Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

In Sign That Biden Probe Is Going Great, GOP Senator Begs for More Whistleblowers

The Republican Party is grasping for straws in its “investigation” of Joe Biden.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson
STR/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Who ever said Republicans were cynical? After all, the way they’re treating the throw-it-all-at-the-wall investigation into Joe Biden’s family is in fact quite optimistic. Take, for instance, Senator Ron Johnson, who, on Wednesday, tried to put a positive spin on what sounds like a chase with no end in sight.

“Investigations are hard; it’s a tough, hard slog, but we’re getting—we’re getting more and more pieces of information, and we need more whistleblowers,” the Wisconsin Republican said on Fox.

Johnson, who on Tuesday called the January 6 attack on the Capitol just “pockets of rioting,” is not alone in his glass-half-full demeanor about the amorphous investigation into Biden’s family.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, pack leader of the Biden probe, has assured a wide range of outlets that there is a laundry list of informants who have evidence pinning the Bidens to crimes. The problem is that he keeps changing the number of informants he apparently has, and has shared little to no information with Democrats, let alone the public.

One informant apparently even went poof. “Well, unfortunately, we can’t track down the informant,” Comer told Fox host Maria Bartiromo last month. “We’re hopeful that the informant is still there. The whistleblower knows the informant. The whistleblower is very credible,” he insisted.

Bartiromo was confused by the statement, and her colleague Steve Doocy even pressed him on it earlier that week. “You don’t actually have any facts to that point. You’ve got some circumstantial evidence,” Doocy said to Comer live on air. “And the other thing is, of all those names, the one person who didn’t profit is—there’s no evidence that Joe Biden did anything illegally.”

All of these media mishaps follow a House GOP report published in May that detailed a sprawling investigation into Biden and his family; but in all 65 pages of the report, hard evidence linking Biden to any misdeeds was notably absent. Comer himself admitted they had none.

Chris Christie Takes on the Trumps: “The Grift From This Family Is Breathtaking”

Christie seems to be the only Republican candidate willing to directly criticize the Trumps.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Chris Christie isn’t holding back on the Trump family anymore, calling them out for “breathtaking” corruption during his official presidential campaign launch.

Christie had been a major supporter of Donald Trump since dropping out of the 2016 election, even running his 2020 reelection campaign. But apparently, Trump’s refusal to accept the election results was a bridge too far, and Christie has since pivoted sharply.

“The grift from this family is breathtaking,” Christie said during his Tuesday night launch event, a town hall in New Hampshire. “It’s breathtaking. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House, and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis.”

Christie was referring to a $2 billion investment made by a sovereign wealth fund, which Kushner used to start his private equity firm A Fin Management LLC in 2021. The fund is chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who ordered the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. And Trump and Kushner looked the other way after his murder.

“You think it’s ’cuz he’s some kind of investing genius? Or do you think it’s ’cuz he was sitting next to the president of the United States for four years doing favors for the Saudis?” Christie asked the crowd, referring to Jared Kushner. “That’s your money he stole and gave it to his family. You know what that makes us? A banana republic.”

Christie seems to be the only Republican candidate willing to call Trump (and his family) out, but it doesn’t seem to be doing him any good just yet. RealClearPolitics took the average of the results of several presidential primary surveys and found that Christie has just 1 percent of support.

Who Is Doug Burgum? More on the Midwestern Presidential Candidate

The North Dakota governor has announced his bid for president. Here’s what his record looks like.

Stephen Yang/Getty Images
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has officially thrown his hat in the ever-widening ring to become the 2024 Republican nominee for president. And apparently, much of the country has no idea who he is.

Upon the release of his initial teaser video earlier this week, much of the online reaction ranged from “Who is this?” to “Well, this is a great tourism video for North Dakota.” Even The New York Times’ Bret Stephens conceded he didn’t know who Burgum was.

