Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) writes in the Daily Caller that he will challenge Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for Speaker when the House votes in January. Writes Biggs: “Will we elect an establishment Republican as the speaker — think Paul Ryan, or in this case, Ryan’s right-hand man, Kevin McCarthy.” This would make it harder for McCarthy to get 218 votes on the first ballot.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is trying to project an air of inevitability – that he will be House speaker no matter how long it takes. A key part of that strategy is to make sure the rest of the House GOP leadership is behind him — especially House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. But when Punchbowl News asked Scalise if it’s “inevitable” that McCarthy will be speaker, his was illuminating.
Said Scalise: “Well, everybody knows that he’s been having a lot of conversations with the members. He’s not just sitting around doing nothing. Obviously a lot of discussions about the rules, two different meetings on rules, you know, and then there’s still a continued, ongoing dialogue with all the members.”
Meanwhile, Scalise told CNN that he would not “get into speculation” about whether he could emerge as a candidate if McCarthy couldn’t get 218 votes. Added Scalise: “Obviously our focus is on getting it resolved by January 3. And there’s a lot of conversations that everybody has been having.” Scalise made no attempt to shut down conversation of himself being a fallback option if McCarthy fails. McCarthy’s advantage so far has been that there’s no real alternative candidate for the House GOP caucus. It wasn’t a mistake that Scalise left an opening to be that alternative.
Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) made his case against electing Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker in the Billings Gazette.
Writes Rosendale: “If Kevin McCarthy couldn’t lead in the minority, he doesn’t have the ability to serve as speaker of the House. We need a speaker who is strong enough to get things done with a Democrat-controlled White House and can unite the Republican party. You didn’t elect me to be a rubber stamp. We cannot continue to do the same thing with the same people and expect a different outcome.”
Politico: “About a half-dozen Republican senators, most of whom publicly opposed Mitch McConnell as their leader last month, are getting more organized in a bid to exert their leverage in the chamber. They’re pushing their colleagues for a formal legislative agenda and to extract more concessions from Democrats.”
“These GOP senators have been quietly meeting on a regular basis to strategize future battles worth picking within McConnell’s ranks, and they’re set to call a special conference meeting next week to start a broader debate within the Republican conference.”
Politico: “The pro-McCarthy camp is privately at odds over how potent a threat they will face on Jan. 3, when the full House meets to elect a speaker — and when dissenters are vowing to deny the California Republican the votes he’ll need.”
“That’s in part because McCarthy dissenters have adopted a slow-drip strategy, gradually dropping signals of new opposition throughout the GOP leader’s monthlong courtship of his critics. Some McCarthy backers see the tactics of his conservative skeptics as little more than hot air, predicting that all complaints will fade after a show of force on Jan. 3. But behind closed doors, other allies are starting to doubt that McCarthy can survive the gauntlet needed to win the gavel.”
“At least six Supreme Court justices sound skeptical of making a broad ruling that would leave state legislatures virtually unchecked when making rules for elections for Congress and the presidency,” the AP reports.
“In arguments Wednesday, both liberal and conservative members of the high court appeared to take issue with the main thrust of a challenge asking them to essentially eliminate the power of state courts to strike down legislature-drawn, gerrymandered congressional districts on grounds that they violate state constitutions.”
“The Republicans are advancing a concept called the ‘independent legislature theory,’ never before adopted by the Supreme Court but cited approvingly by four conservative justices.”
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky was picked as Time‘s Person of the Year.
Russian president Vladimir Putin insisted “that he had not lost his mind as he warned of the growing threat of nuclear war and accused Poland of seeking to seize western Ukraine,” the Times of London reports.,,“In televised remarks Putin said that he and other senior Russian officials understood very well the power of nuclear weapons.” Said Putin: “We have not gone mad.”
“Lawyers for former president Donald Trump found at least two items marked classified after an outside team hired by Trump searched a storage unit in West Palm Beach, Fla., used by the former president,” the Washington Post reports.
“Those items were turned over to the FBI.”
“The search was one of at least three searches conducted by an outside team of his properties for classified materials in recent weeks, after they were pressed by a federal judge to attest they had fully complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all materials bearing classified markings.”
