Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Senate Republican and a potential future leader, is seriously considering retiring after next year, a prospect that has set off an intensifying private campaign from other Republicans urging him to seek re-election.
Mr. Thune is only 60, but a combination of family concerns and former President Donald J. Trump’s enduring grip on the Republican Party have prompted the senator, who is in his third term, to tell associates and reporters in his home state that 2022 could be his last year in Congress.
His departure would be a blow to South Dakota, which has enjoyed outsize influence in Washington, and could upend Senate Republicans’ line of succession. Mr. Thune has been open about his ambition to lead his party’s caucus after Senator Mitch McConnell makes way, and quiet but unmistakable jockeying is already underway between him and Senators John Cornyn of Texas and John Barrasso of Wyoming.
“John is the logical successor should Mitch decide to not run again for leader,” Senator Susan Collins of Maine said of Mr. Thune, while noting that Mr. McConnell’s hold on their caucus remained “very secure.”
That Mr. Thune would even entertain retirement with the chance to ascend to Senate Republican leader illustrates both the strain of today’s Congress and the shadow Mr. Trump casts over the party. The senator’s departure would represent yet another exit, perhaps the most revealing one yet, by a mainstream Senate Republican who has grown frustrated with the capital’s political environment and the former president’s loyalty demands. The exodus began in 2018 with Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker retiring rather than facing primaries, and has accelerated this year.
Part of Mr. Thune’s hesitation owes to Mr. Trump and the potential for the former president — who lashed out at Mr. Thune early this year when the senator rejected his attempts to overturn the election — to intervene in South Dakota’s Senate primary race. But the larger factor may be the longer-range prospect of taking over the Senate Republican caucus with Mr. Trump still in the wings or as the party’s standard-bearer in 2024.
Mr. Thune has said he will decide his intentions over the holidays. Yet a number of his friends and colleagues have become convinced that he is serious about leaving public life.
Among those alarmed is Mr. McConnell himself, who one adviser said had “leaned in” on pushing Mr. Thune to run again.
“I certainly hope that he will run for re-election, and that’s certainly what I and others have been encouraging him to do all year long,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview.
Tuesday, December 21, 2021
Although the story of congressional retirements heading into 2022 remains the nearly two dozen Democrats in the House heading out, Republican Senate number two John Thune of South Dakota is reportedly also looking for the exit off Capitol Hill.
Jon Martin at the Times makes it clear that doing Trump's personal bidding for another decade after Mitch settles back down here in KY is absolutely not in his cards, and he basically has that seat for life. To give that up makes me think there's a lot more to the story.
It's certainly not that Thune is a moral man, he's a Republican after all.
Sadly, it just means he'll be replaced by a Republican 100% loyal to Trump instead of say, 95%.
The Biden Administration is planning to do what the Trump regime could never be bothered to do: distribute hundreds of millions of COVID test kits free of charge to all Americans in January.
President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday a purchase of a half-billion at-home rapid Covid-19 tests and a plan to distribute them free to Americans who request them through a website, one of a series of new steps he'll unveil as the country faces a potentially crippling wintertime surge of infections.
The 500 million new tests will be made available next month and will reach Americans through the mail, the official said. The administration is still working to determine how many tests each household may request.
The new test shipment scheme will come during remarks meant to underscore the White House's plan to confront what is expected to be a large spike in cases driven by the now-dominant Omicron variant in the coming weeks. Already, cases are rising rapidly in areas around the country and hospitals are nearing capacity.
Among the President's new initiatives is a plan to prepare 1,000 military service members to deploy to overburdened hospitals across the country in January and February, administration officials said. Those service members will include doctors, nurses, medics and other military medical personnel.
An official said, "God willing" the full 1,000 wouldn't be needed, "but if we do, they are ready and they're mobilized."
Biden hopes to reassure Americans that if they are vaccinated, they can still proceed with their holiday plans without fear of becoming seriously ill. Conversely, he wants to tell those who have not yet received shots of the potential for severe illness or death in the coming months.
This should have happened six months ago with Delta, but at least it's happening now. Getting half a billion tests into the hands of American families is the right thing to do.
Still, it's more than the previous guy ever even bothered with, and we can't go back to him, period.
The January 6th Committee may be considering referring the insurrectionists for federal criminal charges, and yes, apparently that may include not just Trump's lackeys, but even Trump himself.
When the House formed a special committee this summer to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, its stated goal was to compile the most authoritative account of what occurred and make recommendations to ensure it never happens again.
