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Pennsylvania Democrats Just Won a Big Election—and It Deserves Your Attention

Jim Prokopiak’s win in Pennsylvania’s special election seriously shifts the balance of power for Democrats.

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Pennsylvania Democrats secured a huge victory in Tuesday night’s special election, which will allow them to maintain control of the state House of Representatives.

Democrat Jim Prokopiak defeated Republican Candace Cabanas in the state House race in Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia. Prokopiak leads with 85.9 percent of the vote, according to early returns.

The win comes at a time when Democrats are hoping for another major victory on the national stage, with former Democratic Representative Tom Suozzi seeking to return to the House of Representatives to take over George Santos’s seat in New York’s 3rd congressional district.

While that race is understandably receiving a lot of attention—given that it could dramatically shrink Republicans’ already razor-thin majority in Congress—what’s happening in Pennsylvania has just as much significance.

With Prokopiak’s victory, Democrats will control the state House by 102–100, thus maintaining their grip on the majority they have defended in four special elections in the past year.

Prokopiak will replace former Democratic state Representative John Galloway, who resigned in December after winning a district court judge seat in Bucks County. That left the state House split 101–101. Last week, Republican Representative Joe Adams also resigned, shifting the balance of power back to Democrats—before Prokopiak further solidified it Tuesday.

Much like other Democrats in the state’s special elections, Prokopiak ran on a promise to protect abortion access in Pennsylvania. The national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee poured more than $80,000 into the race in support of his campaign.

The victory will cement Democratic control of both the state House and the governor’s office. That means Democrats will not only be able to successfully block any Republican bills—including on abortion, guns, school vouchers, or voter ID laws—that may arise from the GOP-controlled state Senate. It also means they can start crafting legislation of their own.

During his campaign, Prokopiak said his goals included more funding for K-12 education, safeguarding access to abortion, and raising the minimum wage.

“What I heard from voters is that Bucks County residents need help supporting their families, want control over their own bodies, and [to] ensure they have the ability to chart their own paths in life,” Prokopiak said in a statement Tuesday night. “I’m committed to taking my conversations with voters to Harrisburg and making their dreams a reality.”

Local elections matter—and in Pennsylvania, Democrats can finally move forward on making their campaign promises a reality.

A Promising Sign That SCOTUS Won’t Let Trump Delay January 6 Trial

Donald Trump has appealed the presidential immunity ruling to the Supreme Court—and the court has already responded.

Close-up of Donald Trump as he speaks
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Supreme Court appears to be wasting no time making a determination over Donald Trump’s presidential immunity claim in his January 6 trial, giving special counsel Jack Smith until next week to respond to Trump’s attempt to stay a lower court’s ruling that flatly rejected the immunity argument.

The court announced the deadline on Tuesday, just one day after Trump appealed to the Supreme Court.

Legal experts commented that the hairpin turnaround could only mean one thing.

“What that says is actually good because that means that the Supreme Court is expediting whatever decision they’re going to make,” former Manhattan District Attorney Catherine Christian told MSNBC.

“And I suspect that the special counsel already has their response ready to go. Remember, Monday is a holiday, Presidents Day. So (the) Trump team met their deadline yesterday, and then, the next morning, the Supreme Court and the chief judge says: Respond by next Tuesday, (which) is a good sign that whatever decision the Supreme Court makes, it will hopefully be expedited,” Christian continued.

Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court is very likely a delay tactic, but so far, it doesn’t seem like the court is wholly entertaining it.

“I think frankly, it’s nakedly about delay. What the former president is hoping to do is have his cake and eat it too. He does not want the court, really, to get to the merits. He wants more and more process, and that’s what he’s hoping for here,” former federal prosecutor Temidayo Aganga-Williams told the network.

“[The Supreme Court] is appearing to move quickly here, which from my vantage point is heartening, and I hope that they will resist his request to slow this down even further.”

If the court rejects Trump’s request, the case will return to Judge Tanya Chutkan, who would set a new trial date.

Smith has been urging the court to expedite the process for months, even asking SCOTUS to circumvent the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in reviewing the immunity claim, though the high court denied the attempt.

“This Court’s immediate review of that question is the only way to achieve its timely and definitive resolution,” Smith wrote in a December filing. “The Nation has a compelling interest in a decision on [Trump’s] claim of immunity from these charges—and if they are to be tried, a resolution by conviction or acquittal, without undue delay.”

GOP Congressman Accidentally Gives Real Reason for Mayorkas Impeachment

Republican Representative French Hill just gave away the game.

