News & Politics

'How is this idiot in Congress?' Rep. MTG slammed over claim FBI 'set up honeypots' for Jan. 6 rioters

United States Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) says rioters were forced to "commit crimes" during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The GOP congresswoman made the false claim during the latest episode of her Battleground podcast Wednesday.

Former GOP prosecutor Ron Filipkowski shared a clip of the episode via Twitter, writing, Marge has a theory on 'what really happened on J6.' She says the FBI 'set up honeypots and traps to draw people in and take part in making these people commit crimes, and then framing these people to set up a narrative against a president.'

READ MORE: 'You pay the price': Nikki Haley denounces Jan. 6 during Iowa visit

The hard-right lawmaker said, "You see this should never happen. The federal government should never be weaponized against the people and "set up honeypots and traps to draw people in and take part in making these people commit crimes, and then framing the people to set up a narrative against a president? It's wrong. And I believe that's what happened on January 6."

On the one year anniversary of the insurrection last year, PBS News Hour reported leading up to the attack, "Trump repeated the lie that the election was stolen, urging his supporters to march to the Capitol and fight."

Twitter users erupted over the MAGA lawmaker's false claims.

Cathy Coleman: "Good grief - that was some darn big honey pot - making adults commit crimes against the United States - I think Marj just runs her mouth without thinking - likely someone gives her talking points & she just can't deliver them correctly & improvises..."

@LebergerDavid: "Once a QAnon, always a QAnon!"

Jonathan Greenberg: "Keep talking MAGA thug!"

@lachevron: "Yeah, Marge might be a conspiracy theorist, but even she doesn't believe it. Because she was there and she was involved. She says this because she has no qualms about bold-faced lies."

Ron Shillman: "People are saying: Trump told them to come to DC, so they did. Trump told them to go to the Capitol, so they did. Trump told them to 'fight like hell or you're not going to have a country anymore' so they did that, too. It's all on tape."

READ MORE: GOP lawmaker faces embarrassing fact-check after Jan. 6 false claim

@mikeysmom04: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!' Trump wrote."

@_IAmCrypto: "JFC, how is this idiot in congress?"

@Cosmic_Lion: "I guess she keeps forgetting we watched the whole thing live."

@R_JonAnderson: "Or — hear me out — a bunch of fanatical supporters of TFG got carried away and committed crimes on live tv, aided and abetted by elected officials who are — even now — trying to push the blame away from themselves."

@UROCKlive1: "She might actually be dumb enough to believe this, but it's also possible she just made it up and knows she's lying."

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: Veteran rips into Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert over Jan. 6 jail visit

PBS News Hour's full report is available at this link.

The audio is all special counsel needs on Trump: Former DOJ official

Even if Trump was fibbing about having a document outlining a potential attack on Iran, the audio of him claiming to have it provides enough evidence for investigators, according to a former Justice Department official.

Mary McCord previously worked as the acting assistant attorney general for national security at the U.S. Department of Justice, so when it comes to Donald Trump's document scandal, she's well-schooled on the specifics of the law. Speaking to MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace on Wednesday, McCord addressed the bombshell CNN report saying Trump was caught on tape admitting to having classified documents about a possible war in Iran.

Speaking to biographers working with Mark Meadows, Trump “recalls a four-page report typed up by (Trump’s former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) Mark Milley himself. It contained the general’s own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency," the report said.

The report describes Trump rustling around papers on his desk at his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey, acting as if he had them in his hand. Trump explained he couldn't show them to the biographers.

The reporting made some wonder if it was a legitimate claim from Trump or another example of Trump lying to make himself seem more remarkable. According to McCord, it doesn't matter because special counsel Jack Smith already has enough evidence that Trump stole documents, showed them to people, was careless with them, refused to return them, and obstructed justice.

What the new findings reveal is that he knew what the law was. She cited General Mark Milley, who Trump said crafted the document. He would have been asked by Smith whether such a document existed and if he had given it to Trump.

"If Milley says there is no such document, again, it just shows, again, the lies of a serial liar, but it doesn't change the important aspect of that recording that shows that Donald Trump knew he couldn't share classified information," said McCord.

An earlier report about Trump and Milley revealed that the former president wanted information that specifically mentioned Milley.

"Investigators have also asked witnesses if Trump showed a particular interest in material relating to Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," said the April 2023 Post report, citing people familiar with those interviews. Milley was appointed by Trump but drew scorn and criticism from Trump and his supporters after a series of revelations in books about Milley’s efforts to rein in Trump toward the end of his term. In 2021, Trump repeatedly complained publicly about Milley, calling him an “idiot.”

"This is the reason why I suggested that Donald Trump could have made up the existence of this document because he was responding to these press reports because he was so annoyed with Gen. Milley and he wanted to essentially plant the seed with these journalists that Milley is lying," McCord said. "But it also could be if there really is such a document, as I understood it, he gave this interview at Bedminster in 2021. And there is some reporting also that on the audio recording, you can hear the rustling of papers. That could be the classified information, or it could be something else that he is rustling in his hands, trying to suggest that he actually has classified information. But if there is a classified document and it was at Bedminster, that raises a whole host of issues."

She recalled former Trump lawyer Tim Parlatore, who spoke to CNN after he resigned. He said that Trump aide Boris Epstein was acting against him, making it more difficult for the team to help Trump. Specifically, the lawyers said Epstein blocked his and Evan Corcoran's attempts to search Bedminster for all the White House documents.

"There is really recent reporting that one of the employees at Mar-a-Lago, who has apparently been cooperating with Jack Smith also told Jack Smith about loading some boxes into a truck to go up to Bedminster from Mar-a-Lago," McCord also recalled.

She closed by paraphrasing Sir Walter Scott: "What a tangled web we have here."

See the video below or at the link.

It doesn’t matter if Trump was lying about documents — the tape is all special counsel

Nebraska Senate GOPer 'not for the government building houses' says employers should

Nebraska State Senator Steve Erdman, a Republican, does not believe the government should be responsible for providing housing — even when it comes to "workforce development."

The GOP leader vocalized his position on the issue of the state's lack of housing availability during a state senate floor debate Wednesday.

Heartland Signal shared a clip of the senator's speech via Twitter, writing, "Nebraska State Sen. Steve Erdman (R-Bayard) opposes any government funding for housing, including for workforce development. 'I'm not for the government building houses. Not one. If you have a workforce shortage and the housing is not available, build one.'"

READ MORE: Have you noticed America is looking like a third world nation?

