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RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel Is in Fantasy Land on Abortion

The head of the Republican National Committee is straight up delulu.

RNC chair Ronna McDaniel speaking at a Republican debate
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RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel appears to be living in an alternate reality, insisting that Republicans can actually win elections on their abortion message.

Republicans suffered bruising losses last week in Ohio and Virginia, as state residents voted overwhelmingly for measures and candidates that will protect abortion access. But on Sunday, McDaniel claimed Americans actually want abortion restrictions.

I’m proud to be a pro-life party, but we can win on this message,” she told NBC. “The American people are where we are, and they want commonsense limitations. They want more access to adoption. We want to make sure that there’s pregnancy crisis centers. These are things we can win on.”

McDaniel also said that Republicans can’t avoid the issue of abortion anymore. “I think there’s a lot of discussion to be had, but we can’t just say it’s a states’ issue and be done,” she said.

The RNC chair is onto something there, but it’s entirely the wrong thing. The American people are not at all where Republicans are: More than 60 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center.

And if that data weren’t enough, in every election since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Americans have voted to increase abortion rights. This is true even in otherwise red states such as Ohio, Kentucky, and Montana.

Candidates who campaign heavily on protecting abortion have pulled off amazing feats: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was overwhelmingly reelected in November 2022, while her Democratic Party flipped the state legislature for the first time in 40 years. In neighboring Wisconsin, pro-abortion state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz won her April 2023 election handily.

McDaniel has sought to soften her party’s overall stance on abortion. She urged the GOP in January to “go on offense” against abortion rights and pass new restrictions, including six-week bans. But a few months later, McDaniel began telling candidates to back a 15-week ban instead, a move that’s still incredibly unpopular.

Republicans don’t win on their abortion messaging. So instead, they lose and try to subvert democracy to get their way anyway.

Trump Allies Are Creating an Army of Loyalists to Implement His Every Whim

Donald Trump’s allies have a dangerous plan to make sure he can do whatever he wants as president.

Mike Segar/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s allies are already working overtime to create an army of tens of thousands of Trump loyalists who they can install at every level of government should he win the presidential election.

The consolidated effort attempts to block Republican moderates from weighing in on Trump’s decisions in a potential second presidency like they did in the early days of his first, allowing an echo chamber of the most extreme voices in U.S. politics.

Allies are looking to install as many as 54,000 pre-vetted Trump loyalists in the executive branch while purging anyone who dissents from the new administration, reported Axios.

The massive political project, orchestrated by the Heritage Foundation under the banner Project 2025, has already collected more than 4,000 résumés, though the process is more focused on political philosophy than experience or other credentials, the outlet reported.

“Never before has the entire movement ... banded together to construct a comprehensive plan to deconstruct the out-of-touch and weaponized administrative state,” Project 2025’s director, Paul Dans, told Axios.

Trump will use this army to implement his every whim. That includes using the Justice Department to target his political enemies and unleashing a new set of extreme anti-immigration policies, like setting up deportation camps for undocumented immigrants.

Also behind the effort are Stephen Miller and John McEntee, both of whom advised Trump during his last presidency and are expected to play key roles should Trump reclaim the Oval Office. McEntee, in particular, has prior experience rooting out obstructive staffers—in 2020, he was appointed to sniff out those working against Trump’s agenda, as Trump’s personnel chief.

Earlier this month, Trump allies made it clear they were cutting ties with the Federalist Society, which staffed most of the hard-line, conservative legal advisers during his first term. Trump allegedly wasn’t satisfied with their brand of politics, however, and was left frustrated by their objections to harsher immigration policies and Trump’s bid for a tighter grip on the Justice Department, reported The New York Times.

Here’s Another Big Far-Right Thing Mike Johnson Never Reported

The new House speaker has a sketchy history when it comes to reporting expenses.

House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks at a podium. Representatives Elise Stefanik and Cory Mills stand on either side of him.
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House Speaker Mike Johnson (center) flanked by Representatives Elise Stefanik and Cory Mills

When House Speaker Mike Johnson gave the keynote speech at an elite right-wing conference in 2019, he failed to report the trip on his financial disclosure forms. Four years later, it’s still not clear who paid for him to get there or how much the trip cost, according to a Daily Beast report published Monday.

