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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Trump Still Sides with Putin

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses foreign influence and Trump's attack on democracy.  Russia helped Trump through 2020. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Pelosi Attacker Speaks

Our book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.  Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellioncoups, and secession. 

A man broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s California home  and bashed her husband with a hammer

 Annie Grayer and Andi Babineau, CNN:

The man who attacked the husband of Nancy Pelosi in their home last year showed no remorse and continued his dangerous fixation on the former House speaker in a bizarre phone call to a San Francisco reporter on Friday, according to the Bay Area station’s reporting.

David DePape called KTVU’s Amber Lee from the San Francisco County Jail on the same day the attack footage was released, with what he called “an important message for everyone in America.”

Without mentioning Pelosi by name, DePape said he had gathered “names and addresses” of people he believed were “systematically and deliberately” destroying American freedom and liberty and said he wanted to “have a heart-to-heart chat about their bad behavior.”

DePape added that he should have been “better prepared,” adding that he was sorry that he “didn’t get more of them.”

KTVU said their reporter was not allowed to ask follow-up questions of DePape during the phone conversation, which he allowed to be recorded.

The call came on the same day that a California court released video of the attack, audio of the 911 call and his initial police interview after the arrest in which he echoed right-wing extremist views, including MAGA tropes that underscored how he was influenced by dangerous rhetoric and conspiracies.

DePape also told a San Francisco police officer in October that the reason he went to the Pelosis’ San Francisco home was because he believed that the then-speaker was “the leader of the pack” of all the politicians in Washington, DC, “lying on a consistent basis.

DePape claimed in his October interview that Democrats, led by Pelosi, spied on former President Donald Trump in a way that was worse than Watergate, when then-President Richard Nixon was forced to resign after it was discovered his administration tried to cover up a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

“When Trump came into office, what they did went so far beyond spying on a rival campaign. It is just crazy,” DePape said in an audio recording of his interview with a San Francisco police officer in October.

Without evidence, DePape claimed that Democrats were on an “endless f**king crime spree” when it came to Trump.

“Not only were they spying on a rival campaign, they were submitting fake evidence to spy on a rival campaign, covering it up, persecuting the rival campaign,” DePape said of what he believed Democrats were doing to Trump.

DePape said that these actions originated with Hillary Clinton, who unsuccessfully ran against Trump in 2016, and that all Democrats are “criminals.” But he zeroed in on Pelosi as the one who “ran with the lying.”

Friday, January 27, 2023

Bull Durham

 Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner at NYT:
Interviews by The Times with more than a dozen current and former officials have revealed an array of previously unreported episodes that show how the Durham inquiry became roiled by internal dissent and ethical disputes as it went unsuccessfully down one path after another even as Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr promoted a misleading narrative of its progress.
  • Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it.
  • Mr. Durham used Russian intelligence memos — suspected by other U.S. officials of containing disinformation — to gain access to emails of an aide to George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who is a favorite target of the American right and Russian state media. Mr. Durham used grand jury powers to keep pursuing the emails even after a judge twice rejected his request for access to them. The emails yielded no evidence that Mr. Durham has cited in any case he pursued.
  • There were deeper internal fractures on the Durham team than previously known. The publicly unexplained resignation in 2020 of his No. 2 and longtime aide, Nora R. Dannehy, was the culmination of a series of disputes between them over prosecutorial ethics. A year later, two more prosecutors strongly objected to plans to indict a lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign based on evidence they warned was too flimsy, and one left the team in protest of Mr. Durham’s decision to proceed anyway. (A jury swiftly acquitted the lawyer.)

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Trump and Russia, 2023

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses foreign influence and Trump's attack on democracy.  Russia helped Trump through 2020.

