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57 Extremist House Republicans Vote No On Ukraine Aid

Nearly five dozen House Republicans voted against a $40 billion aid package to help Ukraine fight off the violent Russian invasion of their country.

The aid package still passed the House by a vote of 368-57, with every Democrat voting in favor of helping Ukraine beat back Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose violent invasion has led to nearly more than 2,400 civilian deaths and thousands more injuries, according to the United Nations.

The bill includes both military funding to help the Ukrainians fight back against their Russian aggressors, as well as humanitarian aid to help the struggling citizens in the war-torn country.

Those 57 Republicans voted against the aid package as Democrats and Republicans alike described the funding as a vote against Putin — whose brutality is part of an effort to expand Russia's geographic footprint.

"This is a historic vote, and it could determine the course of this war, and to vote no is a vote for Putin," Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) told Politico.

The Republican "no" votes were from some of former President Donald Trump's biggest supporters in the House, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Jim Jordan (R-OH).

In February, at the start of Putin's invasion, Trump praised Putin as "smart," saying that the Russian dictator's decision to invade Ukraine was "genius" and "wonderful." In the months since, Russia has unleashed brutal attacks on civilians and has seen its military suffer losses — including of top Russian generals.

In a speech on the House floor, Greene said that the United States shouldn't help Ukraine because the country needs to stop "funding regime change and money laundering scams."

Polling, however, shows that providing aid to Ukraine is overwhelmingly popular among the typically polarized American electorate.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll from May 2 found that 76 percent of Americans say the United States should give more military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including a majority of people who voted for Trump.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Bizarre Extremists Dominate GOP Primary For Arizona House Seat

A leading contender for the Republican nomination in a competitive Arizona House seat said that doctors who perform abortions and people who receive them should both be charged with homicide.

State Rep. Walt Blackman made the comments during a GOP primary debate for Arizona's 2nd District after the moderator asked him whether he stands by a past comment about wanting to charge abortion providers and those who get abortions with homicide.

"Exactly," Blackman said, saying that homicide charges for abortions are, "already in our statute, Arizona statute. If a person commits abortion or kills a baby while in the womb, it's in our criminal statute."

Blackman is listed as a top candidate for the seat by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which seeks to elect Republicans to the House.

It's not the only controversial comment Blackman has made in the past.

In September, Blackman voiced his support for the Proud Boys — a white nationalist group that helped plan the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. A leader of the extremist organization was arrested in March and charged with conspiracy for his apparent role in helping plan the attempt to subvert democracy and stop the certification of President Joe Biden's victory.

"The Proud Boys came to one of my events, and that was one of the proudest moments of my life," Blackman said at a September event seeking "justice" for those charged in the insurrection. He added that the Proud Boys set an "example of how to be an American."

Blackman saying women who get abortions should be charged with murder wasn't even the most controversial moment of Wednesday night's primary debate.

Another candidate, Ron Watkins — one of the leaders of the baseless QAnon conspiracy movement — lied about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Watkins ran the far-right website 8chan, which the New York Times has described as a "go-to resource for violent extremists" who have committed mass murders. At Wednesday night's debate, Watkins bragged about his efforts to push the false conspiracy theories about a stolen election.

Former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell — who was sanctioned for filing baseless lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 election — based some of her "evidence" on Watkins' conspiracy theories.

During the debate, Watkins defended his efforts to try to "decertify" Biden's 2020 victory, after Blackman told him that nothing in the Constitution allows for the decertification of an election.

"During the Revolutionary War ... there was nothing that said we could fight the British, but we did," Watkins said, using an analogy to describe why he would embark on a destined-to-fail endeavor. "Americans go, and they fight even when they know we can't win."

Watkins went on to tout his relationship with Powell, as well as pillow mogul and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, saying that "we found that the machines were stealing the votes." (The machines did not steal votes.)

Arizona's 2nd District is currently represented by Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran. In the redistricting process, the district became much more conservative, going from a seat Biden carried in 2020 to one that now has a 15-point Republican lean, according to FiveThirtyEight. The nonpartisan political handicapping outlet Inside Elections projects that Republicans will likely flip the seat.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Cawthorn Busted At Charlotte Airport With Loaded 9mm Handgun

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) was caught with a loaded 9-millimeter handgun on Tuesday at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, a local television station reported, in violation of federal regulations.

It's the second time in as many years that Cawthorn has tried to bring a handgun into an airport.

In February 2021, Cawthorn attempted to board a plane at Asheville Regional Airport with an unloaded 9-millimeter handgun in his carry-on luggage. At the time, a Cawthorn spokesperson said he had the gun in his carry-on by accident.

Federal regulations prohibit passengers from carrying a gun in carry-on luggage.

Passengers can only transport guns if they are unloaded and checked "in a locked hard-sided container," according to the Transportation Security Administration. Travelers must also declare that there is a firearm in the luggage, according to the TSA.

This is not Cawthorn's first run-in with law enforcement in recent weeks.

In March, Cawthorn was pulled over while driving in Asheville and charged with driving with a revoked license. He has a May 6 court date for the citation.

It was the second time he was caught driving with a revoked license. In 2017, Cawthorn was charged with the same misdemeanor offense, but the charge was later dismissed.

