Sarah Toce

How Lindsey Graham’s shenanigans in Georgia could backfire — and cost the GOP the US Senate

The Washington Post's Amy Gardner broke the news story reverberating around the internet Monday: that Georgia's Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, revealed that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pressured him to toss thousands of valid ballots — and even suggested blocking entire counties from having their mail-in ballots counted. Gardner spoke with Chris Hayes Monday night about why she thought the Republicans' angst might backfire – and cost the GOP the Senate.

"I think he thinks the Republicans aren't being very smart here," Gardner said. "The argument for all of this wrath coming down on his head and also just sort of the rhetoric that impugns the election officials arguably is to help [Republican senators from Georgia] Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue who have the runoff election on Jan. 5 because everybody knows Donald Trump is still talking about fraud even though there's been no evidence to suggest that any one of these close states that decided the outcome had any widespread fraud on a measurable level."

She continued, "So the fear is that Donald Trump is going to tweet something. He's going to tweet displeasure at Sens. Loeffler and Purdue – some of the other Republicans who see this election being administered fairly, legally, ethically, I think their view is that's not smart politically, that sort of casting doubt on the election is a distraction that does the opposite of unify the Republican party at a time they need to get all of their voters out again just in a few short weeks."

Gardner added, "And one of the biggest accusations of alleged fraud going on in Georgia is the manufacturer of the voting machines of dominion voting systems is [a leftist] Venezuela company that stole votes from Donald Trump in Georgia. That is causing Republicans to say, hmm, I don't know if I want to use these machines on Jan. 5. Everyone is saying these machines are terrible. It doesn't seem very smart for the Republicans either."

Watch the video below.

Georgia Senate runoffs

Ex-Trump aide pours cold water on claim president is playing 4-D chess: ‘He’s eating the chess pieces’

President Donald J. Trump began his presidency lying about the crowd size at his inauguration and now appears to be ending his four-year tenure with another lie involving the same issue.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted out two overhead photos of Trump supporters Saturday, writing, "AMAZING! More than one MILLION marchers for President @realDonaldTrump descend on the swamp in support."

McEnany did not respond to comments asking her where she derived at the crowd number. But falsifying a crowd-size isn't a genius strategy perfectly crafted to change the stories of history. A former Trump aide explained it's just another lie.

"The only tragedy about the lie about crowd size is he's always capable of finding people willing to lie for him," said Anthony Scaramucci, who served as Trump's communication director for 11 days and has since become an outspoken critic of the president.

For his part, Trump tweeted Sunday that "tens of thousands" had demonstrated on his behalf. He also linked an article to alt-right website Breitbart in his tweet.

Watch the video below:

US State Department preventing Biden from accessing messages from foreign leaders

The U.S. State Department is preventing Biden from accessing messages to him from foreign leaders, CNN's Kylie Atwood reported Wednesday.

"A stack of messages from foreign leaders to President-elect Joe Biden are sitting at the State Department but the Trump administration is preventing him from accessing them, according to State Department officials familiar with the messages," CNN reported. "Traditionally, the State Department supports all communications for the President-elect, which is why many countries began sending messages to State over the weekend. But with Biden prohibited from accessing State Department resources by the Trump administration, because President Donald Trump refuses to accept Biden's victory, dozens of incoming messages have not been received."

Biden's team is currently contacting foreign leaders and government officials on their own, but "would prefer to be using the State Department resources," said a source familiar with the situation, who noted that the Biden team is having to deal with the unexpected challenge of facilitating these calls.

"It was helpful to have State ops place the calls and to provide translation services, and we were grateful for the cooperation from the Bush administration for making that happen," said Denis McDonough, who served in the Obama administration and worked with Obama during the transition.

That extended hand isn't happening this time around from President Donald J. Trump and his agencies toward President-elect Joe Biden.

The calls happening now are congratulatory ones, standard to what usually occurs after a new president is selected.

