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Republicans Are Having a Total Meltdown Over News of the Special Counsel Investigating Trump

Of course they’re somehow talking about Hunter Biden again.

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As soon as Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate Donald Trump, Republicans entered meltdown mode.

Garland announced Friday that he had appointed Jack Smith, a prosecutor at The Hague, to look into Trump’s role in the January 6 attack and his handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

“Based on recent developments, including Trump’s announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the current president’s intention to be a candidate in the next election, I have concluded it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,” Garland explained at a press conference.

Trump’s campaign immediately blasted the move, calling it a “totally expected political stunt by a feckless, politicized, weaponized Biden Department of Justice.”

And many far-right Republicans also went nuts.

Senator Ted Cruz accused President Joe Biden of using the Justice Department to “attack his political opponents.”

This is Trump derangement syndrome but this time with a gun and badge,” he said.

Representative Claudia Tenney said the investigation will move the department’s “focus even further away from the real threat to the rule of law: President Joe Biden’s role in Hunter’s corrupt enterprises.”

She wasn’t alone, as Senator John Cornyn also called for a special counsel to look into Hunter Biden.

Far-right news outlet Newsmax similarly demanded why there was “no special prosecutor for the Hunter Biden laptop?”

Smith, who has investigated war crimes committed during the Kosovo War, promised for his part to “exercise independent judgment.”

The outcry over Smith’s appointment shows that Trump still has loyal allies in politics, even if voters and many former backers seem to be turning on him.

Republicans Endorse RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel for Reelection, Doubling Down on Failing Agenda

A total of 101 Republican National Committee members signed a letter endorsing McDaniel.

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Republicans are doubling down on the strategy that helped the red wave crash.

In a letter released Friday, a total of 101 Republican National Committee members endorsed Chair Ronna McDaniel for reelection. Citing “the extremist consensus among Democrat Party elites,” they credit McDaniel for turning the RNC “into an aggressive and effective advocate for election integrity, including by engaging in over 80 lawsuits,” among other things.

The letter is proof that despite a growing number of Republicans speaking out against Trumpism, large segments of the GOP remain committed to the project.

McDaniel herself has long stoked election denialism. Under her leadership, the RNC spent at least $20 million to oppose Democratic efforts to make voting easier during the pandemic. Just a few months before the election, McDaniel posted an RNC-sponsored video fearmongering about voter fraud due to vote-by-mail expansions.

In November 2018, McDaniel pressed Arizona Senate candidate Martha McSally to be more aggressive in stirring doubt in the vote count of the election she lost to Kyrsten Sinema.

The RNC chair is also no stranger to Trumpian corruption. In 2020, ProPublica reported that the RNC gave six-figure contracts to companies linked to McDaniel’s husband and her political backers. In 2019, it was revealed that McDaniel was involved in a pay-to-play scheme that would net the RNC $500,000 in exchange for an ambassadorship to the Bahamas.

And if Republicans ever complain about “civility,” note that McDaniel spent the final days of the 2022 midterm campaign mocking now-Senator John Fetterman’s and President Joe Biden’s speech patterns. Fetterman had just suffered a stroke, and Biden grew up with a stutter.

Some may find it perplexing that Republicans are embracing the kind of conspiratorial agenda that made them lose before. The choice is not actually a result of the party embracing Trumpism over some reasoned, people-serving platform. Instead, this kind of hollow politics is all Republicans seem to have at their disposal. After all, 60 percent of committee members have endorsed McDaniel—and all she represents.

Trump-endorsed New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin has also expressed interest in running for RNC chair. A showdown between two Republicans trying to out-Trump each other will surely add to the GOP’s disarray.

Evangelical Christians Got Everything They Wanted From Trump, but They’re Still Complaining

Now that the Republican Party is turning on Trump, evangelical leaders suddenly aren’t happy with him either.

Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Donald Trump and Pastor Robert Jeffress greet guests at the Celebrate Freedom Rally in Washington, D.C. on July 1, 2017.

Evangelical Christians who previously backed Donald Trump are now accusing him of using them to further his own goals, after he gave them everything on their agenda.

Major figures in the community have said they don’t support Trump’s third bid for president and accused him of acting purely for personal gain in his previous runs. “He used us to win the White House. We had to close our mouths and eyes when he said things that horrified us,” Christian Zionist Mike Evans told The Washington Post.

Trump both campaigned and governed on a largely evangelical Christian platform. He moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; he cracked down on immigration from majority-Muslim countries; and he appointed multiple conservative judges, including to the Supreme Court, which has swung sharply right.