He emphasized, "For anybody who's listened to my comments in the past, you will not be surprised that I'm not for the government building houses. Not one. If you have a workforce shortage and the housing is not available, build one.'"

The senator continued, "In rural Nebraska — the agricultural world and ranching and farming, if we're looking for an employee to be on our ranch or a farm, we provide housing for them," adding, "I have yet to see a place in any Constitution, or the United States or Nebraska, that says, 'It's the state's obligation to build houses.' We're in a free market enterprise system."

Omaha World-Herald reported earlier this month, "when the state chamber of commerce surveys communities on the biggest barrier they face for growth, they don't cite a lack of jobs," or "the state's tax system or climate."

President of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry Bryan Slone, emphasized, "Housing comes up No. 1 every time," adding, per Omaha World-Herald, "there's no doubt the lack of housing is contributing to Nebraska’s large pool of unfilled jobs."

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: House Republican calls low-income housing 'a more dangerous program than food stamps'

Omaha World-Journal's full report is available at this link.

Fox News hosts’ call for Target boycott significantly backfires: Media Matters for America

As many conservatives continue to express outrage over Target's support of transgender inclusivity, Fox News is urging viewers to boycott the company amid its support of GLSEN, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization striving to "create safe, inclusive learning environments for K-12 students."

However, Media Matters for America reports Fox Corps. — which owns Fox News — "previously said it has 'raised awareness and demonstrated support' for GLSEN.

Media Matters shared a clip from a recent segment of Fox News show, Outnumbered, in which co-host Dagen McDowell says, "Target has moved those Pride displays to the back of some stores, but we're now learning the retailer has been donating to an activist group that's trying to push gender ideology into classrooms."

READ MORE: 'Culture war issues' are human rights matters worth defending

Martha MacCallum replied, "I think it's really important for consumers and parents and anybody out there to be aware of their take on this. They proudly stand behind it as that support for GLSEN shows. So this is what Target is pushing, right? This is what they're about. And you can make your decision about whether or not you want to shop there."

MacCallum noted the company's public support of the organization is "unfortunate," accusing Target of "preaching about something that won't 'increase shareholder value."

Media Matters reports "Fox Corp. also has shareholders."

Media Matters also notes Fox Corp. wrote in "its corporate social responsibility report" it "raised awareness and demonstrated support for organizations working on behalf of the LGBTQ community including."

READ MORE: Fox host: FBI 'probably has a picture of' Ron DeSantis 'stacking up Iraqi bodies in a Baghdad prison cell'

Watch the video below via Media Matters for America or at this link.

'Absolutely blockbuster evidence': Stunned experts say docs recording is game over for Donald Trump

Legal experts wasted no time Wednesday responding to an exclusive CNN report revealing federal prosecutors have obtained audio evidence of Donald Trump in a 2021 meeting at his Bedminster golf course admitting he had held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, admitting he wanted to share the document, and admitting he knew he legally could not because he did not have the authority to declassify it post-presidency.

“War plans are among the most highly classified documents. Puts pressure on DOJ to indict, and a jury to convict,” writes NYU Law professor of Law Ryan Goodman, a former U.S. Dept. of Defense Special Counsel.

“Make no mistake. This is squarely an Espionage Act case,” Goodman continues, calling the news a “bombshell.”

“It is not simply an ‘obstruction’ case,” says Goodman. “There is now every reason to expect former President Trump will be charged under 18 USC 793(e) of the Espionage Act. The law fits his reported conduct like a hand in glove.”

READ MORE: ‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert

“Audio recording is a meeting with several people who don’t have security clearances. If Trump discussed content of document it is even worse – and raises its own criminal exposure,” Goodman also writes.

On-air, CNN reported in the audio recording a piece of paper could be heard ratting in the wind.

Calling it “a critical find,” MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin says the alleged audio recording of Trump “reveals another new, significant fact: In summer 2021, Trump had at least one classified document with him at Bedminster. Trump lawyers told DOJ in December 2022 that a search of Bedminster by private investigators yielded no such records.”

Rubin sums it all up: “That DOJ & the Special Counsel have apparently spoken to witnesses from Milley to Fitton and back suggests they have evidence regarding Trump’s motives and state of mind in addition to his actual taped statements.”

Rubin is not the only one focused on the Bedminster aspect.

Pete Strzok, the former FBI Counterintelligence Deputy Assistant Director, pointed to a tweet he wrote last year that reads: “Better check Bedminster… On May 6, NARA [the National Archives] emails Trump to say material is missing and may be at MAL [Mar-a-Lago].”

“On May 9, Trump gets on a private plane from Palm Beach to Bedminster. On video, several boxes are seen loaded onto the plane,” Strzok also tweeted.

READ MORE: ‘I Don’t Want Reality’: Senate Republican Explodes Over Origin of Concept of Race – Calls to Teach ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Instead

On Wednesday he wrote: “AND the meeting in question appears to have been at Bedminster. As I’ve said for a while, better check Bedminster.”

“Appears Trump – in his own voice,” Strzok adds, “- knew the procedures for declassifying information – knew he hadn’t done it – may have disclosed it to someone not authorized to receive it Huge. Filling in those 18 USC 793 elements of the crime.”

18 U.S. Code § 793 is the federal statute for “Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.”

Other experts also weighed in.

“Holy sh*t,” exclaimed white collar criminal defense attorney Robert Denault, “Hugely significant piece of evidence.”

Attorney George Conway appeared to agree, citing the late, iconic Washington Post executive editor: “Fair to say Ben Bradlee would have called this a ‘holy-sh*t story.'”

Conway, a former Republican and devout never-Trumper did not hold back: “It would actually be perfect for the most colossally nihilistic moron the world has ever seen to go to prison for doing something so brazenly illegal, yet at the same time so unimaginably pointless and stupid.”

READ MORE: DeSantis Kicks Off Presidential Campaign Tour With Claim Teachers Are ‘Forcing’ Students to Pick Pronouns

Richard Painter, the former Bush 43 chief White House ethics lawyer points out that Trump “lied about it,” and called that a “felony.”

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti calls it “absolutely blockbuster evidence.”

“It proves that Trump *knew* he kept highly classified documents after he left office, that he shared the classified info with people who didn’t have clearance, and ‘suggests … he was aware of limitations’ on his ability to declassify.”

'What say you?' Chuck Todd and Pete Buttigieg spar over how to reduce the national debt

While the United States House of Representatives was voting to approve a rule to pass an increase to the Treasury Department's borrowing cap on Wednesday, MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd hosted a conversation with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the American economy's relationship with the perpetually growing $31.47 trillion national debt.