 The person who led the relevant section, Charles McGonigal, has just been charged with taking money from the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Follow this thread to see just how this connects to the victory of Trump, the Russian war in Ukraine, and U.S. national security. 1/20

The reason I was thinking about Trump & Putin in 2016 was a pattern. Russia had sought to control Ukraine, using social media, money, & a pliable head of state. Russia backed Trump the way that it had backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, in the hopes of soft control 2/20

Trump & Yanukovych were similar figures: interested in money, & in power to make or shield money. And therefore vulnerable partners for Putin. They also shared a political advisor: Paul Manafort. He worked for Yanukovych from 2005-2015, taking over Trump's campaign in 2016. 3/20

You might remember Manafort's ties to Russia from 2016. He (and Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump, Jr.) met with Russians in June 2016 in Trump Tower as part of, as the broker of the meeting called it, "the Russian government's support for Trump" (#RoadToUnfreedom, p. 237). 4/20

Manafort had to resign as Trump's campaign manager in August 2016 when news broke that he had received $12.7 million in cash from Yanukovych. But these details are just minor elements of Manafort's dependence on Russia. (#RoadToUnfreedom, p. 235). 5/20

 Manafort worked for Deripaska, the same Russian oligarch to whom McGonigal is linked, between 2006 and 2009. Manafort's assignment was to soften up the U.S for Russian influence. He promised "a model that can greatly benefit the Putin government." (#RoadToUnfreedom, p. 234). 6/20

While Manafort worked for Trump in 2016, though, Manafort's dependence on Russia was deeper. He owed Deripaska money, not a position one would want to be in. Manafort offered Deripaska "private briefings" on the campaign. He was hoping "to get whole." (#RoadToUnfreedom, 234) 7/20

Reconsider how the FBI treated the Trump-Putin connection in 2016. Trump and other Republicans screamed that the FBI had overreached. In retrospect, it seems the exact opposite took place. The issue of Russian influence was framed in a way convenient for Russia and Trump. 8/20

The FBI investigation, Crossfire Hurricane, focused on the narrow issue of personal connections between the Trump campaign and Russians. It missed Russia's cyber attacks and the social media campaign, which, according to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, won the election for Trump. 9/20

Once the issue of Russian soft control was framed narrowly as personal contact, Obama missed the big picture, and Trump had an easy defense. Trump knew that Russia was working for him, but the standard of guilt was placed so high that he could defend himself. 10/20

It is entirely inconceivable that McGonigal was unaware of Russia's 2016 cyber influence campaign on behalf of Trump. Even I was aware of it, and I had no expertise. It became one of the subjects of my book #RoadtoUnfreedom. 11/20

The FBI did investigate cyber later, and came to some correct conclusions. But this was after the election, and missed the Russian influence operations entirely. That was an obvious counterintelligence issue. Why did the FBI take so long, and miss the point? 12/20

I had no personal connection to this, but will just repeat what informed people said at the time: this sort of thing was supposed to go through the FBI counter-intelligence section in New York, where tips went to die. That is where McGonigal was in charge. 13/20

The cyber element is what McGonigal should have been making everyone aware of in 2016. In 2016, McGonigal was chief of the FBI's Cyber-Counterintelligence Coordination Section. That October, he was put in charge of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI's NY office. 14/20

We need to understand why the FBI failed in 2016 to address the essence of an ongoing Russian influence operation. The character of that operation suggests that it would have been the responsibility of an FBI section whose head is now accused of taking Russian money. 15/20

Right after the McGonigal story broke, Kevin McCarthy ejected Adam Schiff from the House intelligence committee. Schiff is expert on Russian influence operations. It exhibits carelessness about national security to exclude him. It is downright suspicious to exclude him now. 16/20

Back in June 2016, Kevin McCarthy expressed his suspicion that Donald Trump was under Putin's influence. He and other Republican members concluded that the risk of an embarrassment to their party was more important than American security. #RoadToUnfreedom, p. 255. 17/20

The Russian influence operation to get Trump elected was real. It serves no one to pretend otherwise. We are still learning about it. Denying that it happened makes the United States vulnerable to ongoing Russian operations. 18/20

I remember a certain frivolity from 2016. Trump was a curiosity. Russia was irrelevant. Nothing to take seriously. Then Trump was elected, blocked weapon sales to Ukraine, and tried to stage a coup. Now Ukrainians are dying every day in the defining conflict of our time. 19/20

TThe McGonigal question goes even beyond these issues. He had authority in the most sensitive possible investigations within U.S. intelligence. Sorting this out will require a concern for the United States that goes beyond party loyalty. 20/20

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The Shrinkage of the Blue Dogs

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.  

