MSNBC” Morning Joe” regular John Heilemann claimed on Friday morning that the political career of Rep. Mat Gaetz (R-FL) is likely over as fellow Republicans realize that he is “terminally toxic'” and can only damage them personally and the party from this point forward.
Gaetz, who appears to be facing a multitude of federal and state inquiries into possible sex trafficking and paying for sex, is being buffeted by new revelations almost hourly since the news the Justice Department is investigating him leaked on Tuesday.
According to the MSNBC guest, Gaetz’s time in politics will soon be over when he can’t find colleagues to defend him.
“We are now learning that this Florida bro, basically, you know, turns out, who’s running around with an indicted sex trafficker and has been walking around apparently showing his best pictures off his phone to his friends on the House floor of his sexual — I don’t want to call them conquests. –if you’re paying for them they’re not conquests, right?” he explained. ” So it turns out, by everything we’re hearing now, he’s skeevy.”
“I think it matters if there’s a federal charge — a sex trafficking charge, that matters,” he continued. “Regardless whether charges are brought now, I think he, the floodgates are now open and on a political level, a lot of members of Congress in the Republican Party who even if they have saddled up to Trump, even if they accepted Donald Trump, even if they got in bed with the fleas of Donald Trump, they are looking — looked at people like Matt Gaetz and said, ‘man, this is a stinky pile that we’re stuck with here.'”
“This is an opportunity for Republicans, I think right now, and in a self-interested way, to be like, let’s get away from that and let’s take some kind of a purely cynical public relations-driven approach, which is like, get on our high horse,” Heilemann added. “No moral standing to take this position, by the way, but to throw Matt Gaetz over the side will make them feel better and they think give them some kind of credibility for having walked away from someone who is clearly, like I said, at this point, I think terminally toxic.”
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George Conway Exposes Three Games Trump’s Lawyers Are Playing With FBI Affidavit
Multiple media outlets have asked a judge to unseal the affidavit that justified the search, and Trump and his lawyers have publicly called for that evidence to be revealed — but Conway told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that it’s telling that they haven’t joined the request in court.
“Chances are good that while they would like to know the names of now two, possibly two people inside calling, you know — the call coming from inside the house,” said host Joe Scarborough. “Maybe there are two people now inside of Mar-A-Lago or inside of Trumpworld informing on him.”
“Donald Trump will do what Rudy does outside of courthouses and howl and make a scene,” Scarborough added. “But go inside the courtroom and stay silent. What Republicans in Washington, D.C. know, and I had friends tell me a couple days ago, it’s one of the reasons this IRS conspiracy theory started, is when they figured out how bad this is going to be for Trump. They’re trying to change the subject.”
Conway said Trump’s attorneys were essentially juggling three balls in the air.
“They’re trying to have it three ways,” he said. “They’re being mendaciously three-faced about it. First of all, they themselves would like to see the affidavit because, you know, Tony Soprano wants to know who is the rat. They want to see who is finking on them. That’s one. Two is, they don’t want us to see the affidavit because it’s bad. It’s a long affidavit, and it is going to have a lot of information about a lot of people saying a lot of bad things about the bad things that the president, the former president of the United States, did and how he squirrelled away these documents and refused to give them back when he was repeatedly told he had to give them back and was subpoenaed to return them. Then, third, they want an issue, a B.S. issue, so they can send out the fundraising grift emails to raise money by saying, ‘Oh, they’re hiding the affidavit from us.'”
Watch the video below or at this link.
Republicans Largely Ignore Biden Killing of Top al-Qaeda Terrorist While Some Use It to Attack the President
House and Senate Republicans are mostly quiet about President Joe Biden having killed top al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, a terrorist who was Osama bin-Laden’s second in command. Few gave him credit for taking out the terrorist, despite lauding Donald Trump when he took out Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Qasem Soleimani.
Ayman al-Zawahiri was “a mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks” who was “one of the most sought-after people by the U.S. for over two decades,” NBC News reports. Some Republicans offered praise to the men and women in the armed forces, some to the CIA, the agency Biden used to carry out the assassination. And some used the killing of the top al-Qaeda terrorist as an opportunity to attack the President.
Americans paying attention only to Fox News or Republicans on Capitol Hill would have a very different understanding of this critical moment in history.
Matthew Dowd, a former Republican who was a chief strategist on the George W. Bush 2004 presidential campaign, and became a Democrat after Donald Trump was elected, writes, “as I said at the time, too many in the news media were wrong about Biden’s withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Biden made right decision, and it was managed incredibly well.”
He adds, “we are still able to conduct operations against terrorists without having troops there.”
