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Good Riddance to Joe Manchin

The West Virginia senator has announced he will not seek reelection.

Joe Manchin
Jemal Countess/Getty Images for JDRF

Senator Joe Manchin announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2024, but instead will seek to “fight to unite the middle” ground of American voters.

“I have made one of the toughest decisions of my life and decided that I will not be running for reelection to the United States Senate,” the West Virginia Democrat said in a video. “But what I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.”

Manchin was critical to the Democrats’ majority in the Senate, a position he often leveraged for increased influence. He tanked multiple major pieces of legislation and regularly sided with Republicans on issues such as infrastructure, student loan relief, and climate change.

In particular, Manchin often teamed up with Senator Kyrsten Sinema to block Democratic efforts. Both worked to keep the filibuster and prevented Democrats from passing student loan relief.

Manchin’s exit message is not new. In the past year, he has openly toyed with switching his political affiliation to independent. He accused other Democrats of shifting too far to the left and leaving behind more moderate voters.

He has also hinted at a third-party presidential run, insisting that an independent candidate would be able to unite a politically divided electorate. Manchin spoke in July at an event hosted by No Labels, a bipartisan centrist political advocacy group, further fueling speculation.

His announcement on Thursday focused on uniting “the middle”—and this could very well be a sign that he’ll soon announce his 2024 bid for the White House.

If that’s true, it’s worth reminding Manchin: Independent candidates tend to perform terribly, instead siphoning just enough votes away from one of the main party candidates to swing the election towards the other.

Republican senators insist—and some Democratic ones fear—that a Manchin candidacy would pull enough votes away from Joe Biden to tip the 2024 election for Donald Trump. But a July poll by Monmouth University found that if Manchin runs, it will swing the election in Biden’s favor.

Either way, is ending up as a political spoiler a risk Manchin wants to take?

This story has been updated.

Democrats Back Down on Harlan Crow Subpoena After GOP Promises “Sh*tshow”

Why is Dick Durbin so afraid of doing something to upset Republicans?

Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday walked back a planned vote to subpoena two megadonors connected to Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The reason? Republicans threw a fit.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee finally took the first step last week to address the high court’s ethics crisis and announced they would seek to subpoena Republican billionaire megadonor Harlan Crow and ultraconservative activist Leonard Leo. Both men feature prominently in the ethics scandal for their relationships with Thomas and Alito. The committee said it would also seek to subpoena wealthy GOP donor Robin Arkley II.

But Chair Dick Durbin appeared to put that all on hold on Thursday, when he abruptly ended a committee meeting after outraged Republicans threatened to retaliate if Crow and Leo were subpoenaed.

Committee Republicans threatened to file multiple amendments relating to border security, social media use, and liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor in opposition to attempts to investigate conservative justices and donors.

“You’re going to have a complete shitshow, but if that’s what you want, that’s what you’re gonna get,” Senator Lindsey Graham warned.

Senator Josh Hawley accused Democrats of orchestrating a “witch hunt” against Thomas.

Durbin backed down and told reporters the committee may try again next week to vote on the subpoenas.

Judiciary Democrats’ spineless response is disappointing, to say the least. Other attempts to rein in the high court and establish a formal code of ethics have stalled. Meanwhile, confidence in the Supreme Court as an institution is rapidly sinking over the ethics scandal.

Crow, a Nazi memorabilia collector, has repeatedly lavished Thomas with expensive gifts. These include island-hopping yacht vacations, private school tuition for Thomas’s nephew, and buying and renovating a Thomas family property, where Thomas’s mother still lives.

Thomas has also been Crow’s guest at Bohemian Grove, which ProPublica describes as a “secretive all-men’s retreat in Northern California” that attracts major corporate and political players. It costs thousands of dollars for a member to bring a guest to the Grove, but Crow has reportedly brought Thomas there almost every year for the past two decades.

Thomas’s visits to the Grove helped him develop a relationship with the Koch brothers. Thomas has participated in events for the Koch donor network for at least a decade. All of his appearances were arranged with the help of dark-money king Leo.

In addition to securing Thomas’s goodwill, Leo also helped organize a luxury vacation that Alito went on. Neither Thomas nor Alito had disclosed any of these lavish gifts on their financial statements.