"Let's talk about the accumulated debt because we've been telling people for so long that accumulating this debt is gonna become a — you've had former chairman of the joint chiefs saying it was a national security issue. That was in 2011 with Mike Mullen. We've been talking about, 'oh my God, this is going to become a problem at some point,' and yet our economy keeps growing. Our ability to hold more debt continues to grow. Do we have a debt problem in this country or not?" Todd asked. "What say you?"

Buttigieg's response delved into the complexities behind what drives the national debt.

READ MORE: Kevin McCarthy pledges to explore 'uncomfortable' cuts to Medicare and Social Security

"Well, one thing I'll say is that we have been working to reduce the deficit, which is the first step in reducing the debt. You know..." Buttigieg began.

"Right. But the debt does keep growing. We've yet to re — we haven't reduced it. We've just slow, we've slowed the, we've slowed the rate of growth a bit," Todd noted.

Buttigied pressed on, digging deeper into the US borrows so much money:

Yeah. I mean, again, the, the first thing you gotta do if you wanna see that debt come down is to get a handle on the deficit. The president's budget — by the president's budget as submitted, but, but also, uh, the, the deal that has been struck acts to, to reduce the deficit. We've been clear on how we think you get there, making sure that the wealthiest in corporations pay their fair share. That it can be done while being reasonable in holding the line on spending, but not inflicting self-defeating cuts. And that's one thing I want to emphasize, and your question kind of got to that, you know, part of what makes it possible for us to sustain our fiscal path is the continued strong growth of the American economy. And I would point to infrastructure as exhibit A of where you can be penny-wise and pound-foolish. If, if you think that, you know, every expenditure that isn't defense needs to be cut in the name of. Doing something about the debt, you might actually be hamstringing the very economic growth that you need. So I think most Americans appreciate that we need to reduce the deficit, that we don't want to just continue seeing the debt escalate without believing that as to lead to these, these kinds of savage cuts, especially if Congress hasn't been willing to make sure that the wealthy pay their fair share, which is why — and we point to things like the enforcement provisions that help make sure you have fewer tax cheats — which is something that adds to the debt without creating any economic value.

Todd then pointed out the circular impasse that stymies progress on reducing the debt.

READ MORE: House Republican calls low-income housing 'a more dangerous program than food stamps'

"But it is interesting to me. It does feel as if each party has come to the, has come to this uncomfortable, 'well, look, uh, we're not raising taxes,' is what Republicans say, and Democrats are like, 'we're not gonna really, we don't wanna reduce spending here, we think spending creates economic growth, they think tax cuts creates economic growth,' aren't we doomed to never lower the debt?" Todd wondered.

"Well look, the, again, the first step in lowering the debt is lowering the deficit. Last president blew up the deficit. This president's cutting it down," Buttigieg recalled of former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, respectively, adding, "That's what it looks like to begin making progress on this issue, and that's what we'll continue to pursue."

Buttigieg's assessments are true, based on data provided by Deficit Tracker.

Watch the exchange below or at this link.

READ MORE: The debt ceiling deal reflects a permanent feature of American democracy

How 'misperception' and 'delusion' are increasing 'partisan hostility': columnist

A 2022 Pew Research Center study found "increasingly, Republicans and Democrats view not just the opposing party but also the people in that party in a negative light," adding, "Growing shares in each party now describe those in the other party as more closed-minded, dishonest, immoral and unintelligent than other Americans."

Thomas B. Edsall argues in a recent column for The New York Times although there "are very real — and substantial — policy differences separating the Democratic and Republican Parties," this partisan divide embodies "what scholars variously describe as misperception and even delusion is driving up the intensity of contemporary partisan hostility."

He emphasizes, "the irrational element of partisan hostility has seemingly created a political culture resistant to correction or reform. If so, the nation is stuck, at least for the time being, in a destructive cyclical pattern that no one so far has found a way to escape."

READ MORE: 'Division' and 'polarization' are how we got here. Are they our way out?

The longtime NYT columnist spoke with several professor, political scientists and other experts about why these misconceptions and delusions exist.

Julie Wronski, a political scientist at the University of Mississippi, noted in an email that “much research has shown that Americans' views of the other party are in fact driven by misperceptions and falsehoods," saying, similar to the way "Democrats overestimate the percentage of wealthy Republicans, Republicans overestimate the number of L.G.B.T.+ Democrats."

Wronski emphasized "people are motivated to defend" these kinds of values," adding, "Protecting your identity becomes more important than embracing the truth."

Edsall writes, Alia Braley, a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of California, Berkeley said:

We find that everyday Democrats believe that everyday Republicans are way more hostile to democracy than they really are. And vice versa. In that sense people are, in fact, operating under a delusion that everyday opposing partisans are willing to undermine democracy. And yes, this misperception seems to cause intense affective polarization.

READ MORE: 'Angry and resentful': Barack Obama calls out Rupert Murdoch for promoting America’s 'polarization'

Berkeley political scientist Gabriel Lenz added, "much of the polarization is delusional," saying "some misperceptions are much more important than others. Misperceptions on policy or on the demographic makeup of parties are probably important, but they don’t directly threaten democracy. Misperceiving that the other side no longer supports democracy, however, is a more direct threat to democracy. It’s a more direct threat because it leads your own side to no longer support democracy to the same degree."

Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer told Edsall, "As the old sociological adage goes, situations believed to be real can become real in their consequences," adding, "It is likely that Democrats' and Republicans' inaccurate, overly negative stereotypes of one another are to some extent self-fulfilling, leading partisans to adopt more divisive, conflictual views than they would if they saw each other more accurately.

Edsall emphasizes, "The embodiment of delusional politics is, of course, Donald Trump, with his false, indeed fraudulent, claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. The continuing willingness of a majority of Republican voters to tolerate this delusion reflects the difficulty facing the nation as it struggles to restore sanity to American politics — if it's not too late."

READ MORE: 'Polarizing' Kari Lake could be a major headache for GOP strategists in 2024: conservative

Thomas Edsall's full column is available at this link (subscription required). Pew Research Center's report is here.

Prosecutors obtain recording of Donald Trump boasting about classified documents in 2021: report

Federal prosecutors have an audio recording of Donald Trump admitting in 2021 that he had kept a classified Pentagon document about a possible attack against Iran.

CNN, which published the exclusive report, notes the recording undercuts Trump’s “argument that he declassified everything.”

