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Why 'Moderate' Republicans Refused To Censure Gosar

The House on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — a rare punishment for a House lawmaker that's only taken place 23 times in all of American history — over a violent "anime"-style video his staff tweeted on November 8.

The animated video showed Gosar violently decapitating Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attacking President Joe Biden with swords. After Democrats expressed outrage over the video, Gosar tweeted a meme that read, "It's a cartoon. Relax."

Only two Republicans -- Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) -- joined Democrats in punishing Gosar over the video. On Wednesday, Politico reported that "moderate" Republicans are reluctant to censure Gosar because doing so would force them to censure other colleagues who say and do "crazy" things.

A censure vote is a largely symbolic measure that "registers the House's deep disapproval of member misconduct that, nevertheless, does not meet the threshold for expulsion," according to the Office of the House Historian. Only 23 House members have been censured in the chamber's 232-year history.

House Democrats are moving not only to censure Gosar over his violent video but also strip him of his committee assignments. The chamber is set to vote on the measure on Wednesday.

"Depictions of violence can foment actual violence and jeopardize the safety of elected officials, as witnessed in this chamber on January 6, 2021," the House's censure resolution reads.

Cheney condemned House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy for not condemning Gosar's actions, telling a CNN reporter that McCarthy's actions are "indefensible — morally and ethically."

On Tuesday, Kinzinger defended his decision to vote to censure Gosar.

"We have to hold Members accountable who incite or glorify violence, who spread and perpetuate dangerous conspiracies," Kinzinger tweeted. "The failure to do so will take us one step closer to this fantasized violence becoming real."

Republicans are also backing off because they don't want to create a precedent for having to punish their own members for making violent or offensive comments, according to Politico's report. Such behavior has increased after the 2020 election.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) was kicked off her House committee assignments in February for endorsing calls to execute House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other offensive statements. Even that vote only drew 11 Republicans.

Since then, Greene has targeted her GOP colleagues for voting for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — Biden's infrastructure bill that funds highway and bridge repairs and expansions, provides funding for public transportation and will help replace lead water pipes that pose serious health risks to communities across the country.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) received death threats from angry conservatives after he voted for the infrastructure bill.

Other Republican lawmakers have also made violent comments. Before the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) called for violence after he lost a lawsuit that sought to give Vice President Mike Pence the power to block Biden's Electoral College victory.

"Bottom line is, the court is saying, 'We're not going to touch this. You have no remedy' — basically, in effect, the ruling would be that you gotta go to the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM," Gohmert told Newsmax on January 2.

Four days later, violent riots erupted at the U.S. Capitol building.

Over the summer, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) warned of "bloodshed" over "rigged elections." In December 2020, Cawthorn also told his constituents to "threaten" other members of Congress. Cawthorn has not faced any punishment for his comments.

In October, Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) fantasized about blowing up the metal detectors outside the House chamber. The metal detectors were put in place after Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) tried to bring a concealed gun into the chamber in January.

Threats against lawmakers have spiked since the January 6 insurrection — in which some lawmakers feared for their lives as the marauding group of Donald Trump supporters violently broke into the Capitol to try to demand that Trump be kept in power, despite losing re-election.

"This year alone, there has been a 107 percent increase in threats against Members compared to 2020," the United States Capitol Police wrote in a May 7 press release. "Provided the unique threat environment we currently live in, the Department is confident the number of cases will continue to increase."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation

Alabama Republican Voted No, But Praises Himself For Local Highway Funding

Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) on Monday night touted "critical funding" that President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill provided for a highway in his district — even though he voted against the funding.

Palmer bragged about $369 million his district will receive from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the $1.2 billion infrastructure bill Biden signed into law on Monday.

Palmer wants credit for funding the bill provides for the Birmingham Northern Beltline, described on its official website as "a 52-mile, six lane corridor," which is under construction in his district."Funding the Northern Beltline has consistently been one of my top priorities," Palmer said in a statement Monday night, after Biden signed the bill. "Birmingham is currently one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country without a complete beltline around it. Completing the Northern Beltline will benefit the entire region and enhance economic development and employment opportunities."

