Republicans Are The Lannisters Of American Politics

The HBO series “Game Of Thrones” dominated television until it ended with mixed feelings in 2019. Despite the sword and sorcery elements, the series managed to engage a wide audience through its political intrigue as the ruling houses schemed to win everything.

One of those houses, the Lannisters, was rich, incestuous and ruthless — similar to the Republican Party except Republicans have few if any of the Lannisters’ positive traits.

The Lannisters, Unlike The Republicans, “Always Pay Their Debts”

The Lannisters’ unofficial motto of “A Lannister always pay his debts” is a fine financial position but also a warning to enemies that they will always settle the score. While Republicans certainly settle their political scores, keeping a promise for repayment is more tenuous, which Republican Rep. Byron Donalds from Florida demonstrated on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Donalds decried the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party for not just blankly giving in to the Republicans’ every demand as they hold the world’s financial stability hostage. But all the talking points collapsed after Chuck Todd played a clip of then-President Trump discussing the debt ceiling.

Donalds comes from the same political cesspool as Matt Gaetz and Ron DeSantis, so he gave the game away with zero shame.

DONALDS: Well, first of all, he also said the other day on a rival network that he said that when he was president, and when they asked why he wasn’t saying it now, he said because he’s not president. Listen, Donald Trump is always negotiating —

TODD: Do you realize how absurd that sounds?

DONALDS: That is not absurd. He’s always negotiating, Chuck.

TODD: How is that not absurd? It’s absurd.

DONALDS: Chuck, he’s always negotiating. That’s what he does. And it’s actually one of the reasons why so many deals for our country worked out to our benefit, as compared to his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat, because he’s always negotiating.

TODD: But do you realize how partisan that sounds?

DONALDS: That is not a partisan statement.

TODD: “What is – what is good for me is not for thee.” He’s basically saying, “When I’m president, –


You know how stupid and nakedly partisan you have to be for anyone in mainstream political media to call it out, much less Chuck “Both Sides” Todd?!

Donalds then tried a little whataboutism that was so provenly false that Chuck Fucking Todd corrected him (again).

TODD: – there’s no negotiating on this. But, hey, when somebody else is president, screw them.”
DONALDS: Well, no, here’s the thing. Let’s be – let’s be realistic now. When Donald Trump was negotiating debt ceiling with Nancy Pelosi, mind you, they negotiated that.
TODD: No, they didn’t.
DONALDS: When they were –
TODD: They raised it without any restrictions.

Losing an argument to Chuck Todd should be an everlasting political wound, like Jamie Lannister’s right hand.

The Republicans’ Lannister-Like Cruelty And Greed

Republicans, like the fictional Lannisters, think they can somehow “shit gold” by just doing cuts that hurt everyone but the rich. Republicans said as much when a reporter asked about raising revenue to “solve” their manufactured debt crisis last week.

When Republicans claim small businesses and family finances are like the federal government’s budget (they aren’t), they conveniently ignore that real world small businesses and families would have to also bring in more revenue to get out of debt. You either raise prices (businesses) or get a raise/second job (families).

The House Budget Committee Chair, Rep Jodey Arrington of Texas, was happy to show his unseriousness on ABC’s “This Week.”

RADDATZ: Well, the President said he’s willing to cut spending by more than a trillion dollars. […] But he also wants Republicans to consider raising revenue. That has been a non-starter for Republicans. But will you reconsider?

ARRINGTON: No, because you couldn’t get tax policies and tax revenues in the Senate bill. We certainly weren’t going to put it in the House bill. So […] it’s not on the table for discussion.

Then there’s full-time podcaster/part-time Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on “Fox News Sunday” spitting out all kinds of bullshit, unchallenged by host Shannon Bream.

It’s not a surprise that this lie was long debunked. But Cruz continued trying to scaremonger to protect the wealthy with some stats on revenue and spending.

