News & Politics

'Very scary': Ex-Watergate prosecutor explains how a fair trial for Trump could save democracy

Ex-Watergate prosecutor Jon Sale, during Friday's episode of MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber,insisted that a fair trial for ex-President Donald Trump in his Georgia case could save democracy.

Melber asked Sale, "What do you hear from defendant Trump here when he talks about loyalty, as well as people like Miss [Jenna] Ellis, who seems to be adjusting her views of him?"

Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis is one of the 18 individuals indicted last month by a Fulton County Superior Court grand jury along with the ex-president on charges related to their efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Sale replied, "Well, as an outsider, loyalty, to Donald Trump, sounds like a one-way street. But, I'd have to say something about the times we are living in, because when they told us how we got here, like when he mentioned Richard Nixon was barred from the presidency. And if he had more time, he would have explained it. He stepped down because of bipartisan atmosphere. It was the Republicans who called for him to step down because they couldn't support him. We live in totally different times right now. I mean, it's very scary. There was a University of Chicago study that showed that 12 million people would favor violence to support Donald Trump. And somebody who I always thought responsible is [ex-Arkansas] Governor [Mike] Huckabee, who just the other day, said that if the legal system brings down Donald Trump, that the next election will be decided by bullets rather than ballots. I think that's a very scary time that we are living in. And I may be naive."

He continued, "But I think that what's going to save the system and our democracy is Donald Trump, by the way, said he doesn't think there's much of democracy left. I think it's the Constitution. And I'm using that interchangeably with democracy which will save us. And I think what we have to do is make sure he gets a fair trial. And the trial that's going to go is the one in the District of Columbia. I think it's gonna be a challenge to get a fair trial there, but I think the judge will do everything possible to ensure that. I don't rule out a change of venue. I mean, just recently, former District Attorney of Baltimore was granted a change of venue. The Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVay, was granted a change of venue. So we have to see. The law is, we don't know if we can get a fair jury until we try. But a fair trial, I think, is what will show whether the Constitution works. And I used to be totally against televising trials. Unfortunately, this trial will not be televised because it's in Washington. But i wish it were because then people would see the overwhelming evidence."

Watch the video below or at this link.

Loyalty, for Trump, is a 'one-way street': Ex-Watergate

READ MORE: 'I didn't do anything wrong': Trump unsure of Mark Meadows' loyalty in GA case

'Smoke and mirrors': Ex-US attorney slams Trump lawyers’ 'honest mistake' in $250M fraud case

During Friday's episode of MSNBC's Deadline: White House, host Nicolle Wallace spoke to ex-U.S. Attorney Harry Litman about ex-President Donald Trump's lawyers' lies about the size Trump's Manhattan penthouse at the Trump Tower in New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million fraud case against him, "making up the existence of 20,000 square feet that inflated the value of his property by more than $200 million in that instance alone," according to The Daily Beast.

The Beast reports:

At Friday's hearing, state attorneys presented testimony from the Trump Organization's disgraced chief financial officer, convicted tax cheat Allen Weisselberg, who admitted that the penthouse size listed on official business documents was totally fake. The judge raised the possibility that this total fabrication was an 'honest mistake,' but then quoted Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who served on the Supreme Court in the early 1900s.

'Even a dog knows the difference between being kicked and being tripped over. There's a difference between lies and misstatements,' Engoron said.

During Wallace's interview with Litman, she said to the ex- U.S. attorney, "Harry, it feels like this is another example that fits the pattern of truth being on the line in the legal outcome."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

He replied, "Yeah, it does. And that's the overall effort, but of course it's through the looking glass perhaps around the edges. But it is crystal clear down the middle. And it's fanciful to say, when you sign something to a bank and say, 'this is how much it's worth,' then it turns out to be worth one-quarter of that, that somehow there's some subjective intent defense. And of course, you know, an apartment's either 10,000 or 30,000 square feet. This is, as you say, the really old stuff. This is what we heard about from Michael Cohen way back when before congress. And it was an m.o. of the Trump Organization."

Litman emphasized, "And by the way, one thing that really puts the lie to it is the valuations of some of the same properties would differ when they wanted to lowball, say for taxes. So, as you suggest, if this point of view of, 'Oh, it's just subjective,' actually held, there could be no fraud. Fraud means a lie. And that means when they wrote that down and signed it, they knew it wasn't worth that and worth anything like it. They can try to argue that they did, but you know, there are facts here. And there are valuations here. And it doesn't help if the bank looked at it in a second way. They lied. They lied down the middle. That's fraud. everything else is just smoke and mirrors."

Watch the video below or at this link.

'Smoke and mirrors': Analyst slams Trump over lying about

READ MORE: 'Political gambit': Why Trump’s bid to oust judge from $250M fraud case will likely be 'shot down'

The Daily Beast's full report is available at this link (subscription required).

'He holds the line': Gaetz praises GOP congressman who echoes his call for change 'through force'

U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), largely seen as pushing Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s Republican-majority House of Representatives toward shutting down the federal government, is praising and promoting remarks made by a freshman GOP lawmaker that suggest the need for violence. U.S. Rep. Eli Crane‘s comments, posted Friday (below), call for change “through force,” remarks echoing Congressman Gaetz’s recent comments which were denounced by an expert on authoritarianism as fascistic.

“The only way we’re going to see meaningful change in this town is through force,” wrote Congressman Crane, Republican of Arizona atop a three-minute video in which he frames what is now an almost guaranteed government shutdown as a “spending fight.” In his video he says, “the only way you’re gonna get any change in this town is through force.” Gaetz in August had said, “we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C.”

Congressman Crane is a former Navy SEAL. He has promoted the false “Big Lie” conspiracy theory that there was massive fraud in the election President Joe Biden won, and called “on the state legislature to decertify the 2020 election.” He is one of six House Republicans who voted against McCarthy’s speakership all 15 times in January.

