News & Politics

'Dysfunction and stupidity': Matt Gaetz and Maria Bartiromo argue in battle over government funding

Rep. Matt Gaetz clashed with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo after she accused him of being a "disrupter" who jeopardized Republican wins in Congress.

"Today, dysfunction and stupidity," Bartiromo announced. "A government shutdown is looming one week from today as a group of conservative lawmakers blow up Republican chances to fund the government."

"Republican disruptors are trying to stop funding the government, take down the Speaker of the House, and destroy the victories that Republicans have had in reversing this bad policy," she noted.

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Gaetz immediately fired back as his interview began.

"I'm glad I get to respond to your monologue because if you're saying that I'm standing in the way of all the Republican wins, I'd love you to enumerate them," he challenged\

"So, to push now to blow up all of the wins that you all have had now," Bartiromo pressed.

Which wins?" Gaetz interrupted. "Please enumerate them."

Bartiromo pointed to several investigations being conducted by the House, including an impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden.

"That's the process!" Gaetz objected.

"Hold on!" Bartiromo said. "How about the fact that he has set up the China Select Committee to keep China to account? And, of course, he has launched this inquiry into impeachment, potentially, for President Biden. Is that not what you want?"

"None of those things are deliverables," Gaetz pouted. "Those are steps in a process."

Watch the video below from Fox News or at the link.

GOP senator insults Trump’s 'signature professional achievement' in rant about dumping him

Donald Trump's inevitability as the Republican Party's 2024 presidential nomination is weighing on the minds of an assortment of GOP donors, campaign consultants and GOP lawmakers who believe he is headed for another loss.

According to a report from the Washington Post, even supporters for some of his GOP rivals for the nomination are privately conceding that their first choice won't be able to catch him and that, in turn, is leading to some grumbling about what awaits them in 2024.

As the report notes, central to their worries is the unprecedented "variable" of having a nominee who is not only facing multiple indictments but could have a conviction on his record when voters head to the polls.

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Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) who is backing the longshot bid of his home state Governor Doug Burgum (R) is conceding, "I just don’t see a path for anybody that’s not Donald Trump right now."

With the Post reporting, "In some parts of the party, including factions of the U.S. Senate and among some wealthy donors, there is less palpable enthusiasm for Trump," one U.S. senator went so far as to lash out at former president's background and predict doom and gloom for the 2024 general election.

Sen. Todd C. Young (R-IN) complained, "I’m still holding out hope that my fellow Republicans want to throw their support behind someone who has personal integrity, respects the rule of law, aims to unite rather than divide people and actually knows how to do the job well.”

ALSO IN THE NEWS: Trump admin women strike back after being called 'pimp ladies' by ex-president's advisor

Not content with that, he added, "Donald J. Trump’s signature professional achievement is as a reality television star and he’s lacking in every personal quality that I,and I think every other Republican, should want in a presidential nominee. Moreover he is the least likely to win a general election.”

The Post report added that "tension" about Trump is expected to be on full display this week as the former president's rivals hold their second debate while Trump holds a rally in Michigan.

You can read more here.

'Perverted intentions': McCarthy allies rage against 'arsonists' in their own party over government shutdown

Allies of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) this week raged against hard-line Republicans in their own party as leadership in the House of Representatives works to stave off a looming government shutdown, The Hill reports.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) told reporters. “I think people’s perverted intentions have really caused problems this year.”

“The arsonists are out there, number one, whining that their house is on fire; number two, are going to want credit that they put the fire out; and then number three, are gonna set up a GoFundMe site to get paid for it,” Graves added

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Graves later said the fault of a government shutdown would lie squarely with those who engaged in “disingenuous” behavior.
“I think that if we get into a shutdown, it’s because there was a failure in strategy that was absolutely manipulated or distorted by disingenuous behavior, intentions and probably ignorance,” he said.

As The Hill reports, House “leadership does not have the votes to advance a short-term funding bill to keep the lights on past Sept. 30, with a handful of hard-line Republicans handing [McCarthy] setback after setback. They are also not yet taking the step of working with Democrats on a compromise, a move that would further inflame the rebels and potentially threaten McCarthy’s Speakership.”

“They like to stop everything and then they turn around and say it’s your fault, you’re not getting anything done,” McCarthy said.

“I don’t understand, if a few people here want to hold it out why do the border agents have to pay? Why do the Coast Guard have to pay? Why do they not have to be paid because somebody wants to throw some fit here?” McCarthy added. “That’s not right.”

READ MORE:Revealed: Trump’s Project 2025 agenda aims for 'total control' of the federal government

Read the full report at The Hill.

Fetterman joins Dems calling for Menendez resignation following bribery charges

Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. John Fetterman on Saturday joined a growing list of Democrats calling on Sen. Bob Menendez to step down in the wake of federal corruption charges filed against him and his wife.

"Sen. Menendez should resign," Fetterman said in a statement. "He's entitled to the presumption of innocence under our system, but he is not entitled to continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations. I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial."

Menenedez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, are accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes—including "cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, [and] a luxury vehicle"—from businessmen in exchange for influence.

The indictment also alleges that Menendez—who until he stepped down from the position on Friday chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—"provided sensitive U.S. government information and took other steps that secretly aided the government of Egypt."

Dismissing calls for his resignation, Menendez said he is "not going anywhere."

"Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty," the senator said in a statement late Friday. "I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I've had for the past five decades. This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along."

"It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat," he added.

Fetterman joins a growing list of Democrats calling on Menendez to resign. These include New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Reps. Jeff Jackson (N.C.), Dean Phillips (Minn.), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Tom Malinowski (N.J.), Frank Pallone (N.J.), Mikie Sherill (N.J.), Bill Pascrell (N.J.), and Andy Kim (N.J.).

On Saturday, Kim said he would run for Menendez's Senate seat amid the senator's refusal to resign.

"I feel compelled to run against him. Not something I expected to do, but N.J. deserves better," Kim wrote in a fundraising pitch on social media. "We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity."

It's not just Democrats urging Menendez to step down. The New Jersey Working Families Party issued a statement Friday calling the allegations against the senator "alarming" and asserting that Democratic Party leaders "are doing the right thing in calling for his resignation."

This is the second time Menendez has faced corruption charges in the last decade. He was indicted in 2015 for allegedly receiving gifts and $660,000 in campaign contributions from a Florida eye doctor; the case ended in a mistrial in 2017. The U.S. Justice Department subsequently declined to retry him.

Potential for threats from Trump in 14th Amendment case sways Colorado judge

A lawyer for plaintiffs who are suing to block former President Donald Trump from the 2024 Colorado presidential ballot persuaded a judge to enter a protective order for witnesses and other people involved in the lawsuit, largely based on Trump’s history of “inflammatory” statements around other cases in which he is a defendant.