Cawthorn has also received two speeding citations in the last year — one in October 2021 for going 89 mph in a 65-mph zone, and another in January for going 87 mph in a 70-mph zone, according to a local media outlet.

What's more, the Washington Examiner reported on Tuesday that Cawthorn could possibly be implicated in an insider trading scheme involving a cryptocurrency called "LGBCoin," a play on the "let's go Brandon" slogan that conservatives use to taunt President Joe Biden and Democrats.

Cawthorn often talks about the need for the "rule of law" in society.

In January, he tweeted, "I believe in the rule of law."

In October 2021 Cawthorn tweeted, "The rule of law is key to the American system."

Aside from his own run-ins with law enforcement, Cawthorn's behavior has also rankled his GOP colleagues.

In March, Cawthorn accused unnamed Republican lawmakers of having orgies, earning him a scolding from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who told Cawthorn that there "could be" consequences for his behavior — though he did not say what they would be.

And in January, Cawthorn angered first responders when he cleaned his gun during a virtual hearing on burn pits killing veterans.

"It was immature. He's a child. He lacks common sense," John Feal, a 9/11 first responder who attended the hearing, told the Daily Beast at the time. "I think the congressman was overcompensating for something that he lacks and feeling inadequate among the heroes on that call."

Cawthorn's Republican primary opponents for his 2022 reelection bid have used his own behavior to criticize him.

"Here in the mountains, we don't seek the limelight. We put our heads down and we get to work," GOP state Sen. Chuck Edwards, one of Cawthorn's opponents, said in a recent campaign ad. "If you want a celebrity, go watch the Kardashians."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Michigan GOP Nominates ‘Big Lie’ Candidates To Oversee Elections

Two election conspiracy theorists in Michigan won Republican endorsements for critical state positions that would put them in charge of running elections and defending election law.

Matthew DePerno and Kristina Karamo won the GOP endorsement for attorney general and secretary of state, respectively, at a nominating convention on Saturday. Both Republicans will face off against Democratic incumbents in the swing state, which Biden won by a 3-point margin in 2020.

In Michigan, voters do not choose the nominees for attorney general or secretary of state. Rather, a group of party insiders hand-picks the nominees at a party convention. DePerno and Karamo won the endorsements after a vote of roughly 2,000 GOP delegates, which put them on a glide path to winning the nomination at a second nominating convention in August, according to local media outlets.

Both DePerno and Karamo were endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who has made his picks based on whether candidates support his lies that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen" from him.

DePerno — who would be the top law enforcement officer in the state — filed an unsuccessful lawsuit making the baseless claim that there was widespread voter fraud in Antrim County, Michigan, in 2020. That lawsuit helped fuel false conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems voting machines and furthered the lie that Trump was the true winner in the 2020 election.

DePerno's lawsuit was dismissed by a judge in 2021. Two days before winning the GOP endorsement, DePerno lost his appeal of the case. A state court ruled that DePerno's lawsuit "raised a series of questions about the election without making any specific factual allegations as required."

DePerno is challenging Democrat Dana Nessel in the race to be Michigan's top law enforcement official.

"Even I am at a loss for words at this ridiculous turn of events. Running the State of Michigan is a serious business and these are clear[l]y not serious or competent people," Nessel tweeted on Saturday. "God help us if this party takes over our executive offices."

Karamo, who earned the state GOP's endorsement to be Michigan's next secretary of state, is a QAnon conspiracy theorist and self-described "anti-vaxxer" who opposes schools teaching the theory of evolution. She has also made bigoted anti-LGBTQ remarks, isaying that both LGBTQ people as well as unmarried people who have sex "violate God's creative design" and are the product of a culture of "sexual brokenness."

Karamo rose to prominence in Republican circles because she claimed that she witnessed votes being switched from Trump to President Joe Biden during Michigan's ballot counting in the 2020 election — a lie that experts said was just Karamo not understanding how the election process works. With the state GOP's endorsement, Karamo will now face current Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in the race to oversee Michigan's elections.

Benson tweeted on Monday that her race is now "ground zero in the battle over the future of our democracy."

Some Michigan Republicans have expressed fears that DePerno and Karamo's extreme views will make them unelectable in the fall.

"Every ad from April 24 through November is going to say 'QAnon Karamo is too crazy for us,'" Republican state Rep. Beau LaFave, who also ran for secretary of state, said at the convention on Saturday.

DePerno and Karamo are not the only election deniers running for attorney general and secretary of state positions across the country.

In Arizona, the leading candidate for the GOP nomination for secretary of state is Mark Finchem, who has pushed the lie that Trump won Arizona in the 2020 election. Finchem, who has claimed that the election was "rigged," was in attendance at the Jan. 6, 2021, "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol insurrection. The congressional committee investigating the attack has subpoenaed Finchem for his involvement in the event.

And in Nevada, Republican election denier Jim Marchant is hoping to run the state's elections. He's been endorsed by major players in the failed effort to overturn Biden's 2020 victory. In January, Marchant told Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, that he is part of "a coalition of America First secretary of state candidates" that is working "behind the scenes to try to fix 2020 like President Trump said."

