Adam Kinzinger was on Meet the Press again. Watch the whole segment above. Obviously, he would really love to see Trump dragged before a judge and jury and wind up in prison for the rest of his miserable life. He blamed Trump's post 1/6 intra-GOP rehabilitation on someone he may detest nearly as much as he hates Trump: Rep. Empty Suit (R-Bakersfield).
In response to Chuck Todd's opening question about how the GOP seemed done with Trump after the coup attempt but how he is now more in control of the party than ever, he blames, at least primarily, one person: Kevin McCarthy.Within the Republican caucus on January 7th, he said, "there was a lot of silence, a lot of discussion-- 'Where do we go from here? This was wrong.' And something happened two weeks later which is Kevin McCarthy went to Mar-A-Lago. It caught everybody off guard; they were shocked. But in that picture he had with Donald Trump... and I think Kevin told us something like, 'Oh I just happened to be in Florida and he wanted to meet so I was gonna meet with him' No that was an intentional meeting. That took the paddles you see on the TV shows and resurrected Donald Trump back to life."
"When history looks back," he continued, "it'll be Kevin's meeting with Donald Trump-- which actually made him an immediate of a force as it was... He may have come back (anyway) but I think that was a very important meeting."
Todd asked him if Trump changed the Republican Party os simply revealed what it already was. Kinzinger said it was "a little of both... On the one hand Donald Trump is a symptom of years and years of leader, profit-driven radio shows, whatever, turning the base into this angry, fearful, victimized group of people, who are saying 'You can never get a fair shot. As time goes by you're gonna lose more and more political power...' Donald Trump unintentionally got in front of a wave where people wanted somebody to blow stuff up... The problem is leaders have to now interdict this fear and anger cycle and they're not doing it; they're instead hiding."
He told Todd that he thinks "the one thing that if I could wave a magic wand and have more information on, it would certainly be what did the president know about January 6 leading up to January 6. And I think what’s important is-- it’s the difference between was the president absolutely incompetent or a coward on the sixth when he didn’t do anything, or did he know what was coming? And I think that’s a difference between incompetence with your oath and possibly criminal. That's where I want to get more information."
Trump was hoping McConnell's #2, John Thune (R-SD) would retire. Trump hates him for not knuckling under enough once twice. He tried recruiting someone to primary him but failed. And over the weekend Thune announced he's running again. Probably what Trump didn't have on his mind was that the other South Dakota GOP Senator, Mike Rounds would be on This Week yesterday undercutting the Big Lie. Remember, South Dakota gave Trump a 61.77% to 35.61% victory over Biden-- Trump's 8th best performance. He told George Stephanopoulos that "As a part of our due diligence, we looked at over 60 different accusations made in multiple states. While there were some irregularities, there were none of the irregularities which would have risen to the point where they would have changed the vote outcome in a single state. The election was fair, as fair as we've seen. We simply did not win the election as Republicans for the presidency. Moving forward-- and that's the way we want to look at this-- we have to refocus once again on what it's going to take to win the presidency. If we simply look back and tell our people, 'Don't vote because there's cheating going on,' then we're going to put ourselves in a huge disadvantage... We have to let people know that they can believe and they can have confidence that those elections are fair and that is in every single state that we looked at."
Among the states that they looked at were Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, all the states Trump lost and all states that he falsely claims were stolen from him. And, speaking of Pennsylvania... it's one of the states where utterly unqualified Trumpist crackpots are running for high office. Few stand out so sorely as gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, a whack-a-doodle state senator from the backward southern tier of the state, more part of the South than anyone would imagine for Pennsylvania. The last time a freshman Democrat won his district (SD-33) was in 1932, part of the FDR landslide. Mastriano may be recognized as the most wigged out politician in the state but last year he was reelected with 68.7% of the vote.
In May, the New Yorker's Eliza Griswold painted a portrait of Mastriano that a normal person would see as a mentally deranged sociopath who you might expect to be living in a mental institution-- or a prison cell for anti-American insurrectionists-- not representing people in the state legislature-- unless, of course, the people who vote for him are also mentally deranged and with no feelings of wariness towards sociopaths or insurrectionists. At a meeting with Trump and other members of the Pennsylvania legislature, the vehemently anti-mask Mastriano was asked to leave when his COVID test came back positive. I'm sorry to report that he didn't die. Saturday he launched his gubernatorial campaign.
