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The RNC Joins the Insurrection
Plus: The return of Corey
Here are the words to keep in mind: “Ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate discourse.”
Later today, as expected, the Republican National Committee will vote to censure Representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney for their role in seeking the truth about the attack on Capitol.
The timing of the resolution is notable — coming just days after Donald Trump dangled pardons for the insurrectionists who tried to help him overturn the election, and just days after he threatened mass unrest if prosecutors try to hold him accountable. It comes the week we learned of Trump’s push to have the government seize voting machines, and got more details about his plan to use faked and forged electoral vote certificates to force Mike Pence to overturn the election.
And it comes as Trump continues to ratchet up his lies about his electoral defeat.
But at the RNC meeting there was, of course, no discussion of censuring the former president for any of this.
That never came up. Nobody even thought of it.
Nor was there even the slightest suggestion that perhaps the party should distance itself from the bizarre bigoted rantings of MTG, or Paul Gosar, or Lauren Boebert, or Madison Cawthorn.
The purge came only for Cheney and Kinzinger. Because, of course, this Republican party now has one standard, and one standard only: loyalty to the exiled Orange God King and his ongoing obstruction of justice.
Originally, there had been some thought that the RNC would call on the House Republican Conference to expel the the two dissenters, but that move was watered down to a censure resolution that manages to be both meaningless and revealing.
Today’s resolution is strictly symbolic — a performative act of groveling to the defeated, disgraced, twice-impeached former president.
Given the party’s reflexive obeisance to the former president it feels like an homage to Groundhog Day. How many times will they censure the dissenters; how many excommunications will be issued, anathemata hurled, or wrists limply slapped?
So nothing was accomplished and nothing changed. Except . . . it all turns out to be worse than you thought.
This is how the Republican National Committee will describe the investigation into the violent attack on the Capitol that left at least five dead and hundreds — many of them police officers — wounded: “Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse….”
Nota bene: “persecution.”
“Legitimate political discourse.”
That’s bad enough. But they go on to broaden the condemnation by declaring that they are also helping “to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes.”
So let’s not put too fine a point on this: The Republican National Committee is fully embracing the Trumpian retconning of Jan. 6th as a peaceful protest and, in the process, has gone all-in on the insurrection itself.
It is decisively not “moving on,” from 2020, or Trump’s obsession relitigation of his defeat.
Here’s the actual draft resolution, which passed unanimously in the RNC’s resolutions committee yesterday:
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that it just keeps getting worse. The Wapo is reporting:
SALT LAKE CITY — Republican leaders forged an agreement this week to potentially fund a challenger to Rep. Liz Cheney in Wyoming, and party members are expected to formally condemn her for her work on the Jan. 6 committee Friday, an unprecedented rebuke of an incumbent member of Congress.
As the party met in Salt Lake City this week, the leaders of the Wyoming GOP privately signed a special letter that would allow the national party to financially support Harriet Hageman, Cheney’s primary challenger. The letter officially recognizes Hageman as the presumptive nominee for the seat.
Cheney is predictably unbowed:
“The leaders of the Republican Party have made themselves willing hostages to a man who admits he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy. I’m a constitutional conservative and I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump. History will be their judge. I will never stop fighting for our constitutional republic. No matter what,” Cheney said.
Kinzinger issued his own statement;
The RNC’s eagerness to join Trump’s airing of grievances underlines Michael Gerson’s point that all of the talking about TFG’s fading influence is overstated.
There is a case to be made that Trump’s influence on the GOP has faded a bit over time…
But all this is the slightest diminution from an extraordinary height. Trump remains in effective control of the Republican Party. He has intimidated its entire leadership cadre. He has easily prevented rivals from arising. His control over the content of conservative media has only grown stronger. He has $122 million in the bank, given mainly by small donors (indicating grass-roots strength). A majority of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. About half of Republicans want him to run for president again, to reclaim his own.
The assertion of declining Trump influence in the GOP is not only easily overstated; it is perennial. It is not so much an analysis as an addiction. At various points since Trump rose in 2015, the argument has been made that he is weaker than he looks — before he went from strength to strength. And the damning nature of his record heightens the case for the durability of his influence.
A man who reintroduced raw racism and White grievance into our politics is approved of by more than 80 percent of Republicans. A man who gathered and incited an assault on the U.S. Capitol is approved of by more than 80 percent of Republicans. A man who contemplated a military coup against the Constitution is approved of by more than 80 percent of Republicans. In so many ways, the infection is already deep in the bone.
