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GOP leader wagers on winning back Congress in 2022: ‘I will bet my house’

On Saturday, at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that he was confident Republicans would take control of the House majority in the 2022 midterm elections.

"I will bet my house," he added.

The party outside the White House nearly always gains seats in the House during midterm elections. The only postwar midterm elections where this did not happen were 1998, when Republican efforts to attack the popular President Bill Clinton generated public backlash, and 2002, when panic over the 9/11 terrorist attacks convinced voters to support the Republicans already in power. Moreover, Democrats have an unusually narrow House majority, requiring Republicans to net only five seats.

Nevertheless, there are obstacles to a GOP takeover of the chamber. Unlike in 2010, where Democrats had dozens of vulnerable rural House seats, the current Democratic majority is made up of suburban seats that have trended away from the GOP. Moreover, while redistricting may benefit Republicans who enjoy an advantage in state legislatures, there are long delays in Census data that could push out redistricting in some states past the midterms in unpredictable ways.

Alabama GOP advances resolution supporting America's withdrawal from United Nations

On Saturday, Al.com reported that the Alabama Republican Party is moving forward with a resolution calling for the United States to terminate its membership with the United Nations.

"The resolution, one of about a dozen the party will consider today, cites what it said were U.N. policies that support abortion, disarmament of citizens, and the influence of socialist countries," said the report. "It says the U.N. opposes American policies in the Middle East and supports climate control policies that would wipe out jobs."

Various Republicans over the years have called for the U.S. to separate from the U.N., usually based on conspiracy theories about a shadow global government encroaching on U.S. sovereignty.

In 2017, Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers introduced a bill in the House to do so, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act, which gathered co-sponsorship from a number of Republicans including Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Thomas Massie (R-KY).

Going further back, in 2014, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) called for withdrawing from the U.N. during her first campaign, falsely claiming that Agenda 21, a non-binding U.N. resolution encouraging sustainable development, was a secret plot to abolish Americans' property rights.

Josh Hawley's CPAC speech burned to the ground by hometown paper in brutal editorial

On Saturday, The Kansas City Star editorial board scorched Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) for his far-right speech at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida — and in particular, his insinuation that historians, academics, and politicians who want to highlight the role of slavery and white supremacy in American history hate our country and culture.

"Part of pushing back against liberals, he told the crowd, 'is reclaiming our history and saying it is good and we are proud to be Americans. We're proud to have come to live in a country that started with nothing and became the greatest country on the face of the Earth. We're proud to live in a country that liberated slaves,'" wrote the board. "Seriously? This is the very first thing for which we need to stand up and take a bow? Because it seems to some of us that no one should ever have tried to own other human beings to begin with."

"We didn't so much start with nothing as we stole what was here before we got here from Native Americans," wrote the board. "And when we did end slavery, after a war in which the Confederacy — whose heroes Hawley defends — fought to preserve it, we were awfully late coming around. And then did everything possible, through Jim Crow laws, to keep things as inequitable as they had been. This doesn't mean we hate America; it means we recognize reality, and see the need to learn from it."

The board took a swipe at Hawley for calling for "a new nationalism" under the guise of a "country boy" — even though he is the son of a wealthy banker whose own hometown is split over him — and highlighted the dark undertones of his concluding comment, "America now, America first, America forever!"

"As Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney said recently, 'America First' does sound familiar, and not in a good way," wrote the board, drawing a parallel to the phrase's use by Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s. "'Segregation now, segregation forever,' Alabama Gov. George Wallace said in 1963. That, too, was winked at in Hawley's ugly address. Hawley, Stanford history major, is not ignorant of any of the above, shocked as he pretends to be that anyone else would acknowledge it."

"America is not hopelessly divided," concluded the board, "but that's no thanks to Hawley."

You can read more here.

'A sign of weakness': Trump undercut by ex-advisor for running to CPAC so soon after losing to Biden

On Saturday, speaking to The New York Times, former Donald Trump 2016 campaign adviser Sam Nunberg argued that the ex-president's rush to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando so soon after losing the 2020 presidential election signifies his failure, rather than any ongoing strength within the GOP.

