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Politics

Trump Speaks At CPAC In First Appearance Since Leaving White House

Former President Donald Trump spoke Sunday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in his first appearance since leaving the White House in January.

Trump — who remains the face of the Republican Party, despite losing the 2020 election — took the stage at CPAC in Florida as a crowd of supporters wearing Make America Great Again hats chanted the former president’s name.

“Do you miss me yet?” Trump started, before telling the audience that he’s going to “continue to fight right by your side.”

“I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we began together four years ago is far from over,” he said. “Our security and identity is at stake. No matter how much the D.C. special interests will silence us, let there be no doubt we will be victorious and be stronger and greater than ever before.”

Trump also said that his administration “stopped the child smugglers,” tipping his hat to his supporters who are QAnon followers and believe, among many other far-fetched lies, that Democrats are trafficking children.

He then repeated some of the racist lines he repeated throughout his campaigns and his presidency, calling Latinos who migrate to the country via the U.S.-Mexico border are “dangerous, dangerous predators” and COVID-19 the “China virus,” an especially egregious epithet as hate crimes against Asian Americans have risen to unprecedented levels.

Trump also bashed President Joe Biden, who is about a month into his tenure.

“We all knew that the Biden administration was going to be bad, but none of us imagined just how bad they would be, and how left they would go,” he said.

Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida on Sunday. His speech was ful



Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida on Sunday. His speech was full of familiar lies about the election.

Since Biden was declared the winner of the election in November, Trump and his allies have continued to push conspiracy theories and lies about the election, claiming it was fraudulent and that Trump actually won.

On Jan. 6, violent white supremacists, militia members, QAnon believers and other Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying electoral votes and potentially harm lawmakers. 

The House responded by launching an investigation into the attack and impeaching Trump on bipartisan grounds for inciting the insurrection. The Senate acquitted Trump weeks after he left office, despite some Republican senators going against their party and voting to convict Trump.

Until Sunday, the former president had not made a public appearance since he left the White House on Jan. 20, the day Biden was inaugurated. 

During his speech, Trump refused to give up his lies that the election was stolen, even after the Jan. 6 violence. Falsely implying that he won the 2020 election, he teased to his supporters that he “may even decide to beat them for a third time.”

In a straw poll on Sunday, 55% of respondents at CPAC said they would vote for Trump if he ran for president again in 2024 ― showing that the former president still has significant influence over the GOP and its future. About 95% said they want the GOP to continue pushing Trump’s agenda and policies, while only 3% said the party should change direction. 

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Politics

Voters of Both Parties Want to Ditch Plutocracy and Election-Rigging

People protest gerrymandering outside the Supreme Court in 2017.Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom/Zuma

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A sweeping bill that would prevent partisan gerrymandering, limit money in politics, and expand voting access has broad bipartisan support, according to new polling by Data for Progress and Vote Save America.

The For the People Act passed in the House of Representatives in 2019, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring the bill to a vote in the Senate. Now that Democrats control both chambers of Congress, the bill has another shot at becoming law.

It turns out that Democrats aren’t the only ones rooting for the legislation, which is also known as HR1. Out of 1,555 likely voters polled, 17 percent of Republicans said they strongly supported the legislation, and 40 percent said they somewhat supported it.

The support appeared even more widespread when pollsters surveyed likely voters on individual aspects of the bill, like preventing foreign influence (86 percent support) and limiting money in politics (85 percent support).

The polling results are in line with what Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, told me earlier this week: that the aggressive partisan gerrymandering following the 2010 census convinced many voters from both parties of the need for reforms. “There is this distrust of the political class among everyday Americans, and there’s a sense that one of the things that makes our democracy not work was the fact that the maps were rigged,” he said.

He also said that there was a growing frustration among both Democrats and Republicans with dysfunctional state and federal governments, and with politicians whom voters believe are beholden to special interests. These feelings, pervasive among voters of both parties, translate into a desire for reform.

As for gerrymandering, “people also now not only know what the problem is,” Li said, “they know how to fix it, which is through making the process more independent, through commissions and other reforms.”

HR1 will be on the floor of the House—again—next week.