Printed with permission from American Independent.

Trump Bashes GOP Candidate In Pennsylvania For Failing To Overturn 2020 Election

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain — one of eight GOP candidates running for Pennsylvania governor — saying McSwain didn't work hard enough to overturn Trump's 2020 loss in the Keystone State.

"Do not vote for Bill McSwain, a coward, who let our country down," Trump said in a statement. "He knew what was happening and let it go. It was there for the taking and he failed so badly."

In June 2021, McSwain wrote a letter to Trump seeking his endorsement in which he defended his decision not to try to overturn the election when he served as the chief law enforcement officer for the federal district that includes the city of Philadelphia.

"On Election Day and afterwards, our Office received various allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities," McSwain wrote at the time. "As part of my responsibilities as U.S. Attorney, I wanted to be transparent with the public and, of course, investigate fully any allegations. Attorney General Barr, however, instructed me not to make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities."

Trump has yet to endorse any of the GOP candidates in the crucial gubernatorial race, which is an open seat as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is term-limited.

Nearly all of the GOP hopefuls either supported the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election or took part in the efforts themselves.

Former Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) is the current front-runner in the crowded field of Republicans running to become Pennsylvania's next governor. In the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, Barletta signed on to be an "alternate elector" to the Electoral College — one of the attempts made by Trump's allies in the Republican Party to simply ignore President Joe Biden's victory and install Trump as the victor.

Like Barletta, Charlie Gerow, another gubernatorial hopeful, was also one of the "alternate electors" Pennsylvania Republicans wanted to put forward.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, one of the primary race's leading candidates, was present at the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection. Mastriano has been subpoenaed by the U.S. House of Representatives select committee investigating the January 6 attacks, after he reportedly organized a busload of people to attend the "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the violent riot. While Mastriano has said he did not cross police barriers at the Capitol, photographic evidence shows he was on the Capitol grounds after police barriers had been breached.

And state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman is helping lead an audit of the state's election results. The "audit" is similar to what Republicans did in Arizona, where Trump supporters tried to use the shoddy recounting of votes to legitimize the GOP lies of a stolen election.

Democrats slammed Trump's statement criticizing McSwain.

"Reminder that the Republican Party leader who is crying 'voter fraud' is the same person who suggested we use bleach to combat a pandemic," Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) tweeted on Tuesday.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) warned that Trump's latest statement saying that McSwain didn't work hard enough to overturn the election is proof that the former president and his allies are working to erode the democratic process.

"The writing is just so clearly on the wall that Trump's movement is — at its core — designed to end elections and install Trump and his crowd in power permanently," Murphy tweeted on Tuesday.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

‘Election Integrity’ House Candidate Voted Twice In 2016 Primary

Matt Mowers, a former Trump administration official who is now running for a House seat in New Hampshire, voted twice in the 2016 GOP presidential primary, once in New Hampshire and one in New Jersey, the Associated Press reported. Some election experts say Mowers' double voting could be a violation of federal law.

Mowers was the New Hampshire director of then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's failed presidential campaign when he voted in the 2016 New Hampshire primary.

After Christie dropped out of the race, Mowers voted in the primary in New Jersey, using his parents' address for his voter registration there, the AP reported.

Federal law explicitly prohibits people from "voting more than once" in "any general, special, or primary election" for president.

"What he has done is cast a vote in two different states for the election of a president, which on the face of it looks like he’s violated federal law," University of Minnesota Law School professor David Schultz told the AP. "You get one bite at the voting apple."

Not all experts agree that Mowers violated the law, however. Steven Huefner of The Ohio State University law school told the AP, "With the right set of facts, it could be construed as a violation, but it's just not at all obvious to me that it is. It is a pretty murky question." The AP noted as well that the statute of limitations on Mowers' actions has run out.

Mowers, for his part, has made "election integrity" one of the pillars of his campaign.

According to his campaign website: "Nothing is more important or sacred than each American’s right to vote. To protect that right, we need to ensure that elections are secure, and the integrity of our electoral systems is strong. Just like President Trump, Matt supports establishing effective voter ID laws, regular audits of elections to verify vote totals and provide every American citizen with the certainty that their vote counts."

Mowers is not the first former Trump aide to be accused of voter fraud.

Former Rep. Mark Meadows, who served as Trump's chief of staff, is under investigation after he registered to vote in North Carolina in September 2020 claiming that his home address was a mobile home that he had neither lived in nor owned. In March 2020, Meadows had sold his North Carolina home when he left his House seat to work in the White House in March 2020.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the House of Representatives, razzed Republicans after the latest allegation of a Trump official committing voter fraud emerged.

"Someone alert @GOPLeader, because the voter fraud has been found," the DCCC tweeted.

Despite ongoing Republican charges that voter fraud was responsible for Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election, it is actually exceedingly rare.

A Brennan Center for Justice report released in 2007 found that "most alleg­a­tions of fraud turn out to be base­less and that most of the few remain­ing alleg­a­tions reveal irreg­u­lar­it­ies and other forms of elec­tion miscon­duct," according to the center's website.

The few reports of voter fraud following the 2020 election have been about Trump voters.

