Mike Pence: Russian aggression poses ‘serious threat’ to Europe

Former Vice President of the US, Mike Pence, joins Euronews Correspondent Stefan Grobe on the Global Conversation to discuss military support for Ukraine, transatlantic relations and collective challenges.

On Saturday, the US House of Representatives approved a long-stalled €89 billion foreign aid package with €57 billion earmarked for Ukraine.

The outcome has restored hopes of a late-summer counteroffensive following a lag in weapons deliveries to the war-ravaged country.

The aid package is expected to get the green light from the US Senate and President Joe Biden in the coming days but experts argue it might be weeks before fresh stocks of munitions arrive on the frontline.

Saturday’s result (311 votes for and 112 against) signals renewed bipartisan support for Ukraine despite months of resistance from the hard-right MAGA (Make America Great Again) wing.

Ahead of the landmark vote, Former US Vice President Mike Pence, who served under President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021, sat down with Euronews Correspondent Stefan Grobe at the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum.

To watch this episode of the Global Conversation, click on the video in the media player above or read the full interview below.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: Mr Vice President, this is not your first visit to Brussels. I hope you got a warmer reception than the first one…

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: I did, but the first one was a little cold. It was right after we were elected. There was, I understand, a lot of concern in Europe that we were going to embrace a new form of isolationism, economic isolationism, in particular. 

And, what I made clear at that very first conference in Munich in 2017, was that America First did not mean America alone. And I’m proud of the way (through some stops and starts), we strengthened our NATO alliance. We strengthened our relationship with our European allies. And I think we set the table, for the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom to provide the kind of support that we’ve all been providing, to the courageous fighters in Ukraine.

What about long-term support for Ukraine?

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: Let me start with the topic that has taken centre stage in Brussels, the global threats that affect the security of both the European Union and the United States. Now, congressional support packages for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan have been hanging in the balance for quite some time. What message does that send to America’s allies?

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: Well, I think the message is that a majority of Republicans and Democrats and a majority of the American people, embrace our role as leader of the free world. I think you’ll see the Congress send to President Biden’s desk, the historic package of support for Ukraine, for Israel, for Taiwan, as well as take strong steps, to stand up to China by forcing the sale of TikTok in the United States. So, we have very close majorities in Congress. I served there for 12 years. I understand the difficulty of moving legislation.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: On that note, how confident are you that there will be long-term US support for Ukraine?

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: Well, I must tell you that we’re entering a presidential year, but the package will provide President Zelenskyy and his soldiers with the lethal support that they need to continue to take the fight to the Russians. And then at the end of the day, I have great confidence in the American people. 

Everywhere I went as vice president, and then over the last year, as a candidate for president, I had one person after another stopping me and thanking me for the strong stand that we’d made to stand with our military, to stand with our allies, to stand up to authoritarian aggression, whether that be in Ukraine or whether it be the terrorist attack by Hamas, against Israel or even China’s, provocations in the Asia Pacific. 

I and the majority of the American people know and understand our unique role in the history of the free world. And I’m confident the American people will demand, that whoever occupies the Oval Office in the next administration will live out that American ideal.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: I think that, nevertheless, people have noticed a little shift. Standing up to Russia used to be a mainstay of Republican Party principles. You know, the party of Ronald Reagan, George Bush, John McCain and others. What happened? And why isn’t that the case anymore?

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: Stefan, I think there is a rising tide of Republican isolationism, in my party. I’ve spoken out against it boldly and will continue to. We learned hard lessons in the 1930s, didn’t we? You in Europe, paid a very dear price. But, I would submit to you that those who believe that we have to choose between solving our domestic problems, our crisis at our southern border, inflation, crime in our cities, and being the leader of the free world, have a fairly small view of the greatest nation on earth. 

But I do believe the majority of the American people in both political parties, support our allies and American leadership, in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: What would you say, looking at transatlantic relations, going forward, what is the biggest challenge that we both face on both sides of the pond?

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: I think in the short term, Russian aggression represents a very serious threat to the peace and stability of Europe. I do not doubt in my mind if the West were to falter and Vladimir Putin were to overrun Ukraine, it would just be a matter of time before he crossed a border that under Article five, we as NATO allies would have to go and fight him. That’s one of the arguments I’ve made in my country. 

I think it’s important that we support the courageous Ukrainian soldiers who are fighting for their freedom so that our soldiers don’t have to make that fight. So, in the short term, I think Russian aggression represents a very real threat. In the long term, there’s no question, that China represents the greatest strategic and economic threat, not just to the United States, but, to the West. And I think only in combination, with free nations around the world, will we meet that moment.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: On Ukraine. Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he would end the war within 24 hours. Do you share that assessment?

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: I think the only way you could end the war in 24 hours is if you gave Vladimir Putin what he wants. And I served with the president for four years. And, I know he has a way of making statements that express an aspiration. But I remain hopeful that the American people, regardless of the outcome of the election, will continue to understand and demand that our leadership in the White House and our leadership in Congress, meet this moment and stand up to Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: You have been a member of the House of Representatives in the United States. You have been governor of Indiana. You have been the Vice President of the United States. You’ve written your memoirs. I wonder what the world can expect from Mike Pence, looking ahead.

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: Well, Stefan, we like to say we don’t know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. What people can expect is that I’ll continue to advocate the values and ideals that have characterised my public life for more than 40 years. 

I’m someone who joined the Republican Party during the Reagan years. I’m someone who believes in a strong national defence and that America is the leader of the free world. I believe in balanced budgets and a limited federal government. 

I believe in traditional values, the right to life. And so, the work that I’m committed to for the rest of my life is to hold up those ideals and values. And if opportunities come our way to make a greater service to America, I promise to keep you posted.

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U.S. Senators release a $118 billion package that pairs border policies with aid for Ukraine and Israel

Senators on February 4 released a highly anticipated $118 billion package that pairs border enforcement policy with wartime aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies, setting off a long-shot effort to push the bill through heavy skepticism from Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Johnson.

The proposal is the best chance for President Joe Biden to resupply Ukraine with wartime aid — a major foreign policy goal that is shared with both the Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and top Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell. The Senate was expected this week to hold a key test vote on the legislation, but it faces a wall of opposition from conservatives.

With Congress stalled on approving $60 billion in Ukraine aid, the U.S. has halted shipments of ammunition and missiles to Kyiv, leaving Ukrainian soldiers outgunned as they try to beat back Russia’s invasion.

The new bill would also invest in U.S. defence manufacturing, send $14 billion in military aid to Israel, steer nearly $5 billion to allies in the Asia-Pacific, and provide humanitarian assistance to civilians caught in conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

“The United States and our allies are facing multiple, complex and, in places, coordinated challenges from adversaries who seek to disrupt democracy and expand authoritarian influence around the globe,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement.