Denver District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace during a Friday hearing said she had concerns for the “safety for the parties, for the lawyers and frankly for myself and my staff, based on what we’ve seen in other cases.”

After special counsel Jack Smith in June filed an indictment against Trump for alleged crimes around Jan. 6, Trump responded on Truth Social, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!” which prosecutors viewed as “inflammatory” and “intimidating.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyer who argued for the protective order, Sean Grimsley, also noted during the hearing before Wallace that Dave Williams, chair of the Colorado Republican Party, which this week joined the case as a so-called intervenor, called the filing of the Colorado lawsuit against Trump “treasonous” behavior.

“That’s code for, ‘The folks coming to court have committed a capital crime,'” Grimsley said.

The protective order bars “inflammatory” speech, based on remarks during the hearing.

The suit was filed Sept. 6 by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on behalf of six Colorado voters, who argue Trump is disqualified under a provision of the 14th Amendment that bars certain office-seekers who have engaged in insurrection.

The plaintiffs include former Republican U.S. representative from Rhode Island Claudine (Cmarada) Schneider, who now lives in Colorado; former Colorado House and Senate Majority Leader Norma Anderson, an unaffiliated voter who recently left the Republican party; Denver Post columnist and Republican activist Krista Kafer; Michelle Priola, Kathi Wright, and Christopher Castilian.

They argue Trump, the leading GOP candidate for president in 2024, is disqualified under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which says no person who took an oath to support the Constitution then had “engaged in insurrection … or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” can hold any office in the United States.

The suit says Trump “tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election” and incited and “engaged in” the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The defendants are Trump and Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat.

Most of the Friday hearing concerned procedural matters. Trump’s lawyer in the case, Scott Gessler, a former Republican Colorado secretary of state, indicated he intends to try to get the case tossed under a recent Colorado law that protects people who exercise First Amendment rights from the threat of lawsuits — known as an anti-SLAPP law. The allegations against Trump in the case are all “based on his speech,” Gessler said.

“We believe it’s a winner,” Gessler said of the pending motion under anti-SLAPP — or “strategic lawsuits against public participation.”

Gessler had objected to the proposed protective order by arguing that witness tampering and intimidation are already outlawed and that Trump critics had also engaged in objectionable speech. He noted that Griswold has said Trump tried to “steal an election” and labeled the events of Jan. 6 an “insurrection.”

“That is definitely coming from other quarters,” Gessler said of what Grimsley had called “inflammatory” speech.

A five-day trial in the case is scheduled to start Oct. 30.

The case is seen as the first major test of the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause since the Civil War era. Other similar cases, such as one filed by Free Speech For People in Minnesota, are expected in other states.

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

Karl Rove: No Labels could decide 'who loses' 2024 election

The Lincoln Project's Rick Wilson, a Never Trump conservative and former GOP strategist who is rooting for President Joe Biden in the 2024 election, has been slamming the No Labels movement as a recipe for disaster. A No Labels candidate, Wilson warns, could take enough votes away from Biden to put Donald Trump back in the White House in 2025.

Wilson isn't the only conservative who views No Labels as a possible spoiler. Veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove, during a Fox News appearance, argued that a third-party candidate could, in fact, have that effect in 2024.

Rove told a "Fox News Sunday" panel, "Third parties typically don't have any impact in winning an election, but they have an impact on deciding who loses the election. Think about it: We had a big personality in Ross Perot. He got 19 percent of the vote, nothing in the Electoral College."

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Rove added, "The last two (third-party) candidates to get votes in the Electoral College were 1968 George Wallace and Strom Thurmond in 1948, both of them explicit racists running to oppose desegregation."

READ MORE:Former Trump megadonor joins No Labels leadership

Watch the full video below or at this link.

Ken Paxton's critics pile on — calling impeachment trial rigged

It has been almost a week since the Texas Senate voted to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton in his impeachment trial — and the recriminations are still flying among Republicans.

Critics of the verdict, including House Speaker Dade Phelan, are continuing to accuse Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of rigging the trial, while Patrick is fiercely pushing back.

“For the armchair legal strategists’ opinion on what should have been done differently, I’d remind them there is nothing else that could have been done — the fix was in from the start,” Phelan said in an op-ed he wrote for his hometown newspaper published Friday afternoon.

Patrick responded to the op-ed in a lengthy tweet, saying Phelan's belief "is disgusting and proves he is unworthy of his leadership position."

Patrick has repeatedly denied accusations of being biased as the trial judge and went on a tirade earlier Friday against a Democratic state senator who criticized his role. With Patrick under fire on multiple fronts, some GOP senators are circulating a statement insisting that he had no influence over the jury deliberations.

Paxton, for his part, has returned to work while vowing political payback, and his allies are proving ready to assist him. The State Republican Executive Committee is set to vote on a resolution Saturday calling for Phelan’s resignation.

The Senate voted six days ago to acquit Paxton on all 16 impeachment articles in the trial that accused him of bribery and misuse of his office. Patrick ended the proceedings with a fiery speech that criticized the way the House members handled impeaching Paxton in the first place. The outcome escalated an already budding civil war in the Texas GOP.

Phelan quickly criticized Patrick as showing he had been biased all along, and rumors began spreading that Patrick had meddled in jury deliberations, especially after a Wall Street Journal editorial claimed Patrick “lobbied” senators. He has repeatedly denied that.

State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, D-Austin, who was a member of the jury along with 29 other senators, has also emerged as a vocal critic of how Patrick handled his role as presiding officer of the trial. While Eckhardt is a Democrat, Patrick rules the chamber with an iron first and it is unusual for even the minority party to strongly criticize him.

Eckhardt submitted a statement for the court record that warned future senators about putting their faith in a presiding officer like Patrick.

"I recommend that, like almost every other impeachment trial in U.S. history, any future Impeachment tribunal select an experienced jurist with a strong reputation for neutrality to preside,” Eckhardt wrote.

She said Patrick compromised his neutrality by taking $3 million from a pro-Paxton group in June and delivering “statements of extreme bias from the bench immediately after the verdict was returned.” She also took issue with what she described as “his inconsistent and often legally indefensible rulings on motions and objection.”

Patrick issued a long statement Friday that called Eckhardt “flat out wrong” and accused her of “obliviousness.” He especially objected to her suggestion in her statement that he made the determination to keep Laura Olson, a key House witness, from testifying. Olson is the woman with whom Paxton allegedly had an extramarital affair. Patrick said he never ruled on whether she could testify and it was the two sides who agreed to deem her “present but unavailable to testify.”

Eckhardt tweeted that she stood by her statement.

Senators had the opportunity to submit such statements for the records within 72 hours of the verdict. But nearly a week after the trial ended, the Senate still has not published the journal where all those statements are supposed to be compiled. Eckhardt’s office chose to release her statement on its own.

