BIDEN: GOP In Midst of ‘Mini Revolution’
WASHINGTON (The Hill) — President Biden said Wednesday it appears the GOP is going through a “mini-revolution” amid a public rift among House members loyal to former President Trump and those such as Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) who have been sharply critical of him.
“It seems as though the Republican Party is trying to identify what it stands for. And they’re in the midst of significant sort of mini-revolution going on in the Republican Party,” Biden told reporters after giving remarks on aid for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve been a Democrat for a long time. We’ve gone through periods where we’ve had internal fights, disagreements. I don’t remember any like this,” he added. “We badly need a Republican Party. We need a two-party system. It’s not healthy to have a one-party system. And I think the Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point.”
Biden’s comments come as House Republicans have turned on Cheney for her repeated denunciations of Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), along with many rank-and-file Republicans, are moving to oust Cheney from her role as the No. 3 GOP House member.
Trump on Wednesday endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to replace Cheney in House GOP leadership. Stefanik, a vocal Trump ally, is viewed as the likely pick should the caucus vote to remove Cheney or should she step down.
Biden earlier Wednesday was asked during a visit to a local restaurant about the drama surrounding Cheney and responded: “I don’t understand the Republicans.”
He and other administration officials have been adamant that they will try to work with Republicans on policy where there is mutual agreement.
The president is expected to meet next week with McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) alongside Democratic leaders, and he will separately host Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and other lawmakers for talks on his infrastructure proposal.
REPORT: Trump To Resume MAGA Rallies In May
WEST PALM BEACH (Gateway Pundit) — President Trump is preparing to restart MAGA rallies as early as next month.
Trump will also announce if he is running for president again after the 2022 midterm elections.
“Recently, Trump has initiated discussions about resuming the signature MAGA rallies that fortified his nascent political movement in 2016 and continued throughout his presidency. While he has vowed to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski and is said to be interested in hosting campaign events for some of the candidates he’s already endorsed, aides said the logistics are still being worked out but that he could resume rallies as early as May.” – CNN reported.
“It will definitely be different in terms of the setup, but we got really good at planning these events in 2020, so we will probably use a lot of those same vendors again,” said the person close to Trump’s post-White House operation.
Donald Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity last Monday evening that he is very seriously considering a 2024 presidential bid.
“Are you running again in 2024? Hannity asked Trump during an exclusive, sit-down interview.
“I am looking at it very seriously, beyond seriously,” Trump said as he bashed Joe Biden and the Democrat party.
MAGA: Republicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate
WASHINGTON (The Hill) — The top Republican candidates hoping to win back control of the Senate have embraced former President Trump as a kind of running mate in the first weeks of their campaigns, a recognition that the ousted president is still the party’s best fundraiser and most recognizable figure even from exile in Florida.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who has Trump’s endorsement in the race to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), mentioned the former president seven times in a press release announcing his candidacy. His leading rival, former Ambassador Lynda Blanchard (R), recently held a fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
In Missouri, former Gov. Eric Greitens (R) promised to defend Trump’s “America first policies” less than a minute into an interview on Fox News in which he announced he would run to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R). Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) mentioned Trump twice in his own announcement video.
“We need to promote President Trump’s America first policies. That’s what’s going to help to bring that kind of broad-based prosperity back,” Greitens told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo last month.
“President Trump built the strongest economy our country has ever seen, and I am going to fight to bring it back,” Schmitt said in his announcement video.
In Ohio, a state Trump carried by 8 points, the former president is the star of the show. Former Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) mentioned Trump a dozen times in a press release announcing his campaign to replace retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R). Businessman Bernie Moreno (R) cited Trump four times in his own announcement, and businessman Mike Gibbons (R) praised Trump twice.
“Josh Mandel was proud to be the first statewide elected official in Ohio to support President Trump in 2016 when others were supporting John Kasich. After seeing the second sham impeachment take place this February, Josh was motivated to run for the U.S. Senate to continue to fight for President Trump’s America First agenda,” said Scott Guthrie, Mandel’s campaign manager. “Ohioans overwhelmingly elected President Trump because his policies created unprecedented economic success, kept our borders secure and America safe. When Josh gets to the U.S. Senate, he will fight tooth and nail to keep advancing President Trump’s agenda.”
Former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken (R) reversed herself last month and called on Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R), one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January, to resign.
“President Trump is the most popular Republican in America and his agenda worked for Ohioans,” Timken said in a statement. “I’ve championed those America First policies over for the past four years as his hand-picked Party Chair, and it’s what I will stand up for in the U.S. Senate because it’s what is best for Ohio.”
Trump is so ever-present in Republican campaigns that his absence is notable in itself.
Pennsylvania real estate developer Jeff Bartos (R), who has not aligned himself closely with Trump, has mentioned the former president only once on Twitter, praising his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, and only once on his website, citing Trump as the candidate who fought for overlooked voters.
The only time former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) mentions Trump’s name on his website is in support of a border wall Trump pledged to build while in office.
Republican strategists working for some of the leading candidates say their clients have two goals in leaning so heavily on an ousted incumbent. First, Trump remains the singular focus of the Republican primary electorate that will decide which contenders make it through crowded primary elections.
“The fever will break eventually, but right now we are in a time when the key qualification to win a primary is whether the candidate supported President Trump,” said one Republican strategist involved in several key races, who asked for anonymity to be candid about his client’s strategy.
