Matthew Chapman

Reporter details how Kevin McCarthy's attempt to control his party blew up in his face

On CNN Tuesday, congressional correspondent Manu Raju reported that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) simply blew off a plea from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to cease her feud with fellow Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC).

"Just this evening, behind closed doors, Kevin McCarthy summoned each of them for private meetings, discussing with them and telling them this message, he wanted them to, quote, 'stop it,'" explained Raju. "That message ... did not take hold. Greene emerged from the meeting and told our colleague Melanie Zanona that she would support a primary challenge against Nancy Mace. And she also said that Donald Trump would support a primary challenge against Nancy Mace."

Greene and Mace have been in a feud all day that started with Mace criticizing Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) for her Islamophobic attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Greene lashed out, saying that Mace was "trash," to which Mace responded that Greene is "insane."

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'What's wrong with you?' Attorney shames Arbery killers' lawyers for 'horrific' closing arguments

On CNN Monday, L. Chris Stewart, the former co-counsel for Ahmaud Arbery's mother, tore into the closing arguments of the attorneys for the men accused of killing Arbery, slamming them as inappropriate.

"As closing arguments wrap up for the day, which side do you think has made a more effective case, do you think?" asked anchor Jim Acosta.

"Clearly the prosecution, especially when we saw today the defenses that were being put on," said Stewart. "It was disrespectful, horrific."

He then took aim at defense lawyer Laura Hogue, who elicited gasps in the courtroom when she described Arbery as wearing "khaki shorts, with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails."

"Attorney Hogue should be ashamed of herself," he said. "To bring up his feet in the middle of trial? What's wrong with you? Not only disrespecting Ahmaud, but you know his mother was right there. Attorney Sheffield tried to make Travis into a cop, which he's not. He's not trained like our law enforcement are. And Mr. Gough, I have no earthly idea what he was saying or what he was trying to defend."

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L. Chris Stewart slams McMichaels' attorney for attacking Ahmaud Arbery in closing argument

'RINO alert': Trumpists are turning on Glenn Youngkin before he even takes office — here's why

Nearly three weeks ago, right-wing businessman Glenn Youngkin pulled off a stunning victory in the Virginia gubernatorial election, winning the governor's mansion of the commonwealth for the first time in 12 years.

But the honeymoon for conservatives may be short-lived. On Friday, The Daily Beast reported that some pro-Trump elements of the GOP are already turning on the governor-elect, for a few reasons.

First of all, Youngkin has refused to commit to pre-empting local COVID-19 health rules, the way some other Republican governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis or Texas' Greg Abbott have done.

"Judicial Watch founder Tom Fitton railed against Youngkin for refusing to stand up against 'abusive' mask mandates, while right-wing outlet The Federalist tossed him under the bus for not being a 'strong conservative governor,'" reported Zachary Petrizzo. "John Fredericks, who hosts a radio show on fringe channel Real America's Voice, suggested Youngkin had turned on the Trump base that helped elect him. 'Two weeks, post his election, here we go: Once again with another RINO alert,' he declared, accusing the millionaire Virginia gubernatorial victor of being a 'Republican In Name Only.'"

The other point of controversy is that Youngkin hired recent Georgetown graduate Joshua Marin-Mora as a press assistant — which some right-wingers take issue with because he displays pronouns in his social media bio and has worn LGBTQ pride clothing.

"Youngkin chose a guy with pronouns in his bio to do his comms who also served on the Georgetown Latinx Leadership Forum and supports virtually everything Youngkin's voters voted against," complained Pedro Gonzalez of the Claremont Institute — the same organization that employs John Eastman, the Trump lawyer who drafted the infamous coup memo.

"There have long been questions raised about whether Youngkin's loyalties will lie with Trump's base or with the more moderate conservatives who voted for him throughout Northern Virginia, a heavily purple area of the state," concluded Petrizzo.

You can read more here.

DeJoy’s future in jeopardy as Biden plans to replace key USPS governor: report

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that President Joe Biden is expected to announce he will not nominate Ron Bloom, the United States Postal Service board chairman and the board's most powerful supporter of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, for a new term when his current term expires at the end of the year.

"The move casts doubt on DeJoy's future at the agency, said the three people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations," reported Jacob Bogage. "Biden's decision potentially gives liberals on the panel another crucial vote to oust the postmaster general, who can only be removed by the board of governors. The nine-member board currently is split with four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent, though Biden has only appointed three members."

While Bloom is a Democrat, he was appointed by former President Donald Trump, who was required by law to balance control of the board between the parties. Bloom has consistently voiced support for DeJoy, continually frustrating efforts to remove him.

DeJoy, a former executive for XPO Logistics, has been controversial from the start. In 2020, he was accused of slowing the mail down to frustrate the counting of absentee ballots in the presidential election — an accusation that he denies. This year, he began implementing a long-term cost-saving plan for USPS that, among other things, slows down delivery of some first-class mail and hikes postage rates. He has also faced an FBI investigation for an apparent political fundraising scheme where he allegedly pressured employees to make improper donations.