He made good on his anti-abortion promises when the high court removed the nationwide right to the procedure in June. Many LGBTQ protections were rolled back under his watch, and during the June 2020 protests over George Floyd’s murder by police, he tear-gassed demonstrators so he could take a heavily posed picture with a Bible in front of St. John’s Church near the White House.

But Republican voters and the party in general have begun to turn on Trump, making it look less and less likely that he’ll be able to secure the Republican nomination in 2024. And as power slips from his grasp, evangelical Christians are souring on him too.

“The Republican Party is headed toward a civil war that I have no desire or need to be part of,” pastor and former Trump ally Robert Jeffress told Newsweek when asked if he would back the former president.

But should Trump get the nomination, “I will happily support him,” Jeffress added.

Human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid castigated the Christian leaders for their hypocrisy.

You knew exactly what you were doing when you excused his sexual abuse, his racism, his Islamophobia, his antisemitism, his white nationalism, his greed, & his corruption,” he tweeted. “You used him—and you lost.”

Adam Frisch Concedes, as Lauren Boebert Barely Holds Onto Colorado Hou

The radical Republican squeaks by in a district that she and Trump both won by more than six points in 2020.

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Colorado Democrat Adam Frisch conceded to Lauren Boebert on Friday, in what came to be a shockingly close race for the House seat in Colorado’s 3rd congressional district. While Frisch has conceded, the race is still subject to a required recount given how tight it is.

Boebert leads Frisch 50.1–49.1 percent, with 99 percent reporting.

The result comes after more than a week of poll-watching, as Boebert slowly clawed back to lead by just 551 votes at the time that Frisch conceded. The race was expected to be a safe one for MAGA Republican Boebert, and the slim margin caught most analysts by surprise.

Colorado had undergone redistricting since Boebert’s election two years ago, but the new maps were still slated to give her a comfortable advantage. FiveThirtyEight had projected that she was “clearly favored” to win the race, winning 97 times out of 100 in their election simulator. In 2020, Trump had won this district by eight points, while Boebert had won it by about six.

Boebert has a history of spreading conspiracy theories and refuting the results of the 2020 election. On January 5, 2021, the day before the Capitol riots and before she had actually been sworn into office, Boebert urged her Twitter followers to “remember these next 48 hours,” saying “these are some of the most important days in American history.” She referred to the riots as Republicans’ “1776 moment.”

Boebert also live-tweeted the riots, telling her followers exactly when members were locked in the House chambers and when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (whose husband was recently violently attacked by a right-wing extremist) was removed from the chambers. Later, at a Republican Party meeting, Boebert defended the rioters, saying, “We already see in Washington, D.C., you can’t petition your government, you’re an insurrectionist if you do that!”

Thereon, Boebert continued fanning the flames of election denialism, accusing Arizona of hosting widespread voter fraud. She voted against the certification of both Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.

The Freedom Caucus communications chair has also adopted extremist positions like seeking to eliminate the Department of Education and hoping QAnon is real “because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values.”

Frisch, coming into the race after serving on Aspen’s City Council for eight years, described himself as “moderate” and “pragmatic” on the campaign. He supported removing Pelosi as House speaker and opposed President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan.

Boebert’s shockingly slim win is yet another discouraging sign for Republicans amid an election that was predicted by many in the media to be a so-called “red wave.” The prediction continues to be invalidated.

Why Is Lindsey Graham Chaperoning Herschel Walker’s Interviews?

Graham is speaking for the Georgia Senate candidate in his interviews.


South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham’s relationship with Herschel Walker is, simply put, a little weird.

On Thursday, Graham appeared on Fox News alongside the senatorial candidate. While Walker is the one running in Georgia’s January Senate runoff, it did not necessarily feel that way:

“[Warnock] supports abortion on demand, taxpayer-funded, up to the moment of birth,” Graham said falsely. “Herschel knows that’s wrong.” All the while, Walker sits in silence, nodding.

The moment is just that, one moment. But that Graham seems to be almost hand-holding Walker throughout the campaign is an appearance hard to shake. Especially as this instance is part of a larger, uncomfortable pattern of Graham instrumentalizing Walker.

Last month, Graham explained what Walker’s candidacy does for Republicans. “He changes the entire narrative of the left: We’re a party of racists,” Graham said. “Well, what happens when the Republican Party elects and nominates Herschel Walker, an African American, Black Heisman trophy winner? … It destroys the whole narrative.”

Last week, Graham, a white man, brought himself to tears while pleading with Fox News viewers to support Walker’s campaign, arguing if Democrats are allowed to “destroy” Walker and his family, “it will deter people of color from wanting to be a conservative Republican.” As if Walker is more of an abstract idea that influences people of color, rather than a human candidate for people to support.

