You want something positive to listen to? Here’s a compilation of Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

This past year, Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld began hosting a podcast called The Brief. With loads of help from Daily Kos’ Cara Zelaya, Carolyn Fiddler, and Dorothy He, and myself, we have rolled out a year’s worth of episodes, with interviews with elected officials, political advisers, legal experts, grassroots organizers, and our own in-house elections experts and reporters. Every week has been a learning experience, whether it’s talking with RuralOrganizing.org’s Matt Hildreth to discuss what is happening on the ground with rural voters or talking with The Nation’s Elie Mystal about the legal ramifications of anti-choice laws and the Supreme Court.

The show is an optimistic one, and in this day and age, with our democracy hanging in the balance, it has been a real oasis of hope to talk with the people working to make changes on the ground at the state and local level.

First, let me plug the show with hyperlinks! You can find intros and recaps on Daily Kos here. You can watch those podcasts on the Daily Kos YouTube channel here. You can listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, like here or here.

And now some 2021 highlights:

The History of the Republican Party’s Dedication to Whiteness:

In February, with Trump’s second impeachment trial looming, Markos and Kerry spoke with historian Kathleen Frydl to discuss the potentials of the Biden administration and the historical “politics of whiteness” embraced by the Republican Party since the late 1960s.

Can the Republican Party be saved? What about rural America?

Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org Matt Hildreth joined the crew to talk about the work going on locally to disconnect rural America from right-wing misinformation and what the Democratic Party has to do in order to cut down the margins and gain the political power the majority of Americans—rural communities included—desire.

Arizona is ground zero for the GOP’s assault on democracy. How’s 2022 looking?

A popular name around the watercooler in progressive circles these days is Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07). Gallego is at the top of the list of people everyone except Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes will primary Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in 2024. We had him on in June to talk about Sinema and the future of Arizona’s progressive movement.

The fight for rural America is alive and well. Can progressives win the rural vote?

You may remember J.D. Scholten when he came out of nowhere, running a grassroots campaign that exceeded all expectations in challenging racist Iowa Rep. Steve King. Kerry and Markos spoke with Scholten of Rural Objective PAC and John Ray of YouGov Blue to talk about what was being done and the data being used to connect with rural voters long neglected by the Democratic Party. 

Has the political press learned anything in its coverage of the Trump Republican Party?

Markos and Kerry spoke with former senior writer at Media Matters for America Eric Boehlert. They talked about the shifting role of the media under the Trump administration and what that means for politics and the Republican Party’s willingness to shamelessly push fascism.

Mississippi, believe it or not, should be a purple state and the future of the Trump Party

Former U.S. House member, secretary of agriculture, and Senate candidate Mike Espy was the guest for this episode where Markos and Kerry talked about the once believed to be impossible reality of a more purple Mississippi. While many folks in the traditional political world have long dismissed Mississippi as forever red, the same was once said about Georgia—and we all know what happened in Georgia.

So, how about that census? The future of America is less and less white

Executive Director of NextGen America Cristina Tzintun Ramirez spoke with Markos and Kerry about what exactly the changing demographics of our country mean for grassroots activists and democracy writ large in the coming years and decades. Ramirez also spoke to the need for candidates and officials to recognize the damage being done to many new Americans as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the opportunities it offers all of us to create relationships that help make our country stronger.

The Texas anti-abortion law, and how we can fight it

Elie Mystal became one of The Brief’s first return guests to discuss the outrageous Texas abortion ban law and what could and could not be done about it. Mystal gave a solid criticism of the Biden administration and what it was failing to do as GOP-led state legislatures continued their war on civil rights and civil liberties.

What the polls show us about our democracy, on Daily Kos' The Brief

Markos cofounded Civiqs, a polling and data analytics firm that conducts public opinion research online, with Drew Linzer back in 2013. Civiqs generates its data and polling in a more granular and real-time fashion than has been done previously. Linzer came on the show in July to talk about what polling has shown in regards to Americans’ beliefs over time. He spoke to the truth that can be found in the tracking of people’s beliefs and how frequently the facts of polling belie the media narrative being pushed about what does and does not change public opinion. 

These are just 10 of the dozens of shows that include guests like Julián Castro, Rev. Dr. Barber, Historian Elizabeth Hinton, VoteVets Jon Soltz, and New Georgia Project’s Nse Ufot. Are there any guests or subjects you would like—dare I say love—to see The Brief tackle in the future? Comment away!

Can Kevin McCarthy be any more gutless? Yes, he can ‘forget’ what he said to Trump on Jan. 6

In the days following the deadly terrorist insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had no issue going around publicly telling whomever was listening that former President Donald Trump was the man behind the curtain, responsible for leading the mob to riot—which is exactly why the House select committee wants to hear from McCarthy himself. 

According to CNN, McCarthy appeared on KERN, a local Bakersfield, California, radio station on Jan. 12, and spilled the beans on heir Trump. 

"I say he has responsibility," McCarthy said. "He told me personally that he does have some responsibility. I think a lot of people do."

Here's the audio of McCarthy saying Trump has responsibility for Jan. 6th and Trump admitted responsibility. He strongly urges a commission to investigate the attack. McCarthy said Thursday he didn't recall telling members Trump took responsibility.https://t.co/fsZYL5Q1ss pic.twitter.com/T7Rwb8Yd0n

— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) January 14, 2022

McCarthy also blabbed about Trump to House Republicans during a private conference on Jan. 11. CNN obtained a copy of a transcript of the call. 

"Let me be clear to you and I have been very clear to the President. He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No if ands or buts," McCarthy told House Republicans on Jan. 11, 2021, according to the readout obtained by CNN from a source listening to the call. "I asked him personally today if he holds responsibility for what happened. If he feels bad about what happened. He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. But he needs to acknowledge that."