“The recording indicates Trump understood he retained classified material after leaving the White House, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. On the recording, Trump’s comments suggest he would like to share the information but he’s aware of limitations on his ability post-presidency to declassify records, two of the sources said,” CNN adds.

READ MORE: ‘I Don’t Want Reality’: Senate Republican Explodes Over Origin of Concept of Race – Calls to Teach ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Instead

“Prosecutors have asked witnesses about the recording and the document before a federal grand jury,” CNN also reports. “The episode has generated enough interest for investigators to have questioned Gen. Mark Milley, one of the highest-ranking Trump-era national security officials, about the incident.”

The recording was apparently made in July of 2021 at a Trump golf course. People without security clearances were part of the meeting during which it was discussed.

The damning revelation gives credence to political analysts who pointed to Trump’s recent remarks at the highly-controversial CNN town hall, when he was asked if he had shown classified documents to anyone.

“Not really,” Trump said. “I would have the right to,” he claimed, falsely.

“By the way, they were declassified after,” he also claimed, falsely.

Watch CNN’s report below or at this link.

'I don’t want reality': Senate GOPer prefers 'Jesus loves me' taught instead of history of race

U.S. Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) exploded in a committee hearing on child care on Wednesday after he introduced a book designed to help children understand race, and declared he opposes socialism and wants schools to teach about Jesus Christ instead.

Sen. Mullin, a former U.S. Congressman who once told a House Democrat to “shut up,”began by explaining how expensive it is for private companies to set up child care – the topic of the hearing – but quickly transformed the hearing into one on race, socialism, and religion.

He wove a web that started with his concerns over “federalizing” education, which he declared is socialism. He then attacked the committee chairman, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who heads the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), for being a “self-declared democratic socialist.” That led to his claim that the book he opposes, “Our Skin: A First Conversation on Race,” would be taught nationwide.

Sen. Mullin said he opposes the book because it teaches young children that the concept of race, especially the white race, was created by white people to place themselves above other people with different skin – which has been documented in numerous studies, reports, articles, and books.

READ MORE: DeSantis Kicks Off Presidential Campaign Tour With Claim Teachers Are ‘Forcing’ Students to Pick Pronouns

Senator Mullin, who supports a federal vigilante “Don’t Say Gay” bill, tried to get members of the panel to support his desire for schools to teach about Jesus instead.

“I have a book here in here in front of me called ‘Our Skin,'” Mullin told the committee, “and I’m going to read exactly what this book says. You guys might find it interesting. ‘A long time ago, way before you were born, a group of white people made up an idea called race. They sorted people by skin color and said that white people were better, smarter, prettier, and they deserved more than everybody else.’ This would be taught if we socialized our pre-K system, this would be taught.”

“How about we teach Jesus Loves Me?” Mullin demanded. “How about how about this? And teaching ‘Jesus Loves the Little Children.’ The lyrics go, ‘Red and yellow, black and white. They’re all precious in our sight.’ Now, which one would you think would be better? I’ll ask everybody on the panel, which is better to teach? This, that is a story that was made up to teach kids, three year olds who have no idea what race is.”

“Now all of a sudden being taught that white people said this as a truth, someone pointed me that this being a truth, that white people developed race, that white people develop that. That all of a sudden that was our word that we developed. By the way, I’m Cherokee, Native American. I think we have experienced a little bit of racism before in my life,” Mullen said.

READ MORE: ‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert

“So I ask everybody on the panel, which one is better to teach? This,” referring to the book he had brought, “or the ‘Jesus Loves Me’ lyrics? Ma’am. I’ll start on here.”

“I think it’s important to teach that all children are seen and valued for who they are,” one panelist told Sen. Mullin. He was not pleased.

Another panelist who appeared to agree with Sen. Mullin on teaching Jesus responded, “It is important that we teach Jesus. Jesus is what we teach. But the reality is –” she said before being interrupted by Mullin.

“I don’t want reality,” Mullin proclaimed, which evoked immediate laughter.

“Got it on tape,” one person announced.

“I misspoke,” Mullin claimed.

Watch portions of Mullin’s remarks below or at this link.

Oklahoma Supreme Court rules two abortion bans 'unconstitutional': report

The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down two state abortion bans Wednesday, ruling them unconstitutional — although abortion remains illegal, Politico reports.

Per Axios, the court "ruled in the 6-3 decision that the state's 2022 near-total abortion ban and a six-week ban as unconstitutional because they interfere with the 'inherent right to terminate a pregnancy to preserve the woman's life.'"

Furthermore, according to Politico, "The laws struck down Wednesday" were deemed "unconstitutional because they require a 'medical emergency' before a doctor can perform an abortion,'" and both bans "included a civil-enforcement mechanism that allowed citizens to sue someone who either performed or helped someone perform an abortion."

READ MORE: 'Cruel and terrifying': Bounty hunters will enforce nation's first total abortion ban in Oklahoma

The high court's decision comes just days after NARAL tweeted, "Anti-choice Republican Governor Kevin Stitt just signed into law a total ban on abortion with a vigilante enforcement mechanism modeled after Texas' draconian #SB8. This is the first *total* ban on abortion of its kind signed into law in the country."

However, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond confirmed the "total ban" will remain in place, saying in a statement, "Despite the court's decisions today on SB 1603 and HB 4327, Oklahoma's 1910 law prohibiting abortion remains in place. Except for certain circumstances outlined in that statute, abortion is still unlawful in the state of Oklahoma."

Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Emily Wales said, "For the first time in nearly 50 years, abortion is illegal—at every stage of pregnancy—in an American state," adding, "People who can become pregnant now have fewer rights and fewer protections in Oklahoma than in any other state in the union. Legislators who, in overwhelming numbers, cannot become pregnant have just made lesser citizens of those who can."

She emphasized, "Oklahoma's politicians, from the governor on down, are determined to strip rights from anyone who could become pregnant."

READ MORE: Oklahoma woman told to wait in hospital parking lot until 'crashing' for abortion

Politico's full report is available at this link. Axios' report is here.

Kevin McCarthy pledges to explore 'uncomfortable' cuts to Medicare and Social Security

United States Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy (R-California) revealed to Fox News host Harris Faulkner on Wednesday that he will "announce a commission" to explore cuts to "mandatory spending" once the debt ceiling debacle is settled.

