The Republicans 2020 – 2021

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The Republicans 2020
The Lincoln Project
What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory
The 45th President of the U.S.

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden
(Axios) Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.
‘They were provoked by the president’: Mitch McConnell blames Trump for deadly Capitol riots
“The mob was fed lies,” the GOP leader said on the Senate floor. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”
McConnell’s rebuke of Trump comes as the outgoing president faces an upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate over the deadly siege at the Capitol. The top Republican has said he’s currently undecided on impeachment, but he has reportedly been leaning toward convicting Trump.
Jennifer Senior: Good Riddance, Leader McConnell
The judgment of history will be damning.
(NYT opinion) …power is really all the old-school G.O.P. has to cling to. Its philosophy of sharply limited government and free enterprise has never had enough appeal to win over a true majority. Staying in power required voter suppression, gerrymandering, the Electoral College, oceans of money.
McConnell has worked indefatigably to defend them all — and to make sure the Democratic agenda never succeeds. His dirtiest maneuver was to let a Supreme Court seat sit empty for a year, rather than allow Barack Obama to fill it. But his obstructionist warfare stretches back much further than that. While minority leader, he either threatened or made use of the filibuster at every turn; once he got control of the chamber, he still brought very little legislation to the floor.

Heather Cox Richardson January 19
Trump has split the Republican Party. His true loyalists intend to turn America into a right-wing, white, Christian nation as embodied in the 1776 Report the administration released yesterday. In the last days of the administration, Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is pretty clearly trying to position himself for a 2024 presidential run, tweeting from the official government account of the State Department a long list of what he considers his accomplishments. Others are likely planning to give him a run for his money. Today Senator Josh Hawley, under suspicion of inciting the January 6 rioters with his support for throwing out Biden’s Electoral College votes, slow-walked Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security because Hawley objects to Biden’s plans to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Establishment Republicans are trying to regain control of the party. After the January coup attempt, some corporations announced they would no longer donate to Republicans who had voted to challenge the certified electoral votes, while others declared a moratorium on all political spending. The corporate turn against the Trump wing of the Republican Party strengthened the backbone of the establishment Republicans.

The Coming Republican Amnesia
How will the GOP recover from the Trump era? Pretend it never happened.
The plan might seem implausible, but I’ve heard it floated repeatedly in recent days by Republican strategists who are counting down the minutes of the Trump presidency. The hardcore MAGA crowd will stay loyal, of course, and those few who have consistently opposed Trump will escape with their reputations intact. But for the majority of GOP officials, apparatchiks, and commentators who sacrificed their dignity at the altar of Trump, a collective case of amnesia seems destined to set in the moment he leaves office.

16 January
Ben Sasse: QAnon Is Destroying the GOP From Within
Until last week, too many in the Republican Party thought they could preach the Constitution and wink at QAnon. They can’t.
(The Atlantic) The violence that Americans witnessed—and that might recur in the coming days—is not a protest gone awry or the work of “a few bad apples.” It is the blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago and has been nourished by treachery, poor political judgment, and cowardice. When Trump leaves office, my party faces a choice: We can dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution and perpetuating our best American institutions and traditions, or we can be a party of conspiracy theories, cable-news fantasies, and the ruin that comes with them. We can be the party of Eisenhower, or the party of the conspiracist Alex Jones. We can applaud Officer Goodman or side with the mob he outwitted. We cannot do both.
If and when the House sends its article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate, I will be a juror in his trial, and thus what I can say in advance is limited. But no matter what happens in that trial, the Republican Party faces a separate reckoning. Until last week, many party leaders and consultants thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon. They can’t. The GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them. Now is the time to decide what this party is about.

14 January
Republican Party faces rage from both pro- and anti-Trump voters
(Reuters) After riots at the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters, the Republican Party is facing defections from two camps of voters it can’t afford to lose: those saying Trump and his allies went too far in contesting the election of Democrat Joe Biden – and those saying they didn’t go far enough, according to new polling and interviews with two dozen voters.
From off-duty police to firefighters, state lawmakers, teachers, municipal workers and at least one active-duty military officer, dozens of public servants from across the United States joined the protests in Washington that turned into a siege on the U.S. Capitol.
Since returning home, many have confronted harsh criticism from angry constituents or employers – often because of their own posts on social media.

13 January
(Politico Nightly) Mitch McConnell threw the outcome of the Senate trial — and Trump’s future political ambitions — in doubt Tuesday night when he privately indicated that Trump’s actions qualify him for removal from office, according to a source familiar with his thinking. But that doesn’t mean McConnell would vote to convict. …McConnell sent a note to his GOP members this afternoon stating, “I have not made a final decision on how I will vote.”
McConnell has put up with a lot over the past four years to get what he wants — things like conservative judges and Supreme Court justices, as well as tax cuts and deregulation. He is said to be sick of Trump, especially after the Georgia runoffs. He is looking for the best way to diminish Trump’s influence within the GOP moving forward.
If McConnell votes to convict — which is now more of a possibility than it was before today — then I think it’s nearly certain that 17+ Republicans will vote to convict. 

