Here are the 5 biggest right-wing outrages of the week: Chaos and hate from the GOP as Democrats get to work
This week, tensions in Washington continued to grow as President Donald Trump tries to leverage his government shutdown to get his border wall. Meanwhile, a number of state legislatures were sworn in, and the newly-empowered House Democrats began to open investigations into the Trump administration. And in the midst of everything, right-wing politicians and activists are still getting themselves into trouble.
Here are five of the craziest right-wing moments this week:
- Steve King says there's nothing wrong with white supremacy.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is one of the House GOP's most frequent humiliations. He has a long history of racist comments, has promoted content from neo-Nazis, and gave an interview to a far-right Austrian party founded by an SS officer while on a Holocaust awareness tour of Europe. But this week, he stepped so far over the line that even he seemed to realize he was in trouble.
In an interview with The New York Times this week, King actually said he didn't see the problem with being a white supremacist. "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"
As even fellow Republicans started to condemn him, King put out a statement attacking the Times for reporting what he said. He also denied being a white nationalist, saying that he was simply a regular nationalist, and "an advocate for Western Civilization's values" — although it is worth noting he has previously claimed he thinks the reason "Western Civilization" is so good is that is has so many white people contributing to it.
While King managed to barely survive a Democratic challenge last year in his deep-red congressional district, he may face an even harder battle the next time around. That's because Republicans are so fed up with his antics that he is now facing a primary challenge from state Sen. Randy Feenstra.
- Josh Hawley accuses reporter of playing "hallway roulette" for asking him a question.
Missouri's new Republican senator Josh Hawley worked himself to the bone to get where he is. He even neglected his previous job as state attorney general to plan his campaign, to the point where he is now facing an investigation.
But now that he is actually in the Senate, he seems wholly uninterested in explaining what he plans to do about the ongoing shutdown crisis.
When asked by a reporter from the Kansas City Star on Wednesday if he had anything to say to furloughed federal workers struggling to get by without pay, he replied, "No comment. I'm not going to play hallway roulette with you. I don't do that."
A key part of serving in the Senate is communicating plans with constituents — especially during times of crisis — and that involves talking to reporters. If Hawley is not prepared to do that, he is in for a long six years.
- Tennessee House Speaker puts accused sexual predator in charge of education subcommittee.
Last May, Tennessee Republican state Rep. David Byrd faced accusations of sexually assaulting three teenage girls while serving as head coach of the Wayne County High School women's basketball team. He denied all allegations, saying that "one must question the motives," of the women — although a local news station obtained a recorded phone call of him apologizing to one of the victims.
At the time, state House Speaker Beth Harwell called on him to step down, which he refused to do. This week, in a considerable shift in tone, the new House Speaker, Glen Casada, is promoting Byrd to chair the education administration subcommittee.
And as if that weren't enough, the announcement came immediately after the state House's mandatory sexual harassment training.
When asked why he was giving an accused sexual predator a powerful new committee assignment, Casada dismissively said, "Matter of fact, his constituents sent him here overwhelmingly ... It is an accusation, but we cannot make actions on accusations."
- Evangelical activists demand LGBTQ protections be removed from anti-lynching bill.
Incredibly, the United States has no law that makes lynching a federal crime. Now, decades after the Civil Rights Movement, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill to correct this. The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act would give federal prosecutors the power to charge people for bias-motivated mob killings. It passed the Senate unanimously and by anyone's reckoning should be a slam dunk.
But according to PinkNews, the fundamentalist legal group Liberty Counsel is now lobbying the House to change the bill. Why? Because lynchings of LGBTQ persons are included as crimes — and that just might be a slippery slope to federal laws that would protect all LGBTQ civil rights.
"The old saying is once that camel gets the nose in the tent, you can't stop them from coming the rest of the way in," said Mat Staver, the group's president. "And this would be the first time that you would have in federal law mentioning gender identity and sexual orientation, as part of this anti-lynching bill."
Liberty Counsel has previously compared homosexuality to pedophilia, attacked bans on abusive "conversion therapy," and defended the infamous former Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis as she defied the Supreme Court's orders to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists it as a hate group.
- Rudy Giuliani says he has a right to "correct" the Mueller report if he doesn't like it.
Special counsel Robert Mueller seems prepared to release his final report on links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government very soon. And Trump's inner circle already seem to think it will be very bad.
On Thursday, in a phone interview with The Hill, Trump's top lawyer Rudy Giuliani made an incredible claim: that he and Trump's legal team should be allowed to "correct" the contents of the report.
"As a matter of fairness, they should show it to you — so we can correct it if they're wrong," he said. "They're not God, after all. They could be wrong."
Giuliani, as a former federal prosecutor himself, knows perfectly well that's not how it works. Defendants can't just "correct" the parts of a prosecutor's allegations that incriminate them. The determination of the facts a prosecutor alleges play out in the courtroom, or if Mueller implicates Trump — since career DOJ officials do not believe a sitting president can be indicted — impeachment proceedings in Congress.