"I was elected to help lead this nation. So the first thing we did, opened the House up. The bills, you now get to see 'em before you ever vote on 'em. And now we're cutting. And you know what? I'm gonna make some people uncomfortable by doing that, but I'm not gonna give up on the American people. And this isn't the end. This doesn't solve all the problems. This is the first step," McCarthy said.

"I'm gonna announce a commission coming forward from the speaker from bipartisan on both sides of the aisle. We only got to look at eleven percent of the budget to find these cuts. We have to look at the entire budget. The Congress has done this before," the speaker continued.

READ MORE: 'This scam is a non-starter': Dems blast McCarthy’s latest call for painful cuts

"Why didn't you see the whole budget?" Faulker asked.

"Because the president walled off all the others. The majority driver of, of the budget is, is mandatory spending. It's Medicare, Social Security, and interest on the debt," McCarthy replied.

"He wouldn't let you see?" Faulker reiterated.

"So you only have eleven percent to look at this budget," McCarthy responded. "But we were able to increase our defense to protect us, take care of our veterans, but you know that non-defense with veterans out, we are now gonna spend less than we spent in 2022. That's a major victory."

READ MORE: 'Unconscionable': Republicans demand more Pentagon spending as US teeters toward default

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: The Pentagon's budget from Hell

Kremlin propaganda laden with 'clashes and contradictions' over visions of Russian 'victory': report

When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his ill-begotten invasion of Ukraine 462 days ago, he was expecting to storm into its capital Kyiv, topple its democratic government, and replace Jewish President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a person friendlier to Moscow who could help Putin finish "demilitarizing and denazifying" the country.

But with staggering casualties on both sides, rampant allegations of war crimes, and Ukraine's formidable performance defending itself thanks to Western aid, Putin is evidently straining to maintain a cohesive narrative.

On Wednesday, Russian Media Monitor founder Julia Davis revealed in The Daily Beast that "even the most ardent pro-Kremlin propagandists" and "talking heads are struggling to get on the same page about what a 'Russian victory' actually looks like, leaving state television brimming with clashes and contradictions."

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin issues 'dirty bomb' threat in response to drone strike on Moscow: report

For instance, Davis recalled that The Meeting Place host Andrey Norkin sparked ire among his panelists when he wondered, "During the last year and two months since the start of the special operation, I’ve traveled dozens of times throughout the country... Every time I am asked: 'Why is it taking so long, why isn't it more decisive? To put it harshly, why aren't we destroying them like rats?'"

State Duma member Alexander Kazakov, Davis continued, "delved into fantasy" when he elucidated his ideal scenario.

"I am for peace, I am anti-war. I am for peace after our victory," he said. "We get to the borders of NATO, either through our military or diplomatic efforts, Ukraine disappears from the political map. As a result of that, the United States gets out of Eurasia and along with China, India and other leading countries on this continent, we will set our own rules."

Conversely, former State Duma Deputy Boris Nadezhdin opined that defeating Ukraine is meaningless if the only outcome is death and destruction:

What would victory look like? We can see it by looking at Bakhmut, the city where 70,000 people used to live, with children and kindergartens. It was simply wiped off the face of the Earth. Everyone who could escape from there did just that.

If victory means conquering ruins without the people, I don't know who needs this kind of victory... In some Russian cities, they are running out of men.

The sooner this horror comes to an end, the better it will be for Ukrainians and Russians alike.

READ MORE: 'See you in the Hague': Lindsey Graham trolls Russia over arrest warrant

Davis' report continues at this link (subscription required).

Elie Mystal: Why Ken Paxton’s impeachment makes a strong case for Dianne Feinstein’s resignation

The impeachment of three-term Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has set off a major civil war among Lone Star Republicans. One on side are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other Paxton defenders; on the other side are scathing critics like Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a conservative Republican who pushed for the impeachment and believes that Paxton has become a liability for his party.

In the Texas House of Representatives — where Republicans have a majority — Paxton was recently indicted, 121-23, on 20 articles of impeachment. Paxton's impeachment trial in the Texas State Senate is forthcoming, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick presiding.

Outside of Texas, former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) have rushed to Paxton's defense.

READ MORE: Ken Paxton impeachment fight exposes deep fissures among Texas GOP

In an article published by The Nation on May 31, liberal/progressive legal expert Elie Mystal uses Paxton's impeachment to call for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to retire. Mystal is not saying that far-right Paxton and liberal Feinstein are in any way comparable politically; he obviously respects Feinstein and has nothing good to say about Paxton.

Rather, his point is that if Texas House Republicans can impeach Paxton because they believe he is hurting the GOP, Feinstein's staff can push for her resignation for the good of her party.

"For wildly different reasons," Mystal emphasizes, "both Paxton and Feinstein are unfit for their elected offices. Paxton is unfit because he's a corrupt-o-fascist who couldn't even find a benefactor wealthy enough to own a superyacht. Feinstein is unfit because she's not compos mentis — which I believe is Latin for 'let's just make sure she's comfortable' — and has been unable to participate in basic Senate business for several months."

Mystal adds, "To be clear, there's no moral equivalency here. Feinstein is a dedicated public servant who got very old and very incapacitated; Paxton is a power-hungry repeat bad actor who got caught. But operationally, neither person should have the jobs that they do. Paxton's staff knew it, and I promise you Feinstein's staff knows it too."

READ MORE: Concerned colleagues say Dianne Feinstein 'shockingly diminished' upon return to Senate: report

Feinstein, now 89, has been a giant in California politics, spending a decade as mayor of San Francisco before being elected to the U.S. Senate in the early 1990s. But Feinstein's health challenges, many Democrats argue, are holding up the Senate Judiciary Committee's work and preventing President Joe Biden's judicial nominations from advancing.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) believes that asking Feinstein to resign is sexist. But Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) disagree.

"It hurts my soul to write this," Mystal says, "but the group of people who showed up to work for the sniveling, corrupt Republican attorney general of Texas showed more respect for the norms of democratic self-government than the people who show up to work for the senior Democratic senator from California. The bottom line is that Ken Paxton would not have been impeached but for the willingness of people who worked for him to go public with the truth. Dianne Feinstein will not be replaced until the people who work for her are willing to do the same thing."

READ MORE: Tensions between Ken Paxton and Republican Texas House speaker reach boiling point

Elie Mystal's full article for The Nation is available at this link.

Lauren Boebert: 'I get kind of sad' when 'positive' constituents call my office

United States Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) told right-wing twice-convicted felon Steven Bannon on Wednesday's edition of his conspiracy theory radio show that she prefers when angry people call her congressional office.