"In 2013 and 2014, Mr. Trump wanted 'to be part of the action,'" said Nunberg, adding that Trump "has 'to be part of the action' to keep his precarious grip as the leading contender for the 2024 G.O.P. primary ... The reality is that speaking at CPAC so soon after becoming only the 10th president to lose re-election is a sign of weakness."

Nunberg gained media attention in 2018 during a rant on CNN that he would never cooperate with former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation — an episode so bizarre it spurred allegations he was under the influence of alcohol on-air, which he denied. He ultimately backtracked and did cooperate.

"Few Republicans believe that Mr. Trump has the discipline to drop his desire for attention for long, if at all. Already, he has shown flashes of behaving like the political gadfly in search of attention he was in the years leading up to his run in 2016," wrote Maggie Haberman for the Times. "When Mr. Trump was considering a bid for president as early as 2011, he used his Twitter feed and his frequent Fox News appearances to inject himself into nearly every topic in the news cycle. Mr. Trump's advisers insist that he says he is happier without his Twitter feed."

Some GOP strategists fear Trump will use his CPAC speech on Sunday as a platform to air his grievances against fellow Republicans who have distanced themselves from his attacks on the election or accused him of inciting the Capitol riot in January.

Trump's 'desire for revenge' has GOP officials worried as his CPAC speech looms: report

On Saturday, The Washington Post reported GOP officials are alarmed that former President Donald Trump is still consumed with a "desire for revenge" against various Republican politicians he believes "betrayed" him.

"By all accounts, Trump remains furious at a few he believes betrayed him from within during his attempt to overturn the election results — Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) all come up frequently, sometimes multiple times a day, according to people who speak to him," reported Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer. "That desire for revenge worries GOP officials. On Friday, the former president made his first endorsement against an incumbent House Republican, backing a former White House aide, Max Miller, against Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), a former NFL wide receiver."

Gonzalez had already faced anger from local Republican officials, even before Trump made the endorsement.

Trump's rage against McConnell, who condemned the former president's role in the Capitol riots even while voting to acquit him in the impeachment trial, has spilled into the open, with Trump releasing a statement calling McConnell a "dour, sullen, unsmiling political hack." Despite this, McConnell has said he will "absolutely" support another Trump campaign for president if he wins the party nomination.

The former president has also turned on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and reportedly may even attack him directly in his speech to CPAC on Sunday — his first public address since leaving office.

You can read more here.

Capitol rioters' defense that Trump ordered them to storm Congress is flopping in the courts: report

As participants in the deadly January 6th Capitol riot face charges for their actions, many have tried to argue that they reasonably believed former President Donald Trump had given his imprimatur to their actions.

But according to the Associated Press, this defense is not being well-received in court.

"Facing damning evidence in the deadly Capitol siege last month — including social media posts flaunting their actions — rioters are arguing in court they were following then-President Donald Trump's instructions on Jan. 6," reported Michael Kunzelman and Alanna Richer. "But the legal strategy has already been shot down by at least one judge and experts believe the argument is not likely to get anyone off the hook for the insurrection where five people died, including a police officer."

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell swatted aside this argument from a member of the "Proud Boys" in Kansas City, saying, "This purported defense, if recognized, would undermine the rule of law because then, just like a king or a dictator, the president could dictate what's illegal and what isn't in this country. And that is not how we operate here."

Some of the Capitol rioters have expressed remorse and regret for trusting Trump's conspiracy theories about the election being stolen. One rioter known as the "QAnon Shaman" even volunteered to give testimony at the former president's impeachment trial.

GOP's attempt to blame Capitol insurrection on Antifa is being blown apart by Capitol rioters: report

On Saturday, CNN reported that the right-wing conspiracy theory that the rioters who invaded the U.S. Capitol on January 6th were a false flag planted by "Antifa" activists is being heavily disputed by members of the Capitol riot themselves.

"Many of the alleged rioters facing charges also embraced this conspiracy," reported Marshall Cohen. "But according to a CNN review of court documents, nearly a dozen defendants have explicitly pushed back, saying that they and other Trump supporters deserve the credit for storming the Capitol -- not Antifa."

One accused Capitol rioter, Jose Padilla, posted to Facebook, "There's a lot of memes and posts flying around saying that the people who were fighting last night were all Antifa provocateurs etc. I just want to say that as a first hand observer of every point of last night, that it was not Antifa. They were Patriots who were trying to Restore the Republic." Jonathan Mellis, another accused rioter, wrote, ""Don't you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antifa and BLM. We proudly take responsibility for storming the Castle."

