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Led By Nunes, Trump's Social Media Media Startup Falters

Donald Trump, expecting to make lots of money off his upstart social media venture Truth Social, has turned down offers to work with other platforms such as Gettr and Parler already on the rise in a flood of right-wing media sites.

Trump is simply too greedy to cut in anyone else on what he's sure will be a rich payoff from the conspiracy-laden haven he’s itching to launch. There's just one problem: It's a Trump venture and, therefore, already flailing, per The Washington Post.

Sure, Trump had a knack for sending off bogus tweets that lit his MAGA cultists on fire. That was his daily, if not hourly, ritual for four full years at the White House. That was governance to Trump.

But actually starting up a company that supposedly does something other than bloviate is proving to be a touch more difficult of a task for ol' Trump. For months, that failure has reduced twitchy-finger Trump to releasing nothing but a string of disgruntled statements that limp along in the mediascape until they're soon forgotten.

Twitter has permanently suspended Trump following lies he spouted in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Facebook and Instagram ultimately imposed a two-year suspension on Trump, which pushes the prospect of his reentrance on the platforms past the midterm election. While blowing up Twitter with lies and outrage was Trump's favorite pastime, Facebook actually served as a better small-dollar fundraising tool for Trump.

In the meantime, Trump's “Truth” platform has fallen victim to a series of delays ranging from the dozens of hires necessary to staff it up to scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission over a planned merger between Trump Media and a publicly traded company, Digital World Acquisition. Such mergers, made through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company or SPAC, typically take five to six months from the time the merger is announced to the time the deal closes, according to Michael Ohlrogge, an assistant law professor at New York University.

Enter new Trump Media CEO Devin Nunes, the newly resigned California congressman and former dairy farmer who appears to have no credentials equal to the task of standing up a social media startup.

Trump also didn't exactly hit it out of the park with his debut of last fall. The Post writes:

The early version of the site was quickly taken down after pranksters posted a photo of a defecating pig under the username “donaldjtrump.” Days later, the creators of the open-source social media software that the site used, Mastodon, sent Trump Media a letter saying Truth Social had violated the terms under which the software could be used.

Following that debacle, a planned beta launch in November never actually took place. Apple's App Store pegs the expected launch date for the Truth Social app at February 21.

Meanwhile, Nunes is reportedly burning up the phone lines with venture capitalists to get the lowdown on how to build a company.

Nonetheless, a Trump spokesperson said he remains undeterred.

“The demand for President Trump, his leadership, and his ‘America First’ solutions continue to grow despite Big Tech’s attack on his freedom of speech,” spokesman Taylor Budowich said.

If he could just find an outlet, Trump's special brand of paranoia would be super duper popular. Too bad he’s tripping over his greed.

Trump's Money Grubbing Grifters Turn On Each Other

If there's one quality that defines Donald Trump and his cronies, it's that every single one of them is out to line their pockets by manipulating Trump's delusional flock. Whether they're getting paid to speak at rallies, hocking pro-Trump merch, or making fundraising appeals, every single one of them is hooked on the easy cash of bleeding Trump's zealots dry.

Only now, they have a problem: They're stuck on a stale narrative with no new material to sell and a restive audience that's both finite and fracturing.

Enter Donald Trump and his chief deplorables: former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, and Trump's ragtag crew of QAnon cultists who no longer even agree on who's giving the marching orders.

All of them have avidly entertained a vicious mix of conspiracy theories, scapegoating, and far-right extremism that has begun to turn inward and eat its own, according to a delicious piece by The Washington Post's Drew Harwell.

Flynn, once a QAnon icon, alienated the delusional flock after calling their quackery "jumbled nonsense." Powell and Wood, both facing possible disbarment alongside owing roughly $175,000 in legal fees for their election trickery, have turned on each other. Even Trump isn't immune, with some of his acolytes labeling him a sellout "vaccine salesman" for plugging the booster shot. The fact that Trump mysteriously canceled his Jan. 6 press conference was an even further blow.

For many Americans, much of the far-right sniping is taking place out of sight as these provocateurs skewer each other on podcasts, social media, and right-wing chat forums. But for those following the right, it's a virtual feast of infighting.

The warring factions are mainly the result of a power vacuum now that Trump isn't dominating the mediascape and the perennially inaccurate soothsayer Q has gone silent.

“In the absence of a president like Trump and in the absence of a figure like Q, there’s this void where nobody knows who to follow,” explained Sara Aniano, a Monmouth University graduate student who studies far-right rhetoric and conspiracy theories. “At one point it seemed like Q was gospel. Now there’s a million different bibles, and no one knows which one is most accurate."

Good news! They're all crap. There, that was easy.

One of the first shoes to drop came when a newly acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse went on Fox News in November and accused his former attorney, Wood, a QAnon agitator, of being "insane" and fundraising off his court case for his "own benefit."

Wood quickly turned on everyone. Wood used the chat service Telegram to question whether Rittenhouse is “literally under the supervision and control of a ‘director?’"—whatever that means. He tagged right-wing media personalities Tucker Carlson, Dan Bongino, Sean Hannity, and Charlie Kirk as the “Deep State members of the media," and said he's considering suing some of them for airing Rittenhouse's claims allegedly without contacting him.