"It's really easy for staff to disregard someone who their member does not represent and they say, 'Well, call your member of Congress.' So be sure you're calling them but tell them to vote 'no,'" Boebert said in reference to the pending legislation to raise the debt ceiling that will be voted upon by the House on Wednesday.

Boebert also revealed that she contacts "other" lawmakers immediately after advising Bannon's listeners against doing that.

READ MORE: 'It has to be done': These House Republicans are open to deposing Kevin McCarthy

"I still call other offices," Boebert continued. "People call mine all day long. Sometimes I answer the phones. Uh, it's actually..."

Bannon interjected that "some of those are positive and maybe some of those are Democrats."

A chuckling Boebert then lamented that "I kind of get sad when it's the positive ones. I was like, man, I was looking forward to a fight here. And uh, you know, I'm like, oh, this is a real one."

Bannon observed, "You, you like fighting. You're from Colorado."

READ MORE: 'Clown car': MAGA Republicans blasted for threatening to 'tank economy to help Trump win'

Watch the banter below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Nice to see': Lauren Boebert praises man for shouting expletives at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The abortion battle is crushing Wisconsin GOP as the state 'shifts leftward': report

Democratic strategists once regarded Wisconsin as a reliably blue state. Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis lost California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Maine and Florida to Republican George H.W. Bush in 1988's presidential election, but he carried Wisconsin.

During the Barack Obama years, however, Democrats lost a lot of ground in the state. Republican Gov. Scott Walker won in 2010 and 2014; Republican Sen. Ron Johnson won in 2010 and 2016; and Donald Trump carried Wisconsin in 2016's presidential election.

Moreover, Republicans took over the Wisconsin State Legislature and cemented their gains with severe gerrymandering.

READ MORE: Liberal victory in Wisconsin Supreme Court race is a 'five-alarm warning to Republicans': WSJ editorial board

But in a report published on May 30, Politico's David Siders stresses that recent Democratic victories in Wisconsin have been "jarring" for "a state that, post-Barack Obama, had seemingly been shifting to the right."

"For more than a decade," Siders observes. "Republicans have used aggressive redistricting and other heavy-handed tactics in the (Wisconsin) State Legislature to press a narrow advantage into a seemingly permanent upper hand over Democrats. …. But Joe Biden won the state in 2020. And in the April election, liberal Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz beat conservative former State Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly by a whopping 11 percentage points, flipping the ideological majority of the Court."

Siders cites abortion as a major reason why Wisconsin has "shifted leftward." Protasiewicz prioritized abortion rights during her campaign and hammered Kelly relentlessly on the issue.

Republican Rohn W. Bishop, mayor of Waupun, Wisconsin and former chair of the Fond du Lac County GOP, told Politico, "We got our butts kicked. What the Republican base demands and what independent voters will accept are growing further apart."

READ MORE: Wisconsin Republicans threaten to impeach newly elected Democratic State Supreme Court justice: report

Walker was voted out of office in 2018, and his Democratic successor, Tony Evers, was reelected in 2022. As Walker sees it, his two gubernatorial victories and Johnson's three U.S. Senate wins were the exception instead of the rule for Wisconsin.

Walker told Politico, "Wisconsin has historically — and I think largely continues to be — a blue state."

READ MORE: Abortion rights enjoy a double-digit victory in contentious Wisconsin Supreme Court race

Politico's full report is available at this link.

The debt ceiling deal reflects a permanent feature of American democracy

I don’t like doing this, but for the sake of democracy in these United States, I’m going to use a classic scene from a classic movie to illustrate my thinking about the agreement that prevents the US government from defaulting on its debts. The problem isn’t what we think it is. The problem is much deeper than that.

The classic movie I’m talking about is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (released in 1989). The classic scene I’m talking about involves a German tank on which the hero, his dad and a Nazi are riding. The hero’s dad trips and falls onto one of the tank’s treads. Using his whip, the hero lassos his dad’s leg to prevent him from being pulled under, to this death. While the hero is holding on to his dad, the Nazi is standing behind him, punching him in the kidneys.

That’s where the hero finds himself for a long, long moment – between the desperate need to save his dad’s life and the desperate desire to retaliate against an enemy that is exploiting his desperate need to save his dad’s life.

READ MORE: 'It has to be done': These House Republicans are open to deposing Kevin McCarthy

Eventually, conditions change so that it’s safe for the hero to retaliate before the Nazi and the tank, which has been careening toward a cliff, meet their end.

I don’t like doing this, because movie scenes as metaphors for politics are annoying. They often and quickly spiral off in directions I don’t intend them to.

At the moment, however, I can’t think of a better way to illustrate my view. The problem isn’t the debt ceiling. That’s the law that limits borrowing money to pay for things that the US Congress has already said shall be paid for. The problem isn’t the Democrats. They have lifted the cap for Democratic and Republican presidents alike. The problem is the GOP. It’s always the GOP.

Like the Nazi on the German tank, the Republicans are so focused on their enemy, and on inflicting suffering on it, that they don’t know, or don’t care, that the tank – in this case, the US government – is careening toward a cliff – in this case, toward an unthinkable default on the United States’ debt.

READ MORE: House Republican calls low-income housing 'a more dangerous program than food stamps'

They refuse to take responsibility for solving shared problems of democracy, because the shared problem, from the Republican view, isn’t shared. It’s their enemy’s problem. It's their enemy’s problem because only the enemy believes democracy is a collective effort. Democracy is indeed a collective effort. It can’t not be. So they aren’t punching the enemy. They’re punching democracy.

From behind.

In the kidneys.

Unlike the movies, there is no moment of truth in politics. The Democrats do not retaliate. (It’s too risky, politically and practically). The Republicans do not careen toward their (political) deaths. Instead, the kidney-punchers are put on the same plane as the problem-solvers – or worse. The problem-solvers are typically the only ones expected to solve democracy’s problems while the kidney-punchers are never expected to stop kidney-punching democracy.

This is, I think, a permanent feature of American democracy. Or, if I’m allowed to give some benefit of the doubt, it has become a permanent feature. While one party is eager – sometimes too eager! – to solve the shared problems of democracy, the other party can’t think of a problem that’s worse than the opposition party trying to solve the shared problems of democracy. While one party tries, and risks failing in the attempt, the other party risks nothing.

Until the whole she-bang careens off a cliff.

The Washington press corps, as a matter of convenience and self-interest, usually depicts the plane of American politics as if it were level, as if the parties had political incentives that are more or less equally matched. They are not equally matched. The Democrats are focused on the problem while the Republicans are focused on the Democrats focusing on the problem.