But Palmer did not vote for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which, aside from providing funding for highway projects such as the Birmingham Northern Beltline, also includes funding to improve aging bridges and roads, expand public transportation, and replace water pipes contaminated by lead.

When the bill passed on November 6, Palmer tweeted, "The Democrats' recklessly expensive infrastructure bill finally passed tonight after weeks of disarray among their caucus."

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has caused an uproar within the House GOP.

While nearly every House Republican voted against the bill, 13 GOP lawmakers voted for it, and that's angered a group of right-wing House Republicans who want to punish the 13 by stripping them of their committee assignments.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) had been saying since long before the vote on the bill that she would help fund primary challenges against any Republicans who voted in favor of it. Afterward, she made public the phone numbers of Republicans who had voted in favor and defended the move as they started to receive threats: "The calls will continue and primaries will ensue. Republicans in the House and the Senate need to learn a lesson."

Those among the 13 who say they have received threats include Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who shared on CNN a voicemail he'd received that said, "I hope you f—king die, I hope your family f—king dies, I hope everyone in your f—king staff dies."

Politico reported that one of the 13 lawmakers who voted for the bill was getting so many angry calls that they redirected them to Greene's office.

Former President Donald Trump has also vowed to endorse primary challengers against them. On November 15, he endorsed John Gibbs, a challenger to Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) with a history of making offensive comments against Muslims, LGBTQ people, and others and promoting QAnon and other conspiracy theories.

Palmer's bragging about obtaining funding provided in a bill he voted against is not unprecedented.

Republicans have also bragged about funding included in the COVID-19 relief package enacted in March that they tried to block.

And on November 8, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said he couldn't guarantee that GOP lawmakers who voted against the infrastructure bill wouldn't tout the good provisions within it.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Arizona's GOP Governor Touts Broadband Expansion His Party Obstructed

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey announced on Monday a $100 million investment to expand high-speed broadband internet service in his state — a move that was made possible by the Democrats in the state's congressional delegation.

Ducey said the $100 million investment was made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act, the COVID-19 relief bill President Joe Biden signed into law back in March.

Every single one of Arizona's four GOP House members voted against the legislation. And every Democratic member of the state's Congressional delegation — including Arizona's two Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema — voted for it.

"In today's digitally connected world, ensuring access to high-speed internet is key to growing opportunity," Ducey said in a news release. "Today's historic investment will build on the progress of recent years to get even more schools, businesses, tribal communities and homes connected, opening up more opportunities for services like telemedicine and digital learning."

Not a single Republican in either the House or Senate voted for the American Rescue Plan. Included in that funding package — aside from another round of stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits — was $350 billion in state and local aid that could go toward upgrades for broadband internet.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped expose the problems Americans face when they don't have access to high-speed internet.

"Stories from the past year made it impossible to ignore how essential broadband is in our daily lives: young students unable to login to their digital classroom; workers without in-home connectivity forced to travel to their job sites; retirees who couldn't video chat with their families; and sick people who couldn't access telehealth services," according to an analysis piece from two Brookings Institute experts.

Congressional Republicans, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, railed against the state and local funding, deeming it a "blue state bailout."

Ducey was not one of the Republicans who railed against providing direct aid to states and had instead asked Congress for relief funds.

However, he has come under fire for how he's allocated the funds, including in August, when he announced that he was giving $163 million in grants from the American Rescue Plan to schools that did not have mask mandates, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to rage. The Treasury Department warned Ducey in October that the way he was selectively giving out funding to schools that defy mask mandates could cause the state to lose recovery funds.

Ducey's bragging over the expansion in broadband internet is yet another instance in which Republicans are taking credit for something they didn't support.

Numerous GOP lawmakers have celebrated or taken credit for things funded by the American Rescue Plan that they didn't vote for.