In a bid to overcome opposition from House Republicans, McConnell had insisted last year that border policy changes be included in the national security funding package. The bill would overhaul the asylum system at the border with faster and tougher enforcement, as well as give presidents new powers to immediately expel migrants if authorities become overwhelmed with the number of people applying for asylum.

However, in an election-year shift on immigration, Mr. Biden and many Democrats have embraced the idea of strict border enforcement, while Donald Trump and his allies have criticised the proposed measures as insufficient.

Republicans have also been reluctant to give Mr. Biden a political win on an issue they see as one of his biggest vulnerabilities.

They have argued that presidents already have enough authority to curb illegal border crossings — a stance that would ensure immigration remains a major issue in the presidential election. But at the same time, House Republicans have also pushed for their own, stricter version of border security legislation.

Mr. Johnson, a Republican of Louisiana, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Feb. 4 that he had tried to involve House Republicans directly in the Senate’s negotiation, but was rebuffed.

He added he was unaware of the bill’s details, but thought the solution to border problems should be a House proposal of hardline immigration measures.

“What we’re saying is you have to stem the flow,” Mr. Johnson said. He also made it clear that he — not Mr. Trump — would decide whether to bring the bill to the floor if it passes the Senate.

But in a further sign that Mr. Johnson is resistant to the Senate package, he indicated on Feb. 3 that the House will vote on a separate package of $17.6 billion of military aid for Israel — a move that allows House Republicans to show support for Israel apart from the Senate deal.

Still, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona independent who negotiated the border proposal, told CBS‘ “Face the Nation” that the legislation would be “realistic, pragmatic, and the strongest solution to our border crisis in my lifetime.” “I feel confident that when our bill passes the Senate and gets to the House, members of the House, including Speaker Mr. Johnson, will have had ample opportunity to read, understand the bill and ask questions,” Ms. Sinema said.

The border proposal, which took months to negotiate, is aimed at gaining control of an asylum system that has been overwhelmed by historic numbers of migrants coming to the border. The bill proposes an overhaul to the system with tougher and quicker enforcement measures.

If the number of illegal border crossings reaches above 5,000 daily for a five-day average, an expulsion authority would automatically kick in so that migrants are sent back to Mexico without an opportunity to make an asylum claim. If the number reaches 4,000, presidential administrations would have the option of using the expulsion authority.

Mr. Biden, referencing the authority, has said he would use it to “shut down the border” as soon as the bill is signed into law.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said on Feb. 4 that Mr. Johnson has “continued to tie himself in knots to delay border security, delay crucial investments in the fight against fentanyl, and delay Border Patrol hiring — as a host of his House Republican colleagues openly state that they only oppose the bipartisan border deal because of former President Donald Trump”. At the state level, Republican governors have considered sending National Guard troops to the border. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who again led a group of more than a dozen other GOP governors to the southern border near Eagle Pass on Feb. 4, has been cheered on by those in his party over his extraordinary showdown with the Biden administration regarding immigration enforcement.

The bill would allot $20 billion to immigration enforcement, including the hiring of thousands of new officers to evaluate asylum claims, as well as hundreds of Border Patrol agents. Some of that money would go to shelters and services in cities across the U.S. that have struggled to keep up with the influx of migrants in recent months.

Migrants who seek asylum, which provides protection for people facing persecution in their home countries, would face a tougher and faster process to having their claim evaluated. The standard in initial interviews, known as credible fear screenings, would be raised, and many would receive those interviews within days of arriving at the border. Final decisions on their asylum claims would happen within months, rather than the often years-long wait that happens now.

Among Democrats, the tougher asylum standards have raised concern, especially from progressive and Hispanic lawmakers. While the wings of both parties have been openly critical of the policies under discussion, many have withheld final judgment until they can review the text of the bill, which was a closely guarded secret in the Capitol.

The $14 billion in the package intended for military support for Israel could also splinter Democratic votes. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent of Vermont, is pushing to strip $10 billion for offensive weaponry for Israel from the package while maintaining money for defensive systems.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries suggested in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that he would be supportive if it gets to the House.

“It should not be dead on arrival,” he said. “We need more common sense in Washington, DC, less conflict and less chaos. We’re in a period of divided government. That means we should be trying to find bipartisan common ground.” Senators completed the border proposal on Friday, but other portions of the package, including aid for U.S. allies, investments in defense manufacturing capabilities and humanitarian assistance for people caught up in conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, were still being negotiated by Senate appropriators.

However, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, suggested during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” that GOP senators would push to slow the Senate from advancing the bill quickly.

“We’re not going to deal with this next week,” he said. “It’s too important.”

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House Republicans drop Jim Jordan as their nominee for speaker, stumbling back to square one

Republicans abruptly dropped Rep. Jim Jordan on Friday as their nominee for House speaker, making the decision during a closed-door session after the hard-edged ally of Donald Trump failed badly on a third ballot for the gavel.

The outcome left Republicans dejected, frustrated and sinking deeper into turmoil, another week without a House speaker bordering on a full-blown crisis. House Republicans have no realistic or working plan to unite the fractured GOP majority, elect a new speaker and return to the work of Congress that has been languishing since hard-liners ousted Kevin McCarthy at the start of the month.

Afterward, Mr. Jordan said simply of his colleagues, “We put the question to them, they made a different decision.”

The hard-charging Judiciary Committee chairman said House Republicans now need to come together and “figure out who our speaker is going to be.”

Their majority control floundering, Republicans left the private session blaming one another for the divisions they have created. Next steps were highly uncertain, as a wide range of Republican lawmakers started pitching themselves for speaker.

But it appears no one at present can win a GOP majority, leaving the House without a speaker and unable to function for the foreseeable future, an embarrassing blow to a central U.S. seat of government.

“We’re in a very bad place right now,” McCarthy said.

Majority Leader Steve Scalise said they would “start over” on Monday. New nominees are to come forward for a candidate forum and internal party votes.

Exasperated with no easy solutions in sight, Rep. Mark Alford, a freshman from Missouri, was far from alone in expressing his anger and disappointment.

“I gave up my career to come here to do something for America, to rebuild our military, to get spending under control, to secure our border — and here we are in this quicksand,” he said.

In a floor vote Friday morning, Jordan’s third reach for the gavel, he lost 25 Republican colleagues, worse than he had fared earlier in the week, and far from the majority needed.

A founder of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, Jordan’s run essentially collapsed in large part because more centrist Republicans are revolting over the nominee they view as too extreme and the hardball tactics being used to win their votes. They have been bombarded with harassing phone calls and even reported death threats.

To win over GOP colleagues, Jordan had relied on backing from Trump, the party’s front-runner in the 2024 election, and groups pressuring rank-and-file lawmakers for the vote. But they were not enough and in fact backfired on some.

Friday’s vote was 194 for Jordan, his lowest tally yet, and 210 for Jeffries, with two absences on each side.

In fact, the Jordan lost rather than gained votes despite hours spent trying to win over holdouts, no improvement from the 20 and then 22 Republicans he lost in early rounds this week.

