Twas the night before Traitormas,
and in the White House,
led by an orange louse.
Alabama GOP Rep. Mo Brooks and fellow House conservatives met privately on Monday with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as the lawmakers prepared to mount a long-shot bid in January to overturn the Electoral College results that made Joe Biden the official winner of the election.
The discussion focused on Trump's baseless claims and conspiracies that the election was stolen from him, participants said, and lawmakers emerged confident that there were would be a contingent of House and Senate Republicans who would join the effort and prompt a marathon debate on the floor on January 6 that would spill into January 7.
Pence's involvement in the meeting is significant because he will preside over the joint session of Congress that would count the electoral votes that day. Brooks said that Pence attended "different parts" of the meeting.
"I believe we have multiple senators and the question is not if but how many," Brooks said, something that would defy the wishes of Senate Republican leaders who are eager to move on and urging senators not to participate since doing so could force them to cast a politically toxic vote against Trump.
Brooks told CNN on Monday night that they would seek to challenge the election in at least six battleground states, saying he needs to coordinate "as many as 72" five-minute speeches that GOP lawmakers would make that day. "That's a significant task," he said.
The effort is doomed to fail but would create a spectacle that Senate GOP leaders want to avoid. And if a House member and a senator object to six states' results, it would lead to at least 12 hours of debate, in addition to the time for casting votes on each of the motions, potentially prolonging the fight until the next day.
Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican, told CNN the House conservative effort is futile and urged Senate Republicans not to join the effort.
"I think the thing they got to remember is, it's not going anywhere. I mean in the Senate, it would go down like a shot dog. I just don't think it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be," he said.
The White House meeting, Brooks said, was to discuss "how bad the voter fraud and election theft" was in November, even though such claims have been rejected by election officials and courts across the country.
Brooks said the meeting was attended by a "double digit" number of lawmakers, but he wouldn't say if senators were part of the meeting. Brooks said the group had a separate meeting with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. And the Alabama congressman also said he saw at the White House Sidney Powell, the attorney whose conspiracies about the election have prompted Trump's interest. But, he said, they didn't meet with her.
Other GOP lawmakers have also confirmed their attendance at the meeting, including Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, who told CNN: "We talked about a lot of things."
Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, a staunch Trump defender, said this when asked if Trump urged him to object to the election results at the meeting: "He didn't urge anything, he didn't need to, I've been planning on objecting all along."
Rep. Jody Hice, a Georgia Republican who attended the meeting, tweeted: "I will lead an objection to Georgia's electors on Jan 6."
Sources told CNN that other members were there, including Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a prominent ally of the President who has been urging him to continue the battle.
While the House conservatives have virtually no chance at succeeding, it would put many Republicans in an awkward spot. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his top lieutenants have urged senators not to join House conservatives because they would then be forced to cast a vote that would make them choose between Trump and the will of the voters.
But several senators have not ruled out joining the effort, including Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rand Paul of Kentucky. And Trump has heaped praise on Alabama's incoming senator, Tommy Tuberville, for signaling he'd object to the results.
Another incoming senator, Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall, wouldn't say if he would join House conservatives' effort to contest a state's election results. Marshall was a signatory on the House GOP's amicus brief backing the Texas suit seeking to invalidate votes across several battleground states that the Supreme Court rejected earlier this month.
To recap, multiple sitting Republican members of Congress are openly plotting sedition to overturn a legitimate, fully certified presidential election and to steal America's executive branch in a coup. They believe that enough flimflamery, chicanery, bamboozlement and plain ol' ballsing it out will give Trump a second term, that Joe Biden will give up or something and walk away, or that they can somehow force a Supreme Court decision in Trump's favor.
Trump has already tweeted that he wants his supporters in DC on January 6th and to be "wild" and I guess in Trump's delusional fantasies he expects House Republicans and Senate Republicans to be forced to go along with with the coup attempt when his "legions" of armed followers show up and surround Capitol Hill, and that Mike Pence will simply count the illegal Republican electors instead, or throw out the actual electors from the "disputed" states, and Trump will be president again, and we'll all just accept it or else.
The fact remains though at some point, Mike Pence and Republicans in Congress will have to either make the decision to count the actual electors and confirm Joe Biden will be sworn in as President at noon on January 20, or to go along with an illegal seditious, traitorous coup. If he does, his political career ends, and he may take dozens of Republicans down with him, and we'll still have two weeks of Trump left to do whatever last-minute awfulness he wants, and a country with 74 potentially violent Trump voters, the vast majority who will not accept this outcome and will be baying for blood.