But as investigators sifted through troves of documents, metadata and interview transcripts, they started considering whether the inquiry could yield something potentially more consequential: evidence of criminal conduct by President Donald J. Trump or others that they could send to the Justice Department urging an investigation.
That move — known as sending a criminal referral — has no legal weight, as Congress has little ability to tell the Justice Department what investigations it should undertake. But it could have a substantial political impact by increasing public pressure on Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, who in his first year in office has largely sidestepped questions about what prosecutors are doing to examine the conduct of Mr. Trump and his aides as they promoted baseless allegations of voter fraud.
The questions of criminality go far beyond the contempt of Congress referrals that the House has sent to the Justice Department for Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, and his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, for their refusal to cooperate with the investigation. (Federal law requires prosecutors to bring contempt of Congress charges before a grand jury upon receiving such a referral.)
According to people briefed on their efforts, investigators for the committee are looking into whether a range of crimes were committed, including two in particular: whether there was wire fraud by Republicans who raised millions of dollars off assertions that the election was stolen, despite knowing the claims were not true; and whether Mr. Trump and his allies obstructed Congress by trying to stop the certification of electoral votes.
It is not clear what, if any, new evidence the committee has that might support a criminal referral, when and how it will determine whether to pursue that option and whether the committee could produce a case strong enough to hold up against inevitable accusations that it acted in a partisan manner.
Behind the scenes, the committee’s day-to-day work is being carried out by a team of 40 investigators and staff members, including former federal prosecutors. The panel has obtained more than 30,000 records and interviewed more than 300 witnesses, including about a dozen last week whom committee members say provided “key” testimony.
In recent weeks, the committee has publicly signaled its interest in the question of criminality. Shortly after obtaining from Mr. Meadows 9,000 pages of documents — including text messages and a PowerPoint presentation — the panel’s top Republican, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, read from the criminal code at a televised hearing.
She suggested that Mr. Trump, by failing to stop the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, might have violated the federal law that prohibits obstructing an official proceeding before Congress.
“We know hours passed with no action by the president to defend the Congress of the United States from an assault while we were trying to count electoral votes,” Ms. Cheney said, adding: “Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’s official proceeding to count electoral votes?”
Let's get a couple things out of the way first.
One, as the article says, the committee referring anyone, even Trump, for criminal charges means that a referral from the January 6th Committee and a $10 bill will get you a roll of quarters. Unless Merrick Garland decides there's a case there, nothing's going to happen. No US Attorney, not Cy Vance in Manhattan, not newly minted DC US attorney Matt Graves, is going to do a damn thing at this level without Garland's express permission, and unless the evidence that the Committee turns over to Garland is damning as hell (it might be, frankly) precisely nothing's going to happen here.
Two, it was always going to come down to Garland and the Justice Department's decision. Congress doesn't do prosecuting, folks. and the evidence is Garland won't issue any charges because of rocking the political boat. It's unfortunate, because the next GOP-appointed Attorney General absolutely will bring charges against Democrats up to and including Joe Biden. But Garland isn't going to be pressured into doing jack shit, not by Biden or by anyone.
Three, the usual caveats about the guaranteed violence by Trump cultists if Trump himself is charged. That's the most likely outcome should Garland go forward (or Tish James in New York, which is actually far more likely). America isn't prepared for that. Hell, police and military personnel may support, if not actually be the ones conducting said violence. If Garland has the goods, he needs to act, but understand that there will be a cost in blood, the only question is how much these assholes will extract. Congressional and state Republicans will absolutely vow to take action as well. it will get ugly, folks. I'm not sure if Garland has the fortitude to see this through if he has a case. People are going to be made to suffer, and that has to be part of the calculus.
Having said that, that brings us to point Four: the people who aren't Trump are absolutely fair game for Garland. Rudy, Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, all the dickheads that Trump pardoned and then helped him with the damn coup? Let's put those guys back in jail, shall we?
We'll see where all this goes.
- A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Northern California on Monday with the epicenter near Cape Mendocino, no casualties or major damage was reported.
- Oklahoma state House Republican Terry O' Donnell is facing multiple felony fraud charges, including a ten-year prison sentence if convicted of conspiracy against the state.
- The case against Jeffrey Epstein confidante Ghislaine Maxwell went to jury deliberations Monday, Maxwell is facing decades in prison if convicted on child sexual abuse charges.
- Quebec officials are closing bars and schools across the province as COVID Omicron cases are ripping across Montreal and Quebec City, hospital cases are up more than 75% in three weeks.
- The EPA has released tough new fuel economy standards, replacing far more lenient Trump-era standards requiring passenger vehicles to average 40 mpg across fleets by 2026 up from 25.