McCarthy himself rose in the chamber to nominate Jordan, portraying him as a skilled legislator who reaches for compromise. That drew scoffs of laughter from the Democratic side of the aisle.

Democrats nominated Leader Hakeem Jeffries, with Rep. Katherine Clark calling Jordan, who refused to certify the 2020 presidential election results, “a threat to democracy.”

For more than two weeks the stalemate has shut down the U.S. House, leaving a major part of the government severely hobbled at a time of challenges at home and abroad. While Democrats have offered to broker a bipartisan deal to re-open the House, the Republican majority appears to have no idea how to end the political turmoil and get back to work.

With Republicans in majority control of the House, 221-212, any candidate can lose only a few detractors. It appears there is no Republican at present who can win a clear majority, 217 votes, to become speaker.

One extraordinary idea, to give the interim speaker pro tempore, Rep. Patrick McHenry, more powers for the next several months to at least bring the House back into session and conduct crucial business, was swiftly rejected by Jordan’s own ultra-conservative allies and brushed back by McHenry himself.

A “betrayal,” said Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.

Republicans predict the House could essentially stay closed until the mid-November deadline for Congress to approve funding or risk a federal government shutdown.

“We’re trying to figure out if there’s a way we can get back with a Republican-only solution,” said veteran legislator Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.

“That’s what normal majorities do. What this majority has done is prove it’s not a normal majority.”

What’s potentially more unsettling is that it’s not at all clear what the House Republicans are even fighting over any more — let alone if any GOP leader can fix it.

The Republican chaos that erupted Oct. 3 when a small band of eight hardliners led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida orchestrated McCarthy’s historic ouster, has cascaded into angry grievances, new factions and untested alliances.

Gaetz and the hardliners wanted to punish McCarthy for a number of perceived wrongs, including passing legislation with Democrats to keep the government funded and prevent a federal shutdown.

But when Majority Leader Steve Scalise won the nomination to replace McCarthy, Jordan’s allies broke from party rules and blocked the Louisianan’s rise. Scalise abruptly withdrew his nomination.

Angry that Scalise didn’t seem to get fair treatment, more mainstream Republicans staged their own revolt against hard-liner Jordan, saying he didn’t deserve the gavel.

Weeks of heated, fiery meetings later, Republicans have drifted far off track from what had been their House majority’s stated priorities of cutting spending and other goals.

Democratic Leader Jeffries reiterated that his party was “ready, willing and able” to work with more traditional Republicans on a path to re-open the House —- particularly as Congress is being asked to consider President Joe Biden’s aid package for Israel, Ukraine and other needs.

Jordan has been a top Trump ally, particularly during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack by the former president’s backers who were trying to overturn the 2020 election he lost to Biden. Days later, Trump awarded Jordan a Medal of Freedom.

First elected in 2006, Jordan has few bills to his name from his time in office. He also faces questions about his past.

Some years ago, Jordan denied allegations from former wrestlers during his time as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University who accused him of knowing about claims they were inappropriately groped by an Ohio State doctor. Jordan has said he was never aware of any abuse.

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Here’s How Much Chris Christie Is Worth

Christie’s net worth quadrupled after leaving the New Jersey governorship.

By Kyle Mullins, Forbes Staff

Plenty of politicians make big money after leaving office: Just ask Nikki Haley, Mike Pence or Joe Biden, who all tapped into tried-and-true moneymaking methods for political figures — writing books, giving speeches, doing consulting or sitting on boards. But of all the people running for president today, nobody has played the game better than Chris Christie.

The former New Jersey governor and his wife, Mary Pat, reported $1 million to $2 million in assets when Christie left office in 2018, plus a $1.3 million house in Morris County, New Jersey. Today, the couple is worth $15 million, according to Forbes’ estimates, meaning their net worth has roughly quadrupled. The Christies now have two homes in the Garden State, worth roughly $6 million total, plus a sizable portfolio of investments, a large pension from Christie’s law firm and two smaller ones from his time in government. How’d they build such a big fortune in such a short period of time? By doing what Haley, Pence and Biden did, but on a bigger scale. Christie, a lifelong public servant who was among the poorest 2015 presidential hopefuls, is now one of the richest people vying for the Oval Office in 2024.

Christie’s Cash

The former New Jersey governor and his Wall Street wife have two houses, three pensions and a big pile of investments between them.

Christie grew up solidly middle class. He was born in 1962 in Newark, but his parents moved to the suburbs in the mid-1960s. His father held a job at Peat Marwick, the “P” and “M” in what is today the accounting giant KPMG. His mother worked at a typewriter company. In his 2019 memoir, Christie credits his interest in politics to his grandmother, with whom he watched “Meet the Press” from a young age. He remembers identifying as a Republican after watching former President Gerald Ford speak at the 1976 GOP convention.

A political science major, Christie met Mary Pat, a business student who was a year behind him, at the University of Delaware (also Joe Biden’s alma mater). He was elected student body president as a junior, and when Mary Pat ran to succeed him the following year, Chris “persuaded” her challenger to step aside and let her win unopposed. “You really don’t want to run,” Christie told the other candidate, according to his book, “because, if you do, I’m gonna work as hard as I can to make sure you lose, and that would be humiliating.” When the predictable election results were announced, the student newspaper congratulated her, adding “the suspense was killing us.”

The couple married in 1986, when Christie was a law student at Seton Hall University. Money was tight—Mary Pat made $20,000 a year, roughly $56,000 today, working at a New York investment bank, and Chris worked nights at a small law firm while completing his degree. The strain of a new marriage got to them, especially after they moved into a fixer-upper starter home in Cranford, New Jersey in 1988. They separated twice and tried counseling, but it took three years, more financial stability and a new house to repair their marriage.

The Christies sold their Cranford place in 1991 for $17,500 less than they paid for it, but by then the couple could clearly take the hit, because they turned around and borrowed $300,000 to build a 3,700-square-foot home in Mendham, New Jersey. “We were socking money away,” Christie writes about this period, noting Mary Pat’s ascendency on Wall Street as a junk bond saleswoman and his budding career as a trial lawyer. Presumably wanting more space as they began to raise a family, the Christies sold their house in 1998 for $630,000 and bought a 7,000-square-foot home nearby for $775,000. They still own the property, which Forbes estimates is worth $2 million today before subtracting an estimated $500,000 left on their mortgage.

As Christie’s bank account grew in the 1990s, so did his political clout. He took a leave of absence from his law firm job to work for George H.W. Bush’s reelection campaign in New Jersey in 1992. After a short stint in county government, he joined the campaign of H.W. ‘s son—which proved more successful. President George W. Bush rewarded Christie with an appointment as the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, and he took office in January 2002.

Under Christie, the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office became known for public corruption prosecutions, securing 130 convictions of elected and appointed officials in seven years. He also had run-ins with two brash New York real estate barons that would shape his future in politics. The first was with Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, who Christie convicted for various financial crimes in 2005. The second was with Donald Trump, who he befriended in 2002 shortly after entering office.

