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‘I’d Rather Sit Down With Hannibal Lecter’: Johnson’s Grip on Speakership Slips Further

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Speaker Mike Johnson’s ability to lead the House of Representatives is growing even more tenuous, and he’s getting hit from all sides.

Johnson is currently facing a possible forced vote, initiated by House Democrats, to pass the Senate’s bipartisan border bill, especially because it includes now desperately-needed funding for Ukraine. House members from both parties are being urged by Democrats and Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to sign a discharge petition, against Johnson’s wishes.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell [is] making multiple public calls just now for House Speaker Mike Johnson to allow a vote on a Senate-passed Ukraine/Israel aid bill. ‘Let the House speak,’ McConnell told reporters,” Jamie Dupree reports. ‘We don’t have time for all of this.'”

Early Monday morning Punchbowl News reported Johnson “said he’d actively work against any and all discharge petitions to bring a bill to a vote.”

READ MORE: ‘Angry’ and ‘Defensive’: Hur Accused of Using Report to Trash Biden, Get Trump Re-Elected

The petition needs 218 votes to pass. Once it does Johnson would have seven days to put the bill on the floor for a vote. It is widely expected it would pass by a large margin, although House members have been slow to sign the petition that’s been open for a few hours.

If Johnson is concerned about his “razor-thin” majority, he just got more bad news. U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who transformed from a wild Freedom Caucus member into a wildcard, had already announced he would not seek re-election. On Tuesday afternoon he announced he is leaving Congress “at the end of next week.” That means after next week, on any given vote Johnson can afford to loose just two members‘ votes, “and that’s if there aren’t any absences.”

Some speculate that with a special election next month in New York, Johnson in theory could be facing a 218-214 majority. “That means Johnson could afford ONE defection at most, since a 216-216 tie kills a bill.”

To make matters worse, Johnson says Buck did not tell him he was pulling up stakes and leaving early, although Buck reportedly left Johnson a voicemail 30 minutes before his announcement.

“I was surprised by Ken’s announcement,” Johnson admitted to reporters.

Buck blasted Republicans, including Donald Trump, in his CNN interview Tuesday.

“It is the worst year of the nine years and three months that I’ve been in Congress. And having talked to former members, it’s the worst year in 40, 50 years to be in Congress,” Buck said.

The bad news for Johnson’s grip on the GOP conference and his speakership continues.

READ MORE: Trump Calls for Cuts to Social Security and Medicare: ‘A Lot You Can Do’

This week is the House Republicans’ retreat, in West Virginia.

Less than half of the House Republicans are expected to attend.

“Less than 100 House GOP members are going to the Republican retreat in West Virginia this week, per source familiar,” Politico’s Olivia Beavers reports.

“’I’d rather sit down with Hannibal Lecter and eat my own liver,’ said one House Republican when asked if they are attending the House GOP retreat,” Beavers adds.

Putting the state of Johnson’s leadership in context, Aaron Fritschner, the deputy chief of staff to Democratic U.S. Rep. Don Beyer offers this observation: “Retreat is a week after the House GOP conference largely blew off Johnson’s request that they ‘behave themselves’ during the State of the Union, which they interrupted many times with shouting and boos.”

Some Republicans appear to be celebrating Johnson’s slipping grip.

Republican lobbyist and former Jeb Bush campaign senior advisor Al Cárdenas, the former chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU), the group that puts on CPAC, was quick to weigh in.

Calling Congressman Buck a “fine servant of the people,” Cárdenas surmised: “If 3 more gop members resign; then leadership of the House changes and we can vote on budget; aid to our allies; border security and immigration reform. Sad but true that the gridlock at a specially critical time is a Trump-Johnson maneuver. Rep Buck did the right thing short term; although the best are leaving and that means more of an effort to rebuild the place later on.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Incomprehensible’: Trump Decimated for ‘Word Salad on Crucially Important Policy Question’

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Republican Who Declared His State a ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary’ Blocks Senate Bump Stock Ban

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In 2021, as the Republican Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts signed a “largely symbolic” proclamation declaring The Cornhusker State a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” Now, calling the legislation a “show vote,” U.S. Senator Ricketts has blocked a Democratic bill that would have restored a ban on bump stocks, like the one used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Just four days ago, in a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito made clear: if lawmakers want to ban bump stocks, they can, by passing a federal law:

“Congress can amend the law—and perhaps would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its earlier interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act.”

On Tuesday, Senator Ricketts blocked a bipartisan bill banning bump stocks – what the Supreme Court suggested and what Donald Trump had done – which was sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

READ MORE: ‘Morally Bankrupt Loser’: Top Trump VP Contender Wants to Deport 20 Million People

Bump stocks increase the rate of fire from approximately 45-60 rounds per minute, to 400-800 rounds per minute.

Senator Ricketts called the vote on banning the lethal accessory that effectively increases the rate of fire by a factor of ten, “another day in the Democrat summer of show votes,” and called the legislation “a gun-grabbing overreach.”

“This bill will not pass,” Ricketts also said, as the Associated Press reported. “It won’t pass because enough people in this building still believe in the Constitution, and the Constitution affords Americans the right to own a firearm.”

Watch Ricketts’ remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Desperate Scramble to Stop Steve Bannon From Going to Prison

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Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Desperate Scramble to Stop Steve Bannon From Going to Prison

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On July 1, criminally-convicted former top Trump advisor Steve Bannon is expected to begin his four-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress after a federal appeals court in May rejected his last-ditch claim he was merely following advice of counsel by ignoring a lawful subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has a plan to make Bannon’s conviction and prison sentence disappear – and that of former top Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who is currently serving his four-month prison sentence.

