Republicans in chaos: Democracy shouldn’t exist, Jesus Christ is King, Gov shutdown is 8 days away

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson

November 9, 2023

The Republican-dominated House of Representatives remains unable to agree even to a way forward toward funding the United States government. This is a five-alarm fire.

The continuing resolution for funding the government Congress passed in September when then–House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) couldn’t pass appropriations bills runs out on November 17. If something is not done, and done quickly, the U.S. will face a shutdown over Thanksgiving. This will not only affect family gatherings and the holiday, it will hit Black Friday—which, as the busiest shopping day of the year, is what keeps a number of businesses afloat. 

The problem with funding the government is the same problem that infects much else in the country today: far-right Republicans insist that their position is the only acceptable one. Even though the majority of the country opposes their view, they refuse to compromise. They want to gut the government that regulates business, provides a basic social safety net, promotes infrastructure, and protects civil rights. 

To impose their will on the majority, they don’t have to understand issues, build coalitions, or figure out compromises. All they have to do is steadfastly vote no. If they can prevent the government from accomplishing anything, they will have achieved their goal.

Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) perfectly illustrated how much easier it is to destroy than to build today as he objected to the promotion of military leaders, one at a time. Democrats tried to bring up each promotion of career military personnel, many of whom have served this country for decades, by introducing them by name; Tuberville had only to say “I object” to prevent the Senate from taking up those promotions. 

That refusal to budge from an extreme position weakens our military. It also weakens our democracy, as was apparent today in Michigan as Republican lawmakers joined an antiabortion group in suing to overturn a 2022 amendment to the state constitution protecting abortion rights. Voters approved that amendment with 57% of the vote in a process established by the state constitution, but the plaintiffs want to stop it from taking effect, claiming that by creating a new right, it disfranchises them and prevents the legislature from making laws. They could launch their own ballot initiative to replace the amendment they don’t like, but as that seems unlikely to pass, they are instead trying to block the measure the voters have said they want.

The decision of Ohio’s voters to protect abortion rights on Tuesday has prompted a similar disdain for democracy there. The vote for that state constitutional amendment was not close—56.6% to 43.4%—but Republican legislators immediately said they would work to find ways to stop the amendment from taking effect. 

North Dakota state representative Brandon Prichard was much more explicit. Opposed to the measure, he wrote, “Direct democracy should not exist…. It would be an act of courage to ignore the results of the election….” According to James Bickerton of Newsweek, Prichard has previously called for Republican-dominated states to “put into code that Jesus Christ is King and dedicate their state to Him.” 

Now that refusal to compromise threatens the U.S. government itself. It has been apparent that the Republicans were unable to agree on a funding plan even among themselves. On Tuesday, as Nicole Lafond of Talking Points Memo pointed out, House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said Americans should just trust the Republicans. He told reporters: “I’m not going to tell you when we will bring [appropriations bills] to the floor, but it will be in time, how about that? Trust us: We’re working through the process in a way that I think that people will be proud of…. [M]any options…are on the table and we’ll be revealing what our plan is in short order.”

Today, although the House managed to vote on a series of extremist bills designed to signal to their base—lowering the salaries of government officials they dislike to $1 a year—the House Republicans had to pull the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill after extremists loaded it with antiabortion language so they could not get the votes to pass it even through the Republican side of the aisle; earlier they had to pull the bill to fund Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies. 

“We’re still dealing with the same divisions we always have had,” a House Republican told Sahil Kapur, Scott Wong, and Julie Tsirkin of NBC News. “We’re ungovernable.”

And then, after pulling the bill, Speaker Johnson adjourned the House until Monday. As Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) put it this afternoon: “We are just 8 days away from a devastating government shutdown—and instead of working in a bipartisan way to keep the government open, Speaker Johnson sent Congress home early for the weekend. This is completely unacceptable.”

Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) wrote: “The training wheels fell off for [Republican] leadership this week. They tried to pass two appropriations bills. They failed twice. The government shuts down in 8 days and [the House Republican Party] HAS NO PLAN. Instead, we voted on stupid stuff today like reducing the salary of [the] W[hite] H[ouse] Press Secretary to $1.”

