Cody Fenwick

Rep. Devin Nunes is retiring by the end of the month to work for Trump

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California is retiring from Congress at the end of 2021 to work for former President Donald Trump.

The news was first reported by Alex Tavlian of The San Joaquin Valley Sun, which initially claimed he'd stay on until 2022 before updating with the much more rapid timeline. The Trump Media and Technology Group later released a statement confirming that Nunes had accepted an offer to become its CEO, a position he'll assume in January of the new year.

Many observers quickly pointed out that Nunes was next in line to be chair of the Ways and Means committee, should Republicans take control of the House of Representatives — a particularly powerful position in Congress. But apparently, his options outside of government were even more enticing.

Nunes came to public prominence as a fierce defender of Trump during his presidency. For the first two years, Nunes led the House Intelligence Committee and waged an aggressive campaign against the government's investigations into the then-president. He was an aggressive opponent of the Russia investigation and stoked conspiracy theories about an inside plot to bring Trump down.

READ: A writer who predicted Trump's first coup attempt warns of an obscure legal doctrine he may exploit next time

Nunes was also an outspoken critic of the House investigation of Trump's efforts to induce Ukraine into going after Joe Biden, which eventually led to the first of his two impeachments.

Since taking a prominent place in American politics, the California congressman launched a sweeping effort to silence some of his critics by weaponizing a series of lawsuits against media organizations and individuals whose reporting and commentary displeased him. Those lawsuits have been largely unsuccessful in court, but the effort may have nevertheless contributed to a chilling effect on people interested in speaking out against him.

'He broke our rules': CNN announces it has indefinitely 'suspended' Chris Cuomo over new revelations

Following new revelations on Monday about CNN host Chris Cuomo's role in his brother's scandal, the network announced on Tuesday that it has indefinitely suspended the primetime anchor.

Chris Cuomo has faced significant public scrutiny for his efforts to help former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, his brother, as he dealt with the sexual misconduct and abuse of power allegations that forced him to resign from office. It had previously been reported that the CNN host played a role in helping his brother manage the matter as a public relations crisis, which many argued constituted a major breach of journalistic ethics.

Chris Cuomo largely avoided the topic of his brother's scandal on his 9 p.m. show, an awkward attempt to navigate the conflict of interest. Gov. Cuomo had previously appeared on his brother's show, often in light-hearted segments. As allegations emerged against the governor, Chris Cuomo worked with his brother's staff to strategize a response.

The newest revelations showed the Chris Cuomo's role in his brother's scandal was even deeper and more conflicted than was publicly known. New York Attorney General Letitia James' office released records from its investigation that found Chris Cuomo used his journalistic contacts in an effort to do damage control for the then-governor.

"The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense," CNN said in a statement. "The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions. When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly. But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second. However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation."

Jury finds Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts

On Friday, the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse case announced that the defendant was not guilty on all five charges against him.

The 18-year-old had shot three people, killing two of them, during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Rittenhouse argued that he had acted in self-defense.

He was charged with multiple counts of homicide and reckless endangerment.

After closing arguments on Monday, the final 12 jurors were selected on Tuesday and began their deliberations. There were five men and five women on the jury, according to CNN. On Wednesday, they reviewed videos of the incident in the courtroom.

READ: The GOP's new 'Southern Strategy' evokes civil war and bloodshed — but it has a fatal flaw

Steve Bannon gets indicted for contempt of Congress

Steve Bannon, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, was indicted Friday afternoon, the Justice Department announced.

A federal grand jury returned the indictment after Bannon refused to comply with a subpoena for testimony by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.

"Since my first day in office, I have promised Justice Department employees that together we would show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. "Today's charges reflect the department's steadfast commitment to these principles."

The indictment included two charges, one for refusing to appear before Congress and another for refusing to turn over documents.

The department said an arraignment has not been scheduled yet for Bannon.

"As detailed in the indictment, on Sept. 23, 2021, the Select Committee issued a subpoena to Mr. Bannon," U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves said. "The subpoena required him to appear and produce documents to the Select Committee, and to appear for a deposition before the Select Committee. According to the indictment, Mr. Bannon refused to appear to give testimony as required by subpoena and refused to produce documents in compliance with a subpoena."

