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Kevin McCarthy is facing a leadership challenge from the Republican Party's right flank, and that could send the House into uncharted territory.
Hardline conservative Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) doubled down on his House speaker challenge to McCarthy, who has been strategizing for the possibility that he won't get the necessary 218 votes in the first round, and he and his team have been shoring up support by offering influential committee assignments and more power in the legislative process, reported CNN.
"I'll get 218," McCarthy said.
Biggs has refused to say whether he would drop his challenge if he failed to get 218 votes in the first round of leadership elections on Jan. 3, but McCarthy's opponents are committed to depriving him of the speakership in a bid to gain more power.
“There are very significant rules, changes being discussed that would open the House up, that would be transformative, that would give us the ability to actually legislate and represent our constituents,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who's a "hard no" for McCarthy, “and whoever is speaker is going to have to agree to those rules, I think, and I don’t think that person will be Kevin McCarthy because Kevin McCarthy won’t have 218 votes.”
“I think the person who is ultimately going to be the speaker isn’t even the candidate yet," he added.
Some of McCarthy's allies have said they would consider working with Democrats to find a moderate Republican who could get the necessary votes if neither he or Biggs can get to 218 in what lawmakers consider a doomsday scenario.
“Our initial plan is vote for Kevin and let him fight this out repeatedly. … But if they think they’re going to use this to infinity to drive him out, well, we’re not going to bend to their will,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE). “If a small group refuses to play ball and be part of the team, then we’ll work across the aisle to find an agreeable Republican, but I hope we don’t get there.”
McCarthy's opponents have been trying to recruit someone besides Biggs, who they don't think can get the votes, but the two most viable alternatives -- minority whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) -- have already said they wouldn't run, but the "Never Kevin" faction says "several" Republicans have expressed interest in running if the minority leader drops out or if he performs weakly on the first ballot.
“How many members vote for someone else will show the strength (of the anti-McCarthy group),” said Rep. Bob Good (R-VA), another "hard no." “I think the second ballot is going to have more candidates. … There are already Republicans letting us know they’d like to be considered.”
After spending the morning flipping out on the Department of Justice for failing to return government documents recovered from his Mar-a-Lago resort after an FBI search, Donald Trump once again lashed out at American Jews for not appreciating all he has done for them.
Trump's latest diatribe on Truth Social follows the firestorm the former president ignited by sitting down to dinner just before Thanksgiving with noted anti-Semite Kanye West and white nationalist Nick Fuentes, a noted Holocaust denier.
The former president linked to column from longtime conservative political gadfly Wayne Allyn Root who wrote, "While president, Trump did more for the state of Israel and the Jewish people than anyone in history. He risked his career and political standing to always support Israel, through thick and thin. In Israel, Trump is beloved. Israelis have named streets, train stations and soccer teams after Trump."
Root then added, "There will never be a president who does more for Israel, or the Jewish people. Period."
Taking the praise to heart, Trump used the occasion to thank Root while lashing out at Jewish leaders in the U.S. who don't share the columnist's opinion.
On Truth Social he snarled, "Thank you Wayne – You are great but how quickly Jewish Leaders forgot that I was the best, by far, President for Israel. They should be ashamed of themselves. This lack of loyalty to their greatest friends and allies is why large numbers in Congress, and so many others, have stopped giving support to Israel."
On Thursday, the Seattle Times reported that disgraced Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer, on trial for pursuing a Black newspaper delivery man and telling police he threatened to kill him, is denying he is racist — and blaming his false police report on "shoddy police work."
"Mounting his defense in a Tacoma courtroom, Troyer and his attorneys portrayed him as an innocent victim of shoddy police work, a politically motivated prosecution and unfair media coverage," reported Jim Brunner. "Asked by defense attorney Anne Bremner whether he had made a false report to police the night of his Jan. 27, 2021 confrontation with newspaper carrier Sedrick Altheimer, Troyer replied: 'No, I did not."
"I wouldn’t do that,” Troyer continued. “I mean, the reason why I’m here testifying is the media’s made me out to be a racist, and the state’s made me out to be a liar.”
"The prosecution’s case relies in large part on a police incident report written by Tacoma police Officer Chad Lawless, who was among the first officers to respond last January, after Troyer called an emergency dispatcher and said Altheimer was threatening to kill him, triggering a massive police response," said the report. "Lawless spoke with Troyer at the scene and wrote in his report that he asked the sheriff specifically whether Altheimer 'ever made any threats towards him or displayed any weapons.' Troyer replied that Altheimer 'never threatened him' and had no weapons, according to Lawless’ incident report. Lawless testified Wednesday that he remembers asking Troyer twice about threats and that both times Troyer said there were none — contradicting his recorded emergency-dispatch call."
"Troyer on Thursday ripped into Lawless’ work, noting he didn’t include typical information that would be noted about a witness or suspect at a crime scene," said the report. "For example, Troyer said, Lawless’ report didn’t include his middle initial, date of birth, height or weight, or hair and eye color — details Troyer said have ususally been filled out in other police reports mentioning him."
Troyer's deceit was first reported in March 2021. He has vehemently denied lying, despite the contradiction between the phone call and the police report, and said, "In 35 years, I have never had a complaint against me for racial bias."