Posts tagged with "Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)"

‘You sell yourself so cheap?’ Romney’s stark indictment of GOP cowardice.

September 20, 2023

The headline last week was that Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, is retiring—another Trump-critical GOP lawmaker heading for the exits in a party that is, relatedly, still dominated by Donald Trump, reports The Washington Post.

What may be even bigger news is the abject portrait the departing senator is now painting of his fellow Republicans. More so than virtually any American politician in recent history, he casts his colleagues—seemingly the vast majority of them—Feeas craven cowards.

The revelations come in an excerpt from a new book about Romney by The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins. The excerpt was published shortly after news of Romney’s retirement was broken by WaPo’s Dan Balz.

In Romney’s interviews with Coppins spanning the past two years, it becomes clear that Romney is content to burn the house down on the way out—and spend his final 16 months in the Senate as even more of an outcast than he already is.

The article’s portrait of Romney fills out the picture of a conservative movement increasingly bereft of scruples or morality in the age of Trump. It focuses on his Senate colleagues but also high-ranking former GOP leaders more broadly, often singling them out in ways that you rarely see from a fellow partisan, even in retirement.

Here are highlights:

  • Romney reserved his harshest words for freshman Senate Republican J.D. Vance of Ohio, once a strong Trump critic like Romney who has refashioned himself as a MAGA warrior. “I don’t know that I can disrespect someone more than J.D. Vance,” Romney said in 2022. Romney said he imagined confronting Vance and telling him: “It’s like, really? You sell yourself so cheap?”
  • Close behind are Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), whose furthering of 2020 stolen-election claims Romney seems to regard with particular disdain. “They know better!” he said. “Josh Hawley is one of the smartest people in the Senate, if not the smartest, and Ted Cruz could give him a run for his money.” Romney said they made a “calculation” that “put politics above the interests of liberal democracy and the Constitution.”
  • Of former Vice President Mike Pence, a man who, like Romney, wears his religiosity on his sleeve: No one has been “more loyal, more willing to smile when he saw absurdities, more willing to ascribe God’s will to things that were ungodly than Mike Pence.”
  • Romney said he felt he could work with Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), unlike others, because Johnson operated in good faith. But he suggests that Johnson’s good faith is symptomatic of his conspiratorial true-believerism. “Ron, is there any conspiracy you don’t believe?” he recalls saying after Johnson spoke about Hunter Biden and Ukraine.
  • He was less harsh regarding Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). But he suggested that McConnell, too, lets political expediency eclipse principles. The piece quotes McConnell telling Romney that he was “lucky” because, thanks to his unusual setup in Utah, Romney “can say the things that we all think … but can’t say.” It cites McConnell making an argument against convicting Trump at his first impeachment trial because Democrats could use it to obtain power—while ignoring the merits of the case. It also quotes McConnell saying that the impeachment managers “nailed” Trump and utterly dismissing Trump’s main defense. (McConnell’s office said he had no recollection of saying that the impeachment managers had “nailed” Trump, nor did that reflect what he thought at the time. The office also said he didn’t recall telling Romney he was “lucky” but declined to comment on whether he told Romney he could “say the things we all think.”)
  • Romney is also seemingly more understanding when it comes to his 2012 presidential running mate, ex-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wisconsin). But he seemed taken aback when, despite Ryan having broken with Trump in certain ways, Ryan cautioned him against voting to convict Trump in that impeachment, citing Romney’s personal political concerns. (Romney would later become the first member of a president’s own party in history to vote to convict.)

Then there are Romney’s broader comments about his party. “A very large portion of my party,” he said, “really doesn’t believe in the Constitution.”

He said that, in private, his GOP colleagues ridicule Trump—and that the Senate caucus even burst out laughing after a particularly rambling visit from the then-president.

“Almost without exception,” Romney said, “they shared my view of the president.” He says one senior Republican said Trump “has none of the qualities you would want in a president, and all of the qualities you wouldn’t.”

There is no question that Romney played the game, too, as National Review notes. He played a significant role in launching Trump’s political career by legitimizing him during the 2012 campaign, even as Trump was neck-deep in his ugly birther campaign.

