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Dana Milbank: Even Kevin McCarthy Doesn’t Trust Kevin McCarthy

December 1, 2022
Notes
Transcript

If he can round up the support to be speaker, McCarthy is still going to have to fend off Trump trying to muck things up from Mar-a-Lago, as well members of his caucus threatening repeated no-confidence votes. Dana Milbank joins Charlie Sykes to preview the madness.

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This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:07

    Welcome to the Bullework Podcast. I’m Charlie Sykes. It is Thursday. And basically, it’s like, you know, choose your adventure, which crazy you didn’t wanna talk about, devoted my newsletter today to the crazy down in Arizona. I made the judgment call not to inflict all of these sound bites on listeners of this podcast, but you can read shortish transcripts in morning shots where I, yes, I did describe Terry Lake as a groomer, a groomer of crazy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:38

    Why should they have the name? Especially when you have this metastasizing lunacy going on down in Arizona. But today, let’s focus on Some other strange stories that are happening up on Capitol Hill, and we are joined by Dana Millbank, a nationally syndicated op ed columnist for the Washington Post. Who is speaking to us from the nation’s capital right now. So good morning, Dana.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:03

    Good morning. I’d like you to refer to me as a groomer of crazy. A groomer of crazy. I mean, I would prefer to be a groomer of sanity, but so what are you doing at the capital today?
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:15

    Well, you know, Charlie, I’ve actually sort of assigned myself a new beat speaking of grooming crazy. I am planning to spend the better part of the next year. Watching the House of Representatives, in particular, the Senate as well, but the Republicans with their for seek majority, and just how they’re gonna pull that off. And what chaos is going to ensue. So I am indeed in the belly of the beast today.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:38

    I’ll be heading over to Pelosi’s weekly press conference right after this, but there’s a nice little soundproof booth right off the house floor and the third floor press gallery here. So it’s a it’s a marvel of technology. Well,
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:52

    make sure you let us know when you need to leave to go and and cover actual news after we’re done with all this rank, punditry. So it occurs to me that we’re in this very, very strange moment right now where the Republicans have just won control of the House of Representatives, but they are an absolute complete disarray whereas the Democrats who have spent the last fifty years modeling being in this array are in remarkable array. Could just take a moment to talk about how the fact that you had a changing of the generational guard among house Democrats and it was unanimous. There was no the knives were not out. There was not a lot of, you know, things being thrown up against the wall.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:36

    And they have a new leader and he was elected by acclimation. So it can just reflect on this sort of strange reversal of of fate that we’re seeing on Capitol Hill? Yes. That’s exactly
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:48

    what I’ve been seeing all week here. And if yes. Of course, it’s the opposite. Of what you’d expect. But really, yes, Republicans won the House, but Democrats won the election — Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:58

    — in the sense that there was no wave. And if you thought Democrats had difficulty governing with a five seat majority. Well, wait till you see Kevin McCarthy with a four seat. Majority. So I, you know, I think it’s not just the disarray.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:14

    It’s the mood of things, you know, in the the House Democratic. Cautious meetings. You know, there’s hugs and smiles and handshakes and backslapping. I think they feel that certainly that they dodged a bullet there, but also that they’re maybe just beginning to break the magma craziness that’s going on. You know, and of course, then you’ve got Kevin McCarthy who, I guess, he’s more likely to be speaker than anybody else’s, but he’s got these five hard no vote right now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:44

    He’s got, you know, a month to try to convince a hard no to be a squishy maybe. But, you know, there’s said to be maybe twenty who aren’t keen on going along with his speakership. So he’s basically gonna spend the next month giving things away to them. He may well give away things that make it even more impossible to govern. You know, is there gonna be this motion to vacate the chair, which basically means they’ve got a gun to his head.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:09

    And at any point, any member can demand a vote. Of no confidence in Kevin McCarthy. And, you know, this week, we actually had a vote of no confidence in Kevin McCarthy, and it was cast by Kevin McCarthy because he’s getting on board with passing this omnibus, this massive spending bill. Now So he doesn’t have to do it in January. You would think if you were confident in your leadership, you’d want a short term spending extension.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:36