Wood also posted a recording of a phone call with Flynn, who dismisses QAnon as either kooky "nonsense" or a "CIA operation." (Gasp.) Anyway, looks like Wood has a recording habit—surely that's comforting to his former partners in crime.

Of course, both Wood and Powell got excoriated by a federal judge in Michigan for committing a "profound abuse of judicial process," ordering them to cough up the attorney fees incurred by the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan while defending their wildly bogus election lawsuit.

But if Wood is hurting, Powell is in a world of hurt, facing defamation lawsuits by Dominion Voting Systems that could result in billions in damages.

Not surprisingly, all of Trump's chief deplorables have developed their own brands of conspiracy merch. Depending on one's preferences, they can get Powell's “Release the Kraken: Defending the Republic” drink tumblers; Wood's “#FightBack” unisex fleece hoodies; or Flynn's "General Flynn: #FightLikeAFlynn” women’s racerback tank tops.

But the QAnon fracturing among a now leaderless cult is perhaps one of the most interesting post-2020 developments. When the infamous "storm" that would restore Trump to power and lay waste to all his enemies failed to manifest, the cult went into freefall.

Some followers have dropped the "Q," now simply referring to themselves as "anons" while essentially clinging to the same credo. As Q promoters like Flynn get unmasked and Wood casts the sect as "likely a Deep State operation," believers have been left to argue over who to trust and whether people like Flynn and Wood are friend or foe.

One gathering of QAnon cultists spent more than a month camped out in Dallas awaiting the supposed return of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963, and his son John F. Kennedy Jr., who perished in a plane crash in 1999. The pair were expected to reinstate Trump to power (because who's more JFK-esque than Trump?).

But for any Trumper dependent on the grift, they must continue to string along as many Q followers as possible.

QAnon is “the easiest money that you could possibly make if you don’t have a conscience, but there’s only a certain number of people you can fleece. It’s not a renewable resource,” said Mike Rothschild, author of the QAnon book, The Storm Is Upon Us. “The fact that they’re all mad at each other, that’s all a byproduct of the fact that they’re just desperate for money, and there’s only a certain amount,” he added.

The bright side of all this right-wing tumult is the potential for a far-right implosion. Instead of Trump's cultists being united in an us-versus-them battle against American democracy, they're increasingly engaged in a circular firing squad that is indeed existential. And while many true believers will never be dissuaded, the threat they pose to the republic cracks a little bit more with each new fissure.

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Select Committee Prepping For Most Public Phase Of Probe Yet

If you liked the January 6 headlines generated by Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming in the final month of 2021, buckle up for more to come as Congress returns to work in 2022.

The House Select oCmmittee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is revving up for a more public phase of its probe, according to the Washington Post. The effort will include a series of public hearings at the outset of 2022 as the panel assembles a preliminary report of its findings for summer and a finalized version to be released before next year's midterms. The panel is also exploring the possibility of recommending the Justice Department bring charges against Donald Trump or anyone else who had a hand in trying to overturn the rightful results of the 2020 election. At the same time, they are weighing potential legislative fixes that could help safeguard future elections.

Expect surprises. Earlier this month, Cheney managed to captivate the D.C. press corps with a series of sensational day-of-riot texts between Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and certain unnamed GOP lawmakers, along with high-profile Fox News hosts. The committee is sure to have more previously unreleased information at the ready as it connects the dots between those who plotted to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power and the deadly insurrection that unfolded on January 6.

According to the Post, the panel has loads of data to work from after "interviewing more than 300 witnesses, announcing more than 50 subpoenas, obtaining more than 35,000 pages of records and receiving hundreds of telephone leads through the Jan. 6 tip line."

The resulting narrative promises to be the most comprehensive to date. The select committee split investigative responsibilities into five separate working groups, with some that have pursued previously unmined territory. That includes how the "Stop the Steal" rallies were funded and by whom; the propaganda campaign to seed and spread misinformation about the election; the pre-insurrection preparations undertaken within certain governmental agencies; the concerted effort by Trump and his cronies to pressure election officials, lawmakers and other officeholders to delay certification of the results; and those who played key organizing roles in rallies and events intended to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

“We want to tell it from start to finish over a series of weeks, where we can bring out the best witnesses in a way that makes the most sense,” a senior committee aide told the Post. “Our legacy piece and final product will be the select committee’s report.”

A second committee aide added that Team Trump did "a pretty masterful job" of manipulating millions of Americans into doing his bidding.

“How do you get that many people screwed up that deeply? And continue to screw them up? Right? And what do we do about that? So there are some big, big-picture items that go well beyond the events of [January 6] that the committee is also grappling with,” said the aide.

The committee is also trying to determine what might have unfolded following Jan. 6 if Congress had failed to reconvene and certify the election. As the first committee aide put it, what would have taken place if "we ended up in a constitutional gray zone"?

Any legislative recommendations from the panel would presumably attempt to establish a set of procedures to be followed in the absence of circumstances that fell outside of definitive constitutional text. Those recommendations would likely be aimed at updating the Electoral Count Act, the outdated 19th-century statute that established congressional procedures for finalizing the electoral votes in a post-election joint session of Congress. The panel is also revisiting how to keep a sitting president from abusing the emergency powers currently afforded to them in the event of a contested election.

