Jon Skolnik

Pelosi calls for investigative probe into Marjorie Taylor Greene's history of harassment after AOC attack

Freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., was seen accosting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. on Wednesday just outside the House chamber, erroneously berating the Squad member about her support of Antifa "terrorists."

As Greene and Ocasio-Cortez were leaving the House chamber on Wednesday afternoon, two Washington Post reporters saw Greene yell "Hey Alexandria" twice from behind Ocasio-Cortez, but the Democratic congresswoman did not stop walking. When Greene eventually caught up with Ocasio-Cortez, she leveled a spate of verbal attacks, accusing the Democrat of not standing by her "radical socialist" beliefs and supporting antifa, a decentralized anti-fascist group which Greene called "terrorists."

"You don't care about the American people," Greene yelled. "Why do you support terrorists and Antifa?"

The New York congresswoman did not appear to respond to Greene, according to an original account from The Washington Post.

Ocasio-Cortez spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said in a statement: "Representative Greene tried to begin an argument with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and when Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tried to walk away, Congresswoman Greene began screaming and called Rep. Ocasio-Cortez a terrorist sympathizer."

Hitt added: "We hope leadership and the Sergeant at Arms will take real steps to make Congress a safe, civil place for all Members and staff — especially as many offices are discussing reopening. One Member has already been forced to relocate her office due to Congresswoman Greene's attacks."

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that Greene's behavior may warrant an ethics investigation, calling Greene's attacks "egregious."

"This is beneath the dignity of a person serving in the Congress of the United States and is a cause for trauma and fear among members," Pelosi said, "especially on the heels of an insurrection, on which the minority in the committee yesterday denied ever happened."

Following the incident, Greene took to Twitter to again tar Ocasio-Cortez, whom she called "Ms. Defund The Police," for wanting to "call the police for security bc she's afraid of debating with me about her socialist [Green New Deal]." Greene also told reporters that Ocasio-Cortez is "a chicken."

The incident is just the latest in Greene's penchant for unprovoked verbal aggression.

Back in February, Greene hung a transphobic sign – which read "There are TWO genders: MALE & FEMALE" and "Trust the Science!" – outside the office of Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., who has a transgender daughter. The incident occurred just after Newman spoke in support of the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. A month prior, Greene made headlines again when she aggressively confronted Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo. after the Democrat encouraged her to put a mask on. The incident prompted Bush to permanently move her office.

In a similar incident back in 2019, Greene accosted gun reform activist David Hogg, an 18-year-old victim of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, for helping orchestrate what she baselessly alleged was a "false flag operation."

Republicans have yet to seriously discipline the freshman representative. Back in January, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., vowed to have a "conversation" with Greene about her behavior. The House later voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments. A number of Democratic House members have called for Greene's expulsion from Congress.

Nearly one million Americans in Republican-led states will lose assistance they've relied on during the pandemic

An increasing number of Republican-led states are calling an end to unemployment insurance in an effort to bolster employment, despite lacking any clear evidence that the federal benefits are causing what much of the business sector has said is a "labor shortage."

South Carolina and Montana were the first to nix the jobless benefits following the Department of Labor's less-than-stellar jobs report, which evinced a sharp decline in jobs added from last month, as well as a slight increase in the unemployment rate.

Citing a "severe worker shortage," Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte said he's spoken with several major employers in the state who confirmed the presence of steep hiring challenges. "Incentives matter, and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good," Gianforte said. "We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce." Montana, however, will provide $1,200 return-to-work bonuses funded by the latest coronavirus relief package.

South Carolina soon joined the fold, with Gov. Henry McMaster saying they "turned into a dangerous federal entitlement."

"These federal entitlements pose a clear and present danger to the health of our State's businesses and to our economy," he wrote in a letter to the state's Department of Employment and Workforce. "Since the Biden administration and Congress appear to have little to no comprehension of the damage being done and no appetite to terminate the federal payments, the State of South Carolina must take action."

South Carolina's unemployment rate reached nearly 13% in April of last year, but has since plummeted to 5.1%, just 0.9% less than the national rate of 6%.

Last Friday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, announced that the state would also be ending its jobless benefits, claiming that "employees are as scarce today as jobs were a year ago."

"The $300 federal supplement helped thousands of Arkansans make it through this tough time, so it served a good purpose," he said in a statement. "Now we need Arkansans back on the job so that we can get our economy back to full speed."

Meanwhile, Arkansas' unemployment rate hovers below South Carolina's at just 4.4% as of March.

This week, both Mississippi and Iowa announced an end to benefits as well. "Regular unemployment benefits will remain available, as they did before the pandemic," tweeted Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, "but it's time for everyone who can to get back to work. This country needs to look to the future, and Iowa intends to lead the way."

Other states like Indiana and Utah are mulling over similar moves as the pandemic wanes. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb intends to conduct a "demographic analysis of unemployed Hoosiers over the past 16 months" before making any decisions. On Sunday, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox told CNN that the $300 weekly boost is "a disincentive" and argued that the program must be rolled back "at some point."