    So you could enact the big spending bill in January when you take over. But Kevin McCarthy has no confidence in Kevin McCarthy’s ability to get that through the house. And I I think that’s that sound judgment on his part. I have no idea how he’s gonna govern the place. So Democrats are now in the minority.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:53

    They have one task, and that is gonna be to to thwart Kevin McCarthy, which is a much easier task than trying to govern with a four seat majority. I
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:01

    think you’ve already answered my question, but I just don’t see how this works. I I don’t see how first of all, let let’s talk about Kevin McCarthy becoming the speaker. There are twenty quasi hard no votes. Now technically, he does not need two hundred and eighteen votes to be elected speaker. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:18

    That if they decide not to vote, if they don’t show up, or they abstain, he can win the speakership with a smaller number of votes. First of all, is that that’s correct. Right? Yes. He needs a majority of of those of the votes cast.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:31

    So Of of the votes cast. But in terms of actually governing now, because there are a lot of quasi centrist to the extent that we can describe anyone in the Republican Party as a centrist. There are at least a dozen or more newly elected Republicans from crossover districts that were won by Joe Biden that might not wanna go along with the crazy caucus. And so he’s he’s going to have to find a way to square the circle. He’s also going to have to find a way to make deals that, you know, might be compromises with the Biden administration.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:03

    And you know that nothing outrages or stokes up the prepared will outrage machine more than compromising with Democrats. And you know that Donald Trump, who’s got no skin in the game, is just gonna be throwing turd bombs from Mar a Lago at any time he actually wants to make a deal. So how does it work?
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:26

    Absolutely. And one of the other rules that appears likely is certainly possible. And I I would say likely that they’re gonna impose on McCarthy is that he can’t bring anything to the floor unless it has a majority of the caucus. And that’s very significant because think about what’s happening with the rail bill. They had the vote in the House here yesterday, and Republicans got up on the floor and said, yes, it’s terrible.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:50

    It’s a Biden failure that we’re here, but it would be absolutely catastrophic to have this rail strike, a loss of two billion dollars a day to the country. So we’ve gotta support this. And what happened? Well, forty percent of the Republican caucus made that sensible vote. Sixty percent of them said, no, we’re gonna vote against this we would rather have an economic calamity than have any sort of a reasonable compromise right now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:15

    And I think that’s probably a good proxy for what you’re looking at. Forty percent of the Republican caucus. I wouldn’t say they’re moderate, but they’re sort of in the reality based community. Sixty percent not there at all. You know, willing to inflict economic calamity rather than do anything that might appear to be compromising or voting with or endorsing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:38

    The Biden agenda. So, you know, how do you govern in that way? So, yeah, you mentioned there are a few moderates, and they can be just as much, you know, you only need five of them the way things look now to throw the entire vote off kilter. So they can screw things up just as easily as the Freedom caucus can do. You know, it just seems that when you only have four votes to play with, and two thirds of your membership is kind of whack a doodle.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:09

    I don’t see how you how you govern in any situation. I don’t see how you compromise with the democrats. I don’t see how you placate the mainstream Republicans and the Freedom caucus. Even with the twenty or thirty seat majority, it was, you know, which is the sort of thing that pulled Ryan and broader had they couldn’t handle it. Now Kevin McCarthy, who I you know, is a a bear, a very little brain, I would say, compared to Bader or Paul Ryan, dealing with a fraction of their majority.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:38

    To get a little bit more specific, what
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:40

    happens with aid to Ukraine? Because I think there’s a strong bipartisan majority that would support aid for Ukraine. But with the Hastur rule, is Kevin McCarthy going to be able to get a majority cause us to move ahead on that. And even if he did that, what will Donald Trump say for Mar a Lago? I mean, all of these things seem to be unanswered questions.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:01

    His ability to do that. So do you what what is your sense on on Ukraine? Yeah. Because I mean, obviously, that that’s a life and death issue that they’re gonna have to confront very shortly.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:10

    Now, you know, I mentioned the the real strike bill. Now, notably McCarthy and scalise voted with the sixty percent of the crazy caucus that said, no. We rather have economic calamities than than than vote with the with the Democrats on this bill. You know, Ukraine may be just on the other side of the line So maybe a a portion of the crazy caucus will side with the sensible caucus. You know, certainly, Kevin McCarthy and and Steve’s police are on the side of not abandoning our allies in Ukraine and handing the place over to Vladimir Putin.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:44