But arguably, none of the panel's considerations will amount to a hill of beans unless those who plotted, planned, and inspired the violence on Jan. 6 are held accountable for the assault they unleashed on the U.S. seat of government.

“This is the next progression—to see whether or not some of the things that we have uncovered or discovered rises to the level of a criminal referral,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chair of the select committee.

Legally speaking, such a referral is not binding on the Justice Department. But if the panel succeeds in laying out a damning throughline from the plotters and planners to the attack itself, Justice Department officials will be hard-pressed to entirely ignore the committee's findings.

That's where the stepped-up public information campaign comes in.

“We’re not a law enforcement investigation," the second committee aide told the Post, "but we are finding facts, and we expect to make our findings public at the appropriate time for everyone to see.”

What's clear is that the same plotters and planners of the coup attempt have now orchestrated a legal effort to block as much information as possible from flowing to the January 6 panel. Basically, everyone involved at the highest levels of the misinformation and pressure campaign to steal the election is now refusing to cooperate with the committee, along with filing legal challenges intended to delay and ultimately thwart the committee’s efforts. That includes Meadows, Trump lackey Steve Bannon, attorney John Eastman, and four organizers of the January 6 rally.

Next year, any number of GOP lawmakers might also punctuate that list. The select committee has already sought information from Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Both have indicated an unwillingness to cooperate—tensions that will surely escalate next year as the panel makes its case to the public. Cheney will likely be at the forefront of that messaging campaign, skewering Jordan and all her GOP colleagues who “fucking did this,” as she reportedly rebuked Jordan amid the insurrection tumult on January 6.

The bigger the GOP rift, the better.

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Trump Squeezing GOP For Everything It's Worth At Fundraisers

Reprinted with permission from The Daily Kos

For Donald Trump, the grift never ends. And fortunately for him, Republicans are a bunch of well-healed suckers.

Now that Republican lawmakers have gifted the GOP to the twice-impeached, two-time popular vote loser and he is playing kingmaker in primaries across the country, Trump is capitalizing on the chance to squeeze the Republican Party for everything it's worth.

That means charging GOP candidates and organizations hefty fees to hold events at his properties, potentially have him "drop by" your fundraiser and, who knows, maybe plying Trump with money ups your chances of getting an endorsement. According to fresh reporting from the Washington Post, in 2021, GOP candidates and conservative groups had held at least 30 events at Trump properties through mid-December. That's far more than the 13 fundraisers the Post counted in 2020, making clear (as if it wasn't already) that Trump is still the de facto party chief and he’s cashing in on it.

Trump's schedulers just have a few questions before giving you a quote for your Mar-a-Lago (or maybe Bedminster) event: Do you want the just-the-basics treatment (meaning property access and bragging rights), the deluxe package (property access + a Trump drop-in), or the premium all-inclusive plan (property access + a Trump mention on the invite + a Trump drop-in complete with candidate photos, please specify how many!).Not kidding. Trump is monetizing every single element—his property, his name, his attendance, photos with him, etc. And although his endorsement isn't specifically for sale, showering cash on him certainly doesn't hurt. Trump, for instance, just happened to endorse Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida for reelection on the very day Rubio held a fundraiser luncheon at Mar-a-Lago. What are the chances?

The Post found that Trump had endorsed 11 of the 20 GOP candidates who held fundraisers at his properties by the time their event took place. But Trump has also withheld his endorsement in certain GOP primaries even after a suitor has booked. Blake Masters, one of several Republicans running for U.S. Senate in Arizona, failed to secure Trump's backing despite holding a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago in November.

Nonetheless, Masters found it necessary to give Trump a five-star review.

“I'd been to Mar-A-Lago before, but I’m always blown away when I return. We always knew we wanted to host an event there, and it was especially awesome to learn that President Trump was willing to host us and attend the event. He was a huge draw for dozens of our guests,” Masters said in a statement. Trump's remarks included one of his signature anti-Democratic rants, which Masters called "high energy.”

In fact, no one would dare give a review that wasn't five stars.

“He can bring people to the table who will write checks,” offered Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who held a golfing fundraiser with Trump in May that Graham said raised more than $1 million. “He has real juice.”

So sure, you may have seen video of sullen Trump stopping by random Mar-a-Lago events to cough up a little diatribe about being the 2020 loser, but apparently people are paying for that.

“Between his popularity and the perceived cool factor of Mar-a-Lago, it has a significant attractiveness in and of itself,” says Jonathan Felts, an adviser to Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina, who Trump has endorsed for the state’s open Senate seat and who has also held a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago for his campaign.

The “cool factor” is just priceless.

