Skip Navigation
Breaking News

The Ticker

Breaking news from Washington and beyond

Illustration by Dave Murray

January 6 Committee Will Make Criminal Referrals, Chairman Says

Representative Bennie Thompson confirmed the committee will make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.

Representative Bennie Thompson
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Representative Bennie Thompson

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol will be making criminal referrals to the Department of Justice. Committee Chairman Representative Bennie Thompson confirmed the decision to reporters on Tuesday, according to CNN.

Thompson did not indicate exactly who will be referred. But the committee’s investigations have been extremely comprehensive, potentially implicating a very wide array of individuals. The panel has interviewed over 1,000 people, reviewed over one million documents, and subpoenaed dozens of people including Mark Meadows, Stephen Bannon, Representative Kevin McCarthy, and Donald Trump himself.

The investigation runs concurrently to other probes, including a Georgia-based investigation that has similarly called individuals including Meadows, Senator Lindsey Graham, and others to testify and hand over documents.

Senator John Kennedy Rants About “High-IQ, Stupid” Democrats Who Love Kale

Well, that’s one way to talk about kitchen table issues before a major Senate race.

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Republican Senator John Kennedy

Campaigning for Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker over the weekend, Republican Senator John Kennedy stuck to the kinds of kitchen table issues voters would definitely want to hear about as the fate of the Senate is on the line: “woke” people who “walk around with zip-lock bags of kale that they can eat to give them energy.”

“These woke, high-IQ stupid people, they’re easy to recognize. They hate George Washington, they hate Thomas Jefferson, they hate Dr. Seuss, and they hate Mr. Potato Head,” Kennedy began.

“These, these woke, high-IQ stupid people, they walk around, they walk around with zip-lock bags of kale that they can eat to give them energy,” Kennedy said, horrified. “Now, if you wanna eat kale, that’s up to you. I don’t eat kale. You know why? Because kale tastes to me like I’d rather be fat,” he declared proudly.

“And these high-IQ pe—stupid people, the wokers in charge of Washington, D.C., the berserk wing of the Democratic Party—they hyperventilate on their yoga mats if you use the wrong pronoun. They’re all over Washington, D.C.”

Kennedy—a totally not-berserk man not hyperventilating over a person he just made up—is himself ostensibly a fairly intelligent person. He graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University, before receiving a law degree from the University of Virginia and another degree with honors from Oxford.

Kale seems to be a favorite target of Kennedy’s ire (to a much stronger extent than, for example, a former president who incited an insurrection on the nation’s capital, dined with Nazis, and called to terminate the U.S. Constitution).

Last year, as President Joe Biden pushed to close an inheritance-tax loophole—something many “regular” Americans would likely get behind—Kennedy blasted the effort. “This is what happens when you have a president and a Treasury secretary who are on a mission from God to please pink-haired wokers who carry around Ziploc bags of kale.”

Many have wondered where Walker’s dishonest, incoherent, and culture-war-focused candidacy came from. Kennedy’s recent remarks affirm the idea that his candidacy is really nothing more than a weak appendage of the Republican Party.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Is Under Federal Investigation for Animal Abuse

Musk reportedly pressured staff, telling them to “imagine they had a bomb strapped to their heads,” leading to rushed animal testing.

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Elon Musk’s medical implant company Neuralink is facing a federal probe over potential animal welfare violations.

Reuters first reported Monday evening that the company, which Musk says could begin human trials in the next six months, is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture over how Neuralink treats and conducts tests on animals.

Neuralink has killed about 1,500 animals during testing since 2018, Reuters said, citing internal documents and anonymous sources “with direct knowledge of the company’s animal-testing operations.”

Current and former Neuralink employees told Reuters that they worked under a constant state of pressure, with Musk repeatedly demanding that they work faster and encouraging them to “imagine they had a bomb strapped to their heads” or threatening to trigger a “market failure” at the company if they didn’t meet his goals.

As a result, animal testing was often rushed, meaning that the data sometimes contained errors and tests had to be repeated, causing unnecessary deaths. Other times, there were human errors during the surgeries to implant Neuralink chips, which employees attributed to lack of preparation.

Both Neuralink and Musk have publicly stated that their animal testing is used as the last step in the research process, with Musk describing it as “confirmatory, not exploratory” at a presentation in late November. But Reuters found that in October, Neuralink scrubbed the word “exploration” from study titles and banned employees from using it in the future.

