Thursday, May 20, 2021

Last Call For The Big Lie Gets Franchised

The ludicrous Arizona "recount again again again again" performative farce has been 100% successful because the goal was never to find "stolen votes", the goal was to declare that Maricopa County Republicans were part of the massive conspiracy and then demand audits everywhere, forever, in an attempt to destroy trust in the system of American elections.

At a public meeting last week in Cheboygan County, Mich., a lawyer from Detroit told county commissioners that the voting machines they used in 2020 could “flip” votes and throw an election. She offered to send in a “forensic team,” at no charge to the county, to inspect ballots and scanners.

In Windham, N.H., supporters of former president Donald Trump showed up to a town meeting this month chanting “Stop the Steal!” and demanding that officials choose their preferred auditor to scrutinize a 400-vote discrepancy in a state representative race.

And at a board of supervisors meeting May 4 in San Luis Obispo County, on California’s Central Coast, scores of residents questioned whether election machines had properly counted their votes, with many demanding a “forensic audit.”

The ramifications of Trump’s ceaseless attacks on the 2020 election are increasingly visible throughout the country: In emails, phone calls and public meetings, his supporters are questioning how their elections are administered and pressing public officials to revisit the vote count — wrongly insisting that Trump won the presidential race.

The most prominent example is playing out in Arizona’s Maricopa County, where Republican state lawmakers have forced a widely pilloried audit of the 2020 vote. That recount is being touted as an inspiration by small but vocal cohorts of angry residents in communities in multiple states.

“I think there is clearly a justification to do that type of audit that they’re doing in Maricopa County. That’s what I wanted to see done here,” said Ken Eyring, a local activist in Windham who recently appeared at a rally with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Eyring said his only goal is to make sure Windham’s machines are accurate.

Behind the scenes, a loose network of lawyers, self-styled election experts and political groups is bolstering community efforts by demanding audits, filing lawsuits and pushing unsubstantiated claims that residents are echoing in public meetings. Much of it is playing out in largely Republican communities, where Trump supporters hope to find officials willing to support their inquiries.

The increasingly vocal protests seven months after Trump lost the White House show how deeply the former president has undermined confidence in the nation’s elections, an attack he began early in the 2020 campaign as state and local officials expanded mail voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Even as national Republican leaders say they want to move on from the last election — a rationale they used to expel Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a Trump critic, from her leadership post last week — the widespread echoes of Trump’s lie that the election was stolen show how his supporters are keeping that narrative alive.

Cheering them on is Trump himself, who has been issuing near-daily statements from his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, claiming that a cascade of findings that the election was rigged will appear any day.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes,” Trump recently told a crowd attending a party at Mar-a-Lago, according to a video posted online by an attendee. “So we’re going to watch that very closely. And after that, you’ll watch Pennsylvania and you’ll watch Georgia and you’re going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin. You’re watching New Hampshire. Because this was a rigged election. Everybody knows it.”
The whole point is to delegitimize elections nationally in order to justify nullification of Democratic party wins.

I guarantee you this is coming.

In half the country, it will be impossible for a Democrat to be declared the victor in 2022. History says it gets very dark from there.

Still No Good Republicans

Even the "moderate" and "reasonable" Republicans like Maine's Susan Collins are still Republicans, which means they are 100% corrupt grifters who eventually get caught.

The FBI is investigating what it describes as a massive scheme to illegally finance Sen. Susan Collins' 2020 re-election bid, Axios has learned.

What's happening: A recently unsealed search warrant application shows the FBI believes a Hawaii defense contractor illegally funneled $150,000 to a pro-Collins super PAC and reimbursed donations to Collins' campaign. There's no indication that Collins or her team were aware of any of it. 
Collins helped the contractor at issue, then called Navatek and since renamed the Martin Defense Group, secure an $8 million Navy contract before most of the donations took place. Former Navatek CEO Martin Kao was indicted last year for allegedly bilking the federal government of millions in coronavirus relief loans.

What they're saying: "The Collins for Senator Campaign had absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant," Collins spokesperson Annie Clark told Axios in an emailed statement.