Second, Trump remains the best fundraiser within the Republican Party. Several strategists said the average email solicitation with Trump’s signature raises much more than an email without his name.
“Low-dollar fundraising is driven by the organic DNA of the recipient’s original donation. Donors are much more likely to give to an appeal that mirrors the original appeal that they answered. The thing that made them get off their couch and off the sidelines and into the game as a donor is what’s most likely to motivate them subsequently,” said another party strategist involved in other key campaigns.
The original motivator for Republican low-dollar donors remains Trump himself, the Republican candidate who raised more money through small-dollar solicitations than any other candidate in party history.
Trump has sought to maintain his leverage over the GOP, dropping in on fundraisers for candidates who spend money to hobnob with donors at his Florida resort and endorsing those he deems as sufficiently supportive. Trump has so far endorsed eight U.S. Senators facing reelection next year, along with Brooks in Alabama and two candidates running for Congress.
The fealty to Trump, observers say, is a sign of his hold on core Republican voters — even if some of his support may be slipping. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday found 44 percent of GOP voters said they considered themselves more a supporter of Trump than of the Republican Party, a tremendous amount of loyalty to one man but one that has slipped significantly, by 10 points, since just before the 2020 election.
“That’s what counts, especially when party base voters are likely base voters,” said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College in North Carolina. “Will a full-throated support for the former president be the determining factor over the next year’s primary battle? Yet to be seen.”
Tensions Rise as Biden Reignites War Power Battle With Syria Strike
WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Joe Biden’s strike in Syria is reviving a dormant fight over war powers as Congress looks to claw back some of its authority.
The military action sparked grumbling from Democrats who say they weren’t adequately consulted on the strikes and questioned where Biden drew the authority, which the White House says falls under his powers as commander in chief.
The war powers debate will have repercussions beyond just Syria, but senators say it underscores that while the administration has changed since the last time the issue was in the spotlight, the need for action from Congress hasn’t.
“Last week’s airstrikes in Syria show that the executive branch, regardless of party, will continue to stretch its war powers,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
Attempts to rein in a president’s war authorities frequently divide the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and are a landmine of competing and conflicting interests: Presidents are loath to give up power, with Republicans often wary of military restrictions in general, while Congress has increasingly given away its powers in recent decades.
“I think the problem is mostly inside these walls. I think it’s really had to define who America’s enemies are today and Congress … generally doesn’t want to get involved in that work, so I think Congress has over the years has just been very used to outsourcing those decisions,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
Kaine and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) led a bipartisan group on Tuesday that introduced legislation to repeal the 1991 and 2002 war authorizations, both of which deal with Iraq. Senators say they want to formally take the Gulf and Iraq war authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs) off the books to prevent potential misuse down the line.
This isn’t the first time Congress has tried to repeal the decades-old authorizations. Kaine and Young introduced similar legislation in 2019, but it languished in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The House voted last year to repeal the 2002 authorization, drawing a veto threat from Trump. The measure did not advance in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Even though the 2002 law was authorized to invade Iraq, then-President Obama cited it as legal justification for action in Syria against ISIS, and the Trump administration initially cited it for strikes against Iran.
Kaine said he informed the White House of his bill during a call on Monday evening and sent them a copy, describing them as open to a discussion.
“I’m happy to say the White House seems really willing to engage,” he told The Hill.
Asked about the division lines between the branches of government, Kaine predicted that “we’ll run into it again.”
“The reason that I think it might go somewhere now is you’ve got a number of Republicans who I think were interested in the position last time, but they didn’t want to cross Trump,” he added.
Five House committee chairs also sent Biden a letter earlier this year urging him to support nixing the 2002 authorization and reforming the 2001 law that was passed to fight al Qaeda.
In a symbolic win, Democrats who have long pushed to repeal or revamp the war authorities got language included in the 2020 party platform committing to work with Congress to repeal the AUMFs and “replace them with a narrow and specific framework.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told senators during his confirmation hearing that Biden “feels very strongly” about revamping the military authorizations — but acknowledged a deal won’t be easy.
“For some the porridge is too hot, for others the porridge is too cold. And can we get a consensus around what’s just right? But I would be determined and committed to working on that,” he said.
A push to reform the 2001 authorization could be politically trickier.
Kaine said that he was having discussions with senators about ideas on how to reform the authorization, which was drafted to take military action against those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” But since 2001, it’s been stretched more broadly to greenlight operations that critics argue have a tenuous or no connection to 9/11.
“We’re engaging in a rewrite of ‘01. … But we don’t yet have a proposal,” Kaine said.
Murphy said Congress should work closely with the Biden administration about how to rewrite the 2001 authorization but noted that it would be “tricky.”
“What I think we should do is sunset the 2001 AUMF, in part as a forcing mechanism to write a new authorization,” he said.
Murphy predicted that the divisions would fall along party lines and less of a gap between a Democratic administration and congressional Democrats.
“There has historically not been much Republican interest in rewriting the 2001 AUMF,” Murphy said.
But Murphy said there are bipartisan conversations ongoing, including with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), about reforming the War Powers Resolution, which lays out things like congressional notification requirements for military action and how long troops can remain without congressional approval.
“There’s a few of us talking across the aisle on war powers reform,” he said. “Mike Lee and myself have been … talking about the entire war powers statue, which is obviously in need of an update.”