Mowers, who worked as a senior adviser at the State Department during Trump's tenure, is running for the seat in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District against incumbent Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas.

He ran against Pappas in 2020 and lost by 5 points.

Mowers faces a crowded GOP primary against at least six other Republicans, including GOP state Rep. Tim Baxter, former Trump White House aide Karoline Leavitt, and Gail Huff Brown, the wife of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.

Reprinted with permission from Ameican Independent

Greene Praises Authoritarian Orban After Election Win In Hungary

The Georgia Republican representative congratulated Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a key ally of Vladimir Putin, on winning another term.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) congratulated Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, an antisemitic and Islamophobic authoritarian who has crushed democracy in his country, controlling elections and the media, on securing another term as prime minister, becoming the latest GOP figure to cozy up to the authoritarian leader.

"Congratulations to Viktor Orban on winning a victory well deserved! He's leading Hungary the right way and we need this in America," Greene tweeted Monday morning, the day after the election victory of Orban, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's strongest allies, who accuses his opponents of trying to drag Hungary into war in Ukraine.

She also praised Hungary's referendum on banning the teaching of children about gender identity and sexual orientation.

"America should also ban sexually explicit media in sex-ed and all gender change information for minors under 18 intentionally confusing children," added Greene, who has made anti-LGBTQ comments before.

Greene congratulated Orban after he made antisemitic comments and slammed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his victory speech and after reports had emerged that Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine, including the rape and execution of civilians.

Putin, who endorsed Orban's run for reelection right before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, also congratulated Orban on his victory. "The head of the Russian state expressed confidence that, despite the difficult international situation, the further development of bilateral ties of partnership fully meets the interests of the peoples of Russia and Hungary," the Kremlin said of Orban's victory.

Orban said he had had to overcome "The left at home, the international left all around, the Brussels bureaucrats, the [George] Soros empire with all its money, the international mainstream media, and in the end, even the Ukrainian president" to win the election.

Orban is known for making racist and anti-Semitic comments.

He's demonized Soros, the Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist and Holocaust survivor who is a target of antisemitic attacks from right-wing leaders in the United States and abroad, blaming Soros for his Hungary's ills. In 2018, in a statement littered with antisemitic tropes, he said: "We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world."

He's called migrants fleeing Syria to Europe "poison" and "Muslim invaders."

And Orban has revoked broadcast licenses from stations that were critical of his tenure.

"European Union institutions should be alarmed at this continued crackdown on independent media," Human Rights Watch wrote in 2021 of Orban's silencing of opposing voices. "Hungary is already under scrutiny for flouting the EU's democratic principles. But member states have dragged their feet as the situation in Hungary deteriorates."

Greene has echoed some of Orban's rhetoric, attacking immigrants, spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories, and parroting Putin's lies about Ukraine being filled with "neo-Nazis."

Greene also tried to launch a white supremacist caucus within Congress to preserve "Anglo-Saxon political traditions" and warned that immigration risked the United States' "unique identity." She scrapped the idea after backlash.

And she's not the only voice on the American right that has supported or praised Orban.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Orban in January, calling the authoritarian a "strong leader" who has "done a powerful and wonderful job in protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so in the upcoming election."

In 2019, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) called Orban a "patriot" who "demonstrates the values of Western civilization and democracy, sovereignty, and self-determination."

And Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who defended Putin's invasion of Ukraine at its start, made an anti-Semitic and fawning documentary about Orban called "Hungary vs. Soros: The Fight for Civilization."

Observers have warned of the danger to American democracy of Republicans like Trump who say they want to adopt some of Orban's anti-democratic measures.

"Trump wants to do here what Orban has done in Hungary: weaken democratic institutions, curb press freedom, and rewrite election laws to entrench his own party's power," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted in January. "The threat to our democracy could not be clearer, and we must act boldly to protect it."

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Nearly Every House Republican Votes Against Cap On Insulin Pricing

Nearly all House Republicans on Thursday night voted against a bill that would dramatically lower the cost of insulin, the life-saving diabetes drug that has skyrocketed in price in recent years.

The House passed the Affordable Insulin Now Act by a vote of 232-193, with every Democrat and just 12 Republicans voting for the bill. If enacted, the bill would cap the price for a month supply of the drug at $35, or 25 percent of the negotiated insurance price.

According to the website GoodRx Health, the average price for insulin spiked by 54 percent between 2014 and 2019, an increase that's led to insulin rationing, a dangerous and sometimes deadly tactic in which diabetics use less insulin than needed in order to avoid depleting their supply of the expensive drug.

"Insulin prices are outrageous! Diabetics, like me, pay almost $100 for a unit that costs $12 in Canada. It causes some to ration or skip days to survive," Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) tweeted. "Today, I voted for a bill to cap insulin prices at $35 per month. No one should have to choose between food or medicine!"

Republicans condemned the bill as government interference in health care.

"Today it's the government fixing the price of insulin. What's next?" Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said during debate on the bill. "Gas? Food? History tells us that price-fixing doesn't work."

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), while calling the legislation "another big government bill that claims to serve the American people by subverting basic economic theory with the proposed codification of government price controls," blamed the rising cost of insulin on increased demand due to Americans getting fatter.

