'Stop f-ing around': Kevin McCarthy lashes out at GOP members trying to extort him over speakership vote
On Friday, CNN reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has lost his patience with Republican House members demanding he appease them in return for electing him speaker down the line — and issued a threat to these members in a December meeting.
"The House Republican leader cast off his typically sunny demeanor during a December 8 meeting of the GOP conference to deliver a stern warning to his most raucous members: Quit trying to hold your vote for speaker over my head," reported Michael Warren and Melanie Zanona. "'He said, 'If any of you come to me and tell me that you're not going to vote for me unless I do something, I'm going to do exactly the opposite, even if I agree with you,'' said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who was there at the time. A second Republican member told CNN McCarthy punctuated his threat with, 'I mean it.'"
Another unnamed GOP member put McCarthy's message bluntly: "He shifted from friendly mode to 'stop f***ing around and hurting the conference' mode."
Republicans are widely considered to be favorites to win control of the House in 2022, given Democrats' slim majority and the historical trend of the opposition party making gains in midterm years. However, analysts have observed McCarthy struggling to hold together his caucus, which could be an issue for his party accomplishing anything as a majority.
In particular, the far-right members of the caucus have been making demands of McCarthy in order to support him for speaker. Particularly prominent is Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who told McCarthy to kick Trump-skeptic Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) out of the caucus and strip moderate Rep. John Katko (R-NY) of his Homeland Security committee leadership — although much of this is now a moot point given Kinzinger and Katko are both retiring.
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Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday endorsed Jessica Cisneros' campaign to oust Rep. Henry Cuellar, a right-wing Democrat whose Texas home and office were raided this week as part of a sweeping federal investigation related to Azerbaijan and U.S. businessmen.
In an email, Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) team pointed to reporting that "the Department of Justice's Public Integrity unit is involved with the investigation—a unit that handles cases involving elected officials including campaign finance and corruption cases."
"We don't know what this investigation may mean for this race, but we do know that Cuellar's campaign still has $2.3 million in the bank," the New York Democrat's campaign noted. "If we can't close the gap, Jessica could be outspent dramatically."
Ocasio-Cortez's endorsement of Cisneros—an immigration attorney and an outspoken supporter of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal—comes less than two months out from the Democratic primary in Texas' 28th Congressional District, a rematch of the 2020 contest that Cuellar narrowly won with the help of copious dark money and a boost from the Democratic establishment.
"Cuellar, the last anti-choice 'Democrat' in the House... had a 70% voting record of siding with Donald Trump" before Cisneros challenged him in 2020, Ocasio-Cortez's campaign team noted Thursday. "Last cycle, Jessica was massively outspent, but only lost by about 2,700 votes—a gap that can easily be closed with your support. We have a real opportunity to expand progressive leadership in Congress by electing Jessica this year."
According to ABC News, the FBI's search of Cuellar's home in Laredo, Texas as well as his campaign office was carried out Wednesday "as part of a wide-ranging federal probe relating to the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan and several U.S. businessmen."
"A federal grand jury in Washington is investigating the matter, but it's unclear if Cuellar is a target of the grand jury's probe," ABC reported.
News of the investigation—with which Cuellar has vowed to fully cooperate—drew fresh attention to the upcoming Texas primary contest and to Cisneros' progressive campaign.
"Been getting a lot of new followers tonight!" Cisneros tweeted following reports of the FBI raid.
Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, wrote on social media Thursday that "Rep. Cuellar is entitled to a presumption of innocence of any wrongdoing."
"But the working families of TX-28 who need a champion in Congress," he added, "can't risk losing a Democratic seat because the incumbent is under a cloud of suspicion."
Trump thought Ginni Thomas was ‘a wacko’ — but humored her as he wanted her husband to retire: report
The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was the focus of an exposé by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker titled, "Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?"
"The claim that the Justices’ opinions are politically neutral is becoming increasingly hard to accept, especially from Thomas, whose wife, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, is a vocal right-wing activist. She has declared that America is in existential danger because of the “deep state” and the “fascist left,” which includes “transsexual fascists.” Thomas, a lawyer who runs a small political-lobbying firm, Liberty Consulting, has become a prominent member of various hard-line groups," Mayer reported. "Ginni Thomas has held so many leadership or advisory positions at conservative pressure groups that it’s hard to keep track of them. And many, if not all, of these groups have been involved in cases that have come before her husband."
Mayer noted the role of Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney, who is described as a "notorious Islamophobe" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"Leaked documents show that Gaffney was a colleague of Ginni Thomas’s at Groundswell as far back as 2013. Gaffney was a proponent of Trump’s reactionary immigration policies, including, most vociferously, of the Administration’s Muslim travel ban. As these restrictions were hit by lawsuits, Gaffney’s nonprofit, the Center for Security Policy, signed the first of two big contracts with Liberty Consulting. According to documents that Gaffney’s group filed with the I.R.S., in 2017 and 2018 it paid Ginni Thomas a total of more than two hundred thousand dollars," Mayer reported.
Thomas awarded Gaffney one of her "Impact Awards."
The Trump administration finally agreed to have Ginni Thomas bring Gaffney to the White House.
"The White House meeting was held in the Roosevelt Room, and by all accounts it was uncomfortable. Thomas opened by saying that she didn’t trust everyone in the room, then pressed Trump to purge his Administration of disloyal members of the 'deep state,' handing him an enemies list that she and Groundswell had compiled," Mayer reported. "One participant told me he’d heard that Trump had wanted to humor Ginni Thomas because he was hoping to talk her husband into retiring, thus opening up another Court seat. Trump, given his manifold legal problems, also saw Justice Thomas as a potentially important ally—and genuinely liked him. But the participant told me that the President considered Ginni Thomas 'a wacko,' adding, 'She never would have been there if not for Clarence. She had access because her last name was Thomas'"
Read the full report.