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The Tea Party promised to take our country back, and there’s no doubt they have.

The bold, brazen brawlers bearing the “Don’t Tread on Me” banners who swept into office in 2010 have won few significant legislative victories. The cuts they demanded have all been forestalled to the future. They’ve voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act dozens of times. They’ve also voted to turn Medicare into a voucher system to pay for trillions in new breaks for the richest Americans, twice. But these victories were symbolic at best, time killers that will never become actual law as long as there is a Democrat in the White House.

The Tea Party’s one real victory was holding the economy hostage, refusing to raise the debt limit during the summer of 2011. Many wondered if the Tea Party knew that raising the debt limit only allowed the government to pay the bills it had already ran up mostly due to Bush policies and failures. In a weak economy, this stunt created uncertainty and the first credit downgrade in U.S. history. In the end the GOP settled for a debt deal they now refuse to honor.

A new study from Democracy Corps reveals that several of these so-called Tea Partiers hold some of the most vulnerable seats in the House — and their defeats may be part of a wave election that could give the House back to the Democrats. Find out more about the dynamics behind the upcoming election by subscribing to the Carville-Greenburg Memo.

Here’s a look at the Tea Party freshmen who may never make it to their second term.

Allen West

When not out-McCarthying Joe McCarthy, Allen West says crazy things. It’s not worth repeating the best of his accusations because he’ll likely be repeating them as a talk radio show host soon. He’s in a district in Florida the President won by 3% and West has voted to voucherize Medicare twice. He’s is the perfect example of the kind of unhinged sort who can be elected in a low-turnout election.

Joe Walsh

He isn’t the guy from the Eagles. In fact, the real Joe Walsh wants to distance himself from Tea Partier Joe Walsh so badly that the rocker endorsed Walsh’s opponent, veteran Tammy Duckworth. Walsh made news for falling behind on his child support payments, being rude to constituents and defaming his opponent for running on her military record. The district he is in went for the President by a 24-point margin in 2008. So if Joe Walsh ever unpacked his clothes in DC, expect him to be looking for a job as a lobbyist.

Chip Cravaack

In 2010, Chip Cravaack was proud to be a Tea Partier. This year, he’s a “centrist” (although his centrist credentials include voting with fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann to default on America’s debt.) A former union airline pilot, Cravaack also touts his pro-labor votes. His district gave the President a plus 8% advantage so this freshman knows he needs to win over some Obama voters if he gets to keep his sweet government gig.

Frank Guinta

Congressman Guinta is already serving with distinction. CREW called the representative from New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district one of the “Most Corrupt” members of the House. He made several loans to his campaign that he claimed came from his own income. Yet the size of the loans made that improbable. National Journal said he’s more conservative than Joe Walsh, Allen West and even Michele Bachmann. That makes holding a district that went for the President by 7% a real challenge.

Bobby Schilling

Representative Schilling is a brave man. His district supported the President by a 22% margin in 2008 but Schilling now suggests that the President may be holding back economic growth “on purpose.” Schilling is one of the few Tea Partiers who actually turned down his government health care. But if he can’t convince some of the President’s supporters to vote for him in November, he won’t have to make that sacrifice again next term.

Sean Duffy

Here’s where the 2012 election stops being polite and gets real. Tea Party darling Sean Duffy is famous for two reasons. He starred in a season of MTV’s reality show Real World and after he was elected to Congress, he publicly complained about the struggle of living on his $174,000 a year government salary. Apparently he did much better in the private sector. Voters may kindly arrange for him to make a reasonable wage again by electing a Democrat in his Obama-leaning district.


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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

Kevin Bacon, right, in "The Following"

The aftermath of the August 8, 2022 search of the Mar-a-Lago club, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, isn’t the first showdown between the FBI and a cult leader.

The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

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