But now, all of a sudden, McCarthy apparently has no memory of ever having this conversation, he said during a press conference Thursday. 

During today’s presser, McCarthy said he didn’t remember a call days after January 6 where he told House R’s that Trump had accepted some responsibility for the riots.   @Olivia_Beavers & I reported on it at the time, but I’ve just obtained a more detailed readout of the call: pic.twitter.com/Lr2ktCBnhb

— Melanie Zanona (@MZanona) January 13, 2022

But in the radio interview, McCarthy said he’d spoken with Trump during the insurrection and in fact, was the first person to call him. 

“I told him to go on national TV, tell these people to stop it. He said he didn't know what was happening. We went to the news then to work through that. I asked the president, he has a responsibility. You know what the President does, but you know what? All of us do,” McCarthy said. 

He later added that he told Trump to call in the National Guard and go on TV. 

All of this is of particular interest to the House committee. But of course, McCarthy is a pulling a McCarthy and refusing to cooperate. 

"As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee's abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward," McCarthy said in a statement Wednesday night.

The Republican leader is putting the blame on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the fact that she rejected some of picks to serve on the panel. Pelosi “is not conducting a legitimate investigation,” he’s claiming and the committee "is not serving any legislative purpose."

But Rep. Liz Cheney isn’t playing footsie with these ne’er do wells, and hasn’t ruled out a subpoena for McCarthy, saying, "We're going to evaluate our options, but we will get to the truth."

A letter from the committee outlines the investigation into McCarthy. 

“We also must learn about how the President's plans for January 6th came together, and all the other ways he attempted to alter the results of the election," wrote committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi. "For example, in advance of January 6th, you reportedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former President that objections to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th 'was doomed to fail.'"

The committee believes that all of McCarthy’s interactions with Trump go toward explaining the ex-president’s state of mind during the attack. 

"The Select Committee has contemporaneous text messages from multiple witnesses identifying significant concerns following January 6th held by White House staff and the President's supporters regarding President Trump's state of mind and his ongoing conduct. It appears that you had one or more conversations with the President during this period," the letter states.
"It appears that you may also have discussed with President Trump the potential he would face a censure resolution, impeachment, or removal under the 25th Amendment. It also appears that you may have identified other possible options, including President Trump's immediate resignation from office," it added.

McCarthy refuses to testify. ‘I wish that he were a brave and honorable man,’ says Cheney

Reinforcing the degree to which Republicans do not want the truth about events on Jan. 6 to reach the public, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has announced he will not cooperate with a request to voluntarily testify before the select committee investigating the assault on the Capitol. In refusing the request, McCarthy becomes the latest in a string of Republican representatives who have made it clear that talking about their role in events leading up to the insurgency is the last thing they want to do.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol sent a letter to McCarthy making clear that his testimony is critical to investigation of events that sent Congress scrambling as the Capitol was invaded. McCarthy didn’t just speak with Donald Trump before and after the attempt to prevent the counting of electoral votes, he had a phone conversations with Trump in the midst of the hours-long violence. That conversation reportedly included McCarthy yelling in anger “Who the fuck do you think you are talking to?” after Trump refused to take action to end the violence. Current accounts of the phone call are secondhand, though they are included on an official statement from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

In the past month, the committee has released text messages from members of Congress as well as those from Fox News propagandists and even Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. Those texts clearly show that both Republican lawmakers and right-wing media understood that Trump was in control of the violence. However, the released messages were directed at former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. A full account of McCarthy’s conversation, including an accurate transcription of Trump’s replies, could be crucial in demonstrating his knowledge of the violence and his complicity in refusing to end the attack.

In refusing to testify, McCarthy is making clear—again—that his first loyalty is to Trump, with any concerns about the truth or what’s best for the nation somewhere far behind.

The letter from Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson noted that McCarthy not only had conversations with Trump concerning his refusal to stop the violence on Jan. 6, but about “the potential [Trump] would face a censure resolution, impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. It also appears that you may have identified other possible options, including President Trump’s immediate resignation from office.”

In the hours immediately following the assault, it appeared that McCarthy was angry enough to momentarily forget that he had cooperated in turning his party over to Trump. However, McCarthy swiftly remedied this situation. McCarthy flew to Mar-a-Lago to pay homage and turned his attacks away from Trump and toward his fellow Republicans who failed to join in the leadership cult. That includes attacking Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans now on the select committee.

It’s been clear for months that McCarthy is terrified to make a full account of his conversations with Trump. His attempts to dodge any questions have led him into making a claim of pseudoprivilege in which “my conversations with the president are my conversations with the president.” Executive privilege does not extend to conversations held with members of the legislative branch. 

On receiving the letter from the select committee, it took only a few hours for McCarthy announce that he would not be appearing. McCarthy—who earlier tried to sabotage the committee with an attempt to force the committee to include in its membership some of those known to be most involved in perpetuating the Big Lie around the 2020 election—indicated that the committee was “only out to hurt political opponents” and that he would not cooperate with what he called “an abuse of power.”

It took even less time for Cheney to make clear what she thought of McCarthy’s refusal. As reported in The Washington Post, Cheney had this to say about her titular leader in the House.

“I wish that he were a brave and honorable man,” said Cheney. “He’s clearly trying to cover up what happened. He has an obligation to come forward and we’ll get to the truth.”