“Lawyers for former president Donald Trump conducted a search of at least two of his properties for classified materials in recent weeks, after they were instructed by a federal judge to attest they had fully complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all materials bearing classified markings,” the Washington Post reports.
“Trump’s legal team hired an outside firm to carry out the search of his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and, more recently, Trump Tower in New York.”
“The team also offered the FBI the opportunity to observe the search, but the offer was declined… It would be unusual for federal agents to monitor a search of someone’s property conducted by anyone other than another law enforcement agency.”
“Democrats on a pair of congressional committees have launched an aggressive new effort to obtain information about whether Jared Kushner’s actions on U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf region as a senior White House adviser were influenced by the bailout of a property owned by his family business,” the Washington Post reports.
New York Times: “The verdict carries limited financial repercussions and will not directly threaten to imperil Mr. Trump’s company. But the conviction, and the prosecution’s explosive claim in closing arguments that Mr. Trump had been “explicitly sanctioning tax fraud,” could reverberate through his nascent 2024 presidential campaign, providing fodder for political opponents.”
“It is also expected to embolden Mr. Bragg as he intensifies his broader criminal investigation into Mr. Trump, which focuses both on his business practices and on hush money paid to a porn star who has said she had an affair with him, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Mr. Bragg came under fire earlier this year after he declined to seek an indictment of Mr. Trump.”
“It is unclear whether Mr. Trump will now face charges, but of all his legal entanglements, including two federal criminal investigations involving his final days as president, none has been as personally embarrassing as the district attorney’s inquiry.”
Politico: “Democrats and Republicans leading the negotiations are still tens of billions of dollars apart on a total amount for domestic programs, preventing lawmakers from cementing an agreement on the overall funding levels necessary to smooth out the finer points.”
“Without a deal, congressional leaders have warned that federal agencies could be saddled with stagnant budgets for the better part of 2023, an outcome that Pentagon leaders have said would be devastating for military readiness and U.S. assistance to Ukraine.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “poured cold water on Democratic efforts to add language allowing banks to do business with state-approved marijuana businesses and permitting reform, a priority of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), to the annual defense authorization bill,” The Hill reports.
“A group of senators is working to lessen the disparity in federal sentencing between drug offenses involving crack and powder cocaine by attaching it to an annual defense bill,” Bloomberg reports.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said anyone who suggests the Constitution could be suspended “would have a very hard time being sworn in as president of the United States,” The Hill reports. McConnell’s comments appeared directed squarely at former President Donald Trump, who recently called for the termination of parts of the Constitution.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) endorsed Donald Trump’s call to “terminate” the Constitution and to put him back in the White House. Said Gosar: “I support and agree with the former President. Unprecedented fraud requires unprecedented cure.”
Bill Kristol thinks last night’s Senate runoff in Georgia could be the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. He speculates that a decisive Herschel Walker (R) loss in the Senate runoff — such as 53% to 47% (he lost by 52 to 48%)— will finally force Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to mobilize Republican donors against Trump.
McConnell’s effort will be aided with the release of a damning January 6 Committee report just before Christmas. He’ll be helped further with the indictment of Trump early next year.
With Trump fading from the national scene, Kristol speculates that President Biden will decide to not run for re-election in the spring and let a new generation of leaders compete for the 2024 Democratic nomination.
January 6 Committee member Adam Schiff (D-CA) told NPR that he thinks Donald Trump committed a prosecutable crime. Said Schiff: “The facts support a potential charge against the former president, like criminal conspiracy.”
He added: “And, you know, the Justice Department, in my view, needs to hold, you know, everyone equally responsible before the law, and that includes former presidents when they engage in criminality.” The committee is expected to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department soon.
A Massachusetts ex-town official seen on surveillance video marching through the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced to 15 days in prison for her role in the Capitol riot, the AP reports.
“Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to impeach Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, hours after he declared that he was dissolving and would rule the nation by decree,” the Washington Post reports.
Castillo announced the “temporary” dissolution of congress hours before an impeachment debate, greatly escalating a political conflict with the unicameral legislature, Bloomberg reports. Said Castillo: “From today and until the new congress is established, we will govern through decrees.”
“Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a political titan in Argentina, was found guilty on Tuesday and sentenced to six years in prison and banned from holding public office for a fraud scheme that directed public roadworks contracts to a family friend while she was the first lady and president,” the New York Times reports.
“The verdict was a major blow to Mrs. Kirchner, the current vice president and a deeply polarizing figure who has helped split Argentina between those who favor her and her leftist movement, called Kirchnerismo, and those who say she has helped ruin a country that has struggled with high inflation, poverty and failed economic policies.”
“Special Forces in Germany have arrested 25 people suspected of supporting a domestic terrorist organization that planned to overthrow the government and form its own state,” the New York Times reports.
Politico: “The plotters include members of the extremist Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) movement, which refuses to recognize the modern German state and aims to replace it with an authoritarian new system.”
“An active member of the German army’s elite unit Special Forces Command is reportedly among the more than 50 suspects under investigation, as well as a former German MP from the far-right Alternative for Germany party.”
New York Times: “The unit responsible for enforcing the country’s strict Islamic dress code for women has been shut down, a concession to protesters. But the hijab law remains in place.”
BBC: Uncertainty over Iran’s morality police after official’s “disbanded” remarks.
“He lies about lying. He lies more than any man alive. He lies with total contempt for his cultish base who eat up his lies, enjoy his lies, see his lying as power.”— Medhi Hasan, on Twitter, about Donald Trump.
Oliver Darcy: “What’s Fox News really good at doing? Ignoring important news stories. The right-wing channel has largely turned a blind eye to former President Donald Trump’s disturbing call to terminate the U.S. Constitution and install him as president or hold a new election.”
Matt Gertz reports that up until noon Monday, the channel had “spent just over one minute on the story.”
Mona Charen: “They desperately want Joe Biden to be corrupt and for the whole family to be, in Stefanik’s words, ‘a crime family’ because they have provided succor and support to someone who has encouraged political violence since his early rallies in 2015, has stoked hatred of minorities through lies, has used his office for personal gain in the most flagrant fashion, has surrounded himself with criminals and con men, has committed human rights violations against would-be immigrants by separating children from their parents, has pardoned war criminals, has cost the lives of tens of thousands of COVID patients by discounting the virus and peddling quack cures, has revived racism in public discourse, and attempted a violent coup d’etat.”
“They know it. It gnaws at them. That’s why the Hunter Biden story is their heart’s desire. But here’s something else they need to meditate on: Even if everything they’re alleging about Joe Biden were true; even if he did pull strings to help his son and even profited unjustly thereby, it still wouldn’t amount to a fraction of what Trump did.”
Associated Press: “Looking to seize on momentum following a midterm election where voters widely rebuked tougher abortion restrictions, there’s a renewed push at the White House to find ways to help women in states that have virtually outlawed or limited the treatment, and to keep the issue top of mind for voters.”
“In reality, though, the administration is shackled by a ban on federal funding for most abortions, a conservative-leaning Supreme Court inclined to rule against abortion rights and a split Congress unwilling to pass legislation on the matter.”
“China is lifting its most severe Covid policies — including forcing people into quarantine camps — just a week after landmark protests against the strict controls,” the BBC reports.
“Lawyers for Donald Trump will make the case on Wednesday that the former president should be immune from liability with regard to three civil lawsuits in connection to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot,” the Washington Examiner reports.
“In February, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that the lawsuits may proceed and denied a claim by Trump that his prior actions were protected by certain privileges of being president.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci sharply criticized the “extreme” ideological divide that he said has led to a disproportionate amount of coronavirus deaths among Republicans compared to Democrats, NBC News reports.
Said Fauci: “I mean, differences in ideology are healthy. It’s part of our democracy, part of what makes our country great. But when they get so extreme that it prevents you from doing something that’s life saving, that is really awful.”
He added: “I mean, it’s just extraordinary that you have under-vaccination in red states, and good levels of vaccination in blue states, which gets translated into a disproportionate amount of suffering and death among Republicans compared to Democrats. That’s completely crazy.”