In total, 13 GOP-led states — Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming — have announced plans to slash benefits as unemployment claims nationwide drop to pandemic lows. As the Washington Post reports, nearly 900,000 Americans are under threat of being cut off, some completly:

A final group of about 340,000 workers who collect traditional unemployment benefits each week similarly may see their benefits reduced to zero. These Americans currently rely on a federal program that pays them extra weeks of jobless support even if they have exhausted their states' annual allotments. Republican governors are cutting their participation in this effort as well, leaving workers who have been unemployed for prolonged periods with potentially no options remaining to obtain aid.

States like Vermont and Arizona reinstated work search requirements for the benefits that had otherwise been waived during the pandemic.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen argued that the economic data does not demonstrate any negative effects of benefits on employment. Yellen noted in fact a correlation between high benefits and high employment. On Monday, President Biden called the federal benefits "a lifeline" and dismissed the notion of rolling them back.

"I think the people who claim Americans won't work, even if they find a good and fair opportunity, underestimate the American people," said the president. "So we'll insist that the law is followed with respect to benefits, but we're not going to turn our backs on our fellow Americans."

Several White House officials have speculated that the weak jobs report may have much more to do with a lack of child care and lingering fears about the pandemic.

Senate Republicans at odds on the future of Trump and the GOP

On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., made the case for keeping the GOP close to former President Trump, arguing that it was "impossible" for the party to move on without him unless it wants to lose "half" of its base.

"The most popular Republican in America is not Lindsey Graham. It's not Liz Cheney. It's Donald Trump," said Graham in an interview with Fox News host Martha MacCallum. "He's the most popular Republican in the country by a lot. If you try to drive him out of the Republican Party, half the people will leave."

"People on our side of the aisle believe that Trump policies worked, they're disappointed that he lost," the South Carolina senator continued. "And to try and erase Donald Trump from the Republican Party is insane. And the people who try to erase him are going to wind up getting erased."

"It doesn't mean you can't criticize the president. It means the Republican Party cannot go forward without President Trump being part of it," he added.

Graham also addressed the internal GOP storm brewing over the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., one of few House Republicans to reject Trump's Big Lie. Cheney, who voted to impeach the former president back in January over inciting the Capitol riot, was stripped of her leadership title on Wednesday as the House Republican Conference chair.

Graham said that leading up to her ouster, Cheney had lost the confidence of the American public. "What's happened is that she's trying to make the argument the Republican Party is better off without Donald Trump, that he's disqualified from being a member of the Republican Party, that he should never be allowed to pursue office again," the congressman argued. "I disagree with that, and I think most House Republicans disagree with that."

"I've always liked Liz Cheney," he added, "but she's made a determination that the Republican Party can't grow with President Trump. I've determined we can't grow without him."

Back in late April, Trump claimed in a Fox News interview that he was "very seriously" considering running for president in 2024. Trump's bid would no doubt win the approval of a wide breadth of Republicans in Congress.

In a Wednesday interview, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who voted to convict Donald Trump of impeachment charges, told Fox News' Brian Kilmeade that Trump is "not gonna be our nominee" in 2024, a promise Cassidy made back in February as well.

Although Graham continues to back the president, his fealty has not always been entirely consistent. In January, Graham sharply rebuked the former president following the Capitol riot, saying that Trump "needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution."

"It breaks my heart that my friend, a president of consequence, would allow yesterday to happen and it will be a major part of his presidency," he said at the time. "It was a self-inflicted wound."

Graham would later vote to acquit the president during Trump's second impeachment trial.

Right-wing funders are waging war to keep dark money secret. Some liberals are joining them

More than a decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, opening the door for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on political causes (although not directly to political candidates). As corrosive as that decision was to democracy, it came with a slight proviso. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: while "the Government may not suppress [corporate] speech altogether," it may "regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements." Citizens United found, in other words, that corporations could spend without limit, but government had a right to force public disclosure that spending to the public.

Since then, it's become abundantly clear that money in politics takes numerous forms, far beyond the obvious subterfuge of a corporation donating to a political action committee that then funds a political candidate. In the nonprofit world, big-money donors pump hundreds of millions into politically-motivated 501(c) organizations, which are not required to disclose their donors. Those groups then funnel this money into patently political ventures, even though they are technically forbidden from engaging in significant lobbying. That two-step process describes the phenomenon known as "dark money," which allows wealthy individuals and corporations to exert enormous influence on the political system behind a veil of anonymity.

Last year alone, more than $1 billion in dark money was spent in the 2020 election, a record high. Contrary to some people's assumptions, "both sides" actually do it — dark money flows to and from Democrats as well as Republicans. In truth, anonymous money has been part of America's political bloodstream for decades now, but not until relatively recently has the debate around it rose to a national level. Last month, in the firs major case of its kind since Citizens United, the issue of nonprofit donor disclosure returned to the highest court in the land.