Representative French Hill wears a suit and speaks before a mic in the House chamber
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Surprise, surprise: The GOP is being disingenuous about impeachment again.

Just a few years after crying foul at the “witch hunt” impeachment of then-President Trump (and then crying foul again), Republicans are pursuing the nakedly partisan impeachment of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. The House is expected to vote again on Tuesday evening on whether to impeach the DHS secretary, the second such attempt in a week.

There’s only one problem: They still can’t explain how Mayorkas has failed to uphold his constitutional duty.

On Tuesday, Republican Representative French Hill announced the party’s bald-faced political motivations for impeaching Mayorkas. On a panel hosted by Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo, Hill laid out the case against Mayorkas (or lack thereof).

“We need to shut the border.… The president could take executive action to do it today—doesn’t need more money. It needs action, and this is what’s disappointing to people, and that’s why Mayorkas is gonna pay this public relations price by being impeached for the first time since 1876,” Hill said.

Notably absent from Hill’s explanation was any description of high crimes and misdemeanors committed by Mayorkas. Hill all but admitted that, with the impeachment, Republicans are aiming to make Mayorkas the face of their anti-Biden, anti-immigrant campaign, despite his having not committed impeachable offenses.

With his “1876” comment, Hill was referring to the last (and only) time a Cabinet member was impeached, when Secretary of War William Belknap was acquitted. It was not the last time a Cabinet member’s impeachment was voted on, however. That would be just last week, when House Speaker Mike Johnson failed to ensure he had enough votes to successfully impeach Mayorkas the first time and three members of his party voted against the effort.

Two of those Republicans—Representatives Ken Buck and Tom McClintock—did so on the grounds that the impeachment crusade is a political sham and in violation of the Constitution. (So far, there’s no indication they’ll change their votes this time around.)

House Republicans have mooted impeaching Mayorkas since Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, was in charge. He too pledged to impeach Mayorkas. But then, as now, there was one glaring issue: They didn’t know why they were doing it. That’s never stopped them before, and it won’t now.

One would think Republicans are taking their do-over more seriously than their first try. But it’s hard to imagine giving away the game so openly was part of the game plan.

More on this particular impeachment sham:

GOP Congressman Spews Racist Screed on Fall of “Western Civilization”

Republican Representative Chip Roy went into full meltdown mode when talking about the Senate’s new foreign aid package.

Representaive Chip Roy speaks at a podium
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Texas Republican Representative Chip Roy may have stirred up disunity in the GOP earlier this year with his threats to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson, but he’s in lockstep with the rest of his party on one thing: Democrats want to “end Western civilization” with open borders.

In an interview with Fox News’s Harris Faulkner on Tuesday, Roy was asked about the Senate’s passage of a $95 billion foreign aid package, which dedicates assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

The Freedom Caucus member accused Democrats of not “[having] any interest in sitting down at the table” to discuss border security—less than a week after Republicans killed a bipartisan bill that included border funding alongside the foreign aid package, at the urging of Donald Trump.

Roy went on to baselessly claim that Democrats, who he snidely called “colonizers,” “want to flood the zone” with “the chaos created by wide-open borders.”

“It’s not just political,” said Roy. “They want to remake America. They want to end Western civilization.”

Roy also complained about the number of “foreign-born” people in the United States.

The demographic conspiracy espoused by Roy, a variant of the explicitly white supremacist “great replacement theory,” is becoming an increasingly popular talking point in the GOP. What was once confined to the hinterlands of white nationalist message boards has been adopted whole cloth by the Republican mainstream and is now repeated by lawmakers like Roy on television.

Roy also took the opportunity to take a potshot at same-sex marriage, accusing Democrats of “trying to force their beliefs” on “countries in Africa who dare to say that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Roy’s was not the only mention of the threat to Western civilization by the global right this week; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his own Fox News interview, called the bombardment of Rafah part of a “battle of the forces of civilization against the worst forces of barbarism on the planet.”

Roy’s and Netanyahu’s comments are emblematic of a global right obsessed with conspiratorial ideations of civilizational decline and collapse. For Fox, it makes for a good segment.

MAGA Candidate Says He’s Worried About Babies Who Might Get an Abortion

Bill Eigel, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Missouri, may not realize, but this is physically impossible.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Thousands of demonstrators march in support of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 30, 2019.

A gubernatorial candidate in Missouri is arguing against abortion access for rape victims on the basis that it would technically allow babies to gain access to the medical procedure.