Ally Mutnick and Sarah Ferris at Politico:
Congress’ influential Blue Dog Coalition is getting chopped nearly in half after an internal blow-up over whether to rebrand the centrist Democratic group.

Seven of the 15 members expected to join the Blue Dogs this year, including Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), are departing after a heated disagreement over a potential name change for the moderate bloc. For now that’s left the Blue Dogs with seven, all male members — their smallest roster in nearly three decades of existence. One freshman member remains undecided.

At the core of some of the breakaway Blue Dogs’ demands was a rechristening as the Common Sense Coalition that, they argued, would have helped shed the group’s reputation as a socially moderate, Southern “boys’ club.” Blue Dogs have long stood for fiscal responsibility and national security, issues with broad Democratic appeal, but some members felt the name had a negative connotation that kept their colleagues from joining. A majority of other members disagreed, saying they saw no reason to toss out a longstanding legacy.

Those tensions came to a head earlier this month as Blue Dog members met for a lengthy debate over the reboot that culminated in a secret-ballot vote to reject the new name, according to interviews with nearly a dozen people familiar with the situation, on both sides of the dispute. Shortly after that vote, Reps. Ed Case (D-Hawaii); David Scott (D-Ga.); Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.); Lou Correa (D-Calif.), Spanberger and Sherrill all left the group.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Kinzinger on Fiscal Politics

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. 

2). Even though 2/3rds of spending are social security and Medicare/Medicare, don’t say you’ll cut those it’s unpopular.  (Quick aside, these are unsustainable and making changes for people my age and younger to save it wouldn’t be bad)…

3) vaguely talk about fraud and waste.  Sure there is some, but nothing that would even make a dent.  But people don’t know that so just rail against the waste and move on.

4). Go after foreign aid (except Israel).  Foreign aid is a tiny part of the budget- it’s less than ONE PERCENT- but most people assume it’s up to 1/4th.  Also foreign aid is cheaper than war and mostly is spent on American products.

5) never discuss raising any taxes ever.  Even though most people would pay more tax if they knew govt was cutting and making a dent in debt they would support it.  But if you talk about it you will lose next election·

6) even though everyone knows SS and Medicare need reformed, it’s a potent political issue (my first race they spent 1 million against me saying i wanted to cut SS). It creates fear, and it’s a great political issue.  Political meth

7) Defense: yes there is money that can be saved in procurement etc. To start, about 1/3rd of defense spending is on people.  Pay/healthcare/etc. China and Russia beat us on supersonics, because cuts hurt investment.  (May do a deeper thread on defense). Remember inflation too

8). The key here is the political issue.  Reps can hit dems for spending and “wanting to raise taxes.”  Dems can hit reps on “cuts to the most vulnerable and seniors and children and puppies.”  Both are potent

9). You’ll hear about the “penny plan” which sounds so easy but is a massive joke and unrealistic talking point.  Just cut one penny on every dollar for five years for 5% cut.  It’s perfect for talking points, but it’s actually a cut of close to 15% depending on inflation…

for everything.  Roads, military, SS, Medicare, law enforcement, parks, everything.  And when they start exempting all the popular stuff, well now it’s deeper on other things (roads etc) or completely ineffective…

10). In truth, we need to slowly bring the debt under control so it grows slower than the economy.  By the way, a debt default is economic malpractice and will add hundreds of billions in borrowing costs.  So, we need some revenue increase and some spending cuts but…

11) it’s unpopular of course.  So either everyone needs to jump off the bridge together (pardon the metaphor) or do nothing and pretend like it’s all ok.  Any guess what will happen?  And yes EVERYONE (including me) owns this problem.

