Saturday, March 26, 2022

The GOP Grift Actually Stopped For Once

Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska on Saturday resigned from office after a California jury convicted him of lying to federal authorities about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national.

In a letter to the House, Fortenberry said he was resigning from Congress, effective March 31.

Fortenberry’s announcement followed concerted pressure from political leaders in Nebraska and Washington for him to step down. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday urged Fortenberry to resign. Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts said Fortenberry should “do the right thing for his constituents” and leave the office he has held since 2005.

Fortenberry’s withdrawal from the primary leaves state Sen. Mike Flood as the likely GOP nominee. The former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, who has won endorsements from Ricketts and former Gov. Dave Heineman, has a strong advantage in the Republican-leaning 1st Congressional District. State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, a Democrat from Lincoln, is also running for the seat.

Pansing Brooks said Fortenberry’s conviction is a “wake-up call” that the district needs a change.
We'll see if Brooks can convince voters that Mike Flood is as bad or worse than Fortenberry, but I suspect Fortenberry's going to have much bigger problems come June and his sentencing hearing.
Of course, this means I was extremely wrong about Fortenberry remaining in office in a Trump-like stand that would last months, and I don't honestly know why the party ejected Fortenberry for his felony conviction, but continues to tolerate racists like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar.
Oh, wait, we all know why.

The Nameless Fox In The Henhouse

It was fine for Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney to risk her seat by joining the January 6th House Committee, but people seem to forget that Cheney's role as co-chair is to take swings at Trump-era Republicans so that the GOP can get back to being evil Dubya-era Republicans again, and nothing demonstrates this more than her reluctance to drag Ginni Thomas into the legal spotlight.
Buried in the thousands of documents that Mark Meadows, former President Donald J. Trump’s final White House chief of staff, turned over late last year to the House committee examining the Jan. 6 attack were text messages that presented the panel with a political land mine: what to do about Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas.

The messages showed that Ms. Thomas relentlessly urged Mr. Meadows to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which she called a “heist,” and indicated that she reached out to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, about Mr. Trump’s legal efforts to keep power. She even suggested the lawyer who should be put in charge of that effort.

The public disclosure of the messages on Thursday focused new attention on one avenue of the investigation and risked creating a rare rift within the committee about how aggressively to pursue it, including whether to seek testimony from Ms. Thomas, who goes by Ginni.

In the Thomases, the committee is up against a couple that has deep networks of support across the conservative movement and Washington, including inside the committee. The panel’s Republican vice chairwoman, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, has led the charge in holding Mr. Trump to account for his efforts to overturn the election, but has wanted to avoid any aggressive effort that, in her view, could unfairly target Justice Thomas, the senior member of the Supreme Court.

So although a debate has broken out inside the committee about summoning Ms. Thomas to testify, the panel at this point has no plans to do so, leaving some Democrats frustrated. That could change, however: On Friday, despite the potential for political backlash, Ms. Cheney indicated she has no objection to the panel asking Ms. Thomas for a voluntary interview.

A New York Times Magazine investigation last month examined the political and personal history of Ms. Thomas and her husband. That included her role in efforts to overturn the election from her perch on the nine-member board of CNP Action, a conservative group that helped advance the “Stop the Steal” movement, and in mediating between feuding factions of organizers “so that there wouldn’t be any division around Jan. 6,” as one organizer put it.

During that period, the Supreme Court was considering a number of cases related to the election, with Justice Thomas taking positions at times sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s efforts to challenge the outcome.

This month, Ms. Thomas acknowledged attending the rally that preceded the violence in an interview with a conservative news outlet, but otherwise downplayed her role. Then came disclosure of the texts to Mr. Meadows, the contents of which were earlier reported by The Washington Post and CBS News.

If the committee does not summon Ms. Thomas, some legal analysts said, it runs the risk of appearing to have a double standard. The panel has taken an aggressive posture toward many other potential witnesses, issuing subpoenas for bank and phone records of both high-ranking allies of the former president and low-level aides with only a tangential connection to the events of Jan. 6.

“I think it would be a dereliction not to bring her in and talk to her,” said Kimberly Wehle, a University of Baltimore law professor who has closely tracked the committee’s work. “It certainly is inconsistent with their neutral, ‘find the facts where they go’ type of approach to this.
Cheney will never allow Ginni Thomas to be subpoenaed, and expecting Thomas to "voluntarily" do anything to help the January 6th Committee is a joke. If you want to know why Cheney accepted the role on the committee, it was in case the investigation turned up real evidence against somebody the GOP needs post-Trump, in this case, the wife of their most reliably partisan Supreme Court justice.
Mark this one down, because if it turns out this is when the committee loses its credibility, and America loses its democracy., you were warned.
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