Republican Missouri State Senator Bill Eigel took the draconian (and idiotic) stance during a debate last week, over an amendment to the state’s already restrictive abortion ban. Missouri has only allowed abortions in the event of medical emergencies since shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. The new amendment, proposed by Democratic state Senator Doug Beck, would permit abortions for children aged 12 and under if they are victims of rape or incest, raising health concerns for child rape victims if their pregnancies were carried to term.

“You want to bring back the institution of abortion so that kids can get abortions in the state of Missouri. A 1-year-old could get an abortion under this,” Eigel said, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

The uneducated response immediately called for a fact-check from Beck.

“I don’t know that a 1-year-old could get pregnant, Senator,” he retorted, before asking if Eigel was “OK” with the “forced birth of a child being raped.”

“I don’t support the institutions of rape or of incest. But your amendment doesn’t address those,” Eigel replied.

But Eigel isn’t alone in his condemnation of the bill. Another Republican, Missouri State Senator Sandy Crawford, claimed the incest and rape provision shouldn’t pass because “God is perfect.”

“God does not make mistakes. And for some reason he allows that to happen, bad things happen,” Crawford said. “I’m not gonna be able to support the amendments because I am very pro-life.”

Also last week, GOP representatives in the state unanimously voted down another amendment to the ban, proposed by Senator Tracy McCreery, which would have legalized abortion in all cases of rape or incest.

John Bolton: Trump’s Just Totally Making Stuff Up Now

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton believes Trump’s threat to abandon NATO is real—but the rest of the details are made up.

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While the world continues to reel after Donald Trump claimed he told a European leader that he’d allow Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO allies if they didn’t “pay” their “bills,” some former members of his inner circle aren’t even sure he said it at all.

On Tuesday, Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton cast doubt on the incendiary story, claiming that it just didn’t sound real to him.

“I never heard him saying anything like that, and the way the conversation goes doesn’t sound real,” Bolton told Politico. “You know, he makes up a lot of conversations where people are always calling him ‘Sir.’ You know, maybe his subordinates are calling him sir, because that’s the right thing to do. But foreign leaders don’t call him sir. They either call him Mr. President or Donald, number one.”

“But number two, the fact that it’s an imaginary conversation that makes Trump look very good—as all of Trump’s imagined conversations do—doesn’t mean that he doesn’t believe what he’s saying,” Bolton continued.

To that end, Bolton believes that Trump’s desire to force the United States out of the strategic military alliance is very real.

“Look, I was there when he almost withdrew, and he’s not negotiating,” Bolton said. “His goal here is not to strengthen NATO, it’s to lay the groundwork to get out.”

Trump’s comments—even outside of the White House—may have the impact he’s looking for. On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Trump’s bombastic story may force what was once a quiet conversation out into the open: how the 75-year-old Western alliance might prepare for a world after America removes itself as the centerpiece.

Republicans unquestioningly have quickly fallen in line behind the GOP front-runner, brushing Trump’s veiled threats off as something not to be taken “literally” and claiming that Trump should not be considered a “traditional politician.”

“I think there are some Republicans who support Trump out there saying, ‘Oh, it’s, you know, it’s not a big deal. He’s not going to do it, so on and so forth.’ I’m telling you, I was there in Brussels when he damn near did it,” Bolton said, referring to the 2018 NATO summit.

According to Bolton, a policy hawk who also served under Ronald Reagan’s administration, the consequences of exiting the Cold War alliance could be dire, effectively resulting in the end of NATO, leaving behind a fractured and significantly weakened European alliance, while devastating America’s international credibility as an ally.

“If we’re willing to throw NATO over the side, there is no American alliance that is secure,” Bolton said, questioning if Trump would do the same to Israel while in office if it suited his political purposes.

Trump has long aggressed America’s relationship with the international military alliance, baselessly asserting that other NATO members have failed to pay their dues, which are determined by guideline rather than mandate, and even though the United States has never been shortchanged by other members. The Cold War organization has “no ledger that maintains accounts of what countries pay and owe,” according to former Obama staffer Aaron O’Connell, who explained to NPR in 2018 that “NATO is not like a club with annual membership fees.”

“When Trump complains that NATO allies are not spending enough on defense, he’s not complaining to get them to strengthen NATO. He’s using it to bolster his excuse to get out,” Bolton explained.

Lindsey Graham Is Losing It, Starts Yelling at a Poster

The Republican senator appeared to have a proper meltdown as the Senate debated a foreign aid bill.

Lindsey Graham yelling and pointing at something off camera
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Debate over the $95 billion foreign aid bill in the Senate reached the prime minister of Poland. Well, sort of.

On Monday night, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham lit into a poster of a tweet by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk castigating Republican senators for voting against giving aid to Ukraine. (Just a few hours after this meltdown, Graham would join 25 other members of his party in voting against the aid package to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.)

Graham seemed to take particular offense at Tusk’s invocation of Ronald Reagan, who, according to the prime minister, “must be turning in his grave” at his party’s turning a blind eye to Russian aggression. “Shame on you,” tweeted Tusk.

Addressing (and gesticulating at) the poster directly, Graham admonished Tusk’s Twitter avatar for suggesting that Republican senators had abandoned Reagan’s legacy.

“To the prime minister of Poland, if Ronald Reagan were alive today, we wouldn’t have this broken border.… How would you feel if seven million people came in illegally into Poland? Would you have this attitude: We’ve got to put Ukraine ahead of Poland?”

Graham has been supportive of military aid to Ukraine in the past. As recently as September, he called it a “good investment.” But he has recently changed his tune, parroting Donald Trump’s talking points that any aid to Ukraine should instead be a loan. Graham also seems more interested in attacking Democrats over the border, even after killing a draconian bipartisan “border deal” last week.

Adhering to a rapidly disintegrating GOP party line of theoretical support for Ukraine, Graham assured his piece of cardboard that he “[wants] to help Ukraine … and make a stronger NATO,” but claimed that before he could support an ally facing invasion, he needed to get a bill bundling aid to Ukraine with border security provisions—presumably a different bill from the one already rejected by Graham and his colleagues—through the House of Representatives.

The $95 billion aid bill eventually passed without Graham’s support, but it faces resistance from House Republicans. In the meantime, Graham claims he “could care less what” Tusk thinks about him. His red-faced poster routine suggests otherwise.

Ron Johnson Says Dumb Thing Before Casting Pro-Putin Vote

The Republican senator from Wisconsin had an unbelievable explanation for voting against a bill to send aid to Ukraine.

Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images
Ron Johnson speaks and makes weird hand gestures.

The Senate early Tuesday morning passed a $95 billion aid package, which dedicated $60 billion of assistance to Ukraine—but not without objection from some Republican senators, including Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who filibustered through the night.

Johnson’s objection? Certainly not the $15 billion of aid to Israel also included in the bill, or the decoupling of border security funding after Senate Republicans killed the bipartisan border deal last week at Donald Trump’s behest. Instead, Johnson was apparently swayed to vote against the bill after Vladimir Putin’s interview with Tucker Carlson.

Johnson, in an interview on far-right news network Real America’s Voice, explained that, while Putin “is a war criminal [who is] obviously not telling you the whole truth,” his conversation with ousted Fox News host Carlson was “very interesting,” and that “an awful lot of what Vladimir Putin said was right … accurate, and obvious.”

“Putin won’t lose. He will not lose. He’s not gonna lose,” Johnson repeatedly warned in the interview, just hours before he voted against giving more aid to Ukraine.

Echoing Putin’s talking points, Johnson also baselessly claimed U.S. economic sanctions against Russia  threaten the supremacy of the U.S. dollar by forcing Russia to trade with foreign currencies.

Without referring specifically to the $60 billion earmarked for Ukrainian military aid, which has divided the Republican caucus for months, Johnson inveigled against “so many people in Washington ignoring [Putin’s comments] … making people believe that Ukraine can win.”

Twenty-two Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined 48 Democratic senators to pass the bill, where it will meet the continued opposition of House Speaker Mike Johnson, who has already attempted to eliminate Ukraine funding from a much smaller aid package exclusively for Israel. GOP holdouts in the Senate and House, including Johnson, have been locked in an intraparty battle over Ukraine for over a year now. Putin’s rambling, off-the-rails interview with Carlson seems to have convinced at least one senator to dig in his heels. Not that he needed another reason to back an authoritarian, anyway.

Immigrant-Bashing GOPer in Santos Seat Race Once Sang Very Different Tune

Republican Mazi Pilip appears to have completely revised her stance on immigration, now that she has a shot at a House seat.

Mazi Pilip speaks at a mic. She is wearing a red blazer and has her curly hair down.
Howard Schnapp/Newsday RM/Getty Images

The Republican candidate vying for George Santos’s House seat has suddenly changed her stance on immigration, as she apparently seeks to fearmonger her way to victory in Tuesday’s special election.

