This article first appeared in Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter. To see the article in its original location or to subscribe, click here.
On this day that marks the 85th birthday of the late Larry Kramer, the prophetic, loud and influential AIDS activist and playwright who died last month, his words about AIDS ring true about coronavirus. Kramer often called AIDS a “genocide” against the gay community.
In his 1989 book, “Reports from the holocaust,” Kramer was careful to use a small “h” for holocaust, so as not to equate AIDS entirely with the Nazi extermination of Jews, while using a metaphor. But he was clear in his view that the response to AIDS during the Reagan-Bush years was willfully, criminally negligent, and that it was because it affected people who were detested in society or whom the powers-that-be didn’t care about for political reasons: queer people, poor people and minorities.
How can the same not be said about Donald Trump, the Republican Party and coronavirus?
People of color have been disproportionately affected and that became clear in New York at the outset of the pandemic, where Black and Latino people were twice as likely to die, something that played out in cities and rural areas across America. Add to that the elderly and the infirm affected disproportionate by coronavirus — and thus seen as expendable by some in order to save the economy — and you have a worldview that is quite sinister.
“You’re the elite. You are. You’re smarter, better looking. You have a better future.”
In Phoenix this week Trump spoke to group of 3000 “Students for Trump,” a mostly maskless sea of young, white faces and bright red MAGA hats in a city that is seeing a frightening surge in coronavirus cases. He told the college students, gathered in an evangelical church: “You’re the elite. You are. You’re smarter, better looking. You have a better future.”
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Johnson Suggests Santos May Resign – Will Indicted Congressman Try to Burn the House Down First?
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson on Monday afternoon said he has spoken to U.S. Rep. George Santos, suggesting the embattled and indicted New York Republican might resign rather than face an impending expulsion vote he’s likely to lose. But over the holiday weekend, Santos suggested he was not going to go without a fight, as he appeared to take a page out of another embattled Republican’s book: former U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn.
Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman reports Speaker Johnson says he has spoken to Congressman Santos “at ‘length’ about his ‘options’ ahead of expulsion vote. Johnson seemed like the house may avoid a vote — which would mean resignation.” (See video below.)
House Republicans allowed Santos to be seated despite news that he had manufactured his resume and even his religion, news that continued after Republicans allowed him to be sworn in. They refused to expel him when he was indicted on 23 federal felonies including for alleged wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and lying to Congress.
But last week’s damning Ethics Committee report provides, in great detail, “overwhelming evidence” of alleged misconduct, and even more evidence of his alleged criminal acts – beyond what even federal prosecutors listed in their indictments. And it has led to public outcry, forcing some House Republicans to rethink their refusal to expel him.
That report alleges Santos used campaign donor cash for shopping trips, Botox, and even the not-safe-for work site OnlyFans.
Over the weekend, Rep. Santos spoke on an audio forum hosted at X, formerly Twitter, and indicated not only would he not resign, he appeared to suggest he might take down some Republicans along the way.
In March of 2022, U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), amid mounting scandals, lashed out on a podcast, denouncing what he claimed was the “sexual perversion that goes on in Washington,” and alleged some of his colleagues he grew up looking up to, had used cocaine at “orgies.”
In a similar vein, Rep. Santos on Friday in that audio forum, “said he does not want to continue working with ‘a bunch of hypocrites’ in Congress, whom he accused of committing infractions more severe than his, including being ‘more worried about getting drunk every night’ with lobbyists,” The Washington Post reported. “Santos, without providing evidence, also accused his colleagues of trying to ‘sell off the American people’ and of voting while hung over.”
“Within the ranks of United States Congress, there’s felons galore,” Santos alleged.
But he also declared, “I’m not leaving.” “Come hell or high water … it’s done when I say it’s done,” and yet, admitted he would likely be expelled.
“I know I’m going to get expelled when this expulsion resolution goes to the floor,” he said. “I’ve done the math over and over, and it doesn’t look really good.”
Santos, also “described himself in the conversation as the Republican ‘It Girl’ as well as the ‘Mary Magdalene of the United States Congress.'”
If he does not resign, Congressman Santos could face an expulsion vote this week.