Bannon has claimed that he doesn't need to testify because former President Donald Trump's executive privilege protects him from congressional subpoenas. However, many legal analysts have argued that this claim is vacuous on multiple grounds. As a former president, Trump's claims of executive privilege are tenous at best. And they're particularly weak as they would apply to Bannon, who wasn't an executive branch employee at the time in question. And even if the concept of executive privilege were stretched beyond its limits, Bannon would still be obligated to appear before Congress and formally assert the privilege in the specific instances when it applies.

Bannon was previously indicted by the Justice Department for his role in the fundraising effort "We Build the Wall," which purported to collect private donations to construct the border wall that Trump had campaigned for president on. The Justice Department contends that the group defrauded donors by misusing their funds. However, as one of his last acts as president, Trump pardoned Bannon for his role in the alleged scheme before the charges could even be brought to trial.

It's not only Bannon who has resisted the committee's investigation. Mark Meadows, Trump's former chief of staff, has also refused to comply with a subpoena for testimony. It's possible he has a stronger legal claim to refuse to testify, but Bannon's indictment will likely put more pressure on him to comply with the committee.

The department explained in a press release:

In its subpoena, the Select Committee said it had reason to believe that Bannon had information relevant to understanding events related to Jan. 6. Bannon, formerly a Chief Strategist and Counselor to the President, has been a private citizen since departing the White House in 2017.
Each count of contempt of Congress carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of $100 to $1,000. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

'Plaintiff is not President': Judge shoots down Trump's efforts to keep records from Jan. 6 committee

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled Tuesday night that former President Donald Trump has no authority to prevent the National Archives from handing over records of his administration requested by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

President Joe Biden has given the archives permission to comply with the committee's request, effectively waiving any executive privilege claim. But Trump objected, arguing that he still wanted to assert privilege over the records, and he took the committee to court.

But Judge Chutkan found that, as a former president, Trump does not have the authority to overrule Biden's decision in this matter.

The ruling explained:

At bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent President. And the Supreme Court has already made clear that in such circumstances, the incumbent's view is accorded greater weight. This principle is grounded in "the fact that the privilege is seen as inhering in the institution of the Presidency, and not in the President personally."

"Plaintiff does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent President's judgment. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power 'exists in perpetuity,'" she continued. "But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President. He retains the right to assert that his records are privileged, but the incumbent President 'is not constitutionally obliged to honor' that assertion."

The judge further noted that Trump requested the court step in and make individual judgments in this matter over which records may be handed over to the committee. But she argued that there's no reason for her to intervene when the House and the president are in agreement, as they are in this matter. And Trump failed to show that he would suffer any "irreparable harm" if the records are handed over, Chuktan argued — a central component needed to justify his request for the court to involve itself in the request.

She explained: "The legislative and executive branches believe the balance of equities and public interest are well served by the Select Committee's inquiry. The court will not second guess the two branches of government that have historically negotiated their own solutions to congressional requests for presidential documents."

The judge also made clear that she thinks the committee's task is worth pursuing, noting that it is in the "public interest" for the investigation of the Jan. 6 attack to continue. She also included several pages of detail about the run-up to the attack, including Trump's own statements that helped fuel the false belief that the 2020 election was stolen. While this information wasn't material to the judgment, she said, it provided relevant context.

Shortly after the ruling was issued, Trump's lawyers filed to appeal it.

The state of Florida is under fire for trying to silence professors who want to testify about voting rights

After public outrage over its decision to block professors from testifying as expert witnesses about voting rights, the University of Florida tried to defend itself this week by issuing a statement claiming to support "academic freedom." But critics argued in response that such a defense was blatantly hypocritical, and its treatment of its faculty cannot be justified.

The dispute first arose when political science professors Michael McDonald, Sharon Austin, and Daniel Smith were told by the university that they could not testify as expert witnesses in a case against Florida's voting laws. Officials for the university claimed it was a "conflict of interest" for the professors, as state employees, to testify in cases against Florida's interest.