"The number of diabetes cases in the U.S. has nearly doubled. The demand for insulin has increased and the requisite price increase has followed suit. In other words, the price of insulin increases as waistlines increase," Gaetz tweeted.

However, polling finds that voters support capping the cost of the drug.

A Data for Progress survey in November 2021 found that 87 percent support capping the cost of insulin at $35 per month.

Provisions that would have lowered prescription drug prices were included in President Joe Biden's Build Back Better framework, which stalled in the Senate.

It's unclear whether the standalone insulin bill can pass in the Senate.

Democrats would need to convince 10 Republicans to allow the bill to come up for a vote to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to stop a filibuster of it.

House Republicans Enraged By Cawthorn’s ‘Orgy’ And 'Cocaine Bump' Claims

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will talk with North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn about his recent claim that lawmakers in Washington have orgies, according to Politico and CNN.

Cawthorn's fellow Republicans are angry about remarks he made during a "Warrior Poet Society" podcast on March 24, when he was asked how close the television series "House of Cards" came to the reality of Washington, D.C. Cawthorn accused lawmakers of having orgies and doing cocaine:

The sexual perversion that goes on in Washington, I mean, being kind of a young guy in Washington, where the average age is probably 60 or 70 — look at all these people, a lot of them that I've looked up to through my life, I've always paid attention to politics. Then all of a sudden you get invited to, like, Hey, we're going to have kind of a sexual get-together at one of our homes, you should come. What did you just ask me to come to? And then you realize they're asking you to come to an orgy. Or the fact that, you know, there's some of the people that are leading on the movement to try and remove addiction in our country, and then you watch them do a key bump of cocaine right in front of you. And it's like, this is wild.

Politico reported that House Republicans have demanded Cawthorn identify any people who were involved in the activities he alleged to prove that the claims are true.

Cawthorn does have a documented history of lying about everything from his own personal origin story to voter fraud and rigged elections.

According to an investigative report published by the Washington Post on February 27, 2021, Cawthorn lied about the accident that left him paralyzed; about the fact that he was rejected by the U.S. Naval Academy; and about his work history.

Ultimately, it's unclear whether McCarthy will punish Cawthorn for the comments that have angered the Republican conference.

McCarthy never punished Cawthorn after he was arrested earlier in March for driving with a revoked license. He didn't punish him last August after Cawthorn warned of "bloodshed" over "rigged" elections.

However, McCarthy's talk with Cawthorn looks to be coming faster than his conversations with other GOP lawmakers who have made offensive comments.

It took him a week to speak to Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who had tweeted a violent video featuring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Gosar eventually was censured and removed from his committee assignments over the video.

McCarthy also slow-walked a condemnation of Gosar and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) for attending a conference held by a white supremacist. McCarthy said he had conversations with them, but never publicly condemned them while cameras were rolling.

Neither one was punished, however, and McCarthy said that he may give both Gosar and Greene, who was removed from her own committees over offensive remarks, their committee assignments back if Republicans win control of the House in the midterm elections.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Michigan MAGA Candidate: Capitol Riot Was ‘Highlight Of My Life’

A Michigan state House candidate told the crowd at a "MAGA mixer" in Lansing on Saturday night that her attendance at the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection by supporters of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol was a "highlight of my life."

Angela Rigas, who has said she was on the grounds of the Capitol that day but did not go into the building with the rioters, is one of a number of far-right candidates in Michigan who have received Trump's endorsement. Trump is fixated on the 2020 election, and is supporting candidates who back up his lie that the contest was stolen from him.

Trump endorsed Rigas in December, writing that she is a "committed fighter" and a "champion for America First and for documenting 2020 Voter Fraud."

He made the endorsement after Rigas publicly said she was proud of her attendance at the riot, during which the pro-Trump mob injured nearly 150 law enforcement officers as it forced its way into the Capitol to try to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College win.

In April 2021, Rigas said, "I didn't expect to be called an insurrectionist or a terrorist or even a treasonist. I have to say, looking at things now, I consider all of those terms a compliment, because our Founding Fathers were called all the same things. So if you want to call me that, I'll take it."

In January of this year, Rigas said during a Republican "Insurrection Anniversary" event at a church in Hillsdale, Michigan, "It was the most amazing sight I have ever, ever taken in, and I hope to God I will remember that image for the rest of my life, the pride of being an American, the pride of showing up and letting the government know that, You need to put yourself in check, that you are wrong, and you're installing this guy named Brandon into our White House."

She's not the only Republican in Michigan present during the riot who is now running for public office. Michigan Bridge reported that five people who were at the riot are now seeking state and national office in Michigan: In addition to Rigas, they are Ryan Kelley, running for governor; Jason Howland, running for the state House; and U.S. House candidates Jon Rocha and Audra Johnson.

Of the five, Trump has so far only endorsed Rigas and Rocha.

But he has given his endorsement to other Republicans who have pushed the same lies that the 2020 election was stolen.

He endorsed Matthew DePerno, who insists there was voter fraud in 2020 and who is running for attorney general in the Wolverine State.

