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House Democrats Elect Hakeem Jeffries as Party’s First Black Leader

Jeffries, along with Katherine Clark and Peter Aguilar, is part of a new generation of House Democratic leadership.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, House Democrats voted unanimously to elevate New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries to lead the party. Jeffries becomes the first Black person to lead a major party in either the House or Senate. He will serve as minority leader in the upcoming Congress.

Jeffries, 52, ran unopposed, with Massachusetts’s Katherine Clark, 59, succeeding Jim Clyburn as whip and California’s Peter Aguilar, 43, succeeding Steny Hoyer as leader of the House Democratic caucus. The trio’s ascendance marks a stark generational change from their predecessors. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Clyburn are both 82; Hoyer is 83.

The elder leaders will continue serving as rank-and-file members of Congress—while still maintaining a touch of influence. On Tuesday, House Democrats voted unanimously in a committee to designate Pelosi as a “speaker emerita.” Clyburn will become an assistant leader.

Jeffries was born and raised in Brooklyn, near the district he now serves. Jeffries first began his career as a corporate lawyer. He then worked for Viacom and CBS before getting elected to the New York State Assembly, serving from 2007 to 2012.

In 2015, Jeffries introduced a bill to make the use of a chokehold illegal under federal law, after the NYPD’s killing of Eric Garner. In 2018, Jeffries’s co-authored First Step Act passed, prompting the development of education, vocational, and mental health counseling programming for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Jeffries has garnered some skepticism from the left. 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.

Nevertheless, Jeffries takes the mantle as party leader with little internal opposition. Now he is tasked to honor that support and push forward a strong progressive agenda that respects those who elected not to challenge him.

Netanyahu Explicitly (Tepidly) Condemns Trump for Dinner With Antisemite Nick Fuentes

The Israeli prime minister–designate said Donald Trump’s dinner with Kanye West and Nicholas Fuentes was a “mistake.”

Israeli Prime Minister–designate Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu said Wednesday Donald Trump’s meeting with a white supremacist was a “mistake,” his harshest criticism of the former U.S. president to date.

It has been one week since Trump met with Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and white supremacist, and rapper Kanye West, another outspoken antisemite. Bibi explicitly, and tepidly, condemned Trump for the meeting.

President Trump’s decision to dine with this person I think is wrong and misplaced. I think it’s a mistake. He shouldn’t do that,” Netanyahu said in a fawning interview with Bari Weiss.

“He has been a tremendous supporter of Israel, and I’m unabashedly appreciative of what he did for Israel,” he said, adding he thought Trump is “irreverent.”

The rest of the interview consisted mostly of Weiss giving Netanyahu a pass to say whatever he wanted. She did not press him on the atrocities committed in Gaza or elsewhere in Palestine, and she allowed him to distance himself from authoritarianism. She also felt it was important to ask him what his favorite book is and who his biblical hero is.

Trump boasted in October that “no President has done more for Israel than I have.” That post on Truth Social also contained a veiled threat: “U.S. Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel—Before it is too late!” he added.

While in office, Trump was the only modern president to visit Israel. He recognized Jerusalem as the capital and the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory, the first U.S. president to do so and in violation of international law. His administration also helped orchestrate the Abraham Accords, which normalized ties between Israel and multiple nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

Likely because of this, Netanyahu has until now largely excused Trump’s support for domestic white supremacists, antisemites, and neo-Nazis.

In the week since his meeting with Fuentes, Republicans have been loath to criticize Trump. GOP leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy offered weak rebukes, while those who have spoken out explicitly were already vocal Trump critics and not in leadership positions.

Full List of Republicans Who Voted Against Protecting Marriage Equality

Thirty-six Republicans voted against the Respect for Marriage Act. Here are their names.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Here are the senators who voted Tuesday against enshrining marriage equality. All 36 are Republicans.