Watch the video below or at this link.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), when asked if there will be an expulsion vote this week for Rep. George Santos (R-NY):
“It remains to be seen. I've spoken to Rep. Santos at some length over the holiday and talked to him about his options, but … it’s not yet determined.” pic.twitter.com/z4zJlBQscq
— The Recount (@therecount) November 27, 2023
‘DC Gulag’: Possible Trump AG Wants to ‘Denaturalize’ and ‘Deport’ MSNBC Host
Correction, November 22, 2023: A previous version of this article said that Mike Davis was the head of Project 2025. Davis is unaffiliated with the group.
He’s vowed to inflict a “reign of terror” and said it will be “glorious” when he puts migrant kids in cages. Now he wants to throw MSNBC host Medhi Hasan into a “gulag.” It would all be ludicrous if he weren’t connected to powerful Republicans in the Senate, the Supreme Court, throughout government, and the private sector, and if he hadn’t already been floated as a possible Trump attorney general.
At the Federalist Society, Mike Davis’ bio says he “has served in all three branches of the federal government, including for President George W. Bush, the Justice Department, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and current Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.”
He was Chief Counsel for Nominations to then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, but his current job is the one that is causing grave concern to those who see a second Trump term as ushering in fascism, and are worried about “the very future of American democracy.”
Like MSNBC host Medhi Hasan, who provided viewers on Sunday with an overview of Davis, and other possible top Trump officials should the ex-president get re-elected.
Davis is the founder of the Article III Project, which aims to put conservative judges on the bench. It is named for Article III of the Constitution, which lays out the judicial system of the United States.
“According to a new NBC News poll out just this morning for the first time, Donald Trump is now leading in a hypothetical general election matchup,” Hasan noted on Sunday (video below). “Now, this isn’t just bad news for President Biden, this is terrible news for the very future of American democracy.”
“For weeks we’ve been warning you on this show about the dangers of a second Trump term. The former president, after all has promised retribution, pledged to round up protesters with the military and suggested using the Justice Department to go after his political enemies,” the MSNBC host continued. “These are plans that should terrify each and every single one of us. But tonight, I want to pull back the curtain and take a look at who could be tasked with carrying out Trump’s radical agenda come 2025 and answer the question: what would a second Trump presidency without any human guardrails, without any adults in the room actually look like?”
After looking at a possible Vice President Tucker Carlson, and (again) a possible National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Hasan focused on “a man a lot of people may not have heard of yet, Mike Davis.”
“He’s the man many in Trump’s inner circle including his own son Don Jr. and Steve Bannon are pitching to be the country’s next possible Attorney General. Earlier this week over on my Peacock show,” Hasan explained, “I dove deep into the conservative lawyer’s record from Davis’ threats to send journalists to the ‘DC Gulag.’ He has repeatedly called on social media for his followers to quote ‘arm up against the violent Black underclass,’ and it appears I may have struck a nerve.”
“Davis has since responded to my monologue from earlier this week, pledging to indict me when he’s AG for what I’m not sure but he’s also threatened to send me to the DC Gulag.”
“That’s a totally normal, non-fascistic response from a man trying to become the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.”
Indeed, Davis on Monday afternoon doubled down on his vow to send Hasan to the “DC Gulag.”
(For those wondering, “gulag” is a Russian term referring to forced labor camps under Lenin and Stalin. In America, we don’t have gulags.)
Monday afternoon, Davis wrote on Elon Musk’s social media platform X, that Hasan “is now on my Lists 2 (indict), 4 (detain), 6 (denaturalize), and 3 (deport).”
“I already have his spot picked out in the DC gulag,” Davis reiterated, before attacking MSNBC contributor Tim Miller.
“But I’ll put him in the women’s cell block, with @Timodc,” he added. “So these whiny leftists don’t get beat up as often.”
Davis also posted a link to Hasan’s NBC Peacock segment on him, and called it his “application” to become AG.
“Dear President Trump,” Davis wrote. “Here’s my application to serve as your next Attorney General. (And if you pick me, I promise to put @mehdirhasan on Lists 2, 4, and 6.)”
Watch Hasan’s segment below or at this link.
“What would a 2nd Trump presidency…without any adults in the room, actually look like?”
Tonight, I revealed to @MSNBC viewers the kind of people Trump could end up appointing as VP, AG, National Security Adviser, CIA Director, & Press Secretary.