12). Lastly, as the debt ceiling is debated and Reps talk about spending cuts, media and citizens need to ask for specifics.  What will you cut specifically.  If they punt to dept heads, remind them that CONGRESS appropriates money.  Specifics, not slogans/ END

Monday, January 23, 2023

Insurrection: FAFO

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.   Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.  

Zach Montague at NYT:
Four members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia were found guilty of seditious conspiracy on Monday for their roles in trying to keep Donald J. Trump in office after his 2020 election defeat, nearly two months after the group’s leader — Stewart Rhodes — was convicted of the same offense in a separate trial in November.

A jury in Federal District Court in Washington also found the four defendants guilty of two separate conspiracy charges.

The defendants — Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Edward Vallejo — were originally charged along with Mr. Rhodes and other members of the group. But their trial was broken off as a separate proceeding by the judge in the case, Amit P. Mehta, because of space constraints in the courtroom.

The jury returned the decision after about 15 hours of deliberation over three days, and it came as a parallel sedition trial for members of the Proud Boys — another far-right group that joined the mob outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 — continued to play out in the same courthouse.

From DOJ:

An Arkansas man was found guilty in the District of Columbia today of felony and misdemeanor charges for his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol Breach. His actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

Richard Barnett, 62, of Gravette, Arkansas, was found guilty of all charges including: obstruction of an official proceeding, interfering with a police officer during a civil disorder, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous or deadly weapon, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous weapon, all of which are felonies. He was also found guilty of entering and remaining in certain rooms in a capitol building, disorderly conduct in a capitol building, theft of government property, parading or demonstrating in a capitol building.

Barnett was arrested on January 8, 2021 in Little Rock, Arkansas. U.S. District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 3, 2023.

In the 24 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 950 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 284 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.


Sunday, January 22, 2023

George Santos Was Inevitable

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. 

David French:

I completely reject the argument I’ve heard from critics on the left who claim that this is what Republicans have truly been all along—or at least since Goldwater. I freely admit that I was wrong about the strength of the reactionary right. A healthy political movement does not produce a Donald Trump. But the Republican river flowed differently when Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney were its leaders. The social, cultural, and moral pressures pushed in different directions.

Let’s put it this way: No one is writing a book called When Character Was King about Trump.

The great challenge for the GOP isn’t beating Democrats. That it can often do. The Democratic Party’s own inadequacies are responsible for many of its electoral weaknesses. A party that nominates Hillary Clinton is not a party that puts character at the center of its own political project.

No, the great challenge for the GOP is reversing the course of its river. To the extent that a person influences a party and a nation, the direction of that influence should flow towards truth, towards courage, towards competence. Make lies exhausting. Make incompetence countercultural. Make cowardice shameful again.

How do we know the conservative Christians of 1998 were correct? The evidence was right in front of our eyes then. Clinton corruption degraded our political culture in plain view. But if there was any remaining doubt at all, conservative American Christianity proved its own thesis. It tolerated serious wrong, its conscience was seared, and now unrestrained lawlessness and moral corruption rots the movement.

George Santos was inevitable. The American right rendered him inevitable. And now it lives with the consequences.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Trump's Travails

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.     He hurt the GOP in 2022 and now he is running for 2024.

 Lloyd Green at The Guardian:

Once again, the legal pitfalls and enthusiasm deficit that plague Donald Trump’s bid for the 2024 Republican nomination are on display. On Thursday, a federal judge imposed $938,000 in sanctions on Trump and his lawyers. Meanwhile, an appearance touted by Trump as a major campaign event was nothing more than a closed-door speech to deep-pocketed election-deniers at a Trump property.


“Mr Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries,” the court thundered in its ruling. “He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process.”

Judge Donald Middlebrooks shredded Trump and his lawyers for bringing a failed and frivolous racketeering lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, her political allies and a passel of ex-government officials. In the judge’s eyes, the lawsuit was little else than a repackaged Trump campaign stump speech.