Following Barack Obama’s victory in 2008, Christie resigned as U.S. Attorney, leaving him with a federal pension worth around $90,000 today. In November 2009, he was elected New Jersey governor, beating a Democratic incumbent. The office came with a $175,000 salary and an official residence in Princeton, though the Christies kept the family in Mendham so the kids could stay in their schools. Mary Pat, who at this point was making more than $500,000 a year as a vice president at a Wall Street investment firm, was the family’s main breadwinner.

As governor, Christie quickly built up a national profile picking fights with teachers unions, refusing to raise taxes and going viral for combative exchanges with reporters and voters. The blue-state governor won reelection in 2013 in a landslide, overcame the “Bridgegate” scandal and announced a run for president in 2015.

It went poorly. Christie’s old friend, Trump, grabbed hold of the party and never let go. Christie dropped out after the first two primaries, then joined the Trump campaign as an advisor and head of the transition team. Squabbles with Jared Kushner—who, in Christie’s telling, never truly forgave him for prosecuting his father a decade before—and other campaign staff ultimately led to his sidelining. When Trump shocked the world in November 2016, and Christie wasn’t offered the attorney general spot he wanted, he returned to New Jersey for his final year as governor.

The Christies were doing just fine when he left office, given the $2 million or so in assets they reported at the time. Mary Pat earned more than $500,000 that year in deferred compensation from another Wall Street firm, which she left in 2015 to stay at home with her kids.

But, evidently, it wasn’t enough. “I want to have fun, and I want to make money,” Christie told The New York Times in 2017 before leaving office. He got to work quickly, signing onto ABC News as a contributor in January 2018 and starting both his own law firm and a consulting and lobbying shop called Christie 55 Solutions within three months. Apparently his businesses were a quick success, because one of the first things he and his wife did was sink $2.9 million into a beachfront house in Bay Head, New Jersey in June 2018, borrowing $1.7 million to pay for it. They paid off that loan by 2020. It’s been a good investment: The house is worth over $4.3 million today.

The cash kept coming. The Christies’ consulting and lobbying work paid the couple $3.2 million between January 2022 and mid-2023 alone; clients have included big hospitals, Puerto Rican government entities and pharmaceutical company Pacira BioSciences—on whose board Christie sits. They’ve also made plenty from the Christie Law Firm, which paid the former governor about $700,000 during that time period and gave him a pension that Forbes estimates is worth between $1 million and $4 million. (The Christie campaign did not answer a list of questions about his income and assets.)

The couple reported income from a combined six corporate boards—four private companies and two that are publicly traded, Pacira and a Swedish pharma firm named Orexo. They earned roughly $600,000 from those boards between early 2022 and the middle of 2023. Christie raked in $475,000 from the commentator gig at ABC and more than $400,000 in speaking fees over the same time period. He’s also published two books, his memoir in 2019 and a “guide for recapturing Republican glory” in 2021. His contract details are unknown, but the two have sold 33,000 and 9,100 copies respectively, according to data from BookScan.

The Christies have plowed the rest of their cash into an investment portfolio that includes hundreds of different stocks, bonds and index funds, including sizable holdings of blue-chip tech companies like Apple and Microsoft. That pile of investments threw off more than $250,000 in dividends and other income since January 2022, according to Christie’s most recent financial disclosure. The couple also reports capital gains of between $200,000 and $2 million from selling two holdings in the last year and a half. All told, the Christies’ fortune has ballooned to an estimated $15 million, more than every Republican presidential hopeful except North Dakota governor and software mogul Doug Burgum and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

And, of course, his former friend, Donald Trump, who has far more money—and support—than any other Republican candidate. The Christie-Trump relationship has soured since the January 6th riots at the Capitol and Trump’s various indictments. If Christie continues to poll in the single digits, though, at least his family is set up for a very comfortable second political retirement.


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Kevin McCarthy becomes the first Speaker ever to be ousted from the job in a U.S. House vote

Speaker Kevin McCarthy was voted out of the job on October 3 in an extraordinary showdown, a first in U.S. history that was forced by a contingent of hard-right conservatives and threw the House and its Republican leadership into chaos.

Mr. McCarthy’s chief rival, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, forced the vote on the “motion to vacate,” drawing together more than a handful of conservative Republican critics of the speaker and many Democrats who say he is unworthy of leadership.

Next steps are uncertain, but there is no obvious successor to lead the House Republican majority.

Stillness fell as the presiding officer gavelled the vote closed, 216-210, saying the office of the Speaker “is hereby declared vacant.”

Moments later, a top McCarthy ally, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., took the gavel and, according to House rules, was named Speaker pro tempore, to serve in the office until a new Speaker is chosen.

The House then briskly recessed so lawmakers could meet and discuss the path forward.

It was a stunning moment for the battle-tested Mr. McCarthy, a punishment fuelled by growing grievances but sparked by his weekend decision to work with Democrats to keep the federal government open rather than risk a shutdown.

An earlier vote was 218-208 against tabling the motion, with 11 Republicans allowing it to advance.

The House then opened a floor debate, unseen in modern times, ahead of the next round of voting.

Mr. McCarthy, of California, insisted he would not cut a deal with Democrats to remain in power — not that he could have relied on their help even if he had asked.

Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a letter to colleagues that he wants to work with Republicans, but he was unwilling to provide the votes needed to save Mr. McCarthy.

“It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War,” Mr. Jeffries said, announcing the Democratic leadership would vote for the motion to oust the Speaker.

As the House fell silent, Gaetz, a top ally of Donald Trump, rose to offer his motion. Gaetz is a leader of the hard-right Republicans who fought in January against Mr. McCarthy in his prolonged battle to gain the gavel.

“It’s a sad day,” Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said as debate got underway, urging his colleagues not to plunge the House Republican majority “into chaos.”

But Gaetz shot back during the debate, “Chaos is Speaker McCarthy.”

Mr. McCarthy’s fate was deeply uncertain as the fiery debate unfolded, with much of the complaints against the Speaker revolving around his truthfulness and his ability to keep the promises he has made since January to win the gavel.

But a long line of Mr. McCarthy supporters, including Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a founding leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, stood up for him: “I think he has kept his word.” And some did so passionately. Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., waved his cellphone, saying it was “disgusting” that hard-right colleagues were fundraising off the move in text messages seeking donations.

At the Capitol, both Republicans and Democrats met privately ahead of the historic afternoon vote.

Behind closed doors, Mr. McCarthy told fellow Republicans: Let’s get on with it.

“If I counted how many times someone wanted to knock me out, I would have been gone a long time ago,” Mr. McCarthy said at the Capitol after the morning meeting.

Mr. McCarthy insisted he had not reached across the aisle to the Democratic leader Jeffries for help with votes to stay in the job, nor had they demanded anything in return.

