ICYMI: The VP hopeful nobody knows, the RFK Jr. threat, and how the GOP thwarted itself

This VP hopeful could be just what Trump’s looking for: Rich and forgettable

Who the heck is this guy?

It’s time for the Senate to do something about Supreme Court corruption

Enough talk. It’s time to act.

Trump gives NRA fear-mongering speech with a QAnon ‘musical interlude’

He also said he might run for three terms. Yes, three.

Cartoon: Trump’s war on woke

In his dreams.

RFK Jr. isn’t a serious candidate, but he is a serious threat

He can’t win the White House. But he sure can spoil the race.

Trump still says he wants to testify as prosecution could rest its case

Trump’s defense attorneys are not doing a great job.

How the GOP thwarted a GOP plan to thwart abortion rights

You might even say Republicans are in disarray.

7 stories to know: Fewer voter registrations, more vasectomies, and why spelling sucks

Plus, Arkansas voters are getting very tired of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and why North Carolina Republicans are trying to ban masks. 

Samuel Alito’s excuse for his ‘stop the steal’ flag doesn’t add up

What a mess.

Ukraine Update: Russia drives toward Kharkiv as Ukraine tries to slow it down

Several of the villages and towns that Ukraine fought so hard to liberate are once again being swarmed by Russian troops.

Democratic group kicks off ad blitz targeting Trump’s abortion stance

Because voters must know the awful truth behind it.

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Trump isn’t preparing to win—he’s preparing to lose

Donald Trump’s vice presidential litmus test is pretty simple: Are you committed to rejecting the 2024 results if Trump loses the election?

On Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida became the latest Republican to betray the nation, not to mention their oath of office, for a chance at being selected as Trump’s running mate. Rubio joins Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in publicly prostrating themselves to Trump for the lure of power.  

But the GOP parade of prebuttal for an election that hasn’t even happened yet is just one way Trump is preparing his supporters, his campaign, and the entire Republican apparatus for a potential loss in November. 

Here are several other ways that he’s laying the groundwork for a fierce response to any outcome he doesn’t like in November.

Trump allies are pushing rigged election fears early and often

Trump allies, such as former White House aide Steve Bannon, are constantly reinforcing the idea that the only way President Joe Biden can win reelection is by cheating. Media Matters for America’s Matt Gertz recently published a piece on the rhetorical effort that showed Bannon in late March pounding his “War Room” listeners with the notion that Biden can’t possibly win fairly in November. 

“The only way they defeat Trump is to steal it,” Bannon said. “The only way they defeat Trump is they steal it. He is unstoppable.”

Congressional Republicans are pushing voting conspiracy theories

House Republicans, led by Speaker Mike Johnson, are pushing new legislation that would supposedly prohibit something that is already outlawed nearly everywhere: non-U.S. citizen voting.

At a recent press conference, Johnson charged that undocumented immigrants are voting in U.S. elections before immediately admitting that he has no evidence to back it up.

“We all know, intuitively, that a lot of illegals are voting in federal elections,” Johnson claimed . “But it’s not been something that’s easily provable. We don’t have that number.”

Never mind the evidence, Republicans are planting a seed that some virulently racist and anti-immigrant Americans are already prone to believing: that their vote is being nullified by someone who isn’t a citizen.

Trump is telling the RNC to prioritize poll monitoring over GOTV

The Trump campaign itself has become a bare-bones operation with a nearly nonexistent presence in the swing states. Part of that low profile is surely due to the cash-strapped state of Trump’s campaign, but it also appears to be by design. 

The Washington Post reports that Trump himself is downplaying Get Out The Vote efforts: “[Trump] has told people in charge of the RNC to focus on election security more than field programs, because he believes he will be able to personally motivate his voters to the polls in the fall, these people said. … He told them to ‘focus on the cheating.’” 

The RNC is planning a “massive” so-called election integrity program that will include enlisting tens of thousands of volunteers to monitor precincts and election workers across the country.

Trump continues to stoke distrust in early voting 

Even as some Republican officials attempt to recommit the party to early voting, Trump is having trouble staying on script. At rallies and in interviews , Trump still encourages distrust about mail-in voting among the MAGA faithful, blaming it for his 2020 loss. 

At a recent rally in Wisconsin, Trump praised the Republican chair of Delaware for getting “rid of the mail-in voting.” 

The Washington Post also reported that Trump and his new RNC leadership had all but shuttered the “Bank Your Vote” program that had been launched earlier this year by ejected RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel. 

But Trump’s handlers are attempting to push early voting by having him plug it in videos and social media posts on Truth Social. 

“It turned out to be not such a bad idea,” Trump said  of mail-in voting Sunday in a video message to California Republican delegates. “We may not like the current system but we need to master the rules and beat the Democrats at their own game. Then we can make our own rules.”

Still, the end result for his base is a simmering distrust of the way some 30 to 40% of votersmostly Democrats —cast their ballots.

Any analyst looking at the overall structural advantages of the Biden campaign would tell you that it likely has the edge in the final months of a close, competitive election. It’s already vastly out fundraising Trump and outspending him on advertising and field operations—the traditional nuts and bolts of campaigning.

