Bob Brigham

Trump failed to sign a key military order — and Jan. 6 investigators want to know why

The Dec. 16, 2020 draft executive order prepared for Donald Trump to use the military to seize voting machines provides clear clues for the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, a former federal prosecutor explained for MSNBC on Tuesday.

"We don’t yet know the full story behind the EO. We don’t know who was involved in writing it (although some pundits have opined that the use of the word “she” describing plans for a special counsel suggests that now-disgraced Trump lawyer Sidney Powell was involved) and whether it received serious consideration. Trump never signed it, despite other dogged efforts to try to recapture a lost election. Were there residual guardrails that held? People who pointed out that the order was unconstitutional and an affront to democracy? These questions highlight the importance of the Jan. 6 committee’s work," former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance wrote.

She noted the document draws attention to Trump's former acting Pentagon chief.

"Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller, a former special forces member, worked as a special assistant to Trump and in various other capacities before he was appointed to serve at the Pentagon on Nov. 7, 2020, four days after the election. Trump had already lost. What reason could there be to replace a secretary of defense so late in the game?" she asked. "But Miller wasn't the only red flag. Trump installed another loyalist, Kash Patel, as Pentagon chief of staff after the election. Patel was put in charge of running the Defense Department's transition just two weeks after he assumed his new role. According to an NBC News source at the Pentagon, Patel “told everybody we're not going to cooperate with the transition team.” Three other people, characterized in news reports as Trump loyalists, also took over important posts at the Pentagon, handling policy, intelligence and security — again after the election."

The former federal prosecutor explained why prosecutions may be warranted.

"The EO suggests that a group of people was hard at work on plans to use the Pentagon to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. It took high-level insight to craft those plans and potentially put people in place to implement them. If evidence confirms a conspiracy, those involved, however high up, merit prosecution," Vance wrote. "The truth cannot stay covered up."

Read the full column.

Mitch McConnell is seeking to conceal GOP's agenda — because it might cost them the midterms: columnist

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is actively seeking to conceal Republicans' unpopular political agenda from voters, according to a new analysis in The Washington Post.

"If Republicans take back control of Congress after the midterms, what would be your agenda?" NBC New reporter Leigh Ann Caldwell asked McConnell.

“That is a very good question. And I'll let you know when we take it back," the GOP leader replied.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin asked readers to "consider the arrogance and disdain for voters inherent in that answer."

"Responsiveness to the voters? Solutions to the problems they complain about, such as inflation? Only suckers would care about such things, Republicans seem to believe," she wrote. "They prefer to spend their time concocting cultural wedge issues, spreading conspiracy theories and obstructing progress on issues for which there is broad, bipartisan consensus (e.g., a path to citizenship, reasonable gun laws). But it would be misleading to say Republicans are not for anything; they certainly do have an agenda. The problem is that it is so unpopular they dare not remind voters about their plans."

Tax policy is where area where voters clearly know where Republicans stand.

"Republicans have clear views on taxes. They want to protect the super-rich from paying more taxes, even though billionaires became 62 percent richer during the pandemic and many pay practically no federal income taxes. And Republicans really don’t want corporations to pay their fair share either," Rubin explained. "Republicans are also for underfunding the Internal Revenue Service so that the agency does not have adequate resources to enforce existing tax laws. And they would like to do away with the child tax credit that cut child poverty by 40 percent. It is not a stretch to say Republicans actively promote income and wealth inequality."

She also noted that Republicans are opposed to abortion rights even in cases of rape and incest, but backs "personal choice" when it comes to vaccines and masks.

"Republicans are all in when it comes to keeping in place monuments to the slave-owning traitors of the Confederacy; removing anything from school curriculum that might make White people feel uncomfortable, including Martin Luther King Jr. and the KKK; and stopping the FBI from investigating death threats against school board members and other public officials. No wonder white supremacists are so enamored with the GOP these days," she wrote. "You don’t have to be a mind reader to figure out why McConnell wants to conceal Republicans’ agenda for as long as possible."

Read the full column.

Ivanka Trump is 'in trouble' whether she testifies or not: former aide

Ivanka Trump will “get herself in more trouble” as the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol probes her actions as a senior White House advisor.

“This morning, former President Trump kind of whining about the January 6th select committee after it asked his daughter Ivanka to speak with them,” CNN’s John Berman reported.

erman noted Trump told the Washington Examiner, “It’s a very unfair situation for my children. Very, very unfair.”

For analysis, he interviewed Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former close friend of Melania Trump who worked on the 2017 inauguration and as a senior advisor to the first lady.

“Ivanka and his children have always played a large part in the falsification and fabrication of everything going on around Donald,” she said.

“And in this case, he is referring to her as a child, where in other cases she’s a senior adviser inside the White House. Which one is it?” Berman asked.

“You know, I think whatever plays best to which discussion you’re having or what role Ivanka wants to play, you can’t have it both ways,” he replied. “This time, unfortunately, it is going to catch up to them.”

“This is an insurrection, a coup attempt, this is something with a lot of evidence behind it. I mean, I always say, if things are in black and white, the truth will catch up to you and there is no way for Ivanka to distance herself from this with her role in the White House,” she explained.

“Do you think if she speaks to them voluntarily she will help her cause or get herself in more trouble?” Berman asked.

“I think Ivanka will get herself in more trouble regardless of whether she speaks or not,” she replied. “She doesn’t seem to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, whether under deposition or not. Either way, she is not turning against her father and her father is definitely not going to take the blame for Ivanka.”