12 January
Katko, Cheney and Kinzinger are first Republicans to back impeachment as leaders forgo formally lobbying against it.
In a stinging statement that drove a fissure through her party, Ms. Cheney dismissed fellow Republicans arguing that the impeachment was rushed, premature or unwarranted. Her words were unequivocal and likely to give cover to two dozen or so other House Republicans looking to break ranks and join an effort that was also said to have the tacit support of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

7 January
Republicans Splinter Over Whether to Make a Full Break From Trump
Republicans face a disturbing prospect: that Wednesday’s Trump-inspired violence could linger for decades as a stain on the party.
(NYT) Those divisions were in especially sharp relief this week when scores of House Republicans sided with Mr. Trump in voting to block certification of the election — in a tally taken after the mob rampaged through the Capitol — while dozens of other House members and all but eight Republican senators refused to go along.
Republicans who spent years putting off a reckoning with Mr. Trump over his dangerous behavior are now confronting a disturbing prospect: that Wednesday’s episode of violence, incited by Mr. Trump’s remarks, could linger for decades as a stain on the party — much as the Watergate break-in and the Great Depression shadowed earlier generations of Republicans.
The Mob Is Gone, but the Crisis of the Republican Party Has Only Begun
By Amy Davidson Sorkin
…seven Republican senators—Cruz, Hawley, Hyde-Smith, Cynthia Lummis, Marshall, Rick Scott, and Tuberville—voted to reject Pennsylvania’s electors. So did a hundred and thirty-eight Republican representatives. In a statement on Wednesday, General James Mattis, the former Secretary of Defense, said that Trump “will deservedly be left a man without a country.” But he is not yet a man without a party, or a faction. This is a precipitous moment, but whatever struggle lies between now and January 20th—and it may be a profound one—Trump’s poisonous Presidency will soon end. The crisis of the Republican Party has barely begun.
Jennifer Rubin: A demagogue, a mob and the Sedition Caucus
All but six senators supporting objections to the counting of Arizona’s electoral college votes slunk away when it came time to cast final votes. Consider those who remained the Dirty Half Dozen: Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Roger Marshall (Kan.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.).
The first two, as you could tell from their vapid and utterly contentless remarks, knew they had no legitimate basis for seeking to overthrow the duly elected government. Theirs was an act of sedition — a cynical attempt to pander to the rioters, many of whom had trashed the Capitol. The other four, I strongly suspect, simply are not very bright. Ideally, their colleagues should expel them, or at least toss them out of the Republican caucus.

Elaine Chao, Trump’s transportation secretary, resigns along with other officials.

6 January
Senate GOP objectors privately meeting to strategize plans
(CNN) The main Senate objectors are privately meeting to strategize about whether they plan to press ahead with their objections. The discussions come as leaders are planning to continue with the House and Senate session sometime tonight, but pressure is building on the senators to limit their objections and show unity after the raucous and violent display in the Capitol today.
Romney: Trump caused ‘this insurrection’
(The Hill) Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told a reporter “this is what the president has caused today, this insurrection” as protesters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday to protest the presidential election results.
Ted Cruz’s electoral vote speech will live in infamy
(WaPo) “Recent polling shows that 39 percent of Americans believe the election that just occurred, quote, was rigged,” Cruz said. “You may not agree with that assessment. But it is nonetheless a reality for nearly half the country.”
After noting that this wasn’t limited to Republicans, he continued. “Even if you do not share that conviction, it is the responsibility, I believe, of this office to acknowledge that it is a profound threat to this country and to the legitimacy of any administrations that will come in the future,” he said.

The Trump implosion
By Mike Allen, Jim VandeHei, co-founders of Axios
(Axios) Republicans, who enabled President Trump with their silence and compliance, are privately furious with him for blowing their Senate majority.
Driving the news: Democrat Raphael Warnock was declared victor over Sen. Kelly Loeffler in one of the twin Georgia runoffs at 2 a.m., and will become the Southern state’s first Black senator. Democrat Jon Ossoff is on track to beat former Sen. David Perdue in the other runoff, with most of the outstanding votes in Democratic strongholds.
That second victory would mean Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer becomes effective majority leader, taking power from Mitch McConnell.
In a 50-50 Senate, Vice President-elect Harris would break ties.
Why it matters: It’s a fitting and predictable end to Trump’s reign.
The party has now lost the House, Senate and White House on his watch.
He leaves Democrats in full control of Washington’s agenda, with only the Supreme Court’s conservative majority as a counterweight.
Between the lines: It’d be tough to go big with a 50-50 Senate, so don’t assume a substantial shift. But Democratic control would be a massive blow to Republican hopes of blowing up anything they truly loathe.

Trump Jr.: Trump supporters in DC ‘should send a message’ to GOP ‘this isn’t’ their party anymore
“It should be a message to all the Republicans who have not been willing to actually fight, the people who did nothing to stop the steal,” Trump Jr. said at a “Stop the Steal” rally on the National Mall. “This gathering should send a message to them: This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”
Trump Jr. added: “This is the Republican party that will put America first.”

5 January
What Republicans Might Gain if They Lose Georgia
They have survived Trump for the last four years. But disentangling from him might get easier if his latest sabotage succeeds.
By Ross Douthat
Obviously, a runoff-day defeat won’t by itself prevent Trump from winning the party’s nomination four years hence or bestriding its internal culture in the meantime. (Indeed, for some of his supporters it would probably confirm their belief that the presidential election was stolen — because look, the Democrats did it twice!) But the sense that there is a real political cost to slavishly endorsing not just Trump but also his fantasy politics, his narrative of stolen victory, seems a necessary precondition for the separation that elected Republicans need to seek — working carefully, like a bomb-dismantling team — between their position and the soon-to-be-former president’s, if they don’t want him to just claim the leadership of their party by default.
… Trump’s diminishment is definitely necessary if the American right is ever going to be a force for something other than deeper decadence, deeper gridlock, fantasy politics and partisan battles that have nothing to do with the challenges the country really faces.
Or to distill the point: You don’t have to see Trump as a Caesar to recognize his behavior this month as Nero-esque, playing a QAnon-grade fiddle while the pandemic burns. We imported at least one of the new variants of the coronavirus from overseas in the past few weeks — like the pandemic itself, the kind of thing a populist-nationalist president is supposed to try to slam the door against — but instead of shutting down flights from Britain or South Africa, he’s been too busy pushing the stupidest election challenge in recorded history, while slipping ever-closer to blaming the lizard people for his defeat.

