Earlier today, we looked at how political violence is creeping into American politics in terms of the little video Arizona Nazi Paul Gosar tweeted showing him murdering AOC and about to or at least threatening to kill President Biden. Pelosi called for an investigation by the Ethics Committee. Kevin McCarthy-- standard fare-- hid under his bed shaking and hoped it would all just go away without him having to take a stand.
Between far right, white nationalist media and far right, white supremacist GOP politicians, the climate in the country has been turning very fraught. This morning, child molester and sex trafficker Matt Gaetz (R-FL)-- always eager to change the subject from that-- posted a misleading and unhinged video of himself on Newsmax (the only network that will have him on) threatening Kevin McCarthy's hopes for the speakership for not dumping the 13 House Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill on Friday night. Gaetz's animus is especially directed towards senior Republicans Fred Upton (MI) and John Katko (NY). Aside from Katko and Upton, the other Republicans who voted for the very conservative infrastructure bill were Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Donald Bacon (NE), Tom Reed (NY), Don Young (AK), Chris Smith (NJ), Nicole Malliotakis (NY) Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Jeff Van Drew (NJ) and Andrew Garbarino (NY).
And, sure enough, Upton reported something that Democratic members of Congress see constantly: death threats from deranged MAGAs who take nuts like Gaetz, Marjorie Traitor Greene, Gosar, Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn, Andy Biggs, et al seriously. Upton played this voice mail on CNN today, not an isolated incident. Note the talking points direct from Hate Talk Radio, QAnon, Fox News and the entirely unqualified garbage Republican voters are sending to Congress, like Cawthorn, Boebert, Greene, Gaetz, etc.
As Upton noted on CNN that "a colleague"-- Marjorie Traitor Greene-- sent out the phone numbers of the 13 Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill, encouraging her own delusional social media followers to act out, referring to the 13 Republicans as "traitors."
Upton was also among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, and Upton has criticized other GOP lawmakers for downplaying the episode.
"It's absolutely bogus. You know, I was there. I watched a number of the folks walk down to the White House and then back. I have a balcony on my office. So I saw them go down. I heard the noise-- the flash-bangs, I smelled some of the gas as it moved my way," he told CNN's Dana Bash on State of the Union in May when asked about comments made by several congressional Republicans who attempted to rewrite what had happened at the Capitol on January 6.
I spoke with an old friend this afternoon, a very senior Hill staffer, who's been on Capitol Hill for 2 decades, about a topic we've been discussing regularly for several years: threatening communications to congressional offices. He told me that "things have definitely gotten worse over the past few years. We receive ugly racist, misogynistic, homophobic communications every single day in our office-- voicemails, e-mails, social media posts, and calls that most decent human beings wouldn't believe. My interns-- who are usually college students only being paid a stipend-- are routinely harassed while answering phone calls on behalf of the congressman. It is extremely demoralizing for them. This kind of harassment, plus the ever increasing dangers of working on Capitol Hill, from violence (see Jan 6) and illness (Republicans not wearing masks or getting vaccinated) is making it difficult to retain good talent. To be clear, most of these Trump people are simply cowards. When I do get the opportunity to talk to one of them on the phone, they usually back down immediately. But it is a sad state of affairs when people feel emboldened to attack public servants just for doing their jobs." There's a feeling throughout Congress-- both sides of the aisle-- that Trump has given some of the worst elements of society a sense of entitlement that empowers ugly bulling behavior. Many Members and staffers worry that the less mentally stable among Trump followers will eventually take it a step further and shoot or stab someone.
Early this morning, PunchBowl News pointed out that McCarthy and his team are bracing or rank-and-file lawmakers to attempt to strip committee assignments from the 13 Republican lawmakers who voted for the infrastructure bill-- which was also supported by many Republicans in the Senate, including Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham. Just today McConnell called it "a godsend" for Kentucky.
Katko, ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, is the target of much of the anger from the extremist majority among House Republicans. Three are retiring-- Anthony Gonzalez, Adam Kinzinger and Tom Reed-- but the other 10 are still part of a party rapidly descending into pure fascism.
Check out this tweet from the House Republican Conference -- it’s been the subject of lots of chatter inside GOP circles during the last few days:
The House GOP Conference removed this tweet just after it was posted. You can see why this may anger people who were going to vote for the bill. Fitzpatrick -- who voted for the bill -- was particularly peeved about this tweet, sources told us. The tweet was removed before it was a bigger problem inside the conference. But, again, there was no secret where GOP leadership was on this bill.
Some Republicans, including hardliners like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert, publicly called for retaliation against the 13 Republicans who backed the bill.