(Graham neglects that Walker’s own family has criticized him. His son Christian has accused Walker of threatening to kill the family, forcing them to retreat “over 6 times in 6 months.”)

It is a spectacle to watch Graham’s behavior. It’s typical for a candidate to have campaign surrogates and shared media appearances. But it’s less than normal for a sitting senator to continually appear alongside a candidate, hand-holding them through questions and assuring the public that they’re a good conservative.

Tom Petty Estate Blasts Losing Candidate Kari Lake for Using “I Won’t Back Down” Anthem

The Tom Petty estate said it was exploring all legal options to get Lake to stop using the anthem.

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Kari Lake is not backing down from the race for Arizona governor, but she will have to stop using Tom Petty’s music.

Lake, who lost the gubernatorial race, has refused to concede and signaled she may challenge the result. She also released a promotional video set to Petty’s hit song “I Won’t Back Down.”

The Petty estate was having none of it.

This is illegal. We are exploring all of our legal options to stop this unauthorized use and to prohibit future misappropriations of Tom’s beloved anthem,” the group said on Twitter.

MAGA Republican Lake embraced multiple conspiracy theories on the campaign trail, including that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. It should come as no surprise, then, that she insisted there was fraud in her own election as Democrat Katie Hobbs maintained a steady lead throughout vote-counting—and ultimately won.

Lake is only the latest Republican to fall afoul of Petty and his estate. The musician, who passed away in 2017, had never been shy about making his political stance known.

Petty issued a cease and desist letter to George Bush in 2000 for playing “I Won’t Back Down” at campaign events. In 2011, he told Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to stop using “American Girl” in her campaign.

Ultraconservative Bachmann clearly had not listened to the song all the way through, since the lyrics urge: “Oh yeah, all right, / Take it easy baby, / Make it last all night.”

And in 2020, Petty’s estate forbade President Donald Trump from using “I Won’t Back Down” in his reelection campaign.

We believe in America and we believe in democracy. But Donald Trump is not representing the noble ideals of either,” the Petty family said in a statement at the time.

However, in 2012, Petty said he “got chills” when “I Won’t Back Down” played as then-President Barack Obama walked onstage at the Democratic National Convention.

As Hundreds of Twitter Workers Mass-Resign, Elon Musk Posts Stolen Memes

Imagine shitposting through the destruction of your $44 billion website.

Elon Musk
Christopher Pike/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Picture this. You spent $44 billion on Twitter, which serves around 400 million people worldwide. Upon acquisition, you, for some reason, feel the need to haphazardly lay off half the around 7,500-person staff. Some of your ensuing made-on-a-whim decisions lead to even more staff leaving. You become fed up and decide to offer workers an ultimatum: Stay to work “extremely hardcore” hours or leave the company.

Unsurprisingly, most of those who remain decide to resign en masse.

By this point, a normal person would realize their mistakes. But not Elon Musk.

On Thursday, hundreds of Twitter employees resigned, many of them on teams critical to the functioning of the website. As doubt circulated about whether Twitter would even survive till the next day, Musk spent the night posting memes (and stealing some).

Or he just encouraged people to leave the website entirely.

As much as Musk’s behavior can be ridiculed, his actions—and inaction—warrant serious attention. Beyond the thousands of workers who have now lost their jobs, the platform itself has been crucial: in sharing news, connecting people together, and giving voice to the marginalized.

While Twitter may not crash all at once, its stability is now up in the air. It could shut down technically, financially, or even perhaps by regulatory oversight. Either way, the saga should disprove once and for all the notion that wealth or specialized success has anything to do with broader intelligence.

Watch Nancy Pelosi Give John Boehner a Standing Ovation at His Farewell Address

Kevin McCarthy said he “had meetings” and couldn’t attend Pelosi’s farewell speech. Here’s a reminder politics wasn’t always this way.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

There was one notable absence from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s farewell speech: the man next presumed to take the gavel, Kevin McCarthy.

Pelosi stepped down from her party leadership position Thursday after almost two decades, though she will continue to represent her San Francisco district.

McCarthy, newly nominated to lead the Republicans when they take control of the House in January, did not attend the speech. He later told NBC it was because he “had meetings.”

It was a very different tune from when Pelosi attended her predecessor John Boehner’s farewell speech in 2015. She even gave him a standing ovation.

However, Pelosi did not attend outgoing speaker Paul Ryan’s farewell speech in 2018, saying she was “busy doing other things.” Donald Trump had been president for two years by that point, and the divisions in U.S. politics had become far more vicious.