    But Mcarthy has also said it’s going to be difficult. So I I mean, I think the compromise he’s working out now is, you know, all kinds of investigations of how the money is being spent in Ukraine. And when you look at the list of investigations that they’re preparing to pursue whether that’s, you know, against my orcas at DHS or, you know, the eight different hundred Biden investigations. Investigating where the money is going in Ukraine actually is a perfectly sensible one. So I it would surprise me even in this broken caucus, in this broken house that they’re gonna have if they couldn’t get support for Ukraine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:19

    But it’ll probably be a much, like everything else, a much noisier process and a far lengthier one. And everything’s gonna be done in a state of suspense because you won’t actually know what’s gonna happen till you get out there on the floor. And also with a very, very short leash, which was on
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:35

    display this week, we spent a lot of time on the podcast talking about Trump’s dinner with Nick, dining with Nazis, and the follow-up for that. So Mitch McConnell comes out yesterday, or today before I’ve lost track of days now. And and without prompting RIPS Trump saying that he’s not likely to be elected president. Again, interestingly enough, he said he’s not likely to be elected. He did not say, and therefore should never be elected president again.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:58

    But we take
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:59

    He’s a pundit too. You could have him on the
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:01

    board. Well, exactly. It’s that was more punditry than moral leadership. But there was a little bit of contrast between his approach and and Kevin McCarthy. So can you talk about this?
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:10

    I mean, McCarthy has this incredibly complicated dance. He’s got to do a kabuki dance on a tight rope here, right, with with with Donald Trump. It
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:22

    really is. And of course, you know, Kevin McCarthy is not quite as eloquent, shall we say, as McConnell. So, you know, you often he’ll start a sentence and you have no idea what hurdles of syntax await him. So you’d have no idea how the sentence will end. So even if he’s trying to convey something, it may not come across that way.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:40

    But, yes, they I think there was Tuesday when they both spoke out on this. So you had McConnell being well okay. It was punditry, but it was still fairly clear that he disapproved of Donald Trump meeting with these, you know, anti semites. McCarthy got up there outside the west wing of the White House in front of the cameras and said Trump denounced these people, which which was not true,
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:03

    which was truly not
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:04

    true. Right. I didn’t think it was true. I have no idea, but that was his sort of default position. It was that nobody should be meeting with these characters.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:12

    And Trump definitely knows that and and denounces them. So it was you know, he was trying to say, okay, we are not on board with the leaders of our party sitting down to white tablecloth meals with white supremacists, but he was just unable to show any daylight with Trump. So I think that’s the difference that you’ve had from McConnell who’s not a profile and courage either, but is at least willing to take on the slings and arrows from Mar a Lago. So McCarthy clearly can’t afford to do that now. Maybe he will after he gets his speakership, but if he’s going to be on this being able to have a no confidence vote.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:53

    At any point, well, then every day is basically his leadership. Is going to be on the line. They’ve they’ve floated some sorts of compromises like they might give him a six or seven month honeymoon before they all start the votes of no confidence. And then if somebody calls for a vote of no confidence, then they have to wait sixty days before calling the next one. But it’s a question of, you know, is his hanging gonna come every twenty four hours?
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:16

    Or is it are they gonna, you know, give them brief respits in between?
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:20

    You know, going
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:22

    back to the the theme of Republicans in disarray. You know, I and I know you do as well, you know, spend some time on Maga Media or no. It’s not Maga Media necessarily, but, you know, manga adjacent media, conservative media. And I’m really, really struck again by the amount of Adjita post election that you’re seeing there, despite the winning control of the House. And the disarray that you’re seeing everywhere destories out of Georgia where people are, you know, realizing the Churchill Walker campaign amazingly is not working out very well.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:54

    He’s not campaigning. He’s completely incoherent. We have more stories of girlfriend that he’s attacking. He is being outspent overwhelmingly. That just didn’t know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:04

    That is not going well amazingly. You have a fight at the RNC with people saying, Ronald McDaniel has been a complete disaster. We’re gonna give her another term, and the only alternative to her, apparently, is my pillow guy, my Glendale. And so it seems like one thing after another that is affecting them. And then there’s one thing that I don’t want to gloss over since you’re up on Capitol Hill.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:28