  • John Barrasso
  • Marsha Blackburn
  • John Boozman
  • Mike Braun
  • Bill Cassidy
  • John Cornyn
  • Tom Cotton
  • Kevin Cramer
  • Mike Crapo
  • Ted Cruz
  • Steve Daines
  • Deb Fischer
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Chuck Grassley
  • Bill Hagerty
  • Josh Hawley
  • John Hoeven
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith
  • Jim Inhofe
  • Ron Johnson
  • John Neely Kennedy
  • James Lankford
  • Mike Lee
  • Roger Marshall
  • Mitch McConnell
  • Jerry Moran
  • Rand Paul
  • Jim Risch
  • Mike Rounds
  • Marco Rubio
  • Rick Scott
  • Tim Scott
  • Richard Shelby
  • John Thune
  • Tommy Tuberville
  • Roger Wicker

Senate Passes Respect for Marriage Act Protecting Marriage Equality

The vote on the bill, which will protect same-sex marriage and interracial marriage, was 61–36.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate voted 61–36 Tuesday to approve a bill enshrining marriage equality.

The Respect for Marriage Act, which applies to both same-sex and interracial marriage, would require that two people be considered married so long as their marriage was legal in the state in which it was performed. The act also repeals a 1996 law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, which has remained on the books despite being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2015.

Thirty-six Republican senators voted against the bill, including Mitch McConnell, who is in an interracial marriage.

Many civil rights activists have warned that after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, same-sex marriage may be next on the chopping block.

The Senate voted 62-37 on November 16 to advance the bill to a final vote. The chamber had added an amendment to the bill clarifying certain protections for religious organizations.

It will now return to the House of Representatives before President Joe Biden can sign it into law.

The act already passed the House over the summer, although 156 voted against it—including a shockingly hypocritical nay vote from Representative Glenn Thompson, who attended his son’s same-sex wedding just a week later.

Critics of the bill say, though, that it does not go far enough with LGBTQ protections. Part of the amendment says that religious organizations do not have to marry same-sex couples, which would allow groups to continue to be homophobic, and the bill does not require all states to actually issue same-sex marriage license.

Oath Keepers Founder Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy in January 6 Case

The charges show the Justice Department’s ability hold the January 6 insurrectionists accountable.

Aaron C. Davis/The Washington Post/Getty Images

A federal jury on Tuesday convicted Oath Keepers leader Steward Rhodes of seditious conspiracy for his role in creating and inciting the violent plot to overturn the 2020 election results.

Rhodes and four other members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government militia, were found guilty of various crimes related to the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol. The members were convicted by a jury in Washington, D.C., on numerous charges.

Swarms of Oath Keepers were among the mob that invaded the Capitol and forced Congress into hiding.

Rhodes and subordinate Kelly Meggs were both found guilty of seditious conspiracy. Three other members—Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson, and Thomas Caldwell—alongside Rhodes and Meggs, were found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting for their actions on January 6, 2021. Meggs and Watkins were also charged with conspiracy to obstruct.

Seditious conspiracy charges have been brought against far-right militia members in the past, but to little avail. Today’s convictions alter that pattern and open the door to holding other nefarious actors actually accountable for anti-democratic violence.

Rhodes’s conviction in particular is among the most significant developments to come from the web of investigations into the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Elected officials, rioters, and former Trump allies all are under various investigations. Such a conviction shows that there indeed is capacity to hold actors to account—and that those under investigation now are no exception to that standard.

Mark Meadows Ordered to Testify on Georgia 2020 Election Interference

The former White House chief of staff was on the line when Trump called Georgia’s secretary of state, pressuring him to “find” votes.

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

South Carolina’s Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously ordered former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to testify about efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

“We have reviewed the arguments raised by [Meadows] and find them to be manifestly without merit,” the justices wrote.

The ruling affirmed a lower court that required Meadows to testify to the grand jury investigation. Meadows had appealed the decision but was rejected by the state supreme court.

Meadows was initially scheduled to testify on November 30. It is yet to be determined if that appearance will remain on time.