The problem remains what it has been since the Republican Party took control of the House in 2021: far-right extremists refuse to agree to any budget that doesn’t slash government funding of popular programs, while less extremist Republicans recognize that such cuts would gut the government and horrify all but the most extreme voters. In any case, measures loaded with extremist wish lists will not pass the Senate; this is why appropriations bills are traditionally kept clean.

Former House speaker Kevin McCarthy hammered out just such an agreement with the administration in May 2023 for funding, but the extremists refuse to honor it. For their part, Democrats are holding firm on that agreement. House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) told NBC News correspondent Julie Tsirkin that “[a] clean continuing resolution at the fiscal year 2023 levels is the only way forward… We’re asking for the status quo to keep the government open.” 

The government budget isn’t the only casualty of the Republican chaos. The farm bill, which funds agricultural programs and food programs, must be renewed every five years. The measure authorized in 2018 expires this year, but extremists are eager to slash funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps, endangering the passage of a measure farmers strongly support. 

And today the Defense Department pleaded with Congress to pass the supplemental budget request President Biden made in August to fund Ukraine’s military needs in its war against Russian aggression. 

The Republican Party’s problem continues to be America’s problem, and it is getting bigger by the day.

Voters reject Republican extremism, MAGA disinformation campaigns

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson

November 7, 2023

Today was Election Day across the country. In a number of key state elections, voters rejected the extremism of MAGA Republicans and backed Democrats and Democratic policies. 

Four of the most closely watched races were in Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.

In Ohio, voters enshrined the right of individuals to make their own healthcare decisions, including the right to abortion, into the state constitution. Opponents of abortion rights have worked hard since the summer to stop the measure from passing, trying first to make it more difficult to amend the constitution—voters overwhelmingly rejected that measure in an August special election—then by blanketing the state with disinformation about the measure, including through official state websites and with ads by former Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson, and finally by dropping 26,000 voters from the rolls. 

None of it worked. Voters protected the right to abortion. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion in June 2022, voters in all seven state elections where the issue was on the ballot have fought back to protect abortion rights. 

Today’s vote in Ohio, where the end of Roe v. Wade resurrected an extreme antiabortion bill, makes it eight.

Abortion was also on the ballot In Virginia, where the entire state legislature was up for grabs today. Republican governor Glenn Youngkin made it clear he wanted control of the legislature in order to push through a measure banning abortion after 15 weeks. This ploy was one Republicans were using to seem to soften their antiabortion stance, which has proven terribly unpopular. Youngkin was taking the idea out for a spin to see how it might play in a presidential election, perhaps with a hope of entering the Republican race for the presidential nomination as someone who could claim to have turned a blue state red. 

It didn’t work. Voters recognized that it was disingenuous to call a 15-week limit a compromise on the abortion issue, since most serious birth defects are not detected until 20 weeks into a pregnancy.

Going into the election, Democrats held the state senate. But rather than giving Youngkin control over both houses of the state legislature, voters left Democrats in charge of the Senate and flipped the House of Delegates over to the Democrats. The Democrats are expected to elevate House minority leader Don Scott of Portsmouth to the speakership, making him the first Black House speaker in Virginia history.  

Virginia voters also elevated Delegate Danica Roem, the first known transgender delegate, to the state senate. At the same time, voters in Loudoun County, which had become a hot spot in the culture wars with attacks on LGBTQ+ individuals and with activists insisting the schools must not teach critical race theory, rejected that extremism and turned control of the school board over to those who championed diversity and equity.

In Kentucky, voters reelected Democratic governor Andy Beshear, who was running against Republican state attorney general Daniel Cameron. A defender of Kentucky’s abortion ban, Cameron was also the attorney general who declined to bring charges against the law enforcement officers who killed Breonna Taylor in her bed in 2020 after breaking into her apartment in a mistaken search for drugs. 

In Pennsylvania, Democrat Daniel McCaffery won a supreme court seat, enabling the Democrats to increase their majority there. McCaffery positioned himself as a defender of abortion rights. 