Trump had also endorsed state Rep. Steve Carra to take on Fred Upton, the Michigan congressman who was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on charges of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. However, Carra dropped out of the congressional race after Trump withdrew his endorsement in favor of another Republican congressman who is challenging Upton.

State legislators, attorneys general, and governors play a large role in election administration. Legislatures pass laws dictating how elections are carried out in their states, while attorneys general defend those laws in court. The election of his supporters in state governments could lead to passage of the kind of voter suppression legislation that Trump has welcomed in states such as Georgia.

Trump plans to travel to Michigan on April 2 for a rally ahead of the Michigan Republican Party's nominating convention on April 23.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

After Twice Voting To Confirm Jackson, Graham Attacks Her On TV

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to make fireworks on Tuesday during the second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearing for President Joe Biden's nominee to the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson, when he trashed Jackson's previous defense of detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba and then stormed out of the room in a move the committee's chair, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), called a play for media attention.

According to CNN reporter Manu Raju, Durbin said, "Lindsey knows how to get on CNN."

Jackson was a defense attorney for detainees at the Guantanamo prison both as a public defender and later in private practice. She has defended her role as a criminal defense attorney, including in an exchange at Tuesday's hearing.

Graham said: "I'm suggesting the system has failed miserably, and advocates to change the system — like she was advocating — would destroy our ability to protect this country. We're at war, not fighting a crime. This is not some passage-of-time event. As long as they are dangerous, I hope they all die in jail if they're gonna go back and kill Americans."

"Federal public defenders do not get to pick their clients," Jackson said during a round of questioning by Durbin. "Under our Constitution [they] are entitled to representation. They are entitled to be treated fairly. That's what makes our system the best in the world. ... That's what makes us exemplary."

It's unclear why all of a sudden Graham thinks Jackson's record is so concerning, given that he voted to confirm her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in July 2021.

Graham also did not object to Jackson's confirmation to sit on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2013 or the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2010.

What's more, Jackson had defended Guantánamo Bay detainees as early as 2005, long before Graham voted to confirm her to the federal bench.

Civil rights groups have slammed the Guantanamo Bay military prison, which houses prisoners who have been detained for years without being charged with a crime or sitting for a trial. The ACLU said in January, "Around the world, Guantánamo is a symbol of racial and religious injustice, abuse, and disregard for the rule of law. ... The prisoners at Guantanamo — and indeed our nation — have lived with the legal and moral stain that the prison represents for far too long. We can't look away from what our country has done. We need to face it and shut it down."

The GOP, for its part, is putting up an attempt to block Jackson's nomination by painting her as soft on crime, in part based on her record of defending Guantánamo Bay prisoners.

But Jackson defended her record, noting in addition that she has family in law enforcement and the military.

And legal scholars have defended Jackson for representing those charged with crimes and pointed out that legal representation is a right guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.

"The American tradition of zealous representation of unpopular clients is at least as old as John Adams's representation of the British soldiers charged in the Boston massacre. People come to the bench with a diverse array of prior private clients; that is one of the strengths of the American judiciary," Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote in a Lawfare blog post about Jackson published on March 20.

If no members of the Democratic majority vote against her nomination, Jackson is likely to be confirmed, as nominations to the Supreme Court now require only a simple majority vote of the Senate.

It's unclear whether any Republicans will vote for her.

Graham is one of just three GOP senators who voted to confirm Jackson to her position on the U.S. Court of Appeals. The other two were Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Republicans Tried To Adjourn House Before Voting Ukraine Aid

One hundred and seventy-three House Republicans on Wednesday voted to send the entire chamber home rather than conduct important business, including whether to fund the government, provide billions in aid to war-torn Ukraine, or ban oil imports from Russia.

House Democrats thwarted the GOP-led effort, as 34 Republicans joined the Democratic majority to defeat the motion to adjourn. The motion, which Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) requested, was defeated by a 255-173 vote margin.

The House is set to vote Wednesday on a set of critical legislation, including an omnibus bill that would fund the federal government before the current funding bill expires on Friday at midnight. If a new funding bill is not passed by then, the federal government would shut down.

The $1.5 trillion spending package includes $14 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, where more than 400 civilians have already died in the Russian invasion, according to the United Nations. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Russia had bombed a children's hospital in the city of Mariupol, on Ukraine's southern coast.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded with more than 280 members of Congress over a Zoom call for increased military and humanitarian aid for his country, the Washington Post reported.

Aside from the government funding bill, the House is also set to vote on legislation to ban imports of Russian oil to the United States. The oil import ban is an attempt to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin and try to deter him from continuing the invasion of Ukraine he ordered at the end of February.

"The United States is targeting the main artery of Russia's economy," President Joe Biden said on Tuesday in announcing his support for banning Russian oil imports. "That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports, and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin's war machine."

According to reports, House Republicans forced the motion to adjourn because they were angry that they didn't have time to read over the government funding bill before the House was set to vote on the legislation.

However, a group of far-right members of Congress was pressuring House GOP leadership to block any government funding deal that included Ukraine aid, saying a Ukraine aid bill should be voted on and debated separately. That effort failed, as the funding deal Congress is set to vote on is a compromise between congressional Democrats and Republicans, and includes the Ukrainian aid package.