After the 2016 campaign, he briefly made nice with Trump and even sought to become his secretary of state. Romney’s evolving positions on abortion over the years seemed to comport with whatever was politically beneficial at the time.

In that sense, this is a tale as old as time—a lawmaker of advanced age who, with fewer personal political concerns, is suddenly freed up to vote how he wants and say what he actually feels.

What’s different about Romney today is that his evolution in this case has been decidedly inexpedient. Not only has he been saying these kinds of things for years in advance of his announced retirement, but his stance has turned him into a pariah in the party in which he made his name. And while he is 76 years old, Romney could easily have continued to be a player in the party for many years to come.

You can blame him for his late conversion, but it’s difficult to understand that what he’s doing now is based on anything other than conviction, because of the costs involved. (Coppins reports that the wealthy senator paid $5,000 per day for private security for his family after January 6.)

And Romney no longer seems content to target merely Trump on the way out. He’s calling out the many colleagues who, in Romney’s estimation, have gone much further than he ever did to enable Trump—and have played a vital role in his continued preeminence.

In that way, Romney’s interviews should be viewed in the same light as the disclosures before Fox News’s $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems—a damning portrayal of people who know better saying things they don’t believe to toe Trump’s line, with little to no regard for the damage that does to our political system and democracy.

Except in this case, the revelations were entirely voluntary.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Ted Cruz proposes constitutional amendment to stop Supreme Court-packing

March 24, 2023

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a constitutional amendment on Wednesday, March 22, which would cap the Supreme Court at nine justices, in a bid to quash the desire among some Democrats to expand the bench and dilute the current conservative majority, reports The Hill.

Expanding the Supreme Court became a popular policy idea for some liberals after former President Donald Trump was able to appoint three justices during his term and give the court a 6-3 conservative majority. Talk of expanding the court intensified after it overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

“The Democrats’ answer to a Supreme Court that is dedicated to upholding the rule of law and the Constitution is to pack it with liberals who will rule the way they want,” Cruz said in a statement announcing the move. “The Supreme Court should be independent, not inflated by every new administration. That’s why I’ve introduced a constitutional amendment to permanently keep the number of justices at nine.”

But even as Democrats reel from the court’s stripping of federal abortion protections, President Joe Biden and others in Democratic leadership have not joined in calls for expanding the high court. Biden came out firmly against the idea of court expansion last year.

Proponents of expansion argue that the status quo allows for effective minority rule, with an activist conservative court overruling policies and laws passed by elected Democratic lawmakers—and potentially even changing the electoral landscape to benefit Republicans for years to come.

Other critics of the conservative court have suggested limited terms for justices, who are currently appointed for life, as a way to make the court’s power less entrenched.

The Cruz bill picked up support from ten other Senate Republicans, including Senators Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

“For years the left has been desperate to pack the court to promote their radical agenda,” Hawley said in a statement. “We must ensure that we stay true to the court’s founding principles, maintain the precedent of nine justices, and keep the Democrats from their brazen attempts to rig our democracy.”

Research contact: @thehill

Liz Cheney says new political group will target Trump allies

August 23, 2022

Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) said on Sunday, August 21, that her political focus after leaving Congress would go beyond challenging former President Donald Trump’s hold on the Republican Party to include opposing candidates who promote Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, reports The Wall Street Journal.

 “I’m going to be very focused on working to ensure that we do everything we can not to elect election deniers,” Cheney said on ABC. “We’ve got election deniers that have been nominated for really important positions all across the country. And I’m going to work against those people. I’m going to work to support their opponents.”

 Cheney, the most prominent of the House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump on a charge of inciting the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, lost her GOP primary election last week.

 Hours after her loss, she filed with the Federal Election Commission to transfer the remaining cash from her federal campaign account to a new political-action committee. She had more than $7 million in cash on hand at the end of July, according to FEC filings.

 Cheney’s stature as a leading critic of Trump and her presumed ability to raise money have generated broad interest in her next steps in politics. If she took action this year, her comments could translate into support for Democratic candidates in some races. In states including Nevada, Pennsylvania and Arizona, Republican nominees running for Congress, as well as for statewide offices such as secretary of state and governor, have promoted the idea that the 2020 election was stolen and that President Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.