Nassau County legislator Mazi Pilip is running to fill the seat vacated by  serial fabricator Santos in New York’s 3rd congressional district. And in hopes of winning votes, she’s taking some hard-line positions on immigration, despite having emigrated from Israel and, before that, Ethiopia.

Campaign ads for Pilip warn about a “record invasion” of migrants and Democrats’ “open border agenda.” Just last week, she used the same language again, claiming the Senate’s bipartisan immigration deal “puts into law the invasion currently happening at our southern border.”

But only a few months ago, Pilip was singing a very different tune.

In an October interview with local outlet The Island 360, when Republicans hadn’t yet settled on Pilip as their replacement pick for the House seat, she was stressing the need for a humane immigration policy.

Steven Blank, the publisher of The Island 360, asked Pilip what should be done about the migrants coming to New York City.

“As you know, this country was founded by immigrants. I am immigrated twice,” replied Pilip, whose native language is Amharic. She then described migrants as simply “people coming for better life.”

“Right now the way the situation is, it doesn’t help the American people. And it doesn’t help the migrants as well. So I think this is time for the federal and the state to think better plan, how we can help them.”

Pilip went on to shoot down a proposal to use Nassau Coliseum as a shelter for asylum-seekers, urging more care for migrants.

“How you can bring people and put them in Nassau Coliseum? That’s not right. That’s not correct,” she said. “That’s not the way you welcoming migrants. That’s not the way we welcoming migrants, and I’m sorry that’s the plan. That’s not the right plan, not to the Americans, not to the migrants. So the federal government better come up with ideas, and ways, and policies how you are willing to absorb those migrant and give them, you know, the good life they was seeking.”

“Go back to the federal government … to come up with a plan to house those people,” she stressed.

Since then, a whole new Pilip seems to be running for the House.

Tuesday’s special election is so critical that Pilip, and her new anti-immigrant stance, has Nassau County’s entire Republican machine behind her. In fact, she has such strong backing that not a single person is shown on her campaign payroll, according to The New York Times.

Republicans Seem Completely OK With Trump’s Alarming Russia Comments

Republicans are defending Donald Trump’s terrifying remarks that Russia can do “whatever the hell it wants.”

Sam Wolfe/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Conservatives once again fell in line behind Donald Trump on Monday, signing off on comments the GOP front-runner made over the weekend that read more like veiled threats against nations he deems are failing NATO’s guidelines.

“If we don’t pay, and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?” Trump recalled a leader of a “big country” asking him.

“No, I would not protect you,” Trump told a crowd in Conway, North Carolina, on Saturday. “In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills,” Trump said he replied.

By Monday, several GOP leaders, including Senators Marco Rubio, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, and Lindsey Graham, defended incendiary remarks against America’s strongest allies.

“NATO countries that don’t spend enough on defense, like Germany, are already encouraging Russian aggression and President Trump is simply ringing the warning bell,” Cotton told The New York Times.

“Strength, not weakness, deters aggression. Russia invaded Ukraine twice under Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but not under Donald Trump,” he continued, seemingly ignoring the notoriously cushy—and sometimes subservient—relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Graham took the same stance, completely giving the bombastic former president the benefit of the doubt in a seemingly black and white scenario.

“Give me a break—I mean, it’s Trump,” Graham said. “All I can say is while Trump was president nobody invaded anybody. I think the point here is to, in his way, to get people to pay.”

Cornyn also brushed off the explosive comment, telling Politico that he doesn’t take Trump “literally.” Meanwhile, the Texas Republican uplifed comments by House Speaker Mike Johnson that the U.S. should not “allow Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine because I don’t believe it would stop there. It would probably encourage and empower China to perhaps make a move on Taiwan.”

Representatives from NATO have slammed Trump’s remarks, condemning the presidential candidate for double-crossing the 31 member-state alliance by inviting violence from one of its largest and most vocal international adversaries.

“You can’t put enough adjectives on this to describe how treasonous such a comment is,” former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark told CNN.

Trump has long aggressed America’s relationship with the international military alliance, baselessly asserting that other NATO members have failed to pay their dues, which are determined by guideline rather than mandate, and even though the United States has never been shortchanged by other members. The Cold War organization has “no ledger that maintains accounts of what countries pay and owe,” according to former Obama staffer Aaron O’Connell, who explained to NPR in 2018 that “NATO is not like a club with annual membership fees.”