A day later, Trump dropped a separate lawsuit filed against Letitia James, New York’s attorney general. That case too was pending before Middlebrooks, who similarly viewed that matter as “vexatious and frivolous”. The threat of sanctions hung in the air.

As for the Trump speech the public never heard, it now is another self-inflicted nothingburger, up there with his much-touted Trump NFT superhero trading cards – a waste of time and attention, a lost opportunity.

Earlier in the day, Trump had vowed to deliver a major political announcement later that night. He also promised to resume his signature rallies. Instead, he spoke behind closed doors at Trump Doral, his resort in Miami, to Judicial Watch, a tax-exempt group ostensibly dedicated to promoting “integrity, transparency and accountability in government and fidelity to the rule of law

Friday, January 20, 2023

The GOP's Next Gift to the Democrats

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. 

Timothy Noah at TNR:

Consumption taxes are having a moment, as they do every 20 years or so. They are never a good idea, but the current iteration, which House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has promised to bring to the floor, is a worse idea than usual.

Under the Fair Tax bill sponsored by Representative Buddy Carter, a Georgia Republican, all income, capital gains, estate, gift, corporate, and payroll taxes would be eliminated. They would be replaced by a flat 30 percent national sales tax on everything you buy. Even Grover Norquist, the hard-right president of Americans for Tax Reform and flat-tax advocate who famously said he wanted to shrink government “to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub,” told Joseph Zeballos-Roig of Semafor this week that the Fair Tax bill was “a political gift to Biden and the Democrats.” Elsewhere Norquist has called it “one of the stupider ideas that have been put forward.” If the “fair tax” passed in the House it would still have no chance of becoming law, of course, because the Senate and the White House would stop it. That makes a purely symbolic House vote all upside for the Democrats.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

The Midterms Are Over… What’s Next?

 What happened? 

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND): “This is the weirdest election I’ve ever been a part of.”

The fundamentals looked terrible for Democrats:  One formula predicted that Democrats would lose 44 House seats.  Instead, they lost nine.

In Senate races, Democrats outperformed the polls. Candidates mattered.

Margins of election-night leaders:  election eve polling averages vs. actual:
  • Arizona: Kelly (D) 1.0%  vs. 4.9%
  • Georgia: Walker (R) 0.6% vs.  -0.9%
  • Nevada: Laxalt (R) 2.8% vs. -1.9%
  • New Hampshire: Hassan (D) 1.0% vs. 9.1%
  • Ohio: Vance (R) 7.5 % vs. 6.5%
  • Pennsylvania: Fetterman (D) 0.1% vs. 4.5%
  • Washington: Murray (D) 3.0% vs. 14.9%
  • Wisconsin: Johnson (R) 2.8% vs. 1.0%

The final score:
  • House  222R-212D (1 vacancy that leans D)
  • Senate 51D-49R
Why is this Congress different?
  • In the 20th century, divided government was often very productive.  But Congress was far less polarized and House majorities were usually larger.
  • Republicans have always had internal feuds.  But they never broke into the open this way:

What's next?

Government shutdowns and debt default:  both are bad, default is much, much worse.
Investigations and Oversight (and Dems rejoice)
  • Border security
  • Afghanistan
  • Hunter Biden
  • Presidential documents
Some investigations (e.g., Watergate) have had a major political impact. Most have not (e.g., Fast and Furious).

  • The state of the economy
  • Foreign crises
  • Disasters TBA

Mister T sums it up:

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Social Media and January 6

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's record of disregarding the rule of law.  Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection.   Trump and his minions falsely claimed that he won the election, and have kept repeating the Big Lie And we now know how close he came to subverting the Constitution.  