During the hourlong meeting in the Capitol basement, Mr. McCarthy invoked Republican Speaker Joseph Cannon, who more than 100 years ago confronted his critics head-on by calling their bluff and setting the vote himself on his ouster. Cannon survived that takedown attempt, which was the first time the House had actually voted to consider removing its speaker. A more recent threat, in 2015, didn’t make it to a vote.

Mr. McCarthy received three standing ovations during the private meeting — one when he came to the microphone to speak, again during his remarks and finally when he was done, according a Republican at the meeting who was granted anonymity to discuss it.

At one point, there was a show of hands in support of Mr. McCarthy and it was “overwhelming,” said Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., a member of the House Freedom Caucus.

Gaetz was in attendance, but he did not address the room.

Across the way in the Capitol, Democrats lined up for a long discussion and unified around one common point: Mr. McCarthy cannot be trusted, several lawmakers in the room said.

“I think it’s safe to say there’s not a lot of good will in that room for Kevin McCarthy,” said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.

“At the end of the day, the country needs a speaker that can be relied upon,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. “We don’t trust him. Their members don’t trust him. And you need a certain degree of trust to be the speaker.”

Removing the speaker launches the House Republicans into chaos, as they try to find a new leader. It took Mr. McCarthy himself 15 rounds in January over multiple days of voting before he secured the support from his colleagues to gain the gavel. There is no obvious GOP successor.

Mr. Trump, the former President who is the Republican front-runner in the 2024 race to challenge Mr. Biden, weighed in to complain about the chaos. “Why is it that Republicans are always fighting among themselves,” he asked on social media.

One key Mr. McCarthy ally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., took to social media urging support for “our speaker” and an end to the chaos that has roiled the Republican majority.

Republicans were upset that Mr. McCarthy relied on Democratic votes on Saturday to approve the temporary measure to keep the government running until Nov. 17. Some would have preferred a government shutdown as they fight for deeper spending cuts.

But Democrats were also upset with Mr. McCarthy for walking away from the debt deal that he made with Mr. Biden earlier this year that already set federal spending levels, as he emboldened his right flank to push for steep spending reductions.

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US government shutdown averted as Biden signs bill before midnight

The package drops aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of GOP lawmakers, but increases federal disaster assistance by $16 billion, meeting Biden’s full request. The bill funds the government until November 17.


The threat of a federal government shutdown suddenly lifted late Saturday as President Joe Biden signed a temporary funding bill to keep agencies open with little time to spare after Congress rushed to approve the bipartisan deal.

The package drops aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of GOP lawmakers, but increases federal disaster assistance by $16 billion, meeting Biden’s full request. The bill funds the government until November 17.

After chaotic days of turmoil in the House, Speaker Kevin McCarthy abruptly abandoned demands for steep spending cuts from his right flank and instead relied on Democrats to pass the bill, at risk to his own job. The Senate followed with final passage closing a whirlwind day at the Capitol.

“This is good news for the American people,” Biden said in a statement.

He also said the United States “cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted” and expected McCarthy “will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”

It’s been a sudden head-spinning turn of events in Congress after gruelling days in the House pushed the government to the brink of a disruptive federal shutdown.

The outcome ends, for now, the threat of a shutdown, but the reprieve may be short-lived. Congress will again need to fund the government in the coming weeks risking a crisis as views are hardening, particularly among the right-flank lawmakers whose demands were ultimately swept aside this time in favour of a more bipartisan approach.

“We’re going to do our job,” McCarthy, a Republican representing California, said before the House vote. “We’re going to be adults in the room. And we’re going to keep government open.”

If no deal was in place before Sunday, federal workers would have faced furloughs, more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military troops would have had to work without pay and programs and services that Americans rely on from coast to coast would have begun to face shutdown disruptions.

“It has been a day full of twists and turns, but the American people can breathe a sigh of relief: There will be no government shutdown,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.

Loss of Ukraine aid

The package funds the government at current 2023 levels until mid-November, and also extends other provisions, including for the Federal Aviation Administration. The package was approved by the House 335-91, with most Republicans and almost all Democrats supporting. Senate passage came by an 88-9 vote.

But the loss of Ukraine aid was devastating for lawmakers of both parties vowing to support President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after his recent Washington visit. The Senate bill included $6 billion for Ukraine, and both chambers came to a standstill Saturday as lawmakers assessed their options.

“The American people deserve better,” said House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, warning in a lengthy floor speech that “extreme” Republicans were risking a shutdown.

For the House package to be approved, McCarthy was forced to rely on Democrats because the speaker’s hard-right flank has said it would oppose any short-term funding measure, denying him the votes needed from his slim majority. It’s a move that is sure to intensify calls for his ouster.

After leaving the conservative holdouts behind, McCarthy is almost certain to be facing a motion to try to remove him from office, though it is not at all certain there would be enough votes to topple the speaker. Most Republicans voted for the package Saturday while 90 opposed it.

“If somebody wants to remove me because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,” McCarthy said of the threat to oust him. “But I think this country is too important.”

The White House was tracking the developments on Capitol Hill and aides were briefing the president, who was spending the weekend in Washington.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who has championed Ukraine aid despite resistance from his own ranks, is expected to keep pursuing US support for Kyiv in the fight against Russia.


“I have agreed to keep fighting for more economic and security aid for Ukraine,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said before the vote.

Late at night, the Senate stalled when Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet held up the vote, seeking assurances Ukraine funds would be reconsidered.

“I know important moments are like this, for the United States, to lead the rest of the world,” Bennet said, noting his mother was born in Poland in 1938 and survived the Holocaust. “We can’t fail.”

Hard-right Republican holdouts

The House’s quick pivot comes after the collapse Friday of McCarthy’s earlier plan to pass a Republican-only bill with steep spending cuts of up to 30% to most government agencies and strict border provisions that the White House and Democrats rejected as too extreme. A faction of 21 hard-right Republican holdouts opposed it.

“Our options are slipping away every minute,” said one senior Republican, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.


The federal government had been heading straight into a shutdown that posed grave uncertainty for federal workers in states all across America and the people who depend on them — from troops to border control agents to office workers, scientists and others.

Families that rely on Head Start for children, food benefits and countless other programs large and small were confronting potential interruptions or outright closures. At the airports, Transportation Security Administration officers and air traffic controllers had been expected to work without pay, but travellers could have faced delays in updating their US passports or other travel documents.

The White House has brushed aside McCarthy’s overtures to meet with Biden after the speaker walked away from the debt deal they brokered earlier this year that set budget levels.

Catering to his hard-right flank, McCarthy had made multiple concessions including returning to the spending limits the conservatives demanded back in January as part of the deal-making to help him become the House speaker.

But it was not enough as the conservatives insisted the House follow regular rules and debate and approve each of the 12 separate spending bills needed to fund the government agencies, typically a months-long process. In the Senate, all the no votes against the package came from Republicans.