In this case, Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta (consolidated with another, functionally identical case, Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta) the Supreme Court will decide whether political nonprofits can be compelled to disclose who their largest donors are. This case in question specifically concerns donor disclosure rules in California, but its implications are unmistakably nationwide. And while the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and the Christian-oriented Thomas More Center are distinctly right-wing in ideological terms, they have some surprising allies before the high court.

As things work now, the IRS annually collects from every nonprofit a form called Schedule B, which lists the personal information of each nonprofit's largest donors. The stated legal purpose is to regulate or prevent various financial crimes like fraud and money laundering. California is unique in requiring nonprofits to submit their Schedule B forms to the state attorney general's office — if they want to keep on raising tax-deductible donations.

To be clear, California collects the information, but does not release it to the public. But this seemingly innocuous bureaucratic regulation has sent shockwaves throughout the conservative nonprofit world — not to mention a number of liberal-leaning or civil-libertarian nonprofits as well, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign.

Broadly speaking, the strange coalition of plaintiffs in the Americans for Prosperity argue that the state's interest in collecting Schedule B's — which, once again, would not be made publicly accessible — does not outweigh the burden that the law would impose upon them. They further argue that this burden may be acute for nonprofits that advocate for or against controversial causes, like abortion. Furthermore, the plaintiffs have argued that if their donors are unmasked — by means of a hack or leak, for instance — these donors could be at risk of severe reprisal, causing a chilling effect on future donations.

John Bursch, vice president of appellate advocacy at Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative-libertarian group, told Salon in an interview he sees this as "a free association problem."

"Whether it's a conservative organization or a liberal or progressive organization," Bursch said, "they all recognize that publicly exposing donors to groups that engage in public advocacy risks chilling — causing people to not donate, or to donate below thresholds where they won't appear on a Schedule B."

Bursch currently represents the Thomas More Law Center, a Christian conservative legal nonprofit that briefly embraced Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the presidential election and is now battling on behalf of donor privacy. He alleges that there have been several cases when donors have felt threatened because of their connections to Americans for Prosperity Foundation or Thomas More. Court documents detail purported instances of doxing, death threats and even assassination attempts. It's worth noting that the plaintiffs also fear "economic reprisal," such as boycotts or criticism of their businesses, activities that are clearly legal and constitutionally protected expressions of free speech.

To make their case, the plaintiffs draw upon an unlikely parallel: the Supreme Court's seminal 1958 ruling in NAACP v. Alabama, where the justices found that Alabama officials could not force the NAACP to turn over its membership list due to the possibility of violent public retaliation against its members.

At the time of that decision, Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote that the NAACP had made "an uncontroverted showing" that the "revelation of the identity of its rank-and-file members has exposed these members to economic reprisal, loss of employment, threat of physical coercion, and other manifestations of public hostility." Alabama's effort to expose NAACP members was largely understood by racial justice advocates as a clear attempt to dismantle the civil-rights group through the use of racial terror.

Bursch acknowledged that the historical circumstances around NAACP do not resemble those of the current case, but insisted, "To think that [Thomas More] donors might not face life or death is not really accurate."

Unsurprisingly, many critics of the corrosive force of money in politics reject any comparison between the cases. In a statement to Salon, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., drily observed "an enormous gap between the Supreme Court case cited by petitioners — a civil rights-era decision where NAACP members had reason to fear state-sanctioned bombings, assassinations and other violence — and the problem of billionaires secretly running dark-money-funded political covert ops in our country."

Daniel Weiner, deputy director of the Brennan Center's Election Reform Program, echoed that analysis in an interview with Salon: "I always pause at any contemporary actor analogizing themselves to the NAACP in the South in 1958. And that includes folks on the right and left. AFP, whether or not it is right on the merits, represents some of the most powerful interests in the country. This is not comparable to the NAACP in the South prior to the civil rights movement."

There's another important difference between the two cases: While the plaintiffs in the Americans for Prosperity case are alleging a largely hypothetical risk of reprisal, they are demanding a result that in goes further than in the NAACP decision. As Vox's Ian Millhiser explained, "the plaintiffs insist that they are entitled to facial relief — meaning that the state's disclosure rule must be tossed out for all nonprofits, regardless of whether donors to those nonprofits face harassment, or even if they want to keep their donations secret."

Weiner said that a universal ban on mandatory donor disclosures is not warranted, arguing that the plaintiffs' case goes no further than claiming "that the law should not be applied to them. It's hard to see how all this adds up to 'the law is facially invalid,' which is a really sweeping position to take in light of a couple incidents."

Bursch responded that Americans for Prosperity "is precisely the type of case where a facial ruling would be appropriate," saying, "It's almost nonsensical to suggest that thousands of charities should have to individually sue California to keep their donor information confidential."