4 January
Russell Berman: Mitch McConnell’s Slipping Grip on the Republican Party
What happens when GOP senators stop listening to their own majority leader?
(The Atlantic) A pair of runoff elections in Georgia tomorrow could end the Kentucky Republican’s six-year reign as majority leader, and on Wednesday, he’ll have to watch as nearly a quarter of his members challenge the clear results of the presidential election in defiance of McConnell’s explicit wishes. … McConnell likely will survive this embarrassment, just as he has previous ones. But for the Republican Party, and perhaps eventually for the country, the stakes of this split are much higher.

Paul Ryan condemns party members’ plot to reject Biden’s election win.
“Efforts to reject the votes of the Electoral College and sow doubt about Joe Biden’s victory strike at the foundation of our republic,” Mr. Ryan wrote. “It is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections and disenfranchise millions of Americans. The fact that this effort will fail does not mean it will not do significant damage to American democracy.”

2 January
Heather Cox Richardson Letters from an American
“…they are alleging the need for an investigation into irregularities in the 2020 election, although they have failed repeatedly to produce any evidence of such irregularities in court. Their argument is the country needs an investigation to relieve people’s worries about the legitimacy of the election, but those worries have been created precisely by the unjustified accusations of Republican leaders. An investigation would simply convince people that the election results are questionable. They are not.
The attempt of the senators to get Congress to appoint an investigatory committee into alleged fraud in the election is dangerous and unprecedented, and they know it.”
Pence ‘welcomes’ efforts of lawmakers to ‘raise objections’ to Electoral College results
(The Hill) Vice President Pence’s chief of staff said in a statement on Saturday that the vice president “welcomes” an effort by some lawmakers to “raise objections” on Jan. 6, when Congress meets to certify the Electoral College vote.
“Vice President Pence shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election,” Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff said in a statement to The Hill.
11 Senate Republicans say they will oppose Electoral College results Wednesday
“Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states,” they said. “Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed.
The objection on Jan. 6 will not change President-elect Joe Biden’s win, but it is putting GOP incumbents up for reelection in 2022 in a political bind because they will have to pick between supporting claims of fraud, which many of them have spoken out against, or voting against the president and potentially fueling a primary challenge.
If an objection has the support of a member of the House and a member of the Senate, the two chambers separate and debate it for up to two hours. Both the House and Senate would then vote on whether to uphold the objection, which would require a majority in both chambers to be successful.
Wednesday’s objections will fail because Democrats control the House and several GOP senators have said they will oppose objections next week.
But Wednesday will mark only the third time since 1887 that Congress has had to debate and vote on an objection. The attempts to change the results in 1969 and 2005 were also unsuccessful.

30-31 December
The Unbearable Weakness of Trump’s Minions
Senator Josh Hawley isn’t just engaging in civic vandalism—he is an emblem of a weak and rotten Republican Party.
Peter Wehner
(The Atlantic) …what makes Hawley’s declaration ominously noteworthy is that…Hawley is a man who clearly knows better. According to his Senate biography, he is “recognized as one of the nation’s leading constitutional lawyers.” A former state attorney general, Hawley has litigated before the Supreme Court. He graduated from Stanford University in 2002 and Yale Law School in 2006. He has clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts; he taught at one of London’s elite private schools, St. Paul’s; and he served as an appellate litigator at one of the world’s biggest law firms.
… A longtime acquaintance of the Missouri senator explained to me Hawley’s actions this way: “Hawley never wants to talk down to his voters. He wants to speak for them, and at the moment, they are saying the election was stolen.”
“He surely knows this isn’t true,” this acquaintance continued, “and that the legal arguments don’t hold water. And yet clearly the incentives he confronts—as someone who wants to speak for those voters, and as someone with ambitions beyond the Senate—lead him to conclude he should pretend the lie is true. This is obviously a very bad sign about the direction of the GOP in the coming years.”

Dana Milbank: Meet the Trump saboteur in charge of undermining Biden — and America
If, in the new year, pandemic vaccines aren’t available as promised, Americans can’t return to work because economic relief isn’t delivered or an adversary successfully attacks the United States because national security agencies couldn’t pay for new defenses, a hefty share of the blame should be placed on a man you’ve probably never heard of: One Russell Thurlow Vought.
… what [OMB director] Russ Vought is very good at is sabotage. He’s sabotaging national security, the pandemic response and the economic recovery — all to make things more difficult for the incoming Biden administration. That he’s also sabotaging the country seems not to matter to Vought, who has spent nearly two decades as a right-wing bomb thrower.

Georgia’s Perdue to quarantine after possible coronavirus exposure, on weekend before Senate runoffs
Sen. David Perdue, one of the Republican candidates in the pair of Georgia runoffs that will determine the trajectory of Congress for the next two years, is quarantining after coming into close contact with someone connected to his campaign who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Paul Waldman: Why Mitch McConnell wants to raise your hopes and then dash them
McConnell is done providing help to the U.S. economy, however, now that President-elect Joe Biden will be taking office in just three weeks.
(WaPo) …the reason McConnell opposes the $2,000 is that any further stimulus would accelerate the economic recovery. How much it would do so is hard to predict with precision, but it would certainly have some effect, and anything that helps the economy is bad for the Republican project of constraining, undermining and sabotaging Biden’s presidency.
So all McConnell needs is to drag this out for a few more days. If he can give Loeffler and Perdue the time to loudly proclaim their support for the $2,000 checks, it might not matter for their race whether the bill dies in the end. The best possible outcome is for them to win in part because they promised to bring more stimulus, but then for no more stimulus to arrive.
That’s because over the next two years, Republicans would very much like Americans to think that government has failed them. The more dissatisfaction and displeasure there is, the more likely it becomes that McConnell and his party can sweep the 2022 midterms, make Biden’s life hell and set the GOP up to retake total control of government in 2024 — even if it was largely their fault.