Cheney, in the interview on Sunday, cited as potential targets Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, as well as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

, all of whom are Republicans with presidential ambitions. Of the two senators, she said that both “took steps that fundamentally threatened the constitutional order and structure in the aftermath of the last election. So, in my view, they both have made themselves unfit for future office.’’

 The two senators objected in writing to certifying the results of the 2020 presidential contest. A photograph of Hawley with a raised fist earlier that day in solidarity with the Trump supporters surrounding the Capitol has become an iconographic image of January 6.

 A spokesperson for Cruz said, “Senator Cruz doesn’t need or want soon-to-be-former Rep. Liz Cheney’s endorsement, and he wishes her the best of luck in the 2024 Democrat presidential primary.” A spokesman for Hawley said, “We wish her the best.” Representatives for Mr. DeSantis didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Cheney didn’t offer details about the chance that she would run for the presidency in 2024 or, if she did run, whether it would be as a Republican or an Independent. “Any decision that I make about doing something that significant and that serious would be with the intention of winning and because I think I would be the best candidate,” she said.

 

Research contact: @WSJ

WaPo offers five takeaways from Biden’s forceful January 6 takedown of Trump

January 10, 2022

About a month after the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection and with impeachment suddenly in the rearview, President Joe Biden signaled he was “tired” of talking about Donald Trump. A month later, he responded to a question about the former president by sarcastically saying he missed “my predecessor.”

Indeed, Biden largely has avoided mentioning Trump in the following months, reports The Washington Post.

However, on the anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot on Thursday, Biden made a huge exception. He delivered a muscular speech aimed at repudiating the former president, whose hold on the Republican Party has proved as strong as ever; according to the Post, as well as the allies who fomented and excused the Capitol riot.

Below are the Post’s takeaways from Biden’s speech.

The Trump focus

Biden’s intention to make his speech not just about the rioters, but also about Trump, was evident from the first minute of his brief speech and continued throughout. After praising those who withstood the attack and marking the somber occasion, Biden almost immediately linked the attack to Trump—and did so repeatedly, with a palpable anger in his voice.

“For the first time in our history, the president had not just lost an election; he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol,” Biden said. “But they failed. They failed.”

Biden added later: “He has done what no president in American history—the history of this country—has ever, ever done: He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people.”

Then Biden went after Trump’s delayed response.

“What did we not see?” Biden said. “We didn’t see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House, watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives at risk, the nation’s capital under siege.”

Not just targeting—but goading Trump

Much of Biden’s speech seemed aimed at not just criticizing but also goading Trump. He referred to Trump’s “bruised ego” over losing the 2020 election.

 He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest and America’s interest, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution,” Biden said.

Biden also referenced the 81 million people who voted for him—a seeming reference to Trump and his allies’ regular invocations of the 74 million people who voted for Trump, and the idea that not further scrutinizing Trump’s baseless voter-fraud claims was tantamount to disregarding those voters.

Biden also pointed to those who might otherwise be allies who clearly didn’t back up Trump’s claims. “He can’t accept he lost, even though that’s what 93 United States senators, his own attorney general, his own vice president, governors and state officials in every battleground state—have all said he lost,” Biden said. “That’s what 81 million of you did, as you voted for a new way forward.”

Biden punctuated it all toward the end of his speech by labeling Trump what Trump fears perhaps most of all—a loser. “He was just looking for an excuse, a pretext to cover for the truth: that he’s not just a former president; he’s a defeated former president,” Biden said, emphasizing “defeated” and then repeating it—“defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election.”

A recognition that being passive doesn’t work

Biden’s speech might have been for a special occasion, but it also seemed to mark a recognition that Trump is going nowhere, and one can’t pretend otherwise.

At the same time, it echoed previous rebukes of Trump, in that Biden avoided saying his name. There was a word curiously missing from Biden’s remarks: “Trump.” [Biden explained afterwards that he avoided politicizing the speech.]

Throughout the speech, Biden merely cited the “former president”—at least 16 times in a little over ten minutes—as if speaking his name was tantamount to legitimizing him, or that something would happen a la saying “Voldemort.”