Johnson delivered his 31-minute speech to the Council for National Policy’s conference in person, traveling from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans for the October 4, 2019, event. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the CNP as “a shadowy and intensely secretive group [that] has operated behind the scenes … to build the conservative movement.”

It’s not unusual for lawmakers to speak at the CNP conference, which occurs three times a year. Representative Jody Hice spoke to the group in February 2019, while Representatives Mark Green and Chip Roy spoke to CNP in 2019 and 2022, respectively. The difference, though, is that all three men reported their trips as gifted travel. They also list the trip on their personal financial disclosure forms. Johnson did not file anything, The Daily Beast found.

“The most reasonable inference is that the very well-heeled CNP covered Johnson’s expenses when he addressed the group’s meeting in 2019, but the new speaker failed to report those gifts,” Brendan Fischer, the deputy executive director of the watchdog group Documented and a legal expert on campaign finance and ethics rules, told The Daily Beast.

“What [would make] it an ethics violation is if the payments aren’t reported.”

Hice, Green, and Roy reported gifted expenses ranging from more than $1,400 to more than $2,600 for travel, lodging, and the event registration fee. Johnson’s financial disclosure forms, already incredibly barren, do not show any trips funded by the CNP.

It’s possible that Johnson paid out of pocket for the trip. But again, given the spare nature of his reported financial situation, that seems highly unlikely (unless he has mounds of cash squirreled away under his mattress).

Johnson could have used campaign or PAC funds to travel, but his campaign and leadership PAC expenses don’t reflect costs that match the CNP event. Another explanation would be that Johnson used taxpayer money for the trip. The House statement of disbursements at the time shows his office reported commercial travel and lodging expenses that match the October 4 trip.

It’s unclear why Johnson would feel the need to pay for his trip at all, though. The CNP is well funded and clearly has no issue paying for his colleagues to speak. What’s more, Johnson has been a member of the CNP since at least July 2012. It’s strange that the organization would reward his loyalty by making him foot the bill.

The New Republic reached out to Johnson’s office for comment, but they had not responded by time of publication.

Johnson is no stranger to speaking at far-right events. He was scheduled to give the keynote address Friday for the Worldwide Freedom Initiative. Johnson spokesman Raj Shah assured TNR that Johnson did not travel for any events over the weekend, but he refused to explicitly confirm whether Johnson had spoken virtually or why the speaker was featured so prominently on WFI social media and event publicity if he did not speak.

State Department: Biden Spreading Misinformation Amid Israel’s War on Gaza

The internal State Department memo urges Joe Biden to reassess his policy toward Israel.

Palestinians arrive south of Gaza City on November 12, after fleeing their homes in Gaza City and the Northern Gaza Strip.

An internal memo floating around the U.S. State Department is urging senior officials to rethink their approach to the Israel-Hamas war, criticizing America’s unwavering support of Israel’s counteroffensive as backing “crimes against humanity.”

The five-page memo, signed by 100 State Department and USAID employees, also accuses President Joe Biden of “spreading misinformation” in his October 10 speech, in which Biden described Hamas’s October 7 massacre as an “act of sheer evil” and likened it to the “worst rampages of ISIS” while unequivocally aligning U.S. military capabilities with Israel.

“Members of the White House and (the National Security Council) displayed a clear disregard for the lives of Palestinians, a documented unwillingness to de-escalate, and, even prior to October 7, a reckless lack of strategic foresight,” the memo said, reported Axios.

The bulk of the memo focuses on condemning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assault on Gaza, which has constituted attacking hospitals, cutting off access to water and electricity, limiting humanitarian aid, and displacing 1.6 million Palestinians.

All of these actions, according to the memo, “constitute war crimes and/or crimes against humanity under international law.”

“Yet we have failed to reassess our posture towards Israel,” the memo reads, according to the outlet. “We doubled down on our unwavering military assistance to the (Israeli government) without clear or actionable redlines.”

It’s not the first such memo to be leaked out of the State Department. Last week, another memo blasted the U.S. response to Israel as inappropriate, arguing that supporting the Middle Eastern state’s “settler violence” went “against American values,” reported Politico.