Here's the Washington Post's list:

FEB. 20Sen. Mike LeeUtah
MARCH 5Gov. Kristi NoemS.D.
MARCH 12Sarah Sanders (gubernatorial bid)ArkansasYes
MARCH 13Lynda Blanchard (failed Senate bid)AlabamaNo
MARCH 19Gov. Ron DeSantisFlorida
MARCH 24Max Miller (House bid)OhioYes
APRIL 9Sen. Marco RubioFloridaYes
APRIL 9Sarah Sanders (gubernatorial bid)ArkansasYes
APRIL 23Rep. Mo Brooks (Senate bid)AlabamaYes
APRIL 26Josh Mandel (Senate bid)OhioYes
ARPIL 28Rep. Billy Long (Senate bid)Missouri
APRIL 30Rep. Jason Smith Missouri
JULY 19Rep. Ronny JacksonTexasYes
JULY 27Reps. Claudia Tinney, Beth Van DuyneNY, TXYes
NOV. 10Blake Masters (Senate bid)Arizona
NOV. 11Rep. Ted Budd (Senate bid)NCYes
NOV. 12Kari Lake (gubernatorial bid)ArizonaYes
DEC. 1Herschel Walker (Senate bid)GeorgiaYes
DEC. 7Anna Paulina Luna (House bid)FloridaYes
DEC. 9Texas Attorney General Ken PaxtonTexasYes

Manchin Berates Reporter After Getting Called Out On Efforts To Kill Popular Build Back Better Provision

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia got a little touchy Wednesday when it was revealed he wanted to kill the child tax credit in the Democrats' Build Back Better bill.

"Talks between Manchin and Biden are NOT going well on Build Back Better, per source familiar with talks," tweeted CNN reporter Manu Raju. "A huge sticking point: the Child Tax Credit. Manchin wants it cut. Source says he wants to 'zero it out.' They are 'very far apart,' source says."

The current version of President Joe Biden's signature piece of legislation includes a one-year extension of Democrats’ child tax credit, originally included in pandemic relief, that amounts to payments of as much as $300 per child per month. It is credited with substantially reducing child poverty rates nationwide and enabling millions of American families to afford basics like food, clothing, and housing. The last of those payments went out Dec. 15 and, without them, families across the country aren't sure what they will do.

That is particularly true in West Virginia, where multiple outlets have reported on families who have absolutely depended on that federal help during the pandemic to make ends meet. Many of those West Virginia families include households headed by grandparents.

But Manchin's bid to unilaterally strike the provision is not only unconscionable in terms of his own constituency, it's an act of sheer hubris. Many Democrats consider the expanded child tax credit provision essential.

“It’s not going to get zeroed out,” Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio told CNN. “That’s non-negotiable.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts echoed the sentiment: “We need the child tax credit. It has cut childhood poverty in America by nearly half.”

It didn't take long for Sen. Manchin to get a little testy over being pressed on the matter—testy to the point where he simply resorted to calling a reporter "bullshit."

Asked by HuffPost reporter Arthur Delaney if it was true that he wanted to cut out the child tax credit from the Build Back Better bill, Manchin responded, “I've always been for child tax credits.”

It was a dodge since the Democratic provision included in BBB is an expansion of an existing credit from $2,000 per child to $3,600 for kids under 6 and $3,000 for kids aged 6 to 17. The Democrats’ tax credit also wasn’t subject to a work requirement and was fully refunded in advanced monthly payments.

So Delaney followed up, asking Manchin more specifically whether he wants to continue the current child tax credit by paying parents $300 per month. It didn’t go well.

“This is bullshit,” Manchin said. “You’re bullshit.”

According to HuffPost, that puts Manchin to the right of Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who is reportedly among a handful of GOP senators who support extending the expanded tax credit.

“I think if BBB does not pass, there will surely be an effort to have a temporary measure or a narrow measure to move more quickly,” Romney said.

Senate Democrats have been trying to get Biden’s signature families and climate crisis bill through the upper chamber by Christmas. But as Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii noted, the real problem isn’t the time crunch.

"It's not so much the calendar,” Hirono said. “If we wanted to do it, we would do it. But I think there's still some issues with a person."

That person is currently trying to gut the bill of one of its most precious provisions. But whatever you do, don’t cry bullshit on his effort.

Eastman Joins Other Coup Organizers In Lawsuit To Shield Cellphone Data

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Attorney John Eastman on Tuesday joined his fellow coup plotters in trying to run out the clock on justice, and ultimately democracy. Eastman—the man who penned a legal memo arguing that Vice President Mike Pence had unilateral power to overturn the 2020 election and then later called the theory "crazy"—is suing Verizon and the House Select Committee on January 6 to prevent release of his cellphone data to the panel. Eastman has also declined to cooperate with the Jan. 6 probe, pleading his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Eastman's lawsuit comes after bombshell disclosures by the January 6 panel of multiple texts sent to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as Trump supporters swarmed the Capitol in search of lawmakers. Meadows, who has now been held in contempt and originally turned over the materials voluntarily, turned on a dime last week and sued the January 6 panel, among others, to block its subpoena.

Eastman's suit also comes one day after four organizers of the January 6 rally filed a similar lawsuit against Verizon to block release of their cellphone data to the panel. Eastman's suit argues the select committee's subpoena is invalid for several reasons, including that the panel is improperly exercising a law enforcement function and has no legitimate legislative purpose, and that the subpoena infringes on both attorney-client privilege and Eastman's First Amendment rights.

But frankly, Eastman's rationale isn't really the point. Just like the coup plotters made a coordinated attempt to overthrow the 2020 election results from inside the White House all the way down to the rioters who attacked the Capitol, now the coup conspirators are orchestrating a united legal front in which they attempt to block information flow just long enough for Republicans to regain control of the House and kill the investigation.