READ MORE: White House Mocks GOP With ‘Worst Person You Know’ Meme After Matt Gaetz Blames McCarthy for Shutdown

“Congressman Eli Crane is a fountainhead of political courage,” said Rep. Gaetz Friday afternoon. “He holds the line.”

Crane recently came under fire for calling Black people “colored,” during debate on his legislation that would force the U.S. Armed Forces to not use any diversity requirements in its hiring practices.

READ MORE: ‘Corruption of the Highest Order’: Experts ‘Sickened’ at ‘Definitely Bought’ Clarence Thomas and His ‘Pay to Play’ Lifestyle

Just days before he won his House seat last year, The Washington Post reported Crane had urged an “audience to look up an antisemitic sermon at a recent campaign stop.”

“Crane said that he was motivated to run because of ‘radical ideologies that are destroying this country’ and that he was most concerned about ‘Cultural Marxism,’ which the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as an antisemitic baseless claim gaining traction on the American right.”

“He encouraged the audience to watch a speech by a right-wing pastor who blamed cultural change on a group of German Jewish philosophers and condemned Barack Obama for having a ‘homosexual agenda.'”

“If we don’t wake up,” Crane said, according to the Post, “if we don’t study what they’re doing, and if we don’t put people in influential positions that understand what this war is all about, what they’re trying to do and have and have the courage to call it out, we’re going to lose this country.”

In August, while standing next to Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Congressman Gaetz said, “Mr. President, I cannot stand these people that are destroying our country. They are opening our borders. They are weaponizing our federal law enforcement against patriotic Americans who love this nation as we should.”

“But we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C. And so to all my friends here in Iowa, when you see them come for this man, know that they are coming for our movement and they are coming for all of us.”

At the time, Raw Story reported, “historian and author Ruth Ben-Ghiat called Gaetz comments alarming.”

READ MORE: Pete Buttigieg Just Testified Before Congress. It Did Not Go Well for Republicans.

“What he is saying is that they are not going to have change through elections or through legislation or through reform. They are going to have change through violence,” she warned.

“And that’s how fascists talk,” Ben-Ghiat added. “So, even if Trump is out of the picture, these are people who have adopted methods very familiar to me as a historian of fascism, that violence and corruption and lying that’s what the party is today.”

Critics argue Montana senator’s new 'transparency' bill contradicts his ethics record: report

United States Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) faces criticism as he runs for a fourth term while pushing a new bill "that would ban members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists," NBC News reports.

The Associated Press (AP) reported earlier this year, "After Tester became chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee in 2021, he received campaign contributions totaling over $160,000 from employees and committees representing the defense industry. At one point last year, 49 Lockheed Martin executives and lobbyists — none of whom had given to the senator in the past — gave Tester's campaign a combined total of nearly $50,000."

The fact the Democratic lawmaker's "record over 16 years in office hasn't always aligned with the narrative he has cultivated, nor has it always met the high standards he has set for himself and proposed for others," according to NBC, makes the road to reelection more challenging for him.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

AP reports:

In recent campaign cycles, Democrats have faced calls to reject checks from corporate political action committees. But Tester is also under reelection pressure as he faces a potentially challenging race back home in Montana, where his small-town farming roots and populist reputation have helped him survive the state’s increasingly conservative tilt.

However, Democratic groups End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller told the news outlet, "From day one, Sen. Tester has pushed to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists, require greater transparency, and end dark money in our elections — which has made him the top target for out-of-state special interests. While multimillionaire Tim Sheehy faces questions about ethics and conflict of interest, Sen. Tester has stayed true to his roots and always fought for working Montanans."

Additionally, the report notes, "In a video announcing the new bill, Tester said he has 'been fighting for more transparency and accountability in government since Montana first sent me here.'"

In the video he said, "It is past time that we shut the revolving door that has allowed too many folks in Washington to use their elected office as a stepping stone toward high-paying lobbying jobs for special interests."

Campaign Legal Center Vice President and Senior Director of Ethics Kedric Payne emphasized, "It shows how much the legislation is needed if the person who really wants it can’t even avoid these donations. It puts the members in a position that they find difficult to deal with when former colleagues want to support their campaign and meet with them. They just seem to be unable to say no. And without any legislation to stop it, you’re probably going to get the same conduct."

READ MORE: Montana senator’s priorities 'called into question' after taking money from defense contractors

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Maggie Abboud said, "Jon Tester told Montanans he'd be different, but he's broken just about every ethics promise he made to get elected. Tester should apologize to Montanans for lying to them."

Tester's spokesperson Sarah Feldman told NBC, "Sen. Tester holds himself to a higher standard than any of his colleagues in Congress by refusing to be lobbied by former colleagues and pushing legislation that would ban them from becoming lobbyists. Every decision Sen. Tester makes is based on one thing: what's in the best interests of Montana and our national security."

NBC's full report is available at this link.

'See how easy that is to say?' GOP mocked for DOJ 'weaponization' claims after Dem senator’s indictment

The U.S. Dept. of Justice unsealed an indictment against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez late Friday morning, accusing the New Jersey Democratic lawmaker of bribery as prosecutors showed photos of gold bars and nearly half-a-million dollars in cash stuffed into a jacket that bears his name and the seal of the U.S. Senate.

Many on the left immediately demanded Senator Menendez resign, a demand he is refusing. He will step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which Senate Democrats require when a chair is criminally charged.

It took little time for liberals to mock Republicans who have been claiming President Joe Biden and Democrats in general, along with the “deep state,” have “weaponized” the Dept. of Justice against conservatives, especially after Donald Trump’s four indictments on a total of 91 criminal felonies.