What’s more, there have been numerous exploratory surgeries over several years, Reuters said, again citing company documents and anonymous internal sources.

Musk has previously been called out for his company’s use of animal testing. A few days before his November presentation, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, set up a website detailing the effects of Neuralink tests on animals.

“Monkeys suffered paralysis, seizures, and such poor psychological health that they pulled out their own hair,” the group said.

The group’s director of research advocacy, Ryan Merkley, slammed Musk as “a modern-day P.T. Barnum.”

He’s a showman who makes big promises while hiding the grisly details from the public.”

Musk’s slapdash approach to Neuralink testing should come as no surprise, given the way he has handled Twitter since taking over the social media platform in late October.

Unfortunately More on Elon

Republicans Begin Speaking Against Trump’s Call to Terminate Democracy

After a period of radio silence, Republicans are finally condemning Donald Trump’s call to terminate the U.S. Constitution and restore him to power.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

After a remarkable period of radio silence, some Republicans are finally saying something about their party leader calling to terminate the Constitution, counteract democracy, and crown him as an unelected president.

On Saturday, former President Donald Trump called to terminate the U.S. Constitution and reinstate himself back to power. He then tried to briefly walk back the comments, before doubling down on Monday, claiming yet again that there was massive fraud in the 2020 election.

Now Senate Republicans are beginning to finally speak out against Trump’s ridiculous remarks.

“I swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and it is a bedrock principle—it is the principle, the bedrock of our country. I couldn’t disagree more,” said Senator John Thune, the number two Senate Republican. “If you’re one of these other people who’s interested in running this year, this is certainly an opportunity that would create some contrast.”

Senator Roy Blunt echoed Thune, saying, “I think you take an oath to the Constitution. You don’t take it provisionally. And I can’t imagine that a former president would make that statement.”

Senator Mike Rounds released a full statement, saying, “Anyone who desires to lead our country must commit to protecting the Constitution. They should not threaten to terminate it.” He also noted “there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would alter the results of the 2020 election.”

Senator John Cornyn said Trump’s tirade was “not a responsible thing to say.”

Late Sunday, Senator Lisa Murkowski tweeted, “Suggesting the termination of the Constitution is not only a betrayal of our Oath of Office, it’s an affront to our Republic.”

Nevertheless, none of these explicitly, once and for all, denounce Trump. And these quotes come from just a smattering of Republicans among a larger party apparatus that refuses to stand unequivocally against Trump’s anti-democratic impulses. Senator Mitch McConnell, for example, has yet to say anything.

And if an entire political party largely refuses to defend basic democracy, all in deference to one individual, one could rightly denote that party as divested from democracy—or, as the White House said earlier this year, invested in fascism.

Twitter Janitors Are Striking After Being Laid Off With No Warning

Vicious layoffs continue at Elon Musk’s Twitter.

Twitter logo on brick wall
Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress

As Elon Musk continues on his quest to make Twitter as garbage as possible, he is ensuring no one will be around to clean it up—online or off.

On Monday, janitors and allies picketed outside of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, in response to more than 20 workers being haphazardly laid off, according to a representative from SEIU Local 87, the union that represents the workers. Late last week, workers were told with no notice that Friday would be their last day.

Workers have been picketing most of Monday morning, and the union representative said they will continue until their demands for recourse are met—whether it’s getting their job back or attaining some form of compensation for lost wages and being abruptly fired with no notice.

This is not the first time Musk laid off unionized workers. At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic (shortly after Musk had said, “The coronavirus panic is dumb,” before over one million Americans would proceed to die from the virus), the Tesla CEO laid off 280 janitors and bus drivers. This, while fellow tech giants, including Facebook and Google, committed to keep paying their hourly workers during the pandemic.

This is a developing story.

Unfortunately More on Elon

Herschel Walker’s Ex-Girlfriend Details Abuse: “I Have to Say What I Know”

Cheryl Parsa, who says she dated Herschel Walker, said the Georgia Senate candidate grabbed her throat and threw a punch that missed.

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

A woman who says she was in a romantic relationship with Herschel Walker says the Georgia Senate candidate abused her and is lying to American voters.

Cheryl Parsa, who dated Walker for five years in the early 2000s, told NBC that he physically attacked her in 2005 after she caught him with another woman.