But beyond the humorous reaction to his announcement, Burgum’s candidacy, and his governorship, is quite distinct from the rest of the Republican Party—which is steeped in cultural attacks on millions of people’s civil rights, teacher’s and student’s rights to maintain a free education, and hyperfixation on crime and migrants.

On Tuesday, Burgum announced his candidacy with an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, with no mention of any of those talking points.

“We need a change in the White House. We need a new leader for a changing economy,” he wrote simply. “That’s why I’m announcing my run for president today.”

Of course, Republicans, no matter how measured they may appear, have generally similar views when it comes down to it. And Burgum is no exception.

Burgum was born in small-town North Dakota, moving on to study business at Stanford after graduating from North Dakota State University. While surrounded by the Palo Alto atmosphere, Burgum befriended Steve Ballmer, who would go on to become Microsoft’s CEO.

After graduation, Burgum moved to Chicago to work as a consultant for McKinsey. Shortly thereafter, the North Dakotan mortgaged $250,000 of inherited farmland to provide funds to software company Great Plains Software, becoming the president a year later. After years of growth, Burgum sold the company to Ballmer’s Microsoft for a nice $1.1 billion. Burgum remained active in Microsoft and the North Dakota business community for years afterward.

Finally, in 2016, with no formal experience, Burgum announced his campaign to become governor of the state. He in fact lost the state Republican Party’s endorsement contest but went on to win the primary election, and then the general handily. Burgum easily won reelection in 2020, despite facing a challenge not just from a Democrat but from a far-right candidate too.

Burgum has in many ways avoided the fray of Trump-adjacent chaos, even using his own money to boost Republicans in state legislative races who were running against more extreme far-right Trump-aligned candidates. Still, Burgum endorsed Trump in both 2016 and 2020, and enjoyed reciprocal endorsements from the twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and liable-for-sexual-abuse former president.

And though Burgum has attempted in his own way to prevent the furthest radicalization of his party in a state where there is not a likely electoral consequence for it anyhow, he has still signed numerous bills that are touchstones for the national Republican agenda.

In 2021, Burgum signed a bill banning the teaching of “critical race theory” in K-12 schools. The bill’s text defined critical race theory as “the theory that racism is not merely the product of learned individual bias or prejudice, but that racism is systemically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality,” which, as a reminder, is patently true when considering the ongoing ramifications of redlining, mass incarceration, or environmental racism, to name just a few examples.

And though Burgum called the 2020 state party’s platform “divisive and divisional” with regard to LGBTQ issues, he has signed an array of anti-trans laws this year, including an almost total ban on gender-affirming care for people under the age of 18 and another that bans transgender people from using school bathrooms or locker rooms aligned with their identity. Burgum has also signed a near-total abortion ban, one of the strictest in the country.

Burgum has vetoed some bills, like one that threatened librarians with criminal prosecution unless they reviewed their collections for sexually explicit material and another that prohibited teachers and staff from referring to transgender students by their preferred pronouns. He still, however, signed another bill allowing teachers and state employees to misgender transgender students and colleagues.

All that to say, Burgum’s record as a Republican is a mixed bag. He’s exhibited some restraint from participating in the cultural race to the bottom but has carried out much of the radical Republican agenda that has left the party losing pivotal races over and over again—from 2020 to the midterms, to state referenda, to Wisconsin’s Supreme Court election this past spring.

Still, considering aesthetics and some Republican voters’ own dignity, Burgum may rise in the race more than pundits think. His time in business has fostered connections with an array of potential wealthy donors who could fund his first momentum-displaying percentage or two (given how large the field is, and how unknown he is, any point would prove significant). Appearing then on a debate stage with Trump and an array of Republicans who are infamous for kissing the former president’s feet may offer Burgum just enough room to become a successful, mid-tier candidate.

Chris Licht Is Out at CNN, After “Centrist” Journalism, Trump Town Hall, and Tanked Ratings

The now-former CEO was determined to take a centrist approach to the news, and it backfired.