This is not the first time House Republicans have tried to shut down the House to avoid having to take votes on bills they don't like. In fact, it's been a tactic far-right members of the House have used numerous times this Congress, irking other Republican members who feel it's a waste of time.

Last year, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tried to adjourn the House multiple times in order to avoid voting on bills such as the Equality Act, which bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, as well as the For the People Act — a Democratic bill that sought to bolster voting rights protections.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Biden Approval Rises Despite GOP Attacks On Ukraine Policy

Multiple polls over the last few days have shown President Joe Biden's approval rating is on the rise, bolstered by approval of his response to Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine.

A new poll of registered voters released Tuesday by Politico/Morning Consult found Biden with a 4-point jump since the last time the media organization polled in late February. Biden's approval stood at 45 percent with 52 percent disapproving, up from a 41 percent approval and 56 percent disapproval rating a week earlier.

On Friday, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey of adults found Biden's approval surging by eight points. The poll found 47 percent approving of Biden's job performance, up from 39 percent a week prior, while his disapproval rating is down from 55 percent to 50 percent.

Both polls found that most of those polled approve of Biden's handling of the situation in Ukraine. Politico/Morning Consult found a plurality of 47 percent of those polled either "strongly" or "somewhat" support Biden's Ukraine policy, up four points from previous polling, while the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey found a majority of 52 percent of those surveyed approve, an 18-point surge.

Biden's approval rating is up despite GOP criticism of his response to Russia's aggression, which has led to the deaths of more than 400 civilians and caused more than two million people to flee Ukraine for safety.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday said that "the United States should have supplied weapons to Ukraine sooner."

However, McCarthy absolved former President Donald Trump for purposefully withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine as part of an effort to secure dirt on Biden during the 2020 election. Trump was impeached on charges of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to announce an investigation into Biden in exchange for the military aid Congress had already approved. But McCarthy voted against impeaching Trump.

The loudest message coming from Republicans is an attempt to tie rising gasoline prices to Biden's handling of the situation in Ukraine, blaming Biden for buying foreign oil and not increasing American output.

"Joe Biden is fueling Putin's genocide in Ukraine with every barrel of Russian oil he purchases," Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) tweeted on Sunday.

"Gas wouldn't be this expensive if Joe Biden opened up America's oil pipelines. Anyone telling you otherwise is lying," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) tweeted on Monday.

The GOP claim that the United States can quickly ramp up oil production to lower the cost of gas is false, according to sources cited by Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell.

Rampell noted that it takes between 10 and 12 months to lower fuel prices through increased oil production.

What's more, the GOP argument that Biden's cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline is to blame for rising gas prices is also false, Rampell points out: The pipeline was nowhere close to being finished when he took office, and would not be online now even if construction had continued.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Far-Right House ‘Freedom’ Caucus Seeks To Delay Aid To Ukraine

A large faction of far-right-wing Republicans in Congress sent a letter to GOP leadership on Friday demanding they delay efforts to deliver military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which is currently under attack by the Russian military on orders from President Vladimir Putin.

The Biden administration has requested $10 billion to aid Ukraine, where, according to the United Nations, more than 400 civilians have died and from which 1.7 million people have fled since Russian forces invaded the Eastern European nation on Feb. 24.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy implored the United States to send more aid in a private Zoom meeting with members of Congress on Saturday. Congressional Democrats want to include the funding in a spending bill that must pass by Friday in order to avert a government shutdown.

However, the House Freedom Caucus — a group of the most far-right members of the House, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — wants to delay passage of the aid, urging "a collective resolve among Republicans" to "not pass a government funding bill that includes aid to Ukraine or for COVID-19 relief efforts."

Instead, the House Freedom Caucus wants to "debate" the need for and amount of aid to the war-torn nation.

"We request Republican leadership focus not on 'parity' of increased government spending and rushed legislation to 'avoid a shutdown,' but rather take specific action to change the direction of this country on these important issues, among others, by using the power of the purse granted to us in Article 1 of the Constitution," the letter reads.

Delaying the passage of aid to Ukraine is not the only thing the group of right-wing Republicans wants.

The House Freedom Caucus also wants to keep more COVID-19 relief funding out of the spending deal, which the Biden administration has also requested, as well as to defund efforts to enforce COVID-19 vaccine requirements in the federal government.

Democrats, for their part, are close to finalizing a government spending deal that includes aid to Ukraine as well as COVID-19 relief, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a letter to senators on Monday.

Democrats control the House, giving the House Freedom Caucus little leverage to stop the funding bill's passage.

However, because of the filibuster, Democrats need 10 GOP votes to advance the funding package in the Senate. If the Freedom Caucus convinces enough Republicans not to support a funding bill with Ukraine aid and COVID-19 relief funds and it doesn't pass, the federal government would shut down on March 12.

This is not the first time in recent months that the House Freedom Caucus has tried to shut down the government.

Back in November, the group wanted to shut down the government over COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

"No Member of Congress exercising their authority to control the 'power of the purse' under Article I of the Constitution of the United States should vote to fund an Executive Branch that is requiring unconstitutional vaccine mandates on American citizens in the private sector, or foolishly and wrongheadedly mandating the COVID-19 vaccination of government personnel," the group said at the time.