When Parsa confronted him, Walker backed her against a wall and grabbed her throat. “You want to see a man? I’ll show you a man!” he shouted, his face so close to hers that he sprayed her with saliva.

Walker then tried to punch her, but Parsa says she was able to dodge and get away.

“I believe the deception now is on the American people, and I have to say what I know,” she said in an interview Sunday.

Parsa has also described Walker’s manipulative tendencies. She attended a few of his sessions with a therapist helping him work to control his dissociative identity disorder, or DID, a mental health condition where people have multiple, distinct personalities. Both Walker and his therapist convinced her to stay in the relationship longer than she wanted, insisting she was the only one who could save him from himself.

He knows how to manipulate his disease, in order to manipulate people, while at times being simultaneously completely out of control,” she told The Daily Beast on Friday.

“He is not well.… He cannot be a senator. He cannot have control over a state when he has little to no control of his mind.”

Walker has been accused multiple times of physical abuse and emotional manipulation. His ex-wife and son have both said he threatened to kill them. The Daily Beast spoke with four other women, in addition to Parsa, whom Walker dated from the 1990s to the early 2010s, sometimes simultaneously.

The other women, who spoke anonymously, describe how Walker would overwhelm them with expressions of almost aggressive affection, known as “love-bombing.” He also proposed to at least one of the women while seeing some of the others.

Walker has branded himself on the campaign trail as a MAGA Republican and ultraconservative traditionalist. He has condemned absentee Black fathers and does not believe in abortion.

He has not responded to Parsa’s accusations, but he has denied the accusations from his ex-wife and son, who says his father is not present in his life. Walker has also denied allegations from two other women, who came forward anonymously in October, that he forced them to get abortions while they were dating.

This article has been updated to clarify Parsa’s allegations.

GOP Leadership Silent on Trump’s Calls to Terminate Constitution

Republican officials have remained largely silent after former President Donald Trump suggested the Constitution be terminated.

Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy stand in the background, Trump sits in the foreground (not in focus)
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Over two years after he lost the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump whined on Saturday once again about it, this time calling to terminate the U.S. Constitution and reinstate him back to power.

“Do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”

Following Trump’s call to throw out the results of an election he lost by seven million votes, Republicans have largely remained silent—particularly party leadership. Neither Senator Mitch McConnell nor Representative Kevin McCarthy have said a word. This after McCarthy pledged to read the Constitution on the first day of the next congressional session.

RNC chair and election denialist Ronna McDaniel has also remained mum.

Among the Republicans who have spoken out, there’s little that gives confidence.

Representative David Joyce, chairman of the Republican Governance Group, a coalition of self-proclaimed “moderate” Republicans, refused to denounce Trump on ABC Sunday. After confirming he would support “whoever the Republican nominee is,” he said Trump simply “says a lot of things.”

Also on Sunday, Representative Mike Turner said he “vehemently disagree[s]” with Trump’s statement, saying it’s “certainly not consistent with the oath we all take.”

Incoming Representative Mike Lawler said, “The Constitution is set for a reason, to protect the rights of every American. So I certainly don’t endorse that language or that sentiment.”

Representatives and outspoken Trump critics Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger both criticized the former president’s comments. Both are outgoing members of Congress.


All this radio silence follows a refusal by many Republicans, including the leadership, to simply and clearly denounce Trump’s antisemitic proclivities. Then, as now, reveals how pathetically submissive the Republican Party is.

Herschel Walker Seems Unclear on What Chamber of Congress He’s Running for

The Georgia Senate candidate forgot he was a Georgia Senate candidate.

Megan Varner/Getty Images
Megan Varner/Getty Images

Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker may not even know what chamber of Congress he’s running for.

In the final weekend before Tuesday’s runoff race, Walker and his opponent, Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock, both hosted multiple events to try and galvanize supporters.

But in an interview with Politico, Walker seemed confused about which house he was running for. He also seemed to think that a victory would mean Republican control of that chamber.

They’re not [less motivated] because they know right now that the House will be even so they don’t want to understand what is happening right now,” he said Saturday about Georgia voters. “You get the House, you get the committees. You get all the committees even, they just stall things within there.”

Republicans have taken control of the House of Representatives, but only by a handful of seats. It also remains unclear if the entire party—which is split between Donald Trump loyalists and more moderate lawmakers—will be able to present a united front.