Ivanka Trump

The pathway to impeaching Clarence Thomas begins here

Democrats must take action against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for flouting judicial ethics as his wife pushes extremist Republican politics.

"In a sane world, Jane Mayer’s excellent piece on Ginni Thomas in The New Yorker would set off a series of events that would lead to her husband Clarence Thomas’s impeachment and removal from the Supreme Court. Ginni is involved with numerous far-right organizations and schemes that take very public positions on Court decisions across a range of social and political issues, such as last week’s 8-1 holding that Donald Trump could not block the release of documents related to the January 6 insurrection," New Republic editor Michael Tomasky wrote. "Thomas was the lone dissenter in that case. His wife sat on the advisory board of a group that sent busloads of insurrectionists to Washington that day. In addition to that, she cheered the insurrection on Facebook."

Tomasky argued that the corruption had been going on for decades.

"They’ve been doing this for years. This first came up back in 2000, in a case Mayer doesn’t even go into, when it was revealed after that election that as a Heritage Foundation staffer, Ginni was screening resumes for the incoming Bush administration while the nation awaited a ruling from the Court on the Florida recount. There was pressure then on Thomas to recuse himself," he wrote.

While the Supreme Court was deciding Obamacare, Ginni Thomas' group Liberty Central was urging the law to be repealed and Clarence Thomas was urged to recuse himself.

"He didn’t do so in either case. And in the first one, he was part of the 5-4 majority in Bush v. Gore, one of the most self-discrediting decisions in the Court’s history," he explained. "So for 20 years, Ginni Thomas has been operating in the white-hot center of far-right activist circles, involved in everything from Obamacare to abortion rights to same-sex marriage to you name it—all issues that have come before her husband. A more honorable man would recuse himself from all such cases, or indeed quietly ask his spouse to find another, less incendiary line of work that has no impact on the appearance of her husband’s ethical standards."

Thomasky wrote that if there were a liberal justice acting in a similar manner, Republicans in Congress would raise the issue and Fox News would turn it "into a symbol of liberal corruption." He suggested the GOP would hold hearings and ultimately impeach the justice.

He urged Democrats to pursue the issue.

"The House Judiciary Committee could hold hearings into Ginni’s organization and associations. The select committee on January 6 could ask her to testify and, once she refuses, subpoena her, which would require her husband to recuse himself on all January 6–related matters," he explained. "That would be hugely controversial, so they probably won’t do it. But why not? Here’s a question for you. If the Republicans retake the House this November, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee is going to be Jim Jordan. He’s probably going to lead an impeachment of Joe Biden. Think he’ll be cowed because it’s hugely controversial?"

Tomasky concluded that for Democrats, "it’s long past time to make an issue of [Clarence Thomas] and his wife."

Read the full column.

QAnon cultists wonder if John Lennon and Tupac will appear with JFK at Trump’s Arizona rally: report

Supporters of the QAnon cult are converging on Arizona ahead of Donald Trump's scheduled Saturday campaign rally, according to a new report.

"Former President Donald Trump will hold his first rally of 2022 in Arizona on Saturday and it’s set to be packed with QAnon folks, both on stage and in the crowd," Vice reported Wednesday.

Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, who is running for Secretary of State, will address the audience as a "special guest speaker."

Vice reported Finchem has "repeatedly shared QAnon conspiracies on social media and on QAnon-friendly podcasts and media platforms, and last year he headlined a major QAnon conference in Las Vegas. Joining Finchem on stage will be uber conspiracy theorist and pillow salesman Mike Lindell, who is so deeply enmeshed with the QAnon community at this point that it’s hard to separate his personal conspiracy theories about stolen elections from those spread by QAnon."

Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is also scheduled to speak. Lake was photographed dining with Ron Watkins, who many believe is the mysterious "Q" behind the conspiracy theory. Watkins is running for Congress and his father, 8kun owner Jim Watkins, posted a video showing his excitement for the rally.

Also expected to attend is Michael Protzman, who has spent months in Dallas awaiting the return of John F. Kennedy and his son, JFK, Jr.

"Protzman announced on one of his many live audio chats that his group is traveling to the Arizona rally, and he made vague predictions about what might happen on the day, including yet another possible appearance by JFK," Vice reported. "In an audio chat on Tuesday, with over 1,000 people listening, Protzman once again claimed that President Joe Biden was never inaugurated and hasn’t been living and working in the White House but rather is actually part of a movie being filmed on a set in Culver City, California."

Expectations are high for some QAnon cultists.

"Some of Protzman’s supporters have also spotted that Trump’s official announcement mentions “live entertainment” as part of the rally, and suggested that this will involve a band made up entirely of dead musicians and singers, including Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston, Janis Joplin, Tupac, and John Lennon," Vice reported. "This prediction follows Protzman’s own claim in November that at a Rolling Stones concert in Dallas that he forced his group to attend, the band members were replaced by Jackson, Prince, and JFK Jr., with Aaliyah providing backup vocals."

Trump melts down over Biden's 'very hurtful' Jan. 6 speech and continues to spread election lies

Still banned from social media for spreading lies about the 2020 presidential election that inspired an insurrection, former president Donald Trump repeatedly blasted reporters with statements on Thursday as the country marked the one-year anniversary of the attempted coup.

First Trump issued a statement saying America has lost its confidence. After President Joe Biden addressed the nation on the Jan. 6 insurrection, Trump released a statement saying it was "just a distraction." His third statement called Biden a failure and spread his debunked lie that the election was rigged.

His fourth statement revealed that how he thought the speech made people feel.

"To watch Biden speaking is very hurtful to many people," Trump said, potentially referring to himself.

He then repeated the lies that incited his supporters to attack the Capitol.

"They're the ones who tried to stop the peaceful transfer with a rigged election," Trump falsely claimed.

Biden pointing out Trump "spread a web of lies about the 2020 election" appeared to anger the former real estate developer.

"They spread a 'web of lies' about me and Russia for 4 years to try to overturn the 2016 election, and now they lie about how they interfered in the 2020 Election, too," Trump said.

He went on to allege that "Big Tech was used illegally," that ballots were sold for $10 in Georgia, and that gas costs $5 a gallon.

DOJ may have already made arrests of senior Trump associates: expert

Attorney General Merrick Garland has received harsh criticism for apparently not having indicted any top Trump associates for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But one national security expert argued on Sunday that we might not know if arrests have occurred.

One of Garland's prominent critics is the man who taught him constitutional law at Harvard Law School.

"Merrick Garland will be one of the greatest Attorneys General in American history, bar none. As my brilliant con law student, a principled prosecutor, and later a superb DC Circuit judge, he has displayed integrity, courage, fair-mindedness, and humanity," Laurence Tribe tweeted hours before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In the year since, Tribe has grown frustrated with Garland's public performance.

Security researcher Marcy Wheeler, who posts online under the handle "emptywheel," suggested that the timeline of the Mueller investigation shows the Department of Justice may not be moving slower in investigation Jan. 6.

"A lot of people like to claim WE'D (sic) know if DOJ had taken actions to investigate Trump and say that DOJ is moving too slowly as compared the lightning (sic) fast Mueller investigation." she wrote, referring to ex-Trump aide George Papadopoulos.

She noted we did not learn Manafort had been busted until even later in the investigation.

"Admittedly Paul Manafort was searched a day earlier, though we didn't learn about THAT (sic) until August 9 (so the equivalent of January 15," she noted.

Tribe has noted that Garland could clear this by announcing there is an investigation, which is allowed under DOJ rules in specific circumstances.

Wheeler's thread:

Trump is getting 'terrible advice' on his decision to hold a Jan. 6 press conference: former top aide

Donald Trump is receiving "terrible advice" as he draws attention to the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection, a former top aide explained on CNN on New Year's Eve.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins asked Alyssa Farah Griffin, who served as Trump's director of strategic communications, what role she expected Republicans to play.

"Well, it's an interesting question because, keep in mind, the former president has also announced he'll be hosting a press conference that day which, I think, if anything proves he's still getting terrible advice from folks around him," Griffin said. "This would be a wise day for him to stay silent, to let those who were victims on Capitol Hill talk about that very important and solemn day."

"But I think instead you'll hear a very sort of, you know, the tone from him that this was — reiterating the lies that the election was stolen, saying that those who are being tried for the insurrection are political prisoners," she continued. "So it's going to put Republicans on Capitol Hill in a very, a very tight position to be in. What side of this are they going to come down on?"


Alyssa Farah Graffin

Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty on 5 of 6 counts in sex trafficking trial: report

On the 18th day of Ghislaine Maxwell's trial for enticement of minors and sex trafficking of underage girls, the jury reached a verdict after nearly 40 hours of deliberations.

Maxwell, an associate of Jeffrey Epstein, was found on five of six counts, CNN and MSNBC reported Wednesday.

“Preserving the innocence of children is among the most important responsibilities we carry as adults. Like Epstein, Ms. Maxwell chose to blatantly disregard the law and her responsibility as an adult, using whatever means she had at her disposal to lure vulnerable youth into behavior they should never have been exposed to, creating the potential for lasting harm," FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said when announcing the charges.

'Jared from Oregon' claims his vulgar Christmas Eve insult to Joe Biden was just a joke

Jared Schmeck is not impressed with the backlash he's received after insulting President Joe Biden on Christmas Eve.

During a phone call with the Santa tracker, Schmeck said, "Let's go, Brandon" which has become GOP code for "F*ck Joe Biden."

"I mean no disrespect to him," the former Medford police officer said.

But he bristled at the backlash he received.

“And now I am being attacked for utilizing my freedom of speech,” Schmeck said. “I understand there is a vulgar meaning to ‘Lets go Brandon,’ but I’m not that simple-minded, no matter how I feel about him."

Schmeck would not tell the newspaper why he resigned from the police for in 2018, but said he "stood 100% behind what I did and what I said.”

Read the full report.

Ron DeSantis flattened by top Florida paper for fear-mongering in Christmas Day editorial

Florida's Republican governor was blasted for being a "reactionary and authoritarian" liar in a hard-hitting Christmas Day editorial published by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

"Remember the boogeyman, that specter your parents invoked to make you behave? Almost every culture has one. So do politicians when they want to create fear. Gov. Ron DeSantis has a boogeyman for the people of Florida. It is a real thing known as critical race theory — a discipline taught at some colleges but not in Florida public schools," the newspaper explained. "The governor wants nonetheless to ban it from schools and, for good measure, from the human resource policies and sensitivity training courses of privately owned businesses. That is not conservative; it is reactionary and authoritarian."

DeSantis calls his proposal the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act.