However, in an interview with MSNBC, Rep. Jamie Raskin noted that McCarthy has some very personal reasons for keeping his lips zipped—reasons that include his involvement in possible criminal charges of conspiracy. In recent weeks, reports indicate that the select committee has been seriously considering how it may make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice for those involved not just in planning and encouraging the violence on Jan. 6, but for the dozens of Republicans who were intimately involved in a scheme to overturn the results of the election by refusing to honor electoral votes.

Related to that scheme were revelations on Tuesday showing that Republicans forged documents in multiple states to falsely declare Trump the winner in states where President Joe Biden actually came out on top. This is just one aspect of a plan that was presented in an extensive PowerPoint slide deck to Republican members of the House so that they could properly execute their part of the conspiracy. 

It’s not clear if McCarthy was present for that presentation, but if he were to appear to testify, he would certainly be asked about this event and other meetings held in preparation for overthrowing the legitimate government of the United States. 

Morning Digest: Ohio Supreme Court strikes down GOP’s legislative gerrymander

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

OH Redistricting: The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the new Republican-drawn state House and Senate maps as an unconstitutional gerrymander and ordered the state's Ohio Redistricting Commission to adopt new lines within 10 days. This decision does not apply to the Republican-drafted new congressional map, which is the subject of a separate case that the justices have yet to issue a decision in.

Republican Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor joined the three Democrats in Wednesday's 4-3 ruling, which blasted just how much the lines drawn by the GOP majority on the bipartisan Redistricting Commission benefited Republican candidates. As we've written before, a voter-approved constitutional amendment requires maps to not unfairly benefit one party or the other compared to their statewide support, which Republicans acknowledged was roughly 54% Republican and 46% Democratic according to an average of the last decade's statewide elections.

The justices, though, noted that the state House map favored GOP candidates in 67 of the 99 seats―which would give Team Red the edge in 68% of the districts―while Republicans likewise enjoyed an advantage in 23 of the 33 state Senate constituencies.

Campaign Action

The Redistricting Commission, which has a 5-2 GOP majority, will now need to redraw the lines, and the justices said they retained jurisdiction "to review the plan that the commission adopts for compliance with our order." Ohio's candidate filing deadline is currently set for Feb. 2, though lawmakers can alter that date.

Redistricting

MO Redistricting: The state House's redistricting committee voted Wednesday to advance a congressional map aimed at preserving the Republicans' current 6-2 majority in the delegation.

MS Redistricting: The state Senate on Wednesday approved a new GOP-drawn congressional map, which now goes to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves for his signature.

NC Redistricting: The Wake County Superior Court on Tuesday upheld the new Republican-drawn congressional and legislative maps. Plaintiffs immediately made it clear that they'd appeal the decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court, where Democrats have a 4-3 majority.  

PA Redistricting: The Republican-controlled state House has passed a new congressional map that would almost certainly be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf should it reach his desk.

SC Redistricting: The GOP-run state House Judiciary Committee has advanced a new congressional map aimed at shoring up Republican Rep. Nancy Mace in the 1st District. Last month, the chamber introduced a different map that would have actually made the 1st more competitive, but Republicans seem to have reversed course since then. State Senate Republicans previously proposed boundaries that also would have strengthened Team Red in the 1st District.

TN Redistricting: The state House's redistricting committee on Wednesday advanced a congressional map that, as Democrats have long feared, aims to turn the 5th District red. The blue bastion of Nashville, which is coterminous with Davidson County, is currently entirely located in longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper's 5th District, but these proposed boundaries would split the city between the 5th, 6th, and 7th Districts. This map would leave the Memphis-based 9th District as the only Democratic-friendly seat in Tennessee.

4Q Fundraising

  • CO-SenMichael Bennet (D-inc): $2.1 million raised, $4.7 million cash-on-hand; Gino Campana (R): $450,000 raised, additional $500,000 self-funded, $760,000 cash-on-hand
  • NE-GovJim Pillen (R): $5.4 million raised (since April), $4.1 million cash-on-hand
  • FL-10Maxwell Frost (D): $407,000 raised
  • IL-14Michael Koolidge (R): $100,000 raised (in six weeks)
  • MN-02Angie Craig (D-inc): $875,000 raised, $2.9 million cash-on-hand
  • NH-01Matt Mowers (R): $400,000 raised, $600,000 cash-on-hand
  • NJ-05Nick De Gregorio (D): $403,000 raised, $375,000 cash-on-hand
  • NV-04Steven Horsford (D-inc): $478,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
  • OR-06Matt West (D): $600,000 raised, $480,000 cash-on-hand

Senate

MD-Sen: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan once again declined to rule out a bid against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen on Wednesday one day after the Associated Press detailed national Republicans' ongoing efforts to convince him to run. Hogan downplayed his interest when asked but didn't do anything to take his name out of contention, saying, "I don't have much desire to be in the US Senate." The filing deadline is Feb. 22.

OH-Sen: The radical anti-tax Club for Growth has launched what NBC's Henry Gomez reports is a $750,000 TV and digital buy attacking former state Republican Party chair Jane Timken ahead of the May primary. The Club, which backs ex-state Treasurer Josh Mandel, had been training its fire on venture capitalist J.D. Vance, but it recently released a poll finding that Timken is now Mandel's main threat.

The narrator declares, "Timken claimed she didn't know how she would have voted on Trump's impeachment while passionately defending her RINO congressman after he voted to impeach Trump." That last bit is a reference to retiring Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year. Timken initially said that the congressman had a "rational reason why he voted that way. I think he's an effective legislator, and he's a very good person." While she soon backtracked and called for Gonzalez's resignation, she didn't do it fast enough to insulate her from attacks like this one.

VT-Sen: Former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan last week filed paperwork with the FEC for a potential run for the Republican nod, and she now tells VTDigger, "I am definitely exploring the possibility, but I am not yet ready to announce a formal decision or make a formal announcement."