Many quickly pointed out that this was a clear case of government censorship, effectively shutting down critics of the state in an extremely consequential circumstance. It's all the more egregious because Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, like many other Republicans, has presented himself as a defender of the value of free speech.

"It is a profound, chilling, frightening change in policy,'' said Paul Donnelly, a lawyer for the professors, according to the Miami Herald. "What would happen if another party was in control and could engage in this kind of censorship."

Austin said: "We must support academic freedom no matter what the consequences are."

In a statement, the university claimed it is a proponent of free speech — even while confirming the story:

Recent news reports have indicated the University of Florida denied requests of some faculty members to participate in a lawsuit over the state of Florida's new election laws.
The University of Florida has a long track record of supporting free speech and our faculty's academic freedom, and we will continue to do so. It is important to note that the university did not deny the First Amendment rights or academic freedom of professors Dan Smith, Michael McDonald and Sharon Austin. Rather, the university denied requests of these full-time employees to undertake outside paid work that is adverse to the university's interests as a state of Florida institution.

On Twitter, McDonald suggested that even this statement was, in part, the university's misleading spin. When the professors requested permission to serve as expert witnesses, the university's denial was not based on the fact that it would be "paid work," as the statement implied, he said. According to the rejection notice he posted, officials objected to the fact that the professor's testimony would be "adverse to UF's interests."

FIRE, an organization that promotes freedom of expression in academia, said in a statement: "The profound civic importance of fair trials requires the ability of fact and expert witnesses to come forward to testify truthfully without fear that their government employer might retaliate against them. Public university faculty are no exception. We call on UF to reverse course immediately."

"Gov. Ron DeSantis has opposed Big Tech censorship and touted the free speech of parents," said Politico reporter Marc Caputo said on Twitter. "But University of Florida has muzzled 3 stat professors from testifying against a new voting-restriction law. Where does DeSantis stand?"

The New York Times reported:

Robert C. Post, a Yale Law School professor and expert on academic freedom and the First Amendment, said he knew of no other case in which a university had imposed prior restraint on a professor's ability to speak.
"The university does not exist to protect the governor," he said. "It exists to serve the public. It is an independent institution to serve the public good, and nothing could be more to the public good than a professor telling the truth to the public under oath."

'Red flags were everywhere': Bombshell report finds the Trump administration ignored warnings of 1/6 violence

A new report from the Washington Post published on Sunday detailed a deep dive into the extensive warnings the federal government received of potential violence and efforts to interfere with Congress's counting of the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. Despite this ample foreshadowing, the administration and law enforcement agencies were still unable or unwilling to prepare adequate defenses to keep the mob from storming the Capitol that day.

The FBI, in particular, comes off looking inept — if not driven by politically inspired cowardice or indifference.

"The FBI received numerous warnings about Jan. 6 but felt many of the threatening statements were 'aspirational' and could not be pursued," the report found. "In one tip on Dec. 20, a caller told the bureau that Trump supporters were making plans online for violence against lawmakers in Washington, including a threat against Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). The agency concluded the information did not merit further investigation and closed the case within 48 hours."

Donell Harvin, the head of intelligence at the homeland security office in Washington, D.C., did raise the alarm, according to the report. It explained how he "organized an unusual call for all of the nation's regional homeland security offices" — a call joined by hundreds of officials sharing their concerns. They were reportedly warning of an attack on Jan. 6 at 1 p.m. at the U.S. Capitol, just when the insurrection occurred. The planning was happening all over social media, after all — inspired by then-President Donald Trump's own tweets and rhetoric. Harvin reached out to the FBI and other agencies to warn them of what was coming, the report found.

He feared a "mass casualty event," according to the Post.

"While the public may have been surprised by what happened on Jan. 6, the makings of the insurrection had been spotted at every level, from one side of the country to the other," it said. "The red flags were everywhere."

Despite specific warnings of the exact nature of the attack that was coming — the planning of which would certainly be illegal — it appears the FBI limited itself for fear of infringing on First Amendment-protected activity. The Post also suggested that FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was often under fire from Trump, feared angering the man who appointed him by speaking out about the potential for violence.