A few Republicans took to Twitter to recognize the moment, while ignoring President Biden’s achievement – or attacking him.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the brave Americans who took out the terrorist, Al Zawahiri,” wrote House Minority Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. “The Biden admin must provide Congress with a briefing as soon as possible to discuss the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the region following his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
Retired reporter Dan Murphy responded, saying: “There were over 1,000 terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan in the final year of our military involvement there. US servicemen and woman died there every year. But no longer.”
“Yawn,” he added, suggesting he was bored with the Republican leader’s remarks.
U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) posted one of the most critical responses.
“I’m so proud of our military and Intelligence Community for this successful mission. Al-Zawahiri was an evil man who has been brought to justice. But we did this in spite of @POTUS’ leadership, not because of it.”
“His surrender of Afghanistan continues to threaten our security,” he added, offering nothing to support the claim.
House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) repeatedly praised “the members of our Intelligence Community” but not President Biden.
“This mission also serves as a reminder that al-Qaeda is not gone from Afghanistan as President Biden claimed following his disastrous withdrawal,” LaHood charged. “Rising threats from al-Qaeda and other terror orgs must be confronted by the Admin in consultation with Congress to keep America safe.”
Spelling the eradicated terrorist’s name wrong, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) offered this response: “Amman Al Zawhiri’s death is undoubtedly a win for the world. This truly evil man can do no more harm to anyone. God bless the USA!”
William F. Wechsler of the non-partisan think tank The Atlantic Council calls this “A sense of vindication for Biden and a moment of truth for the Taliban.”
“This is a particularly notable accomplishment for President Biden, who decided to withdraw remaining US forces and leave Afghanistan to the Taliban, relying only on ‘over the horizon’ counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda. This decision was criticized by many counterterrorism experts at the time, myself included. But with today’s news, Biden and his team, ably led by Liz Sherwood-Randall at the White House, will go to sleep tonight with a deep sense of vindication and take a well-deserved victory lap.”
How Trump’s Big Lie Is Threatening the Future of Elections
The Jan. 6 hearings closed for the summer last Thursday night with a plea from Republican House Vice Chair Liz Cheney. Citing the conservative heroine British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Cheney called on the public: “Let it never be said that the dedication of those who love freedom is less than the determination of those who would destroy it.”
Cheney may be willing to pursue former President Donald Trump to the gates of Hell in her determination to expose his threat to democracy; her party, on the other hand, appears willing to join him there.
As the House select committee presented damning evidence of Trump’s months-long campaign to overturn the election, crescendoing in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol that left 7 dead and about 150 police officers injured, right-wing groups are trying to make sure that next time, Trump, or any other wannabe dictator, will be successful.
Around the country, right-wing forces are seeking to control state elections by pursuing secretary of state offices and taking over roles typically held by nonpartisan election workers. They’re spreading voter fraud conspiracy theories, casting doubt on the integrity of the elections. They’re no longer flirting with violent rhetoric but embracing it.
On Thursday night, the committee played tape of former White House strategist Steve Bannon—who was recently convicted of contempt of Congress for failing to comply with the committee’s subpoena—in which he revealed to a room of supporters Trump’s plan and strategy ahead of Election Day.
“What Trump’s gonna do is just declare victory, right?” Bannon told associates on Oct. 31, 2020. “He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner. He’s just gonna say he’s a winner.”
“More of our people vote early, that count; theirs vote in mail,” Bannon said. “And so they’re going to have a natural disadvantage. And Trump’s going to take advantage of that. That’s our strategy. He’s going to declare himself a winner.”
Trump knew he lost when he spread baseless claims about a stolen election. Countless aides testified to the select committee that they repeatedly told the former president that his conspiracy theories about the election were just that—conspiracy theories—or, in the words of his attorney general Bill Barr, “complete bullshit.” Trump lost by 7 million votes, lost key battleground states, and lost dozens of lawsuits in which he or his supporters claimed voter fraud.
And yet, Trump persisted. Bannon reveled in the chaos. And the chaos opened the door for others. Last fall, California Republican Larry Elder suggested voter fraud would steal the election from him until the results of the gubernatorial race came in and showed how soundly his bid was crushed. Radical America First candidate Shekinah Hollingsworth received a few hundred votes in her bid to become a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, but that didn’t stop her alleging election fraud. In Georgia, the conspiracy theory-minded, gun-toting Christian nationalist Kandiss Taylor received 3.4 percent of the vote in that state’s GOP gubernatorial primary; she predictably claimed the election was stolen and refused to concede. Rachel Hamm in California played this same game, as did Bianca Garcia in Texas. We could go on.
Kandiss “Jesus, Guns, Babies” Taylor, who received 3.4% of the vote in Georgia’s GOP gubernatorial primary, clams the election was stolen and refuses to concede, praying that those responsible for this “crime” will “feel so guilty [that] they come forward”: “We pray for guilt.” pic.twitter.com/ctTOvYgCAq
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) June 1, 2022
With such false claims of fraud, far-right forces and right-wing media have been able to convince a broad swath of the American public that our elections are not safe. They have convinced Trump supporters that poll workers—public servants like Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, who became the focus of Trump’s ire when he baselessly accused her of processing fake ballots—are to blame.