The last time Green Mountain Republicans won a federal election was 2000, when moderate Sen. Jim Jeffords easily secured another term; Jeffords famously abandoned the GOP (and his all-Republican barbershop quartet, the Singing Senators) the following year to caucus with the Democrats as an independent, a move that handed Team Blue control of the upper chamber.

PA-Sen: Ad Impact tells Politico that American Leadership Action, a super PAC set up to aid TV personality Mehmet Oz in the Republican primary, has booked $550,000 in TV time for a negative campaign aimed at former hedge fund manager David McCormick that will begin this month. McCormick is still officially in exploratory mode, but there's little question that he's planning to run especially now that he's resigned from the hedge fund giant Bridgewater Associates.

House

CA-15: While Redwood City Mayor Giselle Hale had mulled campaigning for this safely blue open seat last year, the Democrat announced this week that she would run for the state Assembly instead.

CA-37: Former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry has filed FEC paperwork for a potential campaign to succeed Rep. Karen Bass, a fellow Democrat who is leaving to run for mayor of L.A., in the June top-two primary for this safely blue seat. Perry would be the first member of Congress who is both Black and Jewish.

Perry ran for the city's top job in 2013 and ultimately placed fourth in the nonpartisan primary with 16%. She went on to endorse Eric Garcetti in the second round, who named her head of his administration’s Economic Development Department following his victory. Perry stepped down in 2018 and ran for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors two years later, but she took a distant third with just 12%.

The only notable Democrat who has announced a campaign for the 37th District, which includes Central Los Angeles, is Culver City Vice Mayor Daniel Lee. State Sen. Sydney Kamlager, who decisively won her current post last year by beating Lee in a special election, also filed FEC paperwork in late November, but she still hasn't said if she's running.

FL-07: Businessman Scott Sturgill, who lost the 2018 Republican primary for the old version of this seat, has announced a bid to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy in a state where redistricting is still underway. Sturgill self-funded $150,000 for his last campaign but still lost the primary 54-30 to state Rep. Mike Miller, whom Murphy beat months later.

FL-20: Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick pulled off a 79-20 victory over Republican Jason Mariner in this 77-22 Biden seat in a contest that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis infamously scheduled to take place a whole nine months after the death of longtime Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings. Cherfilus-McCormick, who beat now-former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness by five votes in the very crowded November primary, will be the first-ever Haitian American member of Congress.

The new congresswoman, though, will likely need to prepare for another serious nomination fight. Holness, who never conceded defeat, filed paperwork for another bid last month, and The Sun Sentinel reported at the time that he planned to seek a rematch. Former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief, who earned third place, also told the paper for that article that she was "more than likely" to run again but was "waiting to see what the districts look like."

IN-09: Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth announced Thursday that he would not seek a fourth term in Indiana's safely red 9th District in a very unexpected move that bookends what has been a short but surprising congressional career. The revised version of this southeastern Indiana seat, which includes Bloomington, backed Donald Trump 63-35, and Republicans should have no trouble holding onto it.

Hollingsworth had given no obvious indication that he was looking to hit the eject button, especially since he had no serious primary or general election opponent on the horizon. The congressman, though, used an op-ed for IndyStar to remind readers that he'd pledged to only serve four terms total, continuing, "I want to be the change I want to see in this world, so, as I contemplate how I can work for you in new and better ways in the future, I won't run for reelection this year." Hollingsworth added, "I ran for Congress to return this government to the people from the career politicians who had broken it, and I will be damned if I become one in the process."

Hollingsworth began running for Congress in the 2016 cycle very soon after the Tennessee businessman, who had ties to several other states that weren't named Indiana, moved to the Hoosier State. He initially seemed like an afterthought in the Republican primary to succeed now-Sen. Todd Young, but he attracted attention after he used his personal fortune to finance a huge early ad campaign at a time when his more established but cash-poor rivals couldn't get on TV. He also got help from his wealthy father, who financed a super PAC that aired commercials praising the younger Hollingsworth and attacking the presumed frontrunner, Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Another candidate, state Sen. Erin Houchin, saw where things were going and eventually went up with her own spot warning viewers that Hollingsworth was "a Tennessee millionaire who just moved here to try and buy our seat in Congress," but she lacked the resources to sufficiently blast her opponent. Republicans said just before the primary that Hollingsworth had little ground game and few, if any, local allies, but that didn't stop him from defeating Houchin by a convincing 34-25.

Republican gerrymandering and southern Indiana's continued shift to the right made Hollingsworth the clear favorite in a district that had supported Mitt Romney 57-41 in 2012, but Democrats hoped that a weak GOP nominee would give Monroe County Councilor Shelli Yoder an opening. And for a long time, it seemed like it was possible that Hollingsworth's flaws could indeed sink him, especially after the DCCC released an October poll giving him just a 44-42 edge.

National Democrats backed up their talk with action in the final weeks, and they ultimately spent $1.8 million compared to $1.3 million from their GOP counterparts. Hollingsworth also earned some ugly headlines in the final days when the Associated Press reported that legal papers he filed to serve as a "registered agent" for his real estate business obligate him to simultaneously reside in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Ohio. The Republican blamed it all on a clerical error, though he didn't help things when, after acknowledging he'd lived in South Carolina, he refused to say where else he'd resided.

All of this, though, was far from enough in a seat as red as the 9th District. Donald Trump carried the seat 61-34, and while Hollingsworth badly trailed the top of the ticket, his 54-40 victory was still far from close. Democrats still hoped that the new congressman could be vulnerable in a very different political climate, but he won by a similar 56-44 spread in 2018 and had no trouble taking what would ultimately be his final term.