"The FBI chief wasn't looking for any more confrontations with the president," the Post found, citing current and former law enforcement officials.

Wray remains in his position to this day.

Meanwhile, the Post reported, the Department of Homeland Security did not put out a security bulletin to alert other agencies of the dangers, despite receiving, "sobering assessments of the risk of possible violence on Jan. 6, including that federal buildings could be targeted by protesters."

As has previously been reported, officials in the U.S. Capitol Police were aware of at least some of the danger posed by Trump supporters still angry about the election in the run-up to Jan. 6. These warnings, however, didn't make it to Chief Steven Sund, and he failed to effectively coordinate with the National Guard to get protection for the Capitol. The Capitol Police itself was woefully under-prepared for the assault, as has been widely reported. Sund resigned following the attack, one of the few officials to face real accountability for the failures that led up to that day.

'The State’s gambit has worked': Justice Sotomayor decries the court's refusal to lift the Texas abortion ban

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a lone dissent on Friday as her colleagues once again refused to block the Texas abortion ban, even under a request from the Department of Justice.

The court did agree to take up the matter for oral arguments swiftly. On Monday, Nov. 1, the court will hear from both sides in the case on the question of whether the U.S. administration can intervene and temporarily block the law from going into effect as the cases proceed.

But Sotomayor, as she has previously, argued that the court should have issued an injunction blocking the abortion ban from being enforced immediately. The law is already having massive effects on the constitutionally protected right to obtain an abortion in Texas, she argued, and yet a majority of the justices is allowing the state to use procedural loopholes to undermine the court's own ruling precedents.

"The State's gambit has worked," she wrote. "The impact is catastrophic."

To circumvent existing law protecting the right to get an abortion, Texas legislators enacted a scheme the prohibits abortion after six weeks — well before a pregnancy may have even been detected — but outsources enforcement to the courts and citizens. The ban, known as S.B. 8, allows anyone to sue those who assist in an abortion for $10,000. Because of this unique enforcement mechanism, a majority of the Supreme Court's conservative justices have said that the issues are too complex to warrant an immediate injunction against the law.

This decision, Sotomayor argued, is a betrayal of the court's authority — and it is having the practical effect of infringing on the rights of people seeking abortions. She explained:

On a human level, the District Court relied on credible declarations that described the threat of liability under S. B. 8 as "nothing short of agonizing" for abortion care providers. ... Providers are "seriously concerned that even providing abortions in compliance with S. B. 8 will draw lawsuits from anti-abortion vigilantes or others seeking financial gain." ... Patients are "devastated" to learn they cannot access care, and the "turmoil" caused by the Act leaves them "panicked, both for themselves and their loved ones." ... Even among the few women who are able to receive abortion services in Texas, S. B. 8 pushes patients "to make a decision about their abortion before they are truly ready to do so."
To be sure, the court agreed, "[p]regnant people from Texas are scared and are frantically trying to get appointments" in other States. ... The court found, however, that many patients are unable to seek out-of-state care based on financial constraints, dangerous family situations, immigration status, or other reasons. Id., at *42. These individuals "are being forced to carry their pregnancy to term against their will or to seek ways to end their pregnancies on their own." ...
The court also found that patients who are able to leave Texas have encountered restrictions and backlogs exacerbated by S. B. 8, citing evidence of the Act's "stunning" and "crushing" impacts on clinics in Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. ... An Oklahoma provider, for example, reported a "staggering 646% increase of Texan patients per day," occupying between 50% and 75% of capacity. ... A Kansas clinic similarly reported that about half of its patients now come from Texas. Id., at *44. The District Court found that this "constant stream of Texas patients has created backlogs that in some places prevent residents from accessing abortion services in their own communities.

"I cannot capture the totality of this harm in these pages," she continued. "But as these excerpts illustrate, the State (empowered by this Court's inaction) has so thoroughly chilled the exercise of the right recognized in Roe as to nearly suspend it within its borders and strain access to it in other States."