There will be more news about election results and what they tell us in the coming days. Tonight, though, political analyst Tom Bonier wrote: “My biggest takeaway from tonight: in ’22 abortion rights had the biggest impact where it was literally on the ballot, less so when trying to draw the connection in candidate races. That has changed. Voters clearly made the connection that voting for GOP candidates=abortion bans.”

Beginning The Reckoning

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson

May 13, 2022

Today the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas for testimony to five members of Congress: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Representatives Scott Perry (R-PA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Mo Brooks (R-AL). The committee previously invited them to cooperate voluntarily, and they refused. The committee has evidence that these five, in particular, know crucial things about the events of January 6 and activities surrounding the attempt to overturn President Joe Biden’s election. 

McCarthy communicated with Trump before, during, and after the attack on January 6th. A recently released tape shows McCarthy claiming that Trump admitted some guilt over the attack.  

Perry tried to install Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general to overturn the election. 

Jordan was part of meetings and discussions after the election to overturn its results. He also communicated with Trump on January 6th, including in the morning, before the attack took place.

Biggs was part of the planning for January 6, including the plan to bring protesters to Washington, D.C. He also worked to convince state officials that the election was stolen. Former White House officials say Biggs sought a presidential pardon in connection with the attempt to overturn the election results. 

Wearing body armor, Brooks spoke at the January 6 rally, where he told rioters to “start taking down names and kicking ass.” Since then, he has said Trump tried to get him to help “rescind the election of 2020” and put Trump back in the White House.

Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said: “We urge our colleagues to comply with the law, do their patriotic duty, and cooperate with our investigation as hundreds of other witnesses have done.”

This is an escalation of the committee’s investigation into the attempt to keep Trump in power, and today we learned more about what Trump’s presidency meant for national security.

The Department of Justice has opened a grand jury investigation into the handling of the classified documents that ended up at Mar-a-Lago. Prosecutors have issued a subpoena to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to get the boxes of documents and have asked to interview people who worked in the White House in the last days of Trump’s presidency. A spokesperson for Trump said: “President Trump consistently handled all documents in accordance with applicable law and regulations. Belated attempts to second-guess that clear fact are politically motivated and misguided.”

We also learned more about the people Trump’s presidency empowered.

The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) and charged with examining waste, fraud, and any other issues relating to the government response to the coronavirus pandemic, issued a report today laying out how meatpacking giants got around local and state health officials trying to protect workers. 

Working with Under Secretary of Food Safety Mindy Brashears at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), who industry lobbyists boasted “hasn’t lost a battle for us,” top executives of JBS, Smithfield, and Tyson asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to get Vice President Mike Pence to throw his weight behind keeping workers in the plant. Less than a week later, Pence said at a press conference that meatpacking workers “need…to show up and do your job.” Industry leaders wrote a proposed executive order for Trump to issue, declaring a meat shortage and invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure that the plants continued to operate. Less than a week later, Trump issued a similar executive order.

But there wasn’t actually a shortage. Even as John H. Tyson, chair of Tyson’s board, ran full-page ads in national newspapers warning that “[t]he food supply chain is breaking” and “[o]ur plants must remain operational so we can supply food to our families in America,” U.S. pork exports were at a three-year high.

At the same time, companies asked for federal liability protection against lawsuits if workers got Covid-19 on the job. And they did get sick. Taylor Telford of the Washington Post noted that research from the University of California at Davis showed that about 334,000 coronavirus cases have been tied to meatpacking plants across the country. They have caused more than $11 billion in economic damage. Not, apparently, to the meatpacking companies, however. According to a Reuters story from December 2021, meat packers’ profits jumped 300% during the pandemic.

This story points to a larger problem of the consolidation of food production, a problem we are seeing right now in the acute shortage of baby formula in the U.S., where supplies are 43% below normal. The problem stems primarily from a recall of formula produced by Abbott, the country’s largest producer of infant formula, in its Sturgis, Michigan, factory after Cronobacter bacteria, which can cause a potentially deadly infection in infants, was found in test samples.  

Abbott has had a good run lately: in October 2019 it announced a $3 billion share buyback program to make its stock more valuable. Two years later, last October, a whistleblower warned that the Michigan plant was in need of repair, and claimed that Abbott had falsified records and hidden information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Four months later, in February 2022, the FDA warned consumers not to use products from that facility. It is now closed, and other companies are scrambling to make up the difference. Today the administration announced it would increase imports of baby formula until U.S. production comes back to normal levels. 

It sure feels like we are beginning the reckoning of forty years of decisions, decisions that have concentrated power in a small minority and that have finally led us to the place where a congressional committee wants to talk with five members of Congress to hear what they know about the attempt to overturn an election so a Democratic president could not take office.   

The dog has caught the car

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson

May 3, 2022

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan’s team made a conscious effort to bring evangelicals and social conservatives into the voting base of the Republican Party. The Republicans’ tax cuts and deregulation had not created the prosperity party leaders had promised, and they were keenly aware that their policies might well not survive the upcoming 1986 midterm elections. To find new voters, they turned to religious groups that had previously shunned politics.

“Traditional Republican business groups can provide the resources,” political operative Grover Norquist explained, “but these groups can provide the votes.” To keep that base riled up, the Republican Party swung behind efforts to take away women’s constitutional right to abortion, which the Supreme Court had recognized by a vote of 7–2 in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and then reaffirmed in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Although even as recently as last week, only about 28% of Americans wanted Roe v. Wade overturned, Republicans continued to promise their base that they would see that decision destroyed. Indeed, the recognition that evangelical voters would turn out to win a Supreme Court seat might have been one of the reasons then–Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold hearings for then-president Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. Leaving that seat empty was a tangible prize to turn those voters out behind Donald Trump, whose personal history of divorces and sexual assault was not necessarily attractive to evangelicals, in 2016.

But, politically, the Republicans could not actually do what they promised: not only is Roe v. Wade popular, but also it recognizes a constitutional right that Americans have assumed for almost 50 years. The Supreme Court has never taken away a constitutional right, and politicians rightly feared what would happen if they attacked that fundamental right.

Last night, a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, revealed that the court likely intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, taking away a woman’s constitutional right to reproductive choice. In the decision, Alito declared that what Americans want doesn’t matter: “We cannot allow our decisions to be affected by any extraneous influences such as concern about the public’s reaction to our work,” he wrote.

The dog has caught the car.

Democrats are outraged; so are the many Republican voters who dismissed Democratic alarms about the antiabortion justices Trump was putting on the court because they believed Republican assurances that the Supreme Court justices nominated by Republican presidents and confirmed with Republican votes would honor precedent and leave Roe v. Wade alone. Today, clips of nomination hearings circulated in which Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and even Samuel Alito–—the presumed majority in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade—assured the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that they considered Roe v. Wade and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision upholding Roe settled law and had no agenda to challenge them.

Those statements were made under oath by those seeking confirmation to our highest judicial body, and they now appear to have been misleading, at best. In addition, the decision itself is full of right-wing talking points and such poor history that historians have spent the day explaining the actual history of abortion in the United States. This sloppiness suggests that the decision—should it be handed down in its current state—is politically motivated. And in a Pew poll conducted in February, 84% of Americans said they believed that justices should not bring their political views into their decision making.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) provided key votes for Trump’s nominees and are now on the defensive. Collins publicly defended her votes for both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh around the time of their confirmation, saying she did not believe they would overturn Roe. She noted that Gorsuch was a co-author of “a whole book” on the importance of precedent, and that she had “full confidence” that Kavanaugh would not try to overturn Roe. Murkowski voted to confirm Gorsuch and Barrett.

Collins today said: “If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office.” Like Collins, Murkowski noted that the final decision could change, but ‘if it goes in the direction that this leaked copy has indicated, I will just tell you that it rocks my confidence in the court right now.” The draft is not going in “the direction that I believed that the court would take based on statements that have been made about Roe being settled and being precedent.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin suggested that the Senate Judiciary Committee should hold hearings on whether the justices lied in their confirmation hearings, and call Senators Collins and Murkowski as witnesses.

This apparent shift from what they had promised is a searing blow at the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, which was already staggering under the reality that three of the current justices were nominated by Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote and then tried to destroy our democracy; two were nominated by George W. Bush, who also lost the popular vote in his first term; and one other is married to someone who supported the January 6 insurrection and yet refused to recuse himself from at least one case in which she might be implicated.

Today, Republicans tried to turn this story into one about the leak of the draft document, which is indeed a rare occurrence (although not unprecedented), rather than the decision itself. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blamed the leaker for attacking the legitimacy of the court, although McConnell’s refusal in 2016 to hold hearings for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee on the grounds that eight months was too close to an election to confirm a justice before shoving Barrett through in October 2020 when balloting was already underway arguably did more to undermine the court’s legitimacy. Echoing him, one commentator said the draft leak was worse than the January 6 insurrection.

But while McConnell and the right wing are implying that a liberal justice’s office leaked the draft, there is no evidence either way. Observers note, in fact, that the leak would help the right wing more than the dissenters, since it would likely lock in votes. Those trying to blame the liberal justices did not comment on an apparent leak from Chief Justice Roberts’s office that suggested he wanted a more moderate decision. Jennifer Rubin suggested calling the bluff of those blaming the liberal justices: she proposed agreeing that whichever office leaked the draft ought to recuse from the final decision.

Republican politicians have largely stayed silent on the draft decision itself today, but the reaction of Nevada Republican Adam Laxalt, who is running for Senate, suggested the pretzel Republican politicians are going to tie themselves into in order to play to the base without alienating the majority. Laxalt issued a statement on Twitter that said the leaked draft represented a “historic victory for the sanctity of life,” but also said that since abortion is legal in Nevada, “no matter the Court’s ultimate decision on Roe, it is currently settled law in our state.”

Democrats, though, are not only defending the constitutional right recognized by Roe v. Wade, but also calling attention to the draft’s statement that the Fourteenth Amendment under which the Supreme Court has protected civil rights since the 1950s can cover only rights that are “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

It seems likely that the right-wing justices, who are demonstrating their radicalism by overturning a 50-year precedent, are prepared to undermine a wide range of constitutional rights on the grounds—however inaccurate—that those rights are not deeply rooted in the justices’ own version of this nation’s history and tradition.

Protesters turned out in front of the Supreme Court and across the country today vowing that women will not go backward. As actress Ashley Nicole Black tweeted: “There’s a particular slap to the face of being told we can vote for abortion rights, by the court that gutted voting rights.”

Trump loyalists are on the ropes – watch for just $49.99!

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American

Heather Cox Richardson

September 8, 2021

Early in the wake of Trump’s presidency, Republican Party lawmakers facing upcoming elections appear to have made the calculation that radicalized Trump voters were vital to their political futures. They seemed to worry that they needed to protect themselves against primary candidates from the right, since primaries are famous for bringing out the strongest partisans. If they could win their primaries, though, they could rely on tradition, gerrymandering, and voter suppression to keep them in office.

So Republicans tried to bury the January 6 insurrection and former president Trump’s role in it. Although both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called attention to Trump’s responsibility for the attack immediately after it happened, they voted to acquit him of the charge of “incitement of insurrection” placed by the House of Representatives, and either to echo or not to oppose the accusation that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

Republican governors like Greg Abbott in Texas and Ron DeSantis in Florida, both of whom appear to have presidential ambitions, along with Kristi Noem in South Dakota, took strong stands against immigrants who they insisted were invading the country, masks that they claimed were stifling children, and now, in Texas (but soon to spread), against abortion. At the same time, Republican-dominated states dramatically restricted the right to vote.

This calculation is hardly a secret. In Washington state, two Trump-type candidates have recently challenged the popular Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted for the former president’s impeachment. Trump has endorsed one of them, and Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, a Trump loyalist, traveled there this weekend to boost that candidate’s campaign.

Republicans in Texas have swung hard right to rally their white base in a state that is now majority minority. The governor recently directed state police to arrest immigrants believed to have come to America illegally. The Republican legislature has passed, and the Republican governor has signed, a draconian abortion law empowering neighbors to collect $10,000 if they win a lawsuit against anyone who “abets” an abortion after six weeks, before most people know they’re pregnant; a strong voter suppression bill; and a law that permits people to carry guns without a permit.

​​Democratic state Representative Ron Reynolds, vice chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, told the AP’s Will Weissert and Paul J. Weber: “They have to entertain and they have to appease because these are the people that are excited about voting in Republican primaries.”

But the Republicans’ move right was always a political gamble. The fact that politics is getting so frantic suggests it is a gamble they are afraid they are losing.

Far from disappearing, the events of January 6 loom larger every day. On September 4, Jacob Chansley, who then called himself “QAnon Shaman” and was seen in the Senate Chamber on January 6, shirtless, painted, wearing a horned helmet, and carrying a flagpole topped with a spear, pleaded guilty to a felony. He could face 41 to 51 months in prison. He is one of 600 charged so far in the insurrection. Like others, he claimed he believed Trump had called him to the Capitol that day.

Some Republican lawmakers might be looking at Chansley’s four or so years in prison and getting nervous as they might face their own day of reckoning.

Senate Republicans filibustered the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6, so the House created a select committee instead. McCarthy tried to sabotage the select committee by adding to it two representatives who had already declared their opposition to it; then, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected them, McCarthy withdrew all the Republicans from the committee and refused to participate in it, clearly hoping to discredit its work as a partisan hit job. But Pelosi invited anti-Trump Republican representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) to participate in the committee, and they agreed. As of September 2, Cheney is now the committee’s vice-chair.

The committee has asked a wide variety of sources for a wide variety of records, prompting what certainly looks like concern from lawmakers who worked closely with the former president. When the select committee asked telecommunications companies to preserve the phone records of certain members of Congress, as well as the former president and members of his family, the lawmakers in question strongly opposed the committee’s request.

McCarthy claimed that any company turning over private information was “in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States,” although experts say there is no law that stops companies from complying with a subpoena (and, of course, Republicans demanded—and received—Hillary Clinton’s private data in 2016). McCarthy seemed to issue a threat when he said: “If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.”

Eleven House Republicans wrote a letter to Yahoo (mistakenly addressing it to a CEO who left the company in 2017) warning that “the undersigned do not consent to the release of confidential call records or data,” claiming that “your company has a legal obligation to protect the data of your subscribers and customers,” and threatening that “[i]f you fail to comply with these obligations, we will pursue all legal remedies.”

The eleven lawmakers signing the letter were those most closely associated with Trump: Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Scott Perry (R-PA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Jodie Hice (R-GA), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), and Jim Banks (R-IN), who seems to have aims for higher office.

Greene warned that any company complying with the committee’s request would be “shut down.”

McCarthy also claimed that the Department of Justice had said Trump did not cause, incite, or provoke the violence on January 6. This prompted select committee chair Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Vice-Chair Cheney to issue a statement “on McCarthy’s January 6th misinformation campaign,” calling “reports of such a conclusion… baseless.”

The anti-government anti-mask movement also probably seemed like a better idea before the Delta variant hit. Governors like Abbott and DeSantis have doubled down on opposing mask mandates: DeSantis has gone so far as to use the government to prevent private businesses from requiring masks and to block local officials from requiring masks in schools.

But mask mandates are widely popular, and as hospitalizations and deaths spike among the unvaccinated, popular opinion is turning against anti-maskers. The area around Miami, Florida, has seen the deaths of at least 13 school staff from Covid-19; hospitalizations of children are rising; and north Idaho has begun to ration medical care; Covid hospitalizations on Labor Day 2021 were 61,000 higher than they were a year ago (99,000 versus 38,000), and health care workers are exhausted. Doctors are beginning to push back against the anti-maskers, while school boards in Florida are defying DeSantis’s ban and Texas schools are challenging Abbott’s rule in court.

While Trump-reflecting lawmakers are demanding Americans put their lives, and their children’s lives, on the line for “freedom,” news broke tonight that Trump and his son Don, Jr., will spend the night of September 11, 2021, the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, commenting on a “gamecast” of a boxing match between former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield (who stepped in when Oscar De La Hoya tested positive for Covid) and Vitor Belfort at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. “I love great fighters and great fights,” Trump said. “You won’t want to miss this special event…”—which can be purchased for $49.99.