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Are There Even 5 House Republicans Not In Trump's Thrall? Not By My Count

Abe Lincoln Must Be Spinning In His Grave

The GOP might as well change its name to the Trump Party or MAGA Inc. It’s not just that Trump is winning the nomination despite everything, but that the party seems almost eager to prostrate itself before him and devote itself to serving his needs. Even most of his serious primary competitors are little more than imitators “DeSantis,” reported Jennifer Medina yesterday, “says the military is more interested in global warming and ‘gender ideology’ initiatives than in national security. Tim Scott says the Justice Department ‘continues to hunt Republicans.’ Vivek Ramaswamy has vowed to ‘shut down the deep state,’ borrowing Trump’s conspiratorial shorthand for a federal bureaucracy he views as hostile. As Trump escalates his attacks on American institutions, focusing his fire on the Justice Department as he faces new criminal charges, his competitors for the Republican nomination have followed his lead. Several have adopted much of Trump’s rhetoric sowing broad suspicion about the courts, the FBI, the military and schools. As they vie for support in a primary dominated by Trump, they routinely blast these targets in ways that might have been considered extraordinary, not to mention unthinkably bad politics, just a few years ago.”

If you think the primary is a mess, just take a look at the House, which is being run by Kevin McCarthy— with the MAGAt fringe sitting on his head— as little more than an extension of the Trump campaign. Trump thinks impeaching Biden will help his campaign— McCarthy just wants to know what date. A government shutdown? Coming right up.

Yesterday, CNN reported that McCarthy squirms when reporters ask him what date the impeachment circus begins. He whines that he didn’t say there will be an impeachment inquiry. “But many House Republicans privately say that it appears to be a foregone conclusion: Biden will face an impeachment inquiry in the fall and could be just the fourth US president ever charged with high crimes or misdemeanors— and that it might all happen by year’s end… McCarthy has also emphasized to his members that opening an inquiry is not the same as voting for articles of impeachment— a key messaging distinction that could help convince on-the-fence moderates to back an inquiry. Yet one GOP lawmaker who supports impeachment acknowledged that some Republican donors have expressed nervousness about whether that is a smart political move, a concern that has been conveyed to GOP leaders and underscoring the political risks of taking the dramatic step. But most Republicans think that if they open a formal inquiry, they will ultimately wind up impeaching Biden— especially as they move to shift the focus away from Trump’s criminal charges… Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said the GOP probe is a ‘desperate effort to distract everyone from former President Donald Trump’s mounting criminal indictments and deepening legal morass.’”

"Playing His Tune" by Nancy Ohanian

On Tuesday before dawn, Carl Hulse wrote that “Proposals to censure lawmakers and impeach members of the Biden administration are piling up quickly in the House in an illustration of how once-solemn acts are becoming almost routine as the two parties seize on these procedures as part of their political combat. And the trend is only likely to intensify given the enmity between Republicans and Democrats over a new federal indictment brought against Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and the GOP’s desire to even the score… [I]t is a truism of the contemporary Congress that once one party does something the other sees as a breach, the aggrieved party will return fire once it gets the chance— and perhaps even take things up a notch. Tit for tat is the coin of the congressional realm. That was evident when House Democrats twice impeached Trump despite furious GOP objections that Republicans would move to return the favor at their first opportunity after regaining control of the House. And they have.”

It’s worth mentioning that after the attempted coup, 10 conservative Republicans voted along with the Democrats to impeach Trump— Liz Cheney (WY), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA), John Katko (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Peter Meijer (MI), Dan Newhouse (WA), Tom Rice (SC), Fred Upton (MI) and David Valadao (CA). Only two are still left in Congress: Newhouse and Valadao, both of whom lay low and neither of who would ever move against Trump's wishes again.

As for the government shutdown, Republicans are trying to time it so it works best for Trump’s political needs. Nadia Goba proposed a new aspect: shutting down down the government means shutting down Jack Smith’s investigation. That won’t work. Civil trials get postponed— criminal trials don’t. But Trump wants them to shut down the government anyway… just to cause discomfort and chaos.