During Pelosi’s own goodbye speech, she received multiple standing ovations, mostly from her fellow Democrats. Only a handful of Republicans joined in, a sign of both how divided the House is and how chaotic it will be under the GOP’s razor-thin majority.

Minority Whip Steve Scalise was the only senior House Republican to attend Pelosi’s speech. A survivor of politically motivated violence, Scalise stood to applaud when she mentioned her husband, Paul, who is still recovering from a brutal attack in the couple’s home.

Who Is Hakeem Jeffries? More on the Man Who May Replace Nancy Pelosi

Here’s what you need to know about the New York representative.

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As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn all step down from leading the Democratic caucus, a new trio of Democrats prepares to step up: Representatives Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, and Pete Aguilar of California.

And Jeffries is aiming for the top.

Chairman of the House Democratic caucus, Jeffries is seen by many as Pelosi’s successor. If elected by House Democrats, he would be the first Black party leader in either the House or Senate.

Jeffries, 52, was born and raised in Brooklyn, near the district he now serves. After earning graduate public policy and law degrees, he went on to work in corporate law for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, a firm known for defending fossil fuel companies in at least 30 cases over the last five years.

Jeffries then worked for Viacom and CBS before getting elected to the New York State Assembly, serving from 2007 to 2012. Elected to Congress in 2013, Jeffries has, on one hand, been a prominent voice for liberal reform. As an assemblyman, Jeffries teamed up with then–state Senator Eric Adams to help pass a bill that banned police databases from storing the names of people detained but not arrested during stop-and-frisk procedures.

After an NYPD officer killed Eric Garner, Jeffries was one of the loudest voices on the Hill calling for an investigation. In 2015, Jeffries introduced a bill to make the use of a chokehold illegal under federal law. In 2018, Jeffries’s co-authored First Step Act passed, prompting the development of education, vocational, and mental health counseling programing for formerly incarcerated individuals.

On the other hand, Jeffries may give some progressives pause. In 2016, he criticized a unanimous U.N. resolution denouncing Israel’s settlement activity as a “flagrant violation” of international law. Jeffries argued that President Obama should have gone against the 14 nations who voted in favor of it and vetoed the resolution instead of abstaining.

Jeffries has also collected hundreds of thousands from industry donors embedded in investment, real estate, and lobbying. He has received the support of pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC, which has deliberately worked to tank Democratic candidates and support election denialists.

While insisting he is “progressive,” Jeffries finds a need to distinguish himself from the left. “I’m a Black progressive Democrat concerned with addressing racial and social and economic injustice with the fierce urgency of now,” Jeffries told The Atlantic last year. “There will never be a moment where I bend the knee to hard-left democratic socialism.”

Why he felt the need to distinguish himself from the left, and not also from other groups like corporate interests, is unclear.

Though Jeffries appears to be the party favorite, there are others vying for leadership positions—and some who may yet still announce their intentions. His win is not guaranteed, and it would be remiss to treat it as such.

Watch Nancy Pelosi Completely Ignore Trump in Her Farewell Speech

“I have enjoyed working with three presidents,” she said, conveniently ignoring one.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Never one to waste words, Nancy Pelosi didn’t bother acknowledging Donald Trump in her farewell speech as speaker of the House on Thursday.

Pelosi stepped down from the position after leading the House Democrats for more than two decades, and as Republicans eked out control of the chamber.

“It has been my privilege to play a part in forging extraordinary progress for the American people,” she said during her speech. “I have enjoyed working with three presidents: achieving historic investments in clean energy with President George Bush; transforming health care reform with President Barack Obama; and forging the future, from infrastructure to health care to climate action, with President Joe Biden.”

Pelosi received multiple standing ovations during her speech from her fellow Democrats. Only a handful of Republicans joined in, a sign of how divided the House is and how chaotic it will be once the GOP takes over.

This is not the first time Pelosi has made her opinion of Trump clear. At the end of his 2020 State of the Union address, she stole his thunder by tearing up her copy of his speech. That was also the night of her highly memed, witheringly dismissive applause for the then president.

Pelosi said she will continue to represent her San Francisco district in the House even after leaving her leadership position. She has given no indication of whom she supports to succeed her, but the favorites include Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar.

Republicans, meanwhile, will take control of the House when the new Congress is sworn in in January, having reached the 218-seat threshold for a majority overnight Wednesday, more than a week after Election Day.

Their majority will be razor-thin—only a handful of seats—and the party does not seem to be unified, with Kevin McCarthy facing opposition to his nomination for House speaker and moderate Republican Don Bacon saying he is willing to work with Democrats.