Impeachment Follies and The Lincoln Project Implodes
Also, the GOP's immediate future is all about grievance politics.
The Babylon Bee captured the essence of the latest news with its typical flair. The headline blared, “Trump Now Most Acquitted President In History.” It’s funny because it’s true, and it’s not difficult to imagine the former president bragging that way instead of taking stock in the fact he’s the only president to face impeachment in history twice.
The Senate acquitted Trump with a vote of 57-43. Most of the Republicans who voted to acquit said their reason was simple: a president who is not in office cannot face removal from office, so the impeachment was invalid.
It is a silly excuse. I do think the Democrats erred in how they worded the impeachment article. They should have ignored the removal from office and focused instead on preventing Trump from holding office in the future.
I also wrote how the Democrats missed an opportunity to focus on Trump’s behavior leading up to January 6. A ton of people on Twitter, who didn’t read what I wrote, had a whole hell of a lot of fun dragging me as if I was “blaming” Democrats, defending Trump, or saying enough Republicans would vote to convict. I said none of that. I merely wrote what I thought would make a stronger case.
Witnesses would have helped as well. And Democrats, for some inexplicable reason, cleared a hurdle that would have allowed witnesses and decided against it. Please don’t take my word for it. Read Tom Nichols’ timeline to see what he says about it. A story in Politico breaks down what it accurately calls a “fiasco.”
In the end, seven Republicans voted to convict Trump. At the very least, Mitch McConnell did blast Trump for what he did after his acquittal vote. Other Republicans — the ones seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 — couldn’t even bring themselves to criticize Trump.
I won’t get into a long schpiel over the news. You will have plenty of think pieces, outrage pieces, reverse outrage pieces, and more, to keep you occupied for the entire week. I will ignore most since it’s all about generating outrage clicks.
However, I will say the following: Trump lied to everyone for two months. He said he won in a landslide. That’s a lie. He said massive fraud and voting machine chicanery cost him in several states. That’s a lie. He then used those lies to try to get Mike Pence to violate his constitutional duties to steal the election. And during the siege on the Capitol, he sat back and did nothing.
Screw policy and judges. The country is better off without him in office. Period. If Republican voters and state GOP organizations want to be stupid and implore him to run again so he can lose, have fun with a Biden re-election or a first Kamala Harris term. The right-wing-wannabe-tough-guy-dorks, who spend 20 hours a day on Twitter hailing Trump as a “great” president, do not care about “winning” so much as they care about drawing hate clicks to their spittle-flecked rants disguised as commentary.
The sooner they’re all told to get lost and form their own Fever Swamp Party, the better.
The Ol’ Grievance Party
As for the GOP overall, its zombie-like state was punctuated by former Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel’s entrance in the Senate race (this third attempt) to replace Rob Portman, who announced he would not run for reelection 2022. Mandel said impeachment “got my blood boiling to the point where I decided to run.”
Thanks, Josh. So glad to see where your priorities lie. It will be interesting to watch as someone like Jacketless Jim Jordan decides to get into the race, and we all get to witness the s**t-show, where the two of them adhere to the mumpsimus that Trumpism is the path to creating a majority party in the United States.
With state GOP parties censuring Rep. Cheney and Sen. Sasse, along with calling for secession like the Texas GOP did (Allen West continues to be a joke), the party is hell-bent on carving out a niche that’s dedicated entirely to grievance politics and “fighting.” Majorie Taylor Greene boasted about getting kicked off committees, blasting the process with zero knowledge of how committees work.
Meanwhile, the only Republican to draw up policy-based legislation around the supposed rebranded party of the working man and woman was none other than Mitt Romney. Matt Gaetz, of course, thinks getting his Beavis-looking dome on television is the equivalent of “governing.”
Forget the elephant. The Republican Party’s new symbol is an aluminum pole.
The Lincoln Project is dead.