24 December
The stuff of nightmares
Nina Krushcheva: Ivanka the Inevitable?
After four years as a “senior adviser” in her father’s presidential administration, Ivanka Trump seems to be preparing for a political career of her own. If she wins national office, she will use her power just as her father has: for the Trumps.
(Project Syndicate) Ivanka recently purchased a $30 million waterfront lot near Miami Beach.This suggests that [she] may be considering a Senate run, especially if her father plans to run for re-election in 2024. But, given that her father openly considered making her his vice president in 2016, there is also a chance that “The Donald” will operate from the sidelines, while Ivanka pursues the top spot on the 2024 Republican ticket.

14 – 15 December
Defying Trump, McConnell Seeks to Squelch Bid to Overturn the Election
Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, congratulated President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and pleaded with Republicans privately not to join an effort by House members to throw out the results.
Can Congress Overturn the Electoral College Results? Probably Not
Republicans are planning one final showdown. They are almost certain to fail, but not before Vice President Mike Pence is thrust into having to declare President Trump the loser.

10-11 December
House Republicans who didn’t sign onto the Texas lawsuit
(The Hill) Dozens of House Republicans opted not to join 126 of their GOP colleagues in signing onto an amicus brief in support of the Texas lawsuit aimed at overturning the election results in four key states that were key to securing President-elect Joe Biden’s (D) win.
It’s Not Just Trump’s War on Democracy Anymore
Republicans have gone far beyond merely humoring their losing leader
By Susan B. Glasser
(The New Yorker) Tuesday, after all, was also, by federal law, the national “safe harbor” date—the deadline by which states certify their election results in advance of the Electoral College’s upcoming meeting, on December 14th. Despite all of Trump’s pressure, in fact, every battleground state met the deadline and certified its results. Under the law, that means they are not subject to any challenge. The law does not appear to give Trump any further room to maneuver.
Undaunted, in the space of a few hours on Wednesday, Trump had his campaign join an even more far-fetched lawsuit, by Texas, asking the Court to throw out millions of votes in battleground states that decided the election’s outcome—Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—all of which have already certified their results.
…seventeen other states—or at least their attorneys general— filed a brief supporting the spurious Texas lawsuit, representing, from South Carolina to Utah, an array of pro-Trump red states. Eighteen states, in other words, are making the preposterous—and democratically devastating—argument that the Supreme Court should throw out other states’ votes because they do not like the results. So much for federalism and states’ rights and all those other previously cherished Republican principles.
The ‘Trump Won’ Farce Isn’t Funny Anymore
Republicans are now seriously arguing that elections are legitimate only when their side wins.
By Jamelle Bouie
(NYT) That this quest is quixotic is, in all likelihood, one reason it has so much support. It is only with the knowledge of certain defeat that Republican officeholders feel comfortable plowing forward with an effort that would tear the United States apart if it succeeded. They can play politics with constitutional government (Paxton, for instance, hopes to succeed Greg Abbott as governor of Texas) knowing that the Supreme Court isn’t going to risk it all for Donald Trump.
…there is a whole tradition of reactionary, counter-majoritarian thought in American politics to which the conservative movement is heir — but it is the first time since the 1850s that these ideas have nearly captured an entire political party. And while the future is unwritten, the events of the past month make me worry that we’re following a script the climax of which requires a disaster.
Republican support for anti-election case reaches absurd heights
There is a toxicity in the body politic, and it’s poisoned more than half of the House Republican conference.
(MSNBC) A few days ago, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) reached out to his GOP colleagues, seeking signatories to a brief endorsing the crazypants lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Johnson told House Republicans that he’d been in direct contact with Donald Trump, who was “anxiously awaiting the final list to review,” checking which members were on board with the anti-election effort, and which were not.
The pitch apparently proved persuasive: more than half of the House Republicans in Congress attached their names to this transparent nonsense.
The GOP Abandons Democracy
One hundred and six Republican members of Congress, and 18 state attorneys general, are asking the Supreme Court to overturn the election.
David A. Graham
(The Atlantic) In the first few weeks after the election, anonymous Republicans and White House officials insisted that Trump’s lack of a concession was no reason for alarm. They assured reporters that Trump knew he’d lost and just needed time to process his defeat—and to put up enough of a fight that he could maintain his image. Perhaps that was true, and perhaps it remains true now, but Trump isn’t acting like someone working through the stages of grief. He’s acting like someone working through a slow-motion (and probably doomed) autogolpe.
Instead of Republican officeholders waiting out Trump’s post-election tantrum, he is waiting them out, and slowly bringing the party around to his side. In this way, Trump is ending his presidency just the way he won it: by correctly recognizing what Republican voters want and giving it to them, and gradually forcing the party’s purported leaders to follow along.
Yesterday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court asking the justices to toss out the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. (The Court has “original jurisdiction” over cases between states, acting like a trial court.) Trump announced that he would intervene in the case on his own behalf. “This is the big one,” he tweeted.

5 December
William Barr’s Break with Donald Trump
(The New Yorker) Barr’s actions during his tenure as Attorney General may be up for debate, but he is not compromised, distraught, or ill. Nor is he a member of a deep-state coup. There is no deep-state coup. As state and local Republican officials in six battleground states and nearly fifty judges have found, Joe Biden decisively won the 2020 election. Barr’s refutation of Trump’s false claims came late, but, nevertheless, it deserves praise. At long last, the country’s chief law-enforcement officer has defended American democracy. And that, in the waning days of the Trump Presidency, could cost him his job.
Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, the lawyers for the Trump campaign, immediately issued a statement accusing Barr of failing to seriously examine the President’s claims: “With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation.”