One party has incentive to at least try to solve the shared problems of democracy while the other party has incentive to sabotage attempts to solve the shared problems of democracy. One has an incentive to act like grown folks. The other has an incentive to act like children. One party accepts the responsibility of hard work. The other party rejects hard work in all its forms – unless it’s the hard work that goes into punching democracy in the kidneys.

I said the hero of the movie is stuck, until conditions change, between a desperate need and a desperate desire. The condition is Indiana Jones’ friend, Sallah. He enters the scene, riding a horse, to pull the hero’s dad to safety. Then the hero can turn his attention to the Nazi who’s been punching him in the kidneys the entire time. He retaliates, then jumps off the tank, just in time.

What does Sallah represent? What in American politics is the force that frees democracy to do what needs to be done to the people who are punching it in the kidneys. I don’t know. Like I said, movie metaphors are slippery. The answer is probably no one. This isn’t a story. There is no deus ex machina.

READ MORE: House Republican parrots Donald Trump’s 'milktoast' insult during live Fox News interview

Ron DeSantis accuses teachers of 'forcing' students to pick pronouns

Governor Ron DeSantis kicked off his official presidential campaign tour on Tuesday, traveling to Iowa after announcing last week he was launching a White House run. On Wednesday, the Republican bragged to GOP voters that in Florida he recently signed a bill into law banning teachers from forcing children to pick pronouns, insisting it is happening in other states.

“It is wrong for a teacher to tell a student that they may have been born in the wrong body, or that their gender is a choice,” DeSantis announced.

“We don’t allow this in the state of Florida, and we actually just signed legislation protecting students from having teachers force them to pick pronouns, which they are doing in some parts of this country, at [a] very, very young age. We’re not competing in the ‘pronoun sweepstakes.’ We’re going to have school just like school’s been, from time in memoriam [sic], we’re not going to do all this other stuff,” he declared.

READ MORE: ‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert

While DeSantis is insistent that teachers are forcing very young students to pick pronouns, NCRM found no news reports supporting that claim.

We did find several news reports of teachers suing for not wanting to use a child’s preferred pronoun, which are issues for the courts.

We did find one report of a teacher who allegedly insisted on calling a 9-year-old girl who identifies as a girl a boy, and the parents are suing.

News12 on Long Island, New York in March reported, “the lawyer representing the girl’s family…says the student was bullied and had suicidal feelings.”

“She says the teacher told the student to ‘try being gay.’ The teacher is also accused of calling the girl a male name.
‘The teacher had some kind of agenda to have these students have alternate sexual preferences or gender identities they may or may not have had,'” the attorney said.

READ MORE: ‘It Has to Be Done’: These Are the House Republicans Open to Firing Kevin McCarthy as Speaker

In April, Colorado’s KRDO reported, “During the last Colorado Springs School District 11’s board meeting, officials tabled a controversial pronoun policy that would prevent educators from asking students their preferred pronouns. While the policy isn’t in effect, some teachers are concerned about how it would hinder them inside the classroom.”

Watch DeSantis below or at this link.

Experts thrilled Jack Smith is investigating Trump’s firing of election security expert

U.S. Dept. of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed former Trump administration staffers possibly involved in the firing of Chris Krebs, a top cybersecurity official who had published a report calling the 2020 presidential election “the most secure in American history,” just days after the election, infuriating then-President Donald Trump.

The New York Times reports the special counsel’s investigators have “been asking witnesses about the events surrounding the firing” of Krebs (photo), who was appointed by Trump to the newly-created position of Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

Krebs was fired by Trump on November 17, 2020 after tweeting that election fraud claims were bogus: “59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent,’” according to The Washington Post.

READ MORE: ‘Sure Wasn’t by Drag Queens’: DeSantis Slammed for Ignoring Florida Mass Shooting That Included Children

“Krebs’s statement amounted to a debunking of Trump’s central claim that the November election was stolen,” The Post reported at the time.

The New York Times on Wednesday reports the Special Counsel’s investigators “appear focused on Mr. Trump’s state of mind around the firing of Mr. Krebs, as well as on establishing a timeline of events leading up to the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021. The latest subpoenas, issued roughly two weeks ago, went to officials in the personnel office, according to the two people familiar with the matter.”

But national security and civil liberties journalist Marcy Wheeler asserts the Special Counsel’s efforts go further.

“I think it likely erroneous to imagine that Jack Smith is getting into Chris Krebs’ firing JUST to get to Trump’s mindset,” Wheeler tweeted. “He fired Krebs for doing something his Admin had specifically bought off on. It was a necessary part of the plot.”

“So,” Wheeler adds, “1) Trump fires Krebs for saying the election was fair 2) Trump fires Esper for saying he couldn’t invoke the Insurrection Act,” referring to then-Trump Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

“Then he sought about sowing an insurrection based on claims the election wasn’t fair,” she notes.

RELATED: ‘Fired for Telling the Truth to the American People’: Legal Experts Blast Trump for Firing Top Cybersecurity Chief

MSNBC’s Steve Benen agrees, writing: “Presumably, pulling on this thread would also offer investigators additional evidence that the then-president was presented with the truth by his own team, even as he pushed his anti-election lies.”

Andrew Weissmann, the former FBI General Counsel who spent 20 years at DOJ, heralded the Special Counsel’s investigation into the firing of Krebs.

“A very natural thing for Jack to examine as part of plot to overthrow the election. AND Krebs will make a great trial witness for govt.,” Weissmann tweeted.

Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial could 'seriously wound' Texas Republicans

Far-right Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been an incredibly polarizing figure in Lone Star politics — even among fellow Republicans. And his impeachment has brought those divisions to the forefront.

The Texas House of Representatives recently voted, 121-23, to indict Paxton on 20 articles of impeachment. And an impeachment trial in the Texas State Senate is forthcoming.

The impeachment cannot be honestly described as an act of partisanship, as Republicans control the Texas State Legislature. Paxton has been angrily railing against Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a conservative Republican who pushed for the impeachment. And Phelan hasn't been shy about slamming Paxton as a liability for the Texas GOP.

READ MORE: Texas AG Ken Paxton impeached — suspended from duties pending outcome of Senate trial

It remains to be seen how Texas Senate Republicans will vote in Paxton's impeachment trial. Texas-based reporter/author James Moore, in an article published by CNN's website on May 30, argues that the trial's outcome could have a long-lasting effect not only on Texas Republicans, but on Republicans in general.