Chris Licht
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Chris Licht

CNN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chris Licht has left the network after a brief but disastrous stint at the helm, a network executive told employees Wednesday.

Licht was only in charge for one year, but he made several major and terrible decisions, including that CNN would attempt a more neutral, nonpartisan approach to news coverage. That approach apparently translated to letting Donald Trump and Nikki Haley on air, live, to push falsehoods and extreme political stances.

Wednesday’s announcement came on the heels of a massive profile of Licht in The Atlantic, which portrayed him as overconfident but incapable of leading the network. It also revealed his stances on several major social issues.

Although Licht adopted a centrist approach, he expressed skepticism about trans-inclusive language for people who give birth and said that people of color with elite degrees don’t count as diversity. Licht also believed officials may have overcounted the numbers of Covid-19 deaths and that it’s hard to have “difficult conversations without being demonized or labeled.”

Licht promised to win employees’ trust back after the profile was published, but the writing was already appearing on the wall. His year as CEO was rife with layoffs, low ratings, and tanking employee morale, according to CNN’s media reporter, Oliver Darcy.

Much of the internal drama came to light after Trump’s town hall, when employees expressed outrage that CNN had allowed the former president on air in such a format. Network employees called the town hall “a disaster,” “appalling,” and “a fucking disgrace.”

But while Licht is in the spotlight right now, he’s just a symptom of a larger issue. CNN Parent company Warner Brothers Discovery Inc. is led by David Zaslav. Zaslav, who announced Licht’s departure, is a main driver of the network’s supposed shift to the center. For him, that apparently means getting as many Republican guests on air as possible.

This post has been updated.

Mike Pence Announces 2024 Bid, With No Mention of Man Who Wanted Him Hanged

Pence is attempting to win the Republican nomination without talking about Donald Trump, apparently.

George Frey/Getty Images

Mike Pence is running to become the presidential candidate for the party that almost led to his execution.

The former vice president made it all official Wednesday with a video announcement that did not once mention Donald Trump or January 6.

Instead, he warned about the Biden administration and the dangers of the “radical left.”

It’s hard to pin down exactly why so many Republicans think they can win this primary, but the more Republicans who run, the more Trump can coast through a divided primary. As with Ron DeSantis, or Chris Christie, or Vivek Ramaswamy, or Tim Scott, or Nikki Haley, or Insert Former Trump Fan Afraid to Criticize Here, it’s difficult to understand the case for most of the candidates. And Pence is really no exception.

Pence is not exactly the most charismatic type; like DeSantis, Pence has had his robotic moments. His big plan to overcome this, and to win the election, is to reportedly put together a “Reagan coalition” consisting of the Christian right, fiscal conservatives, and national security hawks. How those numbers can grow to any substance is hard to say.

The Christian right, if they are to be distinguished at all by one issue alone, may very well vote for the president who has already stacked a court that banned abortion. Fiscal conservatives, if their only real concern is cutting taxes for the wealthy, will have their pick of Republican candidates. And the same goes for national security hawks, who have a whole roster of candidates ready to make them feel warm inside about selling more bombs and destabilizing more of the world.

The math just doesn’t math.

If there is a story for Pence to embrace, at least to potentially rise above the slew of candidates who will likely remain at 5 percent or lower, it’s of actively resisting Trump’s efforts to subvert democracy. But if his campaign announcement Wednesday is any indication, that isn’t in the cards.

Pence hasn’t completely shied away from condemning Trump for his role in inciting the January 6 attacks on the Capitol in the past. “President Trump was wrong; I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day. And I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable,” he said in March.

In his memoir released last year, Pence attacked Trump for his handling of the 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, the investigations into Russian election interference, and both impeachments he faced.

Still, Pence also wrote of a heartwarming moment in which he told Trump he was “never gonna stop praying” for him. Trump, Pence wrote, smiled back, saying, “That’s right—don’t ever change.” And it seems that nonconfrontational strategy is the one Pence is choosing to lead his campaign with.