Even though California has no plans to release "dark money" donors' names, Bursch argues there is still likely to be a chilling effect, claiming that the state does not maintain a secure record-keeping system and leaves an "open door" for hackers. It's true that in 2012, a Schedule B for Planned Parenthood was leaked in California, potentially revealing hundreds of donors' names and addresses. But such occurrences have been rare.

As mentioned above, nonprofit donor disclosure is a particularly hot topic when it comes to dark money, which typically moves through 501(c)(4) nonprofits, or "social welfare organizations," which collect money from anonymous donors and then spend it on campaigns or candidates on said donors' behalf.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation, however, is a (501)(c)(3), meaning that in order to preserve its tax-exempt status, it's supposed to designate its funds for "charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals," according to IRS rules. However, Americans for Prosperity, the group's sister organization, is a 501(c)(4), meaning that it can more significantly engage in political advocacy and lobbying — largely in favor of reduced taxes, deregulation and other business-friendly policies — and has done so vigorously.

Bursch claimed earnestly that dark money has "nothing" to do with the current Supreme Court case, reminding this reporter that 501(c)(3) charities like AFPF are barred by federal law "from participating in any political advocacy, which is where the dark money issue arises." Explaining the relationship between Americans for Prosperity and its affiliated foundation, he said, "My understanding is that the 501(c)(3) can't fund the 501(c)(4). So,although they share a name and perhaps some common goals, the work they engage in is completely different. You can't cross those lines."

AFP did not respond to Salon's request to comment on its relationship with AFPF, which has been known to cross some lines. In 2010, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee accused AFPF of financing blatantly political commercials that criticized the Obama administration, alleging that the ads "made the Americans for Prosperity Foundation a de facto political action group in violation of the federal tax code," according to the New York Times.

Bursch said that he believed or understood that AFP and AFPF had a "different office, different directors, different employees and different purposes." In fact, a comparison of AFP and AFPF's 2018 tax filings shows that a significant number of officers, directors, trustees and key employees work at both entities, including Nancy Pfotenhauer, Mark Holden, Robert Heaton, Emily Seidel, Slade O'Brien and various others.

Supplemental information on AFPF's filings also states that "certain employees of Americans for Prosperity Foundation may perform services for Americans for Prosperity, a related organization, through a service contract between the organizations." (This relationship also goes the other way.) AFPF is additionally listed as AFP's "direct controlling entity," a designation whose legal meaning is not entirely clear but certainly suggests an intimate relationship.

Not all contributors to political nonprofits count as "dark money donors," to be sure. Some are ordinary citizens, no doubt, genuinely interested in contributing to what they believe are nonpartisan endeavors. But it's precisely the lack of donor disclosure that makes the whole process opaque.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., a staunch critic of money in politics, affirmed the need for more effective disclosure in light of the AFP and AFPF's purposefully mysterious relationship. "Because we're dealing with dark money, we don't really know the relationship between AFPF and AFP," he said. "When a 501(c)(3) gives money to a 501(c)(4) to engage in electioneering activities, that's what dark money is all about." (Salon could not find clear evidence that money has flowed from AFPF to AFP, let alone how it might have been used.)

"The Federalist Society and the Federalist Society Foundation both share the same goals and aspirations," Johnson expressed. "People are trying to exert influence. That's the reason why they contribute to these organizations that have a political agenda."

House Republican reveals he tried to warn Kevin McCarthy before Jan. 6 riot — and was summarily dismissed

Anti-Trump GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., alleged on Monday that he warned House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., one of Trump's biggest boosters, that the GOP's rhetoric was inviting violence in advance of the Capitol riot, but McCarthy dismissed his concerns.

"A few days before Jan 6, our GOP members had a conference call," Kinzinger tweeted. "I told Kevin that his words and our party's actions would lead to violence on January 6th. Kevin dismissively responded with 'ok Adam, operator next question.' And we got violence."

In a National Press Club interview, Kinzinger also admitted that he considered organizing a vote of no confidence against McCarthy following the insurrection. "I actually thought the person that should have their leadership challenged was Kevin McCarthy after Jan. 6, because that's why this all happened," he revealed. "I was considering, you know, having a vote of no confidence against Kevin, and our feeling was no, let's move on. We're gonna vote to impeach the president; we need to move on," he said. Kinzinger's plan ultimately failed to garner enough support from his colleagues.

The Illinois representative was among the ten House Republicans to support former President Trump's second impeachment for inciting the Capitol riot. Just who is to blame for the riot has become a defining flash point for the Republican Party, which has demonstrated a tendency to ostracize any member who attributes the riot to Trump.

In a National Press Club interview, Kinzinger also admitted that he considered organizing a vote of no confidence against McCarthy following the insurrection. "I actually thought the person that should have their leadership challenged was Kevin McCarthy after Jan. 6, because that's why this all happened," he revealed. "I was considering, you know, having a vote of no confidence against Kevin, and our feeling was no, let's move on. We're gonna vote to impeach the president; we need to move on," he said. Kinzinger's plan ultimately failed to garner enough support from his colleagues.