Oops! Republican Congressman Admits Hunter Biden Subpoena Double Standard

Representative Greg Murphy gave away the whole game.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Republican Representative Greg Murphy

Republican Representative Greg Murphy said he would vote to hold members of the Biden family in contempt if they didn’t respond to congressional subpoenas, a complete 180 from his position on subpoenas a few years ago.

House Republicans issued subpoenas Wednesday to President Joe Biden’s brother Jim and embattled first son Hunter, as part of their investigation into the family’s supposed criminal business practices. Led by Representative James Comer, the GOP has for months accused Biden of corruption, despite producing no evidence.

During a Thursday interview, CNN host John Berman asked Murphy if he would vote to hold Jim and Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress should they fail to appear before the House.

“Absolutely!” Murphy said. “What do they have to hide?”

Berman then pointed out that Murphy had voted against holding former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt when Bannon refused to testify before the House January 6 investigative committee. Bannon was ultimately convicted of contempt of Congress in October 2022.

Murphy tried to argue that the circumstances were different this time. “It’s a little bit higher, different standards, John, when you have someone who’s in elected office versus someone who’s not in elected office,” he said.

“Who are you saying is in elected office here when you’re talking about holding people in contempt of Congress for being nonresponsive?” Berman pressed.

“Well, tell me what office Steve Bannon was in?” Murphy demanded.

“Well, tell me what office Hunter Biden was in?” Berman replied.

Murphy was visibly stunned. He was silent for a few seconds before stumbling through arguments about the president’s supposed guilt. Republicans, of course, have not subpoenaed Joe Biden.

If Murphy is interested in holding elected officials accountable, he doesn’t even have to look that far. House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, who is also at the forefront of Republicans’ Biden investigation, has been avoiding a subpoena from the January 6 committee for nearly 600 days.

Republicans have aggressively sought to prove Biden’s guilt, despite the fact that they consistently fail to produce evidence. Their star witnesses debunk the GOP accusations, and lawmakers have even accidentally admitted that they have no evidence and don’t really care about the accuracy of their claims.

Who’s the Senile One? Trump Mixes Up Countries Again

Donald Trump does not appear to be doing well.

Donald Trump
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Donald Trump tried to attack “incompetent” foreign policy officials in the Biden administration—before confusing two very different countries.

“We have never been closer to World War III, and only for one reason. We have incompetent people talking on our behalf,” Trump said during an event in Florida that took place at the same time as Wednesday night’s Republican debate.

He then began to defend previous comments in which he lauded various world autocrats. “Well, what am I supposed to say? They’re stupid people?” Trump asked the crowd. Trump named Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, whom he previously called “smart” and “very talented.”

In classic Trump style, the former president followed up a defensive litany by seemingly confusing North Korea and China. “Kim Jong Un leads 1.4 billion people, and there is no doubt about who the boss is. And they want me to say he’s not an intelligent man.”

The population of North Korea is in fact closer to 26 million, meaning in the best-case scenario, Trump inflated the population by about 1.3 billion people. In the probably more accurate version, Trump mixed up two Asian countries.

China has a population of 1.4 billion, and this isn’t the first time Trump has mixed up countries. During a speech last month, Trump mixed up two fascist leaders who adore him, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Don’t Rule It Out: Trump May Be Back on the Stand Soon in Fraud Trial

A prominent legal expert predicts Donald Trump will soon return as a witness in his New York fraud trial.

Donald Trump in a courtroom
Curtis Means/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump and his three oldest children have all testified in their New York business fraud trial, but most of them will probably be back on the stand soon enough.

Over the past two weeks, Trump, his sons Don Jr. and Eric, and his daughter Ivanka have testified in court about the Trump Organization’s business practices. The New York attorney general has accused them and their allies of fraudulently inflating the value of their real estate assets to get more favorable terms on bank loans. Ivanka is not a co-defendant, because an appeals court ruled that the statute of limitations on her alleged involvement had run out.

But the testimony for all four Trumps spelled disaster, and they may try to rectify it.

“I think on balance, it was bad for the Trump family,” legal expert Lisa Rubin told MSNBC Thursday, referring to the family’s testimonies. “But I will caveat that, saying, we expect three of those four Trumps to come back.”

Rubin explained that the questioning so far has been limited to the scope of Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit. Trump, Eric, and Don Jr. will likely testify again so that they can try to give more context to their previous testimony.

“[Trump’s] lawyers want to elicit testimony from all three of those male Trumps that goes beyond what the attorney general was interested in,” Rubin said. “And so they will bring them back to afford them … the latitude that they think the former president and maybe future president … should be afforded to explain himself.”