For example, multiple GOP lawmakers praised a provision in the plan that granted relief to restaurants hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Others, such as New York Republican Reps. Garbarino and Lee Zeldin, took credit for canceled service cuts on the Long Island Rail Road, which was made possible by funds they did not vote for.

It's also possible that Republicans who voted against the infrastructure bill Biden is signing Monday afternoon will take credit for projects it funds. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) wouldn't rule that possibility out in an interview with CNN earlier in November.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Anti-Vax Anti-Semitism: Swastika Seen At Mandate Protest With GOP Candidate

An anti-vaccine protester with a swastika drawn on a sign was standing prominently next to New York Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino at a rally on Sunday, the latest incident in which a Republican candidate or elected official has been associated with anti-Semitic comparisons of vaccine mandates to the Holocaust.

The protester was one of around 100 demonstrators who gathered to protest a bill sponsored by New York state Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who is Jewish, that would mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students in New York. The rally was held outside Dinowitz's office in the Bronx. Dinowitz called the display of the symbol "repugnant and offensive."

Astorino claimed later that he didn't see the sign — which was just feet away from where he was speaking."I had no idea until I saw this photo. If I'd seen it I'd have told them to take sign down," Astorino tweeted Sunday night in response to Dinowitz. "No comparison to those atrocities & yes, I've always condemned anti-Semitism. But my offer still stands, Jeff. Have the guts to meet w/ me & learn why so many parents oppose your mandate."

This is not the first example of a Republican official being associated with antisemitic anti-vaccine advocates or even going as far as to compare efforts to provide the public with free, safe, and effective vaccines against COVID-19 to the actions of Nazis in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, who rounded up millions of Jews, Roma, disabled people, LGBTQ people, and political dissidents and systematically murdered them.

In October, Kansas GOP state Rep. Brenda Landwehr called mask mandates "racism against the modern day Jew" during a hearing in the state Legislature on COVID safety measures, saying Jews represent "anyone who disagrees." She said that she had heard the words, "We all need to go down a path" during the hearing and asked, "Where have we heard those words before? Well, recently I heard 'em on a documentary about the Germans and what happened to the Jews."

Kansas Republican leaders finally condemned her comments two weeks later after an outcry about similar comments made by another Kansas Republican.

GOP members of Congress have also made the comparison.

In May, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said vaccine and mask requirements were "just like" the Holocaust. She later visited to the Holocaust museum and admitted her comparisons were offensive, but has begun to use them again in recent weeks, railing against "vaccine Nazis."

In July, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) called people looking to help get more Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 "Needle Nazis." The Auschwitz Memorial in Poland responded at the time, "Instrumentalization of the tragedy of all people who between 1933-45 suffered, were humiliated, tortured & murdered by the hateful totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany to argue against vaccination that saves human lives is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline."

And in August, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) posted and then deleted a tweet that contained an image of an arm tattooed with numbers and compared so-called vaccine passports, requirements that people prove their vaccination status to attend events or enter indoor spaces, to the tattoos Nazis forcibly branded into the arms of prisoners in concentration camps.

The GOP's anti-vaccine rhetoric has led to extreme polarization among those who are and are not getting the vaccine.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in September found that 90% of Democrats had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while just 58% of Republicans were at least partially vaccinated. Nearly one-quarter of Republicans, or 23%, said they'd "definitely not" get the vaccine, while just 4% of Democrats said the same.

Experts say lower vaccination rates are enabling the virus to continue to spread and leaving the world vulnerable to new variants of the virus that may be deadlier or resistant to the vaccines currently available.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Congress May Vote Criminal Contempt Against Meadows Next

Donald Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows refused to testify Friday morning as part of the probe into the violent and deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, raising the possibility that he'll become the second Trump ally to be held in contempt of Congress for his refusal to be interviewed in the probe.