The Illinois representative was among the ten House Republicans to support former President Trump's second impeachment for inciting the Capitol riot. Just who is to blame for the riot has become a defining flash point for the Republican Party, which has demonstrated a tendency to ostracize any member who attributes the riot to Trump.

Kinzinger also expressed regret over not pushing McCarthy's ouster hard enough.

"I didn't go too far and wide with it yet, and I chatted with kind of a close group of mine," he admitted. "And the feeling in that close group — I won't reveal who it is — but the feeling that group was kind of, you know, we're taking a big step, the president is going to be XYZ, and now it's time that we have to heal as a party. I was like, 'Well, I'm not going to do it alone. I still believe that Kevin should at least have his leadership challenged.'"

The congressman noted that the GOP began vying to remove Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a recent Republican critic of Trump, from her position as House Republican Conference chair shortly after Trump was acquitted of his second impeachment charges.

"And then everybody went on the offense against Liz," he recounted. "And that's what was a brilliant strategic play, because then all of a sudden, you know, Liz is the one playing defense, for what? What was she playing defense for, for telling the truth and not ransacking the Capitol on Jan. 6? "If you think about it from the forest, it's ludicrous that she's having to defend herself. Like, that's insane. But that's where we are."

On Sunday, Kinzinger likened the Republican Party to the Titanic amid the internal GOP push to strip Cheney of her leadership role.

"We're like, you know, in the middle of this slow sink," he said in a CBS interview. "We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it's fine. And meanwhile, as I've said, you know, Donald Trump's running around trying to find women's clothing and get on the first lifeboat."

The representative on Sunday also bashed McCarthy for quickly changing his tune on who was to blame for the Capitol riot. Just a week after the insurrection, McCarthy initially laid the blame at Trump's feet.

"Liz Cheney is saying exactly what Kevin McCarthy said the day of the insurrection. She's just consistently been saying it," Kinzinger argued. "We have so many people including our leadership in the party that have not admitted that this is what it is, which was an insurrection led by the president of the United States, well-deserving of a full accounting from Republicans."

On Sunday, McCarthy publicly threw his support behind Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., a young, budding Republican, to replace Cheney as the House Republican Conference chair. Stefanik, who Salon's Heather Digby Parton noted is something of a "political shapeshifter," was once a Republican moderate, but has since distinguished herself as one of Trump's most pugnacious defenders.

'Circular firing squad': Republicans turn on their own they seek to purge the anti-Trump crowd

Anti-Trump detractors of the GOP are growing louder in their criticisms of Donald Trump, even as the party grows increasingly hostile toward anyone that breaks from absolute praise for the former president.

On Sunday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., likened the Republican Party to the Titanic amid the internal battle currently being waged against Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., for her anti-Trump record. Reports have speculated that the Republican Party is planning to oust Cheney as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference and replace her with budding GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.

"Right now, it's basically the Titanic," Kinzinger warned in a CBS interview on "Face the Nation."

"We're like, you know, in the middle of this slow sink. We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it's fine. And meanwhile, as I've said, you know, Donald Trump's running around trying to find women's clothing and get on the first lifeboat."

Kinzinger acknowledged that "there's a few of us that are just saying, 'Guys, this is not good,' not just for the future of the party, but this is not good for the future of this country."

The Illinois representative also took specific aim at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who Kinzinger said quickly changed his tune about who is to blame for the Capitol riot.

"Liz Cheney is saying exactly what Kevin McCarthy said the day of the insurrection. She's just consistently been saying it," Kinzinger explained. "We have so many people including our leadership in the party that have not admitted that this is what it is, which was an insurrection led by the president of the United States, well-deserving of a full accounting from Republicans."

The congressman concluded that his party must have "an internal look and a full accounting as to what led to Jan. 6" and "quit peddling in conspiracies."

Kinzinger, one of the ten House Republicans that broke party ranks and voted to impeach Trump following the Capitol riot, has been a vocal apostate of the Republican Party since Trump's departure from office. In March, Kinzinger launched a super PAC dedicated to supporting anti-Trump Republicans in the 2022 elections, called "Americans Keeping Country First."

Kinzinger's comments came just as Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan drew upon yet another metaphor to describe the madness of his own party. On Sunday, Hogan called the GOP "a circular firing squad" hellbent on excommunicating any member who dares utter a modicum of criticism against the former president.

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Hogan addressed Cheney's potential ouster. "It just bothers me that you have to swear fealty to the dear leader or you get kicked out of the party, it just doesn't make any sense," Hogan lamented. "It's sort of a circular firing squad where we're just attacking members of our own party instead of focusing on solving problems or standing up and having an argument that we can debate the Democrats on some of the things that the Biden administration is pushing through."

He concluded: "We had the worst four years we've had ever in the Republican Party losing the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate."

Echoing Kinzinger, Hogan shamed his colleagues for brushing the Capitol riot under the rug and not pinning enough blame on the former president.