“Let me get this straight,” wrote journalist and progressive SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah. “To the GOP, when DOJ indicts President Biden’s son and a senior Democratic US Senator that is great. But when DOJ indicts Donald Trump for attempting a coup and for 32 counts of Espionage that is DOJ’s ‘weaponization’ of criminal justice?!”

READ MORE: Pete Buttigieg Just Testified Before Congress. It Did Not Go Well for Republicans.

“This is the second time that Sen. Bob Menendez has been indicted for corruption. He needs to resign and allow Gov. Murphy to fill that vacancy with someone who does right by the people of New Jersey,” wrote former Human Rights Campaign press secretary Charlotte Clymer. “See how easy that is to say, GOP?”

Journalist, author, and former Clinton White House aide Keith Boykin posted video of the prosecutor announcing the indictment.

Boykin later sarcastically commented, “There goes Biden again weaponizing the Justice Department to prosecute political leaders in his own party.”

“President Joe Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice has now indicted Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and *checks notes* Joe Biden’s son,” observed veteran intelligence officer, activist, and social media personality Travis Akers.

Attorney and former Republican George Conway quickly responded, saying, “senile sleepy Joe is playing 65-dimensional chess again.”

READ MORE: ‘Sexy’: Comer Obtains Unredacted Emails to VP Biden Revealing Women ‘Privately Mused’ They Found Him Attractive

“Menendez should resign. Today,” demanded historian and author Kevin M. Kruse.

“One of the nice things about rule of law is that truly believing in it ensures that you don’t end up as a partisan hypocrite,” observed The Atlantic’s Brian Klaas, an associate professor in global politics at University College London. “If Menendez is guilty, he should go to prison as anyone else would. (And it would be prudent to resign swiftly).”

Meanwhile, some used Friday’s indictment of Sen. Menendez to focus on other political figures.

Foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf, warned, “The Memendez case should have Jared [Kushner] and Clarence [Thomas] ordering extra strength Tums today.”

Rachel Bitecofer, the political strategist and analyst also appeared to point the finger at Justice Thomas and his wife, Ginni.

READ MORE: ‘Total Breakdown’: House Sends Members Home – Experts Warn ‘Republicans Can’t Govern’ And Have No ‘Working Majority’

Ex-Trump ethics lawyer sues former Mueller deputy for libel

On September 15, Politico's Kyle Cheney reported, on X (formerly Twitter) that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had subpoenaed former U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) official Jody Hunt. MSNBC's Andrew Weissmann, former deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller, was quick to respond to that tweet. And Weissmann's response — according to Politico legal reporter Josh Gerstein — has led to a lawsuit by Stefan Passantino, who served in the Office of White House Counsel under President Donald Trump.

In his September 15 tweet, Weissmann described Hunt as "Cassidy Hutchinson’s good lawyer" and "not the one who coached her to lie" — a reference to Passantino. Hutchinson, a former aide to ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is known for her bombshell testimony for the January 6 Select Committee in 2022.

Gerstein reports that Passantino's libel lawsuit was filed on September 22, commenting that he is "glad" Cheney was "left out of it."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

A court document for Stefan Passantino v. Andrew Weissmann reads, "Stefan Passantino is an attorney with a 30-year history of representing his clients honorably and ethically and, like all attorneys, depends upon his reputation to earn a living. Defendant Andrew Weissmann — a partisan former prosecutor and top deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller turned MSNBC 'legal analyst' — has publicly impugned that reputation, claiming that Mr. Passantino coached his client, Cassidy Hutchinson, to lie in congressional testimony."

The document continues, "This is an insidious lie. Mr. Passantino never coached Ms. Hutchinson to lie, nor did he attempt to shape her testimony in any way."

READ MORE:'Like a wolf closing in on its prey': Cassidy Hutchinson accuses Giuliani of groping her on Jan. 6

Conservative explains why Republicans will continue to lose 'up and down the ballot'

On Tuesday, September 19, a special election for a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives found far-right MAGA Republican and conspiracy theorist Erin Connolly Autenreith running against Democratic nominee Lindsay Powell — and Powell won.

Democrats will have a narrow majority in the Pennsylvania House, while Republicans will have a six-seat majority in the Pennsylvania Senate.

In an article published by the National Review on September 20, conservative Noah Rothman argues that Autenreith never should have been nominated and emphasizes that Republicans will continue to lose winnable elections if they keep nominating "paranoid" fringe candidates.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

"From questioning the outcome of the 2020 election, to her presence at the January 6 'stop the steal' rally, to her praise of Donald Trump for being the only candidate with the 'courage' to discuss the epidemic of covert child-sex-trafficking in the United States," a frustrated Rothman writes, "Autenreith lent credence to every paranoid shibboleth that signifies membership in the MAGA tribe. She paid for her fealty to Donald Trump's movement with her candidacy, and her constituents will be the ones who suffer for it."

Rothman adds that the same night in a New Hampshire election, MAGA Republican candidate James Guzofski "went down to defeat handily" in a district that conservative GOP Gov. Chris Sununu won by 22 percent in 2022.

"Guzofski argued that the COVID-19 vaccines with which at least 270 million Americans were inoculated are a deadly menace — an odious feature of the 'Plandemic,'" Rothman observes. "He condemned Mike Pence, who 'betrayed the president and the Constitution' by failing to halt the electoral-certification process on January 6, 2021. He circulated an absurd petition calling for a 2020 election revote."

This type of "kookery," Rothman warns, is causing Republicans to loose races they could be winning.

READ MORE: Kari Lake praises Hungarian strongman as 'the greatest leader in Europe'

"Registered Republicans appear committed to testing the general electorate's tolerance for their preferred nonsense," the conservative writer laments. "General-election voters appear to be as eager as ever to demonstrate the folly of their judgment. Until this dynamic changes, Republicans will continue to lose races up and down the ballot."