With Patrick taking fire on multiple fronts, GOP senators have been circulating a draft statement that defends his role in the process and insists he had no influence in jury deliberations. One senator who voted to acquit, Sen. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, confirmed the existence of such a statement, calling it a “working draft of an oped … that is in the process of being edited for publication in the Wall Street Journal.”

Only two Republicans voted to convict Paxton: Sens. Robert Nichols of Jacksonville and Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills. Hancock has been more outspoken than Nichols, giving multiple interviews on his decision.

Hancock has said he is “at peace” with his decision and will not be intimidated as he considers whether to run for reelection in 2026.

Republican activists are already working to punish the House Republicans who voted to impeach Paxton, starting with Phelan. The Texas GOP resolutions committee advanced a resolution Friday calling for Phelan’s resignation, saying he “pressured other House members to vote for the impeachment … and continues to defend his action despite the weakness of the case.” The full State Republican Executive Committee is expected to vote on the resolution Saturday.

Phelan’s office declined to comment.

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How Wisconsin’s extreme politics are fueled by crazy maps

In the northwest corner of Wisconsin, the 73rd Assembly District used to be shaped like a mostly rectangular blob. Then, last year, a new map drawn by Republican lawmakers took effect, and some locals joked that it looked a lot like a Tyrannosaurus rex.

The advent of the “T. rex” precipitated dark times and perhaps extinction for local Democrats.

The new map bit off and spit out a large chunk of Douglas County, which tended to vote Democratic, and added rural swaths of Burnett County, which leans conservative.

The Assembly seat had been held by Democrats for 50 years. But after the district lines were moved, Republican Angie Sapik, who had posted comments disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement and cheered on the Jan. 6 rioters on social media, won the seat in November 2022.

The redrawing of the 73rd District and its implications are emblematic of the extreme gerrymandering that defines Wisconsin — where maps have been drawn in irregular and disconnected shapes over the last two decades, helping Republicans seize and keep sweeping power.

That gerrymandering, which stands out even in a country where the practice is regularly employed by both major parties, fuels Wisconsin power dynamics. And that has drawn national attention because of the potential impact on abortion rights for people across the state and voting policies that could affect the outcome of the next presidential election.

The new maps have given Wisconsin Republicans the leeway to move aggressively on perceived threats to their power. The GOP-controlled Senate recently voted to fire the state’s nonpartisan elections chief, Meagan Wolfe, blaming her for pandemic-era voting rules that they claim helped Joe Biden win the state in 2020. A legal battle over Wolfe’s firing now looms.

The future of a newly elected state supreme court justice, Janet Protasiewicz, also is in doubt. Her election in April shifted the balance of the court to the left and put the Wisconsin maps in peril. Republican leaders have threatened to impeach her if she does not recuse herself from a case that seeks to invalidate the maps drawn by the GOP. They argue that she’s biased because during her campaign she told voters the maps are “rigged.”

“They are rigged, period. Coming right out and saying that. I don’t think you could sell to any reasonable person that the maps are fair,” she said at a January candidates forum.

She added: “I can't ever tell you what I’m going to do on a particular case, but I can tell you my values, and common sense tells you that it’s wrong.”

Given the usually staid campaign statements associated with state-level judicial races, her comments stood out.

But, by any number of measurements made by dispassionate researchers, the maps have, in fact, proven to be extreme.

The Gerrymandering Project at Princeton gives the Wisconsin redistricting an F grade for partisan fairness, finding Republicans have a significant advantage, as do incumbents. “Wisconsin’s legislative maps are among the most extreme partisan ones in the country,” the project’s director, Sam Wang, said in an email to ProPublica.

Wang argues that Wisconsin’s GOP has gone further than most states and engineered “a supermajority gerrymander” in the Senate. Republicans control 22 of 33 Senate seats, giving them the two-thirds required to override a gubernatorial veto. (In the Assembly, the GOP is still two seats short of a supermajority.)

“The resulting supermajority, immune from public opinion, can engage in extreme behavior without paying a price in terms of political power,” Wang warned in a Substack article.

In the two decades before the Republicans configured the maps to their advantage, the state Senate, in particular, was more competitive, and Democrats at times controlled it.

The state’s maps changed dramatically beginning in 2011 when the GOP gained control of the Legislature and Republican Scott Walker became governor. The party redesigned the maps again in 2021, further tweaking the successful 2011 template.

“The current maps, as currently constituted, make it virtually impossible for Democrats to ever achieve majority party status in the legislature,” said Democratic strategist Joe Zepecki of Milwaukee. “Even if they win statewide by like 10 points.”

State politics is now dominated by confrontation and stalemates, with the GOP pushing its agenda and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers regularly wielding his veto power to block Republican initiatives. Unless the maps change or Republicans win the governor’s office, there seems to be no end to this dynamic.

Republicans have argued that it is their right, politically, as the victorious party to craft the maps, and so far the maps have survived legal challenges.

“Our maps were adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court because they were legal,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement to ProPublica.

He added: “Republican legislative candidates do well in elections because we have good candidates who listen to their constituencies and earn the votes of Republicans and independents alike.”

Asked at a 2021 Senate hearing whether partisan advantage was the intent of the maps, Vos said: “There is no constitutional prohibition on that criteria, so yes, was partisanship considered as a consideration in the map? Yes, there were certain times that partisanship was.”

Basic goals set by state and federal law govern the drawing of districts. Among them: District lines should be contiguous and compact with equal numbers of people. The boundaries should not, where possible, split counties or municipalities.

But 55 of the 99 districts in the Assembly and 21 of the 33 in the Senate contain “disconnected pieces of territory,” according to the most recent complaint filed with the state Supreme Court by 19 Wisconsin voters. The suit argues that this should not be allowed, even when towns annex noncontiguous areas, creating islands or enclaves in districts.

“Despite the fact that our Assembly and Senate are meant to be the most direct representatives of the people, the gerrymandered maps have divided our communities, preventing fair representation,” said Dan Lenz, staff counsel for Law Forward, which brought the maps suit, in a statement to ProPublica. “This has eroded confidence in our electoral systems, suppressed competitive elections, skewed policy outcomes, and undermined democratic representation."

The Impeachment Question

Protasiewicz’s election came after a hard-fought campaign, with both parties pouring in millions of dollars. Protasiewicz promised to recuse herself from any case brought by the Democratic state party, but not from all cases that might benefit Democrats.

Her victory meant conservatives lost control of the state’s highest court. It gave liberals hope that GOP initiatives, including some dating back to the Walker administration, could be reconsidered.

The court may be called upon to review key voting rules heading into the 2024 presidential election and to decide whether Wolfe keeps her role as administrator of the state elections commission. Also likely to come before the court is whether an 1849 abortion ban, reimposed by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, will stand. This week, after a favorable lower court ruling,Planned Parenthood resumed providing abortion services in the state.