“I fully support and am co-sponsoring @RepThomasMassie’s resolution to rescind the subpoenas for Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro by repudiating Nancy Pelosi’s illegitimate J6 committee,” Congresswoman Greene wrote on social media Tuesday.

“Nancy Pelosi violated House rules by refusing to accept McCarthy’s appointed Republicans on the committee. Now, our Republican-led House must nullify any actions taken by the illegitimate J6 committee,” Greene wrote, falsely.

Two federal courts have ruled the House January 6 Committee was legally constituted.

READ MORE: Matt Gaetz Ethics Committee Sexual Misconduct and Drug Use Probe Expands

“We must also hold the J6 Committee members accountable for the destruction of the committee’s records,” she clamored, also falsely.

The New Republic‘s Hafiz Rashid is mocking the Georgia GOP lawmaker: “MTG’s New Plot to Save Trump Allies From Jail May Be Her Stupidest Yet.”

“Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene seems to think you can just rewind time,” TNR writes. “Unfortunately for Greene and other House Republicans, rescinding the subpoenas doesn’t magically mean no crime was committed.”

Bannon, who served as Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign CEO, his Chief White House Strategist, and Senior Counselor to the President, before returning to the far-right wing website Breitbart, where he was a founding board member and later, executive chairman.

But now Bannon, a far-right provocateur, hosts the “War Room” podcast, which Media Matters last year called “the media home of Project 2025 and Trump’s retribution plans.” Last year he called for Rep. Greene to become Speaker of the House.

Project 2025 is The Heritage Foundation’s massive plan to remake the entire Executive Branch, fire thousands of civil servants, and turn the Dept. of Justice into an arm of the next Republican President.

“Bannon has continued his usual activities, such as telling a Turning Point Action convention audience Saturday who exactly will be on Donald Trump’s anticipated ‘retribution’ list and naming Justice Department officials,” TNR added. “But now, after escaping prison once thanks to a Trump pardon over a border wall fraud scheme, he will soon be behind bars, and not in a minimum-security prison camp as he wants, but in a low-security prison like Rikers since he still has an open criminal case against him.”

READ MORE: Whoopi Goldberg Mocks ‘Crook’ Trump for ‘Black Church’ Trip

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Matt Gaetz Ethics Committee Sexual Misconduct and Drug Use Probe Expands

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The House Ethics Committee has expanded its ongoing investigation into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), releasing a rare statement revealing it is now investigating the Florida Republican congressman for allegations of sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, accepting improper gifts, dispensing special privileges and favors to individuals, and obstruction.

The statement detailed the direction of its probe while announcing it has issued dozens of subpoenas and spoken with numerous individuals. It also announced certain allegations will not continue to be investigated.

The bipartisan Committee adds that “at this time” it “will take no further action” on allegations Gaetz “may have shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe or improper gratuity.”

No reasons were given for expanding the probe nor for appearing to step back from pursuing certain  aspects.

Under Trump Attorney General Bill Barr, Gaetz, a top Trump follower, had been under federal investigation for alleged sex trafficking of a minor and alleged illicit drug use.

READ MORE: Stephen Miller Furious as Biden Moves to Protect Undocumented Spouses of US Citizens

“Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws,” The New York Times had reported in 2021, citing unnamed sources. “A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.”

The House Ethics Committee had also opened an investigation in 2021, but on Tuesday noted it had paused that probe at the request of the Dept. of Justice, but “reauthorized” its investigation after DOJ withdrew its request.

“On April 9, 2021, the Committee announced it had initiated a review into allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct,” the Ethics Committee said in Tuesday’s statement.

Punchbowl News co-founder John Bresnahan characterized the Committee’s statement as “very unusual,” and adds it “[s]ays Gaetz hasn’t cooperated with the investigation.”

Despite “difficulty in obtaining relevant information from Representative Gaetz and others,” the Ethics Committee revealed it “has spoken with more than a dozen witnesses, issued 25 subpoenas, and reviewed thousands of pages of documents in this matter.”

The Committee notes that Gaetz maintains his innocence. It often indicates an expected date for resolution, updates, or further announcements but did not on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Whoopi Goldberg Mocks ‘Crook’ Trump for ‘Black Church’ Trip

HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery called it “an unusual public statement.”

“Apparently aware the ethics committee would be making a statement about its investigation, Gaetz claimed on social media on Monday afternoon that he’s been the subject of four committee probes and all were closed,” HuffPost reported Tuesday.

On Monday Gaetz targeted former GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“’This is Soviet,’ Gaetz said of the latest ethics investigation,” HuffPost noted. “’Kevin McCarthy showed them the man, and they are now trying to find the crime.’ ”

In April, McCarthy declared he was no longer Speaker “because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint, because he slept with a 17-year old.”

While McCarthy did not name Gaetz, the Florida congressman has denied that allegation and never been charged for it.

Also on Tuesday Noah Bookbinder, president of the government watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), announced the organization is suing DOJ for “documents explaining why the Justice Dept. chose not to prosecute” Gaetz.

Watch McCarthy below or at this link.

READ MORE: Democrats Have One Way to Correct Corruption of Justices Thomas and Alito: Expert

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