"It perpetuates two persistent great lies: That racism did not have a major influence on American history and that it is not an issue now," the newspaper explained. "That is the current dogma of DeSantis’s Republican Party in its determination to retain the allegiance of white voters who are terrified of losing social and political dominance to changing demographics. Demonization of critical race theory, by making it into a boogeyman, is one front in the Republican culture wars. DeSantis would make Floridians ignorant of the most troublesome aspects of our past, present and future."

The editorial board concluded that DeSantis "knows critical race theory isn’t being taught in the schools," but is lying about the issue anyway.

"There’s been nothing like the DeSantis bill in the 96 years since Tennessee outlawed the teaching of evolution. John Scopes, a high school teacher, volunteered to test the law in what became known, to the state’s everlasting mortification, as the 'monkey trial.' Tennessee failed to repeal science, of course, but it did stunt the intellectual growth of a generation of children," the newspaper explained. "In the same vein, Virginia textbooks in the mid-20th century fed students a fiction of happy slaves who loved their kindly masters. One particularly deceitful illustration portrayed a well-dressed Black family — father, mother and children — being welcomed with a handshake aboard a slave ship."

The newspaper explained the impacts of DeSantis' lies.

"Although the Civil War ended slavery, it took another century to outlaw Jim Crow. But the effects persist, documented by the racial disparities in employment, income and incarceration; in ghettoes segregated by government housing policies; and by how Republican legislatures try to suppress Black votes. These truths are evident almost everywhere that honest eyes look," the editorial board wrote. "In truth, no one is teaching kids to hate our country or each other, but we do need to teach them not to hate each other, even unconsciously, and to recognize prejudices for what they are. That cannot be done by pretending they do not exist."

Read the full editorial.

Alex Jones declares Trump is either ignorant or evil in 'emergency Christmas message'

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones issued an "Emergency Christ Message" to Donald Trump following the former president's defense of Covid-19 vaccines.

“Oh no, the vaccines work,” Trump told Candice Owens. “But some people are the ones — the ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take the vaccine. But it’s still their choice. And if you take the vaccine, you’re protected.”

Jones blasted Trump for acknowledging the reality of vaccines.

“This is an emergency Christmas Day warning to President Trump. You are either completely ignorant about the so-called vaccine gene therapy that you helped ram through with Operation Warp Speed or you are one of the most evil men who has ever lived to push this toxic poison on the public and to attack your constituents who they simply try to save their lives and the lives of others," he said.

"We're about to lay out the basic, incontrovertible facts that you told Candace Owens just a few days ago is nothing but a raft of dirty lies," he said.

Trump’s lawsuit against New York AG panned by legal experts as a 'sign of desperation'

Donald Trump's latest legal maneuvering was questioned by experts on Monday after the former president sued New York Attorney General Letitia James in an effort to block investigations into his businesses.

"Donald J. Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday against the New York State attorney general, Letitia James, seeking to halt her long-running civil investigation into his business practices," The New York Times reported Monday. "The suit, filed in federal court in upstate New York by Mr. Trump and his family real estate business, argues that Ms. James’s inquiry, which has lasted more than two years, has violated Mr. Trump’s constitutional rights."

James requested a Jan. 7 deposition of Trump.

"The developments in the civil investigation come during a critical phase of a separate, criminal investigation into the former president being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.," the newspaper reported. "That investigation is centered on whether Mr. Trump defrauded lenders by inflating the value of his assets. Ms. James’s office is also assisting in the criminal investigation."

The lawsuit came days after Trump complained about James in a statement emailed to reporters.

"Letitia James wants to politically weaponize her position as Attorney General instead of exemplifying impartiality and protecting the interests of all New Yorkers," Trump charged. "New York is dying before our very eyes, and all the Democrat Prosecutors are focused on is how we can get and punish Donald Trump, who many would say has done, over the years, a spectacular job for New York!"

Attorney Terri Gerstein reflected on her time in this prosecutor's office when analyzing Trump's chances.

"As an alum of the [New York AG's office], here’s my response to Trump’s lawsuit trying to stop an investigation: Fat chance," she wrote.

"Just talk to Amazon which recently sued [New York AG's office] to stop a workplace safety case. They lost in federal court and then lost again in state court," she explained.

"Yes, [the United States Supreme Court] is a mess, but this lawsuit raises no novel issues of law and shouldn’t go there," she argued.

She also said it is "hard to say it’s politically motivated when this kind of casework happens all the time."

Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance also panned the suit's potential chance of success.

"Targets try all sorts of tactics to disqualify prosecutors and terminate proper investigations. They’re a sign of desperation," Vance said.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said "Trump’s lawsuit against the New York AG won’t get very far."

Attorney Ken White, who posts under the popular Popehat account on Twitter, panned Trump's lawsuit.

"That’s …that’s not a thing," he said.

Former federal prosecutor Richard Signorelli said he hopes Trump's attorney's are "sanctioned" for the lawsuit.

Attorney Katie Phang suggested the lawsuit was in response to the upcoming deposition.

"Someone is trying desperately to dodge his depo…" she argued.

'Worst choice of my life': Ex-cop gets prison time for Capitol riot after reportedly crying at sentencing

Former Houston Police Officer Tam Dinh Pham was sentenced to 45 days in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Pham, who was turned in by his own police chief, told FBI agents he was inside the Capitol for 15 minutes where "he looked at the historical art on the walls and took photographs and videos inside."

In September, Pham pleaded guilty to a petty misdemeanor offense of parading, demonstrating or picketing inside the Capitol Building.