Meanwhile, the possibility of the court striking down the maps, potentially loosening the Republicans’ grip on the legislature, sent the GOP looking for alternate ways to hold on to power.

Republican Sen. Dan Knodl first floated the idea in March of impeaching Protasiewicz — before she had even won.

Months later, after Protasiewicz was sworn in Aug. 1, Vos warned that she risked impeachment if she did not step away from the maps case.

Impeaching a justice who won by more than 200,000 votes, with over 1 million total cast for her, struck many as wildly inappropriate and undemocratic.

The reaction from some Wisconsinites was intense, with Democrats leading the outcry. “To threaten the ability of a duly elected justice who was overwhelmingly elected, functioning in her role, is nothing short of a denial of democracy,” said former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat from the Madison area who now leads the American Constitution Society, a legal advocacy group.

The state Democratic Party mobilized, launching a $4 million campaign to challenge the prospect of impeachment.

In the face of the backlash, Vos appeared to shift course, briefly. He proposed, in a Sept. 12 press conference, that Wisconsin adopt a system to configure maps based on an “Iowa model,” in which an advisory committee would help the state Legislative Reference Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency, set the boundaries, subject to legislative approval. Without public hearing or Democratic input, the GOP put forth a bill, which passed the Assembly last week, with only one Democrat in favor.

Evers opposed the plan, saying: “A Legislature that has now repeatedly demonstrated that they will not uphold basic tenets of our democracy — and will bully, threaten, or fire on a whim anyone who happens to disagree with them — cannot be trusted to appoint or oversee someone charged with drawing fair maps.”

Vos has made it clear that he is not abandoning impeachment. He announced last week he had assembled a panel of former justices to advise him on criteria for removing Protasiewicz.

Two Protasiewicz voters filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court last week asking the court to issue an injunction prohibiting the Assembly from impeaching Protasiewicz, or any other justice, without grounds. Protasiewicz recused herself. She told ProPublica she did not wish to comment for this story.

Wisconsin’s constitution allows for impeachment “for corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors.” Protasiewicz has not been charged with any crime.

If the Assembly impeaches, it would then fall to the Senate to hold a trial and convict, forcing her from office.

If there is a vacancy on the court on or before Dec. 1, Evers would then choose a replacement to serve until the next election in April 2024, coinciding with the GOP primary for president. Evers likely would appoint another liberal-leaning judge.

But there is another scenario posited by political observers. The Senate could simply not take up a vote, leaving Protasiewicz impeached and in limbo. Under the state constitution, she’d be sidelined, unable to carry out her duties until acquitted.

That would leave the court with a 3-3 ideological divide, though conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn at times sides with the liberals.

Timing matters: Under state law, if Protasiewicz is removed or resigns after Dec. 1, Evers could appoint a replacement who would serve until 2031.

The only thing certain about the situation, it seems, is that those state statutes are being studied closely and that compromise on issues such as the district maps, abortion and voting are off the table.

Onions, Memes and Freedom

The dinosaur-shaped 73rd Assembly District was one of three in northwest Wisconsin that the Republicans flipped last year.

Besides Sapik, voters chose Republicans for the neighboring 74th Assembly District and the horseshoe-shaped Senate District 25. In each case, the Democratic incumbents bowed out.

Democrat Janet Bewley, a former state senator who declined to run again in 2022, watched the GOP mapmaking in that corner of the state up close. She said the changes led to small incremental gains for Republicans in various corners of the new maps — a couple dozen votes here and a couple dozen there. But they added up to defeat.

“They went down to the town level, to see how the towns voted,” she said, making it harder for Democrats.

Sapik, who makes a living shipping onions, had never run for public office before. She loved the new maps.

“I’ve said it before, but we really are in the Dinosaur District! I love the way the lines changed and I welcome everyone new into District 73!” Sapik wrote in a Facebook post during her campaign. “Burnett and Washburn counties, you are going to help turn this District red for the first time!”

In a podcast during her primary race in August 2022, Sapik said she decided to run because she opposed business shutdowns during the pandemic and mask mandates.

About the time she submitted her nomination papers, she said, she was interviewed by the state director of Americans for Prosperity, a political nonprofit established by right-wing billionaires Charles and David Koch. Sapik won the group’s endorsement, and it spent about $40,000 advocating for her election, according to, a nonpartisan initiative that tracks special interest money in politics.

“I’m on that Freedom Train. I want less. I want less laws. And that was the number one reason that AFP likes me so much,” she said on the podcast.

She has vowed to be “a strong, positive voice for my community,” a diverse district that includes farmers, longtime manufacturers and shipbuilders, union members, and outdoors enthusiasts who prize strong environmental protections for Lake Superior. And she has promised to vote against “infringements against personal freedoms,” to promote tourism, and “bring back true American values.”

Sapik declined to speak with ProPublica for this story. In an emailed response to written questions, she sent a so-called “distracted boyfriend” meme and included a label claiming a ProPublica reporter was “writing lies about Wisconsin Republicans.”

The questions included requests for explanations of what’s behind some of her online comments.

Last summer, for instance, Sapik posted a video on Facebook for a campaign fundraising golf event that said: “Let’s get rid of Democracy; everyone in favor raise your hand!”

It elicited confusion among some followers.

“It’s a joke,” Sapik responded at the time.

Kevin McCarthy could suffer the 'same fate' as Newt Gingrich — here's how

In a Friday, September 22 op-ed published by Truthout, University of California at Davis lecturer and columnist Sasha Abramsky argues that "it's hard to see, given current polling on the issue," how the GOP's attempt to impeach President Joe Biden "will meaningfully hurt him," and that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) political reputation could plummet the way ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich's did in the 1990s during ex-President Bill Clinton's presidency.

The columnist writes:

When [investigative counsel Kenneth] Starr's office discovered that Clinton had sexual relations with [ex-White House intern Monica] Lewinsky, and when Clinton subsequently dissembled in answering intimate questions about his sex life, Gingrich pounced, with the House voting to open an impeachment inquiry in the early fall of 1998. Two months later, after a 14-hour debate, the House voted in favor of articles of impeachment against the president.

By then, however, the public had grown restive, wanting Congress to focus on issues other than what the majority of voters came to see as fishing expeditions against the president. In the midterm elections, which were held one month into the impeachment inquiry, the Republicans underperformed: Although they clung onto their majority, the party lost enough seats to render Gingrich's job untenable. Soon afterward, he lost the speakership. In February 1999, after a short trial, the Senate voted not to convict Clinton on the two articles of impeachment the House had delivered to them. When he left office, two years later, Clinton's popularity rating was a stunning 66 percent, the highest of any outgoing president since Harry Truman.