McCarthy’s chief Republican critic, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, has warned he will file a motion calling a vote to oust the speaker.

Some of the Republican holdouts, including Gaetz, are allies of former President Donald Trump, who is Biden’s chief rival in the 2024 race. Trump has been encouraging the Republicans to fight hard for their priorities and even to “shut it down.”

At an early closed-door meeting at the Capitol, several House Republicans, particularly those facing tough reelections next year, urged their colleagues to find a way to prevent a shutdown.

“All of us have a responsibility to lead and to govern,” said Republican Rep. Mike Lawler of New York.

The lone House Democrat to vote against the package, Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, the co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, said, “Protecting Ukraine is in our national interest.”

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Here’s How Much Ron DeSantis Is Worth

The Florida governor has spent much of his adult life railing against liberal elites. In 2023, he wrote a book about it — and it made him rich.

By Kyle Mullins, Forbes Staff

Even as his poll numbers stagnate and his political capital wanes, Ron DeSantis has seen one thing go right in 2023: His bank account balance keeps rising. Sitting at around $300,000 in 2021, a lucrative book deal made the Florida governor a millionaire by the end of last year. Today, he’s worth an estimated $1.5 million.

DeSantis has the simplest finances of anyone making a serious run at the presidency. He did not build a sprawling real estate empire (like Donald Trump), nor start a billion-dollar biotech company (like Vivek Ramaswamy), nor sit on corporate boards (like Nikki Haley), nor marry a Wall Street spouse (like Chris Christie), nor give a bunch of high-dollar speeches (like Mike Pence). DeSantis, the 45-year-old once seen as the heir apparent to a Trumpified Republican Party, owns just one equity holding: a recently purchased oil fund worth $15,000 to $50,000, according to his financial disclosure report. Outside of that, two small pensions and a big pile of cash, there’s nothing else. He resides in the Florida governor’s mansion and does not even own a house. On his most recent financial disclosure, he reported two cash accounts that Forbes estimates have roughly $1.4 million between them — most of it book income from the past two years.

He didn’t come from big money. Born to working-class parents from the Midwest, DeSantis spent most of his childhood in Dunedin, Florida, a Gulf Coast city minutes from Tampa Bay. His father installed Nielson television ratings devices, and his mother worked as a nurse. His Little League team represented the South at the Little League World Series in 1991.

DeSantis’ baseball chops took him all the way to Yale University in 1997. In the book that made him his money, titled “The Courage to be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival,” he says his cultural background made him stick out among the prep-school coastal elites. “I was geographically raised in Tampa Bay,” he writes, “but culturally my upbringing reflected the working-class communities in western Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio—from weekly church attendance to the expectation that one would earn his keep. This made me God-fearing, hard-working and America-loving.”

The future presidential candidate’s four years at Yale were defined, in his telling, by baseball, working various campus jobs and encounters with “unbridled leftism.” Evidently undeterred, DeSantis moved further north, earned a law degree from Harvard University in 2005, then — in a bold move for someone with sizable student loans — eschewed a Big Law job or judicial clerkship in favor of an officer’s commission and prosecutor position in the Navy. In 2006, he met his future wife, Casey, a Jacksonville-area reporter and television anchor, shortly before deploying to Iraq.

After returning to the States, DeSantis bought a $307,500 home near Jacksonville in 2009. He worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs to take out a $314,000 loan, enough to cover the entire purchase price. Ron married Casey at Disney World in 2010, left active-duty service and joined a Florida-based law firm that finally gave him a six-figure salary. He harbored political ambitions, though: His first book, “Dreams from Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama,” didn’t make him much money, but it earned him some cachet among conservatives, which came in handy when he launched a run for Congress.

He won an east-coast seat in 2012 and the $174,000 salary that came with it, a major boost for someone who reported holding less than $20,000 in stock and cash just before taking office. DeSantis plowed the extra funds into a savings account and a second, $242,000 home in Palm Coast, Florida that he sold in 2018 for a small gain. His five years in Congress, combined with his military service, provided him a federal pension worth just over $50,000 today.

While in Washington, DeSantis hewed to the right-wing line: Per one measure, he was more conservative than 87% of Republicans in his final two years. Then he turned his sights on statewide office. He reportedly sucked up to Trump on Fox News and Air Force One, winning the president’s endorsement before even declaring a run for governor. In the primary, DeSantis emphasized his Trump ties, running an ad that showed the congressman “building a wall” with his kids and reading them the “Art of the Deal.” He won by a wide margin, then upset Democrat Andrew Gillum to become governor of America’s third-largest state, even as a blue wave crested nationwide.

The victory came with a pay cut: DeSantis’ new salary was 25% lower than his congressional one. Casey had left her reporting job in 2018. But they also had one fewer expense, housing. They ditched their Jacksonville-area home for $460,000 — paying off their mortgage and walking away with an estimated $150,000 — to take up residence in the governor’s mansion. At this point, they were worth less than $300,000.

During the COVID-19 pandemic and national fights over reopening, DeSantis grew his profile, picking culture war battles that kept him on television. He railed — and legislated — against mask and vaccine mandates, “woke” corporations and “critical race theory.” In his 2022 reelection race, he crushed former Florida governor Charlie Crist by nearly 20 points, winning yet more national attention.

The attention offered a business opportunity, which DeSantis seized. He authored a book that provided $1.25 million in 2022 and at least $725,000 in 2023. In “Courage to be Free,” the Yale and Harvard graduate blasts “elites” and the “ruling class,” calling the Democratic Party a “woke dumpster fire.” His net worth quintupled from $300,000 at the end of 2021 to an estimated $1.5 million today.

He also seized a political opportunity, declaring a run for the presidency in May. “Decline is a choice,” he said in an announcement video, promising to lead a “great American comeback.” But his poll numbers have slipped, as the baseball player from Dunedin struggles to gain any support in two debate performances while the criminally indicted real estate mogul from Queens runs away with the race without even showing up.

If DeSantis doesn’t catch up to Trump, he’ll at least be able to keep his job as governor of Florida—and perhaps write another book.

Dan Alexander and Kavya Gupta contributed reporting.


MORE FROM FORBESHow Trump, Master Of Avoiding Paper Trails, Finally Got Caught With OneMORE FROM FORBESThis Surprising Obsession Drives Vivek Ramaswamy And His Presidential CampaignMORE FROM FORBESHere’s How Much Joe Biden Is WorthMORE FROM FORBESHow Nikki Haley Built An $8 Million Fortune (And Helped Bail Out Her Parents)MORE FROM FORBESHere’s How Much Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Is Worth

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House Republicans clash with Attorney General Garland, accusing him of favouring Hunter Biden

House Republicans clashed with Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday, accusing him and the Justice Department of the “weaponization” of the department’s work in favor of President Joe Biden ‘s son Hunter.