But Trump doesn’t seem nearly as concerned with resourcing the front end of his campaign because he likely believes he has less control over the election’s outcome than he does over how his supporters respond to those results. 

Instead, Trump is pouring time and energy into cultivating an insurance policy for losing—a way to agitate and animate his most loyal followers in the event things don’t go his way.

In Trump’s view, if he wins, great. But if he loses, he is laying the groundwork for months of mayhem, protests, and election denialism that could easily surpass the scope of the violent 2021 insurrection he incited the last time he lost a presidential election.

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Democrats are putting filibuster reform on the ballot

Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are on their way out of the Senate, which means Democrats’ biggest block to progress—the filibuster—could be, too. Filibuster reform is front and center in this election, with Democrats arguing that a restoration of abortion rights, voting rights, and civil liberty protections hang in the balance.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, a longtime leading advocate of filibuster reform, told NBC News that the prospects for reform look promising if the Democrats hold the Senate.

“Unfortunately, two folks decided to support the no-effort obstruction, as opposed to the talking filibuster,” Merkley said. “But I think everyone who’s staying is pretty supportive of going through the process of making the Senate work again.”

That includes even a moderate Democrat like Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly. 

“I’ve been here just over three years, and I’ve never seen an organization with rules like the United States Senate,” Kelly said. “If NASA had these rules, the rocket ship would never leave the launchpad. So as changes to the rules come up, I’ll evaluate it based on the merits.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, who is defending his seat this cycle, told the Associated Press that he “has been on the record for years” in support of filibuster reform and still supports that position.

So does Wisconsin Democrat Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is also facing a Republican challenge this year. Reforming the filibuster to protect against a national abortion ban has become central to her campaign.

“Republicans have shown time and again that they will stop at nothing in their pursuit of controlling women’s bodies—and I believe them,” she said.

Every Democratic contender for vacancies in the Senate supports reform, including Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is vying to replace Sinema. He pledges to “continue to champion the right to choose—starting by waiving the filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, who is running to fill the California vacancy left by the death of Dianne Feinstein, cited abortion, climate change, gun safety, and voting rights as reasons to change the filibuster, and he’s not afraid of GOP backlash if they eventually gain a filibuster-free Senate.

“The Republican policies are so reactionary, backward, and unpopular that should they ever really be in a position to put them into effect, they’ll be voted out of office in a heartbeat,” he said.

Schiff is joined by Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester , and Maryland County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, all of whom are running to replace outgoing Democratic senators and calling for filibuster reform.

Challengers in red states are also calling for filibuster reform. Texas Rep. Colin Allred is up against Sen. Ted Cruz and is in favor of eliminating the filibuster.

“I understood that there were some members who had concerns about doing away with the filibuster entirely, but the voting rights legislation is about how you even make up the body of the Senate,” Allred said . “A supermajority requirement in the Senate is nowhere in the Constitution.”

Former Florida Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is taking on Sen. Rick Scott, said “Democracy is 50 plus one, and for certain issues, I am very much in favor of pausing the filibuster and voting for a woman’s right to choose to codify Roe v. Wade.”

Everything that Manchin and Sinema stopped President Joe Biden and Democrats from achieving in the past four years—including restoring voting rights and abortion rights , raising the minimum wage , making millionaire hedge fund executives pay their taxes , sensible gun control , and environmental justice —could happen with a second Biden term and a Democratic Senate. 

Hell, they could even reform the Supreme Court.

Please donate $10 or even $20 apiece to each of these races to help Democrats keep the Senate blue in 2024!

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Sinema and Manchin are out. It’s time to win the Senate and get s— done

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Sen. JD Vance tries to spin past praise for Hungary’s authoritarian leader

During Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance was asked about his praise for Donald Trump favorite Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s longtime authoritarian prime minister. Back in February, Vance lauded the Hungarian strongman for “successfully dealing with left-wing domination of universities,” saying it should be “the model for” conservatives in the U.S.

“What you’re seeing in the United States, actually, is that universities are controlled by left-wing foundations. They’re not controlled by the American taxpayer,” Vance told host Margaret Brennan, mimicking the baseless propaganda promoted by other mini fascists like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

When pressed on Orbán’s authoritarian record, which includes rewriting Hungary’s constitution to give himself and the state more power and less accountability, Vance tried to cherry pick his admiration. 

“I’m not endorsing every single thing that Viktor Orbán has ever done,” he said. “I don’t know everything he’s ever done. I do think that he’s made some smart decisions there that we could learn from [in] the United States.” 

Vance has a lot of practice equivocating for authoritarian leaders, as one of the craven Trump vice president hopefuls. Vance spent the past year carrying a lot of anti-Ukrainian water for Russia, likely making him Vladimir Putin’s top choice for vice president. 

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Marco Rubio joins list of VP hopefuls who won’t accept election results

Sen. Marco Rubio has joined the list of Republicans who refuse to say they would accept the outcome of the 2024 presidential election. When asked by “Meet the Press” host Kirsten Welker on Sunday if he would accept the election results, “no matter what happens,” the Florida senator went into fight and flight mode at the same time.