This morning, NBC News reported that vulnerable Republicans aren’t sold on impeaching Biden— or even starting the process. Basically what they’re saying is that without the support of members like Mike Lawler (NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Don Bacon (NE), Marc Molinaro (NY), Anthony D’Esposito (NY), David Schweikert (AZ), George Santos (NY), Maria Salazar (FL), Michelle Steel (CA), John Duarte (CA), John James (MI), David Valadao (CA), Young Kim (CA), Nick LaLota (NY), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR), Zach Nunn (IA), Anna Paulina Luna (FL), Juan Ciscomani (AZ), Brandon Williams (NY), Jen Kiggans (VA), Monica De La Cruz (TX), Laurel Lee (FL), Tom Kean (NJ), Carlos Giménez (FL), Andrew Garbarino (NY), Ken Calvert (CA), Mike Garcia (CA), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA), Bryan Steil (WI), Bill Huizenga (MI), Ann Wagner (MO), Nancy Mace (SC), Rob Wittman (VA), Jeff Van Drew (NJ), Derrick Van Orden (WI), Scott Perry (PA), David Joyce (OH) and Mike Turner this impeachment isn’t going anywhere AND if it does, these people will have to go into the 2024 election bearing responsibility for something the voters in their districts very much oppose.

Let’s look at some numbers for the last two on that long list, Ohioans David Joyce and Mike Turner. Neither is on anyone’s list of vulnerable incumbents. But Tuesday voters in their district gave the GOP a middle finger when it came to a rather abstract move against the constitutional amendment to guarantee abortion. Joyce has 5 counties in his district, all of which he won in 2022— and none of which supported the Republican position Tuesday. In order of population:

  • Lake- 59% anti-GOP

  • Trumbull- 57% anti-GOP

  • Portage- 58% anti-GOP

  • Geauga- 52% anti-GOP

  • Ashtabula- 52% anti-GOP

Turner’s constituents overwhelmingly live in Montgomery County which voted 61% against the GOP. Even more shocking-- and worrying for Turner-- the two smaller beet red counties, Greene and Clark, were each tied 50/50 on Tuesday.

“[T]hey don’t believe there is enough evidence to take such a drastic step… Right-wing hard-liners say they’re ready to impeach Biden and have been pressuring McCarthy to do so for months. The Constitution allows Congress to impeach a president for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ and far-right Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) have already introduced articles of impeachment focused on Biden's handling of the border.”

But whatever House Republicans pull, Trump is his own worst enemy and it is likely he’ll drag them down with him. Yesterday The Atlantic published a column by David Graham, about Trump’s deteriorating mental state, this time assessing that he’s behaving like a cornered animal. Graham noted that his “mental state is more transparent than nearly any public figure’s: He has no shame, little discretion, and ample channels to broadcast his feelings in real time. Yet his constant stream of consciousness and always elevated dudgeon make it hard to parse the finer fluctuations in his mood. Even so, the former president’s public behavior since Special Counsel Jack Smith indicted him last week suggests a man feeling cornered. This isn’t to say that Trump is cornered— his ability to escape tough situations makes him the envy of every house cat— but his handling of the case suggests a man rattled in a way he seldom has been before.”