Garland’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee was the first in two years and came at an unprecedented moment in the department’s history: He’s overseeing two cases against Donald Trump, the first former president to face criminal charges, and another against the sitting president’s son.

Republicans on the committee — led by Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman — set the tone with accusations that the Justice Department is favoring the Biden family, while targeting his opponent, Trump.

“There’s one investigation protecting President Biden. There’s another one attacking President Trump,” Jordan, Republican of Ohio, said in his opening statement. “The Justice Department’s got both sides of the equation covered.”

Garland — carefully and deliberately — defended the country’s largest law enforcement agency of more than 115,000 employees at a time when political and physical threats against agents and their families are on the rise.

“Our job is not to take orders from the president, from Congress, or from anyone else, about who or what to criminally investigate,” the attorney general said.

He added, “I am not the president’s lawyer. I will also add that I am not Congress’s prosecutor. The Justice Department works for the American people.”

The central line of questioning in Republicans’ arsenal surrounded allegations that the Justice Department interfered in the yearslong case into Hunter Biden and that the prosecutor in charge of that case did not have the full authority he needed to bring the necessary charges to the younger Biden.

Early in the hearing, Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana asked Garland whether he had talked with anyone at FBI headquarters about the Hunter Biden investigation. The attorney general’s response began with a long pause before he said: “I don’t recollect the answer to that question,” later adding “I don’t believe that I did.”

Garland then said repeatedly that he purposely kept the details of the investigation at arms length, to keep a promise not to interfere.

His testimony also comes just over a week after Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., launched an impeachment inquiry into his boss, President Biden, with a special focus on the Justice Department’s handling of Hunter Biden’s yearslong case.

The White House has dismissed the impeachment inquiry as baseless and worked to focus the conversation on policy instead. Hunter Biden’s legal team, on the other hand, has gone on the offensive against GOP critics, most recently filing suit against the Internal Revenue Service after two of its agents raised whistleblower claims to Congress about the handling of the investigation.

Republicans contend that the Justice Department — both under Trump and now Biden — has failed to fully probe the allegations against the younger Biden, ranging from his work on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma to his tax filings in California and Washington D.C.

An investigation into Hunter Biden had been run by the U.S. Attorney for Delaware, Trump appointee David Weiss, who Garland kept on to finish the probe and insulate it from claims of political interference. Garland granted Weiss special counsel status last month, giving him broad authority to investigate and report his findings.

Asked by Republican Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina whether he had tried to figure out if Weiss was facing any hurdles in bringing charges against the president’s son, Garland said he had purposely kept his distance to keep a promise not to interfere.

“The way to not interfere was to not investigate an investigation,” Garland said.

Weiss, since 2018, has overseen the day-to-day running of the probe and another special counsel, Jack Smith, is in charge of the Trump investigation, though Garland retains final say on both as attorney general.

Garland said no one at the White House had given him or other senior officials at the Justice Department direction about the handling of the Hunter Biden investigation. Asked whether he had spoken with Weiss, Garland said he had followed his pledge not to interfere in the investigation but declined to say whether or how often he had spoken with the newly named special counsel, citing the ongoing investigation.

Democrats, for their part, sought to focus on other criminal-justice issues, including domestic terrorism, hate crimes and gun violence. Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the committee, decried what he called Republicans’ focus on “long discredited conspiracy theories” about Hunter Biden and a laptop said to have belonged to him.

“That is their goal. They want to divide this country and make our government appear like it’s broken,” Nadler said.

Democrats labored to undermine what they see as Republican misinformation in their ongoing defense of Trump, who is now the Republican front-runner to challenge Biden in next year’s election. They say Republicans are trying to detract attention from the indicted former president’s legal challenges and turn a negative spotlight on Biden.

Last week, Weiss used that new authority to indict Hunter Biden on federal firearms charges, putting the case on track toward a possible trial as the 2024 election looms.

Jordan, along with the Republican chairmen of the Oversight and Ways and Means committees launched an investigation into Weiss’ handling of the case, which was first opened in 2018 after two IRS agents claimed in congressional testimony in May that the Justice Department improperly interfered with their work.

Gary Shapley, a veteran IRS agent assigned to the case, testified to Congress that Weiss said in October 2022 that he was not the “deciding person whether charges are filed” against Hunter Biden. That testimony has been disputed by two FBI agents also in that meeting who told lawmakers that they have no recollection of Weiss saying that.

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With elections looming, Trump drums up cash, support for January 6 rioters

One day after January 6, 2021, then-President Donald Trump denounced the rioters who violently stormed the Capitol building, breaking through barricades, battling law enforcement and sending members of Congress — who were set to formally certify his re-election loss — running for their lives.

“Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem,” he said in a video, condemning what he called a “heinous attack.”

That condemnation was delayed and only offered amid widespread criticism — including from fellow Republicans — for his role in sparking the mayhem. But two-and-a-half years later, any sign of regret or reprimand from Mr. Trump has vanished as he prepares to face federal criminal charges for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Now the early but commanding front-runner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, Mr. Trump regularly downplays the violence, lionises the rioters as patriots and spreads false claims about who was involved. He has not only vowed to pardon a “large portion” of January 6 defendants if he wins a second term, but he has also fundraised for them, befriended their families and collaborated on a song that became a surprise iTunes hit.

“They were there proud, they were there with love in their heart. … And it was a beautiful day,” Mr. Trump said at a recent episode of CNN town hall. When asked if he had any regrets about his actions that day, Mr. Trump voiced no remorse and instead seemed most concerned about the lack of attention paid to his crowd size.

“January 6; it was the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken to,” he said.

Mr. Trump was always reluctant to condemn the actions of supporters spurred by his lies of a stolen election. As the violence unfolded, Mr. Trump ignored the desperate pleas of aides and allies to denounce the rioters and ask them to stand down. And when he did speak out, hours later, his response was tepid; He said he loved the rioters and shared their pain.
Mr. Trump’s evolution began at a time when he was garnering relatively little mainstream media coverage. And it echoed the efforts of some Republicans in Congress, who had tried to recast the mob as nonviolent despite reams of video footage, public testimony and accounts from members of Congress, journalists and Capitol Police officers, 140 of whom were injured that day.

It also coincided with a broader shift in public opinion. Polling from Monmouth University showed that between March and November 2021, Republicans grew increasingly likely to say the anger that led to the Capitol attack was justified, with 54% saying the anger was either fully or partially justified in the fall — up from 40% that spring.

The Pew Research Center also found that, between March and September 2021, Republicans grew less likely to say it was important for law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute the rioters. Only 57% said that it was very or somewhat important in the fall, down from about 80% six months earlier.

That was when, in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham, Mr. Trump claimed the rioters had posed “zero threat” to the lawmakers who had assembled in the Capitol to certify the Electoral College vote — even though the mob tried to breach the House chamber.

“Look, they went in — they shouldn’t have done it. Some of them went in, and they’re hugging and kissing the police and the guards, you know, they had a great relationship,” he said.