Donald Trump, his flamethrower Steve Bannon, Meadows, Eastman, the "rally" organizers—they were all in on the deadly siege from the get-go and now they are desperately trying to cover their tracks until such time as House Republicans can reclaim the reins and do their dirty work.

As Boston Globe columnist Renee Graham wrote, "Their primary strategy is to flatline the investigation through stalling tactics and subterfuge."

And so the coup continues.

Another Trump-Backed Senate Candidate Vows To Dump McConnell

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Regardless of whether Republicans retake control of the upper chamber next year, the Republican caucus that emerges from the midterms will undoubtedly move to the right as GOP candidates across the country vie to out-MAGA each other in their primaries.

The Senate Republican caucus that emerges was already bound to be less beholden to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as Donald Trump plays kingmaker in some critical swing-state contests in, for instance, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

But in addition to those races, several Trump-aligned candidates in states where Republicans will almost certainly prevail are not only pledging their loyalty to Trump but also serving notice to McConnell that his days may be numbered.

Trump-backed Kelly Tshibaka, who is challenging Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski for her Alaska seat, is the latest GOP Senate hopeful to say she'll vote to send McConnell packing if elected, according to Politico.

"When I defeat Murkowski and become Alaska’s next U.S. Senator, I will not support Mitch McConnell as leader," Tshibaka told Steve Bannon in a Monday appearance on his War Room podcast. "It’s time for new, America First leadership in the Senate.”

Tshibaka's pronouncement sounds a similar note to that of Missouri Senate candidate and disgraced former governor Eric Greitens, who also appeared on Bannon's podcast to serve notice to McConnell.

"We've got to have new leadership in the Senate. The Republican Party is now the MAGA Party," Greitens said. "No more weak, woke, establishment Republicans!" Greitens added when he tweeted out the clip.

Another Trump toady, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, who is running for that state’s open seat, has hinted at something similar.

"I will support the candidate for Senate majority leader who is the most conservative and best reflects the values of Alabama citizens," he told Politico early this month. Brooks was a bit cagey, saying McConnell “could” get his vote. But he wouldn’t commit, as if he were still hedging his bets on whether the McConnell or Trump wing of the party ultimately prevails. That type of slippery answer also isn't panning out well for Brooks, who is underperforming in his race despite Trump’s endorsement and recently shook up his campaign staff.

But expect to see more anti-McConnell pledges as GOP candidates continue to compete for Trump's endorsement in ruby-red states where whoever wins the primary is a shoo-in for the Senate.

If and when they get there, McConnell could have a real problem on his hands.

New York Attorney General Aims To Depose Trump On January 7 In Civil Probe

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

New York Attorney General Letitia James is reportedly angling to depose Donald Trump on Jan. 7 in relation to her office's ongoing civil probe of whether the Trump Organization committed financial fraud, according to The Washington Post.

No one close to the matter was willing to go on record about it—not Trump’s spokespeople, not Trump's attorney, and not James' office—which makes her intentions seem all the more real.

James, who on Thursday unexpectedly dropped out of New York's gubernatorial race, had pledged to target Trump in her bid last year to become the state's top law enforcement officer. Both she and the Manhattan district attorney have been investigating whether Trump's family business illegally manipulated property values to both garner lower taxes and secure favorable financial loans.

Though the attorney general's probe has been civil in nature, her office has also contributed information to the district attorney’s criminal investigation. The New York Times reports that, because the attorney general’s civil investigation is running parallel to the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal probe, Trump could reject a subpoena to sit for the civil deposition on the grounds that it might incriminate him in the criminal case.

“Even if a judge sided with Ms. James, Mr. Trump could invoke his Fifth Amendment right and decline to respond to questions,” writes the Times.

James is weighing whether to sue the Trump Organization and her request for a deposition with Trump suggests she has reached a critical point in the investigation. Last fall, her office successfully forced Trump's son Eric to sit for a deposition after he initially refused to comply. Trump himself also recently sat for a four-and-a-half hour deposition in a totally different matter related to a group of protesters who sued him for alleged assault by his security guards in 2015. As the Post notes, Trump was also deposed numerous times before taking office in relation to civil suits filed against him and/or his company.

New York prosecutors are particularly interested in the Trump Organization's wildly inconsistent valuations of two properties: 1) a California golf club that the business variously valued at $900,000 and $25 million; 2) and a suburban New York property that Trump alternately said was worth $56 million and $291 million, according to the Post.

The Trump Organization and its CEO, Allen Weisselberg, have already been charged with tax fraud in the joint probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and James. That trial could take place next year in the several months preceding the 2022 midterms.

In James' surprise announcement stepping back from the gubernatorial race, she indicated she would run for reelection as attorney general.

“I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James tweeted. "There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job.”

McCarthy's Spineless 'Leadership' Is Destroying GOP Caucus -- And Him

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's dreams of one day becoming speaker of the House are going up in flames as the Republican caucus devolves into a raging inferno of internecine guerrilla warfare.

Specifically, House GOP radicals have turned caucus politics into an unsightly brawl more resembling the kicking, screaming, hair pulling, and spitting of a middle-school rivalry than the growing pains of major political party plotting its path to renewed relevance.