Congress, however, went on to pass a short-term funding deal, keeping the government open but punting the full government funding debate to this year.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Homeland Security Committee Reaches Bipartisan Deal On Jan. 6 Commission

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Members of Congress have reached a deal on a commission that will probe the violent and deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol 128 days after a mob of Donald Trump supporters carried out the attack. The deal, reached by House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and ranking member John Katko (R-NY), was announced by Thompson.

The House is expected to vote on a bill that would establish the commission in the coming weeks, according to a report from CNBC.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Friday morning that he wanted the commission to look beyond the Capitol insurrection: "I know Nancy Pelosi played politics with this for a number of months, and you got to look at the buildup before, and what went on afterward, otherwise the commission is not worth it," he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Congress has held multiple hearings on the events of the January 6 insurrection, when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol to demand lawmakers block certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential election. Five people died as a result, and roughly 140 law enforcement officers were injured with everything from head trauma to burns.

However, the so-called National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex will not be made up of members of Congress or any currently serving government officials.

Instead, it will have ten members, five each appointed by Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, who will be experts in key fields such as law enforcement, intelligence, counterterrorism, law, and civil rights.

The commission will have the power to subpoena documents and testimony related to the attack from relevant figures and government departments.

Thompson said in a statement announcing the deal on the commission:

Inaction — or just moving on — is simply not an option. The creation of this commission is our way of taking responsibility for protecting the U.S. Capitol. After all, the Capitol is not just a historic landmark; it is where our constituents come to see their democracy in action. As such, we owe it to the Capitol Police and all who enter our citadel of democracy to investigate the attack. The timing of this action is particularly poignant with this being National Police Week, when we honor those who gave their lives to protect us.

Democrats have been pushing for a commission for months.

However, Republican leaders were blocking a deal by demanding it also look into Black Lives Matter protests and antifa, which had nothing to do with the January 6 attack.

The GOP lost that battle: The deal reached by Thompson and Katko does not include BLM or antifa in the commission's charge.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said Republicans were blocking the commission because some GOP lawmakers may be implicated in the findings of the review.

McCarthy did not commit to voting for it. He reportedly said Friday that he wants to see the details and that he wants the commission to focus on more than just the events of January 6.

The commission is mandated to submit a final report to the president and Congress by the end of 2021.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Fearful Senate Republicans Will Filibuster To Stop Capitol Riot Commission

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The odds that the Senate will pass a bipartisan commission to study the origins of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol are growing increasingly slim, as Senate Republicans are coming out one by one to say they do not support the probe.

Even Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump for inciting the violent insurrection say they do not support the commission, twisting themselves in pretzels to justify their decision.

And that makes it increasingly likely that the commission will be the first thing Republicans filibuster during President Joe Biden's tenure. Current filibuster rules say that legislation in the Senate must garner 60 votes in order to proceed. Given that the Senate is split 50-50 along partisan lines, that means Democrats need 10 GOP votes to pass bills.

"I don't think there will be 10 votes on our side for it," Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), told Politico. "At this stage, I'd be surprised if you're gonna get even a handful."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will bring the commission up for a vote, whether or not it has enough GOP support to avoid a filibuster — meaning that if 10 Republicans do not vote in favor of the commission, it will be officially blocked.

"Senate Republicans can show everyone if they want to pursue the truth about January 6th or just want to cover up for Donald Trump and insurrectionists," Schumer tweeted on Thursday. "I will bring the House-passed legislation for the January 6th Commission to the Senate floor for a vote."

Republicans who have come out against the commission have falsely claimed it's not bipartisan and will be used as a witch hunt by Democrats.

"The current commission proposed by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats appears to be a platform to score partisan political points," Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said in a statement about why he opposes the commission.

The framework of the commission, however, was brokered by the Democratic chair of the House Homeland Security Committee and the GOP ranking member on that same body.

The members of the commission would be equally appointed by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, according to the agreement. And any subpoenas would require a majority vote, meaning there would need to be buy-in from the GOP-appointed members.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who came out against the commission on Wednesday, said the arrests by federal law enforcement are sufficient, even though the arrests will not lead to a comprehensive report about what went wrong and how to prevent future attacks like the Jan. 6 insurrection again. That's something a commission would explicitly do.

Even Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump of inciting the insurrection, came out against the commission.

Burr told Politico that part of his opposition to the commission is that it would drag into the midterm elections.

Multiple GOP lawmakers have said that they believe the commission could hamper Republican chances of taking back the House and Senate in November 2022, with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) saying that a probe could uncover that some Republican lawmakers played a role in the attack.

"I want our midterm message to be on the kinds of things that the American people are dealing with: That's jobs and wages and the economy and national security, safe streets and strong borders — not relitigating the 2020 elections," Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told CNN.

Republicans filibustering a bipartisan commission to probe a deadly attack on democracy gives progressive Democrats who have been railing against the arcane Senate procedure more fuel to their argument that the filibuster must go.

"Filibustering a bipartisan Commission regarding the January 6 insurrection is a three dimensional way to make the point that the filibuster is primarily a destructive force in American politics," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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