Several Republicans have tried to blame the riot on left-wing provocateurs, with Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey calling the attack a "hoax" and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) saying that fake Trump supporters were responsible for the violence in an otherwise "festive" protest of the election results.

Trump's kids could take the fall in his tax case if the Manhattan DA takes a pass on him: ex-prosecutor

On CNN Saturday, former assistant Manhattan District Attorney Daniel Alonso walked through the biggest legal risk to former President Donald Trump is in afterprosecutors obtained his tax and business records — and noted that Trump's children and business could be on the hook even if he ultimately is not charged.

"He faces peril in multiple jurisdictions, but the Stormy Daniels payment is a discrete set of facts," said Alonso. 'And if they can get over one weird hurdle in New York on the falsification of business records, that could have legs. Michael Cohen was reimbursed by the Trump Organization and presumably the Trump Organization did not correctly list the information in their records. And there is that recording of Cohen and Trump talking about one of the payments. So I think that that could be a discrete case of falsification of business records, assuming that they can prove the felony count which the statute of limitations hasn't yet expired."

"The other stuff, it is certainly very much worth investigating," said Alonso. "There are discrepancies between what they are telling the insurance companies and banks and tax authority, very substantial ... I think a lot of that remains to be seen. There are — there is a lot of evidence, a lot of people to talk to, and there have been accountants and lawyers presumably who were all involved in this."

"One last thing I want to say, it is not necessarily Donald Trump, right? He may not be the defendant," said Alonso. "They may not have enough on these accounting issues to charge him, they may have enough to charge the Trump Organization or other executives, including the kids or others at the organization. Or the CFO. So there are lots and lots of unknowns here, and I wouldn't assume that the defendant is definitely going to be Donald Trump."

Watch below:

Ex-CPAC chair rains hell on 2021 conference where 'facts don't matter' when it comes to Trump

A former chair for the American Conservative Union has denounced the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual gathering sponsored by his erstwhile group, claiming that it has become cult-like and tethered to an "alternate reality," reported the Huffington Post.

Former Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-OK) made the comments during an interview on CNN Friday night with anchor Erin Burnett.

"The Republican party really no longer stands for any kind of principles, conservative or otherwise," said Edwards. "The party seems now to be completely following the lead of one man wherever he goes, which is the definition of a cult. Now all that matters is 'Trump is for this, we're for this.' And that includes denying truth, denying fact, denying reality. It's such a disconnect from what's really happened in the world."

The speakers at CPAC, said Edwards, "are living in an alternate reality in which facts don't matter, the Constitution doesn't matter ... You know, they're no different than the people who flock to other totalitarian leaders in other countries. They're no different than they are in Hungary, they're no different than they used to be Germany. Whatever their great leader says, they do, and there's no underpinning of fact, there's no underpinning or concern about the norms of free democracy."

This year, CPAC's guest list has drawn controversy.

One speaker is a member of a Japanese cult whose leader believes he is a reincarnated alien from Venus. Another planned speaker, Young Pharoah, was disinvited after it emerged he has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, called Judaism a "complete lie," and said that pedophilia and bestality are the "intellectual property" of white people.

'Chief inciter' Ted Cruz slammed by CNN's Cuomo for claiming Democrats are lawless

On Thursday, CNN's Chris Cuomo tore into Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for suggesting on the Michael Berry Show that the Democratic Party is lawless — when he helped to incite a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"Those who are speaking up are as bad as the Q-kook," said Cuomo. "Literally, already trying to erase the reality of January 6th. Everything we saw and know. They say the left were to blame. They are lawless. Now, you ask, who could be that shameless? Not two months after the 6th, you're going to try to spin it like this? All those Trump flags, they didn't exist? Who else?" He played the clip of Cruz.

"Today's Democratic Party has been radicalized, where they're, you know, they're not even willing to enforce the law against violent criminals who are committing horrific crimes," said Cruz in the clip.

"You know, if Cruz is as smart as they say he is, maybe he's banking on being hated," said Cuomo. "Maybe he thinks there is no more line between fame and infamy, as long as people talk about you a lot and your name is out there, maybe that is power in our new politics that is largely about how to poison the other side. Remember, he is a chief inciter of the deadly insurrection committed by 'violent criminals,' to use his term. And this is not about just lying about the past, which he knows he is. It's about fueling those who may be lying in wait."