In fact, many of the protesters violently clashed with police as they stormed the building, smashing windows and ramming through doors. Some brandished weapons; others wore tactical gear.

By that time, many of Mr. Trump’s supporters had already painted Ashli Babbitt, one of five people who died during or immediately after the riot, as a martyr unjustly killed by police. Ms. Babbitt was fatally shot by an officer while trying to climb through the broken window of a barricaded door as Capitol Police scrambled to evacuate the building premises.

That summer, Mr. Trump began to publicly demand the release of the shooter’s identity, despite the officer being cleared of wrongdoing by two federal investigations.

That fall, Mr. Trump taped a video that was played at an event commemorating what would have been Ms. Babbitt’s birthday in which he demanded “justice” for her and her family.

In January 2022, Mr. Trump first publicly dangled the prospect of pardons for the January 6 defendants at a rally in Texas. “If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly,” he told the crowd. “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.” At that point, more than 670 people had been convicted of crimes related to the attack, including some found guilty of seditious conspiracy and assaulting police officers.

In September 2022, Mr. Trump told conservative radio host Wendy Bell that he was helping some of the defendants, though aides declined at the time how or how much he had contributed. “I’m financially supporting people that are incredible, and they were in my office actually two days ago. It’s very much on my mind,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s support has only intensified since he formally launched his third campaign. Earlier this year, he collaborated on Justice for All, a song that features a choir of January 6 defendants singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” recorded over a prison phone line and overlaid with Mr. Trump reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. He featured the song at the first official rally of his 2024 campaign, standing with his hand on his heart as a music video featuring violent footage of the riot played behind him on two giant screens.
He also recorded a video played at the group’s holiday fundraising event in Washington and hosted a dinner for family members of the January 6 defendants at Mar-a-Lago in March.

A review of social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records found that the mob was overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including GOP officials, donors and far-right militants.

But that hasn’t stopped Mr. Trump from claiming that others were responsible for the attack, including Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Last weekend, through social media platforms, Mr. Trump amplified messages claiming that January 6 had been a “staged riot” orchestrated by the government — of which he was still in charge at the time.

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US-Mexico Border Quiet. A Little TOO Quiet.

On May 11, after seemingly endless court cases and publicity stunts by Republicans, the Biden administration finally ended the Trump-era border policy known as Title 42, which had allowed for the immediate deportation of border crossers even if they were claiming asylum. Wingnut media predictably predicted that America would be quickly overwhelmed by hordes of lawless migrants who’d be sleeping on every sidewalk and Great Replacementing all the hardworking retirees who watch Fox News.

Funny, though, because as the Washington Post reports (gift link), none of that happened. Instead, arrests of illegal border crossers have dropped by more than half, largely because of new procedures rolled out by the Biden administration. Instead of risking their lives crossing the Rio Grande and then requesting asylum when they turn themselves in to the Border Patrol, asylum seekers use a phone app to schedule an initial asylum screening (a “credible fear of persecution” interview) with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If they pass that, they’re allowed into the US to live and work until they have a formal asylum hearing.

The other side of the new policy is that if migrants don’t use the “CBP One” app and instead cross the border outside a port of entry, they can be deported immediately and barred from applying for entry for five years.

Not surprisingly, this still has anti-immigration Republicans plenty pissed off, because even though the new procedures have led to a 70 percent drop in illegal entries since Title 42 ended, the more orderly process allows people to claim asylum and enter the US, and how dare Joe Biden actually respect the right to asylum? Plus, the relatively small numbers of asylum seekers going through ports of entry on any given day has robbed Fox News of the scary visuals of crowds of people huddling under bridges near the border, and how is that even fair?

As the Post explains,

The recent drop in illegal crossings does not mean fewer than half as many migrants are coming to the United States. President Biden is allowing roughly 43,000 migrants and asylum seekers per month to enter through CBP One appointments and accepting an additional 30,000 through a process called parole. The new legal channels appear to be absorbing many of the border-crossers who for years have entered unlawfully to surrender in large groups, overwhelming U.S. border agents.

U.S. agents made about 100,000 arrests along the Mexico border in June, the first full month that Biden’s new measures were in effect, down from 204,561 in May, according to the latest CBP data. It was the largest one-month decline since Biden took office.

The story notes that the factors in Central America that have driven immigration — gang crime, climate change, poverty, corrupt government and the like — haven’t significantly changed, but the administration’s new approach is far more orderly than the Trump approach of making the US so cruel that migrants would decide instead to stay home and take their chances with the cartels. OK, that’s us editorializing; WaPo instead says that

At the heart of the strategy is a belief that reducing the chaos and illegality of migration is more feasible than trying to stop it.

Since Republicans in Congress seem bent on never ever ever agreeing to an immigration bill — because then how could they cry about an immigration crisis? — trying to be a bit more humane seems like a fairly good approach.

In addition to using the app to make the process more orderly, changes in border facilities have helped, too. Near El Paso, CBP is temporarily holding migrants in a new detention facility built with military-style tents (the big ones with AC that we aren’t using in Iraq anymore). No more cramming hundreds of people into “the icebox,” those freezing cells at Border Patrol facilities that weren’t meant to hold that many people. Instead, some 400 to 500 detainees daily are taken to “the largest and perhaps least harsh CBP facility ever built, with capacity for more than 2,500.”

The Border Patrol supervisor running the facility likened it to a cruise ship — a small self-contained city floating on the desert. With hot showers, on-site laundry and scores of private booths where migrants can videoconference with attorneys, asylum officers and immigration judges, the facility’s operating costs exceed more than $1 million per day.

Border Patrol officials said the facility allows them to manage detainees using far fewer agents. They can reserve the more austere, jail-like detention cells at Border Patrol stations for migrants considered security risks. Family groups, unaccompanied minors and others deemed lower risk can be held at the tent complex, where contractors perform administrative and custodial tasks that have long grated on agents.

Yeah, that “cruise ship” line seemed designed for rightwing media. Still, look at Joe Biden, that sneaky bastard, relieving CBP agents of work they absolutely hated, and now they’re actually patrolling the border. Just don’t hold your breath on the Border Patrol union endorsing him, though.

None of this has made Republicans any happier, because allowing 70,000 migrants per month into the US without even beating them or taking away their kids is still too generous and scary in a nation of 335 million people, there’s simply no room at all and definitely no jobs, so Republican officials in red states are suing to make it stop. And the deportations of people crossing the border without using the app is being challenged in court by immigration advocates who point out, correctly, that there’s no app in US asylum law either, even if it’s more orderly.

So far, Fox News hasn’t yet sued over the lack of terrifying visuals. They’re pretty resourceful, and will no doubt get by with old footage, stock footage from some other country entirely, or maybe that newfangled AI that can whip up a caravan without even having to send a camera crew to Texas.

[WaPo gift link / Photo: US CBP on Flickr, public domain.]

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