    How really And I guess with a little bit of historical perspective, how amazing it was is that you had a super majority vote in the United States senate this week to approve a same sex marriage bill. Mhmm. I mean, you and I both remember when that would have been politically toxic, but you had Was it ten or was it eleven Republicans that voted in favor of this legislation? Most Republicans voted no as you might expect. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:52

    But I
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:52

    think it was sixty two votes in favor. So that’s a considerable number.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:56

    In terms of real outrage in the right wing media, because they have gone all in on the whole idea of, you know, gay marriage and transfectials. This is a massive defeat for them. I mean, this is an extraordinary moment It’s an extraordinary moment for bipartisanship, and it’s really a repudiation of much of
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:17

    the much
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:18

    of what the Magna right, you know, has been banking on as as their golden tickets. Do you have any thoughts about that? Because it’s really quite a a transformational public opinion too. I agree with your larger point.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:29

    Although, I I would personally very much enjoy seeing my pillow guy as the head of the RMC. I think that would be from your lips to God’s ear. That would be that would be thoroughly fitting. I I was able to get an exclusive interview with him at Trump’s a a rollout at Moralaga. You know, he’s very, very tight knit fellow, but he did say he wants to his his agenda was melting down the voting machines and turning them into prison bar I guess, for the election workers, of
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:55

    course. I would have thought bullets, but prison bar is a good idea. He didn’t specify
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:59

    that. Not that part of the agenda was left unclear. But you are right. It’s not just the election, you know, the the smaller wave than expected in the house. The fact that the Democrats kept the Senate.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:11

    I think it was because of the very clear repudiation of the Mago Republicanism when you look at particularly all the secretary of state candidates that went down and the the gubernatorial candidates who went down like in Arizona and in Pennsylvania. So it wasn’t just that it didn’t work out very well for the Republicans. It showed that the horse they’ve been riding for the last six years is, you know, it may be time to head off to the glue maker. That I think is the source of the disarray right now. And I think that is why you’re actually able to see some progress here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:50

    You know, you talk about gay marriage, you know, progress on a spending bill, maybe progress on this real strike. You know, a whole bunch of other things are happening. So I think the will has been broken to some extent of the magma crowd. Now, I don’t take this as altogether good news, that they may not be able to prevail anymore
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:10

    but
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:10

    they Donald Trump and those Trumpists have more than enough power to box everything up still. I mean, you know, they they will be able to effectively bring things to a halt as we go ahead into this next congress? This
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:24

    is an interesting question that I wanted to get your take on. AB Stoddart has a great piece in the bulwark today reminding Republicans that Donald Trump is not going to graciously go away. He is not going to concede. That Donald Trump will burn it all down if he cannot control the party. And I guess this is the one thing that I think that a lot of both pundits and Republican wish casters have yet really to grapple with, which is how do you What do you do with a problem like Donald Trump?
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:53

    He’s he’s in the race. He never acknowledges defeat. Grande Sanders may be the great hope down in Florida. We can get to him in a moment. But, you know, what what is your take on this?
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:04

    I mean, how does the Republican Party move past Donald Trump? If Donald Trump has made it perfectly clear, that he will pull the temple down around it, that he will burn everything
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:14

    down. And his uniquely good at that, Charlie. I mean, if you think about like, look at the wreckage around this man of all the people who have supported him, who have wound up in prison or disgraced or defeated or some combination of those things. And in each case, you see who walks away from the wreckage. Is Donald Trump character assassination?
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:41

    Is his unique gift. Look, DeSantis may be able to prevail against him in a Republican presidential nomination battle. But Trump’s ability to destroy the reputation in the image of people is really second to none. And that’s why I think we have only begun to see a little bit, you know, you Trump is sort of debuting lines of attack. So I think that is true, and that has to be kept in mind that he has the ability to destroy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:10