23-24 November
John Cassidy: If the polls are to be believed—and one of the lessons of the election is that they should never be entirely believed—a majority of Republicans support Trump’s claim that the 2020 vote was crooked. And why wouldn’t they? “Republican senators and representatives, in their silence, are allowing the idea to take hold that the whole system is rigged,” Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, noted last Thursday, in the Wall Street Journal. The fact that, this week, some elected Republicans at the national level belatedly came forward and called on Trump to allow the transition to begin doesn’t negate the abject servility that they have displayed since the election—and, indeed, since the 2016 election.
Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein lists 21 GOP senators who have ‘privately’ expressed their ‘extreme contempt’ for Donald Trump
(Daily Mail UK) ‘I’m not violating any pledge of journalistic confidentially in reporting this: 21 Republican Sens–in convos w/ colleagues, staff members, lobbyists, W. House aides–have repeatedly expressed extreme contempt for Trump and his fitness to be POTUS.” He continued: ‘The 21 GOP Senators who have privately expressed their disdain for Trump are: Portman, Alexander, Sasse, Blunt, Collins, Murkowski, Cornyn, Thune, Romney, Braun, Young, Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Rubio, Grassley, Burr, Toomey, McSally, Moran, Roberts, Shelby.
‘With few exceptions, their craven public silence has helped enable Trump’s most grievous conduct—including undermining and discrediting the US the electoral system.’

21 November
State and Local Republicans Standing Up to Trump Are Putting National G.O.P. Leaders to Shame
(The New Yorker) Republicans’ complicity with Trump goes beyond their silence, disturbing as that is. The demented press conference that Rudy Giuliani and other Trump lawyers held on Thursday, at which they alleged a grand voter-fraud conspiracy orchestrated by the Biden campaign, took place at the Republican National Committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters. After the event, the R.N.C. posted a video clip from it on its Twitter account. Later that day, Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the R.N.C., appeared on Sean Hannity’s show, on Fox News, where she defended Trump’s unprecedented refusal to accept the result of the election, claiming that it was based on “real things that we are seeing on the ground across the country.”

19 November
The Future of the GOP
Madison Cawthorn is 25, far-right, and already faces accusations of racism and sexual misconduct. And he’s headed to Congress.
(New York) Despite his youth, inexperience, and a campaign plagued by scandal after scandal, Cawthorn trounced his Democratic opponent by 12 points. He’s part of a young, insurgent generation of GOP politicos forged in the heat of MAGA and the slimy crucible of its culture wars. Like any number of college Young Republicans roiling their campuses nationwide with increasingly radicalized rhetoric, Cawthorn is a young man who’s demonstrated racist views and been accused of misogynist behavior — and hasn’t let either stop him in his quest for power. Add in a photogenic set of cheekbones and a marked tendency to pose with girth-y rifles, and you arrive at the message the GOP has imprinted on its rising stars: one of instinctual cruelty and little else. It’s hard not to arrive at the conclusion that this is the future of the Republican Party, and the main of what it has to offer.

17 November
A Disturbing Number of Republicans Support Trump’s Coup Attempt
(New York) Influential Republican activists like Tom Fitton, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Ken Starr have all demanded state legislators override the election result. Politicians like Florida governor Ron DeSantis and South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham have also signed on.

16 November
Lindsey Graham Pressured Georgia Secretary of State to Toss Legal Ballots
(New York) Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham and other Republicans have reportedly pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to toss out legal ballots as part of their increasingly desperate efforts to contest Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the presidential election.
The Trump Era Is Just Getting Started
By Zak Cheney-Rice
Ridding the White House of Trump, if the American people are successful in doing so, is unlikely to mean ridding our national politics of his influence, let alone the man himself.
(New York Magazine) Trump has an enormous following whose fealty to him seems at most times incidental to the fact of his presidency, indeed who worshipped him as much when he was an aggrieved contender as when he was playing the triumphant commander-in chief, and again now that he’s an aggrieved loser who won’t admit he lost. His approval ratings as president were impervious to nearly every disaster he unleashed on the American people — including his feckless and callous handling of a deadly pandemic — for anywhere between 35 to 40 percent of the public. Now he has proposed two future plans: he reportedly says he’s considering running for president again in 2024, and has often said that he might launch a media venture to compete with Fox News. The full implications aren’t yet clear. But when a scorned ex-president with a massive and devoted following whose most notable skills are nursing grievances and attracting attention broadcasts a plan to dedicate the next several years to resolving a grievance and getting more attention, it’s probably time for both parties to start considering how their political futures might be shaped by his continued grip on Republican voters especially, even once he’s out of office.
… Americans rejoicing in his defeat should prepare accordingly.

Heather Cox Richardson November 14:
Today’s Republican Party has traveled a long way from the party of Abraham Lincoln.

In the 1850s, the Republican Party rose to stand against a small group of wealthy southern white slaveholders who had taken over the government. Those slaveholders made up only about 1% of the American South. They ran the Democratic Party, but they knew their system of human enslavement was unpopular and that they were in a political minority even in the Democratic Party. It was only a question of time until the majority began to hem in their ownership of other human beings.
So when folks started to urge the government to promote infrastructure in the growing nation, building roads or dredging harbors, for example, these southern leaders worried that if the government began to intervene in the economy, the regulation of slavery would be just around the corner. They pushed back by insisting that the government could do nothing that was not expressly written in the Constitution. Even if the vast majority of the people in the country wanted the government to do something, it could not.

