Friday, October 13, 2023

Last Call For Meet The New Ringmaster, Again

With Steve Scalise out. the House GOP is now turning to Trump-endorsed Rep. Jim Jordan as a Speaker candidate, and it looks like Jordan has even less support than Scalise did.

The House GOP has entered an angrier and more bewildered phase in its leadership crisis.

The fractious Republican conference has rejected a second speaker hopeful in eight days — this time, Kevin McCarthy’s longtime heir apparent, Steve Scalise. While Republicans appear to be turning next to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), some are already airing open doubts that Jordan can pull off what the majority leader couldn’t.

The lesson Republicans have learned in the frenetic week since McCarthy’s fall: They have no clear choice for leader who can unite their ranks — no matter how long this drags out and their chamber of Congress is paralyzed.

It’s not just GOP centrists sparring with the hard right. It’s not just McCarthy loyalists secretly fuming at Scalise or his allies. There’s mounting anger across the entire conference that no GOP speaker candidate, including Jordan, appears able to prevail under the current margins.

“We need to all recognize that this is much bigger than just one person or any single person’s petty feelings,” said Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), who had voted for Jordan but publicly backed Scalise after he won the internal election.

It won’t be easy for any candidate to get past the internal spats that have only worsened as the GOP’s speaker fight drags on with no end in sight.

“Personally, I think it may end up being a compromise candidate,” Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) said. While Murphy said there was “no doubt” Jordan would run, he acknowledged that getting the needed 217 GOP votes is “going to be hard.”

At some point, I would expect the Democrats to make a move here, with more backchannel routes and somebody Hakeem Jeffries can support. In a logical world, that would mean peeling off a half-dozen Republican to vote for Jeffries himself.

Of course, in a logical world, Jeffries would have been Speaker already. 

Orange Meltldown, Con't

The Trump Organization fraud trial in Manhattan continued as formed CFO Allen Weisselberg took the stand for a second day, but that testimony was cut short as NY AG Tish James's office confirmed they were looking into a Forbes Magazine report from Thursday claiming that Weisselberg committed perjury Tuesday when testifying about the value of Trump's properties in the state.

The Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg’s testimony reached an abrupt and unexpected end on Thursday afternoon, just hours after Forbes magazine accused the convicted tax cheat of perjuring himself during an earlier stint as a witness.

Weisselberg insisted on Tuesday from the witness stand that he “never focused” on calculating the square footage of the former president’s Trump Tower triplex, a three-floor penthouse in his namesake skyscraper.

Two days later, on Thursday, Forbes reported that emails not currently in the attorney general’s possession show otherwise.

A source close to New York Attorney General Letitia James confirmed that her office is looking into the latest Forbes report.

Hours after the publication of that story, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron convened a sidebar with attorneys for the state and defense, but the subject of their private huddle remains unknown. Weisselberg was excused for the day shortly after that conversation, as attorneys for both sides reserved the right to call him back.

I'm not lawyer, but this seems really bad for both Weisselberg and for Trump's defense in the case.

Forbes senior editor Dan Alexander wrote that his old emails and reporter notes contradict those denials, pointing out in his story that "Weisselberg absolutely thought about Trump’s apartment—and played a key role in trying to convince Forbes over the course of several years that it was worth more than it really was."

"Given the fact that these discussions continued for years, and that Weisselberg took a very detailed approach in reviewing Trump’s assets with Forbes, it defies all logic to think he truly believes what he is now saying in court," Alexander added.

Earlier this week, Trump attacked Alexander by name on Truth Social, labeling him a “psycho” and his news organization a “rag" after it dropped the former president from its world billionaires list for the second time in three years. 
Those Trump social media comments were also posted hours after James entered a series of Forbes’ fact-checking emails with Weisselberg and other executives into evidence. Alexander, whose byline appeared on the story knocking Trump off Forbes’ billionaires list, was one of the staffers who sent those emails.

Considering Trump's overinflation of the value of his properties is at the heart of this fraud case, I'm betting Trump wish Weisselberg had kept his mouth shut, or at least taken the 5th because he definitely screwed up here.

We'll see what the results are, but at this point if there was any shred of hope that Trump would prevail, that hope died screaming as it was shot into the sun. 
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