Moore, who has been reporting on Texas politics since 1975, explains, "The impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton over allegations of corruption, bribery and obstruction of justice has political experts contemplating whether things are coming undone for the state's Republican Party and its control of government. The answer is no — at least not yet. The Texas GOP has decided to dump an officeholder who appears to have gone a bit too far and embarrassed the party to the point of becoming a political liability."

The Texan adds, "The challenge for Republicans will be how to remove him from office without harming the party or its members. And that won't be easy."

Paxton's impeachment is a hot topic far from Texas. Former President Donald Trump has been attacking Paxton's GOP foes as fake Republicans, while more traditional conservatives believe he is damaging the GOP in a state that is a must-win for them in presidential elections.

READ MORE: Tensions between Ken Paxton and Republican Texas House speaker reach boiling point

For decades, Democrats have fantasized about turning Texas blue. Texas' 2018 U.S. Senate race was a hopeful sign; Democratic former Rep. Beto O'Rourke narrowly lost to incumbent GOP Sen. Ted Cruz. But when O'Rourke ran for governor in 2022, he lost to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott by 11 percent.

Texas' large urban centers lean Democratic, but thanks to a long list of rural counties, Texas remains a red state.

"If Paxton manages to survive his Senate trial," Moore observes, "he might seriously wound Texas Republicans' political strength — and that could have national repercussions into 2024. If enough Texans shun the Republican Party, the state — long an essential part of the GOP electoral strategy — could potentially flip in the other direction, dooming the party's presidential prospects."

READ MORE: Ken Paxton impeachment fight exposes deep fissures among Texas GOP

James Moore's entire CNN op-ed is available at this link.

'Polarizing' Kari Lake could be a major headache for GOP strategists in 2024: conservative

Like her political mentor Donald Trump, far-right Republican Kari Lake has been an incredibly divisive figure in U.S. politics.

The conspiracy theorist and former television reporter, who Democratic Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs defeated in 2022, is popular with Trump's hardcore MAGA base. But a combination of liberals, progressives, Democrats and Never Trump conservatives view her as a dangerous extremist. When Lake lost Arizona's gubernatorial race last year, former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) and activist Meghan McCain were among the well-known conservatives who were glad to see her defeated.

Never Trumper and Washington Post opinion writer Henry Olsen, in his May 31 column, lays out some reasons why Lake could be a major headache for GOP strategists in 2024.

READ MORE: 'Can’t beat Donald Duck': Election loser Kari Lake swats at Ron DeSantis

"Many Republicans are concerned that the charismatic — and polarizing — Kari Lake will run for Arizona's Senate seat, thereby making it harder for the GOP to pick up a seat that could determine Senate control," Olsen observes. "Even more concerning for the party? That she might also be angling to become former President Donald Trump's vice-presidential nominee."

Olsen continues, "Lake has made her interest in running for the Senate clear by doing what any normal candidate would do: She regularly criticizes independent incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and her Democratic challenger, Rep. Ruben Gallego, on Twitter and in news releases…. Speculation that she's also interested in the vice presidency comes from the things she's done that most Senate candidates do not: She's maintained a heavy national speaking schedule, including two trips to Iowa and a lead speaking role at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference."

Lake is reportedly on Trump's short list for a running mate if he wins the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, which is looking like a strong possibility. Despite all his legal woes — or perhaps even because of them — Trump has been way ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in many polls. Lake has been calling for the GOP to cancel its presidential primary and rally around Trump, and she urged DeSantis not to run —which obviously didn't stop him from entering the race in late May.

Olsen argues that if Lake is serious about running for the U.S. Senate, she needs to forget about being Trump's possible running mate.

READ MORE: Arizona Supreme Court slams Kari Lake lawyers with $2000 sanction for election lies

"The complications — both for her and the GOP — come from what happens if she runs for the Senate without rejecting the possibility that she might accept a chance to run for vice president," Olsen explains. "Winning a competitive U.S. Senate seat requires complete dedication…. Given the opportunity to run for both Senate and vice president, Republicans and her fans should hope she chooses just one — for her benefit and theirs."

READ MORE: Kari Lake among four women on Trump's VP shortlist: report

Find Henry Olsen's full Washington Post opinion column at this link (subscription required).

Ex-GOP strategist lays out the fatal flaws in DeSantis and Tim Scott’s campaign launches

In late May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) officially jumped in the 2024 GOP presidential primary. Supporters of both Republicans are touting them as alternatives to frontrunner Donald Trump and insist that they would be better equipped to take on Democratic incumbent President Joe Biden in the general election.

Never Trump conservative and former GOP strategist Tim Miller evaluates their presidential campaign launches in a humorous but edgy video posted by The Bulwark on May 31. Miller argues that Trump's "well-funded opponents" both have messages that, in theory, should appeal to Republican primary voters — but adds that ultimately, they are in weak positions against the former president.

Miller gives Scott an A- from a messaging standpoint, a D for his "vibe with 2024 GOP voters" and an F for his "ability to dunk on Trump."

READ MORE: Tim Scott transforms from 'gentler' Republican to parroting claims the left is the 'enemy' of the people

"In a presidential campaign," the former Republican strategist explains, "people knowing your elevator pitch is really important, and Scott has a clear message that I kinda like: optimism, cheery conservatism, that 'shining city on the hill' s**t…. The problem is, having a good, clear message doesn't matter if it's not the kind of thing voters are lookin' for. Scott's sunny themes might've been a better fit for the compassionate conservative GOP of yesteryear—not the MAGA crowd that will decide this year's campaign."

Miller gives DeSantis an A+ for messaging but a D for his "ability to dunk on Trump."

The Never Trumper isn't a DeSantis fan; he has been a scathing critic of the Florida governor's far-right culture-war politics and the MAGA movement in general. But he argues that having a Trump-like message without being Trump could appeal to GOP primary voters — that is, if Trump himself were not running.

"DeSantis has the best elevator pitch for this primary: Ditch the biggest loser for a winner who got MAGA results," Miller tells viewers. "But can he deliver it?.... Head-to-head with Trump is where it could get really ugly. Trump's ads are crushing Ron, and in his stump speech, Trump is a rabid dog going straight for the jugular, while DeSantis offers this whiny-voiced passive-aggressive pushback."

READ MORE: 'A clown show': Steve Bannon lambastes DeSantis’ 'historic screwup' of a campaign launch

View Tim Miller's full video below or at this link.

Grading Trump's 2024 GOP Challengers | Not My Party with Tim

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