The former White House chief of staff was involved in numerous efforts to meddle with the 2020 election results. In December 2020, Meadows attended a White House meeting with Trump and others, where the topic of discussion was voter fraud and state electoral vote certifications. The very next day, Meadows traveled to Georgia, seeking to observe an audit of absentee ballot signatures.

Meadows also sent emails to Justice Department officials, demanding investigations into baseless claims of voter fraud. And in January 2021, Meadows was on the line as Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, pressuring him to “find 11,780 votes,” the amount needed to win Georgia.

The rejection of Meadows’s appeal follows an earlier attempt by him to avoid complying with the investigation. In October, a South Carolina county judge entertained Meadows’s challenges but promptly deemed him “material and necessary” to the Georgia investigation, compelling him to testify.

The investigation first began in February 2021, spurred in part by Trump’s plea to Raffensperger—again, a call that Meadows participated in. Since then, the probe has investigated and subpoenaed dozens of witnesses including Boris Epshteyn, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Michael Flynn, and Lindsey Graham (who similarly unsuccessfully tried appealing out of the investigation).

Mitch McConnell Is Really Good At Not Condemning Trump’s White Supremacy

Free-thinking Republican unable to just say Trump might not be great.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

For a political party that claims to be the home of free thinkers, the GOP is pathetically subservient to a fragile, self-absorbed loser.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that “there is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgement, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president.”

McConnell’s comments come after twice-impeached, twice-popular-vote-losing former President Donald Trump met with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier, white nationalist, and racist who has threatened murder against Jews and expressed approval for the Taliban.

But despite McConnell’s supposed disapproval of antisemitism and white supremacy, he refused to say he wouldn’t support Trump if he wins the 2024 Republican nomination.

That McConnell won’t explicitly disavow Trump reveals how comically docile the GOP is. Recall the 2016 Republican primaries, when Trump made fun of Ted Cruz’s wife’s appearance and spread conspiracies about his father being involved in the assassination of JFK. Cruz initially expressed disapproval of Trump.

“I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” Cruz said. “That pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander my wife that I am going to come like a servile puppy dog for maligning my wife and maligning my father.”

Fast forward to late October 2022: Cruz said with a straight face on national television that his wife and father just had a nice laugh at Trump’s attacks. Cruz was among those seeking to challenge the 2020 election results and keep Trump in power.

As Trump’s first bid showed, it only takes a few primary wins to gain steam—especially if there’s a wide field of candidates splitting votes. If Republicans actually care about stopping Trump, their submission is just not going to cut it.

Kevin McCarthy Lies And Says Trump Condemned Fuentes (He Never Did)

The potential House speaker said Donald Trump condemned white supremacist Nick Fuentes four times. In reality, he hasn't condemned Fuentes even once.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy finally spoke out Tuesday on Donald Trump meeting with a white supremacist…sort of.

It has been one week since Trump met with Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and white supremacist, and rapper Kanye West, another outspoken antisemite. Republicans have been largely silent on the matter, or they have avoided explicitly criticizing Trump. The few exceptions, such as Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and Mitt Romney, were already vocal Trump critics and are not in party leadership positions.

McCarthy, the GOP nominee to be the new speaker of the House, condemned Fuentes Tuesday, telling reporters: “I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes. He has no place in this Republican Party.”

But he then repeatedly insisted that Trump “came out four times” against Fuentes and didn’t know who he was to begin with. Both statements are straight-up lies.

Trump has not condemned Fuentes, and although he claimed not to know who Fuentes is, the former president has previously retweeted a clip from his internet show. 

McCarthy is likely refraining from calling Trump out because condemning him risks alienating the former leader’s supporters still in Congress. McCarthy will need every vote he can get if he is to become speaker, a goal he has not been shy about publicizing.

Earlier Tuesday, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough slammed McCarthy’s (lack of) actions as “sad and pathetic.”

McCarthy “thinks his support depends on having white nationalists and supporters of neo-Nazis voting for him for speaker of the House,” Scarborough said.”