Democrats, however, have kept control of the Senate. A Warnock victory is not necessary for a majority but is still important. If he wins reelection, then Democrats will have an outright 51-49 majority, meaning control over the committees, as opposed to a 50-50 split with a tiebreak.

Walker has made gaffe after gaffe since he started running. He has lied repeatedly and been accused of domestic abuse and forcing partners to get abortions. At his events, he mostly focuses on far-right dog-whistle topics, such as boosting transphobia or railing against pronouns and “wokeness.” Republicans rarely let him speak alone in interviews.

Warnock, meanwhile, has pushed hard on issues such as the economy and health care. He has tried to appeal to younger voters and independent or more center-leaning Republicans.

This is not about Republican and Democrat. This is not about right and left. This is about the difference between right and wrong,” Warnock said at a rally on December 1.

Democrats Vote to Make South Carolina First Primary State

The plan will still need to be approved by the full DNC, but is likely to pass.

LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to make South Carolina the first state on the presidential primary calendar. South Carolina would replace Iowa, which has hosted the first presidential nominating contests for 50 years.

The upheaval of the nominating calendar comes largely from an effort spearheaded by President Joe Biden to readjust the order, ostensibly to make the primaries more demographically representative of the nation.

Per Biden’s recommendations, the DNC ordered Nevada and New Hampshire to concurrently vote second, three days after South Carolina, with Georgia to follow the week after, and Michigan to round out the first five contests two weeks after Georgia.

The proposal will still need to be approved by the full DNC at a meeting that will take place early next year, but as of now it seems unlikely to fail.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, South Carolina’s only congressional Democrat (whose endorsement of Biden helped generate a media storm during the primaries), said the move to prioritize South Carolina was apparently a surprise. “I didn’t ask to be first,” he said. “It was his idea.”

“He knows what South Carolina did for him, and he’s demonstrated that time and time again, by giving respect to South Carolina,” Clyburn said.

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison of South Carolina echoed Clyburn, saying he did not know Biden was recommending South Carolina to lead the presidential nomination calendar until Thursday evening. He claimed to want the process to play out without his influence.

“Folks, the Democratic Party looks like America,” he said. “This proposal reflects the best of our party as a whole, and it will continue to make our party and our country stronger.”

Report: Expanded Child Tax Credit Created Largest Drop in Child Poverty in a Single Year

The expanded tax credit, which Congress let expire, helped dramatically reduce child poverty.

Larry French/Getty Images/SKDK

The expanded child tax credit, or CTC, created the largest drop in child poverty in a single year, according to a new report from the Joint Economic Committee Democrats. In 2021, child poverty nearly halved, dropping from 9.7 percent to 5.2 percent.

The CTC, expanded under the 2021 American Rescue Plan, lifted 5.3 million people, including 2.9 million children, out of poverty in 2021. According to the report, 2.1 million of those children were lifted out of poverty specifically due to the expansion.

The expansion increased the value of the CTC from $2,000 per child to up to $3,600 per child under 6 years of age, and to $3,000 per child between the ages of 6 and 17. The credit was available to couples that made up to $150,000, or single heads of households that made up to $112,500.

Lifting millions out of poverty, the measure made 19 million more children eligible for the credit. The credit was also made fully refundable, allowing previously ineligible low-income families to receive the full credit, which accounted for some 80 percent of the reduction in child poverty.

Such effects dramatically impacted the lives of millions across the country. One man told The New York Times how his family was able to take a vacation for the first time, camping for a night in state park. Another woman explained how she worked a second job as night janitor to pay for her daughters’ cheerleading classes; with the expansion, she was able to quit and actually take the girls to the practices.

Congress, particularly Joe Manchin and Republicans, prevented the life-altering measure from being extended through the Inflation Reduction Act. Such glimmers of hope for families—like being able to go camping for the first time or quit a second job and go to a kid’s practice—have been left to fade away.

Now advocates for the CTC, like Senators Michael Bennett, Sherrod Brown, and Cory Booker and Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Suzan DelBene, are hoping to renew the measure in an end-of-year tax deal. But, as it remains unclear how Congress will complete a government funding bill for fiscal year 2023, so the fate of the CTC is subject to those negotiations.

In the meantime, the dramatic, life-changing impacts of the CTC cannot be forgotten—and they cannot be left to fade away without a fight.

Read the rest of the report here.