The undersold rebuke

According to the Post, toward the end, Biden referred to something that hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention: the implicit GOP idea that the presidential election was somehow stolen, but not other races.

In fact, a few days before January 6, this comparison was pushed by none other than Republican Representative Chip Roy (Texas), who had been Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) former chief of staff. If the election results were suspect, Roy argued, why wouldn’t his fellow Republicans have objected to the seating of members who were elected on the same ballots? So Roy forced a vote, and all but two Republicans voted to seat the members.

What happens now

The question in the aftermath of Biden’s speech is what it means. Was this just about reminding people of an assault on democracy—one day only—or was it about spurring further action?

Democrats have pushed for revamping the nation’s voting laws, citing Republican efforts to rewrite them in the states, but that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Democrats have also shunned GOP leaders’ suggestions that the two sides could meet in the middle, by reviewing the Electoral Count Act that Trump sought to exploit January 6. Democrats have suggested this is a wholly insufficient step.

An alternate political explanation is that Biden understands his agenda probably isn’t going anywhere. That argument suggests that voters must be reminded of what happened in 2020 ahead of the 2022 election—when Democrats’ majorities are severely imperiled—and perhaps ahead of a potential 2024 rematch with Trump (or another Democrat running against Trump).

When the calendar turns to an election year, after all, the Post notes, legislation tends to grind to a halt, and those concerns take precedence. Biden’s goading of Trump certainly doesn’t discount this theory.

Either way, though, it’s a significant entry in the long-standing fight over democracy. And it was the most significant entry on that front from Biden to date.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump adviser Peter Navarro lays out how he and Bannon planned to overturn Biden’s electoral win

January 29, 2021

A former Trump White House official says he and right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon were actually behind the last-ditch coordinated effort by rogue Republicans in Congress to halt certification of the 2020 election results on January 6 and keep President Donald Trump in power earlier this year, in a plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep.”

In his recently published memoir—In Trump Time, published by All Seasons Press—Peter Navarro, then-President Donald Trump’s trade adviser, details how he stayed in close contact with Bannon as they put the Green Bay Sweep in motion with help from members of Congress loyal to the cause, reports The Daily Beast.

But in an interview last week with The Daily Beast, Navarro shed additional light on his role in the operation—and his and Bannon’s coordination with GOP politicians Representative Paul Gosar (Arizona) and Senator Ted Cruz (Texas).

“We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them,” Navarro told The Daily Beast. “It was a perfect plan. And it all predicated on peace and calm on Capitol Hill. We didn’t even need any protestors, because we had over 100 congressmen committed to it.”

That commitment appeared as Congress was certifying the 2020 Electoral College votes reflecting that Joe Biden had trunced Trump. Senator Cruz signed off on Gosar’s official objection to counting Arizona’s electoral ballots—an effort that was supported by dozens of other Trump loyalists.

Staffers for Cruz and Gosar did not respond to requests for comment. Also, there’s no public indication whether the January 6 Committee has sought testimony or documents from Senator Cruz or Representative Gosar.

But the committee has only recently begun to seek evidence from fellow members of Congress who were involved in the general effort to keep Trump in the White House—including GOP Representatives Jim Jordan (Ohio) and  Scott Perry (Pennsylvania).

This last-minute maneuvering never had any chance of actually decertifying the election results on its own, a point that Navarro quickly acknowledges. But their hope was to run the clock as long as possible to increase public pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to send the electoral votes back to six contested states, where Republican-led legislatures could try to overturn the results.

And in their minds, ramping up pressure on Pence would require media coverage. While most respected news organizations refused to regurgitate unproven conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud, this plan hoped to force journalists to cover the allegations by creating a historic delay to the certification process.

“The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings,” he said. “But we thought that we could bypass the corporate media by getting this stuff televised.”

Navarro’s part in this ploy was to provide the raw materials, he said in an interview on Thursday. That came in the form of a three-part White House report he put together during his final weeks in the Trump administration with volume titles like, “The Immaculate Deception” and “The Art of the Steal.”

“My role was to provide the receipts for the 100 congressmen or so who would make their cases .… who could rely in part on the body of evidence I’d collected,” he told The Daily Beast. “To lay the legal predicate for the actions to be taken.” (Ultimately, states have not found any evidence of electoral fraud above the norm, which is exceedingly small.)

The next phase of the plan was up to Bannon, Navarro says. “Steve Bannon’s role was to figure out how to use this information—what he called ‘receipts’—to overturn the election result. That’s how Steve had come up with the Green Bay Sweep idea,” he wrote.

“The political and legal beauty of the strategy was this: By law, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must spend up to two hours of debate per state on each requested challenge. For the six battleground states, that would add up to as much as 24 hours of nationally televised hearings across the two chambers of Congress.”

His book also notes that Bannon was the first person he communicated with when he woke up at dawn on January 6, writing, “I check my messages and am pleased to see Steve Bannon has us fully ready to implement our Green Bay Sweep on Capitol Hill. Call the play. Run the play.”

The rest is history.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Every man (and his family) for himself: Ted Cruz flies to Cancun amid major power crisis in Texas

February 19, 2021

Some 400,000 North Texans remained without power for the third consecutive day on February 18—and both food and water were scarce as the population dealt with an energy crisis in the middle of a blizzard.

But for Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), it was every man for himself, as he and his family boarded a plane for Cancun amid the major crisis, Fox News reports.

Photographs of Cruz at an airport began circulating on social media late Wednesday, with people alleging that the senator had left the state for the tropical holiday spot in southeast Mexico.

A Republican source told Fox News that the allegations Cruz was traveling to the Mexican city are true. “The photos speak for themselves,” the source said. 

Meanwhile, Democrats in the Lone Star State were calling on Cruz to resign. Indeed, MSN reported, Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa called Cruz’s actions “disturbing and disappointing.”

He ripped Cruz for challenging the Electoral College vote ahead of the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, and said Cruz should now resign for “jetting off to Mexico while Texans remain dying in the cold.”

“The Texas Democratic Party calls on Ted Cruz to resign or be expelled from office,” Hinojosa said. “Barring that, we will put all of the resources we have into defeating him and every Texas Republican who abandoned us in this disaster, including Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick, in 2022 and 2024. We are in a battle for the soul of our state. We must restore ethics, competence, and a government that works for the people.”

As temperatures have plunged dangerous record lows across the state, at least 36 people have died.

Cruz acknowledged how serious the crisis is in a tweet on Tuesday, saying, “A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good.”

His office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Thursday morning.

Research contact: @FoxNews

Secretive Ethics panel will judge Hawley and Cruz

February 3, 2021

Former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial will be conducted on the Senate floor, live on TV. By contrast, the Senate investigation into Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) will take place behind closed doors—conducted by one of the most secretive committees in Congress, Politico reports.

After multiple leading Democrats called for the two Republicans to resign, Cruz and Hawley’s challenge to President Joe Biden’s Electoral College win is now tied up in the opaque U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics. And while Trump’s impeachment trial probably will conclude quickly; Politico projects that the probe into whether the two senators played a role in inciting the violent Capitol attack will unwind over an interminable timetable, with little hint of where it is going.

The committee says nothing about its business until actions are taken. And it has a lot of business before it: Seven Democratic senators filed a complaint against the two GOP senators who led the effort to object to the election results, arguing that they ‘lent legitimacy” to the cause of those who invaded the Capitol. Hawley fired back with a counter complaint—alleging “improper conduct” for partisan gain.

The panel is led by Chair Chris Coons (D-Delaware), who called for Cruz and Hawley to resign; and by Vice Chair James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), who planned to challenge the election results, himself, before backing away after the invasion of the Capitol. Coons and Lankford speak frequently to each other and have a warm relationship, just as Coons did with former Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia).

And the two senators will keep a tight lid on the highest profile ethics investigation in years. “Neither of us [is] going to talk about it at all,” Lankford said in an interview with Politico. “We don’t bring up anything on the ethics stuff at all. We don’t confirm anything and we’re pretty lockstep about that.”

