Congrats On Your Bogus Impeachment, Champ

INSIDE: Tom Suozzi ... Donald Trump ... Kenneth Chesebro
House Speaker Mike Johnson is speaking to the press outside of his office in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on February 13. . (Photo by Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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An Abuse Of Power

The GOP-led House finally got its act together enough to stage an impeachment performance last evening, claiming the scalp of Biden Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The same three Republican members who stymied the effort last week voted against impeachment again, but Rep. Steve Scalise’s return from cancer treatment gave the Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) the critical vote he needed to complete the flimsiest impeachment in history:

  • no claims of high crimes or misdemeanors;
  • no evidence of wrongdoing or graft;
  • no shame in using impeachment to salve the hurt feelings of Donald Trump over his two impeachments and to boost Republicans’ signature election year issue: immigration xenophobia.

It’s totally appropriate to categorize these kinds of maneuvers by Republicans as performative or as playing politics or as engaging in political stunts. All true. But it’s also fundamentally an abuse of power. House Republicans are hikacking the levers of power that come with the offices they hold to advance their own partisan political aims and hold on to that power.

Not every example of an alignment between official acts and partisan political advantage is an abuse of power. But when you strip away any ostensibly objective motive for the official act, when you offer no pretense for the official act, when you’re only using the powers of the office to further your own political aims, when you stretch the law and the rules and bend them to your own grubby ends, you’re engaged in abuse of power. When, at the same time, you’re engaging in the wholesale breaking of government and institutions for the sake of it, all you’re left with is politics of the grimy, self-serving, and self-perpetuating variety.

A few additional notes:

  • Impeachment is dead in the Senate: The Democratic-controlled Senate is not going to muster a two-thirds vote to to convict Mayorkas and the proceedings may be truncated to save time.
  • Senate tied up: By rule, the impeachment trial will be the only Senate floor business until it is complete. It’s not exactly clear how that will dovetail with avoiding a government shutdown or dealing with any foreign aid bill that the House might kick its way.
  • For the history nerds: You may see Mayorkas’ impeachment described as both the first impeachment of a cabinet officer since 1876 and the first impeachment of a sitting cabinet officer ever. Both are true. William W. Belknap, secretary of war under Ulysses S. Grant was impeached by the House on March 2, 1876, but he had already tendered his resignation to Grant that morning, and Grant had accepted it. So unlike Mayorkas, Belknap was no longer in office when he was impeached.

Good Read

NYT: On Capitol Hill, Republicans Use Bigoted Attacks Against Political Foes

Pot Meet Kettle

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), one of the Senate negotiators on the failed Ukraine aid-border package, became so frustrated with Sen. Lindsey Graham’s shifting demands that she referred to him privately as a “chaos monster,” the WaPo reports

Quote Of The Day

At the NATO summit in 2018, [Trump] came very close to withdrawing from NATO right there at the summit. So each of these comments, as he makes them now over six years, to me simply reinforces that the notion of withdrawing from NATO is very serious with him. People say, “Well, he’s not really serious. He’s negotiating with NATO.” Look, I was there when he almost withdrew, and he’s not negotiating — because his goal here is not to strengthen NATO, it’s to lay the groundwork to get out.

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton

Biden Condemns Trump’s Anti-NATO Remarks

In a White House appearance, President Biden blasted Trump for abandoning NATO to Putin: “Can you imagine a former president of United States saying that? The whole world heard it,” Biden said. “No other president in our history has ever bowed down to a Russian dictator. Well, let me say this as clearly as I can: I never will. For God’s sake, it’s dumb. It’s shameful. It’s dangerous. It’s un-American.”


May history not judge us only by the worst headlines of our era:

In case you had any doubt what is at stake in this election, the lede makes it clear:

It was always headed here, with President Joe Biden in his 80s and Donald Trump not far behind. But in the span of a few days, the wrinkled and sagging reality staring the nation in the face has become the defining issue of the 2024 campaign.

It’s certainly what we all remember about the election of 1864: The “wrinkled and sagging” visage of 55-year-old Abraham Lincoln versus the smooth complexion of 38-year-old Army Gen. George B. McClellan. Lincoln won and then we invented botox and here we are.

Dems Snag Santos Seat

Democrat Tom Suozzi won back the House seat on Long Island held by the fabulist George Santos until his ignominious exit from Congress. In a closely watched race that ended up being not particularly close, Suozzi is leading Mazi Melesa Pilip 54%-46% with 93% of the vote counted.

The biggest immediate impact of the Democratic win is to further tighten the GOP’s-already extremely narrow majority in the House.

‘This Very Foolish Woman’

Former President Donald Trump reacted to the GOP loss in the NY-03 by demeaning Republican nominee Mazi Melesa Pilip as “this very foolish woman.”

2024 Ephemera

The Next Installment In TPM’s Chesebro Series

The Ideas Man: How Chesebro’s Most Radical Theories Entered Trump Campaign Planning for Pence and Jan. 6

Trump Prosecution Watch

  • The Supreme Court gave Special Counsel Jack Smith until 4 p.m. ET on Feb. 20 to respond to Trump’s application to stay the proceedings in the immunity case.
  • NYT: Why the Case Against Fani Willis Feels Familiar to Black Women

Threats Against Federal Judges Double Since 2021

Reuters: “Serious threats to U.S. federal judges have more than doubled over the past three years, part of a growing wave of politically driven violence, according to U.S. Marshals Service data reviewed by Reuters.”

This Is Not A Drill

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    BREAKING: Former President Trump is allegedly working on a military roundup of immigrants by activating a private red-state army that would go into blue states, deporting millions, including immigrants who protested Israel’s invasion of Gaza, according to Stephen Miller.

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  2. Ukraine claims to have severely damaged and sunk a Russian landing ship in its latest drone attack against Moscow’s Black Sea fleet.

    Ukrainian military intelligence released video on Wednesday that it said showed several naval drones approaching the Ropucha-class large landing ship Cesar Kunikov off the coast of Crimea.

    The drones hit the port side of the ship, the agency said in a statement, adding that it “suffered critical holes on the port side [of the hull] and began to sink”.

    The Cesar Kunikov is a Project 775 large landing ship that can carry 87 crew members and was active in the conflicts in Syria, Georgia, and Ukraine, the agency said.

    Video released on social media showed a plume of smoke rising from a ship said to be in the Black Sea, and there were reports in local Russian media of a search-and-rescue operation using helicopters under way over the water.

    Russian military bloggers, who regularly publish information about incidents before they are confirmed by Russia’s military, also corroborated reports of an attack against the Cesar Kunikov.

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