And remember, Trump takes care of his own.
In an audacious pre-Christmas round of pardons, President Trump granted clemency on Tuesday to two people who pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s Russia inquiry, four Blackwater guards convicted in connection with the killing of Iraqi civilians and three corrupt former Republican members of Congress.
It was a remarkable assertion of pardon power by a president who continues to dispute his loss in the election and might well be followed by other pardons in the weeks before he leaves office on Jan. 20.
Mr. Trump nullified more of the legal consequences of an investigation into his 2016 campaign that he long labeled a hoax. He granted clemency to contractors whose actions in Iraq set off an international uproar and helped turn public opinion further against the war there. And he pardoned three members of his party who had become high-profile examples of public corruption.
The 15 pardons and five commutations were made public by the White House in a statement on Tuesday evening. They appeared in many cases to have bypassed the traditional Justice Department review process — more than half of the cases did not meet the department’s standards for consideration — and reflected Mr. Trump’s long-held grudges about the Russia investigation, his instinct to side with members of the military accused of wrongdoing and his willingness to reward political allies.
Hundreds if not thousands of clemency seekers have been looking for avenues of influence to Mr. Trump as he weighs pardons before leaving office. The statement highlighted a number of prominent Republicans and Trump allies who had weighed in on behalf of those granted clemency. Among them were Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general and lobbyist who helped defend Mr. Trump during his impeachment, and Pete Hegseth, a Fox News commentator who has pushed for previous pardons of service members.
And he did it again on Wednesday.
Transactional Trump now figures the military and the GOP owe him, on top of all his aides and all the Mueller people who covered up for him, so when he tells them that he's taking over, he expects their full support. This includes Pence.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening announced 26 new pardons, including for longtime ally Roger Stone, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner's father, Charles.
The pardons extend Trump's streak of wielding his clemency powers for criminals who are loyalists, well-connected or adjacent to his family. While all presidents issue controversial pardons at the end of their terms, Trump appears to be moving at a faster pace than his predecessors, demonstrating little inhibition at rewarding his friends and allies using one of the most unrestricted powers of his office.
The pardons of Manafort and Stone reward two of the most high-profile and widely condemned former advisers of the President, both of whom were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, went to trial and were convicted by juries of multiple crimes.
Manafort, who is serving home confinement, admitted his crimes and initially agreed to cooperate with Mueller then lied to prosecutors, while Stone never cooperated after lying to Congress to protect the President. Manafort spent close to two years in prison for bank and tax fraud, illegal foreign lobbying and witness tampering conspiracies before being released because of the Covid-19 pandemic, while Stone's sentence for obstruction of Congress and threatening a witness was commuted by Trump earlier this year days before he was set to surrender.
Charles Kushner, meanwhile, had been prosecuted by then-US Attorney for New Jersey Chris Christie in the early 2000s for tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign contributions.
He eventually pleaded guilty to 16 counts of tax evasion, one count of retaliating against a federal witness -- his brother-in-law -- and another count of lying to the Federal Election Commission.
Christie in early 2019 went on to say that Charles Kushner committed "one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes" he had prosecuted, referring to an elaborate revenge plot that the older Kushner hatched in 2003 in order to target his brother-in-law, William Schulder, a former employee turned witness for federal prosecutors in their case against Kushner.
As a part of the plot, Kushner hired a prostitute to lure Schulder into having sex in a Bridgewater, New Jersey, motel room as a hidden camera rolled.
A tape of the encounter was then sent to Kushner's sister and Schulder's wife, Esther. Ultimately, the intimidation stunt failed. The Schulders brought the video to prosecutors, who tracked down the woman and threatened her with arrest. She promptly turned on Kushner.
Also included in Trump's pardon list Wednesday evening is former California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter's wife, Margaret, just one day after Trump granted Duncan Hunter a full pardon. Margaret Hunter had pleaded guilty last year to conspiring "knowingly and willingly" to convert campaign funds for personal use.
Beyond the high-profile pardons, Trump also pardoned more than 20 other individuals, including those who had pleaded guilty to various cyber crimes, firearm possession and mail fraud. He also commuted the sentences of three others.
This is actually the best-case scenario.
But if he does side with Trump here, and he does choose to end our democracy and usher in a catastrophic new chapter in America's story, then I don't honestly know what will happen.
I don't know how this ends, folks.
I don't know how this ends.