Abramsky then notes, "A quarter century on, the GOP is engaged in a similar fishing expedition against President Biden, and "it's somewhat easier to see how McCarthy's speakership might end up suffering much the same fate as did Gingrich's in the late '90s."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

He adds, "Only 8 percent of voters have a very favorable opinion of McCarthy, and another 22 percent have a somewhat favorable view of him. The remaining 70 percent either dislike the man or, despite his being second in line to the presidency after Vice President Kamala Harris, don't know enough about him to have an opinion."

Abramsky emphasizes, "History contains a salutary lesson for McCarthy as to how this could all potentially go terribly wrong for him."

Abramsky's full op-ed is available at this link.

'Very scary': Ex-Watergate prosecutor explains how a fair trial for Trump could save democracy

Ex-Watergate prosecutor Jon Sale, during Friday's episode of MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber,insisted that a fair trial for ex-President Donald Trump in his Georgia case could save democracy.

Melber asked Sale, "What do you hear from defendant Trump here when he talks about loyalty, as well as people like Miss [Jenna] Ellis, who seems to be adjusting her views of him?"

Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis is one of the 18 individuals indicted last month by a Fulton County Superior Court grand jury along with the ex-president on charges related to their efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Sale replied, "Well, as an outsider, loyalty, to Donald Trump, sounds like a one-way street. But, I'd have to say something about the times we are living in, because when they told us how we got here, like when he mentioned Richard Nixon was barred from the presidency. And if he had more time, he would have explained it. He stepped down because of bipartisan atmosphere. It was the Republicans who called for him to step down because they couldn't support him. We live in totally different times right now. I mean, it's very scary. There was a University of Chicago study that showed that 12 million people would favor violence to support Donald Trump. And somebody who I always thought responsible is [ex-Arkansas] Governor [Mike] Huckabee, who just the other day, said that if the legal system brings down Donald Trump, that the next election will be decided by bullets rather than ballots. I think that's a very scary time that we are living in. And I may be naive."

He continued, "But I think that what's going to save the system and our democracy is Donald Trump, by the way, said he doesn't think there's much of democracy left. I think it's the Constitution. And I'm using that interchangeably with democracy which will save us. And I think what we have to do is make sure he gets a fair trial. And the trial that's going to go is the one in the District of Columbia. I think it's gonna be a challenge to get a fair trial there, but I think the judge will do everything possible to ensure that. I don't rule out a change of venue. I mean, just recently, former District Attorney of Baltimore was granted a change of venue. The Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVay, was granted a change of venue. So we have to see. The law is, we don't know if we can get a fair jury until we try. But a fair trial, I think, is what will show whether the Constitution works. And I used to be totally against televising trials. Unfortunately, this trial will not be televised because it's in Washington. But i wish it were because then people would see the overwhelming evidence."

Watch the video below or at this link.

Loyalty, for Trump, is a 'one-way street': Ex-Watergate

READ MORE: 'I didn't do anything wrong': Trump unsure of Mark Meadows' loyalty in GA case

'Smoke and mirrors': Ex-US attorney slams Trump lawyers’ 'honest mistake' in $250M fraud case

During Friday's episode of MSNBC's Deadline: White House, host Nicolle Wallace spoke to ex-U.S. Attorney Harry Litman about ex-President Donald Trump's lawyers' lies about the size Trump's Manhattan penthouse at the Trump Tower in New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million fraud case against him, "making up the existence of 20,000 square feet that inflated the value of his property by more than $200 million in that instance alone," according to The Daily Beast.

The Beast reports:

At Friday's hearing, state attorneys presented testimony from the Trump Organization's disgraced chief financial officer, convicted tax cheat Allen Weisselberg, who admitted that the penthouse size listed on official business documents was totally fake. The judge raised the possibility that this total fabrication was an 'honest mistake,' but then quoted Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who served on the Supreme Court in the early 1900s.

'Even a dog knows the difference between being kicked and being tripped over. There's a difference between lies and misstatements,' Engoron said.

During Wallace's interview with Litman, she said to the ex- U.S. attorney, "Harry, it feels like this is another example that fits the pattern of truth being on the line in the legal outcome."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

He replied, "Yeah, it does. And that's the overall effort, but of course it's through the looking glass perhaps around the edges. But it is crystal clear down the middle. And it's fanciful to say, when you sign something to a bank and say, 'this is how much it's worth,' then it turns out to be worth one-quarter of that, that somehow there's some subjective intent defense. And of course, you know, an apartment's either 10,000 or 30,000 square feet. This is, as you say, the really old stuff. This is what we heard about from Michael Cohen way back when before congress. And it was an m.o. of the Trump Organization."

Litman emphasized, "And by the way, one thing that really puts the lie to it is the valuations of some of the same properties would differ when they wanted to lowball, say for taxes. So, as you suggest, if this point of view of, 'Oh, it's just subjective,' actually held, there could be no fraud. Fraud means a lie. And that means when they wrote that down and signed it, they knew it wasn't worth that and worth anything like it. They can try to argue that they did, but you know, there are facts here. And there are valuations here. And it doesn't help if the bank looked at it in a second way. They lied. They lied down the middle. That's fraud. everything else is just smoke and mirrors."

Watch the video below or at this link.

'Smoke and mirrors': Analyst slams Trump over lying about

READ MORE: 'Political gambit': Why Trump’s bid to oust judge from $250M fraud case will likely be 'shot down'

The Daily Beast's full report is available at this link (subscription required).

'He holds the line': Gaetz praises GOP congressman who echoes his call for change 'through force'

U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), largely seen as pushing Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s Republican-majority House of Representatives toward shutting down the federal government, is praising and promoting remarks made by a freshman GOP lawmaker that suggest the need for violence. U.S. Rep. Eli Crane‘s comments, posted Friday (below), call for change “through force,” remarks echoing Congressman Gaetz’s recent comments which were denounced by an expert on authoritarianism as fascistic.

“The only way we’re going to see meaningful change in this town is through force,” wrote Congressman Crane, Republican of Arizona atop a three-minute video in which he frames what is now an almost guaranteed government shutdown as a “spending fight.” In his video he says, “the only way you’re gonna get any change in this town is through force.” Gaetz in August had said, “we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C.”

Congressman Crane is a former Navy SEAL. He has promoted the false “Big Lie” conspiracy theory that there was massive fraud in the election President Joe Biden won, and called “on the state legislature to decertify the 2020 election.” He is one of six House Republicans who voted against McCarthy’s speakership all 15 times in January.

READ MORE: White House Mocks GOP With ‘Worst Person You Know’ Meme After Matt Gaetz Blames McCarthy for Shutdown

“Congressman Eli Crane is a fountainhead of political courage,” said Rep. Gaetz Friday afternoon. “He holds the line.”