CRUZ: In 2017, total government spending was about $4 trillion dollars, tax revenues were about $3.3 trillion dollars. So, we had about a $700 billion dollar deficit. Fast forward to today, total government spending has gone from $4 trillion dollars all the way up to nearly $7 trillion dollars. We nearly doubled government spending since 2017. What has tax revenue done? They’ve gone from $3.3 trillion dollars to right about $5 trillion dollars.

Lyin’ Ted Cruz “conveniently” skipped the $4.9 trillion Trump added, $1.9 of it being tax cuts for the rich by fast-forwarding from 2017 to today, as if the Trump administration never existed.

Cruz’s hate for IRS agents is also to shield his rich sugar daddies, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made clear on “Meet The Press.”

YELLEN: We have an enormous gap between the taxes we’re collecting and what we should be collecting, if everyone paid the taxes that they really owe. And that’s really a reflection of tax fraud. It amounts to an estimated $7 trillion over the next decade. […] equipping the IRS with the funding they need to audit high-income individuals and corporations, that’s something that doesn’t cost money. It nets money substantially […]

For Republicans, protecting tax fraud by the rich and corporations is better when you can also be cruel to poor people and marginalized groups.

And there’s no sign that a single Tyrion Lannister resides within the Republican Party.

Have a week.

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Checks & Imbalances: Ivana Trump’s Will, Donald Trump’s Customers

Today we look at Ivana Trump’s will and election-denying secretary of state candidates paying the former president.

This is the web edition of the free Checks & Imbalances newsletter, usually sent to inboxes on Fridays. You can subscribe here. Please support this work, if you can, by subscribing to Forbes.

Ivana Trump Left Behind $34 Million. Here’s What Is In Her Will

“Ivana Trump left behind $34 million of assets when she died in July, according to previously unreported probate documents. Her will specified that most of that should be split between her three children, Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump. She also left two properties for friends, and tried to leave another for an ex-husband, Rossano Rubicondi, but he passed away before she did. Donald Trump, Ivana’s wealthier ex-husband, got nothing,” reports Dan Alexander.

The most prominent asset in Ivana’s estate is a New York City townhouse, located a half block from Central Park. Her heirs are currently trying to sell it, asking $26.5 million. It’s unclear whether they will get that much. Regardless of the final price, the proceeds will be split evenly between Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric, according to their mother’s will.

It will not be an insignificant sum for these younger Trumps, whose father has been willing to lend them money but hesitant to hand over major pieces of his $3.2 billion empire. In 2019, Forbes estimated that Don Jr. and Eric were worth about $25 million apiece, while Ivanka was worth more like $375 million, having started her own fashion brand and married into another rich family. Since 2019, the three children have ditched their 7.5% stakes in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., part of a massive sale that allowed each of them to cash out more than $10 million apiece, according to Forbes estimates.

Watch: Senior editor Dan Alexander joins “Forbes Talks” to break down Ivana Trump’s will and beneficiaries.

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Loose Change

FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11. Since that day, eight political committees have refunded a total of $29,000 in contributions that came from the cryptocurrency exchange’s top two executives, Sam Bankman-Fried and Ryan Salame. Many of the politicians and PACs that benefited from Bankman-Fried and Salame’s largesse pledged to donate the funds they received to charity, Popular Information reported in December. Campaign-finance disclosures that would confirm if they’ve done so are due at the end of January.


Within two days of the death on Jan. 8 of pro-Trump vlogger Diamond, her sister Silk launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Christian platform GiveSendGo. It had raised $110,000 as of Thursday night. All funds will go to Silk for the purpose of “preserving Diamond’s legacy.”

Watch: Ways And Means Committee Chairman Calls For Biden And Other Democrats To Work With GOP

Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) joins “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss how he’ll run the House Ways and Means Committee as chairman and where he can work together with Democrats.

Continuing Irresolutions

Updates on Checks & Imbalances’ previous reporting

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) plans to fill his party’s vacancies on the Office of Congressional Ethics’ board within 30 days, Punchbowl reported on Wednesday. As part of the rules package that passed mostly along party lines on Jan. 9, House Republicans reinstated term limits for board members. The change would remove two or three Democrats but no Republicans from the board.


