President Joe Biden argued forcefully for the power of democracy while calling out Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a March 1 State of the Union address that soon turned to the domestic concerns of the economy, inflation, and covid-19. Biden’s one-hour speech was given to a largely unmasked crowd of lawmakers, Supreme Court justices, and Cabinet members in the House chamber, a sign of the diminished threat of the omicron variant. Speaking on the subject of the coronavirus, Biden attempted to thread the needle between being optimistic and on guard, saying the nation was entering a phase in which...
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Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), was deeply offended when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — during an event in Kentucky in August — told a crowd that he considers control of the U.S. Senate a toss-up in the 2024 midterms and cited “candidate quality” as a factor. McConnell expressed confidence that Republicans will “flip” the U.S. House of Representatives, but wasn’t nearly as bullish on the Senate. And his “candidate quality” comment was taken as a criticism of the MAGA candidates Trump has pushed.
McConnell, however, isn’t the only Republican who is concerned about the quality of U.S. Senate candidates who former President Donald Trump has been pushing. In an article published by CNBC’s website on September 30, reporter Brian Schwartz takes a look at Republican donors who are reluctant to get out their wallets for Trump-backed Senate hopefuls who have been underperforming in polls.
“Republican megadonors want the GOP to take back the Senate, but they don’t have confidence that some of former President Donald Trump’s top picks can catapult their party to a victory in November,” Schwartz explains. “Billionaire financiers Paul Singer, Dan Loeb and Larry Ellison have so far avoided donating directly to some or all of Trump’s staunchest allies running for Senate in the midterms: J.D. Vance in Ohio, Blake Masters in Arizona, Herschel Walker in Georgia, Adam Laxalt in Nevada and Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, according to Federal Election Commission records and people familiar with the billionaires’ donations.”
The CNBC reporter adds, “All of those candidates have been endorsed by Trump. And many of them have previously sided with the former president on the false claims that the 2020 presidential election had widespread voter fraud — an accusation that’s been debunked by Trump’s former attorney general, Bill Barr, federal courts and several other top Republicans who served in Trump’s administration.”
A Republican strategist, quoted anonymously, told CNBC that those megadonors would “would be lighting their money on fire if they got totally swayed by these candidates.” And that strategist is advising donors to give their money to the Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee run by McConnell’s former chief of staff Steven Law. That strategist said of the Senate Leadership Fund, “They have the best polls, and they won’t sink money into races they know they can’t win.”
Schwartz notes, “The campaign poll tracking website FiveThirtyEight shows Masters trailing (incumbent Sen. Mark) Kelly by more than seven percentage points…. FiveThirtyEight shows Oz trailing his Democratic rival John Fetterman by more than six percentage points and Walker trailing his competitor, (Sen. Raphael) Warnock, by more than two percentage points. Vance and Laxalt are both in statistical dead heats with their Democratic rivals; both GOP candidates are down by an average of less than a percentage point.”
Schwartz points out that megadonor and real estate mogul Stephen Ross “hasn’t given a penny yet to Vance, Walker, Masters, Laxalt or Oz, according to FEC filings.”
“Ross was criticized for hosting a fundraiser for Trump and the Republican National Committee at his Hamptons home in 2019, but has distanced himself from some of Trump’s favorite candidates this election cycle,” Schwartz observes. “He’s donated over $685,000 to a mix of Republicans, Democrats and their affiliated outside groups this cycle. His biggest checks so far have gone to GOP organizations tied to Republican leadership, such as House GOP campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee and a joint fundraising committee called Take Back the House 2022, federal election records show.”
Trump lawyer privately trashing his colleagues for making the former president's legal woes worse: report
Deep in a report on the turmoil among Donald Trump's lawyers battling over legal strategy, with the former president possibly facing Espionage Act and obstructions charges, the Washington Post is reporting that one Trump attorney is privately complaining to associates about his colleagues whom he believes are exacerbating the president's precarious legal position.
The report notes that high-priced Trump attorney Christopher Kise -- who landed a $3 million retainer to join the legal team -- has been battling with the rest of the team over strategy and was so dissatisfied with a legal filing they submitted that he reportedly refused to sign it.
The report adds that Kise, who has been described as being4 "sidelined" by the rest of the team, has expressed dismay over the rest of the team's lack of experience for the task at hand.
According to the Post, "Even as Kise has urged moderation, his rivals have pushed Trump to maintain an aggressive stance — in part because they believe combativeness plays well with supporters and could force welcome delays. Some of Trump’s other lawyers also have badmouthed Kise to the former president, saying he is not a team player."
'In private, those familiar with the conversations say, Kise has questioned the wisdom and experience of some of his colleagues, arguing that they do not have extensive experience with this type of litigation — and could face legal trouble themselves," the report states before adding, "He [Kise] also argued privately that their counsel had deepened Trump’s problems and that they would have had fewer problems had he started representing Trump earlier in the summer."
"Whether those lawyers were, in fact, acting on specific instructions from their client, the former president, is not yet clear," the Post cautioned.
You can read more here.
GOP lawmakers schooled for defending the 'dangerous dupes' in the FBI who balk at arresting Jan. 6 rioters
In a column for MSNBC, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Filiuzzi called out an assortment of Republican Party lawmakers who have run to defend FBI agents who are balking at investigating and arresting those who took part in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
At issue is the FBI suspending Special Agent Steve Friend of the FBI’s Daytona Beach office who refused to take part in the arrest of a rioter which then led to Friend to reach out to Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who fired off a letter to the FBI complaining about how Friend was being treated.
According to Figliuzzi, Friend and other law enforcement officials who refuse to do their jobs are out of line, and Grassley and Johnson should know better.
"In late August, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo to all Justice Department employees, including those at the FBI, reminding them that are legitimate processes in place to report concerns — but back channel communications with law makers isn’t one of them," he wrote. "It’s a sad sign of our times that the institutions responsible for identifying those among us who reject the rule of law must also determine whether such people walk the halls of those same institutions."
He then added, "The people who claim they’re concerned about the FBI becoming political sure have taken a partisan path to raise those concerns. Throughout every FBI field office, from employee break rooms to the agency’s internal intranet, there are well-posted options to reporting misconduct, ethical or integrity concerns."
Writing, "Deeply flawed assertions, and the politically tinged way they’ve been raised, unfortunately cast a shadow on any more substantive claims made by the agents," he then explained, "There’s something even more disturbing about this small group of FBI agents who refuse to respect the rule of law and decide which parts of long-established criminal justice processes they will or won’t follow in that they’re exhibiting the same radicalized mindset of Jan. 6 defendants they’re supposed to be investigating and arresting."
"Law enforcement agents who mirror that behavior aren’t 'heroes' or patriots — they’re dangerous dupes who’ve lost their compass, and, I believe, ought to lose their jobs," he concluded.
You can read more here.