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OPINION

Johnson Would Contest 2024 Election Results Under the Same ‘Circumstances’

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Speaker of the House Mike Johnson says he has a “duty” and “responsibility” to contest the results of the presidential election if there is a question about the process complying with the U.S. Constitution and vowed to do so again this year as he did in 2020, if the same “circumstances were presented.” The U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the 2020 case with Johnson’s claims, and his argument was dismissed by a constitutional expert as being on “the far-right fringes of American legal thought.”

Johnson joined an increasing number of top GOP lawmakers this past week who were asked if they will accept the results of the 2024 election, especially if the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, loses. Up until the 2020 election amid Donald Trump’s interference, the United States had enjoyed the regular, peaceful transfer of power for more than 200 years.

Before being elevated to Speaker, Johnson was a little known Louisiana Republican back-bencher who happened to be the “congressional architect of the effort to overturn the 2020 election, advocating an interpretation of the Constitution so outlandish that not even the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority could swallow it,” according to Michael Waldman, a constitutional attorney and president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

That effort came in the form of an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, signed by 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives, including Johnson.

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“Johnson was the legal mastermind behind the doomed push to decertify the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin,” Waldman wrote in October of 2023 after Johnson became Speaker of the House. “He pressured colleagues to sign on to his effort, warning them ominously that Trump would be ‘anxiously awaiting the final list to review.'”

In a lengthy interview with Politico published Friday, Johnson was asked if he had any “regrets” about his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election that Joe Biden won.

“No, I don’t,” Johnson told Politico. “My point in the amicus brief — people often ask me about this and they never read the brief — was a very simple and very profoundly important legal question. And that is, was the plain language of the Constitution violated in the days that led up to the 2020 election? And it very clearly was, because the language of the Constitution says plainly the state legislatures are the bodies in each of the states that determine the process by which electors are chosen. In a presidential election year, it’s a critically important thing.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, Waldman notes, refused to hear the case. He wrote that Johnson’s legal argument is “an obscure idea on the far-right fringes of American legal thought. Many of you now know the name — the ‘independent state legislature theory.’ Johnson argued that state legislators are the sole state-level decision-makers in federal elections, and that no one else can exercise any form of discretion, oversight, or agency to administer an election. It’s a baseless, ahistorical, dangerous, and completely bonkers reading of the Constitution.”

Johnson claims that only state legislatures have control over the specifics of elections management. But in most states the Secretary of State is – by law – responsible for the elections and how they are managed.

Johnson doubled down in his claims, suggested that the Supreme Court shirked its responsibility, and even suggested they did so because the real answer was too “profound” and “unsettling” for the nation to grapple with.

“Now remember my background as a constitutional law attorney,” declared Johnson, who frequently likes to remind reporters of his work before becoming a congressman. “For 20 years, I litigated constitutional questions in the courts. And to me, this was just such a plain and very important question to be answered. The only mechanism we had to present that to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, was to attach it along to that Texas case that was going to be before the court. That’s why the amicus brief was filed there. The Supreme Court dodged the question. Perhaps they calculated that the answer was so profound, it would be so unsettling, and it was not worth them addressing, but well.”

The Speaker made clear he would do the “exact” same thing again.

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“And so you asked me if I regret that? I don’t. I would do the exact same thing today if the circumstances were presented, because I feel like I have a duty. I’m an officer of the Congress and I have a responsibility. We take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and if it’s plainly on its face not being followed, I have an obligation as an officer of this body to present that to the judicial branch.”

Waldman went on to write, “Johnson’s election denial isn’t mere ‘one could argue’ lawyerly guff. Johnson has ties to a movement that incorporates election denial into evangelical Christianity. Members of the movement held prayer sessions in which they asked for divine intervention to reverse the 2020 result.”

“Mild-mannered Mike Johnson is a no-holds-barred, hold-on-to-power-at-all-costs election denier,” Waldman concluded. “How could this matter in 2024? It seems clear the election deniers won’t wait until the actual election this time. Their bid to subvert the results will start well before ballots are cast and counted. Johnson may preside over key proceedings.”

Indeed, as Newsweek reported Friday, former Trump “fixer,” attorney Michael Cohen, is warning of a Republican “plot” to “steal the election.”

“Their plot to steal the election if they don’t win has already been set in motion,” Cohen warned on his podcast. “Open your eyes. It’s already being set in motion.”