    I I I have no idea what Republicans do about this. They were they, you know, they they had years in which as you know that they’re they could have done something about it. But I I don’t think, you
  • Speaker 3
    0:19:20

    know, suppose he
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:21

    doesn’t command eighty or ninety percent of the base, but only half of the base. Well, that’s that’s still enough to to cause mayhem
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:30

    every
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:31

    which way. And I’ve, you know, he has no loyalty other than to Donald Trump. So there’s no moral or political imperative to not to do that. You know, all the focuses on what
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:40

    a big winner Rhonda Santos was done in Florida, which is true. But also, I think it’s an underappreciated story that Brian Kemp in Georgia defied Donald Trump very, very directly and was communicated by Donald Trump who supported a primary opponent down, Brian Kemp blew the Trump backed opponent out in the primary. And then one handily in the general election. So if you’re looking for a Republican that can survive Trumpism, Brian Kemp has actually of all of these guys that are out there has actually is the one guy that has done it, hasn’t he? You can define Trump and survive.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:21

    And he proved that this.
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:23

    And Brian Kemp
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:24

    will have another data point after the special election. Does Hershel Walker go down in flames without Kemp on ticket with, you know, that’s actually a laboratory experiment of what was what was bringing out voters and and who wasn’t bringing out voters. So we’ll have the answers to that. Very shortly. But, yeah, but also in in Florida, I mean, let’s let’s be clear.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:46

    The democrats really didn’t contest Florida. They had candidates. They had serious candidates on the ballot, but they really weren’t working. They weren’t pouring money in there. The party or Democratic donors.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:57

    They weren’t doing get out the vote efforts. They weren’t working with Latino voters because of the assumption of defeat. I think that was a a mistake. But Florida was very much not in place.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:08

    So I think that artificially magnifies the size of DeSantis as well. Well, DeSantis is he he’s not necessarily the front runner, but he’s sort of the pundits front runner. And now he’s getting the front runner treatment. I don’t know whether you’ve had a chance to read Mark Leibovitch’s treatment of him in the Atlanta started up. It’s a great read, basically saying, you know, we you know, maybe from a distance, he looks really formidable, but up close and personal.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:32

    Maybe not so much. And I I guess this is one of those moments where you have to remember all of the other guys that were trotted out as front runners as, you know, great hopes who then fizzled in the presidential spotlight. And we just we Mhmm. Rhonda Sanders has just not been remotely tested yet has it? Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:51

    This
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:52

    is true. And I mean, probably the best thing for Rhonda Santos would be if it’s a Ronda Santos versus Donald Trump nomination fight because, you know, the reason we had Donald Trump in twenty sixteen was because there were I don’t know, fifteen or eighteen of them. But and there were there there were several serious ones, but none of them was able to get a clean shot at Trump. He was able to pick them off one at a time. Whereas if if I I I’m still convinced if Republican voters had been given the choice between Donald Trump or not Donald Trump, they would have chosen that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:28

    But I don’t think they ever had that choice because it was carved up among so many others. So and, you know, that’s that could easily happen again. Any but anybody who’s saying Donald Trump cannot win the Republican nomination. I think is is being a bit
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:43

    too hopeful. Of course, he can okay. Let’s go back to the the House Republicans since you were up on Capitol Hill. You wrote about the you described the house under the GOP as the crazies take the wheel. And in particular, this this this press conference, this announcement by Jim Jordan and James Comer from Kentucky announcing all of their multiple probes into the president’s son, Hunter Biden, I’m gonna admit that I have I’ve made the the strategic decision not to focus on Hunter Biden until we get some evidence that in fact, it’s relevant to anything.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:19

    But it seems hard to overstate the absolute obsession. Of house Republicans with Hunter Biden. Where is this going? And can it actually do damage to Joe Biden? Or are Republicans just going to be clowned themselves?
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:34

    I think I think your last question answers itself, Charlie, based on history. But, you know,
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:41

    so that, you know, Comer was kind of revealing as he talked about this because he said several times, this is about Joe Biden. You know, he’s the big guy apparently, you know, according to something in the on the Hunter Biden laptop. They tried to draw that link and it was because I don’t know, you know, Hunter asked for office space for Joe Biden or or various other, you know, glancing references like that. But then he sort of gave the game away when reporters started asking questions about other, you know, other topics, you know, January six, other things of interest. And Commer says, Can we please get back to Hunter Biden?
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:18