12-13 November
Ezra Klein: The crisis isn’t Trump. It’s the Republican Party.
Anne Applebaum wrote the book on why people choose to collaborate with authoritarian regimes. So what does she think of the GOP?
The most alarming aspect of the past week is not Donald Trump’s anti-democratic efforts. He is doing exactly what he has always done, exactly what he said he would do. It’s the speed at which Republican elites have consolidated support around him. Without the Republican Party’s support, Trump is just the loser of an election, ranting ineffectually about theft as a way to rationalize defeat. With the Republican Party’s support, he’s a danger to the country.
GOP leaders’ embrace of Trump’s refusal to concede fits pattern of rising authoritarianism, data shows
Research by a team of international scholars shows the Republican Party’s shift away from democratic norms predates Donald Trump but has accelerated since
(WaPo) Now, according to data released by an international team of political scientists just before the Nov. 3 election, it’s possible to quantify the extent to which the Republican Party no longer adheres to such principles as the commitment to free and fair elections with multiple parties, the respectful treatment of political opponents and the avoidance of violent rhetoric.
‘What a Mess!’: Billionaire Charles Koch Regrets His Partisanship
(Daily Beast) Kansas billionaire Charles Koch now says that he regrets his partisan spending—admitting in his new book that it only made things worse, according to The Wall Street Journal. The 85-year-old tycoon’s book, Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World, says that he is shifting his focus from intense Republican partisanship to finding unifying answers to social issues instead. “Boy, did we screw up!” Koch writes. “What a mess!” He now wants to work together with Democrats and liberals like the American Civil Liberties Union, the LeBron James Family Foundation, and Democratic state legislative campaigns.
Small Cracks Emerge in G.O.P. Support for Trump’s Baseless Fraud Claims
President Trump retains a powerful hold on his party. But a growing number of Republican elected officials and party leaders have signaled they will indulge his conspiracy theories for only so long.
(NYT) …with Mr. Biden now leading in enough states to deliver him as many as 306 Electoral College votes — the same sum Mr. Trump won in 2016 and declared a “landslide” — and with no credible evidence of electoral malfeasance, Republicans are gingerly beginning to acknowledge the reality of Mr. Biden’s win. The former vice president leads by more than 20,000 votes in Wisconsin, 53,000 in Pennsylvania and 148,000 in Michigan — comparable to or larger than Mr. Trump’s winning margins in those states four years ago. And in the popular vote, Mr. Biden is now ahead by more than five million votes.

26 October
Conservative Analyst Bill Kristol: A Trump Second Term is Dangerous (video)
(Amanpour and Company) President Trump’s America has been characterized by political polarization. Also notable has been the exodus of prominent Republicans from the GOP. One high-profile example is Bill Kristol, who served in the administrations of both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He now leads Defending Democracy Together, a coalition of anti-Trump Republicans. He speaks with Walter Isaacson about the possible cost to his former party, should its members continue to back this administration unconditionally.

20 October
Republicans, it’s time to choose between autocracy and a republic
By Republicans Reed Galen, Steve Schmidt and Rick Wilson, co-founders of the Lincoln Project, and Stuart Stevens, a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project.
Never before in U.S. history has an incumbent president refused in advance to accept the outcome of an election. In the days ahead, your party may call upon you to support efforts by a White House that refuses to transfer power after a loss at the polls. The weapons won’t be tanks but thousands of lawyers backed by an attorney general who works for the president, not the people.

Has Trump Drawn the Water for a ‘Republican Blood Bath’?
And if he has, what should Biden do with his first term?
By Gail Collins and Bret Stephens

9 October
Republicans are finally ready to diss Don
The president’s grip on the party is loosening amid a coronavirus backlash and fears of an electoral bloodbath.
(Politico) A barrage of barbed comments in recent days shows how markedly the calculus of fear has shifted in the GOP. For much of the past four years, Republican politicians were scared above all about incurring the wrath of the president and his supporters with any stray gesture or remark that he might regard as not sufficiently deferential. Now, several of them are evidently more scared of not being viewed by voters as sufficiently independent.

5 October
Inside the Lincoln Project’s War Room
Progressives are wary of the conservative group hammering the President, but its founders say they’re fighting for all Americans.
(The New Yorker) The Project’s founders are a murderers’ row of conservative operatives. Wilson, who has worked for Rudolph Giuliani and Dick Cheney, counts hundreds of elections, from “dogcatcher to U.S. Senate,” that he and the other founders have helped Republicans win. Schmidt served in the George W. Bush White House, where he was instrumental in seating the Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts. He is widely known for having suggested Sarah Palin as a running mate for McCain, in 2008. Schmidt clearly regrets choosing someone whose crude populism presaged Trump.
Most of the Project’s core founders are in their fifties and came of age under Ronald Reagan. They were drawn to Reagan’s optimism and to his belief in fiscally responsible government, which, as Galen points out, “doesn’t necessarily mean lower taxes—it means being smart with taxpayers’ money.” Socially, they favor individual liberty: worship however you want, marry whomever you want. They support responsible gun ownership and a judiciously interventionist foreign policy. Weaver served in the Air Force, and Wilson worked in the Defense Department, but all the founders revere military service.

2 October
How Trump and Barr are Benefitting from the Catholic Right’s Consolidation of Power
(The New Yorker) Midway through this year’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which was live-streamed last Wednesday morning, the screen shifted from an image of the event’s president, Leonard Leo, to the recipient of this year’s lifetime-achievement award, William Barr. Barr, of course, is the U.S. Attorney General. Leo is the co-chair of the Federalist Society, an organization of attorneys and legal educators that promotes the careers of judges who subscribe to principles of political conservatism and “textual originalism.” Both men are lifelong Roman Catholics. In this moment, they are the two of the most influential Catholic conservatives in the United States.
John Carr, my colleague at Georgetown University, who was formerly a key figure in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, described the N.C.P.B. this way: “It’s not particularly national, not fully Catholic, not primarily prayer, and this year not even breakfast. It’s a partisan exercise where supporters of Donald Trump are more at home than defenders of Pope Francis.”
…Amy Coney Barrett, of the Seventh Circuit, who on Saturday became Trump’s official nominee— [is a] Catholic conservative whose views reflect those of the Federalist Society. (If Barrett is confirmed, the Court will have five conservative Catholic Justices, the culmination of the Federalist Society’s forty-year effort to tilt the courts to the right.)
… [Trump] has courted conservative Catholics in 2020 as avidly as he courted evangelical Christians in 2016. This Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, went to Rome hoping to gain an audience with Pope Francis in order to discuss the Pope’s engagement with China, which has angered Catholic conservatives. No audience was granted, though. Pompeo took part in a symposium that night hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich, and her husband, Newt, who is a co-chair of the advocacy group Catholics for Trump.