READ MORE:Marjorie Taylor Greene ridiculed after her attacks on Biden seem more like compliments

Read Noah Rothman's full article for The National Review at this link.

'Deja vu': Analyst weighs whether NJ Dems will challenge Menendez or back him — again

NBC News national political correspondent Steve Kornacki explained Friday what United States Senator Bob Menendez's new indictment on bribery charges means for New Jersey Democratic lawmakers and voters.

During Friday's episode of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, Mitchell noted, "The White House is losing a very powerful foreign relations chairman," but added "there are others who can step in" such as U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), who's "leaving after this term."

"None with the experience of getting legislation through that Menendez has," Mitchell explained.

Kornacki replied, "There's just a lot of déjà vu here in terms of what happened the last time Menendez was indicted. And I think the key, politically, when you look back to that, first of all, he was indicted in 2015, there was a hung jury in 2017, in early 2018 they had the charges formally dismissed. He was also severely reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee as he sought re-election. Republicans believed in 2018 that this was a winnable race for them because Menendez's unpopularity in New Jersey was through the roof even after this trial. But New Jersey proved to be such a through blue state, a state where the voters really had a strong dictate for Donald Trump, and essentially the voters delivered a message, 'We don't like Bob Menendez, but we are more desirous of voting against Trump and the Republicans.'"

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

He continued, "So Menendez won by 11 points in 2018, and with every major Democrat standing behind him. I think that, politically, is the key question. You have Menendez's statement out this morning here. It looks like he is intending to plow forward and say, 'I've beaten this once before. I'm going to beat it again.' It looks like if he runs, this will be playing out during the campaign. What does the Democratic Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy do? Does he issue a statement standing behind Bob Menendez? Last time, on the first day of the trial, sitting right behind Bob Menendez in federal court was his fellow [U.S. Senator] Cory Booker (D-NJ). Cory Booker made a major show of standing with Menendez through the trial. Does Cory Booker come out today and say, 'I'm standing with Menendez again?'"

Kornacki emphasized, "Very interesting that the last time Menendez ran, all the major Democratic leaders stood behind him. A no-name Democrat with no money and no name recognition got her name on the primary ballot, and she got nearly 40 percent of the vote against Menendez in 2018. It seemed that Democratic primary voters then were sending a signal that they wanted to pick somebody besides Menendez. Forty percent for somebody they had never even heard of. He ended up winning obviously, and winning in the fall, but there are a lot of ambitious Democrats may look back at that 2018 primary and say, 'This is now happening again, this is my chance.' You think of Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ 11th District) — you think of Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ 5th District), do they look at this here today and see a potential opportunity and challenge Menendez even if he goes forward and runs?"

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: Mafia tied to criminal investigation into US senator: report

How Rupert Murdoch 'ended up destroying American conservatism': columnist

Conservative Daily Beast opinion columnist Matt Lewis has often been highly critical of what he considers "liberal media bias," but in his September 21 column, the Never Trumper takes aim at a different target: Fox News and 92-year-old Rupert Murdoch, who is retiring as News Corp's chairman.

Murdoch and Fox News, Lewis argues, did a great deal to elevate the "anger that has come to define the GOP" — and "ended up destroying American conservatism" in the process.

"As I recently noted, only about 10 percent of Republicans held a 'very negative' view of Democrats in the mid-1990s," Lewis explains. "Today, that number has risen to 62 percent. Fox News went on the air in 1996."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The columnist recalls that he "initially" welcomed "the network's arrival."

"Fox News had some good early ambitions," Lewis writes. "But fairly early on in its existence, the network pivoted far away from straight news and intelligent conservative commentary, and leaned heavily toward the loudmouths. And after that, it went from promoting the bloviators to platforming the outright liars."

Lewis continues, "That was the moment the network completely jumped the shark and pivoted from presenting alternative viewpoints to presenting an alternate reality. This is Rupert Murdoch's most meaningful political legacy: dutifully carrying water for Trump's MAGA movement that banished real conservatism…. Instead of elevating conservatism, Murdoch helped undermine conservatism as a serious philosophy, skewing instead toward tabloid conspiracy theories like birtherism and 'rigged' election allegations."

READ MORE:Experts blame Rupert Murdoch for 'moral decay' of America — and issue warning on future

Matt Lewis' full Daily Beast opinion column is available at this link (subscription required).

Nevada Republicans called out for 'rigging the election' for Trump

In Nevada, conservative critics of former President Donald Trump have been hoping that someone other than him will receive the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. But Trump remains the clear frontrunner, leading the second-place candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by 47 percent in an Emerson College poll released on September 20 and by 46 percent in a Yahoo/YouGov poll released a day earlier.

According to Associated Press reporters Michelle L. Price and Gage Stern, new Nevada Republican Party rules will only increase Trump's advantage in the state's primary.

"The state GOP, which is led by Trump allies, is insisting on moving forward with a presidential caucus on February 8 despite a new state law that set a primary election two days earlier," Price and Stern explain. "Caucuses, which typically reward grassroots support and organizing, are expected to benefit Trump given his solid grip on the GOP's most loyal voters."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Ken Cuccinelli, a DeSantis supporter and former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), believes that Trump is giving himself an unfair advantage in Nevada.

Cuccinelli told AP, "Trump hates rigged elections, except when he's doing the rigging, like he's doing in Nevada."

Nevada Republicans who opposed the proposed rule changes complained, in a statement, "This process will hurt the Republican Party and our candidates in 2024. The Nevada Republican Party will give average voters the impression they don't care about them or their votes."

READ MORE:Revealed: Trump’s Project 2025 agenda aims for 'total control' of the federal government

Read the Associated Press' full report at this link.