Will Marsha Blackburn Be Censured for This Racist Tweet on Rashida Tlaib?

Senator Marsha Blackburn is smearing the only Palestinian American member of Congress.

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Senator Marsha Blackburn

Senator Marsha Blackburn shared a racist tweet about Representative Rashida Tlaib over the weekend. Recent evidence shows she likely won’t face any consequences for it.

Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, has understandably been vocal in her support for Palestine and for a cease-fire since the war in Gaza began. The House censured her last week for her words, with 22 of her fellow Democrats joining Republicans in reprimanding her.

But Blackburn has gone a step further and accused Tlaib, with no evidence, of being linked to Hamas.

Rashida Tlaib has alleged ties to Hamas,” the Tennessee Republican tweeted Sunday. “Based on these allegations, it’s sadly not surprising she’s calling for a genocide against the Jewish people.”

Blackburn is referring to Tlaib’s use of the phrase “from the river to the sea.” While many Jewish and pro-Israel groups say the saying is antisemitic, it has also been used by Israeli politicians. Tlaib defended her use of the phrase, saying it was a call for “freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence.” Before she was censured, Tlaib called out the rise of both antisemitism and Islamophobia.

But while Tlaib has been censured for calling for peace, there is no outcry on Capitol Hill yet over Blackburn accusing her colleague of links to an extremist group. And there may never be one.

Republicans have repeatedly said outrageous things about Palestine, primarily calling for the extermination of an entire country and people. They make no distinction between Hamas and Palestinian civilians, and yet no one is getting in trouble for it.

What’s more, House Speaker Mike Johnson has a Christian nationalist flag flying outside his district office. The creation of a Christian nation implies the elimination of all other religions, and yet no one is accusing Johnson of calling for genocide.

The closest another lawmaker got to facing consequences was when Representative Brian Mast compared Palestinian civilians to Nazis. A Democratic representative drafted a resolution to censure the Florida Republican, but it has since been dropped.

More than 11,000 Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israel’s ongoing retaliation to Hamas’s October 7 attack. The fighting has also killed at least 39 journalists and other media workers and more than 100 United Nations employees.

Having Lost Abortion Vote, Ohio GOP Now Plans to Sabotage Results

Ohio Republicans do not care about the election results. Sound familiar?

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks during a pro-life canvassing meeting in Columbus, on November 4.

Ohio state Republican lawmakers are once again trying to overturn the will of the people, after a devastating loss on abortion rights.

Ohioans overwhelmingly chose to enshrine abortion protections in the state Constitution earlier this week. Republicans had tried multiple times to block the referendum, called Issue 1, but they were handily defeated every time.

So on Friday, the state GOP unveiled a new tactic: stopping the courts from allowing the new amendment to take effect.

“To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts with Issue 1, Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative,” Republican state representatives said in a press release. “The Ohio legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides.”

The new amendment doesn’t take effect until December 7, and even then, it isn’t automatically implemented. Each individual abortion restriction needs to be repealed by a court. And Ohio has a lot of restrictions.

Abortion is legal up to 22 weeks, but certain abortion procedures are banned. Patients must wait 24 hours and undergo anti-abortion biased counseling before they can undergo the procedure. State-based insurance is prohibited from covering abortion services, and minors must have the consent of a parent, guardian, or judge in order to get an abortion.

As abortion reporter Jessica Valenti explained, Ohio Republicans don’t want the courts to repeal all of these restrictions. They want the GOP-controlled state legislature to decide whether to repeal the restrictions.

In the press release, lawmakers also blamed “foreign billionaires” for interfering in the election and tipping it in favor of abortion rights. In reality, right-wing billionaires and organizations donated millions of dollars from out of state (although still domestically) to try to block Issue 1.

This isn’t the first time Ohio Republicans have blatantly ignored—and actively worked against—what the people want. In August, they tried to raise the threshold for constitutional amendments to a 60 percent vote instead of a simple majority.

When that failed, the Ohio Ballot Board voted 3–2, along party lines, to change the text of the amendment on the ballot to a Republican-authored summary littered with inflammatory and fearmongering language.