“I’m so sorry for what I did. I made the worst choice of my life. I didn’t plan to go into the Capitol. I stupidly followed people in there," Pham told the judge, according to WUSA-TV correspondent Eric Flack, who said the former police officer was "in tears."

“The day I was on TV (after his arrest) my sister in Vietnam called and said the whole village watched me. I lost my reputation and my career and brought shame on my family, especially my children. I dishonored my department," Pham said.

Watch below.

Ex-cop gets time for Capitol riot charge

John Roberts warns his fellow justices against Texas nullification: ‘Our constitutional system is at stake’

Chief Justice John Roberts cited two cases from early constitutional law with a dire warning as the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday delivered a ruling on the near-total ban on abortion passed by Republicans in Texas.

In an opinion where he concurred in part and dissented in part, Roberts was joined by Justices Sonia Sotamayor and Elena Kagan.

"The clear purpose and actual effect of S. B. 8 has been to nullify this Court’s rulings," Roberts wrote, listing the legislative name of the Texas bill.

"It is, however, a basic principle that the Constitution is the 'fundamental and paramount law of the nation,' and '[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is,'" Roberts said, citing the landmark 1803 Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison that established the principle of judicial review.

"Indeed, '[i]f the legislatures of the several states may, at will, annul the judgments of the courts of the United States, and destroy the rights acquired under those judgments, the constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery,'" he continued, citing United States v. Peterson from 1809 that determined state legislatures can't overrule federal courts.

"The nature of the federal right infringed does not matter; it is the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system that is at stake," Roberts wrote.

Here’s how Mitch McConnell outsmarted Trump — even though it created a major rift in the GOP

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has ignored complaints from Donald Trump and reached a deal with Democrats to extend the debt ceiling and avoid a government shutdown.

"We’re seeing some pretty significant fissures inside the Senate Republican Conference over the debt-limit strategy," Punchbowl News reported Wednesday. "Some of the "no" votes tell us that Republicans already helped Democrats raise the debt limit once and they shouldn't do it again."

Punchbowl noted the position of three Senate Republicans who are seen as hopefuls to be the next GOP leader. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. John Cornyn are both backing McConnell's deal, while Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the chair of the Senate GOP Conference, remains undecided.

"But there was “a lot of pushback” in the GOP Conference meeting on Tuesday where McConnell laid out the plan, according to Republicans sources. Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) -- normally “safe” leadership allies -- all raised concerns, as did more hardline conservatives," Punchbowl reported. "Some Republicans seem to be struggling with voting no because the debt-limit process bill also includes language to delay Medicare sequestration cuts. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a hardliner who one would expect to be against any debt-limit increase, questioned why any Republicans would vote against the measure."

Punchbowl said the deal "seems to be sailing through the Congress quite easily."

But Trump is not on board, issuing a statement on Tuesday complaining about the "pathetic" strategy of Senate Republicans.

"USE THE DEBT CEILING TO WIN, AND MEAN IT THIS TIME!" Trump said, in all capital letters.

Republican senators have repeatedly sided with McConnell over Trump when the former president has demanded particular votes.

In October, Trump also tried to kill a debt limit increase.

"Republican Senators, do not vote for this terrible deal being pushed by folding Mitch McConnell," Trump argued, shortly before he lost the vote as eleven GOP senators joined with Democrats on a procedural vote.

In August, Trump urged Republicans to use the debt limit as leverage to kill the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. But his advice was rejected by nineteen Republicans Senators.

'Stay in Mar-A-Lago': GOP Lt Gov begs Trump not to bring 'traveling circus' to Georgia race

Donald Trump should stay in Florida practicing his golf game instead of traveling to campaign in Georgia, said a GOP lieutenant governor Monday during an appearance on CNN.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan made the comments during an interview about former Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) being expected to announce a primary challenge against Brian Kemp. Both Georgia Republicans have been harshly criticized by Trump for refusing to overturn the 2020 election, which was won by Joe Biden.

"Brian Kemp is probably Georgia's most conservative governor in history," Duncan said. "He has done everything he needs to do. We've cut taxes, we've increased teacher pay, we've navigated through a pandemic, we've got $6 billion in a rainy day fund and, quite honestly, David Perdue should know better than this. He's the only one to blame for losing his last election to Jon Ossoff and he ran the worst campaign ever — and that's his fault not Brian Kemp's or Geoff Duncan's or any other Republican's fault."

"What issue do you see him running on?" Berman asked. "I mean, what do you think he big issue for him is then?"

"It appears early on he will try to carry Donald Trump's water on the conspiracy stuff and that seems to be the only tail wind he's got, it's unfortunate," he said. "We what much this play out all across the country. But look, his is a short-term sugar high, it will wear off. The quicker we take our medicine as Republicans and move on and focus on the next election, the next opportunity to lead this country, the quicker we are going to get the White House back, the Senate back, the House back and have opportunities to put our conservative leadership on display."

Duncan urged Trump to stay out of the Peach State.

"We don't need the traveling circus of Donald Trump to stay here in Georgia. We need it to stay down in Mar-a-Lago, working on his handicap playing golf and let us be conservatives here in Georgia and move forward," he said.


Geoff Duncan

Here’s how Roger Stone brought anti-vax conspiracy theorists into the Republican Party

Notorious GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone has become a "key connector" bringing anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists into the Republican Party.