1 October
How Cindy McCain could help Biden clinch Arizona
“The Cindy McCain endorsement can have real impact,” said one prominent Republican in the state.
(Politico) The Biden campaign was already feeling good about flipping Arizona, where polling averages show him with a lead of over 3 points. Cindy McCain’s backing could be particularly valuable in massive Maricopa County surrounding Phoenix, and especially its enormous swath of independents and moderate Republicans.
In other words, among McCain Republicans. The Republican Party of Arizona is no longer the one John McCain presided over. Its apparatus is solidly behind Trump, as evidenced by the rise of far-right Republican Kelli Ward from a fringe member of the party to head of the state GOP. But no one’s arguing Cindy McCain could sway Trump diehards — it’s all about independents, of which there are many.

30 September
G.O.P. Alarmed by Trump’s Comments on Extremist Group, Fearing a Drag on the Party
For the second time in two weeks, Republicans distanced themselves from the president, expressing unease about his failure to disavow a right-wing organization linked with white supremacy and acts of violence.

10 September
Republican worries rise as Trump campaign pulls back from television advertising
Republican officials have been inundated with calls from worried activists and donors who complain about constant Biden ads in their local media markets, with very few paid Trump responses, according to people familiar with the conversations. Some Republicans close to Trump have been baffled at the decision to sharply curb advertising and have told the president he should change course.

7 September
The 2020 Trump Campaign Is Reportedly a Financial Mess
By Matt Stieb
It comes as no surprise that a campaign which held a rally that was most likely the source of a large uptick of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma and lost millions due to a failed Republican National Convention venue change would be tumultuous behind the scenes. But a report from the New York Times details just how chaotic the Trump campaign’s finances have been, particularly for a reelection effort which began the day after the inauguration.
Though the campaign raised a total of $1.1 billion since the beginning of 2019 and did not have to spend money in a primary, over $800 million, or close to 73 percent, of their funds have been exhausted. Similar to the trajectory of the president’s business career, an early excess of cash appears to have been wasted due to questionable spending.

30 August
The Republicans’ Conspiratorial Convention
Trump and his supporters claimed that his opponents are seeking to deceive and subdue Americans. It’s a dangerous path.
By Amy Davidson Sorkin
(The New Yorker) Tiffany Trump is not the most prominent or politically adept of the President’s children, but her speech at the Republican National Convention last week served as a succinct summation of the event’s key messages. Donald Trump is a giant among Presidents, protecting the country and keeping his promises. His reëlection is a contest between freedom and oppression. Yet he’s subject to hatred, Tiffany said, because so many people have been “manipulated and visibly coerced” by the media and tech companies that present a “biased and fabricated” version of reality. “Ask yourselves, why are we prevented from seeing certain information?” she urged viewers. The answer is “control.”

23-27 August
Fact-Checking Night 3 of the Republican National Convention
(NYT) Republicans used the third night of their national convention to craft a portrait of President Trump as a fierce supporter of social conservatives, the military and women, often using exaggeration and hype that papered over Mr. Trump’s personal history and policy record during the last four years.
John Cassidy: Mike Pence’s Big Lie About Trump and the Coronavirus at the Republican National Convention
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Mike Pence’s bowing and scraping to Donald Trump is that he seems to revel in it.
The great irony, and outrage, of Pence’s speech is that, as the head of the White House’s coronavirus task force since February, he’s had a unique and closeup view of Trump’s actual response to the pandemic: the constant belittling of the virus’s threat; the claims that it would go away of its own accord; the quack remedies, including injecting disinfectant into stricken patients; the squabbling with governors, even Republican ones, who called out the inadequacy of his actions; the urging of states to reopen their economies even as they failed to meet the guidelines that Pence’s task force had laid down; the months of defiant refusal to wear a mask; and, in the end, the decision to effectively give up on the whole thing and move on. … throughout his speech, Pence presented Trump as everything he isn’t: engaged, diligent, and dedicated solely to acting in the interests of the American people.
At R.N.C., Trump Uses Tools of Presidency in Aim to Broaden Appeal
(NYT) The convention swerved from the first night’s dire tone with a grab-bag of events and personal testimonials targeted especially at female and minority voters.
By appropriating the resources of his office, President Trump breached the traditional boundaries between campaigning and governing.
Melania Trump steps into the spotlight, White House doubles as convention stage on RNC Night 2
(PBS) The theme of the night was “American Opportunity.” Speakers praised Trump’s record on criminal justice reform, foreign policy, government deregulation and the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps the most consequential moments came from Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo using their positions as public servants to promote the campaign’s interests.
Trump frequently blurs the line between his role as president and role as candidate. That trend continued into Tuesday as Trump showcased himself performing presidential duties in the White House clearly executed for the convention broadcast to promote his candidacy.
… One of the most controversial appearances Tuesday was Mike Pompeo, whose participation in the convention bucks a long-running expectation that U.S. diplomats avoid political activity.
Last year, his department issued a directive barring presidential appointees from engaging in “political activity in concert with a partisan candidate, political party, or partisan political group,” citing the Hatch Act.
“Senate confirmed Presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event,” the memo stated in bold.
Adding more fuel to the criticism, Pompeo’s remarks Tuesday were pre-recorded while he was conducting official State Department business in Israel.
Heather Cox Richardson:
The Republican National Convention is designed to fire up the base to make sure its members vote, and to reassure wavering Republicans that they can vote for Trump without being racists but rather staunch Americans. And on both fronts, the first two days of this convention have delivered.
The Trump team is not using half-measures; they are meeting head-on the criticisms of Trump and exacerbating them. They are campaigning by audacity. That is, after all, one of the characteristics Trump’s base likes most about him.
Tonight that audacity dovetailed with what appears to be the Trump family’s growing authoritarianism to make them broadcast that they are above the law. Tonight’s proceedings smashed all U.S. laws and traditions against using public property for partisan purposes. The power of the presidency, the physical space of the White House—the people’s house– and the nation’s international standing are all enlisted to get this president, this one man, reelected.
The Special Hypocrisy of Melania Trump’s Speech at the Republican National Convention
In the Rose Garden, what looked like dozens of audience members, including Melania’s husband, as she would refer to the President, looked on from chairs. (According to reports, only the guests who sat near the President and Vice-President were tested for COVID-19.) Her olive-green skirt suit, by Alexander McQueen, looked rather like fatigues, and recalled the palette of her other famous jacket, with its quick message of fast-fashion fascism: “I REALLY DON’T CARE DO U?”