Many party veterans have argued that the GOP will need to let go of Trump in order to build a broader coalition for the next cycle of elections. Others have suggested that Trump's effect on the American psyche will be extremely difficult to shake off.

"It's becoming increasingly difficult, it seems, for people to go out on the stump and defend somebody like Liz Cheney or Mitt Romney," said former Senator Jeff Flake, who was censured by the GOP this year. "About 70 percent of Republicans probably genuinely believe that the election was stolen, and that's debilitating. It really is."

Mitch McConnell slammed by his alma mater over his remarks about the 1619 Project

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell received a sharp rebuke from his alma mater on Thursday when a University of Louisville administrator clapped back at his recent comments about the legacy of slavery and its effects on American history.

McConnell's remarks came Monday during a speaking event at the university, where he was asked to opine on the New York Times' "1619 Project," according to WDRB. The project, which seeks to "reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative," puts particular emphasis on the year 1619 — which was the first year that African slaves were brought to America.

During a question-and-answer session, McConnell criticized the project. "I think this is about American history and the most important dates in American history," he said. "And my view — and I think most Americans think — dates like 1776, the Declaration of Independence; 1787, the Constitution; 1861-1865, the Civil War, are sort of the basic tenets of American history."

The senator added: "There are a lot of exotic notions about what are the most important points in American history. I simply disagree with the notion that The New York Times laid out, that the year 1619 was one of those years."

McConnell's remarks drew widespread scorn, including from the project's founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who said on CNN, "This is not about the facts of history — it's about trying to prohibit the teaching of ideas they don't like."

On Thursday, McConnell even encountered some pushback from his own alma mater when V. Faye Jones, the interim senior associate vice president of diversity and equity at the University of Louisville, wrote in a campus-wide email: "To imply that slavery is not an important part of United States history not only fails to provide a true representation of the facts, but also denies the heritage, culture, resilience and survival of Black people in America."

She continued: "It also fails to give context to the history of systemic racial discrimination, the United States' 'original sin' as Sen. McConnell called it, which still plagues us today. ... What we know to be true is that slavery and the date the first enslaved Africans arrived and were sold on U.S. soil are more than an 'exotic notion.' If the Civil War is a significant part of history, should not the basis for it also be viewed as significant?"

Jones said that Louisville provost Lori Stewart Gonzalez, who was on stage during McConnell's appearance, shared her perspective.

It was a striking rebuke, given the senator's longstanding support for his alma mater. Last year, McConnell spearheaded the provision of a $4 million grant to the university from the Labor Department. In 1991, the senator himself made a multimillion-dollar donation to establish the university's McConnell Center, which sets out to "recruit and nurture Kentucky's next generation of great leaders."

McConnell's comments are just the latest in a pattern of revisionist history — in late March, the senator said that the Senate filibuster "has no racial history at all," claiming that "there's no dispute among historians about that." As Salon reported at the time, historians largely agree that the filibuster was systematically used by segregationists — mostly Southern Democrats in that era — to obstruct civil rights for Black Americans.

Why Republicans are so obsessed with attack the 1619 Project

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., argued on Monday that the year 1619, widely thought of as the year the first African slaves were trafficked to what would become the U.S., is not especially noteworthy in the arc of U.S. history.

"I think this is about American history and the most important dates in American history," McConnell said during an event at the University of Louisville, according to The Courier-Journal. "And my view — and I think most Americans think — dates like 1776, the Declaration of Independence; 1787, the Constitution; 1861-1865, the Civil War, are sort of the basic tenets of American history." The senator added: "There are a lot of exotic notions about what are the most important points in American history. I simply disagree with the notion that The New York Times laid out there that the year 1619 was one of those years."

In 2019, The New York Times launched its seminal "1619 Project," which traces the consequences of slavery from its inception centuries ago to its modern-day implications for Black Americans. The project sets out to "reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation's birth year." Since then, conservatives have not let up their campaign to undermine the project.

McConnell recently led a brigade of about 40 disgruntled Republicans calling on the U.S. Department of Education to cancel a federal plan that would allot grant money to schools that incorporate the New York Times' project into their syllabus. "Americans do not need or want their tax dollars diverted from promoting the principles that unite our nation toward promoting radical ideologies meant to divide us," the Republican cohort wrote in a missive to the department. "Americans never decided our children should be taught that our country is inherently evil."

McConnell's letter comes amid the broader, years-long GOP pushback against the idea that slavery and racial injustice should be acknowledged as a defining elements of American history.

Last year, Salon reported that the White House issued an executive order banning the use of racial sensitivity training and critical race theory in federal agencies in an effort to dispute the notion the "United States is an inherently racist or evil country or that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil," as a Trump memo put.

That same year, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who encouraged the military to intervene in the George Floyd protests as "an overwhelming show of force," told the Arkansas-Gazette that slavery was a "necessary evil."