'Shocking GOP proposals' for overhauling federal government ripped as clueless and dangerous

Over the years, countless Republicans and Libertarians have repeated President Ronald Reagan's famous line from a May 14, 1986 speech, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government, and I’m here to help.'"

Shrinking the United States' federal government has long been a recurring theme on the right. But in 2023, MAGA Republican candidates, including GOP presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump, are going way beyond proposals to reduce or cut federal programs; Trump's Project 2025 agenda calls for fundamentally restructuring the United States' federal government.

POLL:Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

In a scathing article for The New Republic, the American Enterprise Institute's Norman J. Ornstein and the University of Maryland's Donald F. Kettl examine GOP presidential candidates' "shocking proposals" for changing the federal government — and slam them as both clueless and dangerous.

The reporters note that ultra-MAGA candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, for example, wants to "slash a million civil servants in his first year as president — and by 75 percent in his first term."

Ornstein and Kettl observe, "(Ramaswamy) also wants to shutter five federal agencies: the Department of Education, the FBI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Food and Nutrition Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms…. Ron DeSantis has proposed eliminating the Departments of Education, Commerce, and Energy, along with the IRS. Ramaswamy's plan makes DeSantis look like a raging moderate by comparison."

READ MORE:Revealed: Trump’s Project 2025 agenda aims for 'total control' of the federal government

Read The New Republic's full report at this link.

Durham deputy who helped lead Trump-Russia probe says she left DOJ over concerns with Barr

Nora Dannehy, a former federal prosecutor who helped lead the Department of Justice investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, "broke her long silence” on her abrupt 2020 departure from the DOJ, testifying Wednesday that concerns about former Attorney General Bill Barr’s handling of the case prompted her to quit, The Connecticut Mirror and Associated Press report.

“My conscience did not allow me to remain,” Dannehy said during her confirmation hearing before the Connecticut Judiciary Committee of the General Assembly. State legislatures are currently mulling Dannehy’s nomination for the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Dannehy, who was deputy to former DOJ special counsel John Durham, was on the team “tasked with investigating whether intelligence agencies or the FBI were guilty of wrongdoing in examining whether Russia colluded with the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump in 2016,” the Connecticut Mirror reports.

Per the AP:

Trump expected the investigation to expose what he and his supporters alleged was a “deep state” conspiracy to undermine his campaign, but the slow pace of the probe – and the lack of blockbuster findings – contributed to a deep wedge between the president and Barr by the time the attorney general resigned in December 2020.

The investigation concluded last May with underwhelming results: A single guilty plea from a little-known FBI lawyer, resulting in probation, and two acquittals at trial by juries.

At the time, Dannehy’s departure from the team threatened to “complicate the final stretch of an investigation already slowed by the coronavirus pandemic,” the AP reported.

Speaking to the committee, Dannehy told lawmakers, “I simply couldn’t be part of it. So I resigned.”

“Before I get to the crux of what caused my resignation, I do want to address the issue of first initially joining what some had labeled the ‘Trump DOJ,’" Dannehy said. "I didn’t return to the Trump Department of Justice. Politics never played a role in how I was expected to do my job.”

“I had been taught and spent my entire career at Department of Justice conducting any investigation in an objective and apolitical manner,” Dannehy explained. “In the spring and summer of 2020, I had growing concerns that this Russia investigation was not being conducted in that way. Attorney General Barr began to speak more publicly and specifically about the ongoing criminal investigation. I thought these public comments violated DOJ guidelines.”

Dannehy said those public comments from Barr could “certainly taken in a political way by reports."

"Whether he intended that or not, I don’t know," she added.

Read the full report at the Connecticut Mirror.

'Angry' Florida Republican banned from women’s shelter: report

Florida, once considered the textbook example of a swing state, has become increasingly Republican in recent years — from federal elections to the state legislature.

In 2023, the Florida State Senate is dominated by Republicans, one of whom is Sen. Tom A. Wright. The GOP lawmaker is no stranger to controversy, including being banned from a women's shelter, the Beacon Center, for allegedly flirting with domestic violence survivors.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that former Beacon Center CEO Angie Pye alleged that she "put a stop to (Wright) coming on the property" because of his "flirty or grooming type of behavior." Pye told the News-Journal, "He got really angry."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

According to the News-Journal, "That propensity for anger was on full display on September 2, when Wright got into a videotaped confrontation with the shelter's interim CEO and was given a trespass warning from Daytona Beach police barring him from the Beacon Center. Pye, who resigned as CEO on August 31, and others say Wright has made allegations about human trafficking, prostitution and drug use going on at the Center."

The publication adds that "during a (Florida) State Senate committee hearing," Wright "accused Pye's husband of having a conflict of interest regarding the shelter. All of those claims were false, they said."

READ MORE:DeSantis' flailing campaign is making him 'lose clout — in Florida': report

Read the Daytona Beach News-Journal's full report at this link (subscription required).

Unending 'chaos' among House Republicans could doom their majority in 2024: report

As the strong possibility of a federal government shutdown draws closer and closer, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) is desperately trying to get funding bills passed —only to encounter resistance and animosity from members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus.

Countless pundits have predicted that if a shutdown occurs, voters will blame Republicans — not Democrats.

In an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on September 22, journalist A.B. Stoddard describes the state of "chaos" plaguing McCarthy's GOP majority.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Between that chaos, a likely shutdown, a flawed impeachment inquiry and bitter infighting among House Republicans —Stoddard writes — GOP strategists are growing increasingly worried about 2024.

"More than 13 months before next year’s election," Stoddard explains, "fatalism has infected the House GOP conference. Democrats have only a slight edge heading into next year's House contests, but Republicans are behaving as if they have no hope of staying in power. As one former member told me: 'Many would say we've squandered this, and we're going to lose.'"

