary to the Fox depiction, the former president isn’t actually being prosecuted for his myriad, notoriously false election fraud lies and conspiracy theories. Instead, Trump faces federal and Georgia state charges for using those false claims as the basis for an allegedly unlawful scheme to overturn the election results, something none of those Democrats attempted.

Trump engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 Presidential election,” as chronicled by the House select committee on the January 6 insurrection. Prosecutors have since alleged that aspects of that plot — notably, the organizing of fraudulent electoral certificates and fake electors and the pressuring of Vice President Mike Pence to reject duly appointed electors to keep Trump in power — broke an array of federal and state laws.

Their indictments hinge on Trump’s actions, not his false public statements. As Alan Z. Rozenshtein, an associate professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School and a senior editor at Lawfare, wrote for The Atlantic:

The crimes that Trump is charged with in the January 6 indictment—obstruction, fraud, and conspiracy—fall squarely into the category of speech, in the ordinary sense of the word, that is not protected by the First Amendment. (The same is true for the racketeering, solicitation, and conspiracy charges that Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, has brought against Trump for his attempt to interfere with Georgia’s presidential-election results.) This should not be controversial. After all, tax cheats, witness tamperers, and financial fraudsters all commit their crimes by communicating with others, and many go to prison on the basis of that speech. Many violent criminals also act through speech—think of a mob boss ordering a hit or a group of bank robbers planning its next heist. None of this speech furthers the values of the First Amendment, and so it does not deserve constitutional protection.

Indeed, the federal indictment specifically notes, “The Defendant had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won.” Trump was charged, the indictment states, because as his use of “lawful and appropriate means” of challenging the results failed, he attempted “unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results.”

Commentators on Fox, in highlighting Democrats they say have avoided prosecution despite making similar statements about fraud regarding other elections, are ignoring this distinction.

Alan Dershowitz, who was part of Vice President Al Gore’s legal team following the 2020 election but now regularly appears on Fox to argue that Trump’s various actions are not illegal, kicked off the latest iteration of this bogus narrative on Monday night. While awaiting news of the August 14 Georgia indictment on Fox’s Hannity, Dershowitz argued that the actions of Gore and his team were “pretty much the same thing” as Trump and his team attempted.

“So, if you look back at the 2000 election and the protests, I still think to this day and I'll say it here on television that that election was stolen from Al Gore by Bush, that he won the actual election. I'm saying that,” Dershowitz said. “Are they going to come after me now? I guess the statute of limitations is gone.”

“They” did not “come after” Dershowitz because Gore’s conduct was not actually similar to Trump’s. After his legal challenges failed, Gore conceded and subsequently gaveled down Democratic House members who objected to Florida’s electoral votes, even though, by the standards of the plot Trump laid out, he had the right to unilaterally reject them and make himself president.

The next night, Fox host Laura Ingraham drew another inapt comparison.

“If aggressively challenging the outcome at an election is now somehow a state or federal crime, I have a question tonight,” Ingraham said. “Where's the indictment against this woman?” She then aired a series of clips of Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams criticizing the 2018 election she lost, including saying, “It was not a free and fair election,” and, “If it looks like it’s rigged, it probably is.” (Ingraham went on to cite the Gore campaign’s role in the 2000 recount, as well.)

Right-wing pundits have tried to excuse Trump’s behavior by pointing to Abrams since shortly after the 2020 election. But Abrams ended her bid for governor 10 days after the 2018 election, concluding her legal challenges even as she continued to say that aspects of the race had been unfair, as Parker Molloy noted when those faulty comparisons were first made.

The comparison makes even less sense now. Abrams’ rhetoric may have been inaccurate or unwise, but it was not coupled with a plot to subvert the results and have herself declared governor. If Trump had simply spent his time going on TV and criticizing the 2020 election, he wouldn’t be facing charges.

Fox’s Sean Hannity picked up the same angle later that night. He claimed that the United States has a “dual justice system” and the Justice Department has been “weaponized” because Trump is being prosecuted, whereas “if you are a prominent Democrat, last names Clinton or Biden, it's totally OK to deny election results.” To buttress this argument, Hannity later aired clips of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Democratic members of Congress stating or agreeing that Trump is “illegitimate.”

You can look at those comments and say that it's reasonable to describe as “illegitimate” a president who lost the popular vote, was nonetheless elected based on tiny margins in states providing an electoral vote majority, and benefited from a Russian scheme to help him win. Or you might say that this is toxic rhetoric that lowers faith in elections in search of partisan gain. But either way, it’s not a plot to actually reverse the results of the election — Clinton conceded the race almost immediately rather than assembling fake elector slates and pressuring Biden to unilaterally declare her president.

Trump’s actions following the 2020 election were unique in modern American history. After declaring victory in a race he’d clearly lost, citing false claims of voter fraud that were laughed out of court, Trump tried to subvert the results to remain in office. His machinations culminated with a mob of followers he had summoned to Washington, D.C., storming the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of electoral votes. That’s what happened, much of it out in public, whether or not Trump is ultimately convicted of crimes over the scheme.

Fox’s hosts inevitably support Trump. In late 2020, that meant playing key roles in his plot to destroy American democracy. Right now, that means trying to minimize what he did with these frivolous comparisons to Democrats. But they clearly have no regrets, and if given the opportunity again, they will do everything in their power to further a similar conspiracy to steal a presidential election.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.