MO-04: Retired Navy SEAL Bill Irwin announced this week that he was joining the crowded Republican primary for this safely red open seat.

NE-01: The Omaha World-Herald's Don Walton recently asked state Sen. Mike Flood if he had anything to do with a reported poll testing him in a hypothetical May Republican primary against indicted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, to which Flood notably responded, "No comment."

Flood previously served as speaker of Nebraska's unicameral state legislature from 2007 until he was termed out in 2013, and he returned to the chamber last year. (Nebraska forbids legislators from serving more than two consecutive terms, but they can come back after a break.) The senator is also the owner of News Channel Nebraska, which Walton describes as "a network of radio and television stations that combine into a statewide media network."

Fortenberry, whom federal prosecutors have charged with lying to investigators as part of a probe into a foreign billionaire who used straw donors to illegally funnel $180,000 to four different GOP candidates, has a trial date tentatively set for Feb. 15, which coincidentally is the day that Flood would need to make a final decision by. That's because Nebraska has a unique law that sets up two filing deadlines, one for current elected officials and one for everyone else. All office-holders who want to be on the 2022 ballot need to file by Feb. 15, even if they're seeking a different post than the one they currently have, while the deadline for everyone else comes two weeks later on March 1.

Whoever emerges with the GOP nod will likely go up against state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, a Democrat who currently faces no serious intra-party opposition. The new version of the 1st District, which includes Lincoln and rural areas in the eastern part of the state, supported Donald Trump 54-43.

NJ-07, NJ-11: Phil Rizzo, a Republican who took a distant second in last year's gubernatorial primary, announced Wednesday that he was switching from the 11th to 7th Districts following redistricting and would now take on Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski. Rizzo will have a very tough task ahead of him, though, if he's to defeat the local and national establishment favorite, former state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., in a June nomination contest that also includes Assemblyman Erik Peterson.

VA-07: The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Del. Elizabeth Guzman and Prince William School Board Chair Babur Lateef are each considering challenging Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger for renomination now that redistricting has relocated a majority of populous Prince William County to the new 7th District. However, two other Northern Virginia Democrats, state Sen. Jeremy McPike and Del. Luke Torian, say they won't campaign here, while county party chair Tonya James relays that former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy has also told her she won't run.

On the Republican side, 2020 candidate Tina Ramirez announced this week that she was ending her campaign now that redistricting has moved her out of the 7th. Ramirez will instead challenge state Sen. Amanda Chase, who also dropped out of the congressional race this month, for renomination in 2023.

Ballot Measures

San Jose, CA Ballot: The San Jose City Council on Tuesday voted to place a measure on the June ballot that would move mayoral contests from midterm to presidential years. This year's open seat mayor race would only be for a two-year term if voters approved this measure, but the winner would be allowed to seek two additional four-year terms.

The City Council is also reviewing other ideas, such as adopting instant-runoff voting, that could go on the November ballot. However, an earlier proposal to greatly enhance the mayor's power appears to be off the table for now.

Legislatures

Special Elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's contest in Maine:

ME-HD-27: Former state Sen. James Boyle held this seat for the Democrats by beating Republican Timothy Thorsen 57-38. Hillary Clinton won 53-40 here, and preliminary numbers from Daily Kos Elections have Joe Biden prevailing by a larger 60-37 spread in 2020.

Democrats are back to a enjoy an 81-64 majority in a 151-person chamber that also includes three independents, one Libertarian, and one member of the Independent for Maine Party; one Republican-held district, the very red HD-145, is open.

Mayors

Austin, TX Mayor: Democratic state Rep. Celia Israel announced Tuesday that she would compete in this year's race to succeed termed-out Mayor Steve Adler as the head of Texas' famously liberal capital city; Israel would be Austin's first gay or Latina mayor.

Milwaukee, WI Mayor: Candidate filing closed Tuesday for the special election to succeed Tom Barrett, who resigned last month to become ambassador to Luxembourg. All the candidates will face off on one nonpartisan ballot on Feb. 15, and the top-two vote-getters will advance to the April 5 general; the winner will be up for a regular four-year term in 2024.

The only surprise on filing day came when Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer, who had previously announced a campaign, did not submit any signatures. The candidates who turned in the required amount of petitions are:

  • Alderman Marina Dimitrijevic
  • Former Alderman Bob Donovan
  • Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas
  • Businessman Michael Sampson
  • State Sen. Lena Taylor

Most of the field to lead this very blue city identify as Democrats, though Donovan, who badly lost to Barrett in 2016, is active in conservative groups.

Cheers and Jeers: Thursday

Lest We Forget (which Republicans would love)

One year ago today, the 45th president—a Republican—made history by becoming the first to be impeached twice. The first time for trying to extort favors from Ukraine—via his “perfect phone call”—to help him win the 2020 election, and the second for inciting a bloody insurrection when all the “traitor to democracy’s” election rigging failed:

President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Continued...

Wherefore, Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

To get you up to speed one year later: the Republican-led Senate failed to convict him, a January 6 House Select Committee chaired by Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney was formed, over 340 witnesses have been interviewed, and major criminal investigations of The Thing From Mar-A-Lago are also underway in New York and Georgia. To be continued. Hopefully faster.

And now, our feature presentation...

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Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, January 13, 2022

Note: Today is National Rubber Ducky Day. C&J's mascot Kevin the Socialist Duckstick will be in the kiddie pool today, so be sure to say squeak.  

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By the Numbers:

One month from celebrating the “Big Two One Four.”