"In October, a conference filled with anti-vaccine activists in Nashville, Tenn., received a high-profile political guest: former President Donald Trump's son, Eric Trump," NPR reported. "The day before Trump's speech, a homeopathic doctor named Edward Group stood on the same stage and suggested to the audience they should drink their urine as an alternative to getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Another speaker, Carrie Madej, said that the vaccines contained microscopic technology designed to put 'another kind of nervous system inside you.' The true purpose of the vaccines, she claimed, was to turn humans into cyborgs."

NPR noted that pre-COVID, the anti-vaccine movement was largely nonpartisan, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. supporting some liberal causes while "well-known anti-vaccine activist" Del Bigtree describes himself as a registered Democrat.

"Stone, who spoke at the conference, says he's quite open to some of the ideas presented there about vaccines. But he also sees the shot as a powerful wedge issue that Republicans can use to motivate conservative voters during next year's midterm elections. Citing public polls, Stone says that in particular, vaccine mandates are 'highly likely' to be a campaign issue," NPR reported. "But the result of this union increasingly appears to be an even higher death toll from COVID, in part because it's causing many people to resist getting the shot."

The gambit appears to be that it's okay for Republicans to sacrifice their own voters if it helps them win during the 2022 midterms.

"Between conservative media and GOP politicians, many Republican voters are being pummeled with bad science about vaccines almost daily. Kaiser's polling found that 94% of Republicans think one or more false statements about COVID-19 and vaccine safety might be true," NPR noted.

Read the full report.

Lauren Boebert apologizes for comparing Ilhan Omar to a suicide bomber in bigoted rant

Controversial Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) on Friday apologized after she likened Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to a suicide bomber.

"So I was getting into an elevator with one of my staffers," Boebert said. "He and I, we're leaving the Capitol, we're going back to my office and we get an elevator and I see a Capitol police officer running, hurriedly, to the elevator. I see fret all over his face, and he's reaching, and the door's shutting, like I can't open it, like what's happening. I look to my left, and there she is. Ilhan Omar."

"And I said, 'Well, she doesn't have a backpack, we should be fine."

Boebert claimed she told Omar, "Oh look, the jihad squad decided show up for work today."

Omar said Boebert made the whole thing up.

"Fact, this buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up. Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout. Anti-Muslim bigotry isn't funny & shouldn't be normalized. Congress can't be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation.," she wrote.

On Friday, Boebert apologized to the Muslim community.

"I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar. I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction," Boebert wrote.

Trouble in Trumpworld as Pastor Darrell Scott goes after Candace Owens over Ahmaud Arbery verdict

Pastor Darrell Scott blasted Candace Owens after Travis McMichael, his father Greg, and William "Roddie" Bryan were convicted of the felony murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

Owens had been highly critical of Arbery.

Pastor Scott blasted Owens after the verdict, saying that Arbery's family should sue Owens and that she owes them an apology.

Pastor Scott went on to share further thoughts on Owens in the comments:

This was not the first time Pastor Scott criticized his fellow Trump supporter.

Legal analysts took to cable news and social media with their own commentary about the Arbery trial

Mark Meadows used his private Gmail account to pressure Georgia officials to undo Trump’s loss: report

ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl on Tuesday explained why the Gmail account of Donald Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows may provide critical evidence for the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

During an appearance on CNN, Karl explained his interest in Meadows to anchor John Berman, saying part of the backstory behind Trump's notorious phone call pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes."

Meadows reportedly voiced frustration when he finally connected on the phone to a Raffensperger deputy.

"We've been trying to reach out to you 18 different times, and you've ignored our inquiries," Meadows reportedly complained.

Initially, Raffensperger's office was mystified, but then they figured out what had been going on.

"Raffensperger himself had been receiving text messages from a Gmail account, Mark Meadows' Gmail account, that he thought was certainly a prank," Karl said. "You know, his number had been put out on the internet, he'd been getting all kinds of prank calls, so Mark Meadows was reaching out to a top official in Georgia on a private Gmail account."

"What else was going on where his private Gmail account?" he wondered. "He was at the intersection of everything."

"What else was Mark Meadows up to?" Karl asked.

"Will we ever find out?" Berman asked. "He will fight this appearance as long as he possibly can, citing executive privilege."


Trump-backed PA candidate loses primary custody of 3 kids after shocking testimony from estranged wife: report

Trump-endorsed Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate and alleged wife-strangler Sean Parnell lost primary custody of his three children, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Monday.

"Laurie Snell and Parnell separated in 2018. They have three children, ages 12, 11 and 8. During her testimony on the first day of the Butler County custody trial on Nov. 1, Snell alleged that Parnell had physically abused both her and her children," the newspaper reported. "A court docket in the case showed Senior Judge James Arner awarded primary physical and sole legal custody to Snell, with partial physical custody to go to Parnell."

Three weeks ago, Laurie Parnell testified the GOP candidate "tried to choke me out on a couch and I literally had to bite him to escape."

"In tears, Laurie Parnell said that her husband would call her a 'whore' and a 'piece of sh*t.' She also testified that he once put her out of the car and left her by the road after they argued when he told her she had to get an abortion," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. "In a court hearing here over custody of their three children, Laurie Parnell described years of intense rage and abuse that she endured from her husband."

When Trump bestowed his endorsement in September, he said Parnell was "a great Senate candidate."

"Sean Parnell will represent the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania the way it should be represented—and it's about time!" Trump argued.

Jeff Bartos, who is also running in the GOP primary to replace retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), has sought make an issue of Parnell's scandals.

Watch: Ahmaud Arbery prosecutor delivers devastating closing argument with this simple test for the jury

The prosecutor in the trial of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery delivered a hard-hitting closing argument on Monday.