The big picture: Federal prosecutors say Kao used a shell company to funnel $150,000 in Navatek funds to a pro-Collins super PAC called 1820 PAC. According to the FBI, Kao and his wife set up a sham LLC called the Society for Young Women Scientists and Engineers. Navatek then wrote the LLC a $150,000 check, investigators say, which was passed on to the super PAC. Government contractors are barred from donating to federal political committees, and investigators suspect the donations were attempts to evade that prohibition.

Investigators say bank records also show that Kao illegally reimbursed family members who donated to Collins' campaign and that Navatek reimbursed some of Kao's colleagues for their contributions. That's known as a "straw" donation, and it's prohibited by law. The Collins campaign's fundraising solicitations also require donors to certify that they are in fact donating their own funds. 
The allegedly reimbursed donations came in clusters, according to federal contribution records, between June and September 2019, and amounted to less than 0.2% of the Collins campaign's total fundraising. The warrant application quotes an email exchange between Kao, who had just maxed out to Collins' campaign, and the senator's Maine finance director: "If you have friends or family members that would be willing to donate please don’t hesitate to send them my way," the Collins staffer wrote.
The straw donations are illegal, and the pay-for-play is worse. Collins took the money and got them a contract.  The difference is she doesn't have Trump's ability to cover up all the corruption and got caught.

The Great Decommissioning Of The January 6 Commission

Dear Leader Trump has ordered the GOP to scrap even any hints of bipartisan support for a January 6th commission to hold hearing on what happened during the most dangerous terrorist attack on the US government in years, and the GOP will follow.

Former President Trump called for an immediate end to the debate over a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot the night before the House is expected to approve the plan.

“Republicans in the House and Senate should not approve the Democrat trap of the January 6 Commission. It is just more partisan unfairness and unless the murders, riots, and fire bombings in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, and New York are also going to be studied, this discussion should be ended immediately,” Trump said in a statement Tuesday night.

“Republicans must get much tougher and much smarter, and stop being used by the Radical Left. Hopefully, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!” he added.

Trump's statement came shortly after the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed the creation of a panel, despite opposition from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).
McCarthy and McConnell have their orders from high command, and they are now scrambling to kill any cooperation. In the House, McCarthy is now actively whipping against the commission vote.

Kevin McCarthy thought his House Republican conference would almost entirely stand behind him in efforts to derail an investigation into the events of Jan. 6.

Now, a last-minute surge of GOP interest is dashing hopes for near-perfect opposition to the independent commission and putting Republican divisions back on full display.

Dozens of Republicans are privately considering voting for the Jan. 6 commission — which McCarthy himself said he opposed earlier Tuesday, even after he deputized one of his allies, Rep. John Katko of New York, to strike a bipartisan agreement on the proposal. In a sign of momentum, the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, of which Katko is a member, formally voted to endorse the legislation Tuesday evening.

Just days after GOP leaders decided they wouldn’t force their members’ hands either way, McCarthy and his leadership team issued an informal “leadership recommendation” ahead of the Wednesday vote, urging a “no” vote to help contain defections in their party. Former President Donald Trump also sought to shut down the commission on the eve of the floor vote, calling it a "Democrat trap" and urging Republicans to get "much tougher and much smarter."

"This discussion should be ended immediately," he said in a statement, which could help push wavering GOP lawmakers into the "no" camp.

Regardless of how many Republicans buck Trump on this issue, though, the bill is expected to pass the House. It's fate in the 50-50 Senate is less clear.
That last part is a lie. The commission's fate in the Senate is 100% clear: it is DOA. In the Senate, Mitch is making sure the commission can't move forward at all without becoming a circus to blame Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told his fellow Republicans during a closed-door caucus lunch Tuesday he can't support a Jan. 6 commission in its current form, two sources familiar with his remarks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senate Republicans are bracing for a House vote Wednesday. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opposes the commission but several Republicans are expected to buck leadership — making it more difficult for Senate Republicans to dismiss it.

What we're hearing: McConnell made comments to his colleagues along the lines of, "There’s 41 of us who could change this, and I think we should,” according to one of the sources. A second source confirmed the nature of the comments. When McConnell finished, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — who's retiring in 2023 — also stood up and questioned aspects of the deal. 
The senators did not indicate the deal is DOA in the Senate, the sources said, but made clear they would want to see substantive changes. Such changes being discussed more broadly among some Republicans include ensuring the panel is truly bipartisan. Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), who struck the deal with Democrats in the House, voted to impeach Trump — raising concerns among his fellow Republicans.