Crane recently came under fire for calling Black people “colored,” during debate on his legislation that would force the U.S. Armed Forces to not use any diversity requirements in its hiring practices.

READ MORE: ‘Corruption of the Highest Order’: Experts ‘Sickened’ at ‘Definitely Bought’ Clarence Thomas and His ‘Pay to Play’ Lifestyle

Just days before he won his House seat last year, The Washington Post reported Crane had urged an “audience to look up an antisemitic sermon at a recent campaign stop.”

“Crane said that he was motivated to run because of ‘radical ideologies that are destroying this country’ and that he was most concerned about ‘Cultural Marxism,’ which the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as an antisemitic baseless claim gaining traction on the American right.”

“He encouraged the audience to watch a speech by a right-wing pastor who blamed cultural change on a group of German Jewish philosophers and condemned Barack Obama for having a ‘homosexual agenda.'”

“If we don’t wake up,” Crane said, according to the Post, “if we don’t study what they’re doing, and if we don’t put people in influential positions that understand what this war is all about, what they’re trying to do and have and have the courage to call it out, we’re going to lose this country.”

In August, while standing next to Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Congressman Gaetz said, “Mr. President, I cannot stand these people that are destroying our country. They are opening our borders. They are weaponizing our federal law enforcement against patriotic Americans who love this nation as we should.”

“But we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C. And so to all my friends here in Iowa, when you see them come for this man, know that they are coming for our movement and they are coming for all of us.”

At the time, Raw Story reported, “historian and author Ruth Ben-Ghiat called Gaetz comments alarming.”

READ MORE: Pete Buttigieg Just Testified Before Congress. It Did Not Go Well for Republicans.

“What he is saying is that they are not going to have change through elections or through legislation or through reform. They are going to have change through violence,” she warned.

“And that’s how fascists talk,” Ben-Ghiat added. “So, even if Trump is out of the picture, these are people who have adopted methods very familiar to me as a historian of fascism, that violence and corruption and lying that’s what the party is today.”

Critics argue Montana senator’s new 'transparency' bill contradicts his ethics record: report

United States Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) faces criticism as he runs for a fourth term while pushing a new bill "that would ban members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists," NBC News reports.

The Associated Press (AP) reported earlier this year, "After Tester became chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee in 2021, he received campaign contributions totaling over $160,000 from employees and committees representing the defense industry. At one point last year, 49 Lockheed Martin executives and lobbyists — none of whom had given to the senator in the past — gave Tester's campaign a combined total of nearly $50,000."

The fact the Democratic lawmaker's "record over 16 years in office hasn't always aligned with the narrative he has cultivated, nor has it always met the high standards he has set for himself and proposed for others," according to NBC, makes the road to reelection more challenging for him.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

AP reports:

In recent campaign cycles, Democrats have faced calls to reject checks from corporate political action committees. But Tester is also under reelection pressure as he faces a potentially challenging race back home in Montana, where his small-town farming roots and populist reputation have helped him survive the state’s increasingly conservative tilt.

However, Democratic groups End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller told the news outlet, "From day one, Sen. Tester has pushed to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists, require greater transparency, and end dark money in our elections — which has made him the top target for out-of-state special interests. While multimillionaire Tim Sheehy faces questions about ethics and conflict of interest, Sen. Tester has stayed true to his roots and always fought for working Montanans."

Additionally, the report notes, "In a video announcing the new bill, Tester said he has 'been fighting for more transparency and accountability in government since Montana first sent me here.'"

In the video he said, "It is past time that we shut the revolving door that has allowed too many folks in Washington to use their elected office as a stepping stone toward high-paying lobbying jobs for special interests."

Campaign Legal Center Vice President and Senior Director of Ethics Kedric Payne emphasized, "It shows how much the legislation is needed if the person who really wants it can’t even avoid these donations. It puts the members in a position that they find difficult to deal with when former colleagues want to support their campaign and meet with them. They just seem to be unable to say no. And without any legislation to stop it, you’re probably going to get the same conduct."

READ MORE: Montana senator’s priorities 'called into question' after taking money from defense contractors

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Maggie Abboud said, "Jon Tester told Montanans he'd be different, but he's broken just about every ethics promise he made to get elected. Tester should apologize to Montanans for lying to them."

Tester's spokesperson Sarah Feldman told NBC, "Sen. Tester holds himself to a higher standard than any of his colleagues in Congress by refusing to be lobbied by former colleagues and pushing legislation that would ban them from becoming lobbyists. Every decision Sen. Tester makes is based on one thing: what's in the best interests of Montana and our national security."

NBC's full report is available at this link.

'See how easy that is to say?' GOP mocked for DOJ 'weaponization' claims after Dem senator’s indictment

The U.S. Dept. of Justice unsealed an indictment against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez late Friday morning, accusing the New Jersey Democratic lawmaker of bribery as prosecutors showed photos of gold bars and nearly half-a-million dollars in cash stuffed into a jacket that bears his name and the seal of the U.S. Senate.

Many on the left immediately demanded Senator Menendez resign, a demand he is refusing. He will step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which Senate Democrats require when a chair is criminally charged.

It took little time for liberals to mock Republicans who have been claiming President Joe Biden and Democrats in general, along with the “deep state,” have “weaponized” the Dept. of Justice against conservatives, especially after Donald Trump’s four indictments on a total of 91 criminal felonies.

“Let me get this straight,” wrote journalist and progressive SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah. “To the GOP, when DOJ indicts President Biden’s son and a senior Democratic US Senator that is great. But when DOJ indicts Donald Trump for attempting a coup and for 32 counts of Espionage that is DOJ’s ‘weaponization’ of criminal justice?!”

READ MORE: Pete Buttigieg Just Testified Before Congress. It Did Not Go Well for Republicans.

“This is the second time that Sen. Bob Menendez has been indicted for corruption. He needs to resign and allow Gov. Murphy to fill that vacancy with someone who does right by the people of New Jersey,” wrote former Human Rights Campaign press secretary Charlotte Clymer. “See how easy that is to say, GOP?”

Journalist, author, and former Clinton White House aide Keith Boykin posted video of the prosecutor announcing the indictment.

Boykin later sarcastically commented, “There goes Biden again weaponizing the Justice Department to prosecute political leaders in his own party.”

“President Joe Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice has now indicted Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and *checks notes* Joe Biden’s son,” observed veteran intelligence officer, activist, and social media personality Travis Akers.

Attorney and former Republican George Conway quickly responded, saying, “senile sleepy Joe is playing 65-dimensional chess again.”

READ MORE: ‘Sexy’: Comer Obtains Unredacted Emails to VP Biden Revealing Women ‘Privately Mused’ They Found Him Attractive

“Menendez should resign. Today,” demanded historian and author Kevin M. Kruse.