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Politics

Ted Cruz Screams His Way Through Bad Jokes at CPAC

Stephen M. Dowell/ZUMA

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Sen. Ted Cruz is back with his first big speech—one notably given far from his home state as it continues to reel from the devastation of last week’s winter storms—and reader, it did not go well.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, the Texas senator bombed his way through what can only be described as an ill-advised attempt at stand-up comedy. Cruz’s routine cycled through jokes on so-called cancel culture—”Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t tell comedy anymore because every joke has been canceled” (what?)—while he intermittently scream-demanded for people to “JUST HAVE FUN” before reiterating his absolute fealty to the twice-impeached former president who had once insulted his wife’s appearance and claimed that Cruz’s father had played a part in JFK’s assassination. “Let me tell ya right now: Donald J. Trump ain’t goin’ anywhere.” Cruz also tried to make light of his disastrous decision to jet off to Cancun last week while millions of Texans remained without power, hospitals in his state ran out of water, and at least 80 people died from the catastrophic storms.

“I’ve got to say, Orlando is awesome,” Cruz boomed into the microphone. “It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice.” 

Cruz’s appearance in Orlando on Friday came as President Biden traveled to Texas to visit the recovery efforts. 

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Politics

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Faces Rising Pressure to Resign After a Second Woman Accuses Him of Harassment

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) at a September 9, 2020 press conference. Lev Radin/Pacific Press via ZUMA

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who has served as New York’s governor since 2011, is facing criticism from both parties and calls to resign after a second woman stepped forward to share her story of sexual harassment while working for him. Cuomo further angered critics by naming an investigator to look into the allegations—forcing him on Sunday to announce that he would not choose the investigator but leave that appointment to the state attorney general and the chief judge of the state’s highest court.

This latest crisis for the three-term governor began on February 24, when Lindsay Boylan, a former top aide at the state’s economic development agency, published an account of the harassment she suffered from Cuomo, including an unwanted kiss and a pattern of harassing behavior. Cuomo has denied her claims. On Saturday, the New York Times published the account of a second woman who was harassed by the governor. “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former executive assistant and health adviser, told the Times.

Cuomo told the Times that he had “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.” Instead, he insisted, he was merely acting as a “mentor.” He also named an independent investigator to look into the allegations—but chose a former federal judge who worked closely with one of his longtime advisers. The selection only ignited more criticism. 

“I believe the Attorney General should make an appointment to ensure that it is a truly independent investigation,” New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said on Twitter. Kathleen Rice, a Democratic congresswoman from New York, was among the critics. The accused CANNOT appoint the investigator. PERIOD.” she tweeted.

A small number of progressive Democrats have joined Republicans in calling for Cuomo’s resignation, according to the New York Times. 

The accusations of sexual harassment come as his administration is already under investigation for undercounting the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes in New York. He explained the undercount was because of his concern that the real numbers would have become politicized. The scandals have emboldened progressives thinking about taking on Cuomo in next year’s gubernatorial elections. The mounting criticism is a change of fortune for the New York governor, whose televised press conferences during the spring about the state’s pandemic response earned him praise, and even an Emmy award.

On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joseph Biden supports an independent investigation. “There should be an independent review of these allegations, they’re serious,” Psaki told CNN’s Dana Bash. “That’s something we all support and the President supports.”

Update 4:45pm: New York Attorney General Letitia James rejected Cuomo’s proposal that she and the chief justice of the state court of appeals select an investigator. In a statement, James insisted that under state law, her office alone should oversee the investigation.

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Politics

A GOP Senator Warns Republicans Will Keep Losing if They Idolize Trump

Artist Tommy Zegan (R)
and another man move Zegan’s statue of former President Donald Trump during the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 27, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Hours before former President Donald Trump reenters the public stage with a speech at CPAC, the country’s largest conservative political conference, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) warned fellow Republicans that the party will continue to lose if it continues to “idolize” the former president. Cassidy was one of seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump at his impeachment trial earlier this month for inciting the violent insurrection on January 6.