"We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country, because otherwise, we can't understand our country," he said in an interview with paper. "As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction." Cotton would later go on to defend these remarks.

Back in 2019, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., who holds a Ph.D. in history, called the entire 1619 Project "a lie."

"Look, I think slavery is a terrible thing," he said during an interview with Fox & Friends. "I think putting slavery in context is important. We still have slavery in places around the world today, so we need to recognize this is an ongoing story. I think, certainly, if you are an African-American, slavery is at the center of what you see as the American experience."

Right-wing outrage over critical race theory spans as far back as 2012, in fact, when Breitbart unleashed a fury over former President Barack Obama hugging Harvard professor and critical race theorist Derrick Bell. During an acrimonious interview with CNN host Soledad O'Brien, then Breitbart's Editor-In-Chief, Joel Pollak, exclaimed that "Derrick Bell is the Jeremiah Wright of academia. He passed away last year, but during his lifetime, he developed a theory called critical race theory, which holds that the civil rights movement was a sham and that white supremacy is the order and it must be overthrown."

"Critical race theory is all about white supremacy," Pollack added. "Critical race theory holds that civil rights laws are ineffective, that racial equality is impossible, because the legal and Constitutional in America is white supremacist."

Currently, most scholars define critical race theory as the academic practice of "recognizing race as a social construct embedded in many American institutions throughout history, with implications you can see today," according to KSDK.

"We need to have a critical lens to examine what it means to be a certain group of people and then to also have conversations and dialogs to flesh out what are the biases that could exist in the system so that we can actually create that platform and create the equity that we all long for," Yin Lam Lee-Johnson, chair of the Diversity Advisory Committee at Webster University, told KSDK.

As federal pushback against critical race theory mounts at the federal level, so too does it in state legislatures throughout the country.

On Monday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a law prohibiting state agencies from teaching critical race theory or other "divisive" topics in sensitivity trainings.

On Tuesday, Tennessee Republicans reopened an education committee to regulate what public school teachers can cover in discussions of race and inequality, specifically taking legislative aim at the notion of systemic inequality. "We as legislators and citizens must take a stand against hucksters, charlatans and useful idiots peddling identity politics," Ragan said in a floor speech. Republicans in other states like Idaho, Missouri, Florida, Oklahoma are leading similar efforts.

Gloria Ladson-Billings, president of the National Academy of Education, an academic research group told The Washington Post that the conservative backlash against critical race theory has a lot to do with its contradiction of America's "narrative of progress."

"The moment you make racism more than an isolated incident, when you begin to talk about it as systemic, as baked into the way we live our lives…people don't like that," Ladson-Billings said. "It runs counter to a narrative that we want to tell ourselves about who we are. We have a narrative of progress, that we're getting better."

Republican lawmaker charged for role in Oregon Capitol riot

Oregon state Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican state legislator from Polk County, now faces criminal charges as he stands accused of purposely letting rioters breach the state Capitol last December.

The charges include first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass, according to court records obtained by CNN. Nearman has formally been accused of "unlawfully and knowingly perform(ing) an act which constituted an unauthorized exercise of his official duties, with intent to obtain a benefit or to harm another," and is set to be arraigned on May 11.

Security footage shows Nearman exiting the state Capitol building on December 21 around 8:30 a.m., when his fellow colleagues were still in a floor debate regarding a state-wide COVID-19 relief package. A raucous throng of people protesting COVID restrictions can be seen just outside the chamber Nearman exits from, suggesting that the legislator deliberately granted entry to them.

Shortly after Nearman leaves, the demonstrators, some of whom brandished firearms, engaged in a physical confrontation with state police who impeded further entry into the building. Oregon State Police said that "a protester sprayed some kind of chemical irritant" at the officers, according to CNN. However, the officers eventually secured the chamber.

Outside the building, several demonstrators shattered glass doors and attacked journalists. Over 30 people unlawfully entered the vestibule, reported the New York Times.

A complaint filed in January by Oregon state Democrats alleges that Nearman "let a group of rioters enter the Capitol, despite his knowledge that only authorized personnel are allowed in the building due to the COVID-19 pandemic." It also called Nearman's actions "completely unacceptable, reckless, and so severe that it will affect people's ability to feel safe working in the Capitol or even for the legislature."

On Friday, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat, demanded that Nearman resign, tweeting: "Rep. Nearman put every person in the Capitol in serious danger and created fear among Capitol staff and legislators."

Oregon House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner echoed Kotek in January: "Rep. Mike Nearman's actions are a stain on this state. He put the lives of staff members, legislators and Oregon State Police officers in jeopardy. He is an embarrassment to this institution. He must be held to account."

Nearman, whose legal representation on the matter remains unclear, said in a written statement back in January: "I don't condone violence nor participate in it. I do think that when ... the Oregon Constitution says that the legislative proceedings shall be 'open,' it means open, and as anyone who has spent the last nine months staring at a screen doing virtual meetings will tell you, it's not the same thing as being open."