To say the Trumps’ testimonies went poorly is an understatement. They were repeatedly caught undermining their own defense. Trump, Eric, and Ivanka all had to admit they were involved in working with the organization’s financial statements.

Trump himself effectively admitted Monday that the organization’s financial statements were made with an eye to encourage favorable loans. The New York attorney general’s office revealed that Trump had signed financial documents intended to look good for banks.

The trial, which is only to set damages, has not been going well for Trump. He has been grasping at straws in an attempt to avoid accountability, using an argument the presiding judge has already deemed “worthless” and incorrectly insisting he was president in 2021.

Well, Well, Well: Hypocrite James Comer Did Exactly What Joe Biden Did

House Oversight Chair James Comer is mad about one particular detail in Joe Biden’s finances. Turns out he’s done the exact same thing.

James Comer
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James Comer has touted the fact that Joe Biden loaned his brother $200,000 as surefire evidence of the president’s criminal wrongdoing. But a new report reveals that the Kentucky Republican has done the same thing—and more.

Comer has for months accused Biden of corruption, although he has yet to produce any evidence. In late October, he dropped a so-called “bombshell”: Biden had given his brother James Biden a $200,000 check with the words “loan repayment” on the front.

Comer insisted the check was actually proof of “shady” business practices in the Biden family, despite the fact that multiple news outlets—including conservative-leaning ones—found evidence to the contrary. What’s more, the check was from 2018, when Biden was not in office or running for president.

But as The Daily Beast pointed out in a report published Thursday, “if Comer genuinely believes these transactions clear the ‘shady business practices’ bar, he might want to consider a parallel inquiry into his own family.”

Not only did Comer also lend his brother $200,000, he did it in the sketchiest way possible, according to the report.

Comer co-owns a farming business with his brother. Their late father was also a partner. With this business, Comer and his brother have engaged in multiple land swaps over the years. The Beast details one exchange after their father’s death in January 2019:

Chad Comer bought out his brother’s half of a piece of inherited Kentucky property, paying $100,000, according to deed records in Monroe County. Five months later, James and his wife, Tamara “TJ” Comer, bought the property out in full, this time paying Chad Comer $218,000. The buyout netted Chad Comer an unexplained $18,000 above the total value in July.

In another exchange, Comer gifted his brother his share of two inherited pieces of land, with a share value of $175,000. The cost of the transaction was only $1. Comer’s brother went on to apply for a hefty tax break and then gift Comer a more valuable piece of land in return.

And as Comer likes to say so often, it’s not just about the loan itself. While he was swapping the land from his family’s farming business, Comer held multiple important roles in agriculture oversight. Before coming to Congress, Comer was a member of Kentucky’s state legislature Agriculture Committee for eight years. He also served as the Kentucky agriculture commissioner.

When he was elected to Congress in 2016, Comer was a member of the House Agriculture Committee. Two years later, he negotiated the Farm Bill, which increased federal support for American farmers. But after Comer moved his business away from farming, he also shifted his work away from agriculture oversight.

The Beast also found that Comer supposedly runs multiple businesses that do not appear to exist on paper. The company he ran with his father and brother was called Comer Land & Cattle. There are no business filings for a company with that name anywhere in Kentucky.

Comer says he has a personal agriculture company called James Comer Jr. Farms, but the Beast couldn’t find any official records for a business with that name. And when Comer purchased the land from his brother, the deal listed a third party: a shell company called Farm Team Properties, LLC, owned by Comer and his wife.

Comer listed the company on his financial disclosure statement that year, describing it as a “land management and real estate speculation company” valued between $200,000 and $500,000. But when he listed the company on his 2021 financial statement, he valued it between $500,000 and $1 million. The Beast did not find a clear explanation for the massive increase in value.

Given this information, Comer’s accusations against Biden ring particularly hollow. It would seem the wrong politician is being investigated for “shady” business dealings.

“You’re Just Scum”: Nikki Haley Lashes Out After Swipe at Her Daughter

The Republican presidential debate is getting messy.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Things got a little heated in Miami-Dade County Wednesday night as Republican presidential candidates began dropping bombs on one another.

During a segment of the debate focused on possible national security threats posed by TikTok, Vivek Ramaswamy thought it wise to dunk on former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s daughter.