Research contact: @politico

GOP trashes Joaquin Castro for tweeting the names of top Trump donors

August 8, 2019

Now that their names are in the news, major GOP donors are not quite so confident that gun violence is not the issue. In fact, they say they have been “targeted” in the wake of last weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, The Washington Post reports.

The 44 names (see list)that Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tweeted out late on Monday, August 6, have at least two things in common, the Post notes: They’re all constituents in his district, and they all donated the maximum amount to President Donald Trump’s campaign this year.

The congressman and brother of presidential hopeful Julián Castro said the people liste — including retirees, business owners and other individuals whose names are public record — were “fueling a campaign of hate.”

“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump—the owner of @BillMillerBarBQ, owner of the @HistoricPearl, realtor Phyllis Browning, etc.,” Castro wrote. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as invaders.”

Castro, who also serves as chairman for his brother’s presidential campaign, spent much of August 7 deflecting intense criticism from GOP lawmakers and others. They contended that Castro was “targeting” the listed donors by tweeting their names to his thousands of followers—a serious accusation in the aftermath of two mass shootings that left 31 people dead and many more wounded.

“This is grossly inappropriate, especially in the wake of recent tragic shootings,” replied Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas).This win-at-all-costs mentality, publicly targeting an opponent’s supporters, and encouraging retaliation is dangerous and not what Texans have a right to expect from their members of Congress.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took similar positions, and the latter accused Castro of “outing” his own constituents.

EVERYONE needs to tone the hateful partisan rhetoric way down,” Cruz tweeted., adding, “This is WRONG & Castro should retract it. In our constitutional Republic, the People rightly hold their representatives accountable; elected representatives should not be vilifying & doxxing their own constituents.”

To that, Castro replied, “No one was targeted or harassed in my post. You know that. All that info is routinely published. You’re trying to distract from the racism that has overtaken the GOP and the fact that President Trump spends donor money on thousands of ads about Hispanics “invading” America. “

He added, “My post was a lament-that so many people in my overwhelmingly Hispanic hometown would give money to a President who is using it to target Hispanics as ‘invaders.’ No one was doxxed-no private address or phone #s were shared.”

Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesperson, said in a Tuesday evening tweet that Castro was “inviting harassment” of the private citizens listed. “At worst, he’s encouraging violence,” Murtaugh wrote. “This is a target list.”

In a separate statement to The Washington Post, Murtaugh said that “this naming of private citizens and their employers is reckless and irresponsible. He is endangering the safety of people he is supposed to be representing. No one should be targeted for exercising their First Amendment rights or for their political beliefs. He should delete the tweet, apologize, and his brother’s campaign should disavow it.”

However, Castro again pushed back, referring to recent reports that the Trump campaign had paid for thousands of ads on Facebook that use the word “invasion” in reference to immigration.

“Donald Trump has put a target on the back of millions,” Castro said in one response. “How about I stop mentioning Trump’s public campaign donors and he stops using their money for ads that fuel hate?”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Turning tail: Senate Republicans warn White House against Mexico tariffs

June 6, 2019

Et tu, GOP? Even the Senate Republican are starting to doubt the wisdom of Trump’s tariffs—especially those he means to impose against Mexico. After all, Americans like their avocados, tequila, and automobiles.

Indeed, according to a New York Times report, Republican senators sent the White House a clear and compelling message on June 4—warning that they were almost unanimously opposed to the president’s plans to establish tariffs on Mexican imports, just hours after the president said lawmakers would be “foolish” to try to stop him.

The administration’s latest move to intimidate the nation’s southern neighbor in the face of rising illegal immigration at the border will create a “tax” against Americans, the GOP claims (and Democrats agree). Trump has threatened to set 5% tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico, rising to as high as 25%, until the Mexican government stems the flow of migrants, the Times said.

Republican senators emerged from a closed-door lunch at the Capitol angered by the briefing they received from a deputy White House counsel and an assistant attorney general on the legal basis for the president to impose new tariffs by declaring a national emergency at the southern border.

“I want you to take a message back” to the White House, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), told the lawyers, according to Times sources. Cruz warned that “you didn’t hear a single yes” from the Republican conference. He called the proposed tariffs a $30 billion tax increase on Texans.