Meadows' lawyer said in a statement Friday morning that Meadows is in a "sharp legal dispute" with the House's January 6 select committee over whether Meadows' communications with Trump are privileged, and said that Meadows would not testify until those "disputes are appropriately resolved by courts."

"It would be irresponsible for Mr. Meadows to prematurely resolve that dispute by voluntarily waiving privileges that are at the heart of those legal issues," the lawyer said in the statement sent to reporters.

The January 6 committee subpoenaed Meadows, who served as chief of staff in the final months of the Trump administration, in September. House investigators requested for him to sit for a deposition on October 15, a deadline that passed weeks ago.

The committee is now stepping up its threats as Meadows continues to refuse cooperation.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the select committee probing the insurrection, said in a letter to Meadows' lawyer on Thursday that there is "no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows's continued resistance to the Select Committee's subpoena," adding that the committee will view Meadows' "failure to appear at the deposition, and to produce responsive documents or a privilege log indicating the specific basis for withholding any documents you believe are protected by privilege, as willful non-compliance."

The letter continued:

Such willful noncompliance with the subpoena would force the Select Committee to consider invoking the contempt of Congress procedures in 2 U.S.C. §§ 192, 194—which could result in a referral from the House of Representatives to the Department of Justice for criminal charges—as well as the possibility of having a civil action to enforce the subpoena brought against Mr. Meadows in his personal capacity.

Meadows would be the second former Trump administration official to be held in contempt of Congress if the committee follows through with its threat.

In October, 229 House lawmakers — including nine Republicans — voted to hold former Trump campaign adviser Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress. The Department of Justice is currently weighing whether to charge Bannon, a delay that has frustrated some Democrats on the committee, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who told CNN earlier in November, "Any perception that the rule of law does not apply is a harmful one."

The committee's tussle with Meadows is the latest obstacle in its attempt to investigate the roots of the Jan. 6 riots and how similar attacks can be prevented in the future.

It also faces a challenge from Trump, who is looking to block the National Archives from releasing documents sought by the committee.

After a district court judge ruled on Tuesday that the documents must be turned over to the committee, a higher court, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, blocked the release of the documents until the case can be heard, following a request by Trump's lawyers. A hearing is currently set for November 30.

The delays by Trump and his allies appear to be an attempt to thwart the investigation for as long as possible. If Republicans reclaim control of the House after the 2022 midterm elections, they could then shut down the probe before its work can be completed.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Trump Pretends To Be Running US Foreign Policy From Mar-a-Lago

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested he's running a shadow government out of his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida, saying he sent an "Envoy Ambassador" to the Kosovo-Serbia border to help the two nations work toward "peace."

"The great people of Serbia and Kosovo have overcome tremendous obstacles in their pursuit of economic normalization," says a statement released by Trump's Save America PAC in which he describes himself as the "45th President of the United States."

Trump says, "The agreements my administration brokered are historic and should not be abandoned, many lives are at stake. The region is too important and the people have waited too long for this work to be cast aside. Today, my Envoy Ambassador Ric Grenell visited the Kosovo-Serbia border to highlight this important agreement."

Trump's statement raises eyebrows, not least because in 2019 he accused former Secretary of State John Kerry of violating the Logan Act for talking to Iran when Trump was president and called for Kerry to be prosecuted over it.

The Logan Act, enacted in 1799, prohibits unauthorized American citizens from conducting foreign policy. The law states:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

"What I'd like to see with Iran, I'd like to see them call me. John Kerry speaks to them a lot, and John Kerry tells them not to call. That's a violation of the Logan Act, and frankly he should be prosecuted on that," Trump said at the time, adding, "Only the Democrats do that kind of stuff."

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo visited the White House in September 2020 to highlight the "Washington Agreement," two separate documents each signed by one of the countries that Trump called "a major breakthrough." The "agreement" was aimed at normalizing relations between Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and Serbia, which has so far refused to recognize it as a sovereign state. The agreement has not put an end to ongoing issues between the two, including continuing violence at their shared border.