Republicans have repeatedly refused to accept the results of elections on abortion, in a massive threat to local democracy. In Kansas, despite residents voting overwhelmingly in August 2022 to keep abortion rights in the state Constitution, the state legislature is still trying to pass laws that would restrict abortion access. And in Wisconsin, after voters elected a state Supreme Court judge in large part because of her outspoken support for abortion access, state Republicans tried to impeach her.

“Let It Go to Voicemail”: Democrats Reportedly Ignoring Calls for Cease-Fire

A new report shows many Democratic lawmakers are simply ignoring their constituents’ phone calls about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

Celal Gunes/Anadolu/Getty Images
Jewish activists stage a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the Capitol building on October 18.

Many Democratic lawmakers are telling their staff to let phone calls asking for a cease-fire in Gaza go to voicemail.

At least 24 lawmakers in the House and Senate have called for a cease-fire in Gaza, but Joe Biden has said there is “no possibility” of that happening. Instead, Israel agreed this week to a daily four-hour “humanitarian pause,” which it seems to think is enough time for civilians to flee bombs on foot.

Staff from more than 24 Democratic congressional offices told HuffPost in a story published Thursday that the caucus was unprepared for how many calls, emails, and letters they are receiving from constituents demanding a cease-fire. Most lawmakers do not yet have an official response.

One staffer, speaking anonymously, said that until a formal stance is developed, many of them have been told to “let it go to voicemail.”

Another staffer said that the office phone rings every five minutes with someone urging a cease-fire. A third staffer said the phone “doesn’t stop ringing at any point in the day.”

The majority of voters across party lines believe in the need for a cease-fire, and 80 percent of Democratic voters agree that the United States should call for a cease-fire and de-escalation in Gaza, according to a poll from Data for Progress.

It’s not just constituents, either. More than 100 staffers, both Democratic and Republican, staged a walkout on Wednesday to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

But lawmakers, by and large, seem to be fine ignoring the calls. Some believe the movement will eventually just die down, and one lawmaker allegedly joked, “They weren’t going to vote for me anyway.”

Staffers are shocked at both the public unity behind the issue and lawmakers’ refusal to take it seriously.

“This building is not listening,” one Democratic aide told HuffPost. “I’ve never seen such a disconnect between where voters and constituents are and where Congress is, and that’s saying something because there’s always a disconnect.”

More than 11,000 Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israel’s ongoing retaliation to Hamas’s October 7 attack. The fighting has also killed at least 39 journalists and other media workers and more than 100 United Nations employees.

Why Is Mike Johnson Flying a Christian Nationalist Flag Outside His Office?

A new report confirmed that the House speaker is displaying an “Appeal to Heaven” flag outside his door.

Mike Johnson
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson has three flags hanging outside his office: the American flag, the Louisiana state flag, and a flag representing a movement that wants to turn the United States into a religious Christian nation.

Normal stuff, you know?

The flag is white with a green evergreen tree in the middle and the phrase “An Appeal to Heaven” at the top. A report published Friday by Rolling Stone confirmed that the flag is outside his district office in Washington.

The flag was originally used as a banner during the Revolutionary War, but over the past decade, it has been embraced by a sect of Christianity called the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR. A central tenet of NAR’s belief system is that it is God’s will for Christians to take control of all aspects of U.S. society—including education, arts and entertainment, the media, and businesses—to create a religious nation.

The NAR fully embraced Donald Trump when he announced he was running for office, endorsing him early on and helping endear him to other Christian movements. As a result, the Appeal to Heaven flag has become popular among Trump supporters.

The flag has appeared in photos of far-right politicians and election deniers such as Doug Mastriano, the Trump-endorsed candidate for Pennsylvania governor. Mastriano lost to Democrat Josh Shapiro.

The flag was also everywhere at the January 6 insurrection. Rolling Stone estimated that there may have been hundreds of Appeal to Heaven flags throughout the mob.

It should not be surprising that Johnson subscribes to the NAR belief system. He has a well-documented history of opposing abortion access, LGBTQ rights, and environmental policy on the grounds that they are non-Christian.

But it’s upsetting and deeply concerning that he is able to embrace it so openly without so much as a slap on the wrist. What’s more, Rolling Stone’s revelation comes just days after the House of Representatives censured Rashida Tlaib for her comments about Israel and Palestine.