I first wrote about the Lincoln Project in January 2020, a month after it was formed. In that piece, I lamented the Super PAC's efforts and its leadership boasting they’d try to defeat not only Trump but also Senate Republicans such as Susan Collins and Cory Gardner. In July, my good friend Steve Stampley and I worked on a piece for National Review, where we did a deep dive into the group’s money and tactics. It became obvious the organization was all about creating viral videos they’d run to troll Trump and the flow of money would continue. A large majority of those donations were funneled through the firms of co-founders Reed Galen and Ron Steslow. As such, no one had any clue how much money the principles were getting paid.
I won’t recap in detail all that happened in the last several weeks. Still, it’s not pretty. Like a game of Jenga, the initial blocks were removed, exposing one of the co-founders, John Weaver, as a person who preyed on young men, offering them jobs and influence in exchange for sexual favors. That died down, and then came the revelation that Jennifer Horn, who had received base payments of $5,000 to $10,000, wanted in on the more considerable money. The Lincoln Project attempted to embarrass her by highlighting her departure (they never said a word about Ron Steslow and Mike Madrid leaving in December). When she talked to a reporter via DM, the LP, who had access to her credentials, began posting screenshots of her conversation, something George Conway highlighted as a potential violation of federal law. The Jenga tower came crashing down when reports showed the leadership of LP was fully aware of what Weaver was doing and tried to sweep it under the rug.
I’ll be honest. I cannot stand Steve Schmidt. His sanctimonious, holier-than-thou schtick is beyond nauseating. Last week I said his long, pompous tweet threads were “thesaurus-addled” and contained a slew of “Wikipedia-laden historical Nazi references.” Schmidt loved the attention he got as an anti-Trump figure on MSNBC, and he’d punctuate it by posting douchey photos of himself in his expensive Park City, Utah home.
But Schmidt loved the money more than anything else. It’s why he tried to get the gig as Trump’s campaign manager in 2016. It’s why he took money from Howard Schultz, who flirted with an independent run for President that would have peeled off votes from Biden. And it’s why he helped start The Lincoln Project. It’s hard to know how much he pocketed, but the LP issued him a $1.5 million direct payment in December. Schmidt claims he “returned” it, but he likely did so to have the payment funneled through Galen’s firm, Summit Strategic Communications. Since 50% of the money donated to the LP went through SSC and Steslow’s firm, TUSK Digital, I have little doubt Schmidt pocketed millions.
And what did he do when his little house of cards came crashing down? He cynically brought up an issue of abuse Schmidt says he suffered from at the age of 13. I don’t call into question what he says, but to raise it now? When his culpability for what happened within the organization he used to buy himself a $1.4 million home (that he’s now trying to sell for $2.9 million), finally gets exposed? It’s shameful.
But Schmidt has no shame. He sold out John McCain for more favorable treatment in the book (and later, movie) Game Change. McCain returned the favor by banning him (like he did Trump) from attending his funeral. Contrary to the persona he displays on Twitter and MSNBC. Jonah Goldberg described him perfectly in his latest ‘Ruminant’ podcast. “He was known for his entire political career, as a smash-mouth, sort of Trumpy, counterpunching thug doofus.”
And as Jonah also said, the real Steve Schmidt emerged when all of this came out. The real Steve Schmidt showed his rear end in 2019 when confronted about his work for Schultz on a podcast. The result? Schmidt whining, “This is bullshit,” and finally storming off the show. The best part? It was his show. He also threatened legal action if the episode aired—another Trumpy move.
The Lincoln Project never had a plan to return the Republican Party to one of “principles.” From the start, it was an organization designed to behave as fellow travelers with the Democratic Party, all while raking in tens of millions of dollars. Their impact on the election was minimal. The organization produced “data” showing their supposed effect, but it’s ridiculous. What they did was take publicly available polling data, show movement in some demographics moving away from Trump and say, “We spent there, so we were successful.” Please stop it. Those voters were already moving away from the GOP and Trump, as the results of the 2018 election showed.
The attempt to equate correlation with causation is lame.
So what’s with the sudden press scrutiny after a full year of laudatory puff pieces and celebrity treatment? Easy. Trump lost, and the Lincoln Project is of no use to them anymore. I mean, did anyone involved with the LP think Democrats would knock down doors to welcome them into the ranks?
Not to worry. There are still plenty of suckers willing to give their money away.
Until next week, folks!