Trumper Privilege

My colleague Nicole Lafond already discussed this in the post immediately below this one. But it’s so bizarre I simply have to discuss it as well. As Nicole noted, Kevin McCarthy and Trump toady Jim Banks want what I guess we could call backsies on the whole Jan 6th committee thing.

Republicans had plenty of opportunities to get a commission or committee in which they not only had complete control over who served on the Republican side but veto power over any significant action the body took. They refused that and after stonewalling for months ended up with one that gave the final say on membership to Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi accepted some McCarthy nominations but put her foot down in the case of two reps who are such consistent supporters of the Big Lie and the insurrection that it was absurd to place them on the committee investigating either. Now Banks is sending letters to executive departments claiming that he is in fact that rightful ranking member (i.e., top Republican) on the committee.

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Where Things Stand: GOPer Tries To Cosplay As Jan 6 Committee Member
Prime Membership Required

Let’s go back in time for a minute. Back when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was putting together a panel of House members to participate in the Jan. 6 select committee to probe the insurrection, she rejected two of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) panelist picks (the Jims) — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN).

The decision was rooted in her correct understanding that both of the Jims would use the committee’s probe of the Capitol attack as a platform for spewing the Big Lie and other Trumpy nonsense and conspiracy theories, thus likely derailing the serious work of the committee. Both Jims not only voted to overturn the election results on Jan. 6, but they also both signed onto a request out of Texas asking the Supreme Court to invalidate election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In retaliation for Pelosi’s move against the Jims, McCarthy pulled all of his Republican picks from the panel, leaving only Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) as GOP members (who joined out of their own volition). Both have been highly critical of Trump for some time and have, at least thus far, taken their assignments very seriously, signing off on all of the committee’s subpoenas and publicly supporting each layer of the committee’s investigation. Cheney is the committee’s vice-chair.

But one of the Jims, Jim Banks, is apparently now trying to play dress up — pretending to be a member of the panel probing the insurrection.

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Suddenly, Progress

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate discuss the sudden forward lurch of the reconciliation negotiations that has Democrats feeling optimistic about reaching a deal potentially by the end of the week.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

Here’s the Story with Kyrsten Sinema

We are back in this guessing game on what is up with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Mostly it doesn’t matter. She has the vote and Democrats need that vote. And that’s really 90% of the story and quite likely 100%. I’ll just revisit what I’ve learned trying to get to the bottom of this mystery myself.

One thing I hear again and again is that Sinema is doing some version of a mafia bust-out, paying off lobbyists in every way she can think of and the pay off is a cushy perch on K Street as a lobbyist herself. This version of the story presents a wonderful morality tale about Washington. But I’m pretty certain it’s not true. It would all be much easier to understand. But again I’m pretty certain this is not true.

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What’s In/Out?

Kate Riga with the latest state of play on reconciliation.

Where Things Stand: RonJohn Takes DC US Attorney’s Office Hostage Over Jan 6 Prosecutions
Prime Membership Required

It’s a tale as old as time for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

The Republican senator is reportedly using his leverage as a senator to, at least temporarily, block the confirmation of Matt Graves, whom President Biden named as his pick to lead the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C. Since January of this year that office has overseen more than 600 prosecutions related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. So far, more than 100 insurrectionists have pleaded guilty to charges related to the attack.

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The Deal Starts to Come Together

Everything I’ve seen over the 24 hours since I wrote the post below tells me that yesterday was the best day Democrats have had in months. As I said yesterday, the headlines are about things that are being dropped. But the real story is the concreteness and specificity of these reports and the authority of the people sending the message. Those all tell us that the real negotiation is now underway. Kate Riga and I discussed this in the new episode of the podcast which should be out this afternoon.

A few points.

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It’s a Good Sign

There’s a bunch of news out of today’s Democratic caucus meetings about specific programs being dropped from the reconciliation bill altogether or cut by this or that fairly dramatic amount. Unsurprisingly this is generating a lot of anger and gnashing of teeth. Tuition free community college is out, for instance, according to reports of what President Biden told House and Senate progressives. I have a different take on it. This is actually some of the most promising news I’ve heard in some time: Because these details are clearly coming from a real negotiation.

I’m not saying these programs don’t matter. Far from it. It’s more that I’ve already discounted or accepted the fact that a lot of these things are going to be cut dramatically. The bigger danger I see is that the whole thing falls apart and nothing happens at all. So actual negotiations happen is a big deal.

Where Things Stand: Cohen Gets Coffee With Kanye Who Is Wearing A Creepy Mask For Some Reason
Prime Membership Required

Let me just preface this by saying, I don’t have a lot of answers. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying: I reached out to Michael Cohen this afternoon for some clarification on WTF is going on and got crickets, so I will update you if I hear back.


Michael Cohen and rapper and (one-time?) MAGA fan Kanye West (who recently legally changed his name to his rapper pseudonym “Ye”) were spotted getting coffee together today in New York City’s Upper East Side, according to Page Six. The rapper was wearing some bizarre prosthetic mask, apparently similar to ones he’s worn before. It’s a white mask. It’s really spooky looking. I don’t know enough about West’s aesthetic or marketing campaigns to give you a clear answer on why or how this originated, but check out the picture below.

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More on BIF Envy and Dem Culs-De-Sac #3

TPM Reader JB strikes back!

I noted a couple of your correspondents at TPM objected to the idea that Democrats in the House and Senate drive themselves into a legislative cul-de-sac with respect to the infrastructure bill, either because they doubt the reality of the cul-de-sac or because they didn’t think Democrats had a choice.

They did have a choice, and it centered around process.  Use of the reconciliation procedure for the bulk of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda was a given, with all Republicans in the House and Senate united in opposition to action on anything except building more roads and a few other elements of physical infrastructure and most Republicans opposed even to these.  This did not mean that Democrats had to use an entirely closed process, with hardly any public hearings or committee votes on legislative language or amendments.

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Sen. Angus King (I-VT), who caucuses with Democrats and is a member of the Senate Rules Committee, said he is open to a “talking filibuster” or “alternative” as Democrats revive the debate over the Senate rule in the aftermath of Republicans filibustering the Freedom to Vote Act.

| News

Like lots of other rank-and-file Republicans, Robert Boyd has his doubts about the integrity of the last election, particularly in his home state of Michigan — and particularly in Detroit’s TCF Center, where the city’s votes were counted last year despite a concerted effort from local Republicans to disrupt the counting process. 

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| News

Senate Republicans blocked a major piece of Democrats’ voting rights legislation, keeping the bill from even advancing to a floor debate despite Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) insistence that it could garner bipartisan support.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. 

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| News

People of color made up the vast majority of Texas’ decade-long growth spurt, especially Latinos, a group that accounted for fully half of the state’s growth.

But Republicans control the state’s legislature. And the new political maps they’ve approved in recent days as part of the redistricting process dilute Latinos’ voting power, according to the first lawsuit over the maps.

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| Muckraker

It was Jan. 3, and Jeffrey Bossert Clark had finally said yes.

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