And so they harass them and threaten them—and when they have driven good people away from those posts, they try to take their places.
A month after the failed insurrection, Bannon called for followers to “take this back village by village … precinct by precinct.” According to ProPublica, GOP leaders in 41 of 65 key counties reported an unusual increase in signups since his call to action.
This strategy to attack and replace local election officials with Trump loyalists is one we’re seeing play out from Fulton County, Georgia, to Yavapai County, Arizona, with the full weight of the Republican Party behind it.
The Republican National Committee—which aided Trump in his plot to stay in power—has spent millions on 17 states to recruit more than 14,000 poll workers and 10,000 poll watchers already, according to the Washington Post.
Working with the RNC is Cleta Mitchell, a Trump lawyer who was on the infamous call on which Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 more votes. Mitchell is leading the so-called “election integrity” effort by the Conservative Partnership Institute, which seeks to bring together local right-wing groups with established conservative behemoths like the Heritage Foundation. The Brennan Center describes CPI as such: “The network has published materials and hosted summits across the country with the aim of coordinating a nationwide effort to staff election offices, recruit poll watchers and poll workers, and build teams of local citizens to challenge voter rolls, question postal workers, be ‘ever-present’ in local election offices, and inundate election officials with document requests.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, CPI became home to other Trump allies who had a role in the months-long effort to overturn the election, including Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows (who sat scrolling through his phone when he heard about threats of violence on Jan. 6), Trump’s former social media director Dan Scavino (who spread voter fraud conspiracies on behalf of the tweet-happy president), and Ed Corrigan (who appeared to be busy behind the scenes encouraging Vice President Mike Pence to buck his constitutional duty and overturn the election). CPI enjoyed a $1 million boost from Trump’s Save America PAC.
CPI and organizations like it are finding success. One in 5 local election administrators say they are likely to leave their jobs before the 2024 presidential election, according to a survey by the Brennan Center for Justice. These public servants cite politicians attacking “a system that they know is fair and honest” and the stress of the job as the top two reasons for their planned departures.
Meanwhile, other politicians are running for secretary of state to gain control of their states’ elections. Arizona’s Mark Finchem stood outside the U.S. Capitol’s east steps as the anti-government extremist Oath Keepers—of which Finchem claims to be a member—stormed the building. Three months later, he announced his bid for Arizona’s secretary of state and earned Trump’s endorsement. In Michigan, Kristina Karamano, also blessed with a Trump endorsement for her voter-fraud conspiracy theories, became the Republican nominee in the race for secretary of state. And in Georgia, Rep. Jody Hice tried to best Trump nemesis Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger out of the Republican nomination to no avail.
Added to this stew: a large dose of violent rhetoric. Ahead of Jan. 6, violent rhetoric was widespreadon pro-Trump social media and among far-right groups. Today, it no longer remains on the fringes but has been embraced by right-wing politicians.
In Missouri, former governor Eric Greitens—whose ex-wife has accused him of domestic violence—released a campaign ad for his U.S. Senate bid. “Today, we’re going RINO hunting,” Greitens says in the ad, before bursting through a door with a SWAT team, guns raised. “Get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country,” he says.
He’s not the only one seeing red. In Oklahoma, state Senate candidate Jarrin Jackson wants to shoot “godless commies.” In February, Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers voiced her desire “to build more gallows” in a video address to white nationalists.
Right-wing activist Jarrin Jackson, who has not been shy about his desire to shoot “godless commies” in the face, is now running for a seat in the Oklahoma state senate: “I’d like to ask for your vote and for you to unleash me.” https://t.co/kkc5EljrqX https://t.co/xL4IdQegEO pic.twitter.com/nOkcAPdTAb
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) March 25, 2022
When asked by Cheney whether he believed in the peaceful transfer of power, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded the Fifth Amendment, every American’s right against forced self-incrimination. The recorded testimony, which was shown during the sixth hearing, was shocking, and yet, Flynn is not alone. Republicans are more likely than other Americans to say political violence might be necessary, with four in 10 subscribing to that belief, according to a survey conducted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute shortly after the Jan. 6 attack. Perhaps that’s why, after hearing Trump’s suggestion that Mike Pence was a traitor to the country, so many of the Trump supporters storming the Capitol were keen on hanging the former vice president.
Trump, as the hearing Thursday revealed, did nothing for 187 minutes while his supporters rampaged through the Capitol, beat police officers, and hunted for Pence, Pelosi, and other members of Congress, all with the goal of preventing the peaceful transfer of power. As we move into the 2022 elections, Americans have a choice about the future of democracy in our country and whether the coup next time will succeed.
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
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