READ MORE: ‘Literally Willing to Take Bribes’: Report of Trump Promise to Big Oil Fuels Concerns

 

 

 

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OPINION

‘Wack Pack’: Questions Swirl Over ‘Trump Uniforms’ and Who’s Funding ‘Weird’ Trial Surrogates

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Trump trial watchers are raising questions over the increasingly large number of elected Republicans and big-name allies showing up at the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building to show support for the indicted ex-president, often giving angry and factually inaccurate speeches before the cameras, or standing behind the defendant in the background as he delivers his rants to reporters.

They are usually all men, and usually all dressed just as Donald Trump does: blue suit, white shirt, red tie.

Public Notice founder Aaron Rupar on Monday, observed, “they’re all in Trump costumes again. how cute.”

Questions about their “uniforms,” and more importantly, who is funding and organizing their travel, are being raised.

Media critic Jennifer Schulze, a former Chicago Sun-Times executive producer, WGN news director, and adjunct college professor of journalism, commented: “The trump uniforms angle is flying way too low beneath the mainstream news radar. The same is true for how this weird courtroom guest star show is being organized & financed.”

READ MORE: Why Alito’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Flag Story Just Fell Apart

And they are being called “uniforms.”

Filmmaker and podcaster Andy Ostroy declared, “I’m sorry, but all these #Trump capos showing up each day at the trial dressed exactly the same as The Godfather in blue suit and red tie is not only creepy AF but is a chilling foreshadowing of the fascist uniform-wearing government they’re jonesin’ to be a part of…”

Talk radio host Joan Esposito also asked who’s paying for these appearances: “Is the trump campaign paying for these surrogates to fly to & from nyc? If not, who is?”

Political commentator Bob Cesca remarked, “Trump’s fanboys are like the Wack Pack from the Stern show circa 1990.”

Monday’s star surrogates included South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, an election denier who had supported overturning the 2020 presidential election and signed onto what has been called a “false and frivolous” lawsuit attempting to overturn the results.

Also, Republican U.S. Reps. Eric Burlison, Andrew Clyde, Mary Miller, and Keith Self. And John Coale from the Trump-aligned America First Policy Institute, attorney Alan Dershowitz, Trump attorney and GOP attorney general candidate Will Scharf, convicted felon and Trump pardon recipient Bernie Kerik, Trump loyalist and former Trump administration official Kash Patel, and others.

READ MORE: Law ‘Requires’ Alito and Thomas to Recuse Says Former Federal Prosecutor

Op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill last week called them “manservants…standing at attention like automatons.”

“Scary and very very strange” was actress and activist Mia Farrow’s observation last week.

Vanity Fair’s Molly Jong-Fast, an MSNBC political analyst, last week asked, “Why did they all wear the same outfit?”

The Biden campaign was only too happy to post this video last week:

See the social media posts and videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

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OPINION

Why Alito’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Flag Story Just Fell Apart

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Justice Samuel Alito’s defense for why there was a “Stop the Steal” flag flying at his Alexandria, Virginia home three days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, ten days after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, just fell apart.

The entire justification for a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice with lifetime tenure who refuses to recuse himself from cases including ones related to the 2020 election, which ethics experts and U.S. Senators say he is obligated to do so, is a dispute with a neighbor, according to The New York Times‘ original reporting, and a Fox News reporter.

Critics say his defense doesn’t justify flying a U.S. flag upside down, a symbol of the Stop the Steal movement used by insurrectionists.

In brief, Fox News’ Shannon Bream reports Justice Alito “told me a neighbor on their street had a ‘F— Trump’ sign that was within 50 feet of where children await the school bus in Jan 21. Mrs. Alito brought this up with the neighbor.”

“According to Justice Alito, things escalated and the neighbor put up a sign personally addressing Mrs. Alito and blaming her for the Jan 6th attacks,” Bream wrote. She added Alito “says he and his wife were walking in the neighborhood and there were words between Mrs. Alito and a male at the home with the sign. Alito says the man engaged in vulgar language, ‘including the c-word’,” which prompted Mrs. Alito to hang the American flag upside down as the insurrections did on January 6.

RELATED: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

Court watchers and critics have called into question Alito’s judgment. Senate Democratic Judiciary Chairman Dick Durban has called for the Justice to recuse himself from all cases related to the 2020 presidential election, NBC News is reporting.

Critics are asking if Justice and/or Mrs. Alito’s response to an alleged dispute with neighbors was appropriate, but now Justice Alito’s telling of events is being called into question entirely.