No one is more central to this uniquely embarrassing GOP drama than McCarthy, who has turned spinelessness into an ethic in his quest for power. McCarthy's moral deficit has left any members of the GOP conference who still possess a shred of integrity to condemn the actions of the extremists putting the lives of both their GOP colleagues and Democratic counterparts at risk.

It started last month with McCarthy allowing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to target as "traitors" the 13 House Republicans who voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill supported by nearly two-thirds of the country. Egged on by Greene & Co., death threats ensued, but McCarthy turned the other cheek, because speakership.

But death threats left unchecked breed more death threats and, once McCarthy proved his obsequiousness, the GOP extremists were bound to expand outward. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado got right to work, deploying Islamophobic slurs against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

After Boebert tagged Omar the "jihad squad” and McCarthy crawled under a rock, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois called Boebert "TRASH" for hurling the anti-Muslim trope.

But it was Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina who would draw the next trashy moniker after she "100%" condemned Boebert's dangerous antics on CNN Tuesday. In response, Greene labeled Mace "the trash of the GOP Conference" in a Tuesday morning tweet.

Despite Mace telling CNN Tuesday that she hadn't come to Congress to name-call, the exchange devolved quickly.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene is a liar. And I’m not going to tolerate lies, racism or bigotry, whether you are Republican or Democrat,” Mace said during a Tuesday interview on Neil Cavuto’s Fox Business show. “She’s crazy. She’s insane. She’s bad for the party. And I’m not going to put up with it.”

This is exactly what happens in a caucus completely devoid of moral leadership. Indeed, McCarthy has become so useless, some of the GOP's saner caucus members are actually publicly begging him to at least act like a leader.

“I think when you’re in a position of leadership, you have to stand up. You have to deal with it,” said Rep. Tom Reed of New York, one of the 13 GOP House members who voted for the infrastructure bill. “I appreciate the fact that Kevin called our colleague directly to discuss the matter with her. But at some point in time, you also have to stand up and just call it out for what it is. This type of rhetoric cannot be condoned. It cannot be upheld.”

If McCarthy had more than two brain cells to rub together, he would realize this truth: His bid for the speakership is over, particularly if he continues to let the GOP radicals roll him like a limbless log day in and day out. Last week, Greene used Rep. Matt Gaetz’s podcast to note that McCarthy doesn't have “the full support" of the caucus to be speaker.

"There’s many of us that are very unhappy about the failure to hold Republicans accountable, while conservatives like me, Paul Gosar and many others just constantly take the abuse by the Democrats," Greene said.

It’s over, McCarthy. You appeased the radicals right into burning you at the stake.

Is Trump Scheming To Oust McCarthy And McConnell?

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked by a reporter this week when he last talked to Donald Trump, he paused for a millisecond before landing on what was probably the truth.

"Uhhh, this morning," McCarthy said on Thursday, the day after House Democrats censured GOP Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona over his violent tweet depicting the execution of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Democrats also rightfully stripped Gosar of his committee assignments as McCarthy did the dirty work of shielding him from any backlash within the GOP caucus. Trump topped off the entire episode of GOP ignominy by endorsing Gosar.

The whole saga was a reminder of something everyone of us already knew: McCarthy is nothing more than Trump's stooge.

As the week wore on, McCarthy's antics began to have the whiff of desperation. His 8-hour pre-Build Back Better vote diatribe—perhaps most memorable for uncovering the baby carrot conspiracy—felt less like a Mel Gibson rallying cry in Braveheart than a Steve Carell non sequitur in The Office.

"@GOPLeader is bringing it on the floor right now!" enthused Florida man, Rep. Matt Gaetz, on the early side of McCarthy's harangue. But by Friday, Gaetz was denigrating McCarthy's speech as "a really long death rattle" and railing against House GOP leadership for starting "this march to socialism because they allowed 13 Turncoats to cross the line."

Gaetz is an interesting test case in the GOP caucus, since he's a primo Trump-wannabe hack whom McCarthy shielded from repercussions when it was revealed he was under federal investigation for having sex with a minor and potential sex trafficking. In other words, Gaetz is one of at least a handful of House Republicans to whom McCarthy has effectively given a free pass, in order to earn their vote for his speakership. But despite selling his soul, things don't seem to be going as planned for McCarthy.

In fact, two former GOP strategists and never-Trumpers, Stuart Stevens and Rick Wilson, think McCarthy's days at GOP leader are numbered, particularly if Republicans recapture the majority.

"His crazy caucus of radicals is going to put his head on a spike & elect Jim Jordan," Stevens tweeted Thursday night, calling McCarthy's speech the "desperate plea bargain of a man who knows he is done."

Wilson tweeted out a hypothetical Q&A scenario, with a question he apparently gets a lot: "Why don't you pay more attention to Kevin McCarthy?"

"A: Because if the GOP retakes the House Jim Jordan will be Speaker," Wilson wrote.

Look, if Republicans win back the House, whoever takes over as Speaker will undoubtedly be nothing more than Trump's mouthpiece. But it does feel as though Trump is making a purity power play to eventually install his handpicked people as heads of both House and Senate Republicans. McCarthy simply won't do after he slipped up one fateful week in mid-January and dared to admit Trump "bears responsibility" for the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

No amount of groveling or spinelessness is going to make up for that.