Pence’s trepidation about fully committing to going full-steam on a man he is actively trying to beat in an election won’t hold for much longer. There are two roads ahead: one where Pence will certainly lose if he sticks to being wishy-washy on Trump (e.g., by calling his indictment “political persecution”) or one in which he will probably lose, by claiming his own lane as the man who actually stood up to Trump when it counted. Few, if any, candidates in the race can say that.

Give it a go, Mike! One might suggest you have nothing to lose but your pride, but pretty much every Republican running for president has already lost that too!

Democratic Congresswoman Rips Anti-Trans GOP Witness: “Do You Actually Believe This Garbage?”

Becca Balint is tired.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Congresswoman Becca Balint

Vermont Representative Becca Balint absolutely destroyed a witness for unnecessarily bringing up transgender rights during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday.

The committee held a hearing on the effects of environmental, social, and corporate governance, or ESG, one of Republicans’ latest manufactured culture wars. ESG is a framework that helps investors understand how an organization manages risks and opportunities regarding sustainability issues, including environmental protection, impact on society, and aligning corporate and stakeholder goals.

At one point, Balint asked witness Mandy Gunasekara about her claim that ESG promotes forced gender transition for children. “I want to know, do you really believe that garbage?” asked Balint, who is the first woman and openly LGBTQ lawmaker to represent Vermont.

Gunasekara, who served in the Environmental Protection Agency under Donald Trump, insisted that her claim was “fact” and accused people who support gender-affirming care of “beating up on children.”

Balint hit back, saying that not 30 minutes prior, she had heard from parents of trans children who live in states that have banned gender-affirming care for minors. “They literally said, ‘When you leave this room, could you please—the next time you’re in a room with someone bringing up, yet again, our children and our families as some kind of bogeyman, that you actually stand up for us?’” Balint said. “I didn’t know I would have such an opportunity!”

“It feels like every single hearing that I am in, whether it is in Oversight, or whether it is in Budget, or whether it is in a subcommittee, somehow the witnesses find a way to bring in trans children into whatever conversation we’re trying to have here.”

While trans health care and ESG have nothing to do with each other, both are important policies that have become unnecessarily politicized. ESG is beneficial for both the environment and corporations, and gender-affirming care is proven to help reduce levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts in LGBTQ people.

House Conservatives Cut Off GOP Bill to Spite Their Own Speaker

A symbolic bill on gas stoves flamed out because of conservative anger at McCarthy over the debt ceiling deal.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Representative Matt Gaetz

A crew of conservative Republicans, still stewing over debt ceiling legislation negotiated by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden, demonstrated their ire on Tuesday by blocking a Republican bill from a full House vote.

“We warned them not to cut that deal without coming down and sitting down to talk to us,” Representative Chip Roy told reporters after the vote. “So this is all about restoring a process that will fundamentally change things back to what was working.”

Twelve Republicans voted against the rule that would have established the terms of the floor debate for a bill to prevent gas stoves from being banned, joining all Democrats in voting against it. The House cannot consider a bill without first adopting a rule, which establishes the terms of the floor debate, including how long it will transpire and whether and how the bill being considered can be amended. House rules are generally party-line votes (the rule for the debt ceiling bill was a rare exception), meaning that with such a narrow GOP majority, a few recalcitrant Republicans could gum up the works. The last rule vote that failed occurred in 2002. (The good news for gas stoves’ would-be defenders is that leadership may bring up a motion to reconsider the rule to allow floor debate and a vote on the bill.)

The conservative dissenters griped that Republican leadership backtracked on bringing up an unrelated bill by Representative Andrew Clyde, a Freedom Caucus member, which would repeal an administration regulation on pistol braces. (Clyde himself did not vote against the rule, and told Politico that he believed his bill would come to the floor next week.) But while their frustration over the apparent snub to Clyde may have been the precipitating factor, the conservative anger with McCarthy and Republican leadership traces to their debt limit deal opposition.