“Over the last four years, we lost the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the presidency,” Cassidy said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, adding that the last time such a losing streak occurred in four years was at the beginning of the Great Depression with then-President Herbert Hoover. If Republicans “idolize one person we will lose,” Cassidy noted. “And that’s kind of clear from the last election.”

But Trump easily survived his second impeachment trial this month as most Republicans stood by him. Even after excoriating the former president and pointing to his responsibility for the January 6 insurrection, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said recently that he would support Trump if he were the party’s nominee in 2024. And Republicans who decided to buck Trump over the Capitol attack are being attacked by their own party and colleagues who remain loyal to Trump. The state Republican Party in Louisiana said it was disappointed in Cassidy’s vote to convict Trump after the impeachment trial. There are no signs that the Republican Party is moving away from the former president, who transformed the party into a cult of personality around him.

One particularly literal example of idolization of Trump by some of those who attended CPAC was a golden statue of him  that was created by the artist Tommy Zegan. Its appearance gave rise to numerous references to the Biblical story of the golden calf which symbolizes God’s wrath against false idols. 

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Politics

Trump Just Made It Clear: He’s Not Going Anywhere—and Neither Is the Big Lie

Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Former President Donald Trump intimated a potential 2024 presidential run during his first speech since leaving office last month and surviving a second impeachment trial in February. For over ninety minutes, Trump used his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando on Sunday as an opportunity to defend his own record, portray President Joe Biden and Democrats as socialists, and offer up red meat in the culture war to his most ardent supporters. But most of all, he relished being in the spotlight again, and used it to insist falsely that he won the 2020 election—the dangerous lie at the heart of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Democrats “just lost the White House,” Trump said, despite his having lost the 2020 presidential election by 74 Electoral College votes and 7 million in the popular vote. “I may even decide to beat them for a third time,” he said, as the crowd cheered.

Trump also threw cold water on rumors that the divisions within the Republican party would result in his creating a new political party. “We’re not starting new parties,” Trump said. “We have the Republican Party. It’s going to unite and be stronger than ever before.”

Trump may have faded from public view since leaving office, facing impeachment for his role in fomenting the January 6 siege on the Capitol, and deprived of access to Twitter, his favorite platform to speak to supporters and direct media coverage. (After the January 6 insurrection, Twitter banned him first temporarily and then permanently.) Yet, despite his diminished visibility, the party has not abandoned him.

Local Republican chapters have retaliated against Republicans who voted to impeach and convict Trump. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) faced, but survived, a vote to strip her of her role in House GOP leadership after she voted to impeach Trump. During a Sunday appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel welcomed Trump’s help in winning back Republican majorities in the House and Senate in 2022 and said Republicans “overwhelmingly” supported Trump’s performance as president. “I do know he’s committed to helping us win back majorities in 2022,” she said, “which is, of course, what I’m focused on right now.” 

CPAC released the results of a straw poll of preferred 2024 presidential candidates among conference attendees just before he spoke. Trump won 55 percent, followed by GOP Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Trump ally. 

The audience booed as Trump listed the names of Republicans in the House and Senate who had voted to impeach and convict him. He urged his supporters to “get rid of them all” in the next election and vowed to help elect strong conservatives in the 2022 midterms. Trump also reiterated that the party is united behind him—with the exception of a “handful” of establishment members of the GOP in Washington.

Clearly enjoying his return to the public sphere and basking in the attention of cheering supporters, the former president returned to his usual laundry list of grievances and causes, especially immigration. He maligned immigrants and touted his own record on the southern border—a record that includes separating children from their parents, making it harder for people seeking asylum, and ramping up every aspect the system’s cruelty to immigrants.

Trump also brought back his attacks on Biden from the campaign trail last year, mocking him as senile and clueless. He disparaged windmills, the Paris Climate Agreement, China, and, always, Democrats, whom he described as potentially leading the country first to socialism and then to communism. When it came to the coronavirus, a pandemic his administration did not address effectively, he took credit for the country’s progress on vaccine distribution, which has ramped up in the last month under Biden. 