McConnell spoke publicly following the lunch and said he is "pushing the pause button" on the legislation, adding the GOP conference is “undecided."
And of course, the "Republican concerns" will never be addressed to Mitch's liking, so the commission will never happen. Of course, there's a reason as to why it can't happen, a reason so obvious that even CNN's Chris Cillizza gets it on the first try.

McCarthy doesn't want to testify under oath about his phone conversation with former President Donald Trump on January 6. As CNN reported, Trump told McCarthy on that call that the rioters "are more upset about the election than you are" and the GOP leader responded by insisting that the people overrunning the Capitol were backers of the President and that he needed to tell them to stand down.

A week after the riot, here's what McCarthy said on the House floor about Trump and the riot
"The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action of President Trump." 
But, as it became increasingly clear that even Trump's role inciting these rioters would not turn the GOP base away from him, McCarthy changed his tune. In late April, in an interview on "Fox News Sunday," McCarthy said this about his January 6 call with Trump
"What I talked to President Trump about, I was the first person to contact him when the riots was going on. He didn't see it. What he ended the call was saying -- telling me, he'll put something out to make sure to stop this. And that's what he did, he put a video out later." 
That is, of course, fundamentally inaccurate. Trump waited hours before releasing any sort of statement about the riot. And, when he did call on the rioters to go home, he reiterated the Big Lie about the 2020 election. "We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it," Trump said in a video released by the White House that day. "Especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace." 
The broader point here is that McCarthy has been VERY cagey about that January 6 phone call -- and there continues to be questions about whether Trump and McCarthy have spoken about the call since January 6.
"Leader McCarthy has spoken to a number of people in -- in large groups and small groups since the sixth about his exchanges with the President," said Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (R) on "Fox News Sunday." "I think it's very important that, you know, he clearly has facts about that day, that an investigation into what happened, into the president's actions, ought to get to the bottom of. And I think that he has important information that needs to be part of any investigation, whether it's the FBI, the Department of Justice, or this commission that I -- I hope will be set up."
Neither McCarthy nor Trump can allow the commission to go forward, and once again it's Mitch's job to kill it. He will deliver. Anyone who thinks this is going to happen is making a sucker's bet, full stop. I am in total agreement with Steve M on this.

Republicans will block this. And if they can't block it, they'll sabotage it. They'll load up the committee with rhetorical bomb-throwers. They'll use the hearings primarily for anti-Democratic catchphrases and memes. Even if they don't succeed in broadening the scope of the investigation to include violence and property damage in anti-racism demonstrations, they'll find ways to hang all that around the necks of Democrats. They'll say any law enforcement failures were all Nancy Pelosi's fault. They'll never concede that this was a brutal threat to democracy by their party's voters on behalf of a president from their party. And whatever they say will be believed by nearly half the country.

After two Trump impeachments and the early stages of this process, I've had enough. I think Democrats should simply give up on the notion that "accountability" is possible for Republicans. It's not just that they resist it. They pay no price for resisting it. Resisting it endears them to their voters.

Nothing Democrats do and nothing they reveal will lead to second thoughts among Republican voters. We know this because nothing revealed in either of Trump's impeachments disillusioned them. Quite the opposite: It unified them in opposition to the accountability seekers.

When Democrats beg Republicans to put country over party, they reinforce the mistaken notion that the GOP might someday actually do that. That sends a signal that if Democrats can't come to terms with Republicans, then it must be the Democrats' fault -- after all, the Democrats say it's possible to reason with the GOP.

Enough. Better for Democrats to just accept that accountability is impossible, and to tell the public that a real reckoning can't happen because Republicans will always prevent it from happening. The only way to get to the truth is to vote Republicans out.
The Big Lie makes this clear. There is nothing that Democrats can do to "win" Republicans over anymore. Bipartisanship is dead as a whole. The GOP doesn't see Democratic politicians and voters as human, let alone Americans with rights in a competing marketplace of ideas. They're ready for authoritarian dictatorship now, if not full-on fascism, where they are the full "citizens" and the rest of us serve them.

They're close to getting it, too, closer than they've been in a century or two.
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