The return of Corey Lewandowski
The timing of this seems fitting.
The disgraced former aide says he has a new mission from the boss.
On the Howie Carr radio show Wednesday, Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski said his old boss has given him a new job: Get rid of Gov. Chris Sununu.
“When we spoke earlier in the day, you told me that [President Trump] assigned you a couple of duties and one is in your home state of New Hampshire,” Carr said to Lewandowski. “What’s your assignment for President Trump in New Hampshire?”
“The president is very unhappy with the chief executive officer of the state of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu,” Lewandowski replied. “And Sununu, in the president’s estimation, is someone who’s never been loyal to him. And the president said it would be really great if somebody would run against Chris Sununu.”
You might recall that Corey apparently had fallen from grace last year.
As Maggie Haberman noted at the time, it was unclear whether Corey’s exile would be permanent, since he had managed to wiggle himself back from disgrace in the past. But, she wrote, in a sentence that deserves a place in a museum of American politics, “Aides to Mr. Trump insist this latest incident is different, particularly because it involves a donor to the former president.”
In other words, asses may be grabbed and thighs fondled, but the donor class shall not be molested. The MAGAverse has standards.
Or had them, for a few months.
Here’s a flashback to what I wrote last September:
Even though it’s not a new story, it is still worth reflecting on the fact that, until yesterday, Corey Lewandowski fit easily into TrumpWorld’s moral universe, and it is not a coincidence that Trump has managed to gather around him a collection of Coreys.
Think about the wretched refuse who have been drawn into that orbit: Not just Lewandoswki, but crooks like Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Bernie Kerik. Bigots like Darren Beattie, Stephen Miller, MTG, and various drecks on cable television. Grifters like Diamond and Silk, Jenna Ellis, and Dinesh D’Souza. Sleazoids like Jason Miller, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and Matt Gaetz. And, of course, nutjobs like the My Pillow Guy, Sidney Powell, and Michael Flynn. And don’t forget Rudy Giuliani.
I could go on, but you’ve lived through the last five years and are probably trying to forget them. But there’s a pretty clear pattern here.
None of this is really a secret. What is the attraction of TrumpWorld for the worst people in the world?
In return for the requisite fawning, MAGAworld created a moral free-fire zone, a force field against accountability.
Too dumb, corrupt, or sleazy for the rest of world? Not a problem in TrumpWorld.
So no wonder they flocked to it.
For someone like Corey Lewandowski, Trump offered (until yesterday) a world of liberation and redemption, where mediocrity and venality could shelter together under a pugnacious amorality.
But even a Trumpian hall pass from decency comes with an expiration date… at least when it comes to groping actual campaign donors.
A gerrymander update
Defund the police you say?
“Mayor Adams, you and I agree: The answer is not to abandon our streets,” Biden said at NYPD headquarters. “The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to give you the tools, the training, the funding to be partners, to be protectors.”
Hard-right opponents, driven in part by the conservative evangelical group Concerned Women for America and grassroots Republicans, including Jackson County GOP Chairman David Lightner, rallied against Kauerauf. The Conservative Caucus, a group of senators known for clashing with Parson and GOP leadership, took up their cause. Republican senators took issue with his expressed desire to vaccinate 100% of Missourians against COVID-19. At least one pressed him on why he was even promoting the vaccine at all.
I’ll spare you the whole story, but:
On Tuesday, Kauerauf resigned as it became clear his nomination had died in the Senate. In effectively ousting him, senators expanded the circle of what they consider unacceptable positions on the part of public health leaders. Wanting to inoculate an entire population against a contagious disease is now grounds for suspicion.
1. Make Alaska Great Again!
Sarah Longwell, in today’s Bulwark, writes that Lisa Murkowski could survive her Trump challenge with an Alaska First strategy.
Just how much trouble is Lisa Murkowski in?
Murkowski is up for re-election in 10 months and on paper she looks like she should be toast. She’s been censured by the Alaska Republican Party because she voted for Trump’s (second) impeachment vote. Her primary challenger Kelly Tshibaka already has Trump’s endorsement and her campaign is crawling with people from Trump World, such as Bill Stepien and Tim Murtaugh.
But there’s also a roadmap for Murkowski that’s already been used successfully by Susan Collins in Maine.