Which brings us to the Senate. In a little-noticed multi-page statement Wednesday, Trump upgraded Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from the "Old Crow" to the "Broken Old Crow," charging that he missed his chance to jam President Joe Biden's agenda.

"He could have won it all using the Debt Ceiling—they were ready to fold. Now the Democrats have a big victory and the wind at their back," Trump wrote, referring to the infrastructure bill that McConnell keeps praising in his home state of Kentucky.

"It was extremely good for our state. I'm proud of my vote," McConnell reaffirmed Tuesday, after previously hailing the package as a "godsend" to Kentucky."

For a solid two weeks, Trump has been stewing about passage of the bipartisan measure that 32 congressional Republicans voted for and, let's face it, much like his 2020 loss, it will never be over for Trump. More than just about anything—including the ouster of McCarthy—Trump hopes to orchestrate McConnell's demise. In fact, Trump has been actively agitating "to depose" McConnell for months.

That's what made an Axios story about GOP donors being "furious" over passage of the bipartisan deal stand out. At the center of the story was Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who reportedly informed his Senate counterparts this week that he had been fielding complaints from angry donors about congressional Republicans handing Biden a big win.

The reporting raised a bunch of provocative questions: Who leaked it, which donors complained, and how many? It's certainly not a story a Republican operative would leak to reflect positively on the Senate GOP conference—19 of whom voted for the bill. It also figured particularly poorly for McConnell, so it likely would have been leaked by a Trump ally trying to make a point.

If anyone is positioned to potentially oust McConnell as leader at some point, it's Rick Scott, who has buddied up to Trump (in contrast to McConnell) and was one of only eight GOP senators to vote against certification of the 2020 election. In that sense, Scott is a purist, while McConnell is a giant thorn in Trump's side.

Scott is also busy building his donor list as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which would help him blunt one of McConnell's biggest leverage points as leader: his ability to dole out campaign funds to members via his massive fundraising network.

Rick Scott undoubtedly sees himself running for president one day. But if Trump runs in 2024, one could see him vying for Senate leader instead, to bide his time until the time is right for a presidential bid. For Trump, Scott sort of hits the sweet spot between someone like McConnell, an establishment Trump detractor, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a Trump convert who is loathed by his colleagues.

If Trump were going to work to elevate anyone to that post, Scott would be a good pick—with the added benefit of distracting him from a 2024 presidential bid.

House Republicans Savaging Each Other Over Infrastructure Vote

Shortly after 13 House Republicans joined 215 Democrats last week to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, GOP lawmakers went to war with each other.

Some House radicals—who are apparently the dominant force in the GOP caucus—labeled the measure "socialist" and called their 13 colleagues "traitors." Presumably, that went for Senate Republicans, too, after they helped negotiate the bill and about 40 percent of their caucus voted for it.

The pettiest man alive, Donald Trump, groused that "Old Crow" Mitch McConnell had voted for it while being "incapable" of delivering a similar bill during Trump's tenure. McConnell, in turn, called the Biden bill a "godsend" to his state.

Republicans are still warring over the bill even as a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 63 percent of Americans support the bill while just 32 percent oppose it.

The survey question was very simple: Do you support or oppose the federal government spending one trillion dollars on roads, bridges, and other infrastructure?

And yes, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they did support the trillion-dollar investment in roads, bridges, rural broadband, and more, while a fringey 32 percent opposed the spending.

The poll—entirely in line with polling of the bipartisan measure over the last several months—highlights that while the American people still broadly support infrastructure investments to benefit everyone, congressional Republicans have become so extreme, they are inciting death threats against their own members for giving the voters what they want.

In the Republican Party, you can no longer do broadly popular things if it in any way benefits your opponents. Passing good things for your constituents is treasonous if it also helps the other party and their constituency. In other words, backing anything that benefits everyone is an act of treason.

Republicans are still at each others' throats over the passage of the popular legislation. During a House GOP conference meeting Monday, Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina filed a resolution to strip Rep. John Katko of New York of being the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee.

But that was relatively mild compared to the screaming match that broke out between Rep. Chip Roy of Texas and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, according to CNN reporter Melanie Zanona.

Roy was lamenting that he'll be on the hook to explain to voters in his district why they should support Republicans when GOP representatives just handed Democrats a big infrastructure win.

"McCarthy then got up and shot back that he's had to explain to voters many times votes that Roy has taken," according to Zanona.

As Zanona put it: "House Republicans are more angry at the GOP lawmakers who voted for infrastructure than at Paul Gosar for posting a video depicting violence against Dems." Gosar's video depicted him executing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, to be exact.

But, yes, exactly. In today's GOP, bipartisanship is more unforgivable than fomenting violence against your opponents.

How Trump Is Ruining McConnell's Plan To Regain Senate Majority

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu dealt a serious blow to Senate Republicans Tuesday when he took a pass on running for Senate against one of the GOP's top targets—Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

But Sununu is no exception to the rule, and he could very well be the canary in the coal mine for Senate Republicans. While Republicans had been eyeing New Hampshire as a serious pick-up opportunity, they had also dabbled with the idea of making Democrats at least squander some resources on playing defense in blue states like Vermont and Maryland. But as NBC News points out, that GOP aspiration is contingent on one of those state's popular Republican governors showing any interest at all in signing on to be part of the Senate GOP caucus.

"Vermont Gov. Phil Scott won re-election by 15 percentage points in 2018, the same year his famously progressive state overwhelmingly handed independent Sen. Bernie Sanders a third term," writes NBC. But Scott—really the only Vermont Republican who could pull off an upset against incumbent Sen. Patrick Leahy—didn't even vote for Trump and has no interest in running for Senate.

Maryland's Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is in the same boat—popular but uninterested in running.

In short, it appears no moderate, sane-ish Republicans are jumping at the chance to join Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's caucus, particularly because Trump is so clearly calling the shots. Sununu's very public rejection of the Senate GOP also isn't going to make joining the caucus seem any more appealing to the kinds of candidates who would likely fare better in a general election.

So as moderate Republicans decline to run while fringe GOP candidates dominate the field, the entire Republican line up is getting more extreme.

That has Brian Walsh, a former Senate GOP campaign operative, hearing "echoes of 2010," when Senate Republicans failed to seize a majority despite the pro-Republican political environment.

"Arguably, Republicans lost five seats between 2010 and 2012 because of bad general election candidates," Walsh told NBC. "I'm not saying that's necessarily going to happen here. We don't know that yet. But broadly, candidates matter."

Here's the GOP scorecard so far:

In New Hampshire, which Republicans had slated as a top target for a pick up, they're now scrambling for a candidate.

In Georgia, another GOP pick-up opportunity, Republicans will likely be saddled with Trump pick Herschel Walker, who has a violent and allegedly abusive history.

In Nevada, which Republicans also hope to flip, the state party is in the midst of an epic meltdown. At the same time, they appear to be rallying around former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who made stoking Trump's Big Lie his life's mission.

Laxalt sued to stop the ballot counting in the state's largest county (which Trump lost), sued to overturn Biden's victory, baselessly claimed votes of dead people had been counted, baselessly claimed votes from undocumented immigrants had tipped the state to Biden, and again filed a post-certification lawsuit alleging the GOP secretary of state had allowed non-citizens to vote.

In Arizona, another GOP flip opportunity, the four-person primary is headed hard right and nasty negative as state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, energy executive Jim Lamon, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Mick McGuire and Blake Masters duke it out. Brnovich (aka nunchuck guy) likely has the highest statewide name recognition outside of GOP Gov. Doug Ducey (who Trump hates and has declined to run). But Masters runs billionaire Peter Thiel's investment firm and just this week Trump announced a fundraiser for him (because Trump also faults Brnovich for failing to overturn the state's 2020 results).

In Pennsylvania, one of Democrats' best pick-up opportunities, the GOP primary for the open seat has turned downright embarrassing. Trump endorsed Army vet Sean Parnell, who is embroiled in an ugly custody battle in which his estranged wife testified that Parnell abused her and one of their children. Senate Republicans are dodging questions about the race as Parnell's candidacy spirals.

In North Carolina, which also has an open Senate seat, Trump complicated the race with an early endorsement of a lesser-known GOP congressman, Rep. Ted Budd, while former Gov. Pat McCrory has a higher profile and a likely edge among Republican voters. If McCrory triumphs, it remains to be seen whether he can win over Trump voters in the general election.

Other potential Democratic pick ups include Florida and Wisconsin, with incumbent Sens. Marco Rubio and Ron Johnson, and on the outside edge, open seats in Ohio and Missouri, where Republicans just might manage to put the seats in play despite their considerable advantages in each state.

Notably, Trump is playing the key role in nearly every one of those Senate contests. In almost every state, Trump has done at least one of several things: repelled a top-tier candidate, made an endorsement, radicalized the GOP field, or become a complicating factor by incessantly pushing his election fraud lies and demanding absolute fealty.

Trump Scrambles To Save Senate Candidacy Of Alleged Marital Abuser

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Sean Parnell testified Monday in a contentious custody battle with his estranged wife, entirely refuting her allegations of abuse against herself and their children.

Parnell, who said he "never" got physical with his wife or their three kids, was not subject to cross-examination and will take the stand again Tuesday.

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Cheney Says Select Committee Has Interviewed 160 Witnesses, Making 'Real Progress'

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Imagine for a moment House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy leisurely sipping on his morning coffee when he suddenly sees the news that the select committee investigating January 6 has interviewed more than 150 people already in their probe.

Fun, right? That heart-attack-inducing moment may have actually occurred Thursday when Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming dropped a bomb.

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Trump Senate Candidates Bring Heavy Domestic Abuse Baggage

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

As Donald Trump has consolidated power in the Republican Party this year, his slow-but-steady takeover has sometimes masked the overwhelming creep of extremism into every corner of the Republican Party.

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Biden Again Rejects Trump's Privilege Claims In January 6 Probe

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

As the Department of Justice weighs whether to prosecute Steve Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress, President Joe Biden continues to make perfectly clear that protecting democracy is far more important to him than shielding the office of the president from scrutiny.

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Senate Democrats Consider 'Billionaires Tax' To Fund Biden Agenda

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

After promising for months to fund President Joe Biden's Build Back Better proposal by raising taxes on corporations and top income earners, Democrats have been forced to retool due to the opposition of one-woman wrecking ball Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

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