“We’re concerned that the fundamental commitments that allowed Kevin McCarthy to assume the speakership have been violated as a consequence of the debt limit deal,” Representative Matt Gaetz, who voted against the rule, told reporters.

Conservatives insist that McCarthy violated promises he made when courting them to become speaker in January, when he underwent 15 grueling votes to earn the position. “I need him to abide by the promises he made when he was first elected speaker,” Representative Ken Buck said. Buck said that while McCarthy had promised to cut government spending to fiscal year 2022 numbers, the debt ceiling agreement capped it to fiscal year 2023 numbers. Although that bill has been signed into law, Buck insisted that spending cuts should be addressed in upcoming appropriations legislation.

It was initially unclear whether conservatives will block future rules. Representative Dan Bishop said that he didn’t see any “particular pattern” going forward. “There’s no decision about rules [yet], but the problem that has been precipitated entirely by the speaker’s approach to the debt ceiling package is going to have to be dealt with,” Bishop said.

The debt ceiling deal’s success last week, including conservatives backing down from a threat to try to topple McCarthy, appeared to indicate that the speaker had a firm grip on his conference. The rule failure, however, demonstrates that there are still ways for hard-liners to make trouble for McCarthy. He may not lose his position, but his inability to control the fate of a slam-dunk GOP messaging bill is a loss in itself.

No One Watched Nikki Haley’s CNN Town Hall

The ratings are in, and they’re embarrassing for someone who says she’s a strong contender to Trump.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

CNN continues to let Republicans come on the air and push extreme views and falsehoods. And people continue not to watch.

The network hosted presidential hopeful Nikki Haley for a town hall on Sunday. During the 90-minute event, she advocated for the use of “bulletproof tape” to tackle gun violence, said women who get abortions shouldn’t be executed, and called transgender girls playing girls’ sports “the women’s issue of our time.”

But no one was interested in what she had to say. Just 562,000 people tuned in to watch Haley. In comparison, when CNN had a town hall with Donald Trump—whom Haley says Americans are tired of—nearly six times as many people watched, for a total of 3.3 million viewers.

And that audience size pales in comparison to what Trump could bring in at his peak. Almost 71.5 million people watched him win the 2016 election. In 2020, an average of 21.6 million viewers watched the Republican National Convention—far fewer than the previous election, but still miles away from his CNN event.

It’s an embarrassingly low number for Haley, who is trying to position herself as a new direction for the Republican Party, away from Trump. But it would seem that people are still more interested in him than they are in her.

Of course, neither of them could beat the viewership record at CNN. The network hosted a town hall with President Joe Biden in 2020, which brought in 3.47 million viewers—the most for a single-candidate town hall to date.

Chris Christie Launches 2024 Run in Bridge to Nowhere

The former New Jersey governor seems to think he can be president.


Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday formally filed paperwork for his presidential run, hoping that he can bridge the gaping political divide in the United States.

Unfortunately, we’ve been here before, and it’s unlikely that Americans are going to want to go any further down this bridge to nowhere.

Christie ran for president in 2016 but flamed out spectacularly in the New Hampshire primary. He had taken multiple attacks from Donald Trump up until that point, but apparently it was all water under the bridge, as Christie threw whatever clout he had behind Trump.

Christie worked fairly closely with Trump throughout his presidency and on his failed 2020 reelection campaign. He finally broke with Trump when the former president refused to accept the election results, which was apparently a bridge too far. Christie has since been vocal in opposing Trump and may make that criticism a central tenet of his campaign, though it remains to be seen.

During his two terms as New Jersey governor, Christie seemed to take nothing but political beatings. The trouble began in 2012, when fellow Republicans accused him of getting too close to then-President Barack Obama during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The following year, two of the three lanes of the George Washington Bridge connecting New York and New Jersey were shut down for several days. Christie was accused of ordering the lane closure, which came to be known as Bridgegate, to create traffic jams and punish a local Democratic mayor who didn’t support him.