Paul Gosar retweets AOC cartoon murder video — minutes after being censured for it

On Wednesday, Newsweek reported that Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) retweeted an account promoting his own anime video depicting himself murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — just minutes after the House voted to censure him and strip him of committee assignments for the original tweet.

"Gosar had previously deleted the controversial video, which shows him slaughtering Ocasio-Cortez before turning the blade towards President Joe Biden, refusing to apologize but explaining that he had 'self-censored' due to a sense of 'compassion for those who generally felt offense.' However, Gosar's position appeared to have changed quickly after the House voted largely along party lines to censure him on Wednesday," reported Aila Slisco. "Gosar retweeted conservative podcaster Elijah Schaffer's tweet of the video within an hour of the House vote. The new tweet was captioned by Schaffer, 'Really well done. We love @DrPaulGosar, don't we folks?'"

Only two Republicans — noted Trump critics Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) — joined Democrats in the vote to censure Gosar for the tweet, which also depicted him brandishing a pair of swords at President Joe Biden.

This controversy comes as lawmakers are facing a new volley of anger and threats, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) — who was herself stripped of her committee assignments for promoting social media posts advocating the death of Democratic leaders — even posting the phone numbers of Republican House members who voted for Biden's infrastructure bill.

'Ominous warning signs' for MAGA rioters in first major sentencing of defendant who attacked cops: reporter

Wednesday saw sentencing for the first January 6 Capitol rioter who had been accused of assaulting law enforcement. Scott Fairlamb, a former mixed martial arts fighter from New Jersey, was sentenced to just over three years in prison.

And according to NBC4 Washington's Scott MacFarlane, the sentence does not augur well for other defendants in the same boat.

"If U.S. Capitol riot insurrectionists were trying to read some tea leaves today, they likely didn't like what they were reading," said MacFarlane. "It was a pivotal sentencing today. Former MMA fighter Scott Fairlamb of New Jersey, the first January 6th defendant who's pleaded guilty to assaulting police, to have his case go to sentencing."

MacFarlane proceeded to go over some details of the case.

"Prosecutors argued for 44 months in prison for Scott Fairlamb, citing, among other things, his history of assault cases before January 6th," he explained. "The defense made their case, then Fairlamb spoke. Tearfully apologizing, saying he tarnished his family's name, and that he accepted full responsibility for his actions. The judge issued the sentence. 41 months, just below what prosecutors recommended but still inside the federal guidelines for a plea deal in a case like Fairlamb's."

MacFarlane then explained that what the judge told Fairlamb was what is truly ominous for other Capitol rioters.

"He, in a sense, congratulated Fairlamb for taking the plea deal, saying that because there's a video court exhibit, a powerful video court exhibit showing Fairlamb confronting police outside the Capitol January 6th, the judge said there's not a jury out there that would have acquitted Fairlamb at trial," he said. "And then the judge warned other defendants charged with assaulting police they're likely to face far more than 41 months when their day in court comes, especially if they take their case to trial."

"And then the judge said this," added MacFarlane. "He said he felt 'spun' by a previous January 6th defendant in a previous case. Going back through our records and through the court files, Judge Lamberth handled the case of Anna Morgan-Lloyd, who was shown leniency at sentencing. No jail time, probation. Anna Morgan-Lloyd of Indiana. And then famously went on Fox News after sentencing, and according to some, minimized her conduct and minimized the crime. That does not bode well for some other January 6th defendants, if judges are going to be more on the lookout for being spun, and they're already warning other defendants that less leniency is likely in the future."

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Judge deals massive blow to defendants in Ahmaud Arbery case — allows their Confederate plates as evidence

On Friday, The Daily Beast reported that the trials against the Georgia men who killed Ahmaud Arbery have taken a new turn — the judge is denying their request to exclude a picture of the Confederate license plates one of them sported on their truck.

Previous reporting indicated the defense had sought to keep the jurors from being given that information.

"The plate depicts an old Georgia flag with a Confederate emblem on it. The flag was in use in the state from 1956 until it was officially replaced in 2001. Jason Sheffield, an attorney representing Travis McMichael, said on Thursday that a photograph of the truck that shows the flag was seen as a 'symbol of racism' by many during jury selection," reported Andrew Boryga. "But prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said the plate is something McMichael consciously chose to put on his truck after buying it in Jan. 2020. 'He wanted the world to know this.'"

Travis McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, along with neighbor William "Roddy" Bryan, pursued Arbery with guns and made a citizen's arrest when they saw him jogging in Brunswick in January 2020, and Arbery was shot and killed in the ensuing struggle. A video of the incident shot by Bryan was ultimately made public. They are charged with murder.

The trial has already drawn controversy after motions by the defense ultimately empaneled a nearly all-white jury — which prosecutors have said is racial discrimination.

'A very clever trap': Harvard Law professor predicts SCOTUS conservatives will block Texas abortion law

On Monday's edition of CNN's "OutFront," former Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe weighed in on Supreme Court arguments over the draconian Texas abortion ban — and why he believes at least some of the conservatives, particularly Justice Brett Kavanaugh, may be ready to throw it out.