Rubio: No matter what happens? No, if it’s an unfair election, I think it’s going to be contested by each side

Welker: No matter who wins.

Rubio: I think you’re asking the wrong person. The Democrats are the ones that have opposed every Republican victory since 2000.

The list of potential running mates for Donald Trump to choose from includes a rich jerk whose name you can’t remember and a woman who brags about killing puppies . But it is clear that any candidate auditioning to be the next Mike Pence must be willing to accept a Trump victory and nothing else. Just ask Rep. Elise Stefanik or Sen. Tim Scott or Gov. Kristi Noem.

Ian Bassin is the former associate White House counsel and co-founder and executive director of Protect Democracy. Protect Democracy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group focused on anti-authoritarianism, how to protect our democracy, and safeguarding our free and fair elections.

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Ted Cruz pretends to care about IVF in desperate bid for reelection

Sen. Ted Cruz’s latest attempt to make himself likable to Texas voters involves joining with Alabama Republican Sen. Katie Britt to introduce what they call “a Senate bill to clear up confusion after an Alabama Supreme Court ruling” on in vitro fertilization. The dubious duo’s Wall Street Journal op-ed comes after both of them refused to support a bill from Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and other Democrats that would have done just that.

When the Senate Judiciary Committee was discussing that bill, Cruz insisted that federal protections of IVF aren’t necessary and that it is “indisputable” that “IVF is fully protected in law, it should be fully protected in law, and it will remain 100% fully protected in law.” 

Democrats, he said, were only saying it is under threat because they “cannot defend their position on abortion.” 

But now Cruz has changed his tune, tweeting Sunday: “Families across the U.S. are understandably worried that in vitro fertilization is under threat.” 

“While the Alabama Legislature after the court’s decision promptly reiterated that IVF is protected, federal legislation would eliminate any ambiguity that might arise from future state-level judicial interpretations,” he added.

What happened to change Cruz’s mind? A very real challenge from Democrat Colin Allred, who’s been outpacing Cruz in fundraising. 

It’s worth noting what is missing from the proposed legislation from Cruz and Britt: any real legal protections for IVF or an established right to seek assistive reproductive care. Instead, it would strip federal Medicaid money away from states that ban IVF, a “solution” that would hurt tens if not hundreds of thousands of people in those states. 

That’s hardly a deterrent for the red states where IVF bans would be likely, since their lawmakers already don’t give a damn about people on Medicaid.

On the other hand, Duckworth and fellow Democrats offered in their bill a federal, statutory right to families to access IVF and other assistive reproductive services. Republicans have blocked it from consideration twice, once in 2022 and again in February of this year. 

There was a great deal of lip service from the GOP—including Cruz and Britt—about how much they support IVF since the Alabama debacle. Cruz insisted back in February that he supports IVF because it is “entirely life affirming,” and says now that there is a “need to protect both life and access to IVF treatments.”

The only thing Cruz is fighting to protect is his reelection.

Donate $5, $10, or whatever you can right now to help Colin Allred defeat Ted Cruz and save the Senate!

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Republicans will do anything to protect IVF, except vote for it

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Democratic group kicks off ad blitz targeting Trump’s abortion stance

Voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin get their first look Monday at an onslaught of Democratic attack ads against Donald Trump that will be coming their way for the remainder of the election cycle. 

The inaugural ad from the Democratic group American Bridge 21st Century features Anna Igler, a Wisconsin OB-GYN and mother of two, who decided to abort her third pregnancy due to a devastating fetal abnormality.

Igler says she “had to end a wanted pregnancy because my baby was very sick.”

“So my husband and I made a decision to have an abortion,” she says, choking up as she recalls the moment her doctor told her the baby would not survive. “That’s not a decision for any politician, including Donald Trump.”

“Women need access and should have access to all of their options. Donald Trump wants to criminalize women for making a health care decision, even if it saves a woman’s life—that is horrifying,” Igler said. “If Trump is reelected, it would be devastating for women’s healthcare.”

Polling on abortion consistently shows it is one of President Joe Biden’s strongest issues and that the more voters know about Trump’s positioning, the less they like it. 

But abortion also feeds a larger narrative about the perilous state of U.S. democracy and Republican efforts to chip away at people’s freedoms. So while these abortion ads start narrow, they will likely be woven into a more complex storyline later in the cycle about the stakes of this election.

The initial $25 million television, radio, and digital ad buy is the first chunk of the $140 million the group plans to spend this year to help Biden win reelection. The ad marks the first major buy by an independent pro-Biden outfit, but it will not be the last. The Washington Post reports that the Democratic group Future Forward plans to flood the zone with $250 million in ads following the Democratic National Convention in August.

Democrats have a cash advantage in the presidential contest this cycle and have already spent more than four times as much on advertising since the State of the Union address. Biden and the Democratic National Committee have dropped a combined $33 million on ads, according to the tracking firm AdImpact, while the pro-Trump group MAGA Inc. has spent just $7.9 million. The Trump campaign itself has spent nothing. 

But whether Democrats’ hefty war chest can be translated into more support for Biden’s reelection remains to be seen.  

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