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) November 20, 2023
Santos Expulsion Resolution Sets Up Test of House GOP Speaker Mike Johnson
Following the release of the House Ethics Committee’s damning report detailing the alleged actions of U.S. Rep. George Santos, largely focused on using at least tens of thousands of dollars of campaign cash for personal purchases, the Republican Ethics chair on Friday filed a resolution to expel the freshman New York Republican congressman. It sets up what will become a test of House Republican Speaker Mike Johnson and his leadership team – especially House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, who strongly backed Santos from the start – and their desire and ability to put ethics over politics and power.
The stakes for Speaker Johnson are simple: his three-vote majority is already razor-thin. Speaker Kevin McCarthy made clear Santos would be allowed to stay as long as possible. Will Johnson direct his leadership team to actively whip to expel Santos, knowing his majority will slip even further?
“Santos must be held accountable to the highest standards of conduct in order to safeguard the public’s faith in this institution,” the resolution, filed Friday by Chairman Michael Guest (R-MS) reads.
— Sam Lisker (@slisker) November 17, 2023
To expel Rep. Santos, a two-thirds majority is needed. Assuming all House Democrats are present and vote to expel, 77 Republicans would also have to vote for the expulsion resolution, as The New York Times noted November 1 when an effort to expel Santos “failed decisively…after a group of lawmakers from Mr. Santos’s home state could not persuade nearly enough of their colleagues that his admitted lies and federal indictment were sufficient grounds to oust him.”
That vote failed by a 213-179 margin.
But Thursday’s massive, and massively damning Ethics Committee report, has started to convince at least a few Republicans who voted against expelling Santos less than three weeks ago that there is now enough evidence to vote yes.
And while House Republican Speaker Mike Johnson’s office issued a statement calling the Ethics Committee’s report “troubling,” as Punchbowl News reports, it’s been crickets from the Speaker himself, and even less from his House GOP leadership team, including Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Majority Whip Tom Emmer, and most notably, Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, who not only strongly endorsed Santos, she reportedly was “laser-focused” on getting him elected and even fundraised for her fellow New York Republican.
But other Republicans, like U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), are “undecided.”
Speaking about the allegations in the Ethics Committee’s report, Rep. Davidson told CNN Thursday, “I haven’t heard them or read them all myself. But I will say primarily this is between George Santos and the people that sent him here. And I imagine there’s probably mixed feelings in his own district.”
The Ethics Committee report painted a picture of man who redirected donor funds from campaign accounts to his personal accounts, spending lavishly on expensive dining and shopping trips to cosmetics retailer Sephora, French high-end fashion house Hermès, and Italian luxury fashion house Ferragamo. Donor cash was reportedly also used at spas and casinos, and to pay for luxury vacations, to pay his rent, to pay for Botox, to pay for parking, to pay his credit card bills, and to pay OnlyFans, a subscription and pay-per-view site that streams videos created by sex workers, musicians, artists, and physical fitness experts.
The New York Times on Thursday detailed what it called Santos’ “post-election shopping spree,” just part of the “tens of thousands of dollars or more” he “siphoned from unknowing donors.”
“Over just a few days last November, Mr. Santos dropped $6,000 at Ferragamo, perhaps some of it on the red designer sneakers he later wore to walk the marble halls of Congress. He withdrew $800 in cash at a casino, where an aide said he liked to play roulette. He paid off his rent, and he pulled out another $1,000 in spending money at an A.T.M. near his apartment in Queens,” The Times’ Nicholas Fandos wrote. “It would have been nothing for the kind of wealthy financier Mr. Santos purported to be on the campaign trail. But that was a ruse. All of it was being illegally funded by Mr. Santos’s congressional campaign, which wired him $20,000 just after Thanksgiving without ever telling campaign donors or the Federal Election Commission.”
Speaker Johnson’s spokesperson on Thursday in a statement said, “Speaker Johnson encourages all involved to consider the best interests of the institution as this matter is addressed further.”
But when the House returns after Thanksgiving, and the resolution to expel comes up for a vote, it will be one thing for the Speaker to tell members to “consider the best interests of the institution,” and another to use his power to convince his caucus to expel Santos.
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