In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Debt limit crises are so 2013. House Republican hardliners have found a new outlet to express their frustration with President Obama’s tyrannical rule -- and with the GOP leadership's foot-dragging -- in the form an impeachment vote against a mid-level figure in the administration.

The move, deemed unprecedented by some congressional scholars, comes as Republicans had sought to keep their members in line ahead of what has been an already treacherous election for the GOP. Caught in the crosshairs is IRS Commissioner John Koskinen (pictured), the bureaucrat who was brought in to clean up a controversy at the tax agency and who now faces an impeachment vote this week. GOP leaders gave their rank-and-file plenty of venues to vent about what they have deemed a botched investigation into allegations that the IRS was targeting conservative groups. Their efforts to tamp down the rebellion were rebuffed by procedural moves led by House Freedom Caucus members Tuesday.

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There was a collective sigh of relief coming from Republicans on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Finally, they got to chat with Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, a man who seemed to understand politics as they did.

After months of awkward meetings with Trump and surrogates, and being asked repeatedly by the Washington press corps about Trump's controversy de jour, Republican lawmakers welcomed the opportunity to talk to someone they finally were optimistic about, one of their own, Pence.

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Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence won't call former KKK leader David Duke deplorable. Instead, he said he just doesn't want Duke's support.

"I have no idea why this man keeps coming up," Pence said during a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning. "Donald Trump and I have denounced David Duke repeatedly. We have said that we do not want his support and we do not want the support of people who think like him."

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Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) thinks about what he would say about Donald Trump if he were in the throes of his own re-election, if in 2016, he had had a primary challenger back home to contend with and a tight general election to stare down.

He likes to believe he'd still have called Trump's attacks on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel "very disturbing" and continued to raise alarm bells after Trump sought to ban Muslims from entering the country.

But, in a candid, Capitol Hill interview with TPM, Flake offered what he has all campaign season, honesty and insight into what it is like to be one of the few elected Republicans in Washington willing to call out his own party's nominee for president.

"I am in a position to do it," Flake said. "I'm not up for re-election. ... I'm the first to wonder if I would do the same thing if I were up for re-election. I'd like to think I would, but I don't know."

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Following a months-long standoff between the House Science Committee and state attorneys general conducting an investigation into Exxon over climate change denialism, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has called a hearing to affirm his right to subpoena the state officials overseeing criminal investigations.

Smith, a noted climate change denier, has made repeated demands that the attorneys general and several environmental groups turn over their communications about Exxon, accusing them of embarking on an "unprecedented effort against those who have questioned the causes, magnitude, or best ways to address climate change." The attorneys general, as well as the activist groups, have refused to comply with the committee's requests, setting up a battle over subpoena power.

In a June statement, the committee's ranking member, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), said that Smith's demands were "not about legitimate oversight," but that the committee was "harassing" attorneys general investigating Exxon.

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Donald Trump’s speech Friday to evangelicals at the Values Voter Summit was greeted with hooting and hollering and a standing ovation. But throughout the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, D.C. where the social conservatives’ conference was being held were signs of anxiety that the movement wasn’t fully behind the GOP nominee.

"I’d like to elect a godly man, but we don’t have that choice,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) could be heard saying in the hallway to another attendee, before giving a speech urging voters to rally around Trump.

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In a cramped, carpeted ballroom at the Willard Hotel in downtown Washington, the rebranded "alt right" movement took a victory lap Friday and looked optimistically toward their future as a growing movement in the United States.

The press conference included all the same alt right notes that have become the centerpiece of the movement. There were discussions about an "ethnostate" and how to build one and debates about whether Jewish people could rightly identify themselves as European. One participant waxed poetic on why he is tired of being called a white supremacist in the media, and another predicted that the United States "will break up" over its divisions. Russia was applauded for being the "sole white power in the world." If the alt-right was in control, one of the presenters imagined there would be more images of beautiful "blonde women" running their hands through wheat fields.

"Race is real. Race matters and race is the foundation of identity," said Richard Spencer, one of the group's leaders and activists.

After years in relative obscurity in chatrooms and anonymous forums online, the disjointed alt right movement, closely aligned with the white nationalist movement, is experiencing a bit of a renaissance at the moment. In Europe, a backlash against a refugee crisis has resulted in Brexit. And in the United States, at the top of a major party ticket, the alt right finally has a Republican candidate in Donald Trump it can rally around.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has often had a mantra for his conference. He wants decision making to come from the bottom up.

So on Friday morning when the Republican conference met behind closed doors in the basement of the Capitol to hash out a plan to fund the government after the Sept. 30 deadline, leadership was prepared.

Instead of just a small group of the loudest, most conservative wing of the conference rising to argue for their preferred path forward – a longer term continuing resolution that would push the funding process into March when there is a new president–dozens of members who supported a short-term CR that would go to December stood to make their case, according to accounts from those in the room.

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In a past election cycle, a presidential candidate calling one of the U.S. top’s foreign rivals a better leader than its current president might be met with widespread condemnation. Likewise, if the candidate praised an authoritarian as a "strong leader." Or if he became enchanted by the air kisses the authoritarian floated his way.

But in the era of Donald Trump, all of the above are happening – repeatedly! – and many GOP senators are simply shrugging it off. A few hardcore Trump supporters try to defend it or explain it away. And some senators, perhaps feeling the acute awkwardness for a party that until recently has portrayed Putin as an existential threat to America, seem to just want the whole thing to go away.

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