Days 'til Abraham Lincoln turns 214: 30

Portion of Americans now totally vaccinated: 2/3

Number of lives saved by vaccines during the first six months of 2021, according to NBC News: 241,000

Percent chance that a judge has ruled that Gruyere cheese does not have to come from the Gruyere region of Europe to be sold under the Gruyere name: 100%

Age of Oreos as of 2022: 110

Rank of Mary, Dorothy, and Helen among the top baby girl names in 1922: #1, #2, #3

Rank of John, Robert, and William among the top baby boy names in 1922: #1, #2, #3

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Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment:

Contrary to the paranoid fantasists on The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, populists are not motivated by some burning resentment of the rich—we don't spend our lives in an envious funk that someone else is better off than we are.

"No skin off my nose" is the general attitude, with others coming in at "Lucky them" or "Good for them." The problem is that the rich are screwing up our democracy. Less than 0.1 percent of the U.S. population gave 83 percent of all itemized campaign contributions for the 2002 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. According to the Houston Chronicle, just 48 wealthy Texas families provided more than half the campaign funds for the major Republican state candidates this fall.

How dumb do you have to be not to be able to connect the dots here? Law, policy and regulation are consistently shaped to favor the rich over the rest of us, and that, dammit, is not fair, it is not right, it is not the country we want and for which we are asked to sacrifice.

January, 2003

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Puppy Pic of the Day: Puppy Bowl preview…

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CHEERS to gravity. What goes up must come down. And thankfully Omicron's 15 weeks of fame might be coming to an end:

America's tally of new cases ticked down slightly for the first time since Christmas, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. […]

Hands up, Omicron. Yer goin’ straight to the pokey.

Boston has been a hot spot, but Dr. Mark Siedner of Massachusetts  General Hospital told CBS in Boston there are early signs the city has "turned a corner." One of those signs is a wastewater tracking system—virus particles found in wastewater are no longer infectious but can still be measured and can reflect trends among people contributing to the wastewater.

“The wastewater data are in, and the news is good," tweeted Bill Hanage, associate professor at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. The data is "providing solid evidence, that importantly can't be put down to exhausted testing capacity or other factors."

"Solid evidence." Huhhhuhhuh. Professor made a poop joke.

JEERS to gravity defiance. And sometimes what goes up just doesn't feel like coming back down. Exhibit A:

Consumer prices rose by 7 percent in December over the previous year, its fastest increase since the early 1980s, as companies raised prices to offset pandemic-driven supply chain issues—and also took the opportunity to increase profit margins on the back of brisk consumer spending.

Well, little fella, that’s one way to stop inflation.

The latest Consumer Price Index data, released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marks the third consecutive month in which the index, a measure of what consumers pay for goods and services, rose by more than 6 percent.

According to the reports, inflation grew fastest in three sectors: housing, vehicles, and Marjorie Taylor-Greene's ego.

CHEERS to one of the good guys.  On this date 44 years ago, Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota—aka Mayor of Minneapolis, LBJ's vice president, 1968 presidential candidate (great platform except for supporting the Vietnam War) and fierce advocate in the war on poverty—died much too young at 66.  He was wise:

"Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism."

Humphrey in his prime.

"Behind every successful man is a proud wife and a surprised mother-in-law."

“We seek an America able to preserve and nurture all the basic rights of free expression, yet able to reach across the divisions that too often separate race from race, region from region, young from old, worker from scholar, rich from poor. We seek an America able to do this in the higher knowledge that our goals and ideals are worthy of conciliation and personal sacrifice.”

"Liberalism, above all, means emancipation—emancipation from one's fears, his inadequacies, from prejudice, from discrimination, from poverty."

And a special shout-out from Humphrey to the QAnon cult: "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." Amen.

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BRIEF SANITY BREAK

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Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, seen from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA Johnson pic.twitter.com/WgMJPSkBl5

— Amazing Physics (@amazing_physics) January 11, 2022

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END BRIEF SANITY BREAK

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JEERS to the fate of the republic. President Biden, who remains unable to do much to prevent Republicans from committing widespread voter suppression and election nullification, gave a speech in Atlanta this week calling on Senate Democrats to carve out an exception to the filibuster rule and pass robust voting rights legislation. The two holdouts remain Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. For her part, Sinema appears ready to play ball:

And for his part, as of this morning Joe Manchin says he's ready to throw his party a life ring. Just as soon as the cement hardens.

CHEERS to discus lite.  Wham-O began producing the "Frisbee" 65 years ago today.  Ever wonder where the name comes from?

The Frisbie Baking Company (1871-1958) of Bridgeport, Connecticut, made pies that were sold to many New England colleges. Hungry college students soon discovered that the empty pie tins could be tossed and caught, providing endless hours of game and sport.

A Frisbee from the ‘76 Democratic convention.

Many colleges have claimed to be the home of 'he who was first to fling.' Yale College has even argued that in 1820, a Yale undergraduate named Elihu Frisbie grabbed a passing collection tray from the chapel and flung it out into the campus, thereby becoming the true inventor of the Frisbie and winning glory for Yale. That tale is unlikely to be true since the words 'Frisbie's Pies' was embossed in all the original pie tins and from the word 'Frisbie' was coined the common name for the toy.

Frisbees remind me of the Republican party: Lightweight, logic as contorted as a no-look reverse-flick backhanded corkscrew air bounce, and the only thing keeping them aloft is spin.

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Ten years ago in C&J: January 13, 2012

CHEERS to doin' it Martian-style. NASA reports that the Mars Science Laboratory—aka that thing up in the sky goin' to Mars—has been firing its thrusters this week. In response, the American Family Association called for an immediate boycott of NASA for such disgusting behavior.