    With Hunter Biden, it’s very important. And I said, wait a second. You were just saying this is not about Hunter. It was about Joe Biden. So, yeah, I I mean, I suppose, look, Joe Biden has many flaws, and flaws will be apparent for all to see assuming he’s running for reelection.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:35

    But corruption is really not chief among them. So look, if the justice department more likely than than the clownish House Republicans find some link, well, we’ll all be surprised by that. But, you know, it’s sort of, you know, I think we can stipulate that Hunter Biden whatever the legal ramifications are. It’s a, you know, pretty sleazy guy had troubles with addiction, got into all kinds of bad stuff. You know, we know that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:01

    It is baked into the cake. So it it all comes down to the, you know, the ability to prove somehow. That Joe Biden was who was calling all the shots here, which is sort of goes against everything that we’ve heard and seen over the years. So I mean, you know, so that’s that’s, you know, they figured, look, that’s what they have at the moment, you know. It was Ben Gauzy against Hillary Clinton until it turned Bengazi probe unmask the email server.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:29

    So, you know, it’s a question of this is what they’ve got for now and they’ll see what they see what documents are turned over and see what else, what other direction that might send. No. I I think
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:38

    it’s it’s it’s worth remembering that the Benghazi hearings ultimately did torpedo Hillary Clinton. They did. Not for No. No. No.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:47

    No. But they yeah. Exactly. Because of other things. I mean, so that did have that effect, and I think that’s part of their memory.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:53

    So there’s another wild card here, and I don’t know how this is going to play.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:57

    You know,
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:57

    before the election, we had the Hunter Biden laptop story. Which most of most of the media decided was not a legitimate story. It was a bogus story. Ignored it. It now turns out not to have been a bogus story.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:10

    So, will there be the temptation on the part of the media now to overcompensate, you know, having not thrown the flag? On the original laptop story to over hype anything that comes out about a hundred by now is kind of a make good?
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:26

    I
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:27

    suppose there may be some of that, but, you know, look, I and and the post did an exhaustive look at at the at the laptop. You know, were people misled by the FBI and others as the Republicans claim before the election about the legitimacy of the laptop. I don’t know. There certainly were many doubts about the authenticity of it back then. But so, okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:52

    The post and others have done a relook at the laptop knowing that it is maybe not everything involved in this is legitimate, but it is at core legitimate. There still is no Joe Biden evidence in there. What Jim Jordan is talking about now is not really the laptop, but whistleblowers. We have whistleblowers. We have eighteen whistleblowers apparently.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:15

    So
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:16

    okay. Well,
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:16

    if they you know, if if they’ve indeed got whistles and goods, then we’ll, I guess, we’ll be hearing from them. But if, you know, they’re blowing silly kahoos, I suppose we’re going to hear about that too.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:30

    Let’s look ahead a
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:31

    little bit. One of the next big things is gonna happen in Congress. Of course, they have a very, very busy lame duck session here. But Sometime in the next four weeks, maybe the next three weeks, we’re gonna get the we’ll get the final report from the January sixth committee. What do you expect from that?
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:47

    And will that make any difference? I mean, that’s the question we’ve been asking since the beginning. You know, I and then I also wonder, you know, whether or not the the conviction of the oathkeeper leaders on seditious conspiracy charges puts a little wind in their sails at the moment. What do you think?
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:04

    I look,
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:06

    I think regardless of the committee that the Stewart Rhodes conviction, I I think, is hugely important. And of course,
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:13

    the
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:13

    the MAGA crowd will say, you know, attack the jury. Process and say that it’s tainted because it’s in the nation’s capital. But this is real. January six was sedition. That is official.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:28

    That’s no longer if it ever was a judgment call. So I think that’s hugely important in its own. Right? The January sixth committee did, I think, yeoman’s work over the summer with their hearings. There will be another bite at the apple here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:42

    I don’t expect certainly based on what we saw at the last hearing that they necessarily have anything new other than a narrative that will be important to have out there. For posterity. Now maybe they could I don’t think could they work out something with ways and means and just throw in an appendix there and here are six years of Trump’s tax returns. Okay. What what do yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:02

    I mean, are we ever
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:03

    gonna see those tax returns? And if we did I mean, it has not really been baked into the cake, can we kind of know what the deal is there?
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:09