"These calls in the past have been handled on open lines. They are congratulatory calls," McDonough said.

Why this retired general says Trump loyalists want to stage a coup: ‘Crazy thing going on inside that White House'

A four-star United States retired general is sounding the alarm on key national security concerns after President Donald J. Trump shakes up the Pentagon staff less than one week after losing the election to President-elect Joe Biden.

"I have been shot at a lot and nearly killed a bunch of times," said Gen. Barry Richard McCaffrey (ret.). "I'm not an alarmist. I stay cool under pressure. Mark me down as alarmed. I just listened to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) — wonderful, experienced, mature guy — say this is just payback to [Mark] Esper not being a loyalist. I don't believe it. We're watching a setup of some people who are unqualified for office to be in control of the 2.1 million men and women of the armed forces."

McCaffrey said, "And I remind our viewers, the only one who can give orders to the armed forces is the president and the secretary of defense. This acting secretary Chris Miller is a perfectly good, experienced combat soldier. He is unqualified for this office. The other three, one of them, a retired one-star, is a dangerous man. That team moving in, no one in his right mind would have accepted an appointment for 90 days. These people are in there to control a coercive institution of U.S. democracy. Watch out."

Host Ari Melber asked McCaffrey, "What specifically are you warning against, general? Do you feel based on your knowledge of these individuals and the situation that you have a credible reason or evidence to think that there could be an effort to enlist the military in something unlawful?"

"The federal government tools could be used in an oppressive manner, start with the attorney general of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, and federal law enforcement agencies, who — unless they get an order that is patently illegal — will carry out their instructions. So the end of the story is, you know, I don't believe in any way this should be minimized or this is just a tantrum of a president trying to accommodate himself to the outcome of the elections. This is some crazy thinking going on inside that White House."

McCaffrey added, "If I was a CIA officer trying to understand what was going on in a third-world country and I saw this pattern of behavior, I would say the stronghand's trying to take over the government and defy an election — and I think they're playing with that idea inside the White House. I can't imagine that Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and even [Sen. Mitch] McConnell (R-KY) and people like this are going to disregard the Constitution, but I think that's the thinking that's going on in the White House right now and we ought to be worried about it. And the Republicans in Congress ought to speak up and push back."

Watch the video below.

General sounds the alarm on how other nations are viewing American unrest

Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka are ‘ready to be next in line if their father goes’: report

While President Donald J. Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon sue over the vote counts in battleground states such as Nevada and Pennsylvania, the one-term president's family members are making plans to extend their political stays in Washington, D.C.

Trump's sons, Eric and Donald Jr., have joined his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner in convincing the president his defeat was illegal. However, "Donny Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump are sitting there, ready to maybe be next in line if their father goes," said Trump ally Ed Rollins, who also co-managed Ross Perot's 1992 independent presidential bid.

"The Republican Party has seen George Wallace's racist movement, Perot's movement and a tea party movement, and they all faded when they lacked a leader or had a diminished leader," Rollins said. "Is Trump going to be distracted and just throw rocks at the window? Will he be busy dealing with litigation he might face out of office? To keep something going, you need discipline."

"The president is still loved by tens of millions of Americans, and that's not going to change anytime soon. He can do literally do whatever he wants, including running again," said Brad Parscale, his former campaign manager.

"He is without question the most powerful voice in our party. He will have an enormous impact on our party going forward," Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. "I believe the great majority of people who voted for Donald Trump want to make sure that his principles and his policies are pursued. So, yes, he's not disappearing by any means. He's the 900-pound gorilla when it comes to the Republican Party."

Former President George W. Bush acknowledged Sunday that Trump "earned the votes of more than 70 million Americans — an extraordinary political achievement… They have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government."

Former Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said Republicans on Capitol Hill "fear Trump and his base and know that he can take just about any one of them out."

"They know there's no future with Trumpism and they aspire to do more when they got to the Senate than defend the President's tweets and his conduct and behavior. And they want to legislate and they're not doing that now," Flake said. "There's a lot of fear, but no love."

Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican strategist who co-founded the Lincoln Project, said, "Trump has been defeated, but Trumpism has not. What Trumpism is a statist, authoritarian ideology that's inimical to the American precepts of democracy. It's antithetical to America's ideas and ideals, and it has fascistic markers. It is a cult of personality … and 70 million-plus people in the country were susceptible to it, to the racial antagonisms, to the assault on institutions and the rule of law, and it's going to take a long time to deal with it."

With Trumpism on the horizon for the foreseeable future, it's not unlikely to expect the Trump offspring train to pull into the station at a fast clip and keep moving as long as Americans allow it to happen.

Why one neurology expert says Trump’s ‘forward-leaning posture’ and ‘body tics’ are cause for serious concern

A professor of Neurology at George Washington University says he believes there may be legitimate concerns over President Donald J. Trump's "forward-listing posture" that goes beyond the comical memes and gif responses normally shared on social media.

"I know something about political figures and observable signs of illness from afar," Richard E. Cytowic M.D. wrote in Psychology Today. "… The American public deserves an accurate account of our president's health."

"While most frequently observed in Parkinson's Disease, the bent posture so evident in Trump may also be seen in Alzheimer's Dementia, movement disorders of the basal ganglia, and as the side effect of certain medications," Cytowic continued. "Also noted are the sudden, jerking movements of Trump's right arm. Since they occur only on one side, the prefix "hemi" is applied, while "ballistic" means sudden or flinging in the manner of a projectile. Trump's hemiballistic arm movements are evident in news clips from Memorial Day (also here via C-Span) at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as are his uncontrolled swaying and forward tilt. He is seen to grab his wayward arm with the left one in an effort to keep it under control."

President Trump at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day.

While Trump "aced" a 10-minute mental status screening in August, Cytowic said "the test is one an average adult should easily pass. To a neurologist, his way of walking, posture, and jerky movements are concerning and in want of explanation."

According to Cytowic, "It is true that individuals who have balance and gait issues similar to those observed in Trump can have degenerative brain disease in the frontal lobes, such as fronto-temporal dementia or Pick's Disease. Other possibilities are normal pressure hydrocephalus, sensory ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, small lacunar strokes in the basal ganglia, supranuclear palsy, the effects of too many medications, and Parkinson's Disease, which can begin on one side and also show early cognitive impairment."

Regardless, "The president is a public figure whose judgment we must trust," Cytowic said. "The American public is entitled to know about his neurological health given the enormous responsibilities placed on our Commander in Chief."

A Supreme Court case decided over a decade ago may come back to haunt Judge Amy Coney Barrett

A Supreme Court case that was decided over a decade ago may come back to haunt Judge Amy Coney Barrett as America enters an impending post-election 2020 judicial nightmare; one in which the sitting president may deny a peaceful transfer of power.

Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. was argued in 2009 with the primary holding that a judge cannot hear a case that centers on the financial interests of someone who supported him substantially in his campaign for election. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority that "recusal may be constitutionally required even where a judge is not actually biased, if there is a 'serious risk' of actual bias."

Justice Antonin Scalia criticized the majority for constitutionalizing the judge's recusal decision "in a manner ungoverned by any discernable rule," but wrote that "in the best of all possible worlds, [judges should] sometimes recuse [themselves] even where the clear commands" of the Constitution don't require it.

"The question for Barrett, if it arises, will not be whether she personally believes she can be fair in deciding an election case but, rather, whether a reasonable person would conclude that her impartiality would be inescapably overborne by the flood of influences brought to bear on her," wrote former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig in a column for the Washington Post.

seated in time to decide the election cases. These bludgeoning pressures alone are at once singular and unprecedented, unsurpassed and quite possibly unsurpassable in their magnitude. By comparison, the pressures believed put on the West Virginia judge in Caperton pale."

Watch the video below.