Most legal observers expect that the court is well on its way to formally overturning Roe and Casey, the precedents recognizing a right to get an abortion, or to so drastically alter the interpretation of this right that they may as well have been overturned. But it's widely believed the court will use an upcoming case about a Missippi abortion law if it truly does intend to make major changes to its precedent. It's much less clear how the court will handle the Texas case after oral arguments.

Mitch McConnell makes a mockery of Sinema and Manchin's defense of the filibuster

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to be almost intentionally making a mockery of the small number of Democratic senators who continue to defend the filibuster.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have vocally opposed any effort to change the chamber's rules that require 60 votes to proceed on most legislation. Many Democratic lawmakers and advocates have called for the filibuster to be abolished, which would make it easier for the party to enact various pillars of its agenda.

The filibuster issue has once again come into focus because the debt ceiling. The American government is approaching the statutory limit on the amount of money it can borrow to fund the spending that Congress has already mandated, and if the limit is reached sometime later in the month, the country may go into default. The actual consequences of default are unknown because it has never happened before, but many analysts believe it would be economically calamitous and a devastating blow to the United States' financial standing.

Few people seriously think default is a good idea. But McConnell has taken the firm position that every Republican in the Senate will refuse to vote to raise the debt ceiling, and will in fact use the filibuster to prevent Democrats from doing so. His intention appears to be to force Democrats to use the budget reconciliation process in order to waste time and make their lives more difficult — even though the Democrats consistently voted with the GOP to raise the debt ceiling when Donald Trump was president. Democrats have refused to play along with McConnell's threats, setting up an extraordinarily high-stakes game of legislative chicken.

The Democrats do have another option to raise the debt limit. They could unilaterally change the filibuster rules to allow for the debt ceiling to be easily raised with just 51 votes. Manchin has already ruled this out, however, and Sinema likely agrees, since she's shown no sign of wavering from her previous stance.

The problem for them is that McConnell's hostage-taking exposes the central argument both Sinema and Manchin have made for keeping the filibuster as a fraud.

In separate op-eds, they have claimed that the 60-vote filibuster threshold encourages bipartisanship. Sinema wrote:

I understand bipartisanship seems outdated to many pundits. But the difficult work of collaboration is what we expect in Arizona. And I still believe it is the best way to identify realistic solutions — instead of escalating all-or-nothing political battles that result in no action, or in whipsawing federal policy reversals.
Since I was elected to Congress, a bipartisan approach has produced laws curbing suicide among our troops and veterans, boosting American manufacturing, delivering for Native American communities, combating hate crimes, and protecting public lands.
It's no secret that I oppose eliminating the Senate's 60-vote threshold. I held the same view during three terms in the U.S. House, and said the same after I was elected to the Senate in 2018. If anyone expected me to reverse my position because my party now controls the Senate, they should know that my approach to legislating in Congress is the same whether in the minority or majority.
Once in a majority, it is tempting to believe you will stay in the majority. But a Democratic Senate minority used the 60-vote threshold just last year to filibuster a police reform proposal and a covid-relief bill that many Democrats viewed as inadequate. Those filibusters were mounted not as attempts to block progress, but to force continued negotiations toward better solutions.

And Manchin wrote:

The filibuster is a critical tool to protecting that input and our democratic form of government. That is why I have said it before and will say it again to remove any shred of doubt: There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster. The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.

Many have already criticized these arguments, pointing out that the filibuster incentivizes inaction rather than compromise and that eliminating the 60-vote threshold might actually increase the amount of bipartisan legislation.

But the GOP's current use of the filibuster is the height of absurdity. It has nothing to do with bipartisanship. Even McConnell explicitly agrees that the debt ceiling must be raised. He is simply using the filibuster and the threat of economic disaster to force the Democrats to run through procedural hoops that will make it harder to achieve their policy agenda. It is exactly the kind of "political game" that Manchin said he wanted to end by keeping the filibuster.

It would be hard to invent a more clownish and ridiculous use of the filibuster if you tried. And it's entirely enabled by Sinema and Manchin's stubborn insistence that the filibuster is good for democracy.

