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“An unmitigated disaster”
“Republicans are the party that says that government doesn’t work, and then they get elected and prove it.” — P.J. O’Rourke
As we roll into the weekend:
Real Men of Genius: Most National Parks Will Close in Shutdown - The New York Times
Magical unicorn watch: Glenn Youngkin for 2024 is no longer a GOP fantasy - Robert Costa
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Fresh off a chaotic and embarrassing presidential debate, and slouching toward a government shutdown, congressional Republicans took time out Thursday to roll out the Biden impeachment inquiry. The charitable view is that the first hearing was a dumpster fire inside a clown car wrapped in a fiasco. To put it mildly, the GOP did not bring their best. Here’s the WaPo’s Jackie Alemany:
CNN’s Melanie Zanona:
The Messenger’s Stephen Neukam:
NBC’s Ali Vitali:
Some other early reviews:
And here’s the report from The Bulwark’s Joe Perticone, who was in the room: “The Biden Impeachment Inquiry Starts With a Flop”
How badly did it go? Rep. Jared Moskowitz quipped: “As a former director of emergency management, I know a disaster when I see one.” Quipped Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman: “Many in the GOP leadership agree.”
“I don’t know what was achieved over these last six-plus hours,” Cavuto said at the top of his show.
“The way this was built up — where there’s smoke there would be fire…but where there’s smoke today, we got more smoke,” he said. He said more enticing evidence may be forthcoming, but, so far, “The promise of explosive testimony and proof . . . did not materialize today.
Other conservative commentators have also been underwhelmed. The folks from the Democratic-aligned Congressional Integrity Project have been keeping track:
Live on Fox News, Steve Doocy has repeatedly questioned Chairman Comer’s inability to point to “any evidence” that shows President Biden is compromised, that any policy was ever influenced, or that any crime was committed, even stating: “You don't actually have any facts to that point. You've got some circumstantial evidence . . . And the other thing is, of all those names, the one person who didn’t profit is—there's no evidence that Joe Biden did anything illegally.”
Former Trump official Sebastian Gorka tweeted that “Comer is failing in his efforts to investigate” President Biden, called Chairman Comer’s supposed findings “crap—he’s reporting stuff that we knew 2 years ago,” and said that Chairman Comer’s Biden probe is “pathetic.”
Breitbart editor Emma Jo-Morris criticized Chairman Comer for promoting bribery allegations against President Biden even though he has “not shown [proof] to the public,” while Steve Bannon also lambasted Chairman Comer for failing to provide evidence to support his bribery allegations, saying of Chairman Comer, “You’re not serious. It’s all performative.”
Kris Kolesnik, former senior counselor and director of investigations for Sen. Grassley, wrote that Chairman Comer and Chairman Jim Jordan “struggle mightily with the concept of credibility.”
The ranking Dem on the committee, Jamie Raskin, didn’t hold anything back in his opening statement:
It’s hard to grasp the complete derangement of this moment. Three days before they’re set to shut down the United States government, Republicans launch a baseless impeachment drive against President Biden. No one can figure out the logic of either course of action. Why shut down the U.S. government, something no enemy nation has ever succeeded in doing? Why impeach a president who has committed no high crimes and misdemeanors, no low crimes and misdemeanors, and no crimes at all? There is plainly no reason to justify a shutdown and plainly no evidence to justify impeachment.
The only explanation for either folly is actually the explanation for both of them: they both flow out of the explicit and adamant demands of a calculating and narcissistic Donald Trump.
Trump has repeatedly called for Republicans to shut down the government as the “last chance” to stop the four “political prosecutions” against him on 91 different criminal charges. He and his sycophants would gladly deny paychecks to more than a million service members and strip food assistance from millions of women and children on the off-chance Trump could delay having to face juries of his peers for dozens of alleged criminal offenses.
Similarly, Trump is explicitly threatening his House followers to impeach President Biden because Trump was himself impeached. “They did it to us,” he says. But that is not the constitutional standard, which refers to treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors.
A surprisingly large number of Republican Members now admit that Chairman Comer’s investigation has failed to produce evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden. Republicans can see that Chairman Comer’s whole sham impeachment drive is based on a lie crafted and peddled by Trump and Rudy Giuliani that has been repeatedly debunked by multiple credible sources. Even Lev Parnas, Giuliani’s right-hand man who gallivanted all over the world to help frame Joe Biden, now concedes there is nothing to the Burisma conspiracy theory and has told Comer to call off the “wild goose chase.”
The GOP’s opposition to Trump’s impeachment was a tragedy. The GOP’s support for Biden’s impeachment is a farce.
Exit take: “Today's hearing was not a failure,” wrote the Atlantic’s David Frum. “It was a great success in revealing the emptiness of the allegations against President Biden.”
A Completely Pointless Debate
On Thursday’s Bulwark podcast: A.B. Stoddard and I break down the chaotic kids’ table debate. Plus, General Milley responds to Trump’s threat, more Dems tell Menendez to go, and the bonfire continues to burn on Capitol Hill, with McCarthy handing out the matches.
Or watch it on YouTube:
BONUS: Here’s yesterday’s
Morning Evening Shots:
1. Mark Milley’s Impossible Job
Gen. Milley is a soldier. For decades, he’s worn the uniform of the United States Army, and he has been taught to be a nonpartisan professional accountable to lawful orders from his chain of command and to the Constitution to which he swore an oath. “I’m a soldier, and fundamental to this republic is for the military to stay out of politics,” he recently told the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, explaining his regret over the Lafayette Square incident. But in the months that followed, when Milley was involved in politics, it was because politics came for him and required him to live his oath. Goldberg argues that, during the messy aftermath of the 2020 election, “Milley did as much as, or more than, any other American to defend the constitutional order, to prevent the military from being deployed against the American people, and to forestall the eruption of wars with America’s nuclear-armed adversaries.”
2. The GOP’s Accidental Case for Joe Biden
THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT have a shared set of talking points: The economy sucks, the government is too big, the national debt is out of control, and we need a border wall to stop illegal immigration. In Wednesday’s debate, they hit all those points. But they also revealed, inadvertently, that the talking points are phony