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So Much #Losing
Down goes Herschel
“The defeat of Mr. Walker, who was handpicked by Mr. Trump, culminated a disastrous year for the former president, who set himself up as a Republican kingmaker, only to watch his Senate candidates in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire — as well as his picks for governor in Arizona, Michigan, [Wisconsin], Pennsylvania and Georgia — go on to defeat in primaries or in last month’s general election.” — NYT
“Georgia may be remembered as the state that broke Trump once and for all.” — GOP flack, Scott Jennings
“I’m pissed tonight,” — Laura Ingraham
Happy Wednesday for those of you who celebrate the Season of Schadenfreude. Via the NYT:
If you are keeping track at home:
Updating that scoreboard, Trump is now 2-14, after a Georgia run-off faceplant that followed a genuinely craptacular day for the ex-president. Let’s review the last 24 hours, shall we?
Donald J. Trump’s family real estate business was convicted on Tuesday of tax fraud and other financial crimes, a remarkable rebuke of the former president’s company and what prosecutors described as its “culture of fraud and deception.”
The conviction on all 17 counts, after more than a day of jury deliberations in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, resulted from a long-running scheme in which the Trump Organization doled out off-the-books luxury perks to some executives: They received fancy apartments, leased Mercedes-Benzes, even private school tuition for relatives, none of which they paid taxes on.
Special counsel Jack Smith has sent grand-jury subpoenas to local officials in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states that were central to former president Donald Trump’s failed plan to stay in power following the 2020 election — seeking any and all communications with Trump, his campaign and a long list of aides and allies.
The chairman of the House Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., expects the panel to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, he told reporters Tuesday.
“We have made decisions on criminal referrals,” Thompson said.
[Behind] closed doors, other allies are starting to doubt that McCarthy can survive the gauntlet needed to win the gavel.
It all adds up to a very un-merry GOP conference wracked by anger and worry about a 2024 backlash against their internal squabbles.
And, ICYMI, this happened:
Wait, we’re not done yet. Let’s review the last several weeks.
The Supreme Court let the House have Trump’s tax returns.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals slam-dunked Trump’s bid for a special master in the Mar-a-Lago case.
The two former top lawyers for the Trump White House testified before a federal grand jury probing the 1/6 Insurrection.
Amidst all of this:
The ex-president put out a video declaring solidarity with January 6 rioters.
Dined with notorious Holocaust-denying fans of Adolf Hitler.
Openly called for the “termination” of the Constitution.
And faced with a backlash, he lied about lying.
And how’s that presidential campaign going?
[Nearly] three weeks into his 2024 presidential campaign – Trump has yet to leave his home state or hold a public campaign event in an early voting state.
Trump’s disengaged posture has baffled former and current allies, many of whom experienced firsthand the frenetic pace of his two previous White House bids, and who now say he’s missed the window to make a splash with his 2024 rollout. The uninspiring launch of his supposed political comeback comes as his campaign appears to be operating on auto pilot, with few signs of momentum or enthusiastic support from donors or party heavyweights.
Here’s the killer quote from the CNN piece:
“So far, he has gone down from his bedroom, made an announcement, gone back up to his bedroom and hasn’t been seen since except to have dinner with a White supremacist,” said a 2020 Trump campaign adviser.
The NYT suggests that the latest defeat “will almost certainly lead to soul-searching for a Republican Party that must decide heading into the 2024 election how firmly to tether itself to a former president who has now absorbed powerful political blows in three successive campaign cycles.”
We’re skeptical. Sure there will be a lot of second-guessing, fingering pointing, and a hunt for scapegoats (Ronna).
But somehow, we doubt that the GOP will spend much time rummaging through the soul they mislaid years ago.
A reminder: There is no “Republican Party,” no set of elites, entertainers, donors, or kingmakers who can go into a darkened room and wrestle with their etiolated consciences. The party is the base. And the base still seems to want Moar Trump.
A run to the middle
Nota bene, Democrats. Via NBC News:
In an interview with NBC News, Warnock campaign manager Quentin Fulks credited the victory in part to driving the contrast between candidates — and continuing to appeal to independent and Republican-leaning voters who had reservations about Walker….
“There could have been other campaign operatives or another campaign that could have said, ‘OK, Herschel Walker has all this baggage, so we’re just going to run to the left and just try to turn out as many of our voters and just let Republicans eat their own,’” Fulks added. “We didn’t do that.”
A winning formula.
Bill Kristol and Ted Johnson will join Jonathan V. Last for this week’s edition of Thursday Night Bulwark where they will discuss all the goings on since the mid-terms wrapped up. Join the gang starting at 8:00pm ET on Thursday, December 8th.
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1. Cowardice and Desperation: How Republicans Responded to Trump’s Constitution Comment
It’s hard to imagine a clearer declaration of war against American democracy and the rule of law. But the same Republican lawmakers who excused Trump’s behavior for years—including his dinner with overt antisemites two weeks ago—are now excusing his explicit assault on the Constitution. Here’s how they’re responding.
2. Warnock’s Victory Does Not Mean Georgia Has Turned Purple—Yet
Warnock’s 2-point victory over Walker doesn’t make Georgia purple. To know that the state still bleeds red, all you need to do is look at how conservatives like Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—both of whom distanced themselves from Donald Trump—soundly defeated their liberal opponents.
What has been made clear by the results of the now-concluded midterms is this: If you don’t steer clear of Trump, he can inject a shot of blue into the bloodstream of a battleground state.
3. Verdict: Trump’s Company Guilty of Fraud, Financial Crimes
The Trump Organization’s website features a 4,000-plus-word tribute to its eponymous founder. This tedious, nearly unreadable paean to the wonder that is Donald J. Trump adoringly trumpets legion acquisitions and projects undertaken over a span of decades, but one word is conspicuous by its almost complete absence in this portrait: “Organization.”
Instead, almost every overhyped accomplishment is presented as the work of the man himself. “Donald J. Trump,” not the Trump Organization, set “the standards of excellence while expanding his interests in real estate, sports, and entertainment.” “Mr. Trump,” not the Trump Organization, “was also the developer of the largest parcel of land in New York City.” “Mr. Trump,” not the Trump Organization, built 610 Park Avenue, built the Trump Hotel in Chicago, purchased the Delmonico Hotel, built a “portfolio of holdings” that includes Trump National Golf Club in Westchester, rebuilt the Wollman Skating Rink, and acquired the rights to the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA pageants.
You get the picture: The Trump Organization is Donald J. Trump.
So it seems a bit odd that anybody would question whether Trump was personally implicated in a Manhattan jury’s verdict on Tuesday finding the Trump Organization guilty on 17 counts of tax fraud, falsifying company records, and other financial crimes.
4. House Republicans ‘May Dig Their Own Grave’ With Fringe Political Investigations
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are poised to take the baton on what they consider critical investigations, such as that of the House January 6th Committee.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine told The Bulwark Senate Democrats could pick up the slack where these investigations have fallen off in the House. Whether they will need to do so depends on which route Republicans take over the next two years—a serious one, or a frivolous detour.
ICYMI, Herschel’s son, Christian, had some thoughts about last night’s election: