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Republican Mayoral Candidate Refuses to Condemn “Literal Nazis”

Gabrielle Hanson would not condemn a white nationalist group who showed up for her.

Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post/Getty Images
A Nationalist Socialist Movement member does a Nazi salute during the White Lives Matter protest in Shelbyville, Tennessee, in October 2017.

A MAGA mayoral candidate for Franklin, Tennessee, seems to have opted for a dubious political alliance, affiliating with white supremacists and self-described Nazis.

Last week, alderman and mayoral candidate Gabrielle Hanson strolled up to Franklin’s candidates forum with the white nationalist organization “Tennessee Active Club” in tow. The hate group claimed it was there to “protect” Hanson with a show of force, according to News Channel 5 Nashville.

In a hearing on Tuesday, Hanson refused to denounce the group, which had harassed journalists and threatened a local resident’s life, alleging instead that its presence was to prevent disruptions by antifa.

“I don’t denounce any of my clients,” Hanson said. “I’m a realtor, I’m not going to denounce anybody their right to be whatever it is that they want to be, whether I agree with what they do in their personal life or not.”

But that reaction wasn’t what the group’s facilitator and self-avowed “actual literal Nazi” Brad Lewis was expecting. In a Sunday episode of the conservative streaming show Patriot Punkcast, Lewis expressed frustration that Hanson claimed she had nothing to do with their presence at the forum, adding that they were “security by request.”

“I facilitated all of this. She asked me, and I in turn asked the guys if they would be interested, and they of course accepted,” Lewis said, adding that Hanson “was aware” of the club’s involvement.

Opposite the controversial city leader, the city’s other aldermen used Tuesday’s hearing to lambaste Hanson.

“Is it your mission to divide our city? Because you are doing a bang-up job of it right now,” huffed Alderman Beverly Burger.

“It’s embarrassing to end up on HBO, to end up on MSNBC, and not for the good stuff,” said Alderman Brandy Blanton.

Last month, Hanson made headlines when it was revealed that she was stealing other people’s Instagram posts as campaign fodder, using their images of women of different ethnic and racial backgrounds to pretend they were her political supporters.

Hanson is running against another Republican, incumbent Mayor Ken Moore, in Franklin’s mayoral race. The city votes on October 24.

Republicans Pick Man Who Compared Himself to David Duke as Next House Speaker

Republicans have nominated Representative Steve Scalise as their next House speaker—and that speaks volumes.

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Steve Scalise

House Republicans agreed Wednesday to nominate Steve Scalise, who once reportedly described himself as “David Duke without the baggage,” for speaker.

Eight Republicans voted last week to vacate the speaker and oust Kevin McCarthy, plunging the House into chaos. The chamber is set to vote later Wednesday on a new speaker, but the GOP has struggled to get its act together.

Republicans voted 113–98 to put current House Majority Leader Steve Scalise forward as McCarthy’s replacement. He will now face a vote from the full chamber that will be split at least along party lines. Democrats plan to back Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

But it won’t be an easy road for Scalise. He was up against Jim Jordan for the Republican speaker nomination, and he may still get some pushback from lawmakers loyal to Jordan. Representative Max Miller told reporters that he’ll still vote for Jordan on the floor, even if Scalise gets the caucus nomination, a move others may follow. Representative Ken Buck has said he’ll vote for neither candidate, all but guaranteeing to draw out the process.

A Scalise victory means that the farthest-right wing of the Republican Party would be in complete control. Scalise has refused to say outright that the 2020 election was legitimate, instead remaining loyal to Donald Trump.

But even long before that, Scalise had embraced the extremist movement. At the start of his congressional career, Scalise reportedly described himself as being like Duke, the former head of the Ku Klux Klan, but “without the baggage.”

Scalise also attended a white supremacist conference that Duke organized in 2002. Scalise later described attending the conference as “a mistake.”

But Duke said Scalise was invited because he would “communicate a lot” and was “friendly” with Kenny Knight, Duke’s political adviser.

How to Make Trump Go “Crazy,” According to George Conway

The Never Trump lawyer says the Democrats need to wage “psychological warfare” on the former president, and he has an idea how to do it.

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Former Republican George Conway said Democrats need to wage a “psychological war” against Donald Trump until it makes him so “crazy” that he violates court orders.

“I think you have to wage psychological war on Donald Trump,” Conway, a lawyer and Never Trump activist, said during a panel discussion at The New Republic’s Stop Trump Summit on Wednesday. “I don’t think the Democrats have ever attacked Trump enough.”

In an interview afterward with TNR, Conway explained that Democrats could wage a coordinated psychological campaign against Trump through a series of advertisements. “You can just run ads on TV in the local area where he is,” said Conway, whom Trump had once considered nominating for solicitor general.

Conway said that the ads could target the things Trump feels the most insecure about. “He knows he’s not that smart, he knows he’s not that rich, he knows that he’s not that good. And so, if you go and attack him for the things he knows he is not deep down, it makes him crazy.”

“He’s not that far from his bursting point,” Conway added. And making Trump nuts could impact ongoing his legal troubles.

“The more he gets attacked the more he will talk about things he shouldn’t be talking about,” Conway said. “I think you could even get him thrown into jail, by running the right ad,” he added.

Trump was slapped with a gag order in his New York trial after he made comments attacking New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has accused him and his associates of fraudulently inflating the value of their real estate assets. In the Georgia case, the conditions of his release on bail bar him from intimidating witnesses and co-defendants.

“You run ads that make him angry at those people, like [Mark] Meadows,” said Conway, referring to the former top Trump aide and co-defendant in the Georgia trial. “You run these creepy ads that get into his head, he’ll just go out there and he’ll violate his conditions of release.”

Conway went on to say that beating Trump requires the media to show America who Trump is. “I disagree with some of the critiques that you hear, I think predominantly from the left, about ‘You don’t give him oxygen; you don’t give him air time.’ No. You give him more. Show everybody the crazy.”

Former Ohio State Wrestlers Warn Jim Jordan Is Not Fit To Be Speaker

“He still has to answer for what happened to us,” one former wrestler said.

Repreentative Jim Jordan
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Four former Ohio State wrestlers are speaking out against Representative Jim Jordan, alleging that the conservative hard-liner and Freedom Caucus founder is not qualified to be House speaker after he shoved sexual abuse concerns under the rug during his time as a coach at the university.

“He doesn’t deserve to be House speaker. He still has to answer for what happened to us,” former Ohio State University wrestler Dunyasha Yetts told NBC.

Before his explosive political career and nomination to speaker of the House, Jordan served as an assistant coach to OSU’s wrestling team from 1986 to 1994, a period that overlapped with the tenure of Richard Strauss, a team doctor accused of abusing at least 177 male student-patients.

A 2019 investigation found that school officials were aware of Strauss’s conduct as early as 1979 but, instead of taking action, chose to orchestrate a cover-up of the abuse.

Several former teammates and even referees claim that Jordan knew about the doctor’s misconduct but did nothing to stop it.

A Jordan spokesperson, Russell Dye, denied that the Trump-endorsed congressman knew of the abuse during his time at OSU. “Chairman Jordan never saw or heard of any abuse, and if he had, he would have dealt with it,” Dye said in an email to NBC.

But Jordan also skirted involvement with the official investigation, which did not name him but found that “coaches, trainers and other team physicians were fully aware of Strauss’ activities, and yet few seemed inclined to do anything to stop it.”

“Do you really want a guy in that job who chose not to stand up for his guys?” former OSU wrestler Mike Schyck told NBC. “Is that the kind of character trait you want for a House speaker?”

At a 2018 hearing before the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee, Adam DiSabato, another former OSU wrestler and the brother of the scandal’s whistleblower, Mike DiSabato, claimed that Jordan had called him weeks before his testimony “crying, groveling, begging me to go against my brother, begging me, crying for a half-hour.… That’s the kind of cover-up that’s going on here. He’s a coward. He’s a coward.”

What Was Nancy Mace Thinking With That Inane Scarlet Letter Stunt?

After her House speaker vote, the Republican representative tried to make a point by wearing a shirt with a big red “A” on it.

Nancy Mace
Nathan Howard/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Representative Nancy Mace continues to try and fail to cast herself as an underdog warrior of the people.

Mace was one of eight Republicans who voted last week to vacate the speaker and oust Kevin McCarthy, plunging the House into chaos. The chamber is set to vote Wednesday on a new speaker, but the GOP cannot seem to get its act together. Throughout it all, Mace has given the impression that she’s fighting off attacks for having principles.

Her latest attempt was to wear a T-shirt with a red “A” emblazoned on it. “I’m wearing the scarlet letter after the week that I just had last week, being a woman up here and being demonized for my vote and for my voice,” she told reporters Tuesday night.

“I’m here to let the rest of the world know and the rest of the country know, I’m on the side of the people. I’m not on the side of the establishment. And I’m going to do the right thing every single time, no matter the consequences.”

It seems Mace skipped the day in high school English literature when the class discussed The Scarlet Letter. In the novel, Puritan woman Hester Prynne is forced to wear a red letter A because she had sex out of wedlock. The book does discuss themes of female independence, but the A is primarily a punishment.

Mace appears to have taken her interpretation from the first half of the 2010 movie Easy A, which initially portrays the A as a badge of honor but then shows how it can also be isolating. Ironically, the movie also mentions several times how important it is to read the original book.

The South Carolina Republican isn’t exactly a victim here, either. Mace’s colleagues aren’t calling her “disgraceful” or threatening to kick her out of the GOP conference the way they are Matt Gaetz, who led the charge against McCarthy.

Instead, Mace’s actions have actually revealed how hypocritical she is. In January, during the seemingly interminable rounds of votes for speaker that McCarthy ultimately won, Mace criticized Gaetz for fundraising off of the ordeal.

But since voting to boot McCarthy, Mace has aggressively tried to fundraise off of her vote. She even asked for campaign donations while doing an interview inside the Capitol—a violation of House rules.

Mace, an outspoken advocate for abuse victims, has also said she will support Jim Jordan as the next speaker. Mace is apparently content to overlook the allegations that Jordan was aware of sexual abuse complaints against the doctor of the Ohio State University wrestling team, which Jordan coached, and did nothing about it.

“Yeah, I’m not familiar or aware of that. He’s not indicted on anything I’m aware of, and so I don’t know anything and can’t speak to that,” Mace said on CBS Monday.

Her comments highlight not only her hypocrisy, but the fact that she didn’t pay attention in English class: The Scarlet Letter is also critical of men who abuse their positions of power.

House Republicans Are Changing the Speaker Election Rules as They Go

The Republican Party seems to be descending into greater chaos as the House speaker election approaches.

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House Majority Leader Steve Scalise

House Republicans are on the verge of electing a new speaker, but so far, it’s not looking good.

The House is expected to vote Wednesday to replace Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the first ever House leader to be removed from the position after eight rebel members of his own party led a campaign to boot him. However, a closed-door meeting on Tuesday night proved that deep divisions in the party still remain.

Kentucky’s Republican Representative Thomas Massie put the odds of finding a speaker Wednesday at “two percent,” reported The New York Times Luke Broadwater, noting that some party members are “dug in” for their candidates, including former McCarthy backers.

So far, party members have put forward two leading candidates: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Trump ally and Judiciary Committee Chairman Representative Jim Jordan.

But the rules of the game are changing while the ball is still in the air, according to Punchbowl News’s Jake Sherman, who reported that the party is still contesting the rules of the election even as the election itself arrives. The House vote has also become increasingly private, with politicians stripped of their cell phones ahead of the closed-door meetings.

“Not [a] fan of snitches,” tweeted Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, referring to the policy change.

Meanwhile, the House remains paralyzed without a leader, unable to move forward on things like the spending bill or responding to the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine.

While Republicans squander more time on their civil war, another government shutdown looms large on the horizon, with just a month and change until the House’s stopgap spending bill expires.

Fox News Suddenly Turns Against RFK Jr. Now That He’s Independent

Sean Hannity is grilling Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on why he’s running as an independent.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Fox News has turned on Robert Kennedy Jr. now that he is running for president as an independent, a move that could steal votes away from Donald Trump.

Kennedy Jr. announced Monday that he is switching his candidacy to run as an independent. Previously, he had been embraced by the far right for things like his opposition to vaccines and belief in conspiracy theories. But his popularity among Republicans means he could also pull just enough voters to turn the election against GOP front-runner Trump.

Fox host Sean Hannity adopted a noticeably more aggressive approach to Kennedy Jr. during a Tuesday night interview. “By the way, I’m giving you comments that you’ve made in 2016, ’17, ’19. Endorsements, we know the years: Gore, Kerry, Obama, Hillary, Bernie Sanders.… The NRA quote you made about calling them a terror group was 2018,” Hannity said, recounting Kennedy Jr.’s more liberal past.

“These are recent positions you’ve had. I’m not sure why the Democratic Party wouldn’t allow you to compete.”

Kennedy looked visibly stunned while Hannity spoke, and when he finally responded, he struggled to find the words.

“Do you want to talk about my positions, Sean, or do you want to read talking points from the Trump campaign?” he eventually asked.

“Excuse me, these are not talking points. These are called Hannity Points. I do my own research,” Hannity shot back.

Independent candidates historically perform poorly in the general election. They are more often viewed as spoilers who strip just enough votes away from one major candidate to tip the election toward the other. In the case of RFK Jr., his embrace of far-right talking points is expected to woo voters away from Trump.

Current polling indicates Kennedy Jr.’s favorability ratings are far higher among Republicans. It’s unlikely he’ll pull a lot of voters away from Trump, but he could pull just enough to turn the election decisively for Joe Biden. Fox News does not necessarily like Trump, but the network knows it benefits from him being in the headlines.

Guess Who Georgia Wants to Testify Against Trump’s Co-Defendants?

The Fulton County district attorney is calling on two new witnesses to provide testimony against Trump’s former lawyers—and they’re big names.

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Georgia prosecutors on Tuesday requested that Infowars host and major conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel testify in an upcoming trial for two of Donald Trump’s ex-lawyers.

Attorneys Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro were charged alongside Trump and 16 other co-defendants with felony racketeering for trying to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who led the investigation into Trump and his allies, requested that Jones and McDaniel testify specifically about Chesebro’s involvement.

Chesebro was charged with racketeering and conspiracy. He was the original mastermind behind the plan to use slates of fake electors to swing the election for Trump. He also attended the rally on January 6, 2021, that eventually turned into the insurrection. It is unclear if he entered the Capitol, but video footage shows Chesebro following Jones into sections of the restricted area around the building.

The filing for McDaniel asks her to testify about Chesebro’s involvement in the effort to find fake electors, including in other conversations between Trump and John Eastman. Eastman, who is another co-defendant in Georgia, ultimately took over the fake elector scheme from Chesebro.

The filing for Jones says he will testify about Chesebro’s participation in the January 6 rally and riot.

Chesebro and Powell requested in September that their cases be severed from Trump’s in Georgia. Powell’s lawyers tried to argue that she is not connected to the other defendants because she never officially represented Trump in Georgia.

Chesebro argued that he didn’t commit any unlawful actions because he was only sharing legal advice, not actively participating on Trump’s team. Both his and Powell’s lawyers insisted that they could only get fair trials if they were tried alone, instead of alongside the other co-defendants, as Willis plans.

But Judge Scott McAfee found their arguments unconvincing and rejected their request. “Based on what’s been presented today, I am not finding the severance from Mr. Chesebro or Ms. Powell is necessary to achieve a fair determination of the guilt or innocence for either defendant in this case,” he said at the hearing.

Republicans Attack Only Palestinian Member of Congress … Over a Flag

Republicans can’t help themselves from attacking Representative Rashida Tlaib.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Take Back the Court Action Fund

House Republicans are furious that Rashida Tlaib has a Palestinian flag outside her office.

Tlaib, the only Palestinian American member of Congress, has had the flag by her door since January. But the flag, and her decision to leave it in place, has sparked backlash in recent days due to the war between Israel and Palestine.

Fighting broke out on Saturday when Hamas launched a surprise airstrike attack on Israel. Israel has since responded in kind, imposing a total siege on the Gaza Strip, cutting off food, water, and electricity. At least 1,800 people have been killed on both sides—and the death toll is expected to keep rising.

It would be one thing if Tlaib were flying the Hamas flag outside her office. But she instead has a flag that represents her ethnicity and the millions of innocent Palestinians caught in the middle of the war.

Apparently, her flag is so offensive that one Republican representative has moved to ban flying foreign flags outside lawmakers’ offices.

“The halls of Congress belong to America. They should be reserved for flags that embody our great nation,” Max Miller tweeted Monday night. “The Palestinian flag should not have a place here.”

“That’s why I sponsored an appropriations amendment to end this silliness.”

Apparently Miller does not care that there are up to 220,000 Americans of Palestinian descent, according to the Arab American Institute, meaning Palestine is part of “our great nation.”

Miller’s amendment would ban any flags or pennants other than the U.S. flag, the flag of a U.S. state or territory, or the flag for prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action. His measure could therefore also affect some of the more outrageous protest signs hung around Congress by members of his own party.

For instance, it would prevent Marjorie Taylor Greene from hanging a sign denying the existence of transgender people. In 2021, Greene hung a massive sign outside her office that said, “There are TWO genders: MALE & FEMALE. ‘Trust The Science.’”

The sign was intended as a dig toward Democratic Representative Marie Newman, who had the office across the hall. Newman had hung a trans pride flag to honor her daughter, who is trans, and to commemorate the Equality Act, which Greene tried to block.

Josh Hawley Offers World’s Most Offensive Idea for How to Help Israel

Why not just take the money from a U.S. ally in the middle of a war?

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Republican Senator Josh Hawley is offering the world’s most harebrained pitch on how to help Israel: simply redirect funds from Ukraine to Israel.

Hawley posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Monday saying, “Israel is facing an existential threat,” using the tragedy there to further his own political agenda of defunding U.S. aid to Ukraine.

Fighting broke out on Saturday when Hamas launched a deadly surprise attack on Israel, killing over 900 Israelis. The Israeli government has responded by declaring a total siege of Gaza, home to two million Palestinians and what has been described as the world’s largest open-air prison. About 770 Palestinians have already been killed in retribution, and the death toll is expected to keep rising.

On Monday, Senator Mitch McConnell was among several bipartisan lawmakers who pushed for a spending package that would link aid for Israel with support for Ukraine and Taiwan. The hope is to convince Ukraine aid skeptics, like Hawley, to continue supporting the country as support diminishes in the GOP-controlled House. On both sides of the aisle, the deaths of Palestinians and Israelis have already become a political tool.

Meanwhile, some are saying that it’s not clear that Israel requires immediate U.S. funding. Congressional aides have said that Israel already has the resources to wage a weeks-long campaign of violence in Gaza and use its Iron Dome system to defend itself, and can then tap into more than $5 billion made available by Pentagon drawdown authority.