“In the last debate, she made fun of me for joining TikTok while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time, so you might want to take care of your own family first,” Ramaswamy said.

“Leave my daughter out of your voice,” Haley slapped back, leaning over her lectern to draw eye contact with the entrepreneur.

The crowd booed the rest of Ramaswamy’s answer, though they weren’t loud enough to cut out Haley’s last jab at the biotech millionaire.

“You’re just scum,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Smoke Those Terrorists”: GOP Candidates Compete to Be Biggest Israel Hawk

None of the Republican presidential candidates care about reining in Israel.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Not a single Republican presidential candidate thinks Benjamin Netanyahu has gone far enough in his assault on Gaza.

During the Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, each candidate was asked what advice they would give the Israeli prime minister if they were president right now.

“I would tell Bibi finish the job once and for all with these butchers Hamas,” said Ron DeSantis. “I’m sick of hearing the media, I’m sick of hearing other people blame Israel just for defending itself. We will stand with Israel, in word and in deed, in private and in public.”

“Would you consider humanitarian pause?” NBC moderator Lester Holt then asked Nikki Haley.

“The first thing I said to [Netanyahu] when it happened was I said, ‘Finish them. Finish them,’” she replied, before stressing that we need to “support Israel with whatever they need whenever they need it.”

Vivek Ramaswamy went even further: “What I would tell Bibi is that Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend itself. I would tell him to smoke those terrorists on the southern border. And I would tell him as president of the United States I’ll be smoking the terrorists on our southern border.”

“You have the responsibility and right to wipe Hamas off the map and we will be with you,” added Tim Scott. “I would say to Biden diplomacy only is a weak strategy. Appeasement leads to war.”

The South Carolina senator went on to blame the conflict on Joe Biden and Barack Obama’s diplomacy with Iran—and argue for strikes on the country.

“There is blood dripping from the hands of President Obama and President Biden, he said. “You actually have to cut off the head of the snake, and the head of the snake is Iran and not simply their proxies.… You cannot negotiate with evil. You have to destroy it.”

Christie, for his part, at least noted that it is essential to work with both sides to resolve the conflict, but he too called for supporting Israel. “The first thing I would say to Prime Minister Netanyahu is pretty simple: America is here no matter what it is you need at any time to preserve the state of Israel.”

Vivek Ramaswamy Kicks Off Debate in the Most Insane Way Possible

There is so much going on with Vivek.

Vivek Ramaswamy
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Vivek Ramaswamy kicked off the GOP’s third presidential debate with a flurry of insane back-to-back comments Wednesday night.

“We’ve become a party of losers,” Ramaswamy lamented, referring to conservatives’ sweeping loss during Tuesday’s off-year elections in Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio.

In the same breath, Ramaswamy demanded someone take responsibility for the failure, calling for the resignation of the party’s chairman, Ronna McDaniel.

The entrepreneur then continued to attack the NBC moderators, proposing that they should be replaced by Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, and Elon Musk—for ratings’ sake.

Ramaswamy also lobbed an accusation at NBC News anchor Kristen Welker, calling her a member of the “corrupt media establishment,” before throwing one last bomb into his two-minute answer by insisting the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

Trump Floats Worst Person You Know as Potential Vice President Pick

This is a nightmare.

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Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would consider picking Tucker Carlson as his running mate, revealing a potential ticket of your worst nightmares.

During an interview on the conservative podcast The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, the eponymous hosts asked Trump if he would consider Carlson for vice president.

“I like Tucker a lot! I guess I would, I think I say I would,” Trump said. “He’s got great common sense.”

Trump, the Republican front-runner, does seem to genuinely like Carlson. Trump has refused to participate in the primary debates, and during the first one, he chose to air an interview with Carlson instead. Trump apparently also decided to take the Covid-19 pandemic seriously after Carlson urged him to do so.

But it’s unclear how the pair’s dynamic would work in the long run. When Fox was sued by Dominion Voting Systems, the electronic voting machine maker released troves of personal messages sent by the network’s on-screen talent. Among them were messages from Carlson proclaiming just how much he hates Trump.

Just two days before January 6, 2021, the erstwhile Fox host texted someone about Trump’s time in office. “We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest,” Carlson said. “But come on. There really isn’t an upside to Trump.”

Carlson also said that Trump was only good at “destroying things.”

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait,” he texted, adding, “I hate him passionately.”