“One of the nice things about rule of law is that truly believing in it ensures that you don’t end up as a partisan hypocrite,” observed The Atlantic’s Brian Klaas, an associate professor in global politics at University College London. “If Menendez is guilty, he should go to prison as anyone else would. (And it would be prudent to resign swiftly).”

Meanwhile, some used Friday’s indictment of Sen. Menendez to focus on other political figures.

Foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf, warned, “The Memendez case should have Jared [Kushner] and Clarence [Thomas] ordering extra strength Tums today.”

Rachel Bitecofer, the political strategist and analyst also appeared to point the finger at Justice Thomas and his wife, Ginni.

READ MORE: ‘Total Breakdown’: House Sends Members Home – Experts Warn ‘Republicans Can’t Govern’ And Have No ‘Working Majority’

Ex-Trump ethics lawyer sues former Mueller deputy for libel

On September 15, Politico's Kyle Cheney reported, on X (formerly Twitter) that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had subpoenaed former U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) official Jody Hunt. MSNBC's Andrew Weissmann, former deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller, was quick to respond to that tweet. And Weissmann's response — according to Politico legal reporter Josh Gerstein — has led to a lawsuit by Stefan Passantino, who served in the Office of White House Counsel under President Donald Trump.

In his September 15 tweet, Weissmann described Hunt as "Cassidy Hutchinson’s good lawyer" and "not the one who coached her to lie" — a reference to Passantino. Hutchinson, a former aide to ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is known for her bombshell testimony for the January 6 Select Committee in 2022.

Gerstein reports that Passantino's libel lawsuit was filed on September 22, commenting that he is "glad" Cheney was "left out of it."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

A court document for Stefan Passantino v. Andrew Weissmann reads, "Stefan Passantino is an attorney with a 30-year history of representing his clients honorably and ethically and, like all attorneys, depends upon his reputation to earn a living. Defendant Andrew Weissmann — a partisan former prosecutor and top deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller turned MSNBC 'legal analyst' — has publicly impugned that reputation, claiming that Mr. Passantino coached his client, Cassidy Hutchinson, to lie in congressional testimony."

The document continues, "This is an insidious lie. Mr. Passantino never coached Ms. Hutchinson to lie, nor did he attempt to shape her testimony in any way."

READ MORE:'Like a wolf closing in on its prey': Cassidy Hutchinson accuses Giuliani of groping her on Jan. 6

Conservative explains why Republicans will continue to lose 'up and down the ballot'

On Tuesday, September 19, a special election for a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives found far-right MAGA Republican and conspiracy theorist Erin Connolly Autenreith running against Democratic nominee Lindsay Powell — and Powell won.

Democrats will have a narrow majority in the Pennsylvania House, while Republicans will have a six-seat majority in the Pennsylvania Senate.

In an article published by the National Review on September 20, conservative Noah Rothman argues that Autenreith never should have been nominated and emphasizes that Republicans will continue to lose winnable elections if they keep nominating "paranoid" fringe candidates.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

"From questioning the outcome of the 2020 election, to her presence at the January 6 'stop the steal' rally, to her praise of Donald Trump for being the only candidate with the 'courage' to discuss the epidemic of covert child-sex-trafficking in the United States," a frustrated Rothman writes, "Autenreith lent credence to every paranoid shibboleth that signifies membership in the MAGA tribe. She paid for her fealty to Donald Trump's movement with her candidacy, and her constituents will be the ones who suffer for it."

Rothman adds that the same night in a New Hampshire election, MAGA Republican candidate James Guzofski "went down to defeat handily" in a district that conservative GOP Gov. Chris Sununu won by 22 percent in 2022.

"Guzofski argued that the COVID-19 vaccines with which at least 270 million Americans were inoculated are a deadly menace — an odious feature of the 'Plandemic,'" Rothman observes. "He condemned Mike Pence, who 'betrayed the president and the Constitution' by failing to halt the electoral-certification process on January 6, 2021. He circulated an absurd petition calling for a 2020 election revote."

This type of "kookery," Rothman warns, is causing Republicans to loose races they could be winning.

READ MORE: Kari Lake praises Hungarian strongman as 'the greatest leader in Europe'

"Registered Republicans appear committed to testing the general electorate's tolerance for their preferred nonsense," the conservative writer laments. "General-election voters appear to be as eager as ever to demonstrate the folly of their judgment. Until this dynamic changes, Republicans will continue to lose races up and down the ballot."

READ MORE:Marjorie Taylor Greene ridiculed after her attacks on Biden seem more like compliments

Read Noah Rothman's full article for The National Review at this link.

'Deja vu': Analyst weighs whether NJ Dems will challenge Menendez or back him — again

NBC News national political correspondent Steve Kornacki explained Friday what United States Senator Bob Menendez's new indictment on bribery charges means for New Jersey Democratic lawmakers and voters.

During Friday's episode of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, Mitchell noted, "The White House is losing a very powerful foreign relations chairman," but added "there are others who can step in" such as U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), who's "leaving after this term."

"None with the experience of getting legislation through that Menendez has," Mitchell explained.

Kornacki replied, "There's just a lot of déjà vu here in terms of what happened the last time Menendez was indicted. And I think the key, politically, when you look back to that, first of all, he was indicted in 2015, there was a hung jury in 2017, in early 2018 they had the charges formally dismissed. He was also severely reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee as he sought re-election. Republicans believed in 2018 that this was a winnable race for them because Menendez's unpopularity in New Jersey was through the roof even after this trial. But New Jersey proved to be such a through blue state, a state where the voters really had a strong dictate for Donald Trump, and essentially the voters delivered a message, 'We don't like Bob Menendez, but we are more desirous of voting against Trump and the Republicans.'"

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

He continued, "So Menendez won by 11 points in 2018, and with every major Democrat standing behind him. I think that, politically, is the key question. You have Menendez's statement out this morning here. It looks like he is intending to plow forward and say, 'I've beaten this once before. I'm going to beat it again.' It looks like if he runs, this will be playing out during the campaign. What does the Democratic Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy do? Does he issue a statement standing behind Bob Menendez? Last time, on the first day of the trial, sitting right behind Bob Menendez in federal court was his fellow [U.S. Senator] Cory Booker (D-NJ). Cory Booker made a major show of standing with Menendez through the trial. Does Cory Booker come out today and say, 'I'm standing with Menendez again?'"

Kornacki emphasized, "Very interesting that the last time Menendez ran, all the major Democratic leaders stood behind him. A no-name Democrat with no money and no name recognition got her name on the primary ballot, and she got nearly 40 percent of the vote against Menendez in 2018. It seemed that Democratic primary voters then were sending a signal that they wanted to pick somebody besides Menendez. Forty percent for somebody they had never even heard of. He ended up winning obviously, and winning in the fall, but there are a lot of ambitious Democrats may look back at that 2018 primary and say, 'This is now happening again, this is my chance.' You think of Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ 11th District) — you think of Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ 5th District), do they look at this here today and see a potential opportunity and challenge Menendez even if he goes forward and runs?"

