Another Rising GOP Star Succumbs To Their Own Buffoonery

INSIDE: E. Jean Carroll ... Donald Trump ... Viktor Orban
Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL), State of the Union GOP response 2024
Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL), State of the Union GOP response 2024
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Alabama Republican Sen. Katie Britt’s epic flop of a State of the Union response had something that the previous pratfalls of Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio couldn’t match: It was built around a whopper of a lie.

By the following day, former AP foreign correspondent Jonathan M. Katz had unpacked the essential falsity of Britt’s human trafficking anecdote that she used to blast Biden’s border policy. In a TikTok video that now has more than 2 million views, Katz showed how Britt twisted and misused the underlying episode, which actually happened in Mexico, nearly 20 years ago, when George W. Bush was president:

@katzonearth This isn’t going to make her like TikTok more. #katiebritt #sotu #stateoftheunion #lies #politicians #biden2024 #trump2024 #immigration #traffickingawarenes #mexico #bordersecurity #fyp ♬ original sound – Jonathan M. Katz

Britt’s star-crossed turn in the national spotlight went so poorly that she had to go on Fox News over the weekend to try to clean it up, and even there she got pushed.

Perhaps the most amusing aspect of this entire mini-scandal is the inept preening by the other Alabama senator, Tommy Tuberville, who for at least one news cycle wasn’t his state’s worst senator.

Scarlett Johansson Was On Fire

A SNL performance for the ages:

Can’t Get Enough Katie Britt?

Me either! Here ya go:

  • Fact checked: Katie Britt’s false linkage of a sex-trafficking case to Joe Biden
  • Harsh but fair: Katie Britt wasn’t speaking in a baby voice but in the more particular “Fundie Baby Voice,” Jess Piper argues.
  • Stunned into silence: The reaction of the hosts of this right-wing show was the pièce de résistance (start at the 2:26 mark):

An Absolute Must Read

TPM’s Josh Kovensky with a big new piece on a far-right secret society with connections to the pro-Trump Claremont Institute that envisions a future Christian-run government after a cataclysmic “national divorce.” It’s only for men and certain kinds of “trinitarian” Christians. Women, Jews, Muslims, and Mormons need not apply.

What sets the group apart from a lot of what we see on the far-right fringe is these seem to be people of means, with social capital and political connections. A Knights Templar of the country club, if you will.

For a bit more about the story behind the story, including the clever public records requests that Josh used to pull it together, I have you covered.

Trump Posts Appeal Bond In E. Jean Carroll Case

Donald Trump managed to come up with an appeal bond to cover E. Jean Carroll’s $83.3 million defamation judgment against him. Carroll has until 11 a.m. ET today to oppose the bond. In light of some of the reaction to this news (a mix of disappointment and suspicion), a few cautionary notes:

  • An appeal bond is good news for Carroll, and she celebrated it.
  • The insurer that provided Trump with the bond is owned by the multinational insurance giant Chubb, a legit company that is unlikely to be doing Trump a favor that puts it at a financial disadvantage. Yes, it does business in Russia, but it also does business in dozens of other countries and has no special or unique Russia connection.
  • Trump pays the insurer a fee for the bond and posts collateral to secure his obligation to pay the insurer if it is forced to pay Carroll. It’s a fair and reasonable question whether some other person or entity posted collateral or promised in some way to cover Trump’s obligation, but Trump does have significant assets so it’s not a sure thing that he was forced to rely on a third party to bail him out.

The more interesting question is how Trump comes up with the appeal bond in the New York civil fraud case, where the judgment against him is a whopping $454.2 million.

Trump Accountability Miscellany

  • New book: Trump campaign insider recounts failed hunt for 2020 fraud
  • Ilya Somin: What the Supreme Court Got Wrong in the Trump Disqualification Clause Case

Trump Calls Journalists ‘Criminals’

How is Trump taking Biden’s State of the Union tour de force? In the usual fashion:

The NYT summarizes the Rome, Georgia speech well:

Over nearly two hours, Mr. Trump lobbed sharp personal attacks at Mr. Biden’s mental and physical health and revived a litany of grievances against political opponents, prosecutors and television executives. He used inflammatory language to stoke fears about immigration, called the press “criminals” and repeated his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

On top of all that, Trump continued to defame E. Jean Carroll.

Trump Praises Orbán

Trump continues to delight in strongman-ism:

2024 Ephemera

  • Biden slams Trump-Orbán meeting.
  • Semafor: How ‘Project 2025’ became the Biden campaign’s favorite target
  • Biden says he regrets having referred to an undocumented immigrant as an “illegal” in his State of the Union address.
  • Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) re-ups his pledge not to support Donald Trump for president.
  • Cameron Joseph: How do you cover a candidate everyone knows—and no one remembers? 

Eating Their Own

Not even Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) is wingnut enough for the MAGA hordes, who claim they will submit the required signatures today to force a recall vote against Vos for not being sufficiently onboard with the 2020 Big Lie.

How Senate GOP Leadership Races Stack Up

As things stand now, the contests for the GOP leadership are shaping up as:

  • Leader: John Thune (SD) v. John Cornyn (TX)
  • Whip: John Barrasso (WY)
  • Conference Chair: Joni Ernst (IA) v. Tom Cotton (AR)
  • Republican Policy Committee chair: TBD

Thune is the current whip, Barrasso is the current conference chair, and Ernst is the current Republican Policy Committee chair.

Status Check: Hunter Biden

  • Special Counsel David Weiss says Hunter Biden invented “a conspiracy theory” to try to get the tax case in California dismissed.
  • WaPo: FBI informant accused of smearing Bidens had past credibility issues

Not Our Best Or Brightest

A State of the Union anecdote that offers a telling glimpse into the House GOP Crazy Caucus:

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  1. Trump will not give a penny to Ukraine - Hungary PM Orban (

    Donald Trump will not fund Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion if he is elected US president again, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has said.

    “He will not give a penny in the Ukraine-Russia war. That is why the war will end,” the conservative premier said after meeting Mr Trump in Florida.

    The former US president has pledged to end the war “within 24 hours” if elected - but provided no details.

    Mr Orban is openly backing his long-term ally in the 2024 White House race.

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