    Or Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:10

    It would be like, we are shocked that Hunter Biden was involved in sleazy shenanigans. Right. I think the only shock would be if they’d release them and we found out that he’d actually given given a fortune to veterans charities or something like that that would that would fundamentally change our view of him. No. I I mean, I I look, who knows?
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:29

    Maybe they’ll figure out some way. I think it probably would would not look good for them to just dump the taxes out there right now since they’ve spent years in court arguing that there it was for a legislative purpose. You know, in the Roberts court did, you know, they can technically say, they
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:44

    forced
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:45

    the executive to give that up. So it’ll be a precedent for future congresses, but it’s a a very little use to them now in terms of legislation, you know. So I I think it would be gutsy to put it out right now and controversial. But given up on predictions, I’ve surrendered my prediction. I think that’s a sound life choice.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:05

    So I don’t I don’t wanna dwell on the whole Nick Fuentes dinner because I think that we’ve litigated that pretty extensively and we’ll continue to do so. But, you know, you take a step back and I noticed that back in October, before any of this happened, you you wrote about American Jews starting to think the unthinkable. And and I guess the point here is that antisemitism has now I wanna be careful about this. You know, it’s always been a factor. It’s always been there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:35

    But, you know, as I was discussing with Peter Wehner earlier this this week, I just get the feeling that it’s gotten more oxygen and is more dangerous than any time in my lifetime. That’s something that we thought you know, was this, you know, sleeping evil, has not arisen again. And and it’s getting a lot more traction than any of us ever would have imagined and maybe even realized at the moment. So talk to me about this, why you wrote about this back in October?
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:04

    Yeah. It it’s a it’s a very important and troubling thing. I mean, for me, as a as a Jew, but I know for all of us, I mean, Jews are often Canarian in the coal mine, you know, in terms of an intolerant society. Yeah. My rabbi at Yom Kipp were services just ask for a show of hands of how many of you have thought
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:24

    about where
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:25

    do we go if we can’t stay here. And I’m one of the people who have had those thoughts. You
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:32

    know,
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:33

    ultimately I come back to the reasoning that if it’s not safe here, it’s not gonna be safe anywhere. It’s not gonna be safe in Israel or Europe or anywhere else. You know, this is where a liberal democracy of of free people have to make their stand for law and order for equal justice. And if it fails here, certainly, we can’t count on it anywhere else. But, you know, I would say,
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:56

    you know,
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:56

    half or more of the people were raising their hands in my cynical opinion I talked to. Jonathan Greenblatt,
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:05

    the
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:05

    anti defamation league, and he says it’s among the most common questions he’s getting. And this is something that would would never contemplate and is certainly in my lifetime. Anti semitic incidents as the ADL counts them. I think it was a tripling since twenty fifteen when Trump came down the escalator. And it remains at record high levels.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:27

    You know, and it’s important to point out, this is not just Nick Fuentes in the right. It’s the BDS movement that often leads into anti Semitism on the left, particularly on college campuses. That’s been a problem too. But I think we’ve seen what Trump did here was just the latest example of this, but it’s been happening since Charlottesville and, you know, the many anti Semitic actions of Donald Trump in the years before them. You know, so people have been scolding Republicans or, you know, holding Trump for this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:01

    To me, it goes beyond politics, and what’s happening is these people have been pulled into the mainstream. It has been legitimized. So now we’re talking about Holocaust denial as if this deserves a place in in any American discussion. So they have been emboldened. You know, they’ve they’ve emboldened the daily stormer — Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:24

    — in in neo Nazis just as they’ve and bolted chewing on and Proud
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:28

    Boys and Stuart Roads and all the rest of And this happened before the twenty sixteen election. I mean, there was a lot of discussion about that during that campaign. And some of the people that have become the anti anti Trumpers were raising alarms about Donald Trump’s wink wink alliance with some of those people even before he was elected president. So I mean — Absolutely. — I
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:50

    yes. Yes, indeed. And, you know, it it was sort of subtle at first. It was the retweeting — Right. — of of people.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:58

    It was the use of remember there was that questionable use of Jewish star atop a a pile of money. Was that an accident? Then there were the ads about George Soros and other financiers — Mhmm. — globalists. You know, so they were anti Semitic overtones.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:16