Republicans have previously harangued Tlaib, the only Palestinian American member of Congress, for flying a Palestinian flag outside her district office. The GOP has accused her of antisemitism for showing pride in her nationality.

But even if supporting Palestinian civilians were inherently antisemitic (it’s not), it’s unclear how that is different from what Johnson is doing. The creation of a Christian nation implies the elimination of all other religions. But somehow, no one is censuring Johnson for it.

Even Judge Cannon Can’t Fathom Trump’s Reasoning to Delay His Trial

Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, is moving full steam ahead with his trial.

The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s classified documents case on Friday denied the former president’s request to delay the trial.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, seemed poised last week to hand Trump a massive win when she indicated she might delay proceedings. But Friday’s ruling means that the trial will kick off on May 20 as initially determined.

Trump initially tried to delay the trial until after the 2024 election, in part due to the many other legal cases he is facing. In her order Friday, Cannon wrote that Trump’s request to delay the trial is “premature.”

Trump was charged in Florida with keeping national defense secrets, making false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other things, for hoarding classified materials at Mar-a-Lago. His body man Walt Nauta and a Mar-a-Lago employee Carlos De Oliveira have also been charged. All three men are accused of trying to destroy evidence, including attempting to delete security footage off a server.

Cannon received nationwide scrutiny at the start of the investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Following the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, and upset with how things were going, Trump filed a made-up motion titled a “Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief.”

Cannon agreed to hear the motion, despite having no jurisdiction to do so, and ultimately assigned a “special master” to review all of the material the FBI found at Mar-a-Lago before the investigation could proceed—a victory for Team Trump.

The Justice Department appealed the decision, and the Eleventh Circuit Court ultimately ruled that neither Cannon nor Trump had had any legal right for their actions. The appeals court threw Cannon’s decision out entirely.

This story has been updated.

Did Mike Johnson Send House Home Early So He Could Speak to Paris Elitists?

Days away from a government shutdown, Speaker Mike Johnson has sent the House of Representatives home early for the weekend.

Mike Johnson
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House Speaker Mike Johnson

Despite having little more than a week to avert a government shutdown, House Speaker Mike Johnson has sent representatives home early. He was also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech to a far-right conference in Paris on Friday.

Congress has just eight days to figure out how to fund the government and avoid a crippling shutdown. To say that Republican priorities have been elsewhere would be a massive understatement. Johnson has yet to reveal the details of his supposed plan to prevent a shutdown.

Johnson’s early dismissal on Thursday may have been because he needed to get his talking points in order for the Worldwide Freedom Initiative. The New Republic could not confirm whether he delivered his keynote speech as scheduled.

Johnson spokesman Raj Shah tweeted that the speaker was not attending “any events in Paris or anywhere overseas this weekend.” When contacted by The New Republic for additional comment, he said that the House schedule had already been set to dismiss on Thursday. Shah refused to explicitly confirm whether Johnson had spoken virtually, or why the speaker was featured so prominently on WFI social media and event publicity if he did not speak.

It seems that Johnson is a bit of a special guest for the WFI. He gave the keynote speech at the group’s launch event on July 4. The inaugural conference in Paris was organized by the groups Republicans Overseas Worldwide and Republicans Overseas France, with the goal of bringing together “the world’s like-minded conservative, patriotic and center right leaders.”

Other scheduled speakers at the Paris conference included South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, a staunch ally of Donald Trump, and former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski. Noem and Lewandowski have reportedly been having a years-long affair, despite Noem still being married to her husband of more than 30 years, Bryon Noem.

The WFI lineup also includes a former spokeswoman for Moms for Liberty, former U.S. Representative and current Truth Social CEO Devin Nunes, chief Brexit engineer Nigel Farage, and Hungarian politician Balasz Orban. Orban is not related to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, but he does serve as the latter’s political director.

French far-right politician Marine Le Pen was initially slated to speak, but she appears to have dropped out. But the program does feature French far-right candidate Eric Zemmour, who is known for his xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, and hatred of the media.

Johnson has promised to deliver “results” and pass appropriations bills. But apparently, that may have taken a backseat to a speaking gig.

This article has been updated to note The New Republic could not confirm Johnson’s appearance at the event.