All of these scandals took a real toll on Christie’s popularity. By 2016, he had the lowest approval rating of any Garden State governor in 20 years. That wasn’t helped when, the following year, New Jersey suffered a government shutdown. State parks and beaches were closed as a result of the shutdown, but Christie took his family to the beach for July 4, an outing that came to be known as Beachgate.

And of course, there is Christie’s bizarre and unrequited fanboy love for Bruce Springsteen, who called out Christie for his financial policies and for Bridgegate, and reportedly said Christie was not allowed to use any Springsteen songs on his campaigns.

Christie is, to his credit, one of the few Republican lawmakers actually willing to call Trump out for his actions. But it’s unclear whether Christie actually has enough political pull to do some damage during the race. You could say let’s cross that bridge when we get there, but a Monmouth University poll published at the end of May found that only 21 percent of voters have a favorable view of him, while 47 percent view him negatively.

GOP Representative Cuts Off Jamaal Bowman as He Talks About Racist Bill

Representative Virginia Foxx banged the gavel nine times as Bowman tried to discuss the problems with the bill.

Representative Virginia Foxx
Samuel Corum/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, Representative Virginia Foxx demanded Representative Maxwell Frost’s comments on student debt be removed from the record. And now, this week, the North Carolina Republican is at it again, interrupting Representative Jamaal Bowman and forcing him to suspend his comments on racism in House proceedings.

In a meeting for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday, representatives were debating House Resolution 461, which condemns “the use of elementary and secondary school facilities to provide shelter for aliens who are not admitted to the United States.” The resolution, introduced by Republican Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Brandon Williams, comes in response to lawmakers in New York and Maine merely exploring options to consider unoccupied student housing buildings as temporary options for migrants, certainly nothing that would impede students’ safety or education.

Republican Representative Bob Good, however, went further, offering an amendment to the bill to strip federal funding from public schools that shelter undocumented people.

The suggestion prompted Bowman to speak in opposition, detailing how essential federal funding is for New York City schools (especially given the federal government’s history of racist redlining policies that left many schools underfunded). He argued that Good’s amendment “seeks to double down on prior racist policy by implementing present-day racist policies.” Bowman also took issue with the suggestion that migrants are part of an “invasion,” noting its white supremacist origins and associations with the racist great replacement theory.

“Now I know none of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will admit to being racist—and I don’t think they are,” Bowman said. “But when you look at the rhetoric, and you hear the talking points, and look at the legislation that’s put forward, what are we to say?”

In the middle of Bowman’s comment, Foxx slammed the gavel nine times, demanding Bowman suspend his remarks, saying he cannot “engage in personality characterizations.”

“Thank you Madam Chair, it’s just very frustrating because it seems like the legislation itself engages in personalities, when it refers to a group of people that is derogatory,” Bowman countered. “So if the legislation is doing it, and we’re using words on the other side of the aisle like ‘invasion,’ as if it’s an army coming to our country, is that not personalities? Thank you, and I yield back.”

Foxx’s reaction to Bowman’s comments echoed her interruption of Frost’s comments two weeks ago, which also referenced racist policies. The Florida representative argued against the conservative logic surrounding student debt, “that because there was an injustice, we can’t fix it because it’s unfair to those who never had it fixed, means we would never progress on any issue in this country.”

“If we legislated using the logic that you bring to this issue today, women and Black folks wouldn’t have the right to vote because it would be unfair to those who never got to vote before them… Why do you bring that bigoted logic to this issue as it relates to students, but not any other issue?” Frost asked.

The “bigoted logic” remarks prompted Foxx to “demand his words be taken down.” Frost, like Bowman, generously heeded Foxx’s outrage towards his coolly reasoned argument, before proceeding.