No, James Biden’s $200,000 payment to his brother isn’t the proof of a mass “influence peddling scheme” far-right Republicans like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene would have you believe it is, a new FactCheck report finds.
FactCheck’s review of the House Oversight and Accountability committee’s case against the Biden family, based on a bank statement subpoena that found a 2018 payment between brothers, found more evidence of bombast than bribes, the organization said Thursday.
“As has been the case so often in the House investigation of the finances of Joe Biden’s family members,” the report states, “the claims have outpaced the evidence so far.”
The Biden nay-sayers, who also include Reps. James Comer and Lauren Boebert, contend James’ payment to Joe’s on the same day he received a $200,000 check from the for-profit hospital chain Americore Health proves what Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called “money laundering.”
Yet as the FactCheck analysis found, it might also have been the struggling hospital’s last-ditch effort to hitch its wagon to a big political name, as they state in a bankruptcy court complaint filed in July 2022.
And a lawyer for James Biden says brother Joe — not yet a U.S. presidential hopeful, let alone president — was simply being paid back for a short-term loan he sent his brother.
That’s why committee Democrats accused Republicans of cherry-picking bank records and ignoring those that didn’t align with their conspiracy theory.
“These records actually show that President Biden was the one who stepped in to help family members when they needed support,” Rep. Jamie Raskin said on Oct. 20.
FactCheck confirmed the second half of this account with images of James and Sara Biden’s check to Joe entitled “loan repayment.”
Despite this evidence, Comer took to Fox News three days later to boast, “We just proved that Joe Biden benefited from his family’s influence peddling scheme.”
The FactCheck report notes it remains unclear which narrative is true, but that in a nation where you’re innocent until proven guilty, it’s up to Republicans to make a case.
“The records don’t prove one way or another if Joe Biden was involved in the Americore Health enterprise,” FactCheck states. “But the burden remains with Republicans on the oversight committee to prove their case.”
Read the full report here.
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How Mike Johnson Spent the Day Protecting Mike Johnson
Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson made two major statements Wednesday at a press conference on his Biden impeachment inquiry, both of which serve to protect not the rule of law, the public’s faith in the credibility of Congress, or American democracy, but Mike Johnson.
Johnson, elected Speaker by every House Republican just five weeks ago, was widely described as a “back-bencher,” (a British term Americans have co-opted to refer to a low-profile or lower-level member of Congress,) yet he was anything but. While not well-known by the American people, Johnson had made his mark during the 2020 election, leading The New York Times recently to call him “a key architect of his party’s objections to certifying President Biden’s victory.”
“Mr. Johnson played a leading role in recruiting House Republicans to sign a legal brief supporting a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results” of the 2020 presidential election, The Times reported. “In December 2020, Mr. Johnson collected signatures for a legal brief in support of a Texas lawsuit, rooted in baseless claims of widespread election irregularities, that tried to throw out the results in four battleground states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.”
In an opinion piece last month, The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie declared, “Mike Johnson Is a Right-Wing Fever Dream Come to Life.”
In addition to Johnson’s far-right wing views on religion and social issues, Bouie pointed to the Speaker’s “tireless advocacy on behalf of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”
He noted: “Johnson wrote one of the briefs purporting to give a legal justification for throwing out the voting results in several swing states. He advanced the conspiracy theory that Venezuela was somehow involved with the nation’s voting machines. On Jan. 6, 2021, he urged his Republican colleagues to block certification of the election on the grounds that state changes to voting in the face of the pandemic were illegitimate and unconstitutional. When questioned, during his first news conference as speaker, whether he stood by his effort to overturn the 2020 election, he ignored the question, and his fellow Republicans shouted down the reporter who asked it.”
Johnson “is, in short, an election-denying extremist who believes that his allies have the right to nullify election results so that they can impose their vision of government and society on an unwilling public.”
On Wednesday, Speaker Johnson falsely described both impeachments of Donald Trump as “meritless.”
It was an important statement for him to make, for Mike Johnson.
“I’m a lawyer. I’m a constitutional law attorney,” Speaker Johnson told reporters Wednesday, a statement he frequently uses to remind people of his status. “I served on President Trump’s impeachment defense team twice. And we lamented openly, we decried how the Democrats politicized that process, they were brazenly political, and how they brought those meritless impeachment charges against the president.”
Donald Trump was impeached the first time for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after “Trump froze military assistance for Ukraine,” NPR reported in early 2020, “at the same time he sought investigations that he thought might help him in the 2020 campaign.”
The second time Trump was impeached, in January 0f 2021, was for “incitement of insurrection.” Speaker Johnson calling that meritless is in direct contradiction of a Colorado judge’s recent ruling that Trump did, in fact, “engage in insurrection.”
“This, what you’re seeing here, is exactly the opposite,” Johnson continued on Wednesday, referring to his committee chairmen’s impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. It is an inquiry that Republicans have been forced to admit, even while on Fox News, they have no actual proof of any impeachable offense.
“We are the rule of law team,” Johnson continued. “The Republican Party stands for the rule of law. And the people in charge of this are doing this thoroughly, carefully. methodically. They’re investigating and gathering all the facts and to do this appropriately and to do it in a manner that upholds our constitutional responsibility. requires time, it requires a sound process. You don’t rush something like this. You can’t.”
Speaker Mike Johnson during a news conference dismisses both of Trump’s impeachments as “meritless” pic.twitter.com/twXn3ztSh2
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 29, 2023
It was critical for Johnson to mischaracterize and demean Democrats’ impeachments of Donald Trump, especially Trump’s second impeachment over his “incitement of insurrection.”
Remember, as The Times noted, Johnson was a “key architect” of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. The insurrection was part of that effort.
Two weeks ago NCRM noted the stakes for 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?”
Johnson answered that question on Wednesday. Despite having just called his House Republican caucus “the rule of law team,” Johnson effectively declared he opposes Republican efforts to expel U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who is facing 23 federal felony charges, and a damning Ethics Committee report.
Johnson’s tiny majority would become even smaller, should the House expel the embattled New York GOP lawmaker. And early next year it could shrink even more, given the announced upcoming resignation and exit of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), not to mention the other “House Republicans who may head for the exits.”
Dana Houle, a former chief of staff for a Democratic Congressman noted, “Ohio law is murky, but it’s possible [Bill Johnson’s] (overwhelmingly Republican) seat will remain open until November. It’s a reason why Santos won’t be expelled; if Santos’ & Johnson’s seats are vacant the GOP will have only a two seat majority.”
And that’s likely another reason why Speaker Johnson on Wednesday declared, “we’re going to allow people to vote their conscience” on the Santos expulsion vote, expected Thursday. “We’ve not whipped the vote and you wouldn’t I trust that people will make their decisions thoughtfully and in good faith. I personally have real reservations about doing this. I’m, I’m concerned about a precedent that may be set for that.”
Speaker Johnson says he has “real reservations” about expelling George Santos pic.twitter.com/JyaluKfVET
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 29, 2023
Watch the videos above or at this link.
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
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