Despite a poor showing by MAGA candidates during the midterms, Trump still holds considerable sway in Congress. The GOP establishment seems to be souring on him, but they still need his support to present a unified front.

Marco Rubio Pretends He Cares About Rail Workers

The Florida senator sent a tweet in support of rail workers, but refused to explain any action he'd actually take to help them.

Saul Martinez/Getty Images

A month after Halloween, Marco Rubio got to dust off his favorite costume as a faux-populist. On Tuesday, the Florida senator tweeted in his apparent support for rail workers:

Rubio’s tweet comes after President Joe Biden’s Monday announcement, in which he called on Congress to pass legislation and block an impending railroad strike.

While the majority of railroad unions voted for the White House-brokered deal, the majority of railroad workers voted against it. A primary worker complaint about the deal is that it lacks paid sick days.

Instead of heeding those complaints, Biden has urged Congress to impose the deal anyways. Now, Rubio is pretending to care about workers—without any specific engagement towards the actual issues workers face.

This isn’t Rubio’s first rodeo. Last year, Rubio “spoke out” on behalf of unionizing Amazon workers. He avoided expressing actual support of a union itself. Instead, Rubio explained it makes sense workers might want a union in response to “woke” human resources fads.

In other words, Rubio’s “support” for workers had little to do with the material conditions they faced, and more with his ability to use them as a vessel for Republicans’ continual hollow efforts to stoke culture war. Those efforts continue today.

In his brave tweet, Rubio did not actually specify what would comprise an acceptable deal (like including paid sick leave for workers). He could also speak against nine of his Republican colleagues currently cosponsoring a bill that would force workers to accept a deal without sick leave. And yet.

Despite Rubio—or any other Republicans’—posturing, there is no such thing as a conservative workers’ movement. Conservatives (whether Republican or Democrat) are opposed to expanding social welfare or other public programs. They are massive recipients of corporate dollars, from big finance to fossil fuels. And they certainly act in accordance with those dollars.

Biden is dropping the ball for workers here—but let’s not pretend Rubio and Republicans actually care about that.

Georgia Shatters Early Voting Record in Senate Runoff, With 300,000 Votes in a Single Day

Statewide early voting has begun in Georgia's Senate runoff between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Georgia has broken its own state record for the most ballots cast in a single day.

Statewide early voting has begun in Georgia’s Senate runoff election between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker, and voters are fully embracing the opportunity. On Monday, over 300,000 Georgia voters turned out to cast their ballots. The previous record for early voting in a single day was 233,000 votes in 2018.

As of early Tuesday morning, one week before Election Day, turnout eclipsed 500,000, or 7 percent of all registered Georgia voters. Women outpace men, making up 55.4 percent of early voters. Meanwhile, 9.4 percent of registered Black voters have already voted, a higher percentage than any other ethnic group.

Before Monday’s record, nearly 182,000 people had voted, either with absentee ballots or in select counties that opened voting earlier.

State and national Republican officials fought to prevent the state from allowing early voting before Monday, but the Georgia Supreme Court ruled against them.

As early voting began, the two campaigns pursued different strategies. Warnock spent his time over the weekend around Atlanta rallying supporters and leading a march to the polls. He  benefited from surrogates including Senator Cory Booker, hip-hop artist Waka Flocka Flame, and Yolanda King, civil rights activist and Martin Luther King’s granddaughter.

Meanwhile, Walker spent his time pontificating that anyone peacefully protesting after 5 p.m. should be arrested, that young people don’t know what racism is, and that people born after 1990 “haven’t earned the right” to try changing the country—and he invited them to leave America instead of complaining, saying they should lose their citizenship if they do.

While Walker complains about young people, more voters aged 18-24 have voted than those aged 25-29, 30-34, 35-40, or 40-45 as of early Tuesday morning.

It is too early to make definite predictions as to what the data may portend. But Warnock’s closing message is one of enthusiasm and vision, while Walker is just grumbling about people whose support he ostensibly wants. Voters most eager to turn out early may likely be supporting one message distinctly over the other!