The former president has attacked Smith in terms that are strikingly personal, even for him. He has also attacked Tanya Chutkan, the federal judge assigned to hear the case. He delivered angry speeches in Alabama and South Carolina. He jeered the U.S. Women’s National Team, blamed President Joe Biden for its early exit from the World Cup, and unintelligibly ridiculed former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (“She is a Wicked Witch whose husbands journey from hell starts and finishes with her. She is a sick & demented psycho who will someday live in HELL!”). He sent his attorney out to do all five major Sunday-morning TV programs. The Daily Beast spoke with Trump insiders who reported serious apprehensions inside his camp.
But what neither he nor his allies have done is offer a coherent account of his actions— one that would suggest that he didn’t conspire to overthrow the duly elected government. This is likely for the simple reason that he conspired to overthrow the duly elected government.
“Deranged Jack Smith is going before his number one draft pick, the Judge of his ‘dreams’ (WHO MUST BE RECUSED!), in an attempt to take away my FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS— This, despite the fact that he, the DOJ, and his many Thug prosecutors, are illegally leaking, everything and anything, to the Fake News Media!!!” Trump wrote on his Truth Social site this morning.
This message followed a string of other rants in recent days, including attacks on former Vice President Mike Pence (“Liddle’ Mike Pence, a man who was about to be ousted as Governor Indiana until I came along and made him V.P., has gone to the Dark Side”) and Chutkan (“THERE IS NO WAY I CAN GET A FAIR TRIAL WITH THE JUDGE “ASSIGNED” TO THE RIDICULOUS FREEDOM OF SPEECH/FAIR ELECTIONS CASE”).
Attacking the judge and the prosecutor in your case is not generally recommended as a defense strategy, but then, Trump has little use for courtesy, niceties, or basic common sense. Smith is clearly paying attention; prosecutors cited an ambiguously threatening social-media post in a court filing just hours after it was posted. (“IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!" the message said; a Trump spokesperson claimed that this was actually directed at “the RINO, China-loving, dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs.”) The difference between Trump’s broadsides against Chutkan, a Black Obama appointee who hasn’t even had a chance to make any consequential decisions in the case yet, and his lack of criticism for Judge Aileen Cannon, the Trump appointee overseeing the Florida case over his mishandling of classified documents, is notable if not surprising.
Discerning Trump’s agitation is easy enough; determining the goal of his outbursts is not so straightforward. One interpretation is that he’s trying to goad Smith’s team and turn its members from prosecutors into persecutors, baiting them to overreact or demand onerous conditions, which Trump could in turn use to demand a venue change or appeal a conviction. But this is reminiscent of the South Park–birthed underpants-gnome meme: The first steps and desired outcome are clear, but it’s completely mysterious what the middle steps might be. For all Trump’s comments that Smith is “deranged,” the special counsel instead seems preternaturally, even uncannily, impassive. Chutkan, like other D.C. judges, has rejected prior claims that January 6 trials can’t be fairly held in the district.
An alternative theory is that Trump is just playing to the court of public opinion rather than the court of law. Yesterday, Trump’s attorney John Lauro did the circuit of Sunday shows, a maneuver that Beltway nerds call the “Full Ginsburg,” after William Ginsburg, an attorney for Monica Lewinsky who pioneered it to respond to reports about his client’s relationship with then-President Bill Clinton. It’s a powerful public-relations tool— used by candidates for president, for example— but somewhat baffling as a pretrial maneuver.
Trump is often more interested in rousing his supporters than pursuing a prudent defense, apparently concluding that whatever his problems with the law, his political clout will be enough to evade or at least finesse the jeopardy. In the two federal cases against him, he may finally be facing charges that are not so easily circumvented, but his response has not necessarily caught up.
…Neither Lauro, in his five appearances, nor Trump, going back to his initial response to the indictment, has actually rebutted the charges. Trump has claimed that the government is attacking his right to free speech, but he has made nearly no effort to question the specifics of the charges. A rare example is his denial of Pence’s claim that Trump said he was “too honest.” More broadly, Trump hasn’t offered any bigger explanation for his weeks-long push to subvert the election. If Trump is acting as though he’s cornered, that is because he doesn’t have a good answer to this question.

The Hollow Men

-by T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz-he dead

A penny for the Old Guy


We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

Or rats' feet over broken glass

In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,

Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed

With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom

Remember us-if at all-not as lost

Violent souls, but only

As the hollow men

The stuffed men.


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams

In death's dream kingdom

These do not appear:

There, the eyes are

Sunlight on a broken column

There, is a tree swinging

And voices are

In the wind's singing

More distant and more solemn

Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer

In death's dream kingdom

Let me also wear

Such deliberate disguises

Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves

In a field

Behaving as the wind behaves

No nearer-

Not that final meeting

In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land

This is cactus land

Here the stone images

Are raised, here they receive

The supplication of a dead man's hand

Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this

In death's other kingdom

Waking alone

At the hour when we are

Trembling with tenderness

Lips that would kiss

Form prayers to broken stone.


The eyes are not here

There are no eyes here

In this valley of dying stars

In this hollow valley

This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places

We grope together

And avoid speech

Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless

The eyes reappear

As the perpetual star

Multifoliate rose

Of death's twilight kingdom

The hope only

Of empty men.


Here we go round the prickly pear

Prickly pear prickly pear

Here we go round the prickly pear

At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception

And the creation

Between the emotion

And the response

Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire

And the spasm

Between the potency

And the existence

Between the essence

And the descent

Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is

Life is

For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

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