McCarthy, Stoddard notes, is pushing for an impeachment inquiry in order to placate the "most feral" members of his caucus. But they "want to shut down the government" anyway.

"Months from now," Stoddard adds, "those same members will want a vote to impeach President Biden — a vote that McCarthy knows he will never have enough support to pass. And McCarthy knows that if he were to pressure Republicans in precarious seats — those in districts Biden won in 2020 — to vote for impeachment, the GOP would lose the House over it."

READ MORE:Did air conditioning pave the way for government shutdowns?

Read A.B. Stoddard's full article for The Bulwark at this link.

DeSantis’ flailing campaign is making him 'lose clout — in Florida': report

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was reelected by 19 percent in 2022, his hardcore supporters praised him as the future of the MAGA movement. DeSantis, they argued, embodied former President Donald Trump's MAGA agenda, but with a lot more self-discipline. And they were confident that he was well on his way to the White House.

But DeSantis' presidential campaign has failed to take off, and he trails frontrunner Trump by 47 percent in an Emerson College poll released on September 20.

Moreover, an article published by Politico on September 22 stresses that DeSantis is even "losing clout in Florida."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Politico reporters Gary Fineout and Kimberly Leonard explain, "College boards, stacked with DeSantis appointees, are rejecting job candidates with ties to the governor…. Interviews with nearly two dozen lobbyists, political consultants and lawmakers revealed that DeSantis' struggles as a presidential candidate have already eroded his influence in Florida. There is a widespread expectation that his candidacy will end in failure."

Fineout and Leonard add, "His standing at home may depend on how long he slogs forward in the presidential campaign — and how he will manage his exit from the race if he eventually drops out."

A GOP consultant, interviewed by Politico on condition of anonymity, said of DeSantis' allies, "You don't get the assumption they are measuring drapes anymore — they are waiting for him to drop out."

READ MORE:Conservative slams DeSantis' 'failing, fumbling campaign' as it goes from bad to worse

Read Politico's full article at this link.

Unredacted emails reveal 'private musings' from 'multiple Georgian women' who found Biden attractive​

Amid the chaos of what top Democrats are calling the GOP House’s “civil war,” infighting that threatens to shut down the federal government in nine days, Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer has been obtaining some of then-Vice President Joe Biden‘s emails from the National Archives.

Politico reveals Chairman Comer has been able to obtain several unreacted emails, including one which relayed a tidbit of hearsay, or, “private musings,” from 2009, after an overseas trip Biden took: “Multiple” women said they found the Vice President “sexy.”

The emails “include schedules with ordinary family get-togethers,” Politico adds. “One shows Biden had lunch with Hunter Biden’s then-15-year-old daughters, Maisy and Finnegan. Another reveals that the Ukrainians were praising his now-deceased brother, Beau. And then there are the private musings of multiple Georgian women saying they found Joe Biden ‘sexy’ during a 2009 trip that also included a stop in Ukraine.”

“’Must-read email below,’ read an email forwarded by Biden’s then-national security adviser Tony Blinken to Joe Biden and his sons, Hunter and Beau. The email’s subject line: ‘Biden as new Georgian sex symbol.'”

Other emails from the National Archives’ trove include a “June 14, 2016 schedule card shows Biden was to meet with the prime minister of Ukraine. The newly unredacted portions show he was also scheduled to work out with his personal trainer, and to dine with Hunter’s then-15-year-old daughters, Maisy and Finnegan, in the vice president’s office.”

Politico, noting that “Republicans have yet to turn up direct evidence that Joe Biden benefited personally or that he took any official action as a result of those [Hunter Biden’s] connections, also reveals a “May, 27, 2016 schedule card includes a call with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Hunter Biden was copied on the day’s schedule. It’s already been reported that Biden was also due to attend the one-year anniversary of the passing of his son, Beau, back home in Delaware.”

“Comer had been pointing to this scheduling item, since it was also emailed to then-Vice President Biden under a pseudonym email address. Comer even said the vice president was sending a secret message to his son that he was about to fire the prosecutor. As recently as last week, Comer included that email on a list of ‘evidence’ of Joe Biden’s ‘involvement in his family’s influence peddling schemes.'”

Politico also notes that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy “and his allies insisted that opening a formal impeachment inquiry would empower them to dig deeper. Yet the emails are another example of the House GOP failing to turn up evidence they’ve assured the public exists and that will implicate Biden in some form of corruption that rises to an impeachable offense.”

READ MORE: Pete Buttigieg Just Testified Before Congress. It Did Not Go Well for Republicans.

'Total breakdown': Experts warn 'Republicans can’t govern' as House sends members home

Nine days before an increasingly-likely shutdown of the federal government of the United States, Speaker Kevin McCarthy has effectively adjourned the House for the rest of the week, with GOP leadership telling members they may go home and come back next week, after a procedural vote to fund the Dept. of Defense failed for the second time this week.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram reports, “Note that the House has not officially dismissed everyone.. but everyone expects they are done for the week. Why? They House lacks the VOTES TO ADJOURN.”

He later added that “Things are very fluid,” and “there could be votes TOMORROW or this weekend still in the house. This could be a problem if some members already got on flights.”

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Fox News online is reporting, “House abruptly cancels votes for the week without spending deal after series of defeats for GOP leaders,” and notes members are not expected back until Tuesday.

McCarthy this week has repeatedly denigrated and attacked the extremist members of the House Republican conference on camera to reporters, and Thursday was no different, saying, “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.”

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) blasted House Republicans upon hearing the House was about to adjourn for the week.

“What you need to understand is that chaos is the point for a big chunk of House Republicans. They came to congress to BURN THE GOVERNMENT TO THE GROUND,” the Connecticut Democrat wrote. “Their goal is a shutdown.”