 From a draft staff report that the January 6 Committee decided not to publish:

  • Extremist users on various platforms took their cues directly from President Trump, particularly after his December 19th tweet. The Select Committee has gathered evidence to show that far-right forums such as, Parler, and 8kun were telegraphing their plans for violence following President Trump’s December 19th tweet that pushed January 6th as a critical day in the Stop the Steal movement. However, this phenomenon was not confined to extremist platforms; on places like Twitter, Facebook, and Discord, supporters of President Trump closely tracked his claims about a stolen election and subsequently his calls to descend on D.C. to protest the Joint Session of Congress on January 6th, 2021.
  • Trump’s December 19th tweet was a transformative moment across social media. In addition to causing a shift towards more explicit targeting of D.C. on a singular date on Twitter, the President’s “be there, will be wild” tweet caused major shifts in other platforms. The Select Committee has collected evidence to show that Discord shut down a server, DonaldsArmy.US, just hours after the tweet, because it immediately became a hub for users of to organize and coordinate their travel to D.C. and strategize how they could bring firearms into the city in response to the President’s call. Smaller platforms did not react quickly enough to the threat posed by an organized far-right extremist movement centered around President Trump. Aside from Facebook and Twitter, other social media companies did not move quickly enough to interrupt networks of extremists who threatened American democracy. The most damaging example is likely Reddit’s belated takedown of r/The_Donald; by waiting a year to remove the subreddit from its site, Reddit allowed moderators to freely advertise, an alternate forum that hosted violent content prior to January 6th.
  • Less developed social media platforms were forced to make entirely new content moderation policies to respond to President Trump’s incitement. In several cases, platforms such as Twitch and Discord altered their policies on incitement or shifted resources to focus on domestic extremist violence to position themselves to better respond to another situation like January 6th—or another leader like Donald Trump. In the case of Twitch, their new policy on incitement was a direct response to President Trump. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Internal House GOP Fights

 Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. 

Tara Palmieri at Puck:

As I wrote last week, Republicans have been fixated on whether 71-year-old Rep. Vern Buchanan might retire from Congress after losing the House Ways & Means chairmanship to the 42-year-old Speaker’s pet Jason Smith, potentially reducing Kevin McCarthy’s margin of error from four votes to three to pass critical partisan legislation. (If McCarthy somehow loses fabulist George Santos, too, he could be held hostage by as few as two members of his already fractious House conference.) Vern’s people say he won’t retire (despite the rumblings on the Hill), but they didn’t deny that he was mighty pissed to be passed over as the most senior person on the Ways & Means committee by Smith, a member who was fifth in line.

Just how angry was he? Well, a source on the House floor during the vote told me that while McCarthy was gaveling down the votes, Buchanan walked up to McCarthy and said, “You fucked me, I know it was you, you whipped against me.” He then proceeded to chew out McCarthy’s deputy chief of staff for floor operations, John Leganski. It was shocking to see such fury from Buchanan, who’s known for being mild mannered. Indeed, I heard that the tirade was so heated that the Speaker’s security detail stepped in with a light touch. (McCarthy’s spokesperson Matt Sparks disputed this detail saying, “at no point did anyone have to step in.” A spokesperson for Buchanan declined to comment.)

Ursula Perano and Zachary Petrizzo at The Daily Beast:

On the first day of Congress this year, Jan. 3, the mounting tension between Greene and Boebert reached its boiling point. According to multiple sources, the two women were nearly in a screaming match in the Speaker’s lobby ladies room just off the House floor.

 “Greene questioned Boebert’s loyalty to McCarthy, and after a few words were exchanged, Boebert stormed out,” a source familiar with the fight told The Daily Beast

According to another source familiar, while in the bathroom, Greene asked Boebert, “You were OK taking millions of dollars from McCarthy but you refuse to vote for him for Speaker, Lauren?”

According to another source familiar, while in the bathroom, Greene asked Boebert, “You were OK taking millions of dollars from McCarthy but you refuse to vote for him for Speaker, Lauren?”

The first source said Greene was in a stall and, upon coming out, confronted Boebert about taking money from McCarthy for her re-election and then turning against McCarthy when it came time to vote. The Colorado Republican was allegedly unaware that Greene was also in the bathroom at the time.

