A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Reaping What They’ve Sowed
No heroes. No good guys. No redeeming characters.
The House GOP internecine strife is, in the short term, more damaging to themselves than to the country, which makes it fun to watch, at least for a while.
But in the longer term, it doesn’t much matter who prevails in the speaker vote. Kevin McCarthy and the fractious members opposing him all embrace the same “tear it all down” impulses. They’re driven by the same destructive motives and play to the same base political instincts.
Watching them rip each other apart live on national TV offers a palliative schadenfreude. But it won’t last forever. In the meantime, there is essentially no House of Representatives: The members can’t be sworn in. Committees can’t form. Oversight can’t happen.
They’re already achieving destruction of a kind.
What Happened Yesterday?
If you weren’t able to follow along closely with us, the day pretty much went like this:
- Noon ET: The House (such as it is: they’ re all still members-elect) gavels into session.
- Approx. 1:30 p.m. ET: McCarthy loses on 4th ballot for speaker.
- Approx. 3:15 p.m. ET: McCarthy loses on 5th ballot for speaker.
- Approx. 4:30 p.m. ET: McCarthy loses on 6th ballot for speaker.
- A little after 4:30 p.m. ET: The House adjourns until 8 p.m. ET.
- 8 p.m. ET: The House reconvenes.
- Approx. 8:30 p.m. ET: After a raucous vote, the House adjourns until noon ET today.
When the House reconvenes at noon today, don’t be surprised if it adjourns again pretty quickly. Absent a deal of some kind, McCarthy and the Republicans appear reluctant to continue with the spectacle of losing floor votes.
But is there a deal yet? Not as of this morning.
The contours of all the deals floated since the fall election remain similar: McCarthy’s foes want maximum leverage over him to continue to foment chaos and weaken him. McCarthy keeps caving to those demands, but it fails to win him a deal.
Perhaps the best way to think about it is: The Freedom Caucus wants to do to McCarthy what McCarthy and the GOP conference want to do to Biden.
There’s no compelling protagonist here. Just a pack of antagonists looking to do damage.
Credit Where Due
The NYT, which has often struggled to capture the true nature of the modern Republican Party, comes close to getting it:
That ideology of destruction defies characterization by traditional political labels like moderate or conservative. Instead, the party has created its own complicated taxonomy of America First, MAGA and anti-Trump — descriptions that are more about political style and personal vendettas than policy disagreements.
‘I’m 6’2″ 275’
What’s Jack Smith Up To?
Very little overt investigative action from Special Counsel Jack Smith has been publicly visible so far. The main exception was a batch of subpoenas that went out in the fall to state and local election officials in the key jurisdictions Trump was focused on during the 2020 election aftermath. Now news outlets have gotten ahold of the responses to those subpoenas from two jurisdictions. No big new reveals:
- Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas): The AP, via public records requests, obtained a 35-page document responding to the Smith subpoena.
The records do not include any communication from Trump himself and do not appear to show attempts to coerce county officials, as Trump tried to do in Georgia. But they do show how Trump’s lawyers for weeks positioned themselves for post-election legal challenges in the county. They alleged that thousands of ballots had been improperly cast and, weeks before the election, filed a public records request aimed at scrutinizing the process by which mail-in and absentee ballots were counted.
- Milwaukee County, Wisconsin: CNN obtained the response.
Second Oath Keeper Trial Continues
The second of the two seditious conspiracy trials against Oath Keeper members continues in Washington, D.C., with testimony from a new witness that “the extremists hatched an explicit plan to enter the Capitol and stop the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory,” TPM alum Rachel Weiner reports.
Alaska Oath Keeper Won’t Lose State House Seat
After a weeklong trial, a state judge has rejected a complaint that an Oath Keeper was ineligible to serve in the state legislature under a provision of the state Constitution that bars people from holding public office if they belong to a group that seeks to overthrow the U.S. government by violence.
Incoming state Rep. David Eastman (R) “did not have a specific intent to further the Oath Keepers’ unprotected speech or conduct,” the judge ruled.
Sonia Sotomayor, on how she feels about the current direction of the Supreme Court:
- “sense of despair”
- “deeply sad”
Do you like Morning Memo? Let us know!