    There was Trump going before a Jewish audience and saying, you won’t support me because I don’t want
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:22

    your money. You
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:23

    know, his his response, you know, is, yeah, I’ve got a, you know, a Jewish daughter and and and grandchildren. And no doubt some of his best friends are black, which explain nothing. So, you know, we’ve seen that over and over again. You know, people like, Richard Spencer was was saying in twenty sixteen, we have a psychic connection with Donald Trump. They were saying, you know, he completes us.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:47

    And this is before Charlottesville. So, you know, I think the antisemitism, you know, maybe compared to the anti immigrant stuff, the the pure racism directed at latinos, Asians, black Americans, that was less subtle. But I think it’s now inevitably you know, it’s not just sort of this undertone. It’s now the
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:09

    melody of
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:10

    Mago Republicanism. I think that’s right. And
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:12

    also, the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and spiritorial thinking because that always seems to end up with the Jews behind it. And, you know, even though Nick Fuentes is clear, you know, sort of a neo Nazi. He’s the exclamation point on that story. The real, I think, problem is the fact that the Trump actually did want to have dinner with Kanye West who is an amazingly famous, wealthy successful pop culture figure who has been trafficking in vile antisemitism. And as a result, you know, I often think of, you know, antisemitism as being the recessive Gena.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:50

    There, you know, that’s always been out there, but you, you know, we’re able to safely, you know, keep it at arm’s length or suppress it. But what’s happening now, I I fear
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:59

    is that it’s being
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:00

    introduced to a whole new generation in a whole new ways that you have millions of people that have now been drawn into this conspiracy mind that who are now being exposed to people saying, and you know who’s behind it, so that you have social media platforms, you have younger voices, you have pop culture voices that are now introducing this ancient evil to a completely new set of people. And so that it’s not just the revival of what, you know, has been there all along, it does feel like it’s metastasizing. You know, in a way that we don’t fully I I don’t think that we fully grasp the extent of it or the danger even after we’ve seen this dramatic uptick in anti Jewish violence.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:47

    Yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:48

    And the other piece of that is we are losing our living historical memory of the holocaust that that that is that
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:54

    is
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:56

    almost gone already. It’s not being taught alarming numbers of young people are really not clear about what that was all about. So you know, it’s sort of a virgin territory that the conspiracy theorists are clear to conquer. But it’s perhaps no different from what we’re, you know, hearing about every other racial or religious ethnic minority in America. But
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:23

    of
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:24

    course, there are centuries and and centuries of practice at this. And it is sort of I mean, you know, it is it sounds ludicrous to talk about Jewish space lasers and other things that sound like the protocols of the elders of Zion. So and I think, you know, I have a tendency to say, oh, come on. How can people possibly believe that. But of course, now that we know exactly what people can possibly believe about either MEKton and voting machines.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:50

    So That’s a great point. Why
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:51

    wouldn’t they We we are living through in real time a demonstration of what people are capable of believing. So when someone says, oh, you’re being paranoid if you think x y n z, look, I I I’m I’m listening to a lot of the the conservatives who are pushing back on criticism of you know, Marjorie Taylor Green by saying, well, what about Elon Omar? The what about ism? But the the reality is is that Margery Taylor Green is not only not going to pay a political price for, you know, her speculation about Jewish space lasers. She is about to become far more influential and powerful in this house Republican majority.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:29

    She will get all of her committees back once she they are going to be promoting her. Yes. And
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:36

    Kevin McCarthy is using her
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:37

    to whip votes for him. I mean, you know, she’s becoming a key
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:42

    lieutenant
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:43

    to leadership. And I think that, you know, the lesson is to any other, you know, aspiring politicians out there that you can’t go too far in terms of conspiracy and crazy assertions that will generate attention. We’ll get you onto Fox News. And that it will be your source account. I know that you need to run to Nancy Pelosi’s press
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:05

    conference, so thank you for making time for us and we’ll we’ll look for your reporting on it. Thanks so much. Thank you, Charlie. It’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:11

    been a pleasure. And thank you
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:12

    all for listening to today’s Bulwark podcast. I’m Charlie Sykes. We’ll be back tomorrow and we will do this all over again.
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    0:39:25

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