Best and Worst Moments From Night 1
NYT columnists and contributors give their rankings.
Peter Wehner: There are three notable themes that emerged. One is that on the first day of the R.N.C. we witnessed a cult of personality that at times rivaled Jonestown, minus (thankfully) the mass suicide. The second was how fully the R.N.C. has embraced Trump’s inversion of reality. The bolder the deception, the better. Third, a relentless effort to portray Democrats not just as radical but malevolent, committed to destroying America and to relish doing so.
Bret Stephens: Like it or not, the first night of the Republican convention made an effective case that Donald Trump was an energetic and surprisingly empathetic president; that Joe Biden was a career politician who accomplished nothing over 47 years; and that Democrats have more sympathy for rioters and cancel-culture warriors than they do for law-abiding citizens and freethinkers. Liberals may think this is all lies and slander, but they dismiss it at their political peril.

The Republicans who won’t be speaking at the convention, and what that says about the GOP
(WaPo) Not speaking for the second time at a convention nominating Trump is the only living past Republican president, George W. Bush — a break from tradition. (All three past Democratic presidents offered remarks at that party’s convention last week.)
We also won’t see a ton of Republican senators and House lawmakers who are running for reelection in potentially competitive races. Republican senators running for reelection from swing states for both the White House and the Senate — such as Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and Maine — won’t be making an appearance to speak on behalf of Trump. A number of them have started running ads that don’t mention Trump.
… Republicans are now seriously contemplating a future without Trump, so it’s also instructive to see how many might be thinking about a 2024 run and decided to appear at the convention.
Potential future presidential candidates speaking this week for Trump include Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump’s sons, and, of course, Vice President Pence.
… There is a real rift in the party about whether and how much to support the president, especially as polls show he could lose in November.
Oh, and on the first day of the Republicans’ convention, Fox News reported that Flake and more than two dozen former Republican members of Congress will be part of a “Republicans for Biden” campaign.
Former RNC chairman Michael Steele joins The Lincoln Project

Kellyanne Conway to leave Trump White House at end of month
President’s adviser cites the need to focus on her family as her husband George also steps back from his role at the Lincoln Project

The Grand Old Meltdown
What happens when a party gives up on ideas?
By Tim Alberta
(Politico Magazine) It can now safely be said, as his first term in the White House draws toward closure, that Donald Trump’s party is the very definition of a cult of personality. It stands for no special ideal. It possesses no organizing principle. It represents no detailed vision for governing. Filling the vacuum is a lazy, identity-based populism that draws from that lowest common denominator [Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor and congressman] alluded to. If it agitates the base, if it lights up a Fox News chyron, if it serves to alienate sturdy real Americans from delicate coastal elites, then it’s got a place in the Grand Old Party.
GOP Will Not Write a 2020 Platform, Pledges Undying Trump Support Instead
By Jonathan Chait
In lieu of a document attempting to define the party’s beliefs and priorities, the RNC simply states that it agrees with everything Trump has done and will do:
The official excuse is that the coronavirus has made it impossible for the party to get together and write a platform: “The Republican National Committee (RNC) has significantly scaled back the size and scope of the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte due to strict restrictions on gatherings and meetings, and out of concern for the safety of convention attendees and our hosts.” Yet somehow the Democrats managed to come up with a platform without killing anybody.

Trump announces emergency authorization for new COVID-19 treatment after accusing FDA of purposefully delaying research
(NBC) One day prior to the start of the Republican National Convention, Trump made the announcement in an evening news conference.

Trump, the G.O.P.’s ‘talent in chief,’ will take the spotlight every night of the convention.
(NYT) President Trump is set to speak every night of the Republican National Convention — an unusually active role for an incumbent president.
… The Republicans’ celebration is being led by longtime Trump loyalists such as the White House advisers Ms. Conway and Hope Hicks; Justin Clark, the president’s deputy campaign manager; and Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law.
Mike Pence hopes four years of subservience to Trump will lift his political future
On Wednesday night, Pence will formally accept his party’s nomination for a second term as vice president in an address to the Republican National Convention from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where he will praise Trump’s leadership. The keynote serves as a bookend of sorts for one of the few high-ranking officials to survive Trump’s first term. He is being repaid for his loyalty with a reward — remaining in the No. 2 slot — that in most other administrations would never have been in doubt.
What TV networks should do if lies are told at the Republican convention
(CNN Business)The Republican National Convention is kicking off Monday, and newsrooms will have a crucial decision to make: Should TV networks intervene if President Donald Trump or other speakers lie?
“All the networks need to cover this as a major medical disinformation campaign,” said Amanda Carpenter, author of “Gaslighting America,” on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” show Sunday. “There’s a lot of low-information voters tuning in for the first time…. The networks have a higher responsibility to keep people safe.”
Carpenter said networks should be unafraid to “break in” and put experts on air alongside the convention to correct the record if speakers lie.

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