Aaron Fritschner, Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), says no school children would have been waiting for school buses at the time the Alito’s flag was photographed upside down, because schools had moved to virtual learning during the COVID pandemic at that time in the area the Alitos reside.

Further calling into question Justice Alito’s claims, CNN’s Holmes Lybrand, a former fact-checker for The Weekly Standard, reports none of the Alitos’ neighbors remember the alleged dispute the justice recounted.

“I spoke with some of Justice Alito’s neighbors who said they remember the American flag being flown upside-down at his home but didn’t recall any neighborhood drama surrounding it,” Lyband reports. “Each neighbor I spoke with reiterated multiple times how kind and well-liked the Alitos are.”

In its report that broke the story, The New York Times noted, “The half-dozen neighbors who saw the flag, or knew of it, requested anonymity because they said they did not want to add to the contentiousness on the block and feared reprisal.”

READ MORE: Trump Appears to Violate Gag Order After Judge Threatened ‘Incarceration’

 

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OPINION

Alito Tells Fox News Story Behind His Home’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Flag but Critics Unconvinced

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Editor’s note: The spelling of Fox News host Shannon Bream’s last name has been corrected.

Justice Samuel Alito on Friday appeared to compound concerns over the bombshell New York Times report revealing a flag associated with the January 6 insurrection and the “Stop the Steal” movement was flying at his house just before Joe Biden was inaugurated and while the Supreme Court was reviewing a 2020 election case.

Alito, whose far-right positions including writing the majority opinion in the Supreme Court case overturning Roe v. Wade, have infuriated and frustrated the left, once again has found himself the subject of apprehension over his impartiality and grasp of ethical norms.

In a rare move, the embattled justice, who now faces strong calls for his ouster, spoke immediately to the news media to address those issues, and revealed the story behind the decision to fly the “Stop the Steal” flag at his home.

Confirming again it was his wife who put the flag up, Alito seemed neither remorseful nor cognizant of the great ethical and credibility violation that act represented.

RELATED: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

“I spoke directly with Justice #Alito about the flag story in the NYT,” Fox News host Shannon Bream reported late Friday morning via social media. “In addition to what’s in the story, he told me a neighbor on their street had a ‘F— Trump’ sign that was within 50 feet of where children await the school bus in Jan 21. Mrs. Alito brought this up with the neighbor.”

“According to Justice Alito, things escalated and the neighbor put up a sign personally addressing Mrs. Alito and blaming her for the Jan 6th attacks,” Bream continued.

“Justice Alito says he and his wife were walking in the neighborhood and there were words between Mrs. Alito and a male at the home with the sign. Alito says the man engaged in vulgar language, ‘including the c-word’,” she wrote. “Following that exchange, Mrs. Alito was distraught and hung the flag upside down ‘for a short time’. Justice Alito says some neighbors on his street are ‘very political’ and acknowledges it was a very heated time in January 2021.”

The Bulwark’s Bill Kristol chastised Bream, noting she got Alito’s side of the story without “trying to see how it compares with the accounts and recollections of others involved. If only the anchor had the resources of a ‘news’ channel to seek out the truth!”

Some critics responding to Bream’s report say Alito’s explanation doesn’t make their perception of his actions — or his wife’s – any more reasonable.

Former George W. Bush administration official Christian Vanderbrouk commented, “Sam Alito is unapologetic for desecrating an American symbol as part of a neighborhood feud.”

READ MORE: Why Are One in Five GOP Voters Still Voting for Nikki Haley Over Donald Trump?

“Interesting claims by Alito,” attorney Robert J. DeNault remarked. “Not sure it’s reasonable to think any person would react to a neighbor disagreeing — even crassly or rudely — over Trump by hanging an American flag upside down. Does not feel credible to contend Alito’s upside flag was divorced from MAGA symbolism.”

“Alito speaks to Fox about New York Times report, continues to attribute it to his wife, but does not explain why his wife’s reaction to a ‘fuck Trump’ sign and being insulted was to hang an American flag upside down in the days after Jan. 6.” observed CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere. “Suburban neighborhood disputes happen all the time – over lawn care, noisy children, Christmas lights… all sorts of things. Not many instances of an escalated response being a now very politicized symbol of military distress.”

“Friendly reminder the entire GOP and Fox News is screaming on practically a daily basis that Judge Merchan needs to recuse because of the work his adult daughter separately does,” national security attorney Brad Moss offered. “But yeah, this is no biggie.”

READ MORE: ‘Long History of Playing Games’: Biden Campaign Shuts Down Trump’s Tantrum

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