Watch below:

Pelosi refuses to remove minimum wage hike from stimulus after parliamentarian rules it out of order

On Thursday, following the decision by the Senate parliamentarian to rule the $15 an hour minimum wage increase out of order as part of the budget reconciliation process for COVID-19 stimulus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that her chamber will be holding a vote on the relief package tomorrow as is — with the minimum wage provision still in it.

"House Democrats believe that the minimum wage hike is necessary," said Pelosi's statement. "Therefore, this provision will remain in the American Rescue Plan on the floor tomorrow. Democrats in the House are determined to pursue every possible path in the Fight For 15."

Even if the provision passes the House, it faces certain removal in the Senate, which could require the chambers to go to conference to reconcile the differences between what the House and Senate pass. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is confident the bill as a whole is still on track to passage.

Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who played a key role in defending the validity of the minimum wage provision to the parliamentarian, is now also proposing an alternative provision that will revoke tax deductions from businesses that do not voluntarily raise the minimum wage. This would be more likely to comply with Senate budget rules, but would be more limited.

Biden's Syria strike could complicate 'dicey' restarted talks with Iran: CNN's Kaitlan Collins

On Thursday, following a military strike on an Iranian military target in Syria, CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins broke down the implications of the action — and its possible implications on diplomacy with Iran.

"We're told this came from the top down, the decision to target these sites specifically. That means it came from President Biden himself," said Collins. "And so this does raise a lot of questions about where they are going to go forward, since they just said they want to restart talks with Iran. Those are multinational talks ... it was always going to be a delicate tough dance that was going to move forward there after former President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. So the way this complicates that, how this factors into that, still remains to be seen, because it was already going to be pretty dicey."

"What we do know about the decision behind this, is we were told by the White House press secretary President Biden was 'outraged' by the rocket attacks in Iraq," added Collins. "We know yesterday he spoke with the prime minister there, and they vowed to hold those accountable. So that seems to be what they were trying to do here tonight with this."

Watch below:

Minimum wage won’t be in stimulus — unless Kamala Harris overrules the Senate parliamentarian

On Thursday, the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that the minimum wage increase cannot be included in the Democratic COVID-19 stimulus package.

Democrats are passing the legislation as part of a budget reconciliation package, meaning that there are strict rules about what can and cannot be included in the bill in order to avoid a 60-vote threshold.

Vice President Kamala Harris could overrule the decision, but the administration has signaled they will not do so.

With the minimum wage not admissible in the package, it will need to be passed as part of separate legislation that will be subject to the filibuster.

Jim Jordan ignores pandemic in rant against Biden’s stimulus bill: ‘Time to get back to normal’

On Newsmax Thursday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked the Democratic stimulus plan making its way toward passage, and demanded that everything "go back to work, go back to school, go back to normal, and stop spending money" — disregarding the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much ongoing.

He also claimed that "91 percent" of the bill "isn't even for COVID" — overlooking that a major purpose of the bill is to reverse economic damage caused by the virus, not just the virus itself.

"The fundamental thing is, it's time to get back to normal," he said.

So far, Republicans have not expressed any support for the stimulus bill, which Democrats are hoping to pass through budget reconciliation to get around filibusters. The Senate parliamentarian is currently weighing whether the provisions Democrats are proposing are valid under budget rules.

Watch below:

McConnell vows he will 'absolutely' support Trump if GOP nominates him in 2024

On Thursday, in an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he would stand with former President Donald Trump if he were to receive the nomination to run for president a third time in 2024.

"The nominee of the party?" said McConnell. "Absolutely." He added that he believes Trump would have to compete against "at least" four GOP senators "plus some governors and others" if he ran again.

The commitment to back Trump if he wins the nomination stands in stark contrast to McConnell's condemnation of the former president's incitement of the Capitol riot in the wake of the impeachment vote, in which he suggested the charges should be litigated in a court of law. It also contrasts with the tension between the two men, with McConnell reportedly never wanting to speak to Trump again, and Trump issuing a statement calling him a "dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack."

Trump has teased at the possibility of running again, but has not made a firm decision either way.

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