“That’s when Lauren said, ‘Don’t be ugly,’” the first source said, before she—in the words of this source—“ran out like a little schoolgirl.”

Asked about the dustup in the Capitol, Boebert simply said, “See you later. Bye.” (Boebert didn’t return The Daily Beast’s subsequent request for comment ahead of publication.)

Greene didn’t return The Daily Beast’s request for comment.

At least one other member is alleged to have witnessed the exchange: Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI). But over the course of three interviews with three different Daily Beast reporters, Dingell would not say what she saw.

“What happens in the ladies room stays in the ladies room,” Dingell said.

Monday, January 16, 2023

The Santos Story Keeps Getting Worse

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.

 Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rosalind S. Helderman at WP:
George Santos, the freshman Republican congressman from New York who lied about his biography, has deeper ties than previously known to a businessman who cultivated close links with a onetime Trump confidant and who is the cousin of a sanctioned Russian oligarch, according to video footage and court documents.

Andrew Intrater and his wife each gave the maximum $5,800 to Santos’ main campaign committee and tens of thousands more since 2020 to committees linked to him, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Intrater’s cousin is Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. government for his role in the Russian energy industry.

The relationship between Santos and Intrater goes beyond campaign contributions, according to a statement made privately by Santos in 2020 and a court filing the following year in a lawsuit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against a Florida-based investment firm, Harbor City Capital, where Santos worked for more than a year.

Taken together, the evidence suggests Santos may have had a business relationship with Intrater as Santos was first entering politics in 2020. It also shows, according to the SEC filing, that Intrater put hundreds of thousands of dollars into Santos’ onetime employer, Harbor City, which was accused by regulators of running a Ponzi scheme. Neither Santos nor Intrater responded to requests for comment. Attorneys who have represented Intrater also did not respond.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

The Big Rip-Off

Our recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses campaign finance.

From Appendix 3 of the January 6 report:

 The Select Committee’s investigation demonstrates that President Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud—the Big Lie—served a dual purpose, forming the foundation of his attempts to overturn the 2020 Presidential election and launching a fundraising effort to fund the former President’s other endeavors and to enrich his associates—the Big Rip-off.
The false election fraud narrative embedded in fundraising emails and text messages amplified the Big Lie by perpetuating a belief that the 2020 election was stolen from President Trump and effectuated the Big Rip-off by misleading donors into thinking their donations could alter the election results.
At the same time, the Big Lie helped President Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) raise more than $250 million after the election, much of it from small-dollar donors who were promised their money would “Stop the Steal.”
Despite what they told their supporters, however, most of their money was not used to stop any purported steal—it was diverted to accomplish the Big Rip-off. Millions of dollars that were raised ostensibly for “election defense” and “fighting voter fraud” were not spent that way at all.
Moreover, the Select Committee’s investigation shows that the RNC knew that President Trump’s claims about winning the election were baseless and that post-election donations would not help him secure an additional term in office. Yet, both the Trump Campaign and the RNC decided to continue fundraising after the election, a decision that would have come from President Trump himself.
In short, President Trump and his Campaign ripped off supporters by raising more than $250 million by claiming they wanted to fight fraud they knew did not exist and to challenge an election they knew he lost


 RNC leadership knew that President Trump was lying to the American people. Yet, they did nothing to publicly distance themselves from his efforts to overturn the election. The RNC’s response was merely to tinker around the edges of the fundraising copy but never to fundamentally challenge the one message that remained present in TMAGAC’s post-electionfundraising copy—President Trump’s Big Lie.