“I will yield to nobody in passion and seriousness and commitment for securing the border,” Mr. Cruz later told reporters. “But there’s no reason for Texas farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and small businesses to pay the price of massive new taxes.”

Texas would be hit the hardest by the proposed tariffs on Mexican products, followed by Michigan, California, Illinois and Ohio, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A 25% tariff would threaten $26.75 billion of Texas imports.

In fact, the Chamber notes on its home page, “Imposing tariffs on Mexico is exactly the wrong move. These tariffs will be paid by American families and businesses without doing a thing to solve the very real problems at he border.

“We’re holding a gun to our own heads,” said Senator John Cornyn, (R-Texas).

If Mr. Trump were to declare an emergency to impose the tariffs, the House and the Senate could pass a resolution disapproving them. But such a resolution would almost certainly face a presidential veto, meaning that both the House and the Senate would have to muster two-thirds majorities to beat Mr. Trump.

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) said he warned the lawyers  during the closed-door meeting that the Senate could muster an overwhelming majority to beat back the tariffs, even if the president were to veto a resolution disapproving them. Republicans may be broadly supportive of Trump’s push to build a wall and secure the border, he said, but they oppose tying immigration policy to the imposition of tariffs on Mexico.

“The White House should be concerned about what that vote would result in, because Republicans really don’t like taxing American consumers and businesses,” Senator Johnson said.

However, the Times reported, when asked about Senate Republicans discussing ways to block the tariffs during his UK trip, President Trump responded, “I don’t think they will do that. I think if they do, it’s foolish.”

Research contact: @maggieNYT

Obama aides say Beto is ‘heir’ to Barack

December 4, 2018

It’s “déjà vu all over again,” for President Barack Obama’s former aides—who are saying that Beto O’Rourke’s campaign against Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the midterms gave them flashbacks to their own candidate’s precocious political rise, according to a December 2 report by NBC News.

Indeed, according to the network news outlet, the closely fought campaign by the charismatic and youthful Democratic white congressman—who serves Texas’ 16th District— has catapulted him to the position of unlikely heir to the first black president’s “hope and change” mantle.

Obama, himself, said as much, CNN reported, at an event in Chicago in late November, noting, “What I like most about his race was that it didn’t feel constantly poll-tested. It felt as if he based his statements and his positions on what he believed. And that, you’d like to think, is normally how things work. Sadly, it’s not.”

Already, some of #44’s former political lieutenants have been publicly encouraging O’Rourke to consider a 2020 presidential bid; while privately counseling him on what to expect, should he jump in.

And it looks as if he’s willing: O’Rourke said on November 26  that he would prefer to finish his congressional term January 3 before deciding what’s next. But that’s a far cry from repeatedly saying during the Senate campaign that he had no White House aspirations whatsoever.

In O’Rourke, NBC News reported, Obama veterans see not only an inspiring political celebrity, but, like Obama, a tactical innovator who eschewed the political industrial complex of pollsters and consultants; and used technology in new ways to connect directly with supporters and multiply the force of his fundraising and ground game.

“The reason I was able to make a connection with a sizable portion of the country was because people had a sense that I said what I meant,” Obama told his former strategist David Axelrod during an interview last week, adding that O’Rourke has that same quality.

O’Rourke has received invitations to speak to Democratic groups in early presidential states like Iowa and New Hampshire, but has yet to accept them,  a former senior adviser to his campaign told the network.

“We’ve had a lot of former Obama alumni saying: ‘If we can be helpful as you think about this, let us know. If you want our perspective on what it’s like to run a national campaign, let us know,'” said the former O’Rourke aide, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity.

And a new group, co-founded by a former Obama field organizer, has been created to attempt to draft O’Rourke into the presidential race. “Beto has a special ability—like President Obama did—to make people believe in the best version of America,” Lauren Pardi, who worked on Obama’s campaign in New Hampshire, told the network news outlet.

It may not be reaching too far to predict that, along with having the same initials in their names—Barack O’Bama, Beto O’Rourke—they may enjoy the same political destiny.

Research contact: @aseitzwald