"Professor, for those nonlawyers out there, what do you hear there that makes you think [Kavanaugh] is saying something about Roe?" asked anchor Erin Burnett.

"It's a very complicated question," said Tribe. "What he is saying is that we might change the law, and make it possible to restrict abortions earlier. He is obviously thinking about the Mississippi case. He is giving a hint about that. But at the same time, he is showing what is particularly unfair about the Texas procedure."

Tribe then outlined why even conservatives such as Kavanaugh might find the Texas law, which pays out bounties to citizens who turn in people who provide or abet abortions, to be unworkable.

"Under the Texas law, if... the court says that the Texas law has got to be put on ice while the litigation continues, and then, it turns out that abortions that have been performed in Texas under the protection of a preliminary injunction become the subject of a bounty suit later on under the statute which has a four-year statute of limitations, then... can [there] be retroactive liability? People are just having the rug pulled out from under them," said Tribe.

Tribe said that although Kavanaugh is clearly not a fan of Roe v. Wade, he still appears poised to strike down the Texas law while reserving the right to approve other restrictive abortion laws in the future.

"Kavanaugh, as we already knew, is not a fan of Roe v. Wade or Casey, and he is probably going to be one of five or six justices who in the Mississippi case rolls back abortion protection," added Tribe. "But on the other hand, he is pointing out what a Catch-22 our law creates. So, I would hate to have been in his position at that point, but it's a very clever trap that Justice Kavanaugh set."

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Laurence Tribe says Kavanaugh set a "very clever trap" for Texas solicitor general

'Violence is now part of the GOP plan to win': CNN national security analyst

On Thursday's edition of CNN's "OutFront," national security analyst Juliette Kayyem tore into Republicans and GOP-leaning institutions for legitimizing former President Donald Trump's election lies and incitement of violence — as the Wall Street Journal did by running a lie-filled letter to the editor from the former president.

"Reading what the Wall Street Journal editorial board put out today, there was a strong point-by-point fact check of the president's claims," said anchor Poppy Harlow. "They could have done that in tandem. If they're going to publish what the president says, they could have done it in real time. Big picture, what does this do to those who believe the lies?"

"This is what is so outrageous about what the Wall Street Journal did," said Kayyem. "To quote the president gives a fleece vest to this radicalization. That's what the Wall Street Journal has done. You have to think about what radicalization is. You need your army. That's what Tucker is doing. Then you need people to forgive the army, saying they're not that bad. This is a perfect storm we're seeing now. It's a shame that you don't have a strong political pushback from the radicalization that is going on. It's heading towards — whether it's the elections and you silence it, it's the deplatforming. It's these lawsuits."

Kayyem continued to say that the GOP itself is relying on violence as an election strategy.

"It's also beginning to expose what the establishment is doing. It's promoting violence as a voting — as an essential part of voting," she continued. "You see it in Virginia, Georgia, everywhere. Violence, and the threat of violence in particular against minorities who would assert their constitutional rights, is part of the GOP's plan to win elections."

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Juliette Kayyem says violence is "part of the GOP plan to win"

Katie Porter uses elaborate visual props to school oil executives during congressional hearing

On Thursday, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) schooled oil company executives over their demand for greater access to federal lands for drilling — using some stark props as visual aids.

"How many acres of public land are already leased by fossil fuel companies and not even used yet?" asked Porter, standing in front of a car parked in a driveway. "Just available for drilling whenever you decide?"

"Congresswoman," said one of the oil executives in the hearing. "Again, I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding as to how this process works and the time and resources—"

"Reclaiming my time," cut in Porter. "Reclaiming my time, the answer is 13.9 million acres. To visualize how much land that is, if each grain of rice were one acre, that would be 479 pounds of rice."

She then flipped open the trunk of the car to reveal several bags containing a combined 479 pounds of rice.

"The American Petroleum Institute even opposed pausing more leasing on our lands and even sued to stop it," she continued. "Because apparently, this acreage wasn't enough. Mr. Worth, you serve on the American Petroleum Institute's executive committee. Do you support a pause on new oil and gas leases on federal land?"

"Congresswoman, access to a resource in this country is essential to ensure the energy security of our country, and—" the executive began.

"Mr. Waller, do you support a pause?" asked Porter, turning to another executive.

"The administration — it's our hope that the pause ends soon," said the executive. "We think it's important to go forward—"

"I reclaim my time, thank you for your answer, the answer there is no," said Porter.

She then went around asking all of the executives the same question, and all of them responded they did not.

"You already have 13.9 million acres!" said Porter, holding up one of the bags of rice. "This is equivalent to Maryland and New Jersey combined. How much more do you need? How much more acreage? You have two of our 50 states at a price that makes the Louisiana Purchase look like a ripoff, and you're not even using it. What more do you need? Iowa? Colorado? Virginia? Our public land belongs to the American people, not to Big Oil. When you lobby and you sue so that you can take more of our public land, you're saying too much is never enough. The American people are tired of this charade."

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Happy Holidays!