In the end, multiple senior RNC staffers approved fundraising emails raising questions about the election results even though they did not know of any evidence about fraud impacting the winner of the 2020 Presidential election. For example, Cassie Docksey stated that she was not aware of any fraud that impacted the results of the Presidential election.118 Ahrens conceded that “there was not evidence that we [the RNC] had seen that he [President Trump] won the election, that Biden had not won the election.”119

Similarly, Justin Clark was “not aware of [fraudulent activity . . . to likedefraud voters] by an individual or an entity that would have [changed theoutcome of an election].”120 Alex Cannon “did not find or see, in [his] limited ability as one individual. . . evidence that would be sufficient within thetime period to change any sort of election results in any of the States.”121

Nonetheless, the RNC and the Trump Campaign continued to send out hundreds of emails, spreading the Big Lie to and fundraising off of millionsof supporters. Even though the RNC had closely held reservations about repeating the most extreme and unsupportable claims of fraud, the RNC stayed the course with a coordinated, single fundraising plan with the Trump Campaign. The RNC privately and quietly softened the most blatantly egregious claims written by its own copywriters but publicly stoodshoulder to shoulder with President Trump and his Big Lie.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Santos;: Vulnerability Study and Much More

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.

Nicholas Fandos at NYT:
In late 2021, as he prepared to make a second run for a suburban New York City House seat, George Santos gave permission for his campaign to commission a routine background study on him.

Campaigns frequently rely on this kind of research, known as vulnerability studies, to identify anything problematic that an opponent might seize on. But when the report came back on Mr. Santos, the findings by a Washington research firm were far more startling, suggesting a pattern of deception that cut to the heart of the image he had cultivated as a wealthy financier.

Some of Mr. Santos’s own vendors were so alarmed after seeing the study in late November 2021 that they urged him to drop out of the race, and warned that he could risk public humiliation by continuing. When Mr. Santos disputed key findings and vowed to continue running, members of the campaign team quit, according to three of the four people The New York Times spoke to with knowledge of the study.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Heritage Dark Money

 Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good.  Neither is the condition of the conservative movement.

Brendan Fischer and Ed Pilkington at The Guardian:
The advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation, the powerful conservative thinktank based in Washington, spent more than $5m on lobbying in 2021 as it worked to block federal voting rights legislation and advance an ambitious plan to spread its far-right agenda calling for aggressive voter suppression measures in battleground states.

Previously unreported 2021 tax filings from Heritage Action for America, which operates as the foundation’s activist wing, shows that it spent $5.1m on contracting outside lobbying services. The outlay comes on top of $560,000 the group invested in its own in-house federal lobbying efforts that year, as well as registered lobbying by Heritage Action staffers in at least 24 states.
The 990 tax filing was obtained by the watchdog group Documented and shared with the Guardian. It points to the pivotal role that Heritage Action is increasingly playing in shaping the rules that govern US democracy.

The efforts help explain the unprecedented tidal wave of restrictive voting laws that spread across Republican-controlled states in the wake of the 2020 presidential election. The Brennan Center reported that more voter suppression laws were passed in 2021 than in any year since it began monitoring voting legislation more than a decade ago.
...Heritage Action, whose board includes the Republican mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, is set up as a 501(c)4 under the US tax code which exempts it from paying federal taxes. It operates as a “dark money” group, avoiding disclosing the sources of its total annual revenue of over $18m.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Bizarro Political Strategy: Cutting Social Security

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the state of the partiesThe state of the GOP is not good. The party of Kevin McCarthy is handing a big gift to Democrats.

Igor Bobic at HuffPost:
House Republicans are making clear that they intend to seek cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare with their new majority in the 118th Congress.

Their plans to target health care programs follow demands from a group of conservatives that helped elect House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) over the weekend. Those far-right lawmakers have sought across-the-board spending cuts in order to tackle the growing national debt.
But the narrow House GOP majority ― McCarthy can afford to lose just four votes on any bill ― is far more divided on cuts to defense spending than for entitlement programs.

“I’m all for a balanced budget, but we’re not going to do it on the backs of our troops and our military,” Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), a former Army Green Beret, said Monday during an interview on Fox Business. “If we really want to talk about the debt and spending, it’s the entitlements programs.”

As part of his list of concessions to conservatives, McCarthy reportedly agreed to cap spending for the next year at fiscal 2022 levels, which would amount to over $130 billion in cuts from last month’s $1.7 trillion government funding bill.