The arguments were made by Linda Dunikowki, a senior prosecutor for the Cobb County District Attorney's office, which is the fourth prosecutor's office to handle the case.

"They shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery, they all acted as a party to the crime," argued Dunikowki, who has become something of a celebrity online.

Dunikowki explained why she saw the but-for test as the "bottom line" in the trial of Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan.

"But for their actions, but for their decisions, but for their choices, Ahmaud Arbery would be alive," she explained. "That's why they're indicted with murder — and four felonies that led to the murder."


Linda Dunikowki

Trump is in legal peril due to this key detail in conspiracy law: analysis

Donald Trump should be freaked out after a January 6th defendant was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role in the attack, according to a new analysis published in The Washington Post.

"That punishment could have serious repercussions on various fronts, including for leadership at the Justice Department," Jennifer Rubin wrote. "The prosecutor at the sentencing hearing warned, 'It is just critical that the court's sentence convey to future rioters that there will be very, very serious consequences for those who intend to obstruct the rule of law and obstruct democracy, particularly through assaults on law enforcement.'"

"For that reason, it is inconceivable that the Justice Department would not follow the money and organizational muscle upward, and hold those at the top of the traitorous scheme accountable. Certainly, Attorney General Merrick Garland cannot deny that it is 'critical' for the planners, instigators and funders of future riots that they face 'very serious consequences' too," she explained. "As more criminal defendants on the lowest rung of the insurrection are sentenced, the harder it will be to exempt those who were not physically present but whose actions may have helped instigate the violent uprising."

Rubin, who spent decades as an attorney in Hollywood prior to her career as a political pundit, drew upon her legal background to explain the significance of the situation.

"By definition, every member of a conspiracy is responsible for the crimes of others that were reasonably foreseeable. Former president Donald Trump and his White House cronies need not have had contact with, or even know the identities of, specific defendants to face legal risks; so long as they took action to further the violent uprising as a last resort to halting Congress from carrying out its certification of electoral college votes, they could be in jeopardy. Trump's refusal to take action during the hours-long Capitol siege lends credence to the argument that he had expected, or even welcomed, the riot after his 'Stop the Steal' rally and months of fomenting the 'big lie' of a stolen election," she explained.

She also urged patience for those frustrated by the slow pace of the Department of Justice investigations, suggesting that prosecutions will follow the investigation by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"As the Justice Department goes after the small fry, it can wait for the evidentiary nuggets uncovered by the House. That takes time — and makes it increasingly hard not to follow the facts all the way to the ex-commander in chief," she wrote.

MAGA rioter sentenced to prison — after bragging she wouldn't go be because she's blonde

The notorious Dallas-area realtor who flew to Washington, D.C., on a private plane for the January 6th "Stop the Steal" rally was sentenced to prison on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper sentenced Jenna Ryan to 60 days in prison, the HuffPost reported Thursday.

"I don't think you could have missed the fact that this was no peaceful protest," Cooper said. "You were a cheerleader, you cheered it on."

In addition to cheering on the rioters, Ryan also reportedly pitched her real estate company.

Prosecutors say Ryan posted a video of herself pledging to storm the Capitol.

"We are going to f*cking go in here," Ryan said. "Life or death, it doesn't matter. Here we go."

Prosecutors argued for jail time, citing her boast on Twitter that she would not go to jail.

"Definitely not going to jail. Sorry I have blonde hair white skin a great job a great future and I'm not going to jail. Sorry to rain on your hater parade. I did nothing wrong," she argued in March.

The comments were made while she was complaining about the "good-old-boys club in the conservative alt news."

Steele dossier researcher arrested on multiple charges by Bill Barr’s special prosecutor: NYT

Federal authorities arrested a researcher who contributed information on possible links between Donald Trump and Russia for former British spy Christopher Steele's salacious "dossier," according to a report by The New York Times.

"The arrest of the analyst, Igor Danchenko, is part of the special counsel inquiry led by John H. Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration to scrutinize the Russia investigation for any wrongdoing," the newspaper reported, citing "people familiar with the matter."

Danchenko made a name for himself by revealing there were indications Vladimir Putin's dissertation contained plagiarized sections.

"Danchenko, was the primary researcher of the so-called Steele dossier, a compendium of rumors and unproven assertions suggesting that Mr. Trump and his 2016 campaign were compromised by and conspiring with Russian intelligence officials in Moscow's covert operation to help him defeat Hillary Clinton. The people familiar with the matter spoke on condition of anonymity because the indictment of Mr. Danchenko had yet to be unsealed," the newspaper reported.

The charges were not listed by the newspaper, but there was reportedly more than one.

Read the full report.

WATCH: Arizona official describes pressure campaign by Trump allies seeking to overturn the election

Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman recently described the pressure campaign he received from supporters of Donald Trump seeking to overturn the 2020 election in Arizona.

Hickman was interviewed by Matea Gold of The Washington Post about his recollections of Trump's efforts to overturn the election as part of the newspaper's in-depth investigation of the January 6th insurrection and its aftermath.

"I endorsed President Trump, I voted for him twice," Hickman said. I did my best for them, that's what I thought I was to do was work for the top of the ticket. I'm a Republican and have been since my first vote."

"My entire board was taking shots from people both in our state and outside the state trying to get us to do things that we would not do," he explained.

He also described the insurrection like an attack on a church.