Now Trump is apparently sending Grenell — a Trump defender who came under fire during his three months as acting director of national intelligence during the Trump administration for politicizing American intelligence — to conduct foreign policy on his behalf.

What's more, Grenell himself also attacked Kerry during an appearance on Fox News in April, accusing him of "constantly undermining what the Trump policy was" on Iran.

It's unclear whether Trump is actually violating the Logan Act. When he accused Kerry of doing so, experts said he was misinterpreting the law and using it for partisan purposes.

"Folks will be upset at this as Trump violating norms, undercutting U.S. foreign policy, and hypocritically doing what his administration castigated others for doing when he was POTUS," Daniel Drezner, an international politics professor at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, tweeted. "I will instead be laughing at 'envoy ambassador' and the permanent beclowning of Ric Grenell."

In a statement to reporters, the White House dismissed Trump's claim that he had an "Envoy Ambassador" traveling to the Kosovo-Serbia border.

"Outside of his very active imagination, Donald Trump is no longer President and doesn't have any 'envoy ambassadors' representing the United States," an unnamed White House official said, according to Bloomberg News' Jennifer Epstein.

Updated to include a statement from the White House.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Expect Senators Who Voted 'No' To Grab Credit For Infrastructure Projects

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said on Monday that Republican lawmakers may take credit for infrastructure projects that come out of the bill Congress passed on Friday — even if those GOP lawmakers voted against the legislation.

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GOP Loser In New Jersey Refuses To Concede Governor’s Race

The GOP gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey has refused to officially concede the race to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who was declared the winner one day earlier.

The Republican candidate, Jack Ciattarelli, is currently losing to Murphy by 2.3 points — or more than 56,500 votes.

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GOP Leadership Opposes Paid Family Leave In Biden Bill

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday released a memo laying out their opposition to Democrats' efforts to include paid family leave in the $1.75 billion Build Back Better spending plan, saying that protecting businesses is more important than letting people have time to recover from birth or take care of their infants.

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On Election Eve, Trump Says He And Youngkin ‘Believe In Many Of The Same Policies’

Ahead of his Monday night tele-rally, former President Donald Trump praised Virginia's Republican gubernatorial nominee and said they "believe in many of the same policies."

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Bipartisan List Of Former Lawmakers Urges Rejection Of Trump's Privilege Claims

A group of 66 former members of Congress, including 22 Republicans, filed a legal brief on Thursday that urges a federal court to block former President Donald Trump's attempt to hide records relating to the Jan. 6 insurrection by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol.

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Wife Of Indicted Rep. Fortenberry Claims Charges Are 'Politically Motivated'

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) is raising money for his legal defense fund by falsely claiming that he has been charged with "fake crimes" and that federal agents are targeting him because of his politics.

Fortenberry is facing a federal indictment on accepting a large campaign donation from a foreign national in violation of federal law, and for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Right-Wing Legislators Embrace 'F--- Joe Biden' Meme On House Floor

Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) used the phrase "Let's go Brandon," a right-wing meme that stands for "Fuck Joe Biden," on the floor of the House of Representatives on Friday.

"People are understandably frustrated. Actually, they are very angry, and they are not going to sit back and take it much longer," Posey said in a speech.

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House Votes Bannon In Contempt On January 6 Subpoena

The House on Thursday voted to hold former Donald Trump aide Steven Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress, saying Bannon's refusal to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the riot by supporters of Donald Trump on January 6 should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

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Trump's 'Truth' Website Will Censor Its Own Users

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he's launching a new social media platform, named "TRUTH Social," that he said is meant to "fight back" against "Big Tech," which he accused of trying to "silence opposing voices in America."

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Cheney Blasts McCarthy For Obstructing January 6 Probe

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) blasted her party's House leadership on Wednesday, accusing Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) of continually trying to block efforts to probe the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

Cheney's comments came during a House Rules Committee hearing, which was set up to decide whether or not to put a criminal contempt referral for former Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon on the House floor for a vote.

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