READ MORE:Former Trump officials are shattering a key Mar-a-Lago documents defense

The sentiment is being echoed by political experts, but many of those are placing the blame on Speaker McCarthy.

Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett, senior advisor to former Obama Cabinet secretary Julián Castro Thursday afternoon wrote: “Reminder: Kevin McCarthy could put a clean bill to fund the government on the floor right now and it would pass easily. Instead, he’s sending members home for the weekend with 9 days until a shutdown—all because he’s afraid he’ll lose his job.”

Evidence that the far-right extremist House Republicans, led by U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are effectively in control comes via Punchbowl News co-founder Jake Sherman:

At 1:13 PM ET Sherman posted that Rep. Gaetz had “just emerged from” Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s suite. “Gaetz said that he’s advocating for pausing consideration of the Pentagon spending bill and moving to bills that cut spending. He mentioned: State-Foreign Ops, Agriculture, Energy and Water.”

READ MORE: 'Burn the whole place down': McCarthy rails against House Republicans as GOP conference explodes in chaos

Sherman noted that Gaetz “said again there are not enough votes” for a continuing resolution, legislation to keep the government open temporarily, possibly 30 days past the September 30 deadline.

“Just to review, the plan right now is to begin passing 11 appropriations bills with relatively open rules allowing for amendments between next tues (possibly wed) and Sunday.”

At 2:40 PM, Sherman added, “This is now the strategy. They’re going to bring up individual approps [appropriations] bills next week, per lawmakers who just met with @SpeakerMcCarthy.”

Congressman Gaetz’s “strategy is now house gop’s plan, Sherman wrote, to which Gaetz replied: “God Bless America.”

READ MORE: Prosecutors probe whether corrupt banking exec gave 'gold bars' to Robert Menendez

Others were less pleased.

Veteran foreign policy journalist Laura Rozen wrote: “truly insane. Mccarthy surrendered to Gaetz.”

Even before McCarthy adjourned the House for the rest of the week, political experts had warned the volatile situation was worse than it may have appeared.

Sherman, late Thursday morning, issued this warning on social media after the failed Defense Dept. vote: “Just to put this in context, republicans cannot even agree to debate the pentagon spending bill. This bill usually passes by big margins. It failed twice this week. Kevin mccarthys House Republicans are in a state of crisis.”

READ MORE: How Trump’s 'humiliation' campaign reduced RNC chair 'to a laughingstock': professor

Josh Chafetz, Georgetown Law professor of law and politics, responded to Thursday’s failed Defense Dept. procedural vote, writing: “if you can’t pass the procedural stuff you don’t have a working majority.”

Aaron Fritschner, the Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) is calling the state of the GOP House a “total breakdown.”

“I started working in the House nearly 11 years ago, I’ve seen some crazy days and some chaotic votes but never seen anything like what is happening with this majority. Just a total breakdown,” he wrote Thursday morning.

Professor and American historian Aaron Astor on Thursday asked, “Does the GOP actually have a working majority in the House?”

READ MORE: Experts blame Rupert Murdoch for 'moral decay' of America — and issue warning on future

Veteran journalist John Harwood quickly replied, “clearly not.”

'Burn the whole place down': McCarthy rails against House Republicans as GOP conference explodes in chaos

Speaker Kevin McCarthy unleashed his anger against his own House Republican conference Thursday as chaos erupted after yet another procedural vote on a defense spending bill failed and the clock ticks closer to a GOP-caused shutdown of the federal government.

McCarthy “failed a crucial test Thursday of his ability to unite his fractured Republican caucus as he tries to rally support to pass a spending bill aimed at avoiding a government shutdown at the end of the month,” CNBC adds.

“It’s frustrating in the sense that I don’t understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate, and then you got all the amendments and if you don’t like the bill,” McCarthy admitted to reporters in what has increasingly become opportunities for him to trash the most far-right Republicans in the House.

“This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down,” he lamented. “It doesn’t work.”

“This is really unheard of,” CNBC’s Emily Wilkins reported. “I mean just a rule going down as a procedural thing, that’s pretty rare as is, and for it to happen twice in one week. Last night Republicans came ut of their all hands on deck Republican meeting. A number of them sounded optimistic about moving forward.”

Thursday failed procedural vote “really did catch Speaker McCarthy by surprise,” Wilkins added.

“He said he did not realize there were not going to be the votes to move forward on this.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

Why a former Trump assistant could be a 'blockbuster witness' in Mar-a-Lago documents case: ex-US attorney

Molly Michael, a former assistant to Donald Trump, is among the witnesses in special counsel Jack Smith's Mar-a-Lago documents case. Smith alleges that Trump endangered the United States' national security by storing classified government documents at Mar-a-Lago — documents that, Smith says, should have remained in Washington, D.C. when Trump left the White House.

In an article published by the Los Angeles Times on September 21, Harry Litman (who hosts the "Talking Feds" podcast) lays out some reasons why Michael could be a "blockbuster witness" in Smith's case.

"News reports this week led with the startling new detail that Trump sent Michael notes and to-do lists carelessly scrawled on the back of classified documents," Litman explains. "It's a memorable snippet that drives home Trump's indifference to classification and national security. For a prosecutor, however, that was among the least of the revelations from Michael, known as 'Trump Employee 2' in the first federal indictment of the former president."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Michael, according to Litman, has a "singular ability to tell the story of Trump's conspiracy to obstruct justice in unimpeachable terms."

"Michael apparently didn't rush to tell authorities everything she knew, but did draw a clear line at trying to deceive them," Litman notes. "She found and turned over the classified documents with Trump's notations. And she appears never to have hesitated to abide by her legal duty to tell the truth. She also has detailed knowledge of the conspiracy to hide documents from the FBI."