"I have a son that's 16 and another that's 14. I don't want to send my son off to war to fight some foreign enemy to feel like an American again and I damn sure don't want him fighting fellow Americans to prove just how American he is. It's just not the way to go. So let's get back to being American again," he urged.

Watch Part 1:

Clint Hickman

Watch Part 2:

Clint Hickman 2

WATCH: QAnon supporters chant ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ while holding ‘Trump-Kennedy’ banner

QAnon supporters gathered in Dallas on Tuesday in the hopes that John F. Kennedy, Jr. would make major revelations.

"QAnon supporters are gathering for an event in Texas on Tuesday at which they falsely believe JFK junior will reveal he is not dead and announce a 2024 presidential run with Donald Trump, the former president," the Independent reports.

The son of America's 35th president died in 1999.

Journalist Steven Monacelli posted a video of members of the crowd chanting a euphemism for "f*ck Joe Biden" while holding a Trump-Kennedy QAnon banner. Although, the banner is from 2020, showing yet another "prophecy" that did not occur.

Republicans pushing ‘hit and kill’ bills to allow motorists to run down protesters: report

As the organizes of the fatal 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville are standing trial in a civil lawsuit, Republicans across the country are organizing to pass "hit and kill" bills that allow motorists to run down protesters.

On Monday, the Boston Globe reported on a "Back the Blue Act" signed by Iowa's Republican governor, Kim Reynolds. The bill took the side of drivers who run over protesters. In June of 2020, the driver of Reynold's state-issued Chevrolet Suburban struck a Des Moines Black Liberation Movement protester who was urging the governor to restore voting rights.

"Iowa is one of three states, along with Oklahoma and Florida, to enact laws this year giving drivers some degree of legal immunity if they use their vehicles to hurt protesters, part of a wave of 'hit and kill' bills introduced in 13 other states by Republican legislators since 2017. Most of those proposals came after one of the most sustained periods of demonstrations in US history following Floyd's murder, and the effort to crack down on protesters has sent a chilling message to activists, who believe it will encourage violence against them," the newspaper reported.

There is currently pending legislation in Tennessee, New Jersey and Washington.

"Republicans' rationale for backing the bills — that it is people behind the wheel of a vehicle weighing thousands of pounds, not pedestrians, who are scared and at risk during protests that have been overwhelmingly peaceful — also reveals the extreme lens with which many conservatives see Black Lives Matter and other protesters, and the legitimacy of their dissent," the newspaper reported. "The new laws and proposals came after a sharp rise in people driving their vehicles into protests. A Globe analysis found 139 instances of what researchers call vehicle rammings between Floyd's death on May 25, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, that caused 100 injuries and killed at least three people."

Nick Robinson, a senior legal adviser at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, warned it the new laws were "just a recipe for disaster."

"There's this kind of vigilantism that's returning," Robinson said. "If we deem these protesters to be rioters, we're going to take the law into our own hands. And if that means injuring them with our vehicle or killing them with our vehicle, we have an expectation that the state will protect us."

Read the full report.

New video of pro-Trump lawyer is 'completely damning': legal expert

Conservative Claremont Institute lawyer John Eastman made an "incredibly damning" admission in a new video, a former federal prosecutor explained on CNN on Wednesday.

"The House select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection expected to hand down another subpoena today, this time for John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who worked with former President Trump's legal team," CNN's Erica Hill reported.

"The committee says Eastman tried to convince then Vice President Pence that he could overturn — overturn — the election results which, of course, Pence could not, legally, and ultimately decided not to do," CNN's Jim Scuitto said. "But now, in a conversation, caught-on-camera by a Democratic activist posing as a Trump supporter, Eastman admits — admits — on tape that was indeed the plan."

For analysis, the co-hosts interviewed CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

"Eastman, after the memo that he drafted describing exactly this plan as to how the president could overturn the election, he then did an interview with the National Review online saying that's never intended to do that," Scuitto said. "Here you have him on tape saying that's exactly what we intended to do, in effect, and the only reason Pence stood in the way is he is, in Eastman's terms, 'an establishment guy.' You're a lawyer, how damning is this video for both for the investigation or any other investigation into the 2020 election?"

"Well, it is completely damning for John Eastman, Jim," Honig replied.

"Let's step back and remember who John Eastman is," he continued. "He's this lawyer who Trump discovers when he's in the process of trying to steal the election. Eastman starts telling Trump these really lunatic 'legal theories' — I put 'legal theories' in scare quotes here — on which Mike Pence can reject the electoral count."

"This tape really brings us back to reality, which is Eastman meant what he said in the memo, he was right there with Trump, trying to lead him down this very dangerous path," he concluded.


Elie Honig

GOP congressman’s own words come back to haunt him after he claims Ashli Babbitt was 'murdered'

On his fourth day in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) gained nationwide attention for his actions during the January 6th attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to overturn the election.

After a quarter century career in law enforcement, the former Fort Bend County sheriff and Army Reserve major helped barricade the doors to the House floor.

Nehls was proud of his actions, posting a photo of him in a blue shirt standing next to a Capitol Police office with a drawn-gun pointed at a rioter looking through a broken window.

But during a Monday appearance on Newsmax, Nehls claimed Ashli Babbitt had been "murdered" while trying to climb though a window into the Speaker's Lobby on the other side of the chamber.

Politico reporter Olivia Beavers noted on Twitter that Nehls had told her on January 15th that officers would have been "totally justified" if they had shot rioters trying to enter the House floor. She provided audio of his comments.

Watch local news coverage of Nehls' efforts to defend the House floor: