Editors’ Blog

Another Loss For Trump

Late last night, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan denied Trump’s emergency motion to block the Jan. 6 panel’s subpoena from going into effect while the former president appealed her earlier decision that the subpoena was valid.

The National Archives are due to start providing the material Trump claims is privileged on Friday, meaning he has just a few business hours left to stop those materials from winding up in the committee’s hands.

How might this play out? Josh Kovensky delved into some of those eventualities yesterday.

Where Things Stand: New DHS Bulletin Lines Up With Violence Themes We’ve Been Covering For A While Prime Badge
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Domestic extremists are still capitalizing on the spread of disinfo to encourage violence in online forums, according to a new anti-terrorism bulletin from the Department Of Homeland Security set to be released today.

And in promoting online violence, domestic extremists are targeting entities we’re all a bit too familiar with: members of Congress, public health officials and school board members.

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Virginia School Board Divided Over Whether to Ban or Burn Books

The County School Board in Spotsylvania County, Virginia is divided. Not over whether to remove books that they define as “sexually explicit” from the district’s school libraries. They voted unanimously (6-0) to do so, though one board member wasn’t present. The division was between those members who wanted to remove the books and those who wanted to remove them from the shelves also burn them.

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Trump and His Cornfield Still Haunt the GOP Prime Badge

You’ve probably seen reports that House Republicans are now considering stripping committee assignments from the 13 Republican members who voted for the bipartisan Biden infrastructure bill. It’s the latest DC GOP purity test. In a speech Monday at a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner ex-President Trump ripped into the 13 as traitors to the GOP and to him. One of them, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis – the sole Republican from New York City – was there in the crowd appearing “visibly shaken,” according to a source who spoke to The New York Post. It is another reminder that while Republicans have numerous advantages going into 2022, managing the GOP is inherently difficult with ex-President Trump’s ever-changing list of Republicans he wants to wish to the cornfield because they weren’t nice to him.

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Hmmmm

Why do so many members of Trump’s inner circle and so many of his 2021/2022 endorsees have histories of spousal abuse, pulling guns on partners or accusations of strangulation?

A Big and Necessary Defeat for Trump
The law advances against the lawless.

The ruling out tonight from US District Judge Tanya Chutkan is a big one. The decision can and certainly will be appealed. Trump actually tried to appeal the decision in advance of it even coming out. But Chutkan’s ruling vindicates the principle – long assumed and all but inevitable in the logic of the constitution and the office of the presidency it creates – that decisions about executive privilege inhere in the office and thus the current occupant of the office. Which is to say, Joe Biden.

As Chutkan puts it succintly: “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

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Where Things Stand: What Might Become An Intra-MAGA Primary Fight Gets Off To A Messy Start Prime Badge
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It appears that Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) might be trying to run for attorney general of his home state. “Might be” and “trying” are the key terms here.

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Jan 6 Insurrectionist Seeking Asylum in Belarus Prime Badge
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: President Donald Trump is seen on a screen as his supporters cheer during a rally on the National Mall on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Donald Trump

Some stories perfectly typify the larger stories they are a part of. Journalists sometimes call these stories too good to check. But sometimes they seem in fact to be true. Which brings us to Evan Neumann, 48, one of the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol complex on January 6th.

He was no bit player. He made it to the FBI’s Most Wanted list for assaulting Capitol Police officers during the storming of the Capitol. Over the weekend Neumann showed up on state-run Belarus 1 TV channel seeking asylum in the former Soviet republic, as a victim of persecution in the US.

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Good Break for Dems

Gov. Sununu of New Hampshire has just announced he won’t be running for Senate in 2022. That is a big, big relief for Democrats who need to hold Sen. Maggie Hassan’s seat to have any hope of holding on to the chamber next year. Hassan isn’t out of the woods. But Sununu is popular and his family has all but monopolized state-wide office in the state for a couple generations. He was their best shot at picking up that seat.

Where Things Stand: McAuliffe Campaign Says Turnout Wasn’t The Problem Prime Badge
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Guest hosted today by TPM reporter Kate Riga.

In an election post-mortem, the Terry McAuliffe gubernatorial campaign in Virginia highlighted some of its findings in the immediate wake of Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory.

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The Infrastructure Bill is a Big Fat Cudgel Waiting to Be Used Against House GOPs Prime Badge

The outcome of elections in 2022 and 2024 are tied in large part to events the President can influence but not control: the state of the COVID pandemic, the health of the US economy and in particular the mix of price hikes and supply shortages amidst COVID exhaustion we’ve seen increasingly in 2021. But there are already steps Democrats can and really must start taking to lay the groundwork for strong showings. One really critical one comes out of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Biden Infrastructure Bill passed late Friday evening. It goes without saying that Democrats should run on the contents of the bill. There’s tons of funding for repairing roads and bridges, replacing all the country’s lead pipes, broadband and much more. But just as critical is using it as a cudgel against Republicans – something GOP fury at the 13 representatives makes crystal, crystal clear.

To understand this you don’t have to go any further than looking at the announcements Republicans put out announcing their decisions to vote against the bill.

Let me explain.

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Real Keeping

After far too long a week, a bit of reality world is in order.

In his apparently humiliating near defeat, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s margin appears to be 50.9% to 48.3% over Jack Ciattarelli. In Virginia the margin of Glenn Youngkin’s triumph appears to be 50.8% to 48.5% over Terry McAuliffe.

We can add to this that Murphy is the first Democratic Governor of New Jersey to be reelected in 44 years. Meanwhile, going back 48 years the party which does not hold the presidency has won the Virginia’s race all but one time. That was when Terry McAuliffe won in 2013.

Youngkin’s Son Tried Twice to Vote Illegally on Election Day

A rather bizarre development in Virginia. On election day Glenn Youngkin’s 17 year old son twice tried to vote illegally. Indeed, he attempted to do so – twice – in a precinct where his family doesn’t even live.

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What’s Happening Today

Good rundown on where today’s expected House votes fit into the overall legislative picture: Chad knows his stuff. Where it gets interesting is down around 12) in the thread. Short version is whatever version of the reconciliation bill passes the House today will get altered in the Senate and have to come back to the House, where it will likely get shoved down the throats of Dem members. That will happen in late November or early December. House members are used to getting dictated to by the Senate. Doesn’t mean the Senate version won’t pass the House. Just means there’s a long way to go even if Pelosi gets all her votes lined up today.

Gotta Read This

The best (non-TPM) story you’ll ready today.

Where Things Stand: DeSantis Sues Over Biden’s OSHA Vaccine Mandate Prime Badge
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It’s a predictable move for the red state governor with 2024 aspirations and one who has built his national profile on, essentially, pretending that COVID is just Not A Thing in Florida, despite the state’s staggering death rates from the virus.

Just hours after the White House’s new vaccine mandate officially went into effect – formalizing the Biden administration’s earlier promises to require that employers with 100 or more workers must mandate vaccines or ensure their workers undergo weekly COVID testing – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his intention to sue over the new rule. The vaccination and weekly negative testing rules for 100-plus employee workplaces will be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and will impact about 84 million employees around the U.S., according to the White House.

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Don’t Miss This

All in all, things went well in court today for the Jan. 6 committee as it tries to enforce a subpoena for Trump presidential records. But there was one moment when the judge missed the significance of scope of the document requests, and the House lawyer didn’t bail her out. Josh Kovensky explains why the committee’s inquiry needs to start with what Trump was doing back in April 2020. Super important.

Listen To This: Election Fallout

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Josh and Kate work through Democrats’ loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race and what it means for reconciliation.

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

Being a Whiny Little B Isn’t Good For Your Soul Prime Badge
Let us Tour the Emotional World of Democratic Second-Guessing and Doom-casting.

Yesterday CNN headlined that President Biden returned to a Democratic “nightmare”. The Times Peter Baker said Biden was returning to a “different country”. There’s no doubt Democrats had a rough night. They lost a close governor’s race in Virginia, a state they have come to see increasingly as home turf. They also narrowly lost control of the state House of Delegates which they first took control of in 2019. And while Democrat Phil Murphy won in New Jersey, Republicans made a very close race of it, in large part by a big drop off in Democrats showing up to vote.

As I wrote Tuesday night, this isn’t a surprising result. The President’s popularity is underwater. Polls say the public sees the country going in the wrong direction – a reality regardless of whether you or I think it is an accurate perception. But let’s also get real: the incumbent President’s party has consistently lost these two governorships every cycle for more than 30 years. The one exception was Terry McAuliffe in 2013. Murphy’s victory in New Jersey sees the first Democrat reelected governor in that state in 44 years.

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A View From Central Virginia Prime Badge

From a longtime TPM reader:

I live in Madison County in Central Virginia, about 80 miles southwest of DC. Charlottesville and Albemarle County excepted, this is industrial-strength Trump country. … Yesterday’s  election unsettled me, a lot. Despite decisive wins across the board a palpable, consuming rage drives Republican energy here, a rage that mere victory will not sate.

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Where Things Stand: Arizona Supreme Court Rules GOP’s Mask Mandate Ban Was Passed Illegally Prime Badge
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In a blow to Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the method through which bans on mask mandates and other coronavirus-related mitigation measures were passed in the state was illegal.

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India Walton Goes Down in Defeat to Write-in Mayor

A lot of progressives across the country as well as in Buffalo were enthused by what a few months ago had seemed like the near certainty that India Walton, a self-described democratic socialist who won the Democratic primary against longtime Mayor Byron Brown, would be the next Mayor of Buffalo. But it appears that Mayor Byron Brown has managed a comeback victory as a write-in candidate.

(Neither Republicans nor New York’s various minor parties fielded candidates. So Walton was literally the only name on the ballot. Brown’s campaign spent about $100,000 on rubber stamps with his name to hand out to voters.)

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Reports from the Scene

One anecdote doesn’t capture a state. But I wanted to pass on this note from a TPM alum …

I read and enjoyed your piece on McAuliffe’s loss. I think it’s all on target, atop the fact that McAuliffe just isn’t a base moving guy on his own.

It may not have changed the result given the headwinds at play, but from where I sit in the Northern VA suburbs of DC, it also seems like McAuliffe and the VA Dems got completely out-hustled and out-campaigned, while leaving their reliable voters to do the work for them.

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Youngkin Defeats McAuliffe Prime Badge
We Shouldn't be Surprised. The Popular Mood Has Turned Sour for Democrats.

The networks haven’t called it. But the numbers crunchers I watch have. What do we make of this result? My main reaction is that we should not be surprised that Youngkin won. By this I do not mean that this morning I would have told you this was going to be the result. In fact, I had an inkling in the last day or so that McAuliffe might pull it out. I mean on the larger canvass: this shouldn’t surprise us.

Why? Let me explain.

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Where Things Stand: State Dems Walk Out As GOP Seats New Member Who Was In DC For Jan. 6 Prime Badge
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Nearly all of the Democratic members of the North Carolina state House staged a walk-out on Monday evening to protest the seating of a new Republican state lawmaker who has not only dabbled in COVID-19 conspiracy theories, but who was present at the Jan. 6 Trump rally that became the insurrection.

The new state House member Rep. Donnie Loftis (R) has drawn the ire of North Carolina Democrats since his appointment. Loftis is a former county commissioner in the state and resigned his position on a local hospital board last year after he was criticized for posting coronavirus conspiracy theories on Facebook. In some of the posts, he referred to stay-at-home orders, enacted in the deadliest days of the pandemic to slow the spread, as a form of tyranny, according to The Charlotte Observer.

But it was Loftis’ presence near the Capitol while the attack unfolded that drove Democrats to walk out during his swearing-in this week, the state Democratic Party said in a statement.

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The Pandemic Through A Mirror, Darkly

I just saw this comment from my friend Chris Hayes …

My unified theory of American social and political life is that we’ve lived through and are living through a once-in-a-century trauma/disruption and the results of that are going to revereberate throughout almost every facet of politics for a while.

I agree with this, with this additional and I believe critical fact: the pandemic hit during a period of intense social and political turbulence and instability in the United States. Not only Trump’s presidency, the escalation of destabilizing actions during his presidency but remember that the pandemic struck within days of the end of the President’s impeachment trial.

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Into Virginia

Today is the day for those off-year elections which in addition to electing governors and mayors and various other officials are taken as harbingers of the political climate going into the following year’s midterm elections. Attention tends to focus on New Jersey and Virginia. Democrat Phil Murphy looks set to win handily in New Jersey. But Virginia, where incumbents can’t run for reelection, looks way too close to call. There are two governing patterns in Virginia. One is that it is an increasingly Democratic state. Joe Biden won it by 10 points and it went narrowly for Hillary Clinton in 2016 even as she lost Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The other pattern is that it tends to be won by the party not currently holding the presidency. The guy who broke that latter pattern, ironically, is none other than Terry McAuliffe, who won in 2013, a year after President Obama was reelected.

Now we see which of those patterns will hold.

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Where Things Stand: One Year Later, Big Lie Firmly Lives Rent Free In Trumpers’ Heads Prime Badge
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While the percentage is significantly higher among Republican voters (and deeply influenced by where said Republicans get their news, which I’ll get into below), the percent of Americans who believe that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump has remained relatively steady for (almost) an entire year.

The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute put out the staggering results of a new poll today, the highlights of which my colleague Josh Marshall lays out here. The results of the poll shed light on Americans’ perceptions on a number of topics, including revealing a concerning uptick in GOP voters being increasingly on board with acts of political violence as a necessary tactic for preserving their take on the country’s founding ideals. But one statistic was particularly striking to me, especially when juxtaposed alongside the same survey’s findings on Americans’ voter fraud concerns.

About three in 10 Americans still believe that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, approximately 31 percent. On its face, the number isn’t that surprising. The more unsettling part lies in this segment of the data: That number hasn’t shifted much, and has actually grown, albeit minimally, over the course of this year — even after countless courts have tossed out Big Lie-related litigation for lacking sound evidence to back up the Trumpy claims and even after politically-motivated election “audit” results have left much to be desired for the far-right proponents of the cause. Nonetheless, from PRRI: “This share has remained steady throughout 2021, in August (29%), June (30%), and March (29%).”

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Manchin’s Playing Everyone for Fools

We went into the weekend thinking Congress was finally on the verge of passing a substantially reduced Build Back Better bill, at roughly $1.75 trillion. Joe Manchin was likely more involved in that negotiation than any other member of Congress. He just held a press conference on the Hill in which he not only refused to support it but actually trashed the whole proposal in entirely new ways – now saying he can’t vote on any version of it until he learns more about what’s happening on inflation, gets a report from the CBO and other complaints. He demanded a vote on the so-called BIF and said he’s open to voting against the whole Biden reconciliation bill.

One other dimension to this is that Manchin’s announcement came just as Democratic leadership seemed on the verge on getting House progressives to believe that they had the outlines of a recon bill covered and thus vote for the BIF in advance of a recon bill. In other words, he was about to get what he has claimed to have wanted: passing the BIF bill before reconciliation and still having leverage to shape the reconciliation bill after the rest of the party has surrendered its leverage. The odds of that happening now seem close to nil.

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The Gathering Storm
WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2021/01/06: Security forces respond with tear gas after the US President Donald Trump's supporters breached the US Capitol security. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. (Photo by Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images)

There’s a new PRRI study looking at American identity and probably the big takeaway is how much anti-democratic beliefs and openness to political violence have taken root in the GOP. I’m going to list here some of the findings. These are ones that stand out to me. Definitely worth reviewing the whole thing.

62% of Republicans believe being born in America is something that makes you truly American. 43% for Democrats. 63% say being a Christian is something that makes you “truly American”; 35% for Democrats.

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