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And just one more…

CHEERS to the Class of 2022. Hey, did you know that there's a National Aviation Hall of Fame? It's true, I looked it up! Members range from the Wright Brothers   And last month they inducted five new members into their ranks. Happy to see that women outnumber men in this year's impressive class:

(The late) Willa Brown  The first African American female to earn a pilot’s license in the U.S. first to run for Congress, first African American to become a Civil Air Patrol officer, and trainer of over 200 Tuskegee Airmen.

Sweet medal.

(The late) Joe Clark  Founder of the blended winglet, which enhances the performance of airplanes by impacting sustainability in less fuel consumption, longer aircraft range, and reduced carbon emissions.

Margaret Hamilton  Coined the term “Software Engineer” to describe her role in developing the in-flight systems software, and Priority Displays for the Apollo command module, lunar lander, and Skylab. Also perfected broomstick flight stability in her homeland of Oz. (Ha Ha Ha, not really, I just wrote that!)

Story Musgrave  Pilot, physician, mechanic, and former NASA astronaut. Second astronaut to fly on six spaceflights, and only astronaut to fly aboard all five Space Shuttles.

(The late) Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock  First woman to fly solo around the world, fly around the world as pilot in command, fly across two oceans, and first to fly across the Pacific in a single-engine plane.

You can see the lengthy list of enshrinees here. They’re each given a plaque, a medal and, best of all, the knowledge that they have the know-how to spend some time off the surface of this fucking planet.

Have a nice Thursday. Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial

Cheers and Jeers is lush and green and beautiful. 

Emily VanDer Werff, Vox

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GOP plots onslaught of Biden probes in the run-up to 2024

Members of the far right are already agitating to launch impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden if the GOP is in power in Congress next year. Some leading Republicans want to spotlight former President Donald Trump's false claims of voter fraud. And key House and Senate Republicans are vowing to probe the security failures surrounding last year's January 6 attack on the US Capitol -- and turn the attention to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
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The Jan. 6 Committee wants you, Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy once said former President Donald Trump bore responsibility for the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Now, investigators probing the deadly assault have asked the Republican House leader to take some responsibility of his own and voluntarily cooperate with a probe into the insurrection that Trump incited. 

The committee did not subpoena McCarthy. Rather, they asked him to engage with the panel voluntarily for a meeting on Feb. 3 or 4. That offer may seem like an overly generous maneuver and could understandably frustrate watchers of the probe but as Thompson pointed out already this week, the committee is still untangling whether it has the legal ability to subpoena fellow lawmakers under the Constitution.  

McCarthy is now the third lawmaker to be called upon in the probe. Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania received letters last month. Both have indicated they will not cooperate and hopes are not high that McCarthy will cooperate either given his very public track record slamming the Jan. 6 Committee.  

McCarthy Letter From Jan. 6 Cmte by Daily Kos on Scribd

In its six-page letter to McCarthy, the committee notes how integral the Republican’s testimony would be, however.

McCarthy has openly acknowledged speaking directly to Trump while the attack was unfolding—he shared his account of the conversation with fellow Republican Rep. Jamie Herrera-Beutler ahead of Trump’s second impeachment proceedings.

Herrera-Beutler said McCarthy told her that when he and Trump finally got on the line on Jan. 6, Trump told McCarthy that antifa had breached the Capitol. 

“McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said; ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,’” Herrera-Beutler said. 

McCarthy also summarized his thoughts rather plainly on Trump during a speech from the House floor exactly one week after the Capitol attack.

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump: Accept his share of responsibility. Quell the brewing unrest. And ensure that President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term,” McCarthy said on Jan. 13, 2021. 

McCarthy also appeared on CBS while the attack was happening, telling host Norah O’Donnell that he knew Trump had “put a tweet out there” during the attack. 

“I told him he needs to talk to the nation. I told him what was happening right then,” McCarthy told O’Donnell.

The California Republican continued, saying he was “very clear” when he called Trump and that he “conveyed to the president” what he thought was “best to do.”

When O’Donnell asked McCarthy if he spoke to Trump’s chief of staff that afternoon, McCarthy admitted again that he spoke to Trump but was less clear with the next part, saying he spoke to “other people in there and to the White House as well.” 

Of his own admission, McCarthy has also called his exchange with Trump “very heated.” 

“As is readily apparent, all of this information bears directly on President Trump’s state of mind during the Jan. 6 attack as the violence was underway,” committee chair Thompson wrote Wednesday. 

Beyond that communication, the panel also wants more details about what happened with Trump after the riot dispersed. 

Documents already obtained and reviewed by the committee have suggested that Trump and a team of legal advisers “continued to seek to delay or otherwise impede the electoral count” long after the mob was gone and McCarthy, they note, even after the day’s violence, still objected to electoral results.

“The select committee has contemporaneous text messages from multiple witnesses identifying significant concerns following Jan. 6 held by White House staff and the president’s supporters regarding President Trump’s state of mind and his ongoing conduct,” Thompson wrote to McCarthy, adding: “It appears that you had one more conversation with the president during this period.”

That included a conversation on or around Jan. 11 when, according to McCarthy’s interview with a local news outlet in California, he “implored President Donald Trump during an intense, hourlong phone conversation” to accept his defeat and move on with the peaceful transition of power. 

“Stop this!,” McCarthy recalled telling Trump last January when sitting for an exclusive interview for Bakersfield.com. 

Investigators also pointed to a Jan. 12 report by The New York Times which said that “three unnamed Republican sources” indicated to reporters that McCarthy suggested Trump should resign in the wake of the attack and welcomed the impeachment because it would be “easier to purge him from the GOP” that way. 