Finally, returning to his favorite theme, Trump attacked the 2020 election as being stolen by corrupt Democrats and urged Republicans to pass laws that would restrict voting to a single day and all but eliminate absentee voting. “This election was rigged and the Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it,” he said. These allegations contradict the facts; even election experts in Trump’s own administration called the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”

The crowd ate up Trump’s speech, at one point chanting “We love you!” Even the sainted Ronald Reagan, Trump said in response, never received a chant like that. 

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A CNN Anchor Just Called Out CPAC For Worshipping Losing

CNN anchor Ana Cabrera laid out that Republicans at CPAC are celebrating a loser with their worship of Donald Trump.

Video:

Cabrera said, “Let’s be clear about who Republicans at CPAC are celebrating. A man who lost them the House, the Senate, and the presidency and then incited a mob to attack the capitol because he didn’t like the election results.”

The CNN anchor was correct. Trump doesn’t have some glorious legacy that deserves to be admired and looked back on. Donald Trump was a failure. His trade war failed. He destroyed the economy and got more than half of a million Americans killed by intentionally mismanaging a pandemic. He was impeached twice and betrayed his country numerous times while in office.
CPAC is celebrating a loser. Trump lost the House, the Senate, and the presidency. Trump is a one-term failure, and if he is the Republican nominee in 2024, he will lose again.

Losing is what Donald Trump does best.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.

Awards and  Professional Memberships

Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association

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Trump Just Delighted Democrats By Threatening To Run For President Again

At his CPAC speech, Trump pushed the Big Lie that he really won the election and threatened to run for president again in 2024.

Video:

Trump said, But who knows? Who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time.”

Trump lost the election by nearly 8 million votes. As president, he lost the House, the Senate, and the White House. Trump is playing into the fantasy world that he created where he actually won the election in November.

It would be a gift to Democrats if Donald Trump ran for president again. The results of the CPAC straw poll suggested that Trump would be a runaway favorite to win the 2024 Republican primary.

Trump has nothing new to say. He is the same tired, old, repetitive one-trick pony that voters already rejected in record numbers. Trump was soundly beaten once. Democrats have nothing to fear from a third Trump candidacy.

Democrats aren’t afraid of Trump. If he runs again, which may not be possible if he is criminally charged in Manhattan, he will not win.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

Follow and Like PoliticusUSA on Facebook

Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.

Awards and  Professional Memberships

Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association

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Trump’s Big Comeback Flops As TV Networks Ignore CPAC Speech

Trump thought that his speech at CPAC would be his big comeback, but outside of Fox News, other major networks have not shown the speech.

Here is what was on CNN and MSNBC while Trump was talking:

Matt Viser tweeted:

Kyle Griffin tweeted:

Trump was a creation of free media in 2016. Trump got wall to wall coverage from cable and broadcast networks and that allowed his message to seep outside of the confines of conservative media. The free media faucet was turned off during his presidency and has not been turned back on. Trump’s 2020 campaign proved that a Republican presidential candidate can’t win a general election by only playing to conservative media.

Donald Trump thought that CPAC was going to be the launch of his big comeback. Instead, he remains a man shouting to his own echo chamber with delusions of successes that never were.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

Follow and Like PoliticusUSA on Facebook

Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.

Awards and  Professional Memberships

Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association

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As He Faces Possible Criminal Indictment, Trump Attacks The Supreme Court

Trump, who is potentially facing multiple criminal indictments, attacked the Supreme Court for not overturning the election.

Video:

Trump claimed that the Supreme Court did not have the guts to illegally overturn the election for him. It is likely that Trump’s anger at the high court is based on the fact that they made him turn over his tax returns to the Manhattan DA who is looking at criminally indicting him, his adult children, and his company.

Donald Trump needed the Supreme Court to violate the Constitution in order to stay in power.

The former president is unleashing the same complaints, gripes, and conspiracy theories that dominated his lame-duck period after he lost the election to Joe Biden.

The cable news networks have largely ignored Trump’s CPAC speech. His remarks are being gobbled up by those at CPAC, but for the rest of the country, his complaining is already stale.

Attacking the Supreme Court when he is facing possible criminal indictment looks like more of the shoot himself in the foot strategy that made Trump a one-term president.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

Follow and Like PoliticusUSA on Facebook

Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.

Awards and  Professional Memberships

Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association