Litman continues, "She dealt personally with Trump and (co-defendant Walt) Nauta. She brought some of the boxes of documents to Trump's residence for his review. And most damningly, when Trump learned that FBI agents wanted to talk to Michael, he told her, 'You don't know anything about the boxes.'" Given the plain evidence that Michael knew plenty about the boxes, and that Trump knew she knew, a reasonable juror could only interpret such an instruction as a patent effort to obstruct justice."

READ MORE:Former Trump officials are shattering a key Mar-a-Lago documents defense

Read Harry Litman's full Los Angeles Times article at this link.

Pete Buttigieg just testified before Congress. It did not go well for Republicans

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday, where he was forced to educate Republicans on a wide variety of topics, from climate change to not needing passports to fly domestically, to subsidies for oil and gas companies.

In one heated back-and-forth, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), who has been fighting a subpoena from Special Counsel Jack Smith, blamed Secretary Buttigieg specifically for “killing” the auto industry by supporting electric vehicles.

“I don’t know if you can justify or how you justify forcing my constituents to pay for EVs [electric vehicles] and EV infrastructure for coastal elites and wealthy people, but somehow you do,” Rep. Perry told Secretary Buttigieg.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

“Well, I need to point out that wealthy people were specifically excluded from the Inflation Reduction Act,” Buttigieg replied.

“Well,” Perry replied. “Do you dispute that two-thirds of EV owners, are owned by people over 100,000, that make over 100,000?”

Buttigieg explained that the first electric vehicles were expensive, but “that number is going down.” Perry yelled it “doesn’t matter” that the prices of the electric vehicles are going down, his constituents “can’t afford them today,” which led Buttigieg to ask why he is opposed to “cutting their costs?”

“I’m not against cutting the cost. The market should do it,” Perry replied. “But you want the government, you want my taxpayers to pay to cut the cost.”

READ MORE: 'The House is paralyzed' after 'embarrassing defeat' for Kevin McCarthy

Buttigieg then asked about subsidies for the oil and gas companies, which cost the American taxpayer billions of dollars annually.

“If you are of the view that there should be no subsidy to propulsion vehicles, then are you against oil and gas subsidies?” Buttigieg asked.

During another back-and forth, Buttigieg quelled a Republican Congressman asking him questions as he educated him on electric vehicles and why they are important.

“Nobody wants these electric vehicles unless you’re an elite that can afford them – people in may district sure as hell don’t want them.”

READ MORE: How Trump’s 'humiliation' campaign reduced RNC chair 'to a laughingstock': professor

“We’re doing this for three reasons, even though the EV revolution’s going to happen anyway,” Buttigieg told U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA).

“Oh, it’s a ‘revolution’ –” the Congressman interjected, before Buttigieg cut him off.

“I would love to answer your question, Congressman.”

Moments later, when Buttigieg said “climate change is real,” LaMalfa shot back, “This one’s called Autumn.”

READ MORE: Experts blame Rupert Murdoch for 'moral decay' of America — and issue warning on future

Buttigieg made him repeat it before explaining, “yeah, that’s the seasons changing which respectfully is not the same as the climate changing.”

And when U.S. Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO) appeared to be unprepared with facts and figures, Buttigieg was happy to provide them for him, upending his inquiry into the Transportation Secretary’s “private” flights.

“I knew this might come up, so I brought some numbers,” Secretary Buttigieg told Rep. Burlison. “Since getting the job, I have taken—these are estimates, give or take a couple—but I’ve taken 638 flights.”

“607 of them were commercial, 10 of them were on military aircraft such as Air Force One, and 21 were on FAA aircraft—representing about 3 percent of the flights.”

READ MORE: Joint Chiefs of Staff chair warns Trump will 'start throwing people in jail' in 2025 — himself included

“I appreciate the chance to discuss this because I can’t help get the sense that some people want to make it sound as if I don’t travel most of the time on commercial aircraft, which of course is untrue,” Buttigieg added.

“Mr. Secretary,” Burlison continued, “I think I think the irony for most people in my district is that they’re being told that they’re going to have to convert to electric vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint. And yet, not everyone gets to travel the way that you do.”

“Just once again,” Buttigieg replied, reinforcing what he had said, “the way I usually travel is an economy class aboard an airliner like everybody else, when we do it differently, it’s often because it will save taxpayer money.”

“I’m so glad you asked this,” Buttigieg concluded, saying he was “excited to share” this information.

READ MORE: 'Trump was the gateway drug': How conservatives became a 'decisive' part of the Democratic coalition

Watch the videos below or at this link.

Prosecutors probe whether corrupt banking exec gave 'gold bars' to Robert Menendez

Fred Daibes, a New Jersey-based developer and former banking exec, has faced a long list of federal bank fraud charges. And according to NBC News New York, federal prosecutors are now probing Daibes' connection to Sen. Bob Menendez (R-New Jersey)

Jonathan Dienst, Courtney Copenhagen and Tom Winter of NBC News New York report that federal investigators are "looking into whether" Daibes "helped arrange to give gold bars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to" Menendez or his wife Nadine Arslanian."

"Sources familiar with the matter say federal prosecutors have been asking if Menendez offered to help support Daibes with his criminal case by contacting Justice Department officials about the case," the reporters explain. "If the senator did offer to act in exchange for expensive gifts, legal experts say that could be a crime."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The journalists note that Daibes was facing "more than a dozen counts of bank fraud for lying about a $1.8 million loan from Mariner's Bank where he served as chairman."

According to Danny Cevallos, legal analyst for NBC News, "For purposes of the Federal Extortion Act, it makes no difference if the senator took an official act so long as he accepted the money and there was knowledge the money was in exchange for that official influence, even if he never carried out what he had promised he would do."

READ MORE:Judge slams banks’ request to hide 'millions' in business deals with Trump from public: report

Read NBC News New York's full report at this link.

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