On Tuesday night, President Biden told reporters that changing the filibuster to raise the debt ceiling is on the table, in his mind.

But even if most Senate Democrats agree, they need complete unanimity as a party for the plan to work. McConnell, for his part, doesn't seem to think Sinema or Manchin will be budging. As NBC News' Sahil Kapur reported on Tuesday, when McConnell was asked about the possibility of a change to the filibuster, he literally smiled.

Sinema and Manchin's plan crashes and burns after a key miscalculation

President Joe Biden met with the House Democratic caucus on Friday and confirmed what had already become clear the previous night: Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have failed in their plan this week.

Multiple reports confirmed that the president's message was unambiguous. The bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate in August isn't going to make it through the House until there's a deal within the Democratic Party on the reconciliation bill — which includes a slew of tax increases and social program spending that progressives are demanding.

What this means in the short term is that the more conservative Democrats — including Sinema and Manchin, but also some House members such as Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey — aren't getting their way. They wanted the bipartisan infrastructure bill to pass the House and become law before the formal negotiations began on the reconciliation package.

Their reasons for preferring this strategy aren't entirely apparent, and they may have diverse motivations. But the fundamental logic behind the plan was straightforward. They are more enthusiastic about spending on infrastructure and have qualms with the more expansive reconciliation package. Some of them may prefer to see the reconciliation bill fail altogether rather than pass. So they wanted to get the infrastructure bill signed into law so they could take away the progressives' leverage before entering into intra-party negotiations. As long as the progressives can threaten to block the infrastructure bill — as they did successfully Thursday night — they have a strong hand to demand concessions from the conservative Democrats in the reconciliation bill.

Manchin, Sinema, and Gottheimer seemed genuinely surprised that their plan didn't work. But there's no reason for shock. The congressional progressives and the Democratic leadership said explicitly from the start that they viewed both bills as an inseparable pair — the "two-track process," as it was called. Everyone was aware of this — despite Manchin's later claims of ignorance. This process was the reason progressives tolerated the conservatives' efforts during the spring and summer to work extensively with Republicans to get bipartisan agreement in the Senate on the infrastructure bill.

Sinema and Manchin were central players in the Senate negotiations, which were a subject of pride for both of them. They clearly concluded that, having negotiated the infrastructure deal in the Senate, they could pressure the House to pass the same bill. They would then have the upper hand in the reconciliation negotiations, if they even allowed such talks to take place.

But Sinema and Manchin miscalculated. They thought they could walk all over the House progressives and make unilateral demands without giving up any concessions. They thought their crucial votes in the Senate and their small number of allies in the House Democratic caucus gave them the power to dictate the terms of the whole process.

It didn't work because the progressives were able to stick together. Led by Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the Congressional Progressive Caucus consistently and convincingly promised that it had enough votes to tank the infrastructure bill without a deal on the reconciliation package. This threat kept House Speak Nancy Pelosi from even bringing the bill up for a vote in her chamber this week, despite her previous pledges to the conservative Democrats to do so. And Sinema and Manchin never even bothered to garner enough votes from House Republicans to subvert such a threat from the progressives.

Many media outlets framed this as a failure for the Biden presidency. It's possible that will end up being true, if neither bill ever passes. But some observers argued that progressives are really doing Biden a favor — whether he currently agrees or not — by using their leverage against the conservative Democrats and ensuring that more of his agenda gets passed. And Manchin and Sinema have been forced to grudgingly enter into real negotiations over the reconciliation bill, a sign that deliberative progress is actually being made.

Biden reportedly acknowledged Friday that the progressives will have to accept a smaller reconciliation bill than they were hoping for — currently pegged at $3.5 trillion — but it will quite likely be bigger than it would've been if they had caved this week. And the president said Friday that he still believes Congress will get the work done:

So Biden's not a failure — at least not yet. What failed is Sinema and Manchin's plan. They thought they could force their infrastructure bill through after treating members of their own party worse than they treated Senate Republicans. It didn't work. They can keep negotiating, of course, and they have every reason to. But it won't be on the terms they'd hoped.


Happy Holidays!