According to NPR, at least three of the protestors who participated in the breach of the Oregon state Capitol went on to participate in D.C.'s Capitol insurrection.

The Oregon House Conduct Committee is set to investigate the incident and determine whether the state Republican violated workplace rules. Nearman may be expelled from the body, depending on whether the state Congress can reach bipartisan support for the effort. Nearman has since been ousted from all his committee seats, though he still appears in House floor proceedings.

The incident is not Nearman's first go-around with controversy. Back in October, the lawmaker sued Gov. Kate Brown in October due to the state's COVID restrictions, according to the Times. In December, Nearman joined a dozen Oregon lawmakers who had encouraged the state attorney general to join a lawsuit looking to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election.

A storm is brewing in Arizona: Why QAnon is obsessed with the state's shady election audit

There is a storm brewing in Arizona. For the past week, Maricopa County — the state's major population center — which narrowly favored President Joe Biden during the 2020 general election, has been holding its very own election audit following demands from a Republican-led coalition to recount the ballots.

Stoking the fire behind the audit is an army of online QAnon conspiracy theorists, who have taken it upon themselves to fastidiously monitor live streams of each and every auditor in the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, where the recount is being held, according to VICE. Any suspicious activity seen in the streams is reportedly being flagged by QAnon fans, who then spread word of such activity on various fringe pro-Trump forums and QAnon Telegram channels, often attached to grandiose claims of election conspiracy.

Several prominent members of the MAGAverse have already taken the reins of the surveillance campaign, as VICE reported. Ron Watkins, the former administrator of the message board 8kun, which has been called "ground zero for QAnon," recently shared a series of videos alleging foul play by various auditors. "We are watching the auditors," Watkins wrote. "No shenanigans will get through the sharp eyes of the watchers." Watkins is believed by many to be the original architect behind Q, the anonymous leader whose online "drops" launched the QAnon conspiracy theories.

The audit is being conducted by Florida-based tech company Cyber Ninjas, owned by Doug Logan, a known QAnon conspiracy theorist who, in advance of the recount, speculated that it would garner an extra 200,000 votes for Donald Trump, according to the Huffington Post. Logan himself has widely spread false claims on Twitter that Trump lost the election due to systemic fraud, without of course supplying any evidence.

Arizona Republican officials had reportedly never heard of Cyber Ninjas, which has no known experience in auditing elections. On Friday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury demanded that the firm provide more transparency regarding its recount procedures. Cyber Ninjas has so far refused to hand over such information, claiming it would "compromise the security of its recount," according to The Arizona Republic. The company also alleged that divulging the details of its recount procedures would threaten its trade secrets.

Members of the MAGAverse have also bandied unsubstantiated fears that the left will attempt to physically shut down the recount in order to prevent Trump's miraculous return to office. (Which, to be clear, is a legal and constitutional impossibility.) According to the Daily Beast, many watching the auditors have expressed fear that the Arizona Rangers, a civilian law enforcement auxiliary that has been patrolling outside the recount premises, cannot provide enough security to ward off a leftist attack.

One MAGA influencer by the name of Joe M. stoked fears that Arizona Gov. Greg Ducey, who refused to fortify the audit's security detail at Trump's behest, speculated that Ducey's refusal indicates the presence of "domestic paramilitary paid mercenaries, cunningly named 'Antifa'" who "are on standby and will be deployed against American civil servants, and the public at large, when political and media subterfuge is no longer effective, and the true result is finally revealed."

Trump's former national security adviser, the Q-curious retired general Michael Flynn, claimed in a speech last month to have "intel" that antifa and Black Lives Matter activists "from Portland and Seattle" planned to come to Arizona "to disrupt finding the truth." No such invasion has occurred to this point.

The Arizona Rangers themselves attempted to allay security fears by sharing an article from the right-wing fringe news site Gateway Pundit, which only added fuel to the fire by claiming: "The Coliseum is well guarded and there are contingencies if someone tried to bully their way in. But the Democrats are desperate and will do anything — even steal an election to gain power."

On Thursday, the Arizona Democratic Party, along with the sole Democrat on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, filed a lawsuit against Republican State Senate President Karen Fann and Cyber Ninjas in a last-ditch attempt to put an end to the audit, according to AP News. The suit alleges that Fann and another GOP state senator have outsourced the recount to an "inexperienced third party with clear bias" who will cause "irreparable harm to the integrity of Arizona's election systems."

Jared Holt, resident fellow at the Atlantic Council 's Digital Forensic Research Lab, told Salon that members of QAnon are "anticipating discrepancies they hope will validate their false beliefs about the integrity of the vote."

"Even a minor flaw that does not alter the result of the final tally has the potential to revamp falsehoods about the election and inspire calls for additional recounts or further action," Holt explained. "Given how desperate these communities have proved themselves to be in their search for a smoking gun, it's hard to imagine a scenario where they would actually accept a finding that reveals no foul play. Many are seeking validation, not answers."


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