Barrett faces questions on health care and voting rights on third day of hearings

Barrett faces questions on health care and voting rights on third day of hearings

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 14 questioned Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett after a nearly 12-hour session where she avoided saying how she'd rule on key issues the previous day.

Regeneron CEO pours cold water on Trump claim antibody cocktail made him 'immune' to COVID

Following his departure from Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday, President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly claimed a cure for COVID-19: the Regeneron antibody cocktail. However, Leonard Schleifer, the founder and CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, said on Sunday that Trump's positive experience with the antibody cocktail is no reason to claim a cure of the virus.

"The president's case is a case of one, and that's what we call a case report," Schleifer told CBS News' Face the Nation Sunday. "And it is evidence of what's happening, but it's kind of the weakest evidence that you can get… [T]he real evidence about how good a drug is and what it will do on average has to come from these larger clinical trials, these randomized clinical trials, which are the gold standard, and those are ongoing."

Schleifer confirmed that the antibody cocktail does create immunity from COVID-19, but that "it's probably going to last you for months" versus a long-term cure.

Axios reported that Regeneron and Eli Lilly, which is developing a similar therapy, have applied for an emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Watch the video below.

Furious Trump aides are calling Amy Coney Barrett’s announcement the ‘Rose Garden massacre’ after COVID-19 outbreak

Appearing ON MSNBC on Sunday afternoon, former Trump White House official Omarosa Onee Manigault Newman revealed staffers at the White House are upset with the president over the Rose Garden ceremony that seems to have led to a COVID-19 outbreak. She also shed light on what might really be going on with President Donald J. Trump as he receives care at the facility. She spent some time there when she fractured her foot during the early part of her tenure with the Trump administration.

"I had an opportunity to go to Walter Reid and I spent a lot of time there because I was in that boot for about six months and I had to go back and forth," she said. "I"m so grateful for my doctors there, but let me just tell you what it is like at Walter Reid. Particularly the presidential suite, probably one of the most advanced medical wings. They can fully support Donald Trump and his COVID diagnosis. The only comfort I have is knowing he is only a mile away from George Washington hospital where they, too, are part of the umbrella of medical care and the director there can also handle any kind of presidential incidents. But why go and expose the staff, the secret service, the military aides, the wonderful staff in the residence, even the junior staffers you see there going in and out? They're at risk in the Trump White House."

She added, "What surprised me about him being moved, particularly with the symptoms they're describing, are symptoms that could have easily been treated at the White House. That leads me to believe that his condition is worse than what they are describing. For him to be transported means there are things they have not shared with the American people."

She revealed more about the inner workings at the White House during the pandemic.

"I will tell you there are members of the staff, career staffers, who are very upset about the fact that this outbreak has happened," she added. "They're calling it the Rose Garden Massacre. It could have been prevented. Many of those career staffers have been testing positive for COVID and they do not have access to the best cutting edge technology like the president does. They could succumb to this virus. So I'm hearing things, and a lot of it is that they just don't understand why even now the White House has not changed their mask policy. People are still being allowed to roam around the complex saying they're optional."

During the press conference outside of Walter Reed Medical Center, the president's team of doctors said: "Our plan for today is we want him to eat and drink. be up and out of bed as much as possible. If he continues to look and feel as good as he does today, we hope to discharge him tomorrow."

Watch the video below.

MSNBC 10 04 2020 14 29 29

Lindsey Graham taken to task in South Carolina debate: ‘How good is your word?’

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) met with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison Saturday for the first of three debates in Columbia, S.C. where he was publicly challenged to defend his own word.

Speaking on the subject of confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, Harrison pushed Graham to defend himself to the American people.

"Your promise in 2016 was no judicial nominees should be considered for approval or what have you in the last year of the election," Harrison said. "Senator, how good is your word?"

Graham is the senior U.S. Senator from South Carolina, a seat he has held since 2003, and Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary since 2019. A Sept. 30 poll shows a tie between Graham and Harrison, at 48 percent.

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