McCarthy also made comments publicly about the prospects for new or future violence that would result after the attack, a reasonable position, the committee notes, since the GOP leader received numerous briefings about potential violence following the Jan. 6 attack. 

“Did you communicate with the president or White House staff regarding those concerns?” the committee asked in its letter Wednesday. 

McCarthy’s insights to Trump are also valuable because the Republican met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago a week before his second impeachment trial began. He reportedly discussed how the GOP could retake the majority in the U.S. House. 

While the committee says it has “no intention of asking you about electoral politics or campaign-related issues,” it does want McCarthy to come clean about any information during that meeting that may tie back to Jan. 6. 

“Your public statements regarding Jan. 6 have changed markedly since you met with Trump. At that meeting, or at any other time, did President Trump or his representatives discuss or suggest what you should say publicly, during the impeachment trial, if called as a witness, or in any later investigation about your conversations with him on Jan. 6?” the committee wrote. 

Investigators also want McCarthy to disclose how Trump’s former White House chief of staff reacted  when McCarthy told him that objection to the certification of votes on Jan. 6 was “doomed to fail.” 

“How did they respond? Were they nevertheless so confident that the election result would be overturned?” Thompson wrote Wednesday. 

McCarthy, who has not returned several requests for comment from Daily Kos since October, has been mum about his potential participation with the probe. 

He did say in Dec. 2021 that he “doesn’t really have anything to add” to his existing comments about the attack. 

“I have been very public, but I wouldn’t hide from anything,” McCarthy said. 

McCarthy rejects Jan. 6 committee request for testimony about talks with Trump

The Jan. 6 select committee has requested House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s testimony about his interactions with Donald Trump as a mob swarmed the Capitol, describing it as crucial to understanding the former president’s state of mind.

In a letter to the GOP leader on Wednesday, Chair Bennie Thompson said the panel wants to know about the details of Trump’s phone call with McCarthy on Jan. 6, one the California Republican himself once described as “heated,” in which Trump initially downplayed the notion that his supporters were responsible for breaching the Capitol, according to some accounts.

When McCarthy asserted on the call to the outgoing president that it was Trump’s supporters who raided the Capitol, Trump replied: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” This account of the call was shared by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who publicly revealed her conversation with McCarthy ahead of the impeachment proceedings last year. McCarthy has not disputed the account.

In a statement issued later Wednesday, McCarthy said he would not cooperate with the request.

“As a representative and the leader of the minority party, it is with neither regret nor satisfaction that I have concluded to not participate with this select committee’s abuse of power that stains this institution today and will harm it going forward," he said.

Asked whether the panel would subpoena him to ensure his compliance, Thompson told reporters, “We will consider it.” McCarthy is the third GOP lawmaker the panel has requested to testify. The others, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), have rejected the committee’s entreaties. Both men were key allies of Trump as he sought to subvert the 2020 election results.

Thompson said the select panel is particularly interested in McCarthy’s changing tone around his characterization of Trump’s actions during the riot, adding that members intend to ask him whether Trump or his allies suggested “what you should say publicly during the impeachment trial (if called as a witness), or in any later investigation about your conversations with him on January 6th.”

In addition, Thompson said he was not aware whether the committee had obtained any of McCarthy’s text messages or banking records. McCarthy’s phone records were on an initial preservation request the committee sent to telecommunications companies at the outset of its probe.

Notably, the select panel has obtained a raft of text messages sent and received by Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows, who briefly cooperated with its inquiry. The committee is also fighting the former president in court to obtain Trump White House call logs from the National Archives, a matter that's pending before the Supreme Court.

McCarthy, who helped scuttle an attempt to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection, has spent months thrashing the Jan. 6 committee. Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy’s initial picks to sit on the panel — Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) — deeming them too intertwined with Trump to be credible investigators. In turn, McCarthy withdrew his remaining three appointees and boycotted the committee altogether.

McCarthy also issued a thinly veiled threat to telecommunications companies that cooperated with the Jan. 6 committee’s request for lawmakers’ phone records, saying a GOP majority next year “will not forget” their decisions.

The panel proposed a Feb. 3 or Feb. 4 meeting, or a time the week after.

McCarthy has softened his tone toward Trump since the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot. He initially said on the House floor that Trump “bears responsibility” for the violence, but within a six-month span had begun sidestepping such questions.

Some House Republicans who wanted Trump to be purged from the party blame McCarthy for bringing Trump back into a position of influence — particularly after the House GOP leader met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago just weeks after the attack. Trump loyalists in the House, however, welcomed the move.

McCarthy’s early post-insurrection criticism enraged Trump, who has at times lashed out at the lawmaker. But McCarthy has worked diligently to foster relationships with Trump and the former president's allies in the House as he zeroes in on his goal to claim the speaker’s gavel in 2023, should Republicans retake the chamber.

The GOP leader has also offered varying responses when asked if he would testify. In May, he replied to a reporter’s question with a “sure.” At other times, he's offered less clear responses.

In an interview with local California news channel Eyewitness News in late December, McCarthy was asked if he would testify before the Jan. 6 panel. He replied: "I don't have anything really to add. I have been very public, but I wouldn't hide from anything either."

In its letter to McCarthy, the panel also disclosed a new text message from Fox News host Laura Ingraham to Meadows urging Trump on Jan. 12, 2021, to discourage supporters from bringing weapons to state Capitols.

“Remarks on camera discouraging protest at state capit[o]ls esp with weapons will be well advised given how hot the situation is. [E]veryone needs to calm down and pray for our country and for those who lost their lives last week,” Ingraham told the then-chief of staff.

The message came amid heightened fears that state Capitols were vulnerable to violent attacks in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

A Fox News representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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