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: Mafia tied to criminal investigation into US senator: report

How Rupert Murdoch 'ended up destroying American conservatism': columnist

Conservative Daily Beast opinion columnist Matt Lewis has often been highly critical of what he considers "liberal media bias," but in his September 21 column, the Never Trumper takes aim at a different target: Fox News and 92-year-old Rupert Murdoch, who is retiring as News Corp's chairman.

Murdoch and Fox News, Lewis argues, did a great deal to elevate the "anger that has come to define the GOP" — and "ended up destroying American conservatism" in the process.

"As I recently noted, only about 10 percent of Republicans held a 'very negative' view of Democrats in the mid-1990s," Lewis explains. "Today, that number has risen to 62 percent. Fox News went on the air in 1996."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The columnist recalls that he "initially" welcomed "the network's arrival."

"Fox News had some good early ambitions," Lewis writes. "But fairly early on in its existence, the network pivoted far away from straight news and intelligent conservative commentary, and leaned heavily toward the loudmouths. And after that, it went from promoting the bloviators to platforming the outright liars."

Lewis continues, "That was the moment the network completely jumped the shark and pivoted from presenting alternative viewpoints to presenting an alternate reality. This is Rupert Murdoch's most meaningful political legacy: dutifully carrying water for Trump's MAGA movement that banished real conservatism…. Instead of elevating conservatism, Murdoch helped undermine conservatism as a serious philosophy, skewing instead toward tabloid conspiracy theories like birtherism and 'rigged' election allegations."

READ MORE:Experts blame Rupert Murdoch for 'moral decay' of America — and issue warning on future

Matt Lewis' full Daily Beast opinion column is available at this link (subscription required).

Nevada Republicans called out for 'rigging the election' for Trump

In Nevada, conservative critics of former President Donald Trump have been hoping that someone other than him will receive the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. But Trump remains the clear frontrunner, leading the second-place candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by 47 percent in an Emerson College poll released on September 20 and by 46 percent in a Yahoo/YouGov poll released a day earlier.

According to Associated Press reporters Michelle L. Price and Gage Stern, new Nevada Republican Party rules will only increase Trump's advantage in the state's primary.

"The state GOP, which is led by Trump allies, is insisting on moving forward with a presidential caucus on February 8 despite a new state law that set a primary election two days earlier," Price and Stern explain. "Caucuses, which typically reward grassroots support and organizing, are expected to benefit Trump given his solid grip on the GOP's most loyal voters."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Ken Cuccinelli, a DeSantis supporter and former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), believes that Trump is giving himself an unfair advantage in Nevada.

Cuccinelli told AP, "Trump hates rigged elections, except when he's doing the rigging, like he's doing in Nevada."

Nevada Republicans who opposed the proposed rule changes complained, in a statement, "This process will hurt the Republican Party and our candidates in 2024. The Nevada Republican Party will give average voters the impression they don't care about them or their votes."

READ MORE:Revealed: Trump’s Project 2025 agenda aims for 'total control' of the federal government

Read the Associated Press' full report at this link.

'Shocking GOP proposals' for overhauling federal government ripped as clueless and dangerous

Over the years, countless Republicans and Libertarians have repeated President Ronald Reagan's famous line from a May 14, 1986 speech, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government, and I’m here to help.'"

Shrinking the United States' federal government has long been a recurring theme on the right. But in 2023, MAGA Republican candidates, including GOP presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump, are going way beyond proposals to reduce or cut federal programs; Trump's Project 2025 agenda calls for fundamentally restructuring the United States' federal government.

POLL:Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

In a scathing article for The New Republic, the American Enterprise Institute's Norman J. Ornstein and the University of Maryland's Donald F. Kettl examine GOP presidential candidates' "shocking proposals" for changing the federal government — and slam them as both clueless and dangerous.

The reporters note that ultra-MAGA candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, for example, wants to "slash a million civil servants in his first year as president — and by 75 percent in his first term."

Ornstein and Kettl observe, "(Ramaswamy) also wants to shutter five federal agencies: the Department of Education, the FBI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Food and Nutrition Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms…. Ron DeSantis has proposed eliminating the Departments of Education, Commerce, and Energy, along with the IRS. Ramaswamy's plan makes DeSantis look like a raging moderate by comparison."

READ MORE:Revealed: Trump’s Project 2025 agenda aims for 'total control' of the federal government

Read The New Republic's full report at this link.

Durham deputy who helped lead Trump-Russia probe says she left DOJ over concerns with Barr

Nora Dannehy, a former federal prosecutor who helped lead the Department of Justice investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, "broke her long silence” on her abrupt 2020 departure from the DOJ, testifying Wednesday that concerns about former Attorney General Bill Barr’s handling of the case prompted her to quit, The Connecticut Mirror and Associated Press report.

“My conscience did not allow me to remain,” Dannehy said during her confirmation hearing before the Connecticut Judiciary Committee of the General Assembly. State legislatures are currently mulling Dannehy’s nomination for the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Dannehy, who was deputy to former DOJ special counsel John Durham, was on the team “tasked with investigating whether intelligence agencies or the FBI were guilty of wrongdoing in examining whether Russia colluded with the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump in 2016,” the Connecticut Mirror reports.

Per the AP:

Trump expected the investigation to expose what he and his supporters alleged was a “deep state” conspiracy to undermine his campaign, but the slow pace of the probe – and the lack of blockbuster findings – contributed to a deep wedge between the president and Barr by the time the attorney general resigned in December 2020.

The investigation concluded last May with underwhelming results: A single guilty plea from a little-known FBI lawyer, resulting in probation, and two acquittals at trial by juries.

At the time, Dannehy’s departure from the team threatened to “complicate the final stretch of an investigation already slowed by the coronavirus pandemic,” the AP reported.

Speaking to the committee, Dannehy told lawmakers, “I simply couldn’t be part of it. So I resigned.”

“Before I get to the crux of what caused my resignation, I do want to address the issue of first initially joining what some had labeled the ‘Trump DOJ,’" Dannehy said. "I didn’t return to the Trump Department of Justice. Politics never played a role in how I was expected to do my job.”

“I had been taught and spent my entire career at Department of Justice conducting any investigation in an objective and apolitical manner,” Dannehy explained. “In the spring and summer of 2020, I had growing concerns that this Russia investigation was not being conducted in that way. Attorney General Barr began to speak more publicly and specifically about the ongoing criminal investigation. I thought these public comments violated DOJ guidelines.”

Dannehy said those public comments from Barr could “certainly taken in a political way by reports."

"Whether he intended that or not, I don’t know," she added.

Read the full report at the Connecticut Mirror.

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