House documents confirm that Florida Republican Byron Donalds has set up a legal-expense trust to reimburse his campaign for the $300,000 it’s spent on his legal fees, as a spokesperson for Donalds previously claimed.

Donalds, by the way, seems to have benefited from backing Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker of the House, landing a spot on the Financial Services Committee as well as two influential GOP internal panels, Punchbowl reported on Thursday.


The campaign for former Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) remains open to receive restitution from its one-time treasurer, Andrew McCrosson, who pleaded guilty to embezzlement in 2011. McCrosson’s latest payment to the campaign was $3,100 in November, according to records with the Federal Election Commission. McCrosson, who is about 72 years old, has paid back $206,000 of the $458,000 he was ordered to pay in restitution.

Watch: ‘Where’s George?’: Long Island Legislator Outlines His Plans To Hold George Santos Accountable

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is resisting mounting calls to resign, despite admitting to falsifying most of his resume and facing local, state, federal and international investigations. Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan has been one of Santos’ most-vocal critics on Long Island and just launched a campaign titled “Where’s George.” Lafazan joins Brittany Lewis in “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss.

Tracking Trump

The campaigns for three secretary of state candidates who denied the results of the 2020 presidential election spent $81,000 at properties owned by Donald Trump, according to a report published on Tuesday by government watchdog Issue One.

All three of these Trump-endorsed candidates lost, preventing them from being in a position to put their thumb on the scale for Trump’s 2024 candidacy.

Watch: Your correspondent joined Brittany Lewis in “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss this report.


“A lavish New York townhouse once owned by the late Ivana Trump is on the market for $26.5 million. Purchased for $2.5 million soon after her divorce from Donald Trump, the six-story, 8,725-square-foot home reflects Ivana’s big personality, her whimsical style and her passion for interior design with gold leaf, crystal chandeliers, pink marble and animal-print wall coverings,” reports Brenda Richardson.


“LIV Golf and the CW Network reached a multiyear agreement to bring the Saudi-backed PGA Tour rival to American broadcast television, the parties announced Thursday morning, following reports earlier this week that the parties were nearing an agreement,” reports Derek Saul.


The campaign for a candidate for state representative in Arizona spent $220 at Trump Winery in Virginia on Halloween 2022. Eight days later, Republican Jennifer Treadwell lost her election, pulling in just half of the winner’s vote total.


Richard Kofoed, who allegedly used embezzled money to support Trump’s campaign and lead a lavish lifestyle, had two meetings at the White House the day before the riots at the Capitol, according to visitors logs the House Jan. 6 committee released. Some of Kimberly Guilfoyle’s text messages, which the panel also made public, claim Kofoed and his wife, Stacy, were staying in the swankiest suite in Trump’s D.C. hotel at the time.


Behgjet Pacolli, a member of Kosovo’s parliament who previously served as that country’s president, foreign minister and first deputy prime minister, chatted with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, according to a photo Pacolli posted in November. Pacolli is also the president and CEO of Mabetex Project Engineering, a Swiss-based construction firm.


Judicial Watch held its annual roundtable at Trump’s Miami resort this week. Trump attorney Christina Bobb was among the attendees, along with Jenna Ellis, a prominent peddler of Trump’s Big Lie. The nonprofit Judicial Watch describes itself as “a conservative, nonpartisan educational organization that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.” The former president delivered the keynote. According to one attendee, Ivanka Trump was with her father at Doral on Thursday.


The 917 Society’s “mission is to educate the next generation on the great values and norms given to them by the U.S. Constitution.”

On Jan. 28, the nonprofit will host a dinner “celebrating the Constitution” at Mar-a-Lago, the private club of the former president. Tickets are $750.

Across Forbes

In Closing

“My last will and testament I leave my heir

My share of Roc-A-Fella Records and a shiny new beach chair”

— Jay-Z, “Beach Chair”

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