A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
It’s A Dog Eat Fake-Dog-Charity World Out There
Confronted by the spectacle of Rep. George Santos (R-NY) glad-handing official Washington on the floor of the House chamber moments before President Biden’s State of the Union address, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) had had enough:
‘You Don’t Belong Here’
According to Romney himself and various eyewitness accounts, he told Santos, “You don’t belong here.” That seems to be both a reference to Santos serving in Congress and taking a front and center position on the aisle before the State of the Union.
‘You Oughta Be Embarrassed’
There was more! A close lip-reading of the exchange on the floor of the House:
Mitt Romney knows a thing or two about dogs (poor Seamus), so when he dismissed Rep. George Santos (R-NY) after the State of the Union as a “sick puppy” … oh my:
In his post-SOTU remarks, Romney totally owned the confrontation, telling reporters:
Look, embellishing is saying you got an A when you got an A-minus. Lying is saying you graduated from a college you didn’t even attend. And he shouldn’t be in Congress. And they’re going to go through the process and hopefully get him out. But he shouldn’t be there and if he had any shame at all, he wouldn’t be there.
MTG Gives the (Unofficial) GOP Response
The snarling, dyspeptic, always aggrieved modern GOP was perfectly embodied by Rep. Marjorie Taylor (R-GA), who yelled, heckled, pointed, and made a scene of herself throughout the State of the Union. Behold MTG in all her glory.
That Was Some Martial Arts Shit
President Biden leveraged the GOP’s unbridled aggression in the House chamber and flipped them with it.
The key moment, described here at length by TPM’s Kate Riga, came when Biden went hard at the GOP over Social Security and Medicare. He did it with a smile and aplomb, and they responded with boos, jeers, and heckling. The moment played out a bit longer than is easily captured in a video clip, but Biden used a mix of sarcasm, good cheer, and unscripted remarks to dominate the raucous GOP response, setting them back on their heels repeatedly.
The coup de grace was Biden backing the GOP into a corner, mischievously exclaiming that he was happy to see unanimous agreement that Social Security and Medicare are now off the table in the debt-ceiling hostage taking by Republicans.
President Biden not only recognized Paul Pelosi, the husband of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi who was attacked last year by a Big Lie-spouting intruder in their San Francisco home, but he drew a line directly from the Jan. 6 insurrectionists to the Pelosi attacker:
When McCarthy Sat On His Hands
I’m not much for the close analysis of who clapped or didn’t clap and about what, but it was hard not to be distracted by the squirming of Speaker Kevin McCarthy over President Biden’s shoulder, unsure of how much to embrace the calls for bipartisanship or how much to shush his howling conference. This was a particularly telling moment:
Biden: “Two years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War. Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.”— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) February 8, 2023
Kevin McCarthy… does not stand up to clap. pic.twitter.com/LezEfDvUeu
The Never-Ending Saga Of George Santos
One of the central figures in the George Santos debacle is his now-former campaign treasurer Nancy Marks:
“Given her apparent history and relationship with Mr. Santos, I have to assume that any investigation of him will focus intensely on her role and her knowledge of how the fundraising was organized, accomplished and carried out especially in light of the fact that she’s now resigned,” Paul Krieger, a former federal prosecutor told CNN.
McCarthy Quietly Named Gaetz To Corrupt Subcommittee!
With no fanfare or public announcements, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) last week named Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to the deeply corrupting Judiciary subcommittee targeting federal law enforcement. Reporters discovered the move only Tuesday.
Gaetz, himself under federal investigation until recently for alleged sex-trafficking but who now seems unlikely to face charges, joins other Republicans on the subcommittee who themselves are targets of federal criminal probes.
Scott Perry Acknowledges Secret Fight With DOJ Over His Phone
Politico caught up with Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), who for the first time acknowledged that he’s been engaged in a secret court battle over whether the Justice Department can access the contents of his cell phone.
The FBI seized Perry’s phone in August as part of its investigation into Jan. 6 and the effort to subvert the 2020 election. Perry was a central figure in Donald Trump’s Big Lie, at one point introducing the president to a minor DOJ official named Jeffrey Clark, who Trump would eventually consider installing as acting attorney general.
The fight over Perry’s phone has played out in federal court proceedings in DC and has gone up to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, but almost all of it remains sealed because it’s related to grand jury proceedings, which are kept secret.
Jean Carroll Continues To Own Donald Trump
The latest developments in the legal battle between Donald Trump and Jean Carroll, who claims he raped her in the 1990s:
- Law&Crime: Donald Trump skewered in court for mixing up rape accuser with ex-wife Marla Maples
- The judge in Carroll’s defamation case rejected Trump’s delay tactic, refusing to push the trial off until June and instead giving Trump a mere two-week delay. The judge will decide later whether to combine the defamation trial with the trial of her rape claim.
NYT: Memphis Officer Texted Photo of Tyre Nichols After Beating, New Documents Show
Melania Was In the Situation Room???
Via Vanity Fair:
In a new book set for release this week by former acting defense secretary Christopher Miller, the ex-Trump-administration official writes that Melania was, inexplicably, in the Situation Room during the US’s 2019 ISIS raid that resulted in the death of then ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. According to Miller, Melania was there with the president, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, among others. He writes: “Her presence was unexpected, to say the least. I wondered how it would play in the press if word got out that the first lady had popped in to watch a major military operation,” according to a copy of the memoir that was viewed by The Hill.
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