Griswold wrote that "In the past year he has led rallies against mask mandates and other public-health protocols, which he has characterized as 'the governor’s autocratic control over our lives.' He has become a leader of the Stop the Steal campaign, and claims that he spoke to Donald Trump at least fifteen times between the 2020 election and the insurrection at the Capitol, on January 6th. He urged his followers to attend the rally at the Capitol that led to the riots, saying, 'I’m really praying that God will pour His Spirit upon Washington, D.C., like we’ve never seen before.' Throughout this time, he has cast the fight against both lockdowns and Trump’s electoral loss as a religious battle against the forces of evil. He has come to embody a set of beliefs characterized as Christian nationalism, which center on the idea that God intended America to be a Christian nation, and which, when mingled with conspiracy theory and white nationalism, helped to fuel the insurrection. 'Violence has always been a part of Christian nationalism,' Andrew Whitehead, a sociologist and co-author of Taking America Back for God, told me. 'It’s just that the nature of the enemy has changed.'"
Charles Thompson, writing over the weekend for PennLive, reported that "Mastriano, who has developed a sizeable following over the last two years, joins a still-evolving Republican field. That field has grown so large that, depending on just how big Mastriano’s base turns out to be, he has to be considered a real factor in the May Republican primary... Mastriano’s key to success in the GOP primary would appear to be emerging as the top choice of the hard-core Trump supporters in the Republican electorate, something he has a running start on given his vocal support of the 'Stop the Steal' efforts in late 2020. And he would have to hold on to them in the face of opponents’ counter-arguments that Mastriano could struggle to grow his base in a broader, general election. As a sign that he’s looking for something like a Trump endorsement in this race, speakers for Mastriano’s campaign launch included Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorney Jenna Ellis, a member of the legal team that advanced Trump’s court efforts to overturn the 2020 results."
As an example of his grassroots appeal, Mastriano boasts more than 160,000 followers on Twitter. While there’s no telling how many of them are registered Republican voters in Pennsylvania, that’s in a different league than any other entry in the Republican race.
Mastriano carries himself as a populist, dismissing establishment politicians as corrupt and belittling many of his fellow Republicans as not conservative enough. He warned in a Facebook video in December that other Republicans will “lie, cheat and steal” to beat a “people’s governor” and suggested the other candidates aren’t popular enough to hold a rally to kick off their candidacy.
Remember Lionel Bengelsdorf (played by John Turturro), the fascist-oriented rabbi in the HBO tv series based on Philip Roth's book, The Plot Against America? It looked like Mr. Christian Nationalist found himself one of them too. But when I looked a little closer, I realized it was no rabbi at all, but Mastriano wear a rabbi-costume and closing the shofar himself:
If Mastriano wins the GOP nomination, he will be running against Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is Jewish, although not a shofar blower, as far as I know. The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday that "The use of shofars by Christians at right-wing political events has become increasingly common in recent years and this was not the first time Mastriano has attended a right-wing event where a shofar was blown. In December 2020, he attended a series of 'Jericho Marches' in Washington, D.C. where Trump’s supporters prayed for him to remain president. Jack Jenkins, a reporter for Religion News Service, told the New Yorker that the event was intended to mimic the Biblical story in which the walls of Jericho fell. 'They blew on shofars believing they could literally overturn the election results,' Jenkins said. And Mastriano was in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 when Trump’s supporters rallied and later stormed the Capitol, with some of them sounding shofars."
In his endorsement of Mastriano for the QAnon crowd on Saturday, Flynn, a Russian agent and a great Biblical scholar, told the crowd that "Biblically speaking, at the age of 13, Jesus Christ went into the temple and he ransacked it. [The Democrats] would call him a domestic terrorist today... Mastriano is exactly the kind of leader we need. We need warriors, we need fighters. We need people that believe in this country."